22 April 2013

GUEST BLOG: Grainy city

By guest blogger CHRIS YOUNG

At our fourth cooking session at Altrincham Grammar School for Boys (AGSB) on Monday 15 April, the high-tech kitchen was full of excited participants, and it was great to see some familiar faces as several of the participants had been to previous cooking sessions. This time, we made wild mushroom risotto and squash, lemon and two-grain risotto.

Chef Kim Irwin started the session by talking about the different types of grains and their usage and explained that by knowing your grains, you can improve your cooking. For risottos, a special rice called Arborio is normally used and can be bought in most stores these days. For the two-grain risotto, in addition to Arborio rice, barley rice was also used. Barley adds an interesting texture to the risotto plus a variety of minerals and vitamins.

Kim also showed how to chop vegetables in a safe and efficient way – a great skill to have! Everyone got to practise as they were chopping the ingredients for the stock - carrot, leek, celery, fennel, onion, bay leaf, garlic and fresh herbs. Fennel can sometimes be difficult to find but the stock works without it if you don't manage to get hold of any. At Cracking Good Food, we teach (among other things) sustainability, and tonight was no different: we used everything from the vegetables for the stock, skin included, and didn't let anything go to waste. You'll notice the difference, too - the stock has a deeper, fuller taste.

The secret to a perfect risotto is in the stirring and when to add liquid. By carefully stirring the rice,  adding one ladleful of stock at a time and ensuring the rice absorbs the stock slowly before adding more, the rice slowly releases the starch, which allows the risotto to become creamy. And, did you know that a perfect risotto should have a bite to it and not be mushy? The things you learn at our sessions!

It was great to see how everyone enjoyed themselves and, thanks to the expert guidance and useful tips from Kim, the participants created two wonderful perfectly made risotto dishes.

You can see more photographs from this session on our Facebook page.

CGF is delighted to announce that we will offer further cooking classes this summer at AGSB:
Saturday 18 May:  Meat/fish Punjabi with Harjinder (3 hours, 10am start)
Tuesday 4 June:  Sushi/Japanese with Kim (3 hours, 6pm start)
Saturday 8 June:  Bread with Rob (4 hours, 10am start)
Monday 17 June:  Pasta from scratch with Kevin (3 hours, 6pm start)

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