Cookery Course News

UK seeks comfort In biscuits

Biscuit sales have increased by more than 20% in the last 5 years according to a new study by market analysis firm Mintel.

Annual sales in 2010 were £2.2billion, with over 50% of the population admitting to appreciating a biscuit with their coffee or tea.

Biscuits are traditionally viewed as a comfort food that people opt for as an inexpensive treat when the more expensive forms of unwinding, such as a night out at the cinema are considered unaffordable.

The study also estimates that the UK market will continue to expand with forecasts predicting a further increase in sales of 15% by 2015.

The figures reveal that almost 90% of the 45 to 54 age band enjoys a biscuit with their tea. This figure is slightly lower for the 16 to 24 age band at 80%.

A spokesperson for Mintel explained the biscuit industry in the UK has profited from consumers reaching for their biscuit tins during the recession, however the inability to appeal to a discerning and younger customer base coupled with higher commodity are threatening the market.

The study also revealed the nation’s top 5 biscuits. Individually wrapped biscuits and half-coated varieties – such as chocolate hob knobs share joint 1st position in the list of the UK’s favourite sweet biscuits – over half of the population has purchased one or other in the last year.

Cookies are the 2nd most popular whilst cream biscuits are ranked third. Wholemeal or Sweetmeal biscuits are 4th most popular while tea biscuits take 5th place.

With sector sales of £468million the market is dominated by “healthier biscuits” such as the lower sugar and diet varieties. These account for a quarter of all sales with sales rising by 16% in the last 2 years.

For those interested in encouraging their children to make biscuits, The Kids Cookery School offers a specialist one day cookery course.

Cookery Courses

Unhealthy diets cost the NHS £12bn every year

A recent study has identified that poor diets cost the NHS almost twice as much as the combined effect of alcohol and cigarettes.

The research, which was conducted by the WHO and Oxford University, concluded that, of the various lifestyle choices, poor diet and obesity now place the biggest economic load on the NHS.

Whilst experts acknowledged that the health risks associated with excess drinking and smoking are high, because a much higher proportion of the population have unhealthy diets, the overall impact on the NHS is much larger.

Whilst the proportion of adults that smoke has fallen by 50% in the last 40 years, the levels of obesity have increased four-fold, with 25% of adults now considered obese.

Poor diet and obesity have been linked to a number of different diseases including, most cancers, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

The problem is being blamed on the erosion of basic cookery skills and an over-reliance on junk food. The average diet now contains excess levels of sugar and fat and this has increased the risk of acquiring many diseases.

For many people, the issue is that they eat too much and this leads to obesity which is related to a variety of health issues. However, there are also those who look healthy and slim, yet the fat and salt content in their diet places them at high risk of heart disease, stroke and other health conditions associated with elevated blood pressure

The research, which was financed by the British Heart Foundation, estimates that the cost of alcohol related diseases is £3.3bn, which is roughly the same as the cost of treatments associated with alcohol.

A spokesperson for the National Obesity Form explained that the staggering cost of managing diseases related to Britain’s poor diets was threatening to breach NHS budgets.

Those looking to improve their cookery skills can book themselves onto a cookery course.

Cookery Courses

Simple diet changes can help stave off cancer

Recent research into the effects of diets on cancer sufferers have thrown up some extremely interesting results.  Many of us are aware of the dangers of too much salt, not enough vitamins and minerals and additives in processed meals that are either harmful or do us no good whatsoever.

If you’re wondering why I’ve not included fats in that little list it’s because a lot of what you read about the danger of too much fat is sooo misleading you wouldn’t believe.  People do not get thin or healthy by cutting out fat in total.  Their diet improves by increasing healthy fats and kicking out saturates but that’s perhaps for another day.

Through research it is estimated that approximately 29,000 cases of cancer are directly linked to a poor diet every single year.   Yet a few simple changes in dietary habits can ultimately turn a poor diet around.  Typical cancers that are associated with eating the wrong foods over a period of time are those you’d expect: gastric tract, oral, bowel/stomach and even breast cancer threats can be radically reduced by knowing what to avoid and making healthier substitutions.

Very few of us eat enough fibre anyway.  Not only will increasing fibre help to keep your intestines clean and your bowel regular, but it will also stop food gestating there, which can, according to research, reduce the risk of bowel cancer by 25%.

A good source of fibre is fruit and veg, although many people think only of whole grain, pulses and cereals, especially bran, as delivering fibre.  So, as well as delivering essential vitamins, minerals and natural sugars – elements in their own rite guardians against some of those aforementioned cancers – they can help keep your system fluent as part of an overall nutritious diet.

