25 May 2011

GUEST BLOG: Radio days

By guest blogger TRACEY TORLEY

I spent an inspiring and eventful morning with CGF outside the Chorlton FM studios. Rob (pictured with me, above) cooked up an impressive array of lightly spiced tasty Asian dishes. Bengali mushrooms with potatoes and chickpeas (pictured below) delighted passers-by, prompting lots of questions regarding the use of chickpeas in different cuisines. Samplers couldn't resist the balanced taste of the sweet and sour Mumbai lentils, despite many first saying: 'I don't do lentils!' These delicious dishes were mopped up with the newly coined phrase 'Nan in the Pan' naan breads... Everyone was impressed - so much so, many were back for seconds!

24 May 2011

On air for a second time

Today we were back at the Precinct, cooking outside the Chorlton FM radio station, and it felt like home! Rob started off in the studio interviewing Lorenzo from Unicorn (see below) while we listened outside, keeping the sounds of our pots and pans as quiet as possible.

Last week it was fishcakes; this week, Rob cooked sweet'n'sour lentils (it was the tamarind that brought all that flavour to your mouth!), Bengali mushrooms with chickpeas, and not forgetting homemade naan bread, made lovingly with yoghurt rather than water. And all of this was cooked while Rob talked through the process live on air. And we thought only women were multi-taskers!

It was windy! The flames kept blowing out, but we persevered and managed to feed more than 30 passers-by, all of whom were suitably impressed! Rob even dished out a sample of all the food to those being interviewed inside the radio studio, so a live tasting was experienced by all.

Rob’s back cooking the same again with Tracey and Nicola at Whalley Range Celebrate Community Festival 2011 on Saturday 11 June at Manley Park Primary School – look forward to seeing you there!

19 May 2011

Live lunch on Chorlton FM

On Tuesday, we set up our pop-up Cooks On The Hop stall outside pop-up radio station Chorlton FM, which is broadcasting on 87.7FM and online throughout the duration of Chorlton Arts Festival, which starts today. Regular Cracking Cook Rob, Cracking Good Food director Adele and Cooking Assistant Elizabeth created fishcakes with a garlic and lemon dip, which passers-by and shoppers then tasted, and the whole thing was broadcast live on air.

We're back outside the Chorlton FM studio in Chorlton Precinct next Tuesday (24 May) - come down between 11am and 1pm when Rob will be cooking up sweet'n'sour lentils and homemade naan bread.

In the meantime, check out the story Cracking Good Radio on the Chorlton FM website, and see photographer Daniel Cadden's blog for more fab pix from the live lunch!

Images by Daniel Cadden Photography: www.danielcaddenphotography.com

18 May 2011

Better bread!

It's been the Real Bread Campaign's Real Bread Maker Week, so on Saturday 14 May, Rob led another one of his fabulous breadmaking sessions, when loaves, rolls and naans were knocked up from scratch, using 100 per cent organic ingredients. The results in the photos speak for themselves - See our Facebook page for more.

There will be another chance to learn how to bake your own bread on Tuesday 14 June, when we're running a special evening session between 6pm and 9pm at Chorlton High School. Full details are on our website, and you can book by calling 0845 652 2572.

16 May 2011

GUEST BLOG: Barbie time

By guest blogger CAROLYN DICKSON

On Wednesday (11 May), we were cooking with another Nacro group, the crime reduction charity, and had a great time barbecueing. We made a summer sizzler BBQ with pork kebabs, yoghurt and mint sauce, and salad, and we even made our own pitta and home-made lemonade. Juliet was the lead cook and put on a fantastic cooking demo showing how to make light fluffy pitta bread instead of the biscuit version.

The guys were so friendly, grateful and seemed to enjoy every moment of it, and Jenny, who runs the community group, was really helpful. This picture tells the story and shows what a fun time we all had. Can’t wait for the next one!

More photos on our Facebook page soon!

11 May 2011

GUEST BLOG: Spice girls

By guest blogger ADELE JORDAN

Cracking Good Food were recently back where they started a year ago at Chorlton’s Big Green Festival (Saturday 16 April). This time Harjinder, of Hairy Bikers fame, Juliet and Avril were on Cooks On The Hop duties, cooking up a Punjabi feast. With regular slots letting eight festival-goers at a time cook under the familiar wooden gazebo, Harjinder led each group through the processes involved in making stuffed parathas, lentil dhal and chapatis. Who’d have thought that the spices don't need to be cooked before being added to the mashed potato for the paratha stuffing! And what incredible smells come from Harjinder’s special spice box indeed - and you could just sit back and listen to her talk about spices all day!

Next the group made dough for the flatbreads, kneading and shaping it to the right size, then covering each piece with the filling and firmly pressing another piece on top to create a round sandwich. After lightly oiling both sides with a pastry brush, these were then cooked on a traditional Tava, a cross between a frying pan and a wok. It was incredible to watch and inspiring to learn.

Harjinder will be running two separate Punjabi cooking classes on Saturday 2 and Saturday 9 July. The first is vegetarian, the other is using fish and meat. Please see the Cracking Good Food website for booking details. Places are going fast!

10 May 2011

GUEST BLOG: Tarts with a heart

By guest blogger ADELE JORDAN

On Saturday, in another great session run by Kim from Islington Mill Cafe, we cooked up broad bean, feta and mint tart, asparagus, pea and goats cheese quiche, and red onion, pea, herbs and goats cheese quiche.

First Kim got us making the pastry, something we were all quite wary of, given our bad past experiences, but by grating the butter into the flour and being gentle with the crumbing but brave in the rolling, we all did ourselves proud. We baked the cases blind using two methods: either ‘gently’ prodding the pastry with a fork (that’s where I’ve always gone wrong before!) or using uncooked dried chick peas to weigh it down (but make sure to carefully label them Baking Beans for future reference as they’re toxic once only partially cooked).

Next, we started on the mixture, podding the peas and fresh broad beans, roasting the red onions, crumbling the cheeses and chopping up the mint and thyme. The smells were just wonderful. Mixing the various combinations together, and not forgetting the juice of a lemon that brings out all the distinctive flavours, we tipped the different mixtures into the various cases made up of either puff or shortcrust pastry and put them in the oven to bake through.

We were all blown away by the tastes of all those lovely ingredients and so inspired - I even cooked the tart for Sunday dinner, from memory, and it turned out a treat! Here are just some of the comments from people who took part...

‘It was a great confidence builder for me as a kitchen novice.’ Tony Cunningham

‘It was a lovely experience, bringing people of all skill levels to a level that everyone was comfortable with.’ Harjinder Kaur

'Fantastic morning, inspiring to learn some new cooking techniques and use seasonal delicious ingredients.' Ruth Cammish

'Please continue to do great courses... Thanks so much!' Rachel Hockey

'Really inspirational. Thank you!' – Rachael Maskill

'The food was delicious. Cracking Good Food is a brilliant project – long may it last!' Richard Frost

'Really enjoyable and affordable.' Ellen Fenton