30 May 2010

New sessions booking up fast!

Get cracking and get booking your places on the June and July cookery sessions in June and July!

The sessions still available are:

Cooking With Fish The Sustainable Way (with seasoned chef Rob - get the joke?): Tuesday 8 June and Saturday 12 June

Easy Puddings
(with Kim, who runs the café at Islington Mill): Tuesday 15 June

Tasty Salads With Pulses'n'grains (with Avril of Nutrimens - which means "food" in Latin, so she should know what she's doing!): Tuesday 22 June

Something Spicy
(with Kate from Jam Street Café): Tuesday 29 June and Saturday 3 July

Pasta Plus
(with Jay, the Hickson in Hickson & Black's): Tuesday 6 July

Mexican Tapas
(with Unicorn's Fernanda): Tuesday 13 July and Saturday 17 July

Aimed at individuals and parties of friends, each one-off three-hour class costs just £15 or £10 concessions thanks to all the lovely funding we've managed to secure from the Local Food Fund (National Lottery), The Co-operative Membership and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

The Tuesday evening sessions take place from 6pm to 9pm at Chorlton High School on Nell Lane, while the Saturday classes run 11am to 2pm at St Ninian’s on Wilbraham Road. Vegetarians can easily be catered for and full details on how to book are available on the Cracking Good Food website. Alternatively, you can just pop in and see our friends at Hickson & Black’s deli in Chorlton and sign up there.

25 May 2010

Festival fever!

On Sunday, Chorlton Arts Festival comes to a close with a huge Street Feast from 5pm-7.30pm in Chorlton Precinct. There will be tables in a big long line down the middle and a cracking good community atmosphere is guaranteed! Everyone is encouraged to bring decorations to make their table the best dressed and it would be great to see as many people as possible there donning their best bib and tucker. Cracking Cooks Rob, Kath and Vic will be manning the Cracking Good Food stall, purveying their wares alongside other local food and drink vendors, and performers will be providing entertainment for the troops!

It's a free event, but you need to get tickets in advance - you can pick these up from the Festival Hub in the Precinct (open Wed-Sat 10am-4pm), by calling the ticket hotline on 07794 860305 or by emailing tickets@chorltonartsfestival.com

17 May 2010

Take a walk on the wild side

The third "Guestrant" evening at Electrik bar on Wilbraham Road takes place on Monday 24 May from 7.30pm and coincides with the tenth annual Chorlton Arts Festival which kicks off on Thursday.

We're delighted to announce that the star cook that evening is Cracking Good Food's very own Beth Creedon. Beth will be serving up a three-course meal made entirely from wild food, using ingredients foraged from "fields, hedges, woods and the sky". The fayre on offer is hand picked, home grown, locally sourced and, of course, in season. Beth has been cooking with wild food for over six years and likes to make classic dishes from exciting alternative ingredients. Past menus have included: Hawthorn and Sanguinello Chilli Salad; Razor Clam Chowder; Rabbit with Wild Mushrooms, and Nettle and Jack By The Hedge Ice Cream. An interesting evening is definitely in store!

Tickets are £25 from Electrik (email info@electrikbar.co.uk). Remember to state if you have a vegetarian preference when you buy your ticket.

15 May 2010

GUEST BLOG: Seeing the Cooks On The Hop in action

By guest blogger SARAH-CLARE CONLON

Having been helping out Cracking Good Food with their press and PR for a while now, I was beginning to feel a tad guilty that I hadn't yet managed to see the Cooks On The Hop properly in full swing. Yes, I was there for the launch at Chorlton's Big Green Festival, and even put my name down for a session, but demand was so great on the day that I had to step aside so non-Cracking Good Foodies could have a go. Not that I'm complaining - I want as many people as possible to try out the fantastic stop'n'chop idea!

When Adele told me that the Cooks On The Hop gazebo was going to be rocking up outside nice new Barlow Moor Road deli Hickson & Black's today, the date was straight in my diary. Obviously for promotional purposes (I hope you're keeping up with events on our new Facebook page, BTW!), but also so I could finally get a piece of the action.

Well, I know I'm biased, but the wait was certainly worth it! When I rolled up, Steve (the Black of Hickson & Black's) was in full swing serving up perfect pasta on paper plates. It was less about getting hands on and more about taste testing, but trying to decide which I preferred between the Putanesca and the All'amatriciana was tricky stuff, I can tell you. The smoky pancetta gave a lovely depth to the All'amatriciana, while you could taste the freshness in the subtly spicy Putanesca. (In the end, my favourite was the Putanesca - absolutely chockablock with flavour.)

