By guest blogger HELEN ROADHOUSE
I was slightly nervous when it came to explaining to the Chorlton Good Neighbours group gathered in St Ninian's church hall on 3 April that Cracking Cook Juliet Lawson would be cooking hotpot as it became apparent quite quickly that many were already very adept at their own version of the dish and had been cooking it for many years... so what could we possibly show them?
Well, we also had a tasty vegetarian bean stew to make as well as a lovely braised red cabbage recipe, and for dessert there was something that they were not expecting: a chocolate tofu mousse.
The hotpot was made with a cheaper cut of beef - skirt - as this tends to be really tasty and doesn't break the bank. We passed the test though and Juliet's recipe, though not exactly unconventional, went down a treat and after all the second helpings were enthusiastically dished out, there was none left to worry about!
The veggie bean stew had a bit of a kick but we followed Hilary's advice on not chopping the chilli but just piercing it, cooking it whole and removing it before serving up. This adds the delicious chilli flavour without overwhelming the dish with heat... perfect. Even some of the hardened carnivores were pleasantly surprised at how tasty and satisfying it was!
The tofu certainly raised a few eyebrows and there was huge interest in the dessert, especially when it was explained just what a healthy alternative it can be. Lots of questions were asked as to what it was made from and how it could be used and how it would taste, and the information was soaked up - quite a few people in the group had health issues related to dairy or cholesterol, and that this was something they could eat. We did find that the cocoa and date syrup should be added to taste rather than by recipe and it was explained that it can be served up with all sorts of fruits and nuts and whatever takes your fancy!
So a tried and tested classic hotpot got the once-over from some seasoned family cooks with the thumbs-up. The veggie bean stew went down well and was deemed to be very tasty and the chocolate tofu mousse dessert that was greeted with initial uncertainty ended up being a surprise hit. A great session all round!
You can watch a video of this session on YouTube here.
You can see more photos on Facebook here.