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.