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Teen Chef – 11 May 2019

This week our Teen Chefs will be busy cooking – Citrus – Miso marinated Salmon served with Roasted Asparagus Pasta in a Creamy Roasted Garlic & Chive dressing.

It is long awaited asparagus time; with such a short season of just 6 to 8 weeks (end of April to mid-June) we need to make the most of it, especially as it will be super tender with a sweet tasty flavour.  We will be roasting our asparagus to really showcase this seasonal vegetable at its finest.

We are also going to roast whole garlic and in doing so the end result is a taste that is sweet and creamy, it then becomes a versatile ingredient which adds a wonderful depth of flavour to dressings, and spring time pasta like in this dish.   Did you know that the British are now eating as much garlic as the French!

Garlic is very good for you as it is packed with vitamins C and B6, as well as manganese, selenium and other antioxidants, contributing to the reduction of blood pressure, reduced cholesterol and cardiovascular diseases.

We are going to season our Salmon with a White Miso paste which is a traditional Japanese seasoning.   White Miso (Shiro) made from soybeans and rice and fermented for no longer than two months.

Shiro (means “white” in Japanese) is light in colour and sweet to mildly salty. Shiro is a great gateway miso, very versatile and provides a bit of oomph to salad dressings or sautéed vegetables and fish as the umami flavour gives the dish added depth.

In this week’s dish we will be using the following skills: Washing, weighing, measuring, chopping, grating, food processing, whisking.  Blending & combining, roasting, frying, boiling and grilling, separating an egg.

See you Saturday Teen Chefs.

Mini Chef – 4 May 2019

This week our Mini Chefs will be making – Sweet and Sour Chicken

This recipe is full of tangy flavour and also looks lovely and colourful.  We will cook our chicken so it is crispy but coated in sticky deliciousness.

Sweet and sour is a term that covers many styles of sauce, cuisine and cooking methods. It is commonly used in China, but has been used in England since the Middle Ages, and remains popular in Europe and in the Americas.

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

Weighing, measuring, mixing, beating, frying, stir frying, simmering, combining, making a sauce, making a batter.

See you Saturday Mini Chefs.

Junior Chef – 4/5 May 2019

This week our Junior Chefs will be making – Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni

Cannelloni (pronounced [kannelˈloːni]; Italian for “large reeds”) are a cylindrical type of lasagne generally served baked with a filling and covered by a sauce.

This classic filled and baked pasta dish is good at any time of the year, we will be filling cannelloni tubes with a rich filling of ricotta and the ever so popular vegetable spinach, and then will bake with a layer of tomato and white sauce.

Spinach is used all round the world; the leaves are bright green when young, deepening to a darker colour when older. It has a distinct flavour that complements many dishes.

Baby spinach can be eaten raw in salads, whereas older spinach should be cooked but not for long, and will reduce in volume considerably.

Although spinach is now available throughout the year it is best from April through to September.

When buying select spinach with bright green leaves, that are tender and crisp and smell fresh. Avoid leaves that are yellow or wilted.

Loose spinach will need a good rinsing to remove dirt and grit, but drain well.

It can be prepared in a few ways raw in salads. Warmed, in a sauce for (8-10 minutes). Slice and stir fry (1-2 minutes) or steam whole (3-4 minutes).

Ricotta is a cheese that has a fresh, creamy taste and is a wonderful addition to both sweet and savoury dishes, lending luxurious body to sauces, thickening mixtures for baking.  As a fresh Italian cheese, it can be bought ready-made or easily created at home.

As a fresh cheese, ricotta should be used as quickly as possible – however, there are salted, aged version of ricotta found in Italy which keep for longer.

The one thing we do have to remember is to make sure that the sauce we pour over the cannelloni once you have arranged them in the baking dish is somewhat more liquid than what you would normally use for serving on pasta, as it will thicken during baking.

In this week’s dish we will be using the following skills: Weighing, measuring, chopping, crushing, grating, mixing/combining, whisking boiling/simmering/infusing, straining and baking, squeezing, piping.

See you Saturday Junior Chefs.

Teen Chef – 13 Apr 2019

Hi Teen Chefs

This week as it is Thai New Year (13-15 April) we will be making – Thai Green Curry with Prawns

Songkran is Thailand’s most famous festival. An important event on the Buddhist calendar, this water festival marks the beginning of the traditional Thai New Year. The name Songkran comes from a Sanskrit word meaning ‘passing’ or ‘approaching.

The festivities are accompanied with music, dancing, and lots of water! In fact as April is the hottest month of the year in Thailand, the water brings relief from the soaring temperatures.

Songkran started as a Buddhist tradition, using a light sprinkling of water to symbolise purification.

