29 April 2014

GUEST BLOG: Out and about


A St George's Day forage wouldn't have been complete without finding some of the tasty edible mushrooms named after this day and we gathered them in relative abundance, despite the lovely dry weather we've been having of late. Fungi usually appear after rain, but on the evening of Wednesday 23 April, the rain held off while we foraged on Chorlton Ees and arrived at cooking-up time, when we made our mushrooms disappear, cooking them up with a mix of foraged greens including three-cornered leek, wild garlic and Easter dock, and serving the whole lot up al fresco with some crispy comfrey fritters.

Lots more photos on our Facebook site here!

If you fancy joining in on one of our wild food foraging trips, details are on our website - the next is on Wednesday 7 May starting at 5.30pm, in Didsbury's Fletcher Moss Park: full details and booking info here

GUEST BLOG: Green party

By guest blogger TRACEY

We had such a great time at Chorlton's Big Green Happening on Saturday, and the sun was out and brought the crowds with it.

While many stalls provided information and fed the public’s interest in local environmental and sustainability issues, Cracking Good Food fed their appetite with a flavoursome Punjabi lentil tarka dhal, rice, raita and a tasty salad of red cabbage and green sultana, which was sweet, juicy and crispy, and perfectly complemented the heat of the spicy dish.

There were few who were not familiar with Cracking Good Food and our mission to spread our good food messages, so it was great to meet them, chat and hand out the recipe so they could also make this cheap, healthy and simply delicious dish at home!

There are lots of photos from the Big Green Happening on the Cracking Good Food Facebook page: click here to be redirected.

9 April 2014

GUEST BLOG: Inside out

By guest blogger CLIO SCUTT

The weather almost managed to hold out for us on the Early Spring Wild Food Foray in Fletcher Moss Park last Sunday! We spent the day foraging for edible plants and fungi - learning about their properties, learning how to recognise them and distinguish them from their deadly lookalikes, and most importantly learning how to eat them! It turns out sticky weed, Japanese knotweed and the nutrient powerhouse nettle are not so bad after all, which we all warmly agreed over Jesper's lovely homemade nettle soup, and slightly questionable walnut wine at the end of the session! 

The mushroom-hunting was probably the most fun, as everyone split off through the woodland trying to find rings of mushrooms that nobody - human or creature - had foraged before us. We found plenty of Saint George's and the mysteriously named Fried Chicken varieties, along with one very out-of-season Blewit! They all cooked up deliciously in the great outdoors at the end of the session (along with a good dollop of butter; see above) to end a wonderfully informative day!

Visit our Facebook page for more images from the forage and see our website for details of upcoming wild food foraging trips - the next is 23 April and places are still available.

7 April 2014

GUEST BLOG: Rainbow warriors

By guest blogger TRACEY

The guys at the Approved Premises in Salford chose a great menu with which to finish off their six-week cooking course last Friday. A tasty tuna pasta bake was served with cheesy garlic bread (see picture below), and there was a rhubarb and apple crumble for afters.

The dishes were carefully chosen by the participants because they wanted to demonstate the skills they had learnt over the six-week period, and the cheesy garlic bread was a great variation on the breads they'd previously made, showing how versatile flour, water and yeast can be. 

Fish was a favourite with the group, so the choice of tuna pasta bake came as no surprise. The speed with which the roux for the cheese sauce was made was really good progress, especially given that many of the guys had never heard the term before they started the course. Kim suggested that they add spinach to the mixture for some nutritional iron and also to add some colour - from the start, she's been encouraging the guys to 'eat a rainbow'. Despite a little initial reluctance, they agreed that the spinach did add a subtle depth to the flavour of the final dish.

The choice of pudding took great deliberation, but the crumble won the vote. Nutmeg was sprinkled on the lightly boiled apples and rhubarb, and oats were mixed into the basic crumble topping - both additions went down really well and we all enjoyed a delicious feast.

Take a look at Cracking Good Food's page on Facebook for more photos from this session: click here.

GUEST BLOG: Life on the veg

By guest blogger TRACEY

It was non-stop at Middleton's Demesne Community Centre recycling event on Saturday 29 March! Over 200 people dropped by to learn how to reduce household waste in their local area and we were there to share Recycle for Greater Manchester's Love Food Hate Waste messages. 

We cooked two dishes: a tasty vegetable tagine with couscous and a lentil tarka dhal with rice, allowing us an excellent opportunity to show how to use up store cupboard ingredients and veg that looks past its best. Many people were surprised to learn how wrinkled produce can come back to life once rehydrated, and how cheap and versatile the dishes were to make, especially as they are ideal for freezing. They were delighted with the fresh and new spicy tastes and were interested to hear that the fresh produce had come from Fareshare, an organisation that intercepts food from manufacturers and retailers which otherwise may have gone to compost - once attention was drawn to how much food goes to waste, they were shocked and failed to understand how this could be so! It's great to know that CGF fed over 170 people today, each leaving with a good bag overflowing with this saved food to cook for their families and friends - so well over 500 people will benefit from today!

Check out our Facebook page for more great images!

GUEST BLOG: Flat pack

By guest blogger TRACEY

You'd be forgiven for thinking the guys would be slowing down in the fifth of six classes at the Approved Premises on Friday 28 March - but it was still full steam ahead with this varied Mexican menu including salsa, guacamole, refried beans, and fajita mix with grated cheese wrapped in freshly handcrafted tortillas (pictured being rolled out). The guys were surprised by how some simple and easily accessible spices of cumin, paprika and chilli flakes could transform these dishes. The chipotle was unfamiliar to all, so Kim explained the origin and process from fruit to thick flakes. All are converted and were in joint agreement that "food tastes so much better when cooked using fresh ingredients over jars and tins".

See our Facebook page for more photographs from this community-based session.

2 April 2014

GUEST BLOG: Saving time

By guest blogger CORIN BELL

I can’t believe it was the grand finale of our Love Food Hate Waste sessions last Tuesday - what an adventure it’s been! We spent the afternoon with some lovely folk in St Herbert’s Parish Centre in Chadderton showing how to make Mexican quesadillas with refried beans and spicy salsa… yum! Cracking Good Food sessions are never a spectator sport, so after a quick intro from our cooking leader Maz, the group was straight on to learning safe chopping skills. Rule number one if you want to keep all your fingers is to chop awkward shaped veg in half and lay them on their flat surface - that way they don’t roll around and you don’t slip with the knife - thanks, Maz!

Next Maz taught us about the spices and herbs used in Mexican cooking, and how you can make traditionally spicy meals super tasty without blowing your head off with heat. While Maz cooked up the beans and salsa, our participants got involved in our favourite food waste fix-it game… sharing which foods tend to go to waste in their fridges and cupboards, and getting tips on how to use them up rather than let them go off. My favourite tip of the day: have you ever bought any of those “super grains”, cooked one recipe with them, then left them in the back of the cupboard? Well, one of our lovely Chadderton locals had, then discovered that you can make porridge out of quinoa, millet, wheat flakes, all sorts! Some just need a little more sweetness, which means you can also use up honey, golden syrup, or even jam. A great tip for using up grains once faddy diet season is over! 

So that’s it for this round of Love Food Hate Waste sessions in partnership with Recycle for Greater Manchester; here’s hoping we’re back soon with lots more free sessions and tips!