It was really thrilling at Barlow Hall Primary School yesterday to see how the combined smell of the herbs, vegetables and fresh fish we were working with alerted the senses - even the earthy smell of the potatoes and freshly laid eggs seemed to whet the appetites of participants at our third session, school staff and people passing by, who asked us to put any leftovers to one side!
Kim introduced the menu - fishcakes with salsa verde and soft poached eggs - and talked about the ingredients as the group peeled potatoes and finely chopped mint, parsley and basil for the salsa verde. Some said that they weren’t familiar with the herb mix and would never have tried to make a salsa in this way , especially when the gherkins, capers and olives needed slicing and were added to the bowl. Their reaction on seeing the different hues of green was worth bottling and the keenness to try the mix was music to our ears, even convincing a reluctant few to join in the sampling!
Kim demonstrated a fuel-saving tip by steaming the fish in a colander over the potatoes. The fish cooked very quickly and was removed to cool down, while the potatoes were left to boil, then returned to the heat once the water was drained in order to dry them as much as possible. Once cooled, the salmon, haddock and coley were skinned and flaked, then the potatoes were mashed, and both were combined, along with chopped parsley leaves, lemon zest, egg and a little flour to soak up any water and to aid binding. Kim shared tips on how to vary the dish with peas, sweetcorn or grated carrot, and to shape the mix into animals, flowers or stars in order to entice children to eat fish.
While the fishcakes were cooking, it was time to poach the eggs, but not before we heard the many different ways and tips the participants have been taught to do so. Kim demonstrated a simple no-swirl, no-vinegar method: simply use fresh eggs and crack them into boiled water for three minutes with the lid on. Kim poached 10 eggs in two batches using this method... we were all impressed.
So many tips were shared during the session, for example: fish pie mixes are great value for money and are excellent for making fish kebabs; add chilli, coriander and lime for a Thai-inspired fishcake; never cook parsley stalks, but do use coriander stalks; many fresh herbs can be frozen... But for me, the best part of the session was the silence when we sat to eat together and the only thing I heard was: "Is there any more?" So apologies to all those staff who missed out! A fabulous session – thanks all. See you next week for the last session.
You can see more photos from this session on the Cracking Good Food Facebook page.