Archive for the ‘Our Cookery School’ Category

Goodbye and Good Luck to our July Students

Friday, August 24th, 2012

We have recently said goodbye to another cohort of our four week residential students. We are always proud of what our students manage to achieve when they come on our courses. They see themselves transformed from nervous novices to confident and happy cooks!

Today, we would like to share with you the menu that our July students designed and prepared themselves for their final dinner. On each course, our students are given the chance to show off what they have learnt by preparing a three course meal for guests that they have invited to the school. This is often seen as the highlight of the course, as it confirms to students just how far they have come since they began their journey with us. It also offers students a chance to wow their friends and families with their new skills. Our July students wrote and planned the menu themselves, dividing into teams to tackle each component.

We were so impressed by their Mediterranean inspired feast that we thought it was worth sharing with the world! We would like to thank them for their enthusiasm and wish them all the best for their many and varied future plans! (All photos: Steve Brown)

The Gables School of Cookery – Student Dinner

Mediterranean Canapés



Duo of Soups :-

Tomato with Red Pepper & Butternut Squash

Served with a Homemade Brown Bread Roll



Moroccan Spiced Chicken Tagine

Served with a Sweet Red Pepper stuffed with Almond Couscous and Green Bean Parcel wrapped in Parma Ham



Citrus Trio:-

Lemon and Ginger Cheesecake, Lime Posset and Caramel Orange dressed with a Lime and Mango Coulis


Handmade Chocolates


August Seasonal Spotlight – Beetroot

Monday, August 6th, 2012

August Seasonal Spotlight – Beetroot

Beautiful, deep red beetroots are in season this month. Sadly, none of our beetroots have survived the slug onslaught in the Cookery School vegetable patch this summer. One year, we grew so many beetroots that we didn’t know what to do with them. We ate as many as we could, pickled the rest, filled the pantry cupboard to the brim and still had to force large jars of pickled beetroots upon anyone who came to visit! Still, we are sure we are not the only ones who have similar green-fingered problems. We read one story about a woman who was forced to abandon enormous marrows, wrapped up like babies in newspaper blankets, on strangers’ doorsteps in a similar glut.

Our Cover Star

Our Cover Star

One of our favourite ways of using up our beetroots that summer was in our Asparagus, Pear and Baby Beetroot Salad, which we think is so delightful to look at that we gave it the cover slot on our cookery book ‘Simply 3-5.’ Fortunately, it looks as good as it tastes. For those of you who are not green fingered, the recipe merely calls for a jar of baby beetroot. If you have been more fortunate than us this year, or have bought your own raw beetroot, then boil it until tender and allow it to cool before adding it to the salad. About 4 medium sized beetroot should be enough but you can alter the quantities in times of beetroot plenty.



Serves 6

2 bunches asparagus, trimmed

2 small pears, skin on and sliced thinly

1 jar baby beetroot, drained

100g rocket

50 Parmesan cheese, shaved

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and add the asparagus. Simmer for 2-3 minutes until just tender. Drain and rinse under cold water. Slice in half length ways.

Toss together asparagus, pears, beetroot and rocket leaves. Season to taste. Arrange on a platter and top with Parmesan cheese.

Summer Time and the Pudding is Easy

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

There is something so very appealing about a perfect white meringue nest covered in cream and studded with beautiful seasonal fruit. People may think that meringues are too complicated to bother with, but we assure you that they are not! And homemade meringues are so far superior to those powdery shop-bought versions that it’s really not even worth comparing them.

Luscious Meringues ready for piping (Photo: Nigel Denham)

Luscious Meringue ready for piping (Photo: Nigel Denham)

As it is now August and so many lovely fruits are in season, we have decided to share with you one of our Gables favourites – Meringue Fruit Baskets. Our students make these baskets as part of our Four Week Intensive Course and they are often surprised to find out how easy it is to make professional looking and (more importantly!) delicious tasting meringues. If you are not a confident piper then you can spoon the mixture into four equal rounds, which may not look quite so impressive but will still taste fantastic. Remember: Make sure all your equipment is clean and free from grease before you start or you will face meringue disappointment!

(Photo: Nigel Denham)

(Photo: Nigel Denham)


Makes 4

2 egg whites

125g (4oz) Caster Sugar

Whisk the egg whites with an electric whisk until firm. Add the caster sugar, 1 tsp at a time and whisk until the mixture is firm and shiny.

Use a medium star nozzle and pipe circles, on baking parchment, building up the sides to form a basket.

Bake in a preheated oven at 120⁰C for about 1 ½ hours until firm. Allow to cool.

Fill baskets with whipped cream and seasonal fruit.

Our favourite combination is peaches and blueberries, the flavours and colours complement each other beautifully, but you can be as adventurous as you like! These meringue baskets can also be adapted to the changing seasons. We even serve a Christmas version with warm cooked apples and cinnamon.

Vegetarian One Day Course…with Piedmontese Peppers

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

We have just finished a very successful one day vegetarian cookery course. Here at the Gables, we love vegetarian food and encourage our students, even the determined meat eaters, to think of vegetarian food as an exciting and varied alternative menu. Students on our vegetarian courses are often interested not only in the health benefits of eating less meat but also in providing exciting food for their vegetarian friends, many of whom have been making do with second rate offerings for years!