A fantastic list of vegetables and fruits high in fibre can be found at fruitsandveggiesmorematters

Many people don’t realise that pork is a red meat but it is one of only a handful of red and processed meat associated with bowel cancer.  People who eat higher volumes of either/or red or processed meats are putting themselves at higher risk.  As well as pork, take any meat you care to think of from a pig, beef in its many forms (steaks, burgers, etc) or lamb and eat it in voluminous amounts and you’re increasing the risk of bowel cancer.

Processed meals – even those tagged ‘good for you’ as they’re ‘low fat’ (don’t get me started) – rely on salt to add taste.  Check your guideline daily amount compared to how much each processed meal you buy contains.  I promise you, you will be shocked.  Less salt equals less chance of many of those cancers.

If you’re genuinely concerned that you’re culpable for any of the above poor eating habits, try these simple changes.  Your sources of carbohydrate, such as bread, rice or pasta, are all available with a wholegrain alternative.  Swapping to wholegrain will add much-needed fibre to your diet.

Salad doesn’t have to feel like a snack.  By adding your protein and healthy fats through roast chicken, tuna or nuts and dried fruit you can make any salad into a meal.  You can also incorporate turkey mince into your diet rather than beef, lamb or pork mince, often higher in protein and with more good fats.  Alternatively, try vegetable grills made with potato, onion and peppers rather than a normal burger – just as tasty but with none of the risk that too much red meat can bring.

More information on all of these topics can be found at or why not enrol on one of the many healthy cookery courses we have to really get to know how to cook tastily from scratch so you know exactly what is going into each meal you serve?


Cookery Courses News

Vegetarian cookery course in aid of Sunni Mae Trust, Galway

In a special post today, we take our inspiration from back across the water to my homeland, that little Emerald Isle being the last outpost of Europe before the Atlantic stretches the odd few-thousand miles to run aground again at Newark – Ireland.

A couple of cookery schools over the way are promoting a special cookery course day at the end of July with the aim of raising much-needed funds for Lily-Mae Morrison. The four year old has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and proceeds raised by the three hour session in Galway on the 28th July (10a.m. – 1p.m.) will be forwarded to the Sunni Mae trust, set up by parents, dancers Judith Sibley and Leighton Morrison, to help treat Lily-Mae’s stage 4 Neuroblastoma. The trust was launched officially only last Friday (6th July) following a performance of Alice Underground by Youth Ballet West at the Galway Town Hall and it is hoped that further awareness can encourage more support to help their very poorly little girl get better.

The vegetarian cookery class is being run by Liz Nolan via her website WholeFoodMatters and will take on the form of an initial demonstration by Liz herself before up to twelve willing victims students prepare cook, serve and finally  tuck-in themselves to the results of the knowledge Liz has endeavoured to impart.

As with most classes that emanate from the WholeFoodMatters website, the whole menu (six courses) is suitable for vegetarian consumption, the emphasis being on health, well being and excellent diet as much as the meat-free angle.

Beginning with an elevenses dish of banana and pecan muffins, the follow-up course will be the trending food of the last couple of years, Hummus, cooked with a lemon-bite and pita croutons. Then there will be the more traditional starter of a summer soup, a nut roast featuring almonds, celery and apple, a side of ‘slaw and, to finish, a crumble made from summer berries.

As well as a maximum of twelve cookery students, there is the caveat of a minimum of eight to get the class off the ground. Price is €50, of which a 50% deposit needs to be put down. To confirm your interest and make your payment, you can e-mail Liz at her gmail e-addy, which is [email protected] or call/text her on 0868-099-604. Even if this is not for you, but you know someone who would love this opportunity, both to support the cause or partake in the lesson, €50 cookery class gift vouchers can be purchased from Liz via the same route.

From all of us here at, we take our hats off to Liz for organising the event and wish Leighton, Judith and of course Lily-Mae all the very best; if you cannot make the cookery course but would still like to donate, you can do so here: iDonate/Sunni Mae Trust.

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Food and Ingredients News

T.G.I. Friday’s expanding rapidly and recruiting 700!

Would you consider your cooking to be up to scratch to serve at the fastest-growing casual dining outlet in the country? Well, be prepared to dust off your CV (or get yourself booked onto some of our cookery courses if your culinary expertise needs a dust-off) as T.G.I. Friday’s is ‘bucking the trend’ in the face of austerity, growing at an unprecedented rate.

