The Cheshire Cookery School is a lovely place – all hi-tech induction hobs, super sharp knives and friendly staff, tucked away behind a kitchen showroom which induces serious kitchen envy! So I was chuffed to bits when they invited me to attend their tapas and paella class a couple of weeks ago.
The class led by chef Kurt Thomas is aimed at people who want to get more confident in the kitchen. Kurt is a great teacher- he explains what he is doing and how to do it with humour and patience. It wasn’t just about making a meal – he also shared knife skills and tips to make life in the kitchen better.
We started with a bit of show and tell where Kurt slow cooked chorizo in red wine until it was sticky and soooo good. With shavings of Manchego cheese and served on bruchetta it was a great ice breaker as we all tucked in and went back for more, and more, and more! I’ve always been one for fast frying my chorizo so it gets crispy edges, but Kurt’s way was well worth the twenty minute wait and adding the cheese made it to a decent platter which I’d happily hand round with drinks before a meal.
Next it was our turn so I teamed up with lovely Liz from Things To Do In Manchester to share a workstation, and Kurt taught some solid Spanish basics – namely tortilla (Spanish omelette) and paella. I rarely cook tortilla at home because I’ve found the potato to be a bit hard, but we sliced the potato and onion very thinly (a good knife helped- I couldn’t slice like that at home) and steamed them in a bit of stock to get them starting to soften before adding the egg. A cheffy finish was the addition of very finely chopped tomato, onion and dill on top but actually it added freshness to each mouthful so I will definitely be doing that again.
Top tip of the night for me came with the paella. I’ve always used saffron, but Kurt was a firm believer in turmeric. Ker-azy but you know what, it worked! I made it again at home with both turmeric (for colour) and paprika (for smoky flavour) a few nights later, and I don’t think I’ll be buying saffron for paella again. I only disagreed with Kurt on one thing. He was for stirring the paella often so it doesn’t stick. Dude, the sticky bottom is the best part! Honestly, some people…!
Once we were all finished we all sat round a huge table together and tucked in. it’s lovely to end the night by sampling the fruits of your labour and Liz and I made so much that we both took leftovers home as well.
The main things I took away were a) I need a decent knife at home, b) the finishing details count and c) you can never have enough chorizo!
If you like to be in the kitchen but don’t know where to start on expanding your repertoire, then this course is just for you. You go away with a recipe book so you have no excuses not to try the dishes at home.
Thank you to Cheshire Cookery School for the invite, Kurt for being a top teacher and Liz for letting me go OTT with the garlic in everything!
Cheshire Cookery School. Norman Road, Altrincham. WA14 4EP