Cooking in Katie Caldesi’s kitchen was like getting to live in my dream world for a day. I’d signed up for the Simple Italia! course which promised to get us into the kitchen without breaking into a sweat – perfect after the rather punishing schedule at Leiths!
After a warm welcome to the rather impressive Buckinghamshire Caldesi residence, I was sat down with a fresh coffee, home made bread and jam. Katie’s a really inspiring lady with what she’s achieved in her life, but she’s also very strongly family oriented, so we had lots to chat about.
Katie and chef husband Giancarlo own Caffe Caldesi in Marylebone, Caldesi in Campagna Restaurant in Bray, the La Cucina Caldesi cookery school and now Katie has opened her front door to small groups for Italian cooking courses at her house.
There were just four of us on Easy Italia, and Katie got us all involved with the dishes on the menu. Whether it was nipping into the garden for some fresh herbs, doing a spot of chopping or drizzling things with copious amounts of olive oil – it wasn’t intimidating or demanding, just incredibly relaxing actually!
On the menu:
Franca’s Tomato sauce
Ovenbaked seabass on fennel with white wine
Pot-roast hunger’s catch
Slow roast pork belly with fennel seeds
Roast potatoes with onion and pancetta
Green beans with vinegar and garlic
Garlic roast vegetables
Vanilla pannacotta with blackberry coulis
Roasted Fruits with Grand Marnier and Amaretto Cream
So like the name of the course suggests, it’s all very simple stuff using just a handful ingredients and no complex techniques to get your head around. All very achievable with extremely tasty results.
With it being such an intimate course it’s very sociable and once the cooking is over you get to sit around Katie’s big table overlooking their divine garden and work your way through everything that’s just been made with a cheeky glass of wine or two. Ultrayum!
In go the ingredients for the pot roast – a fab alternative to the traditional Sunday Roast and a one pot supper to boot! Katie is full of great anecdotes about the inspiration behind her recipes, including her Tuscan chef husband, a food obsessed old guy called Gino and a tiny little Italian lady. We were all hooked to Katie’s stories and I was really impressed with her depth of knowledge.
The resident magpie is so tame you can actually stroke him… I think he’s got ideas about getting his own place at the Caldesi table!
The potatoes and pancetta get ready for the oven – a bit of rosemary and olive oil complete the mix. Really punchy flavours perfect for a feast!
Toasted sourdough heaped with Gino’s tomatoes – a really tasty snack. Vibrant and fresh appetiser.
Enjoying a cheeky glass of white with the fruits of our labour while gazing dreamily at the Caldesi garden – this was like a mini holiday for me!
Dessert included a deliciously creamy Vanilla Pannacotta with blackberry coulis – the blackberries were picked that morning by Katie’s sons.
Most of the recipes cooked on the course can be found in Katie’s beautifully photographed cookery book the Italian Cookery Course. If you don’t have an Italian recipe book, this is a great tome to add to your shelves. It’s full to bursting with wonderful recipes and anecdotes from Katie’s travels around Italy.
If you fancy a chilled out informal cookery course this is the one for you. Check out Katie’s Kitchen for a full course list.