By guest blogger TRACEY
Both Rob and I were delighted to return to the Approved Premises on Monday 12 November. The new group of guys appeared eager to get started, but unsurprisingly deflated that the stir-fry session just included veg! I heard some of them say that they didn’t “do veg”, but Rob got them started with peeling, slicing and chopping the red onions; sharing tips on how to prevent the tears! Next they topped and tailed the garlic and the guys listened to how this little veg has become a part of English cuisine from across the Channel and now grows well in our climate. Once the root and shoot was lost and a slice removed in order to steady the clove, Rob explained that garlic also aids digestion especially when eating meat.
The concentration in the room was tangible when the guys were cutting the carrots and ginger Julienne style - many were unfamiliar with the term and style, but all improved their chopping skills while working through the stack of carrots. The group were encouraged to taste and smell the raw fennel - some noted and appreciated the aniseedy taste - and the strong celery-like fragrance of the celeriac was also recognised, and Rob informed the group that celeriac is part of the celery family. They were shown the best way to get the flesh from the veg as otherwise there can be lots of waste – some handy tips! All then got involved in peeling, chopping, slicing and deseeding the chillies, peppers and mushrooms for the veggie stir-fry.
Next came egg-fried rice, cheat's seaweed and sweet and sour sauce. The group paired off and busied themselves with their tasks. The egg fried rice had a subtle nutty taste due to the guys using one of Rob’s flavour-enhancing tips of firstly light-frying the rice in a little oil, then adding the water - this worked exceptionally well. My old-time favourite of cheat's seaweed (cabbage!) was steamed then covered in a tahini and soy sauce mix, which really adds to the flavour, and we used some of the cabbage water in the sweet and sour sauce to ensure we all got a quota of vitamin C.
There are more photos from this community session on the Cracking Good Food Facebook page.