Inspired - by Wizardry from Wales

We recently hosted a wonderful Vegetarian Cooking Workshop with the incredibly inspiring Jen Goss from Wales. One of the participants, the lovely Tricia, owner of the most beautiful B&B in Somerset, has kindly written a little blog post for us which describes the day perfectly....

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I don’t know about you, but we eat far less meat at home now than we did in the past. And things have come a long way from when a vegetarian arriving for dinner evoked panic and few ideas beyond doing some extra broccoli. Looking down a menu, it is now often the case that I’m tempted to take one of the meat-free options, as so much imagination has gone into the concoction of ingredients and flavours. So, you see, now no longer fazed by the guest eschewing carnivorous habits, or even dairy products too! Indeed, it has become a pleasurable challenge to cook to these requirements with as much scope and variety as I can muster. But a bit more inspiration never goes amiss.

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Which brings us to the Vegetarian Cookery Workshop, held at Clavelshay Barn on a sunny beautiful March day and delivered with heaped tablespoons of efficiency and enthusiasm by Jen Goss. Each participant clearly had a passion for cooking and wanted to be inspired and learn more. Now that’s fertile ground for any course leader. But such an expectant and receptive audience also has high expectations. Experienced, ebullient, entertaining and encouraging all at the same time, Jen did not disappoint.

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We rollicked our way through seven different dishes (and making a garam masala) with a tour de force of impeccable timing. We juggled the prep for two dishes while keeping an eye on three – or was it three dishes and watching two? Aromatic smells were all around us as we ground and toasted spices, fried off leeks and onions, added tomatoes, chopped courgettes, sliced aubergines... You get the picture.

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Anyway, by lunchtime we had cooked a fair bit of what we were to eat – leek and potatoes samosas, fresh beetroot chutney and aubergines cooked in the pickling style. And Sue Milverton, Clavelshay’s owner, produced the rest, accompanied by a rather lovely blush wine and her home-made bread with sundried tomatoes. So, a relaxed (and tasty) lunch inside, coffee outside in the sun – a delicious little break.

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Then back to ‘stuff’ we had prepped earlier and an afternoon producing sweet potato falafel, courgette polpettes, Imam Bayildi and aubergine with buttermilk and pomegranate. And we each had four or five little boxes of goodies to take home and a packet of ingredients for grinding our own garam masala. I also have a very useful list of invaluable gadgets that will make perfect presents for me and others.

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So, a good day Jen, you Welsh Wizard, and thanks to Clavelshay Barn for making it possible.

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All the beautiful photos were taken by Christina Dithmar, you can see more of her work here »

Meet Jen Goss - Our Lovely Vegetarian Cooking Workshop Teacher

JenGossI was brought up in Wales, but the bright lights of the big city pulled me there to Uni and 15 years of working in catering, running Gastropubs and finally managing Toms' Deli on Westbourne Grove.

I met my present partner Colin, and we started to dream of the good life, books stacking up round our bed on Charcuterie making, Brewing, Chickens, Pig farming, Permaculture, and lots of copies of the Smallholding magazine.

We had a couple of kids Leon, now 9 and Lucy, now 7 and our plans started to take shape, we wanted the kids to grow up in the country, by the sea.

We bought Cippyn Cottage nearly four years ago and haven't looked back.

The plan to rear and grow our own food, and set up a catering business with the produce grown and sourced locally has taken off. Initially running a vegetarian  stall at a local Producers market, introducing local people to the delicious food of the world, I would sell out each week. I've now moved on to currently catering for The Do Lectures, fforest weddings, The Smallworld Theatre cabaret nights and I bake cakes for The 25 Mile a local restaurant sourcing ingredients from within 25 Miles. As an extension of this I've been running workshops for the Do Lectures and also now independently.

The passion for food has been inside me since baking with my mother as a child.  My parents would be experimenting with gnocchi and pesto, curries and quince cake when they were unheard of in Cardiff 40 years ago. My parents are STILL experimenting, I went to a dinner party at the end of January and my father had a cooked an 18 dish mezze, with things I'd never heard of.

I believe that food should always be delicious, the key ingredients are local, fresh and lots of herb and spice.  When I set up my market stall I wanted to challenge peoples preconceptions of vegetarian food, by the time I finished I had many regular carnivores in my weekly customer base.

Some parts of the world, Southern India for example, are completely vegetarian, and the cuisine there is fabulous, some of my favourite things to cook are Samosas and Aubergine curries and all the pickles and condiments that accompany them.

Italy always champions the fresh and local produce and the fantastically simple pasta dishes and Courgette Polpette really show these off.

By far my most favourite cuisine is that of the Middle East, with all the exciting spice and herbs, the pomegranates and the pistachio, the food is vibrant in taste and colour, so I love the Felafel in all its guises and the salads and dips and the Regal jewelled couscous.

I love talking about food, and sharing my knowledge and learning from everyone I meet, there is so much to find out about, we have the whole world out there!

VEGETARIAN  COOKING WORKSHOP

vegetarian-food

Details: 

Date: Saturday 15th March 2014 Time: 10.30am – 4pm Price per person: £85

Booking is essential: Call Sue on 01278 662629 or email query@clavelshaybarn.co.uk

Whether you are a long-time vegetarian or just want to incorporate more vegetables into your life, this workshop will give you easy, and delicious ways to naturally do so.

Learn how to make the humble vegetable into something truly special in this fun-filled Vegetarian Cooking Workshop run by Jen Goss. Full of local ingredients, Jen will show you how easy it is to make fresh vegetarian food that you will look forward to eating. You will learn how to make amazing dishes inspired by far-flung cuisines such as India, Morocco and Italy, and be given the confidence and skills to cook wonderfully tasting, unique vegetarian dishes in the comfort of your own kitchen.

The Workshop is aimed at all levels of experience, and at the end of the day you will receive packets the day’s recipes, along with additional ideas for variations, and the dishes you make in the afternoon.

You can find out more about the workshop here »

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