19 December 2012

GUEST BLOG: Christmas dinner for less than two quid!

By guest blogger TRACEY

We had a marvellous end to a marvellous course of six sessions at the Approved Premises on Monday 17 December. Perhaps not surprisingly, the group were slightly daunted by the task of making a four-course menu: lentil, carrot, turmeric and coriander soup for starters, roast chicken Christmas dinner, homemade peanut butter and tangerine stuffed pancakes for pudding, and a slab of carrot cake for washing down with a cup of tea after the session. The guys were two down, but quickly regained their enthusiasm for rising to the challenge and began the all-familiar production line of washing, peeling, chopping and slicing the vegetables: potatoes, celeriac, carrots, onions, sprouts and parsnips. Once this was done, it was time to put the chicken in the oven, first sprinkling with salt, cumin, ground peppercorns, onion and garlic to enrich the taste of the succulent chicken thighs. 

Today’s session really highlighted the versatility of the carrot as it was used in the soup, main dinner and pudding - price wise, it’s a bargain, then nutritionally, you continue to get so much for your money as it's full of vitamins A and C, zero fat and a moderate level of fibre. I’m unsure which I preferred most - watching one of the team plough through the unappealing chore of peeling and crossing the pile of sprouts, or feasting on the fabulous flavours of sprouts mixed with Stilton cheese that Rob introduced us to – the jury’s still out, because it really was good not to be landed with the sprout prep job! I was amazed at half time how the menu was coming together: the chicken was roasting, the potatoes were simmering, the rest of the veg was prepped and the soup was cooked. 

The carrot cake came together so swiftly too. First the flour, mixed spice, nutmeg, cinnamon and oil were added to each other, then the egg and sugar were combined to the mix, and finally the juiciest jumbo raisins were stirred through. The ingredients resulted in a moist but dense texture, evenly flavoured by the wintertime spices. Rob continued to educate and enlighten our tastebuds as the guys crushed unsalted peanuts and mixed them with olive oil and tangerine juice to fill the pancakes with (see above). One participant had a great idea to try it with the roasted chicken like a satay - as I said, it was a great idea! The parsnips and celeriac were a perfectly caramelised, and I was delighted as the parsnip had a distinct flavour of fried plantain - yum.

We were fortunate to have two visitors from the Job Centre join us for lunch and a few of the residents and staff too, so a total of 16 meals were served, costing £1.70 per head... with that kind of price, you really couldn’t fail to have a very Happy Christmas!

There are more photos from this session on our Facebook page. Click here to be redirected.

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