It was our first day back at the Approved Premises on Wednesday 30 January and we were joined in the kitchen by a group of six new guys. This was the first in a block of four courses, which brought the return of Alison, and she started the session with a fresh and healthy vegetable stir-fry. We’re so used to the protests of ‘what, no meat?’ and welcome the opportunity to share the delights and benefits of keeping this a meat-free dish – but this time we had company! A previous participant (who was seriously opposed to vegetables) shared his experience of cooking and eating the meal – convincing the guys that, actually, it's pretty good and that he’d have it again! So the group chopped and sliced broccoli, onion, garlic, chilli, carrots, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, peppers and courgettes, and sliced the ginger julienne style. They listened and watched, learnt some new food types and cooking terms, and developed their knife skills along the way.
Next was preparing the ingredients for the sweet and sour sauce; tomatoes and tomato puree, pineapple juice, white wine vinegar, soy sauce and vinegar – simple and tasty. The preparation for the egg-fried rice got underway; the spring onions were sliced, eggs beaten and rice put onto cook, rice quantities are always difficult to judge, but we based it on one cup serving two. Once cooked, the rice was left to cool and the onions were fried in the wok alongside the eggs, then the ingredients were combined to form a high-protein and fibrous side dish which looked stunning. I love the prep of the ‘cheats crispy seaweed’ - leaves of a savoy cabbage are rolled, finely sliced and blanched for a few minutes, placed on a baking sheet and dressed in a mix of tahini and soy sauce, then put in the oven to crisp up. Alison continued the Chinese tradition of increasing the protein intake by including chopped cashew nuts which could be sprinkled over the stir-fry. Chopped coriander and lime wedges were also used to dress the food. We sat down to eat and enjoy the meal fit for an emperor’s banquet (which did include our previous participant!) and calculated that we fed a group of 18 for just £1.20 per head!
There are more photos from this session on our Facebook page.