Categories
Food and Ingredients News

Indian cooking and the spice of life

I think we’ve all been there at one time or another and had a disastrous experience with too much spice. It may well cause a moment of hilarity, when one or the other of our guests is calling for water, lots of it and quickly, but it begs the question: “why do we use spices?”

One of the first things that you’ll learn at any Indian cookery course is that spices are not just for flavour. To many peoples on the subcontinent, fresh and organic spices are not just to give their food a bit of a kick. The marriage of more mundane ingredients with exotic herbs and spices, traded in local markets for centuries, is as much to do with ensuring that their bodies stay nourished as it is with anything to do with simply flavour.

The old adage, we are what we eat, has never been truer than with the concept of the n=majority of Indian cuisine. Collated over many centuries, the various indigenous peoples of regions of India have developed harmonious recipes that blend affluent, local spices to produce the dishes we know and love in the UK as our favourite take-away food.

Ayurveda is much more than the technique developed of marrying ingredients to one another, as sworn by by the populace of many Indian townships. It is an out and out science that draws upon the chemistry between ingredients, developed through time-honoured practises (in the absence of any scientific equipment), passed down from generation to generation.

Okay, it may not pass a stringent examination under controlled conditions in a lab as a health benefit, but many of the blends we taste in our favourite Indian dishes have remained fervent in their respective cultures due to the belief that such time-honoured combinations as we’re now used to seeing accompanied with rice, naan, chapatti and roti have the added benefit of helping to stave off disease.

So not only are many of the Rogan Josh, Jalfrezi and other spicy dishes mouthwateringly tasty, but it’s the common belief of the people who uphold the traditions of their preparation to a traditional recipe that each curry or balti we have is doing our body good in a way that we perhaps do not even realise.

The scarcity of food in such tropical zones is well documented and the way of thinking that has been enforcedly adopted over time is: what benefits are my meal going to deliver my body and mind? Necessity is the mother of invention and many of the combinations of onions, chilli, red meat and spices that make up the basic ingredients of your common or garden curry dish are the results of using combining what ingredients were available to help stave off the effects of malnutrition and pestilence in times gone by.  A blessing in disguise as we look back, one may hasten to say.

So the next time you’re sitting down with your Biryani, mostly unknown on home shores sixty years hence, just think of the journey that traditional dish has had to get onto your plate today.

Spices are a truly fascinating culture on their own – and can be quite lethal if served in inappropriate doses but a boon when you know how to get the best from them.
The quickest and easiest way to acquaint yourself with their benefits is take on one of the many popular Indian cookery classes on offer, many available from those on our cookery course home page. Get to grips with your corianders, cumins, turmerics and cardamoms once and for all so that next time the boss comes round for a curry, you end up giving them too much of a chilli reception, whether they deserve it or not.

Categories
Cookery Class News

Katy Perry tweets to fans she’s taking up a cookery course

So even the superstars realise the importance of learning to cook. It seems that it doesn’t matter how many millions you have in the bank, possessing the ability to fend for oneself in the kitchen is paramount to self fulfilment.

The gorgeous Katy Perry is temporarily foregoing the limelight to start a new relationship with the kitchen. An announcement from the pop queen on twitter reveals that she is tempting to become “human” by enrolling herself in a cookery class.

Her fledgling attempts at culinary prowess may well be a sign that the 27 year old superstar is thinking of settling down. Reportedly dating John Mayer, a fellow top of the pops singer (that’s showing my age – c’mon, I could have said ‘The Tube’), this may be a sign that Katy is perhaps seeking domestic bliss.

It was only a short Tweet and did not divulge in which discipline the cookery course is aimed. This is not the first time that the chart-topping Perry has shown a public interest in cookery; earlier this year the ‘Teenage Dream’ singer invested a cool $50,000 for a one off cookery class with celebrity chef Cat Cora.

The huge sum was donated to Elton John and his AIDS foundation. The charity event, celebrating its 20th anniversary, saw Perry embroiled in a bidding war to court Cora’s culinary expertise, which she eventually won thanks to the massive bid.

The prize was, though, shared with big screen producer Steve Tisch. Maybe Perry’s thoughts, as she approaches her late twenties, are turning to quiet nights in with new beau, Mayer. It is perhaps a far cry from the wild, long hell-raising nights with ex husband Russell Brand.

No, I can’t work it out, either: what did she see in him in the first place and what on earth (that was nearly stronger) was he playing at fooling around with a woman like Perry sat at home?  If she ever decides to become a wandering chef and abandon the charts and stage forever, she can come and cook me up a dish any time she feels like it.  No doubt all the ladies are thinking the same thing about Brand, and who am I to argue the toss?

Who knows? We may well see Ms. Perry on BBC screens next year in the next series of Celebrity Master Chef. However, with no disrespect to “Peggy”, I cannot image Perry preparing scampi on the same workbench as Su Pollard.  Unless they called it the Peggy & Perry Cookery Show – now that would be full of hi-de-hi’s and low-de-lows, for sure.

But seriously, it just goes to show that even the most glamorous people on the planet appreciate the need to be able to cook for themselves. Perhaps if more celebrity icons got involved publicly with learning how to cook healthy and nutritious food from scratch, then more of our youngsters would follow suit.

Learning to cook from an early age is one of life’s essential lessons. Let’s hope the millions of Perry’s twitter fans take a leaf out of her cookery book, which I’m sure would also be a hit if she put her mind to collating what she has learnt in the kitchen, or intends to, into a glossy recipe book.