To try and inspire you to add a little more vegetarian food to your diet, we are going to share with you one of our favourite vegetarian recipes from our book ‘Simply 3-5’ – Piedmontese Peppers. These Northern Italian peppers make a delicious starter or a light supper dish, with crusty bread to mop up the juices. They also happen to be vegan. Enjoy!

Piedmontese Peppers

Piedmontese Peppers


Serves 4

4 thin slices onion

4 small tomatoes, cut in half and deseeded

2 red peppers, cut in half and deseeded

1 tbsp dried time

2 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 180⁰C.

Place 1 onion slice and 2 tomato halves in each pepper half, sprinkle with thyme and then drizzle the olive oil over.

Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the peppers are tender but not collapsed.

Australian Christmas in July

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nibbling at your nose, Christmas Carols being sung by a choir…”

At the Gables, we are very proud of Australian connections. Two of our partners are dual Australian and British citizens, which gives us a great insight into life on the other side of the world. One custom we would like to share with you, which we came across on our last visit to Melbourne, is ‘Christmas in July.’

As it is summer in Australia during the Christmas season, most of our warming and stodgy traditional Christmas food isn’t really appropriate (would you want to eat Christmas pudding and custard when it’s 40 degrees outside?) So some Australians choose to have a small Christmas celebration, which mainly focuses on food, on the 25th of July instead, when it is Australian Winter.

In honour of this and our Australian heritage, we have decided to share with you one of our Christmas favourites (however unseasonal it may be!) from our Easy Christmas Cooking One Day Course. You could use any fruit cake for this recipe and we think it would make a lovely dessert even on a warm summers evening.


Serves 6

450g Christmas cake, cut into 1.5cm slices

2 tbsp Cointreau

1 tbsp finely grated orange rind

2 litres vanilla ice cream, softened

Line a 14cm x 21cm loaf tin with clingfilm.

Brush cake with Cointreau.

Stir orange rind into the ice cream.

Spread half of the ice cream mixture into prepared tin and tip with slices of cake then remaining ice cream.

Cover with cling film and freeze until firm.

Use a hot knife to cut terrine into 6 slices.

Italian Focaccia

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012
A view over beautiful Lake Como

A view over beautiful Lake Como

We had an Italian One Day Course running this Saturday and it has reminded us of our recent travels there. Nothing quite beats walking through the Italian Mountains during the day and watching the sun set over the Italian Lakes with a cool, crisp glass of wine in the evening. Italy is a superb and varied country and it is well worth visiting places a little of the beaten track, especially if you want to try some really authentic Italian food. You will soon discover that Italian food is as varied as its landscape and it is far, far more than just pizza!

One traditional Italian recipe that we have found and loved is for Italian focaccia. This delicious, rosemary scented bread will always impress guests – just don’t expect it to hang around for very long! We like our focaccia best served on its own with some extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. When something is this delicious, it doesn’t need any fancy extras.

A student prepares their own focaccia in the school (Photo:Nigel Denham)

A student prepares their own focaccia in the school (Photo:Nigel Denham)


750g (1½lb) strong white flour
1 x 7g (¼oz) sachet fast-action dried yeast
3 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
3 tbsp olive oil
250ml (8 fl oz) tepid water

Put the flour in a bowl and add the yeast and rosemary.

Make a well in the centre of the flour, add the oil and water. Mix to a soft dough.

Lightly oil a large bowl. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. Place in the bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place to double in size (about 1 hr).

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knock back. Knead for 2-3 minutes until smooth. Roll out dough to form a 5cm (2 in) thick round. Cover and leave to double in size for about 1 hour.

Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake in a preheated oven at 190ºC, 375ºF, Gas 5 for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

A New Course Begins…with a Lemon Posset

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

We have just started another intensive residential four week course here at the Gables, which means that the school is full of new enthusiastic students ready to develop their cookery skills and take their first steps to becoming trained, confident and happy cooks. As we write this, we can smell their first batch of fresh bread rising in the oven (is there a better smell on earth?)

We are going to share with you today a very simple recipe which the students learnt to make on the very first day of their course – a Lemon Posset.

Possets can trace their roots back to medieval times although they only began to take on a form which would be recognisable to the modern cook in the 16th century. Our lemon posset is incredibly easy, and makes a perfect dinner party dessert as it can be made in advance. We recommend it be served with a candied piece of lemon peel and an amaretti biscuit.



(Serves 6)

600ml (1pt) double cream

140g (5oz) caster sugar

Juice of 2 lemons

Tip the cream and sugar into a pan and slowly bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Boil for exactly 3 minutes, then remove from the heat.

Whisk in the lemon juice and pour into small glasses, leave to cool.  Chill overnight until set.  Serve with amaretti biscuits.

NOTE:  Time the boiling exactly.  This is a luscious velvety dessert which is easy to make.

