Do you feel confident that you have enough information to advise clients about gluten-free alternatives, or to encourage them to bake their own gluten-free products?
Many people believe that commercially available ‘free-from’ brands are bland and expensive, but don’t have the confidence to bake gluten-free products themselves. Often, it is knowing which blend of alternative flours and gluten-free ingredients produce the tastiest results. This could be the answer... I recently discovered the delightful River Cottage situated in beautiful countryside on the Dorset/Devon border. It is essentially a cookery school founded by the celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, which offers courses ranging from basic cookery and chocolate-making skills, to hedgerow foraging!
The one-day gluten free course caught my eye: “...a combination of hands-on cookery and demonstration-based recipes....you will come away inspired and with a good understanding of gluten-free flours and healthy gluten-free options, as well as alternatives for dairy and other food intolerances.”
Having decided to give it a go, I found myself in the car park with about 20 others, waiting to be transported to the cottage by tractor! Here we were greeted by our host and nutritionist Naomi Devlin.
We started the day tasting gluten-free pancakes, whilst admiring the famous farmhouse and kitchen garden. The first practical sessions started with a sourdough starter sponge, that we later turned into a delicious seeded loaf. Lovely chewy chocolate chip cookies and delicious raspberry muffins followed the secrets of gluten-free pastry, with a final demonstration of how to make marigold short breads - all of which we could take away with us.
Naomi was a great teacher. Being a Coeliac with an enthusiasm for cooking, she has experimented with many ingredients, giving her extensive knowledge and experience with different varieties of gluten-free flours, grains and preparation techniques to ensure maximum nutrition and taste.
One of the highlights of the day was the 2-course lunch prepared by the River Cottage team. This gave us the opportunity to chat with other course attendees and River Cottage team, whilst taking in the beautiful scenic views from the patio dining area. The day finished all too quickly, but we all went away full of inspiration, ready to sign up for the advanced gluten-free course!