29 August 2013

GUEST BLOG: Barbie world

By guest blogger KIM IRWIN

We've just run two summer taster workshops back at the Approved Premises, first on 31 July, then on 14 August, both times having a barbecue (the first slightly less sunny!). 

At the first session, we had the guys making tasty souvlaki kebabs, to be cooked on the barbecue then served with flatbreads and salad. Typically, the weather didn't appear to be on our side and the planned barbie was looking unlikely to happen. We didn't let this stop us though, thinking if the worst came to the worst, we could grill the kebabs indoors instead, so we cracked on with preparing pork loin, marinating it in a mixture of lemon juice and olive oil with fresh and dried herbs and garlic. Today's Cracking Cook was Rob, who talked the group through how to make their own soft flour tortillas and we were soon prepping raw beetroot to be combined with faro grain which had been given a headstart in Rob's pressure cooker. After a break, the clouds had cleared so we decided to chance lighting the barbecue. The pork was skewered and, as the kebabs charred, we panfried the tortillas and we were soon sat in the garden enjoying all the different fresh flavours which made up our souvlaki kebabs. Topped with homemade tzatziki bursting with fresh mint, the kebabs were a big success and it's true - food really does taste better when eaten outside!

For our second summer taster session at the Approved Premises, the sun was shining so the planned barbecue was on! We introduced our new cook Maz and she talked through the session with the guys, who were keen to start making burgers and healthy chips, seasonal salad and homemade lemonade! Maz instructed that the lemon syrup should be made first then the lemonade could chill in the fridge for a couple of hours. Lemons were juiced and reduced to make the syrup and sparkling water was put in the fridge to cool… it was that simple! Next up the guys got cracking with the burgers: beef and lamb and mint. Garlic was crushed, onions were finely diced and fresh mint leaves were shredded. After adding different spices to the different meats, the patties were formed and they were set aside for the flavours to infuse. We lit the barbecue and while this was heating up we made a salad of grated beetroot and carrot (a Cracking Good Food firm favourite). Simple but with big earthy tastes, this salad is a perfect barbecue accompaniment. The guys then cut potatoes into wedges and spiced them up with chipotle chillies and seasoning and then put them in a hot oven. Less fat then frying but still packed with taste! While the wedges roasted, we put the burgers on the barbecue then cleaned up and discussed the morning's events: multi-tasking in action! Everything came together at the right time and we were soon enjoying our delicious feast al fresco in the beautiful garden with the sun warming our faces - a perfect end to the session, and all washed down with homemade lemonade… delicious.

For more photos from these two sessions, visit our Facebook page by clicking on this link.