20 February 2014

GUEST BLOG: Last but not least

By guest blogger TRACEY

We've just run two more of our sessions in Home Office Approved Premises: one in Oldham and one in Stockport, both concluding the latest of our regular six-week courses.

Oldham, 14 February

Our last session on Friday was met with a monster menu – beef madras, rice and dumplings, vegetable stir-fry with rice noodles, and a delicious ginger-based cheesecake to further delight our tastebuds. The guys were all set to take ownership of their dishes, so with little instruction prepped the vegetables for both the stir-fry and madras. A discussion took place as to how many chillies should be used and as three fiery green ones were chosen, some of us were a bit worried, until we found out that yoghurt would be on hand! We were really pleased that we could include making some Jamaican dumplings - although a little distant from the chosen cuisines, they are great for mopping up any continents' gravy! Making the stir-fry allowed for an opportunity to introduce and use rice noodles, which are so delicate, but easily take on the flavour of the other ingredients and added bulk to the meal. Finally the non-bake cheesecake was constructed using limited ingredients of crème fraiche and soft cheese, with only a little sugar added to contrast against the sweet gingernut biscuit base. Our final evaluation was accompanied with awarding the guys with certificates for completing the course along with a set of pans to get them cooking.

Stockport, 17 February

We bid farewell to the Approved Premises in Stockport on a high this Monday. The guys prepared a feast using their skills and knowledge gained from the previous five weeks. On the menu was chicken and bean chilli, rice, peshwari naan, garlic naan, raita and a springy lemon slab cake. The participants all worked really hard to pull off this varied and packed menu, and the familiar production line of prepping vegetables began, while they simultaneously prepared the dough for the naan breads, and chopped the coconut, almonds and mixed fruit in a food processor for the peshwari filling. The chicken breasts were roasted then sliced and added to the simmering tomatoes, onions and garlic, then all the ingredients were treated to a sprinkling of turmeric, cumin and paprika, then left to simmer while the dry rice was fried first before boiling to bring about a lovely nutty taste and brown appearance. After a quick break, the lemon slab cake ingredients were mixed together and left to rise in the oven, then finally, the raita was prepared by finely chopping up mint and mixing it with yoghurt. This was a great combination of dishes that left us all feeling satisfied, and the guys were particularly pleased to be given certificates for completing the six-week cooking course and a set of pans each to encourage them to continue cooking!

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