Curries are an important part of Thai cuisine and refer to both the dish as well as the curry paste used to make the dish. There are three main types of Thai curries—red, yellow, and green—which are identified by the colour of the curry paste. It is the colour of the chili that imparts each signature colour to the paste, and each curry paste has its own distinct flavour.

Traditionally, all Thai curries were made with the same ingredients except for one thing: the chilies. Red curry was made with several red chilies for a fiery hot dish, while green curry was made with green chilies, and yellow curry was made with yellow chilies. In Thailand, these chilies have slightly different taste characteristics in addition to their colour. Over time, however, other ingredients have been added to the curry pastes to enhance each recipe, making them more distinct from one another. Although all three colours may be spicy-hot depending on the chef, normally green is the mildest and red the hottest with yellow being somewhere in between. 

Green Curry 

This brightly coloured curry is considered the most popular curry used in Thai cuisine. The green colour has become more vibrant over the years with the addition of fresh coriander, kaffir lime leaf, and basil. These herbs are combined with fresh green chilies and several other ingredients such as lemongrass, shrimp paste, garlic, and shallots.  The consistency of the sauce can be adjusted by the amount of coconut milk used.

Thai curry is very different from other countries’ curries.   Thai food achieves the perfect balance between hot, sour, sweet and salty.

Coconut milk is used traditionally in a lot of Asian cooking. Thai green curry and laksa are two of the most well know dishes but it can be used in most curries as a lighter and tastier alternative to cream. Coconut milk is made by extracting the flesh of the coconut, grating it and soaking it in hot water. It is then left to cool and strained through cheesecloth. The coconut milk separates, creating coconut milk and coconut cream, and is sold in varying densities. Fresh coconut milk is generally not available in the UK as it has a very short shelf life so we have to make do with tinned versions.

Coconut milk is high in vitamin B3 and still considered to be good for the body due to its make-up of medium chain fatty acids. These are easily digested and even considered by some to promote weight loss.

A good substitute for cow’s milk, coconut milk is lactose free, which means it’s great for both allergy sufferers and vegans alike. It is also a more sustainable and environmentally friendly choice than cow’s milk. However, coconut milk is much higher in calories and fat than cow’s milk, so it should be consumed in moderation.

Shellfish and coconut milk go hand in hand –So the end result for our Prawn Thai Green curry will be an aromatic dish that is beautiful to serve and eat.

In this week’s dish we will be using the following skills: Washing, weighing, measuring, chopping, stir-frying and boiling/simmering, blending, food processing.

See you Saturday Teen Chefs.

Junior Chef – 6/7 Apr 2019

This week our Junior Chefs will be making – Chilli Con Carne with Chocolate after all it is nearly Easter!

Our dish will be a Tex-Mex’ style chilli recipe with a thick brown sauce – rather than a thin tomato one.  Using dark chocolate in this chilli con carne recipe adds a delicious depth of flavour that enriches the dish.

You may or may not know, but chocolate, coffee and oregano are key original flavours of Tex-Mex cuisine. If you have never added them to a chilli before definitely try it – the flavour is amazing! You’ll never make a chilli without it again and of course chillies!

Chilli is a spice without limits. There are hundreds of varieties, all with different colours and heat levels.  As an ingredient, chillies can be bought in a multitude of forms: fresh or dried, ground or in flakes, smoked or pickled.

Ground chilli powder is more about adding heat than flavour, which makes it hugely versatile.  You can also add chilli powder or chilli flakes to virtually any dish that would benefit from a kick: sprinkle it on pizzas, add it to sauces, use it in stir fries or add to a chocolate cake.

In Mexico, chillies were traditionally smoked to preserve them for use later on in the year.  The smokiness of the paprika in this recipe adds a real depth of flavour to this dish and added ground cumin adds fragrant warmth to, which enhances all of the other ingredients.   For those not using meat the mixed beans still mean it is hearty and robust meal.

Chocolate adds a marvellous depth of flavour to stews and sauces, but a little goes a long way so we do not need to add too much.

Chocolate is one of our most popular ingredients – both to eat and to cook with.   However it is really only thought of as a sweet ingredient, but cocoa was originally used in savoury recipes.

So why does chilli and chocolate work so well?  Why is it one of the ‘wow’ flavour pairings to have made its way around the world?

Is it because chilli peppers contain capsaicin, a chemical which helps release endorphins and stimulates the nerve endings? Chocolate on the other hand stimulates serotonin in the brain, which triggers off heightened sensitivity and a sense of euphoria.  Or is it simply the fattiness of chocolate offsets the heat of chilli as in the traditional Mexican mole (sauce)?

So try it and see I think you will like it!

This week we will be using the following skills: Measuring, peeling, chopping, crushing, boiling/simmering and frying.

See you Saturday Junior Chefs.