The Urban Guide to the Countryside
Bucks & Oxon Edition

Category: Cookery lessons

Holy crêpe! Bonjour to Pancake Day

28 Feb 2017

Bored of making stodgy old British pancakes, slathered in sugar, lemon or treacle (or if you’re my children, all three)? Try this cheeky little number for size then – an elegant crêpe with Juliette sauce, artfully created and demonstrated by the stupendously beautiful chef Camille of equally beautiful French restaurant The Swan at Tetsworth, Oxfordshire.

Not sure with all the booze that it’s really for children, but having tasted this recipe, frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.

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Integrate me, baby! The Bagnall Centre

7 Feb 2017

It’s interesting how ‘wellness’ has become an accepted concept over the last year, isn’t it? It feels like our health is finally viewed as more than a pill popped or ten minutes offloading at the harrassed doctor’s surgery, with complementary therapies increasingly part of our lives, whether it’s acupuncture to help fertility or reflexology to help with migraines.

There are quite a few large complementary health centres around these parts, but I think former Muddy Award winners The Bagnall Centre for Integrated Healthcare in Chesham really puts its money where its mouth is.

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Recipe: Poached salmon in rice wine and soy sauce with sprout stir fry

20 Nov 2016

This the lovely Pamela, one of a growing band of dedicated foodies I meet who has turned her passion into a business and is found a rather tidy niche. ChenMoore Chopsticks is all about demystifying oriental food (Pamela is from Taiwan originally, but cooks across the Far Eastern regions) and showing that it’s not all about chop sueys and sticky sweet and sour pork.

She’s based in Cheltenham, holding courses from her home but also getting out and about at events like the Didcot Food Festival (26 Nov) and demonstrating at the Waitrose Cookery Studio (Cheltenham, 5 Dec) and teaches everything from the total basics and how to make the perfect dimsum to one pot meals and bespoke courses, with them coming in around £85-95 for the day.

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Christmas Dinner tips from *Le Manoir!*

22 Dec 2014

If you’re going to learn how to cook a Christmas dinner, you might as well do it at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. Too late for this year of course, but fear not, I donned my apron, and have been on your behalf to tell you the tricks of the trade.

The Cookery School kitchens are utterly unlike what you’d imagine them to be. Though Le Manoir itself exudes a kind of smooth elegant charm, the kitchens replicate a home set-up, so it’s normal-sized sinks and work surfaces, and nothing too flash (if you discount the state-of-the-art cookers).

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Kitchen confidential

26 Jan 2014

What do your kitchen accessories say about you? (Er, pathetic waste of space with no culinary talent at all – or is that just me?).

Whilst I recently revealed how delighted I was with a novelty poached egg holder, lemon squeezer and jar opener (all essentials in my book, and I’m not budging on my position), Muddy’s resident superchef Paul Collins has gone and trumped me with his own utensil essentials.

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Mamma mia!

25 Nov 2013


How can you tell if you’ve been inspired by an Italian cookery course? You go out and buy a pasta making machine, and that’s exactly what I’ve done.

I went on the Cici-Coco pasta-making cookery course on the weekend – just half a day, so easy enough to flick the kids onto Mr Muddy with a humble thank you, but not long enough to give him a day pass the following day on the mountain bike.

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Tested: Rumsey’s chocolate workshops

2 Nov 2013

I’ve known about Rumsey’s chocolate-making workshops for ages, but like a lot of things on my own doorstep (like a gallery 2 miles away and a wine bar 6 miles away – yes, yes, I’m working on it!) they’re always the last things to be tried.

This half term, I finally got around to taking my two oldest kids (11 & 6) to Rumsey’s Chocolaterie in Thame for a Halloween-inspired chocfest.

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Did you win?! Did you win?!

8 Sep 2013

Another week, another lucky Muddy winner. This time up for grabs was an Italian cooking course for two worth £200 from the award-winning Cici Coco, purveyors of fine caponata, lasagnes, fresh pastas and general Italian yumminess.

So did you win?

Well, you did if you’re name is Jennifer Lamboll!

Get in touch, lady, and I’ll connect you to Giuliana Cortese (Ms CiciCoco herself) and you can work out which course you want to go on. 

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Delizioso! WIN my £200 Italian cookery course comp

29 Aug 2013

If you were reading the blog a couple of days ago, you may have come across my story on local food producers Cici Coco, based in Cuddington,  Bucks. Having won my Muddy Stilettos Award earlier this year for Best Local Producer, they have recently also gained a coveted double star Great Taste Award for their handmade heritage pasta (made with ancient spelt and rivet wheat flour, fact fans).

Anyway, they were so delighted with the write-up that they’ve offered a Muddy Stilettos reader two places on their brand new cookery courses*, worth £200.

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside -
Bucks & Oxon Edition