19 February 2011


Tuesday 1 March – Risotto
Vegetarian; £20; 6–9pm; Chorlton High School, Nell Lane, M21 7SL
Learn the traditional Italian techniques of risotto-making with vegetarian chef Kim from Islington Mill. You'll master a two-grain squash version plus wild mushroom and tarragon.

Vegetarian; £20; 11am–2pm; Chorlton High School, Nell Lane, M21 7SL
Bake your own delicious handmade pizzas and calzones using seasonal ingredients. With Richard from Chorlton's own cooperative grocery Unicorn.

Saturday 12 March – Fish & Veggy Curry SORRY, THIS CLASS HAS BEEN CANCELLED!
Fish/vegetarian; £20; 11am–2pm; Chorlton High School, Nell Lane, M21 7SL
Back due to popular demand: Kath from Unicorn will be cooking up fish and vegetable curries and even homemade naan bread to serve with them.

Saturday 19 March – Cupcakes
Vegetarian; £20; 11am–2pm; Chorlton High School, Nell Lane, M21 7SL
Newcomer Deanna from North Star Deli and Electrik's Guestrant will be baking a range of unusual cupcakes (courgette and carrot, anyone?) and showing how to decorate them.

Saturday 26 March – Wild Food Foraging
Vegetarian; £20; 1pm–4pm; Chorlton Ees (meet opp Bowling Green pub).
Another chance to forage and cook up early edible shoots, leaves and springtime mushrooms. With herbalist and wild food expert Jesper Launder.

Saturday 2 April – Sustainable Fish
Fish; £25; 11am–2pm; Chorlton High School, Nell Lane, M21 7SL
Back due to popular demand: Rob will show you how to fillet a fish, cook a seasonal flat fish Veronique and make goujons with garlic yoghurt dip.

To book places on any of these classes...
  • visit our website at http://crackinggoodfood.org/
  • email fiona@crackinggoodfood.org
  • telephone 0845 652 2572
  • pop in to Hickson & Black’s deli on Barlow Moor Road in Chorlton

Souper session!

This week we were cooking with Nacro, the crime reduction charity, at a women’s hostel in Withington. Nicola (pictured below in the stripy pinny) showed the group how to make a really tasty tomato and lentil soup and some wholemeal pitta breads to go with it. Once we'd mixed and kneaded the dough (so easy!), we rolled it into separate tear shapes before placing these under a hot grill to puff up and brown. How simple is that!

The lovely Jenny, who runs the community group and is full of boundless energy, got cracking with a spicy apple tea that filled the room with some fabulous aromatic smells that are strangely often only associated with Christmas but were great on a chilly February day. As we sipped our tea, we got stuck in to some great conversations about food, especially the issues surrounding fish at the moment. See the Cracking Good Food Facebook page for more photos - click here.

We're really looking forward to cooking with the ladies again next month. The upcoming classes we have chalked up include Chinese "takeaways" and meals cooked from a sad-looking fridge, and we're also planning on having a barbecue once the weather gets a bit warmer.

17 February 2011

GUEST BLOG: Baking hot

By guest blogger CAROLYN DICKSON

The lovely Rob was showing us all how to make bread on the second of the advanced breadmaking sessions Cracking Good Food ran at Chorlton High School, this one on the evening of Tuesday 1 February. It was a busy session as we were making Brioche and Rugbrød (Danish Rye Bread), and also learning about the fundamentals of how to make Sour Bread.

Rob had prepared the yeast in advanced for Sour Bread as it can take up to three to seven days for the yeast to ferment. We also learned how yeast actually makes bread rise: active yeast will foam and bubble as it ferments the sugar into ethanol and carbon dioxide. Some recipes refer to this as proofing the yeast as it "proves" (tests) the viability of the yeast before the other ingredients are added. When using a Sour Dough starter, flour and water are added instead of sugar; this is referred to as proofing the sponge.

For the Brioche, we activated the yeast by adding it to warm water with sugar, and for the Rye, we dissolved molasses and butter in some warm water and again stirred in the yeast until there was a good ‘head’ of active yeast on the surface.

Once the dough is kneaded until it is smooth, it is left to rise, sometimes until it has doubled in size. Some bread dough are knocked back after one rising and left to rise again. A longer rising time gives a better flavour, but the yeast can fail to raise the bread in the final stages if it is left for too long initially. The dough is then shaped into loaves, left to rise until it is the correct size, then baked.

Great results were produced as you can see by the photo above, and I can still smell the bread: very moreish indeed. We of course sampled the bread we baked afterwards with cup of tea and we were all chuffed at ourselves for producing three amazing breads in only three hours...

More photographs from the two Advanced Breadmaking sessions we ran can be seen on our Facebook page - just click here to view the album.

16 February 2011

GUEST BLOG: School dinners

Guest blog by ADELE JORDAN

Our final session at Dial Park Primary School in Stockport was on Monday (14 February) and this time Avril cooked up an Indian takeaway with the pupils and their parents. She started by getting the map of the world out so everyone could locate India, where a lot of the spices we would be using came from.

She then got everyone chopping the veggies for the vegetable jalfrezi. Adding cumin seeds to a dry pan, we enjoyed the sound of them popping, then added oil and onions and left it all to sweat. When the heady aromas of garlic, chilli and ginger were added to the onions, various people passing through the corridors couldn’t resist coming to see what we were doing!