It’s been a busy few years for the American restaurant, that has gone from strength to strength incorporating three new key criteria: bosses, burgers and belief.

First and foremost, they appointed a new UK Managing Director in the shape of Karen Forrester. Firstly, she has guided them through fourteen consecutive quarters of growth, not bad when you consider that period of time covers, nay, almost mirrors, the times of hardship we have encountered since the banking world collapsed in 2008 and the global financial meltdown that ensued and will not go away.

Secondly, she has seen the chain grow to over fifty restaurants in the UK last year, with an additional six planned for this year. Three confirmed sites are Halifax, Manchester and Wembley with three to be pinned down later in the year. There will be around 700 jobs created in total, including cooks, front of house staff, waiting staff and, often over-looked but nevertheless key to an outlet’s success, experienced, quality management.

Many of these positions will be sourced from outside the existing chain as their second ingredient for success is investment in high-calibre staff across all roles. It is their intention to continue this ‘people-led strategy’ and emphasis on the ‘team members’, according to UK Operations Director Tim Cullum. They will be looking to employ the best in the market for the roles they envisage available before the restaurants open their doors, so now’s the time to get your accreditation at the cookery school of your choosing to stand you in good stead when the time comes.

The third and final element attributed to the chain’s turnaround in the face of adversity is a complete overhaul to their burger range, which now accounts for one third of all meals the chain serves. In actual terms, this means 50,0000 main courses of the new burger range are served across the fifty+ outlets every week, combining to help growth whilst showing initiative and innovation by identifying with the market and meeting that demand.

If you have the management skills or proficiently high experience in other roles to meet a ‘rewarding and challenging career’ opportunity, you can get in touch through their blog: TGI Friday’s Blog

Categories recipes News

The first recipe on cookery courses – pasta n peppers

As promised, today we experiment with a first for – recipes! It seems strange that we write so much about the food industry, yet offer nothing in the way of healthy option eating. Or any type of cuisine you could just log on to our website and cook, for that matter.

Today, we’re going to start with a simple fusilli dish, which appeals to not only lovers of Italian food or those who like a quick snack with a bit of a bite, but also to vegetarians. In the same vein that Jermaine Jackson sang we don’t have to take our clothes off to have a good time, you don’t necessarily need to eat meat to have a good meal. My experience is that you are much more satisfied when you do indulge in both, but hey-ho, each to their own.

For basic ingredients you need two large peppers, red, yellow or green; you’ll find most supermarkets sell them in a traffic-light pack, one of each; if you’ve got a death-wish or cast iron stomach, you could even use all three. For oil, virgin olive oil is best (obviously taking Jermaine at his word), of which you’ll need one tbsp.

If you want to go posh, opt for a couple of shallots or one large onion if you’re you’re going the diner route – whichever way, they need to be finely chopped. A clove of garlic is best nutritionally, but a level teaspoon of garlic powder will do for the recipe just as well; likewise, a teaspoon dried chillies, crushed is preferred, but a good teaspoon of chilli powder will suffice.

I’m sure half of these online food stores print recipes that incorporate exotic ingredients just so that people will buy more of their range (and part with more of their cash); often, a common alternative is just as effective and has little or no effect on the outcome of the flavour of the dish.  Dare I say, even improves it, as our taste buds are more used to the common-or-garden ingredients.

100ml of vegetable stock is next, followed by 125gm of sun-dried tomatoes (for economy, these tend to be sold in 100gm containers, so a splodge (technical term) of tomato puree added will work out more cost effective. A couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar completes the mix, and then add the pasta of your choice – if we’re sticking to a fusilli dish, it had better be fusilli, but conchiglie is just as cool.

From thereon in, the method’s plain sailing. If you want the softish texture for the peppers, you can whack them in the oven on Gas Mark 8 for a half an hour and then peel the skin off when cooled or if you’re not that fussed, slice and dice into them into half-inch chunks and soften them in a frying pan with the oil, along with the shallots/onions as your first operation.

Pop a pan of water on for the pasta – at what point you put the fusilli/conchiglie in will depend upon what the instructions on the packet, but familiarise yourself with the rest of this recipe, liaise with the pasta instructions and coincide the two to finish simultaneously.

Once you’re happy with the texture of your vegetables, add the garlic and chilli with approximately a third of the stock and simmer for another five minutes. If you’ve roasted and peeled the peppers, now’s the time to put them in, as is it time for the sun-dried tomatoes and the balance of stock.