Food for Rainy Summer Days – Carrot and Courgette Soup

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

We are assured that it is in fact the height of the British Summer, although you would forgive us for being a little doubtful here at the Gables. We would so love to be giving you some beautiful barbeque recipes but sadly the rain is still pouring over our herb garden and our barbeque is sitting forlornly underneath its rain cover.

We’ll keep our fingers crossed that soon barbeque season will begin but for now we thought we would share one of our favourite foods for rainy summer days – Carrot and Courgette Soup. This simple soup (which is taken from our recipe book ‘Simply 3-5’) came to us from our very good friend, Kate, and we now regularly make it, especially at this time of year when courgettes are in season. The courgettes add a fantastic texture to the soup, making it deliciously creamy in spite of the fact that it contains no cream at all! All you need is some fresh crusty bread and you have a delicious and wholesome meal.

Carrot and Courgette Soup
Serves 4

25g butter
300g carrots, peeled and chopped
250g courgettes, chopped
600ml vegetable or chicken stock
1tsp sugar
1tbsp tomato puree

Melt the butter in a saucepan and gently fry the vegetables for 10 minutes without colouring.
Add stock, sugar and tomato puree.

Simmer for 30 minutes then process or blend until smooth. Season to taste.

July Seasonal Spotlight – Raspberries

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Juicy red raspberries are in season this month and at the Gables we thought we would share with you some of our favourite easy raspberry recipes from our book ‘Simply 3-5.’
We all know that raspberries make beautiful desserts, but how often have you tried them in a savoury context? One of our most popular starters is Fresh Goat’s Cheese with Raspberry Coulis. This may sound a little unusual but the sweet and sharp coulis works beautifully with the rich goat’s cheese. We are sure you will love this when you try it!

Fresh Goat’s Cheese with Raspberry Coulis

Fresh Goat’s Cheese with Raspberry Coulis

Fresh Goat’s Cheese with Raspberry Coulis

Serves 4
2 small goat’s cheese logs
225g fresh raspberries
25-30g caster sugar
Salad leaves, to serve
8 mint leaves, finely sliced

Chill goat’s cheese well then cut each log into 10 rounds.

Crush the raspberries with a fork and press through a fine sieve to extract the juice. Add sugar to taste, but make sure that the coulis stays sharp tasting.

Divide the salad leaves between the plates and place 5 rounds of cheese on top. Drizzle with the raspberry coulis and sprinkle with mint.

Note: We use La Buche goat’s cheese logs but any creamy goat’s cheese will work. This is so simple but so delicious.

And now for a show stopping raspberry pudding! Our Lemon and Raspberry Baskets look beautiful, take minutes to prepare and taste fantastic. What more could you ask for?

Lemon and Raspberry Baskets

Lemon and Raspberry Baskets

Lemon and Raspberry Baskets

Serves 6
50g dark chocolate
200g good quality lemon curd
250g mascarpone
150g fresh raspberries
6 brandy snap baskets

Melt the chocolate in the microwave for 2 minutes on High, stirring half way through.

Stir together the lemon curd and mascarpone. Divide half the raspberries between the baskets and spoon over the lemon cream and top with the rest of the berries.

Drizzle the dark chocolate over the baskets and lave in the fridge to set for 5-10 minutes. Serve immediately or the baskets will go soft.

We hope we have inspired you to use this beautiful seasonal ingredient. Let us know how you get on and if you have any suggestions of your own!

Why I started the Gables Cookery School

Friday, November 20th, 2009

To be honest, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked why I started the Gables Cookery School. The subject came up only the other day when I was talking about old times down under with my sister Kathy (my co-writer on Simply 3 – 5).

Mince and spaghetti at age 11

During another long-distance phone call, we both remembered my first attempts at Spaghetti Bolognese, and how proud I was of my first creation at age 11 or thereabouts. It left a little to be desired and should probably have been graced with nothing more than the prosaic title of mince and spaghetti, but it meant the world to me. I’ve never forgotten the thrill I got from telling the family how I’d achieved my masterpiece.

Fate intervened

It must have been around about then that my twin passions for teaching and cooking really started to develop. Later, when I moved back to the UK, I worked in business but never abandoned my passion for all things culinary. Then, as so often happens, fate intervened with a once in a lifetime opportunity to run a hotel with a 50-cover fine dining restaurant. Was I in my element? You bet!

Fulfilment of a long-held ambition

After that, I believe it was inevitable that I’d achieve my dream of combining fine cooking and culinary training. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life it’s that you should never let go of your dreams. Fuelled by a passion, it is amazing what you can achieve. I’ve seen it with my students at The Gables and I’ve proved it to myself – first, when I trained as a professional chef, then, some 12 years ago, when I opened the Gables School in the Cotswolds. I did it because it was meant to be, it was the fulfilment of a long-held ambition and I believed I could make a success of it. It’s that simple.

You can do it too

I’m often asked whether anyone can learn to cook. My answer is to look at what I’ve achieved, at the way I’ve progressed, through study, hard work and grasping opportunities, from ‘mince and spaghetti’ to  successfully launching more than a thousand exciting new catering careers. If I can cook at this level, then so can you.

Is that your dream? If so, I know how we can make it come true.