Once the root veg was in the pan and the curry was simmering away, we turned our attention to making the side dish tarka dhal - a mixture of lentils and spices - as well as our very own chapatis! These were a delight to make, and the kids loved rolling the dough balls out into circular shapes then cooking them in a dry frying pan. By pressing down on the bread with a teatowel, bubbles popped up and brown spots appeared – just like chapatis you get in restaurants! As soon as the bread was cooked, we all sat down to a a slap-up "takeaway" and it was a real shame it would be the last time at the table together.

Unfortunately all good things come to an end and the fourth and final session was over. We’d like to continue cooking at the school as the regular team of parents and pupils say they’ve been truly inspired, and Justyna, Ian, Natalie, Elaine, Clare, Blake and the staff have been absolutely stars. With a bit of luck, we've inspired them to set up a cooking club - certainly, the seed has been sown and we hope their talents in the kitchen flourish.

More photos from the class can be found on our Facebook page here, and there are albums for the first three sessions at Dial Park on Facebook too.

Adele is the Director of Cracking Good Food. If you have any questions or queries, or you'd like to find out about how Cracking Good Food can help your school or community group, you can email her via adele@crackinggoodfood.org

15 February 2011

GUEST BLOG: Marvellous meat

Guest blog by VIC MASTERS

What would you rather eat:

a) a processed, reconstituted chicken Kiev that has been marinated in "a solution of water, rice starch, salt sugar and sodium phosphate" and contains as many as 50 ingredients, or
b) a delicious homemade natural chicken Kiev made with a few simple ingredients?

If your is answer is b, read on...

During Tuesday 8 February's Meat class we made succulent Kievs from scratch. We were even taught how to de-bone (see photo above) the less expensive yet far tastier thighs by our accomplished teacher Beth Creedon from Dig, south Manchester's popular vegetable box scheme.

Beth focused on using cheaper cuts of meat, which, with a little preparation and time, were turned into restaurant-quality dishes. The chicken Kiev was a melt-in-the-mouth sensation while the other dish we made, pork curry, was a tantalisingly tender blend of piquant spices, juicy mango and pork shoulder. The photo below shows Beth explaining the next step of preparation after the pork has been left marinating to gain both flavour and tenderness.

If that's left your mouth watering, why not sign up for one of Cracking Good Food's classes? You'll never need turn to a lurid proccessed chicken Kiev again!

Our next class is on Tuesday 1 March 6pm-9pm, at Chorlton High, when Kim from Islington Mill Cafe will be demystifying risottos. Bookings can be made online at http://crackinggoodfood.org/, via email (fiona@crackinggoodfood.org), by telephone on 0845 652 2572, or in person at Hickson & Black’s deli on Barlow Moor Road in Chorlton.

More photos from the Marvellous Meat class can be seen on our Facebook page here.

8 February 2011

Fancy fast food

In the third of our four trips to Dial Park Primary School in Stockport, Cracking Cook Rob showed us how to make Fancy Fast Food! We did mackerel fish cakes with hand-bashed, homemade breadcrumbs, and also nut burgers. Plenty of the kids and even the grown-ups were calling them ‘yuk burgers’ at first, but that all changed to ‘yum burgers’ when they tasted them and they went down really, really well. These were served with a garlic and yoghurt dip that was very popular plus two salads: one made with grated carrot and another using mixed leaves, both tossed in a garlic and mustard French dressing.

It was another really good event, with full-on participation from the schoolchildren and their parents and plenty of good food eaten! Everyone seemed very impressed and we're sorry next week's session will be the last at the school! There are loads more photos from the session on Monday 7 February over on the Cracking Good Food Facebook page.

6 February 2011

Top of the class!

Cracking Good Food are really pleased to be running a series of workshops at Dial Park Primary School in Stockport, with the help of funding from The Cooperative Membership. Four sessions will take place in total, and we're halfway through!

On Monday 24 January, Juliet showed the kids and their parents how to cook Healthy Pot Noodles. Everyone got cracking with the chopping of vegetables to stir-fry - mushrooms, leeks, carrots, onions - and it was a great chance to try out some new flavours and see how simple it is to prepare tasty, vitamin-packed food from scratch.

On Monday 31 January, Kim inspired the class with her Homemade Hotpot, cooking a wholesome warming winter stew using beans and root vegetables including beetroot, butternut squash, parsnip, carrot, potato, leek and onion. This was served with rosemary-flavoured dumplings, mustard mash and caramelised onions, and everyone agreed the end result was yummy as well as easy on the wallet.

Tomorrow, Rob will be making Fancy Fast Food from fishcakes to veggie burgers, then next week Avril will be cooking up a Curry without the Takeaway. We're really looking forward to both these classes, and hope the kids and their parents also find them helpful and rewarding.

For more photos from the school classes, please visit our Facebook page by clicking here. And don't forget to keep checking back to see photos from the upcoming classes!

2 February 2011

The spice of life

It was a packed house for our spicy vegetarian class and it was great to see such a range of ages getting cracking on a Saturday morning. Kate, who is one of the chefs at Jam Street Cafe on Upper Chorlton Road, led the session as 14 keen cooks and helpers got chopping and cooking, quickly filling the domestic science room at Chorlton High School with some lovely pungent smells from fresh herbs and spices.

Spicy bean burgers were made with cumin and coriander to pack a flavoursome punch, and these were complimented with a lip-smacking Romanesque sauce using roasted peppers, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, delicious sweet hot smoked paprika, roasted almonds and homemade croutons. This was served with a vibrant salad for a healthy take on fast food that went down a treat around the table.

Click here
to check out the Cracking Good Food Facebook page for some more photos from the spicy veggie class.