18 October 2011

In a pickle!

Last Friday saw the team joining forces with Marcus and Katy of Trove Foods for a chutney- and jam-making workshop as part of Manchester Food & Drink Festival. We got there bright & early as we wanted to catch Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s demo set before we kicked off our workshop at 3pm.

Things are often not straightforward in Cracking Good Food Land though and we discovered that because of the gas explosion earlier in the week, we weren’t allowed to use our (very safe) gas hobs. But never fear, there was a solution and we got to use the demo kitchen on the stage, at least until the next demo started at 4.30. We managed to get one apple and damson chutney workshop in and everyone went home with their very own jar of delicious chutney, complete with beautiful handmade label, and the recipe to make lots more now they knew how to do it. What great Christmas presents they would make!

We even managed to persuade Hugh over after his book-signing for a quick chat and a photo with the group. But what a shame we had to cancel the second session for lack of a hob. On the bright side, Katy gave me some of the leftover damsons and I made the most glorious looking damson gin with them on Saturday afternoon. Can’t wait for Christmas when it’ll be ready...!

10 October 2011

GUEST BLOG: Feeling chilli

By guest blogger TRACEY

What a menu! Cooking leader Alison created a trio of treats for our Mexican-themed night for the last session out of four at Didsbury Sure Start Centre on Thursday 6 October.

I think all our dreams came true when we started by whipping up a five-ingredient vegan chocolate and chilli mousse (tofu, cocoa, vanilla extract, chilli, date syrup): the result, a sumptuous, velvety melt-in-the-mouth mousse that could be made sweeter and naughtier by an extra dollop of date syrup!

We then made tomato and onion salsa, which had the chilli chipotle (see picture with Priscilla) to give a full-throttle kick! Re-fried beans were made using aduki and http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifpinto beans; they were ‘effortlessly’ mashed, then added to the mix were chopped red onions and garlic, then the whole lot was fried. Fresh coriander was chopped and sprinkled in at the end, adding some much needed colour!

Our meal was garnished with lime then the salsa and refried beans were put to bed inside a corn tortilla. The result was tasty, delicious and authentic, although one thing was missing... tequila!

Check out our Facebook page for more photos from this event.

9 October 2011

GUEST BLOG: Veggie good

By guest blogger AMY WRIGHT

We had a great turn out again on 29th September, all eager to improve our culinary skills... this time we were in the hands of cooking leader Ian Mackenzie, a local chef who specialises in vegetarian and vegan food and who runs Manchester Vegan & Vegetarian Festival. The dish for this - the third of our weekly sessions running over a month at Didsbury Sure Start - was a root vegetable and bean one-pot with mashed potato - a true vegan dish!

We started with the mashed potato, boiling potatoes then adding some vegetable oil spread. Then there was plenty to get our teeth into... lots of chopping and discovering new vegetables... we used: beetroot, parsnips, red onions, garlic, chilli, squash, sweet potato, carrots, leeks and not forgetting the all-important parsley to add in at the end (best to do this so as not to lose flavour). All these ingredients went into a pan of boiling bouillon stock, alongside a tin of brown chickpeas and some black-eye beans, and the stew was cooked until the vegetables softened, but not too much!

The result was fantastic... 'delicate and fresh' were the comments in the room. The beetroot made it for me but I think everyone discovered new flavours and some were definitely surprised by how easy and tasty it was... not to mention healthy!

Visit our Facebook page for more photos from this session and previous ones.