I had a trial cooking club session. I have been talking and thinking about doing something like this for a long time. Get people together to cook – share recipes, have fun cooking and eating together. It doesn’t matter whether people are good cooks already or want to learn new skills, looking for inspiration for their daily meals, want to blast me with questions about nutrition, the science of food or any other geeky aspects of food (can’t guarantee to know the answers but can find out) or just meet people. Also, here in such an international town, we can share dishes from different places.
Confidence in the kitchen and feeling inspired to cook is such a good thing. If we have confidence in cooking then we are more able to take control of what we are eating, how much we are spending on food, how much food we are wasting. It is so easy for food and cooking to become a chore when it should be enjoyable and sociable.
I am no masterchef. This is not about learning how to wow dinner party guests with swish chef like dishes. For me this is more about adding meals to your day to day menu, meals that are not too complicated or expensive or time consuming. Adding recipes that are flexible – don’t have an ingredient, use something else. Maybe about how to use leftovers, how to make a meal with store cupboard items, ideas for lunch boxes or simple lunches if you work at home.
The trial was a baking session with scones (cheese and plain – they were supposed to be fruit but I forgot to give the raisins to the chef on fruit scones at the right moment – oops) and banana and blueberry bread. The recipes were quick, using up overripe bananas, making use of things in the freezer (the blueberries) and general store cupboard ingredients. No need to get the mixer out. Easy enough to get young children involved in or let older children get on with by themselves.
Cheese or plain scones could be an accompaniment to a soup or stew, quickly made if you have run out of bread. You can also make a cobbler by making scones and laying a ring of them on top of a stew for the last 12-15 minutes of cooking. Like dumplings but crustier. I like versatile recipes.
I got really good feedback (maybe they were all being polite as they were such lovely people!!). We debated the best way to line a loaf tin, talked about the merits of different raising agents and our test showed that using separate bicarb of soda and tartar gave a better scone than when using baking powder (levure chimie) but it was just one test with two different bakers so not a very controlled test!
I had plans on another test run before the summer but a whole load of appointments got in the way so aiming for September to start proper. The aim is to have no more than 5 people together with me, to print out the recipes to take home and for the cost to be no more than a set lunch to cover the costs of the ingredients, the printing and the cleaning up after. We would meet for about 2 hours to end with a generous tasting session. Open to inviting others to teach us how to make food from different countries. Watch this space and my facebook page to see the plans take shape. Let me know if you are interested in joining in?