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Junior Chef 25/26 Jan 2020

This week our Junior Chefs will be making – Chinese chicken & cashew nuts & stir fried cabbage & mushroom noodles, in garlic sauce 

Chinese New Year kicks off Saturday and is year of the Rat.

The rat is the first in the 12 year cycle of Chinese zodiac signs and those born in the year of the rat are generally born with these zodiac rat characteristics.  They are believed to be very intelligent, charming, diligent and positive.

In Chinese culture rats were seen as a sign of wealth and surplus.  Food plays an important role in many New Year celebrations with families coming together for reunion meals and feasts.

There is so much more to Chinese cuisine than just your local takeaway.  Chinese food is fairly healthy as dishes usually contain lots of vegetables.  This country’s cuisine is fascinating and differs from many others as it lacks the creamy, butter-based sauces found in many other cuisines.

Food is central to Chinese New Year and festive dishes are chosen for their symbolism in bringing good health, long life, luck and prosperity into the coming year.  Red is a symbol of luck and yellow for wealth.

Noodles, along with long beans, are traditionally eaten at Chinese New Year, as the long strands symbolise longevity for the year ahead. The preparation of the noodles is generally up to personal preference, as long as the noodles are not cut or broken as this would signify shortening of life, which would definitely not be a good start to the year!

Chinese New Year is the pinnacle of the Chinese calendar and is also known as the Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year.  Celebrated by more than 20%, of the world; it’s the most important holiday in China and to Chinese people all over the world.

Five facts about Chinese New Year

·         It is the longest Chinese holiday

·         The festival causes the largest human migration in the world due to family reunions

·         Children receive lucky money in red envelopes

·         Firecrackers are always set off at midnight

·         The Chinese decorate everything red for Chinese New Year

This week we will be using the following skills: measuring, chopping, and mincing, cutting, slicing, mixing/combining, boiling/simmering and wok frying.

Teen Chef – 18 Jan 2020

This week our Teen Chefs we will be making – Pan fried duck breast, with an orange sauce along with a zesty & fragrant orange rice

Duck is very versatile and diverse and is widely loved for its rich, tender meat.

The Gressingham Duck is a well-bred duck and is a unique breed that first came about when the flavourful Mallard was crossed with the larger Pekin duck, now renowned for its superior taste and succulence making it a favourite amongst restaurant chefs.

Duck has a succulence which lends itself well to sweeter flavours, which is why it is often served with fruit i.e. Duck à l ’orange but it can also work well with mushrooms, or other meats.

In our recipe we will be serving it with zesty and fragrant orange rice which is both fruity and satisfying, without being overly rich ideal with pan roast duck.

Duck breast has a bold flavour, with rich flesh that can be served pink. While duck is known – and, indeed, loved – for being a rich, fatty meat, for the most part it is the skin of the duck which holds most of the fat. 

Did you know a skinless duck breast fillet is lower in both calories and fat than a chicken breast in addition to being rich in protein and iron. 

In Season: Oranges are at their peak between December and April.

The most common variety of orange for eating is the navel orange, so named because the blossom end often resembles a navel.  Choose fruit that’s heavy for its size and free of soft spots.

Fruits are traditionally served with duck to offset its richness.  Oranges are available year-round, but during winter (when citrus is in season) they give us the little burst of tropical elements and vitamin C. 

Oranges pair well with duck and we will showcase them in both our orange sauce and in our aromatic rice with saffron, cinnamon and ginger, providing a hearty savoury side.

This week we will be using the following skills: Scoring, pan frying, cutting, slicing, infusing, rendering, resting, combining, boiling and grating, zesting, peeling, making a sauce with fruit, rinsing, chopping.

See you Saturday Teen Chefs.

Teen Chef – 7 Dec 2019

This week our Teen Chefs will be making – Festive Turkey & Bacon Meatballs with Parsnip, Apple and Chestnut Mash with a Creamy Gravy Sauce

Our ingredients will focus on those associated with the festive season.

Our meatballs are going to be super juicy and full of goodness including turkey, pork and bacon, onions, cranberries, bread, milk, and herbs, served in a creamy gravy sauce made from the meat juices.

Meatballs nearly always include two meats normally beef, and veal/pork. Ours will use pork and turkey to keep it festive. Turkey and smokey, salty bacon pairs well with fruit which is readily associated with the festive season.   Fresh and dried cranberries are excellent in sauces, cakes, desserts and stuffings. Fresh cranberries are used to make the popular accompaniment to turkey, cranberry sauce.