After they’ve been cooked for ten minutes, add the vinegar for about a minute, by which time it should all have reduced to a fine sauce mix.

If you’ve got it right, you can now drain the pasta and stir it in with the sauce mix and, hey-presto, you’re done in next to no time.

Based on sharing this meal between four, it will deliver approximately 500 calories, 12gm of sugars, less than 1gm of saturated from the 12gm of fat in all, which means there is plenty of good fats (mono- and poly-unsaturated) in there to help lower cholesterol and, despite popular misconception, increase your healthy fat intake, which is good for you!  And finally, a serving contains  only a quarter of a gram of salt, so is excellent for those conscious of healthy eating.

So there you go – our first recipe. Please, enjoy, share and give us some feedback. Happy days!

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Cookery Courses News

A recipe for success on

Do you know what we’re missing here on

It’s something so blindingly obvious but, in our urge to bring you the best news and trends from the world of food, fine dining and, more importantly where to go and learn to cook it, we’ve not brought a single recipe to you in all of that time.

Yes, we may have pontificated about the strides being made in the hospitality trade to overhaul the restaurant and pub trade menus to incorporate modern thinking about what’s healthy and their attempts to deliver just that.

We may have raved about the number of vegetarian cookery courses and the rise in the number of eateries where you can now go and be sure that the vegetables have not been prepared on the same kitchen work surface as a slab of meat.

In more recent times our focus on food recycling and the work that featured not-for-profit organisations like FoodCycle are doing to give young people experience of working in teams, learning to cook using fresh ingredients and fight food poverty in needy communities has received welcome comments from our readership.

And, of course, no decent site about food would overlook the struggle the Western World is fighting against obesity, derived from generations opting for a Big Mac, Kentucky or microwaved ‘healthy’ meal instead of preparing their own lunches from fresh ingredients.

What we’ve not done, in all this time, is offer recipes of our own – Lord knows, there are enough of them out there for us to adapt to our own special theme.

But what many recipes don’t do is give you the calorific and nutritional breakdown of what goes into each meal Yes, they give you the prep time, ingredients and method, but not a lot about what good the meal does you.

So don’t be surprised to find a few quick, easy recipes popping up between our news articles, starting tomorrow with an Aldo Zilli classic.

See you then.

oh – and a big p.s. – if there are any classics that you would like to see covered that you have cooked time and again or would like to try but you are not sure about what the meal constitutes in the way of calories, nutrition or how far they go towards your five-a-day, please feel free to drop a line in the comment box, below, and we will endeavour to bring you a recipe with the break-down of nutrition to go alongside.

Cookery Class

A cookery class involving Hens, Hen Parties, that is

Mm, okay. We can all see the novelty behind a Stag Do being held at a cookery school, but why on earth would a Hen Party want to be held there? Surely that’s a little bit like a busman’s holiday?

Back in the day, it would have been. The kitchen is no longer the providence of the fairer sex (to my wife, it is simply a galley through which she walks to get to the Jacuzzi) and women leaving home with an ingrained talent for making everything come alive on the work surface an in the oven is no longer the given it once was.

Indeed, such is the plight of many young couples leaving home clueless about how to work anything in the kitchen other than a kettle and a microwave (I had to show my nineteen year-old’s girlfriend how to use a manual tin-opener, last week, sheesh!), being unable to prepare and cook even the most basic of meals from scratch is one of the arguments behind the predictions of the experts who believe we will see a 50% rise in obesity by the time we reach the year 2030 in the UK.

But as well as a whole host of branded stores, cookery courses and government initiatives targeting the ‘eat/cook fresh’ market, there is also a great need for youngsters to even learn to cook at all.

I can think of no other reason why the online Stress-Free Hen Party planning website, Cambridge Hen Party, would offer a cookery class as part of its menu. Spa Days, Cocktail Making and even belly-dancing I can get to grips with, but a Cookery Class for a Hen Party?

There are three different types, Greek, Thai or Spanish and all are designed to offer buffet/feast style menus that, following complimentary drinks (no doubt not too many at this stage as there are hot and sharp elements to deal with in the kitchen itself), the chef walks up to twelve Hens through the preparation, the meal is then cooked in a state-of-the-art kitchen, before the party sits down to indulge in the fantastic meal that’s been co-created.

At a small additional cost, a recipe card as a souvenir can also be produced so that the meals learned to cook are not forgotten after the honeymoon.

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