27 September 2010

What's next on the menu?

Cracking Good Food are pleased to announce the next round of cookery classes, with some good hearty recipes and meal ideas perfect for autumn and winter. So what's next on the menu?

Saturday 23 October: Perfect pumpkins
Pumpkin and salmon curry, pumpkin risotto and pumpkin seed nibbles are here for Hallowe'en thanks to Jay from Hickson & Black’s.

Saturday 30 October: Veggie roasts
Kim from Islington Mill Cafe will be showing you how to rustle up a tasty veggie roast.

Saturday 6 November: Traditional roasts
Cracking Cook Rob's dishing up a traditional roast with all the trimmings.

Saturday 13 November: Lovely leftovers
Roasts are great in the age of austerity and Steve from Hickon & Black’s will be showing you how to get your money's worth with homemade chicken stock, soup, stir-fry, bubble and squeak...

Saturday 20 November: Cracking Christmas
Christmas is coming and Anna's edible treats make great gifts with rum truffles, chilli jam and cookies in a jar.

Each three-hour session costs just £15 (£10 concessions) and takes place every Saturday 11am-2pm at Chorlton High School on Nell Lane. Places are limited to 12 so book early to avoid disappointment!

To book...

• visit our website http://crackinggoodfood.org/when-and-where
• pop in to Hickson & Black’s Deli at 559a Barlow Moor Road in Chorlton
• call 0161 881 7070
• email adele@crackinggoodfood.org or fiona@crackinggoodfood.org

24 September 2010

GUEST BLOG: Getting back to our roots

By guest blogger AVRIL POVAH

Working in the Food Tech kitchen at Chorlton High School is a dream, and the most recent Cracking Good Food cooking class (on Saturday 18 September) - seasonal roots and squashes - was a real fairy tale; pumpkins included!

First up on our menu was Borscht Soup. We discovered that there are a number of ways to spell Borscht - Borsch, Borstch, Borsh, Barszcz or Borshch - and it depends which part of the world you come from. A very interesting question came up at the beginning of our lesson: what does Borscht mean? We all assumed it meant beetroot as this is the base ingredient for this hearty soup but in fact it derives its name from hogweed. This plant can be eaten raw but cooked hogweed leaves and stalks make this wonderful greeny brown coloured soup. Nina, our Cooking Leader for the class, shared with us her German mother's recipe, made from raw beetroot and other seasonal roots and greens. She said that it's traditionally eaten with a blob of sour cream, but we made a dairy-free version by adding a dash of lemon juice to soya cream (you could use oaty cream too) and served it with a good thick slice of dark rye bread.

Our dessert was Pumpkin Cheesecake, which we made using Tofu, a beancurd protein of Chinese origin made from soya milk which is pressed after coagulating. There are many different varieties of Tofu, which can be used in both savoury or sweet dishes, and it is low in calories as it contains little fat, and high in iron and calcium. Pumpkin is a squash-like fruit in season at the moment, and with Bonfire Night coming up soon this recipe is an ideal way to use it and great to try out for friends and family. Pumpkin originates from the Greek word 'pepon', meaning large melon, and was adapted by the French to 'pompon', then changed by the British to 'pumpion' and later by American colonists to the word we use today. Pumpkin is very fibrous, so we began by roasting slices in the oven to soften it for our cheesecake mix. Once combined with the tofu and added to the biscuit base, the cheesecake was baked. It tasted absolutely delicious, with all the warm spices of cinnamon and ground ginger coming through, together with the sweetness of the maple syrup and molasses we used.

Lots of our five a day were incorporated into our meal so I didn't feel too indulgent in devouring it all! Nina had sourced most of our ingredients locally, too, which was good to know and the beetroot came from Ormskirk, the potatoes from Yorkshire and the cabbage from Dunham Massey.

16 September 2010

Fresh air, fresh food

So remember a couple of blog posts ago, we were egging you on to sign up for market garden goodness? Well, if you did, well done you! And if you didn't, what a day you missed!

It was an amazing and truly inspirational day, and, alongside Adam, Charlotte, Ed and Sally (wearing the aprons), who run coop growers Glebelands, we picked all the ingredients there and then fresh from the market garden. Above are the gorgeous yellow courgette flowers we made fritters from.

We then cooked (and ate): spicy courgette bhajis (see below); fried courgette flowers in tempura batter; basil and cashew pesto; tabbouleh, and squash and kale soup. Yum!

GUEST BLOG: Causing a stir!

By guest blogger AVRIL POVAH

On Tuesday evening, we set up our stall once again at Buckthorn House on Nell Lane in Chorlton to give the residents in the area a hands-on taster of how easy, cheap and delicious home cooking can be. Cooking Leader Kim demonstrated how to make a simple butternut squash risotto: a great rescue meal (especially at this time of year, when squashes are just coming into season) and very nutritious, being a good source of iron.

