We're big fans of Greek Yoghurt and when we pop pots in our supermarket trolley, there's never any discussion about which brand to choose - it's always Total.
Now, I say we're big fans, but generally my culinary use of it stretches as far as dolloping it in a curry or maybe whizzing up a dip, so when Total invited me to an even to launch their '1000 ways to love your Total' I was most intrigued. What swung it for me was hearing that the event would be presented by Paul Merrett, Michelin starred celebrity chef - he's been something of a hero of mine since his 'Economy Gastronomy' series.
So, I arrived at La Cusina Caldesi, an Italian cookery school in the heart of London, to find myself in a room full of foodies and food bloggers. Yikes! Maybe I'd bit off more than I could chew here, I mean, foodie I ain't! Would I be able to blag my way through? Would my shoddy knife skills show me up? Would I lose any fingers?
I was presented with a beautiful, smooth, creamy berry panna cotta and a strong hot coffee and this went some way to calming my nerves.
Then we were put into teams and I found myself with the delightful Fleur and Dominic who were brilliant fun, and soon we were cooking along, under the watchful eye of Paul.
Anyway, no time for schmoozing, we had 3 courses to whip up, so first up was dessert - a beautiful, moist orange and honey semolina cake.
Dom was designated chief stirrer and things were going along nicely, although the old adage 'too many cooks...' may have some truth to it - it gets quite confusing with three people cooking together and it's easy to forget who's done what and where you're at on the recipe. It's understandable then that you might forget something...err...like the vital ingredient...erm...like the whole reason we're there...whoops, we forgot to add the yoghurt!
Disaster averted, it was soon mixed in and nobody was any the wiser, the cake was in the oven along with all the other team's offerings. It was beginning to feel like the Great Blogger Bake-Off.
After baking, the cake was pricked and the warm orange and honey syrup poured over and allowed to soak in.
The result was a delicately flavoured, moist dessert cake - perfect with a big spoonful of Total on the side.
Next, we cracked on with the starter - salmon rillette (that's pate to you and me). Made with a combination of cooked and smoked salmon, this was absolutely gorgeous, and I had to keep going back for more toast so I could scoop up extra mouthfuls. I'll definitely be making this at home, although I may just scoff the whole lot myself.
Finally we made our main course - spiced butternut tagine. This was quite a lengthy recipe, involving several stages - frying the spices, then grinding them before adding to the vegetables for frying. Well worth doing though, and the aroma was beautiful (if a little eye-watering).
The end result was a warming, hearty vegetable tagine - I couldn't help thinking it would have been even nicer with some slow cooked lamb in there though.
Paul showed us this mind-blowing trick for cooking cauliflower 'cous-cous' which I can't wait to try out on my crew who have sworn a life-long hatred of caulis - I bet this fools them!
All in all, a fantastically inspiring day, great food and fabulous company. Do head over and check out the 997 other recipes on the site - there's sure to be something that tickles your taste buds.
Disclosure: Special thanks to Total Greek Yoghurt for inviting me along to this masterclass, and to Paul Merrett for his expert instruction. I received a goody bag as a thank you for attending.