If you were also lucky enough to snaffle a sample today, great news, because Steve's colleague Jay (as in Hickson) will be running two workshops for Cracking Good Food in July. All the details about the Pasta Plus courses are on the Cracking Good Food website, along with details of all the new sessions running in June and July. Hey - maybe I'll see you there!

Sarah-Clare Conlon is a writer, editor and press officer who lives in Chorlton and does PR for Cracking Good Food. You can read her award-winning blog about arts and culture here.

6 May 2010

Celebrating good food!

On bank holiday Monday (3 May), Whalley Range played host to the Celebrate Festival at St Margaret's Primary School on Withington Road. Events kicked off at noon and ran right through the afternoon until 6pm. Cracking Good Food was there with the Cooks On The Hop gazebo and we had fantastic fun helping festival-goers make their own lunch.

It was another great chance for Rob (below, in the white pinny) and Juliet (above, also in the white apron) to show off their Szechuan sauce stir-frys. There was an abundance of fresh produce to choose from, and hungry participants eagerly selected what they fancied, duly peeled, chopped and tossed their veg'n’tofu around the woks, and threw over coconut, pineapple and sesame seeds at the end. Even Gerald Kaufman MP popped by and was obviously delighted by what was going on.

What’s more, Laura and Anghi, two wonderful Year 10 Chorlton High School students, were keen to help out, having loved their time at the wok during Cracking Good Food's launch at Chorlton's Big Green Festival in March. We’re hoping to see more of these two… they're truly inspired chefs in the making!

Cracking Coordinator Adele

5 May 2010

Follow us on Facebook!

In case you haven't already checked it out, Cracking Good Food is now on Facebook: www.facebook.com/crackinggoodfood

You can keep up to date with events we have planned, join in or start discussions, or have a shufty at all our fab photos - feel free to tag people you spot! All you need to do to keep in the loop is click on the "like" thumbs-up button at the top of the page.

4 May 2010

GUEST BLOG: Leading a session with Chorlton Good Neighbours


Had an exhausting but great two hours doing a cooking demo for some of our local seniors from the Chorlton Good Neighbours group last week. I did the spiel, jokes and anecdotes while everyone else did the cooking.

The theme was microwave miracles. We made:
a) granola with porridge oats, syrups (the date syrup went down well; the rice syrup only so-so) and lots of dried fruit. This was a success as it used ingredients the audience could relate to and only took three minutes in the microwave.
b) mini-muffin pizze. One from a 1978 cookbook. A winner - see the photo of the finished product below (and before cooking above)!
c) chickpea salad. Now I thought everyone ate chickpeas but 75% of the group had never even tasted one before. Not a winner, unfortunately - maybe a step too far.

Lorenzo is on Cracking Good Food's team of Cracking Cooks. He also writes a blog, Grocer's Kitchen, about cooking, eating and grow your own.

2 May 2010

GUEST BLOG: Taking part in a Cracking Good Food cooking session

By guest blogger RICHARD FROST

Cooking is universal. Everyone has to learn to cook at some point, which is why I find it baffling that basic cookery classes are so hard to come by. So when I was invited to take part in a session organised by Cracking Good Food in Chorlton, I jumped at the chance.

I was one of the first paying punters to have a go at a Cracking Good Food cookery class after stumbling across their launch day at Chorlton's Big Green Festival 2010. Well, I say "paying", but the token sum I handed over must barely have covered the cost of the ingredients. Rock bottom prices aside, I'll admit that another key motivation for signing up was the growling of my stomach as lunchtime beckoned. It was clearly time to eat.

Thankfully, the dish of the day was a vegetable stir-fry – a fabulously quick meal that takes longer to eat than it does to cook. I've made stir-fry dishes plenty of times in the past but I still found this session invaluable thanks to the friendly Cracking Cook and his constant stream of top tips and practical pointers.

For instance, I learned that cutting vegetables into thin matchsticks ("julienne") is better for stir-frying because they cook through quicker. I learned that sunflower oil is better than olive oil because it reaches much higher temperatures. And I learned that mushrooms should be tossed in towards the end because they release water that risks turning stir-fried vegetables into boiled vegetables. All simple things for an experienced cook, no doubt, but useful insights for an amateur like myself.

I was very impressed by my first Cracking Good Food cookery class and I'll definitely look out for their events again in future. It was great value, great fun and a great introduction to cooking something different. But most of all, I reflected as I wolfed down my vegetable stir-fry, it truly was cracking good food!

Richard Frost is a copywriter and press officer who lives in Chorlton. Follow him on Twitter here.