Making her own vegetable stock, Kim produced a natural juice from fennel, carrots, leeks and bay leaves to feed the risotto with. The secret to risotto is in the stirring, massaging the stock into all the ingredients to slowly release the starch from the Italian Arborio risotto rice (easily bought from supermarkets and places like Unicorn Grocery). After a final squeeze of lemon, a dollop of plain yoghurt and some fresh oregano leaves, this well-balanced, one-pot meal was devoured by everyone who stopped by to see what was going on.

13 September 2010

Food for free

On Sunday 5 September 2010, local herbalist and wild food expert Jesper Launder led a group of Cracking Good Foodies on a forage along Chorlton Brook and in the meadows and woods of Chorlton Ees. After learning to identify a whole host of different edible fruit and veg, the group got cooking in the great outdoors, making a freebie feast of garlic mushrooms, cider funghi fritters, and elderberries with ice cream. For more photos, see the special Ees album on our Facebook site.

Thanks to the workshop's popularity and resounding success, Cracking Good Food is giving you a second opportunity to join Jesper on Chorlton Ees for another wild food forage on Wednesday 22 September 5pm-8pm.

The event is the usual £15 (or £10 concessions), and booking is essential - see our website for full details. The food forage sets off from Ivygreen carpark on Brookburn Road (opposite the Bowling Green pub) at 5pm.

6 September 2010

Sign up now for market garden goodness

Join us for a special foraging and cooking session with the Glebelands City Growers this Sunday (12 September) between 2pm and 5pm.

Glebelands City Growers are Adam, Charlotte, Ed and Sally. They say: "We grow vegetables at our three-acre site on the banks of the River Mersey in Sale where market gardens were once common. Our location on the outskirts of Manchester means we can get fresh food to the city within hours of picking. Crops include salads and herbs, leafy greens, beans, squash and cucumbers, all of which are grown organically. Glebelands is a unique example of small scale, sustainable farming in an urban environment; we aim to challenge perceptions about how food is produced and inspire people towards positive change."

We'll be picking fresh seasonal produce from the flourishing market garden then turning it into a delicious meal which we'll eat alfresco. Payment is on the day (a small contribution only), but please note that booking is essential so we know numbers: email fiona@crackinggoodfood.org. See the Cracking Good Food website for directions and transport details.

GUEST BLOG: Sensible snacking

By guest blogger AVRIL POVAH

The menu on Wednesday 1 September for the Chorlton Good Neighbours group meeting at St Ninian's Church consisted of quick and easy snacks - but nutritious as well as tasty. We began the session making Mexican refried beans to use as a healthy topping on a variety of different crackers and breads (great for a quick lunch!), together with chickpea houmous. Both were excellent sources of protein and fibre, and really delicious.

Next we prepared one of Elvis Presley's favourites: peanut butter sandwiches. These were orginally cooked in butter or lard and topped with grilled bacon, but we opted for a lower fat version using sunflower oil (see photo below). They went down a storm, the piece de resistance of the day, and a true legend of all sandwiches! As we munched on them, Cracking Cook Lorenzo regaled the group with tales of some of Elvis's other famous dietary quirks, telling us how he was renowned for cravings such as Fool's Gold Loaf: a loaf of Italian bread filled with a pound of bacon, peanut butter and grape jelly. His mother, Gladys, said he had "sandwich after sandwich of this favourite".

We washed the food down with some delicious lemonade homemade using real lemons: tangy and very refreshing. Lorenzo was by now in full flow with all his stories about organic food growing and everyone went home with some great ideas and plenty of tips on how to follow a healthy diet.

3 September 2010

The great outdoors

After having to cancel our Cooks On The Hop at Plover Terrace on Tuesday 17 August, we were really worried when it was incredibly windy with torrential rain the day before our rescheduled second Hop on Tuesday 24 August. We even resorted to borrowing an ultra-strong gazebo from the local police station for more shelter - just as well, as ours was blown over in a particularly strong gust!

Still, at least the rain held off and Cracking Cook Avril managed to dish up loads more of our by now famous homemade pasta sauces, hopefully providing inspiration for people to give it a go for themselves. Healthier and loads cheaper than from a jar - what's not to like?

Tina Murphy, Customer Involvement Officer for Southway Housing Trust, which manages many of the properties on Arrowfield Road Estate, popped along to see what we were up to. She dropped us an email afterwards to let us know how enjoyable and useful she found it.

"I attended the cooking session recently organised by Cracking Good Food on Arrowfield Road Estate, and I was amazed by how easy it is to create such wonderful tasty food with such little effort or expense. The event was very well organised and the methods of cooking were very well explained by Avril. She knows her stuff! I can highly recommend that you get yourself to one of these events. I'm looking forward to the next event where pizza is on the menu."

The pizza-making session took place on Tuesday (31 August), a week later. You can see more photos from the day on our Facebook page. It was (finally!) glorious weather when residents of the Estate came down to the community allotment run by Action For Sustainable Living. Everyone got stuck in making pizza bases from scratch, kneading and rolling out the dough, then adding tasty homemade tomato sauce and wholesome veg picked straight off the plants on the plot. The pizzas were then baked in the special cob oven that was built in 2008 and served with a freshly harvested salad. Result: smiles all round!