A tip for making soft meatballs is to use a panade – which is a mixture of starch like bread mixed with a liquid like cranberry juice which is then added to minced meat.

Our sauce will be made from the meat juices from pan frying our meatballs.   The base of this sauce will be a velouté which is one of the five mother sauces of classical cuisine.  Like béchamel, velouté is thickened with a roux.  Velouté is made with stock.  We will be finishing our sauce with cream and sage.

We will serve this with a parsnip, apple and chestnut mash.  Chestnuts have a sweet crumbly flesh and, unlike other nuts, are low in fat. Roast chestnuts are a traditional winter treat and can be cooked on an open fire, in the oven or in a frying pan. Available from mid October to December.

Skills used include: Weighing, measuring, peeling, grating, cutting, slicing, mixing/combining, blending, simmering, boiling, reducing, roasting, soaking, and mashing, shaping into balls, pan frying, making a sauce from meat juices.

See you Saturday Teen Chefs!

Junior Chef 23/24 Nov 2019

This week our Junior Chefs we will be making – Tagliatelle with sausage, turkey, chestnuts and cranberry

This week’s class will be all about the flavours of Christmas as it is our last Junior Chef before the Christmas celebrations commence.

Our ingredients will focus on those associated with the festive season.

Chestnuts have a sweet crumbly flesh and, unlike other nuts, are low in fat. Roast chestnuts are a traditional winter treat and can be cooked on an open fire, in the oven or in a frying pan. Available from mid-October to December.

Fresh and dried cranberries are excellent in sauces, cakes, desserts and stuffings. Fresh cranberries are used to make the popular accompaniment to turkey, cranberry sauce.

Oranges are the stars of the produce aisle come winter, and they are so versatile.  Orange juice, zest and flesh can all be used to add a sweet, juicy tang to both sweet and savoury dishes.

There are two main types of oranges: sweet oranges and bitter (Seville).  Sweet oranges can be thick or thin skinned, with or without seeds, and has sweet-tasting orange or red-flecked flesh. 

Oranges are at their peak between December and April.

Turkey and smokey, salty bacon pairs well with fruit which is readily associated with the festive season.

In this week’s dish we will be using the following skills:

Weighing, measuring, chopping, cutting, dicing, crumbling, deglazng, reducing mixing/combining, simmering, boiling, frying and searing.

See you at the weekend Junior Chefs.

Teen Chef – 16 Nov 2019

This week we will be making – Herb crusted pork tenderloin with apples in a cider cream sauce served with sweet potato mash.

This is very much an autumn /winter dish.  Pork and apple is a match made in heaven. Topped with the decadent sauce and served with sweet potato mash it is the ultimate comfort food.

Apples are one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits. There are over 7,000 varieties in existence, many of which are grown in Britain but, despite that, only around 12 varieties are commonly sold in UK supermarkets, of which many are imported.

Availability; All year round, though British apples are at their best from September to November. When buying select firm fruit, with no blemishes, bruising or wrinkles. The fragrance of an apple is a good indicator of freshness and quality.

All ‘eating’ apples can be used in cooking but the opposite is not the case.  Bramley is the definitive English cooking apple.  For cooked dishes requiring a firmer texture Cox, Braeburn or Granny Smith are a good choice.

We will be using Braeburn apples which is a tart, tangy apple. It has a crisp, firm white flesh. It is red over a green background.  It has a firm crisp texture with a unique combination of sweet and tart flavour.

Fruits are traditionally served with pork to offset its richness.  The pork tenderloin, also called pork fillet, is a long thin cut of pork which can be roasted or braised.  This cut is the eye fillet that comes from within the loin. It’s a lazy muscle and as such is lean and very tender.

The key to cooking pork well is an understanding of which cooking method is appropriate for each cut.  Another important tip to remember when cooking pork is that the meat needs to be seasoned well with an array of ingredients to choose from like herbs, spices or a brine to impart flavour, or simply salt and pepper, or in our case a herb crust.

Overcooked pork is dry and tough, so care needs to be taken when cooking.  The cuts of pork most suited to rapid cooking include loin and tenderloin fillet.

Skills used include:

Weighing, measuring, peeling, squeezing, zesting, cutting, slicing, mixing/combining, blending, simmering, boiling, reducing,  Trimming and preparing a pork fillet, cooking the pork fillet to the required temperature and making a sauce by deglazing, searing, sautéing and roasting,  resting.

See you Saturday Teen Chefs!