I thought I knew how to chop an onion, but apparently not. Northampton College food lecturer Richard Curtis guided me to a very sharp and scary looking knife and before I knew it I was dicing the vegetable as finely as a top chef...albeit more awkwardly and slowly.
The reason for my presence in the kitchen of Northampton’s Aga shop in Kingsthorpe was to undergo a mini-masterclass of the sort Richard will be leading at the forthcoming Northamptonshire Food Show @ Holdenby on August 26 and 27.
Now an annual event at Holdenby House in Northamptonshire, the food show, organised by Stonehouse Events, attracts thousands of foodies keen to see the huge array of cooking demonstrations and producers’ stalls.
And this year one of the attractions will be a masterclass marquee to teach visitors how to make everything from pasta and chocolate truffles to homemade sausages.
Aga are one of the show’s sponsors and kindly allowed me to their kitchen so Richard could share some pasta skills.
First of all a simple sauce including onion, sliced garlic and tinned tomatoes was made (simply fry the onion and garlic, stir in the tomatoes and simmer).
Then Richard took out some fresh pasta he had prepared (made from eggs, yolks, saffron, 00 flour and water). Next came the “laminating” stage when Richard showed me how to repeatedly stretch and fold the pasta to create an elastic texture.
After this an electric pasta maker was employed and the smoothed pasta was fed and flattened repeatedly by being passed through the machine.
Once ready, a cutter was used to cut out circles, into which a ricotta, cream cheese and spinach mixture was piped. Then Richard showed me how to fold and twist tortellini shapes together before they were placed in water and cooked as normal.
In true Blue Peter style we finally tasted the pasta and yes, it did give me a tinge of pride.
Talking about the masterclasses, Richard said: “It is good fun and people are developing skills too.
“Once you have been shown how to make it, it is easy. Just going by what a chef does on TV without physically doing it yourself it is much harder to understand.”
The masterclasses will form just a small part of the event, which seems to be growing in popularity every year.
Caroline Houghton, from Stonehouse Events, said: “We try to make the show regional, right from the small, one person companies, we try to make it as Northamptonshire based as we can.
“We have done demonstrations before but never a masterclass marquee.”
The masterclasses at the Northamptonshire Food Show cost £8. To book log onto www.northamptonshirefoodshow.co.uk
Entry to the event at Holdenby costs £7.50 for adults, £6.50 for concessions, £3.50 for children and £20 for families. The show is open from 11am until 5pm each day. A video of this cookery session will be available to view online at northamptonchron.co.uk or northantstelegraph.co.uk