About the school
Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi opened La Cucina Caldesi in 2005 after the success of their Caffe Caldesi in the premises next door – an informal restaurant offering traditional and regional Italian cooking. The school holds courses such as pasta workshops, pizza making, regional Tuscan menus and essential Italian cooking. Most of the courses are taught by one of the caffe Caldesi team, or visiting chefs.
What is it?
We tried the New Food, New You course – concentrating on healthy alternatives to hearty Italian dishes, with a focus on wheat free, low sugar and veg-packed dishes that are both delicious and better for you.
The course is run by Katie Caldesi, a self confessed food and nutrition fanatic, who drastically had to change the family’s cooking routine and lifestyle after her husband, Giancarlo, was struggling with a wheat allergy and pending diabetes.
How it works
After quick introductions and a healthy coconut biscuit with coffee, we started with a demonstration on making almond milk, and sweetening it with different types of sugar alternatives. Then we were all given tasks and worked through the recipes. The course was very hands on and sociable, because we worked in teams throughout the day. Any questions were quickly answered by Katie, and any health benefits were explained thoroughly throughout the duration of our course. It was interesting to hear how Katie had developed these recipes, and why the ingredients worked so well in each dish.
We made beetroot and apple patties, courgetti with a raw roman sauce, lagana (baked crisp breads) with a hot fish pickle, a wheat-free chocolate mud cake made with sweet potato and black beans, and sweet potato base pizzas.
There was a lot to learn, including trends, products and new adapted recipes so you can still enjoy your favourite Italian dishes with a healthy makeover. We tried many different sweeteners, and alternatives to wheat flour. It would be great for everyone to try substitutes to sugar, and find out which one was best for what – incredibly useful, as buying healthy alternatives to sugar can be quite expensive.
The hot fish pickle (an ancient Roman dish, a favourite of Caesar) was a real winner, made with tinned sardines, a variety of fresh herbs, olive oil and celery, packed with vitamins and minerals – it was really easy to make, and delicious piled on lagana, paper thin crackers made with red wine, spelt flour and lots of fresh black pepper.
All the recipes came with lots of different alternatives to suit everyone’s dietary needs or preferences, including a taste test between sweetening cakes with dates, xylitol, coconut sugar and malt barley syrup.
We sat down to try all the dishes we’d made, comparing and contrasting according to what they were made with. I’d recommend this course for competent cooks who are looking for a change in their diet, and are interested in learning what to use as an alternative to wheat and sugar.
Check the website for future dates and other courses. caldesi.com
La Cucina Caldesi, 118 Marylebone Lane W1U 2QF