If you are anxious to teach your children to cook, there are plenty of cookery courses on our home page that will fulfill this need. Why not head on over there and compare our current offerings, hand-picked from the best on the net today? For many adolescents, learning their way around the kitchen professionally really would be a teenage dream come true.

Categories
Cookery Class News

Is YouTube the future of adolescent cookery classes?

As parents, we bemoan the fact that our children never give us a helping hand around the kitchen. Then, as they pack their bags to go to university, we fear the worst and criticise ourselves for not endearing them with the culinary expertise that will see them through the next three years of their lives.

But it really is time to stop panicking – especially if the number of hits one budding young chef has had on his YouTube channel is anything to go by.

Ben Ebbrell is a 25 year old who has positioned himself online, along with three others who make up SortedFood.com, as the go-to chef for all of those students who need to know how to cook at university. To date, their video channel – an online cookery class for university students – has received a massive 13,000,000+ hits. Methinks there are more than just starving freshmen streaming the content, with figures like that.

The Telegraph’s Patrick Smith recently popped along in anticipation of SortedFood getting ready for the new term next month to run a few pointers past the chef to see if he could glean any knowledge to pass on to the students through their paper.

Based on the shooting-from-the-hip answers Ben gave, here are just a few cooking tips for university students to ensure that cooking is not only seen as less of a hassle, but also to demonstrate that confidence is the key to making a success of your fledgling hours in the kitchen.

Teamwork matters – although you may not want to be the first to admit it, many of your housemates are in the same boat. If you foul up with the flour or are pathetic with the pastry, make the mistake together to keep moral up and so that no one’s singled out to blame.

Follow the recipe – looking at a list of ingredients and a method in an ancient recipe book can often leave the student asking, “Say what???”. But some of these recipes are time-honoured; trust them, be confident and they’ll work out fine.

Looking for a cheap, easy meal? Stew or curry wins the vote for Ben. In such a dish, the meat is the meat, so it doesn’t have to be a choice cut. Stewing steak is perfect for both – just bung it in the pot with the rest of the ingredients, whack it in the oven nice and low and, hey presto! – one nutritious meal with all of the goodness kept in.

There is much more about there cookery classes on site, which has an online amazon shop for utensils and gadgets, a new recipe video every day and a huge, searchable archive for cheap and easy meals for a university student.

So, if you’re feeling bad about not having taught your offspring so much in the way of culinary expertise, simply send them on their way with a tablet device and a shortcut to SortedFood on their desktop. They’ll never be far away from someone from their own Generation Z, who is obviously far cooler than us parents in the kitchen and, more importantly, speaks their language, too…innit?

Categories
Cookery Courses News

A different type of degree set to hit ovens in Cambridge

It’s every parent’s nightmare – little Johnny or Susannah have passed their A-Levels, been accepted at University (somewhere on the other side of the country) and are packing their bags to set off on life’s journey for real.

The only thing is, the greatest thing they’ve achieved to date in the kitchen is to burn the baked beans to the bottom of the saucepan, boil the kettle without putting water in scorching the element, and burnt the fish fingers to matchsticks as they returned to play their Xbox. Okay, they have somehow become dab-hands at cheesy chips with mayo, but that’s the exception that proves the rule. Other than that, you can’t help but ask how on earth they’re going to get on feeding themselves at University.

However, if your child is lucky enough to have got into one of the colleges at Cambridge, they may not fair as poorly as you think. A local pub has decided to host two one-day back-to-basics cookery courses to set students up with at least a little culinary craft so that if the allowance you send them won’t stretch to a KFC bargain bucket, they can at least have a pop at cooking something from scratch and not coming back mid-term half a stone lighter than when they set off in September.

Toby Didier Serre, proprietor of public houses and an award winning chef in his own right, will host the “Moo-niversity Cookery Survival Course” (know, I haven’t got the foggiest, either) at The Red Cow (ah! The penny drops!) before term starts in an attempt to help prevent students spending three years of their lives eating only a fast-food diet, save for the times they return back to the fold during the holidays.

The first cookery class will be held a week tomorrow, the 20th August with the second taking place a fortnight later on Monday September the third. Both days will tackle the absolute basics of cuisine competence, from where to shop to buy the most elementary ingredients – and indeed, what those ingredients are – to finding their way around the basic utensils one would expect to find in a common or garden kitchen drawer or cupboard.

There will also be a section on a veritable menu of basic dishes, whereby Toby will hope to unveil the fact during the cookery courses that culinary expertise doesn’t necessarily mean having to win Masterchef. By delivering instruction in essential cooking techniques it is hoped that University will not only provide food for the mind, but also keep the metabolism ticking over healthily as the young adults strive for their degrees.

For details and prices of this particular offer, see the original article in The Cambridge News.

If your child is off up to Glasgow, York or Wolverhampton and Cambridge is a little too far, why not consider buying them a cookery lesson at a local cookery school, close to you? You can choose from our hand-picked selection of the best cookery courses available in the UK based on our specific search criteria and at least get them graduating from cooking school with honours before tackling the big wide world and all of the pitfalls it potentially possesses for those heading off for three years without the inherent knowledge of how to cook a morsel.

Categories
Cookery Courses News

The make up of your average cookery course student

What type of person enrols on cookery courses? Have you ever thought about attending one, but don’t want to look or feel like the odd one out?

Well let me put your mind at rest – all sorts of people attend all sorts of classes!  Whether they’re bespoke cookery classes aimed at cookery courses for men, for the elderly, for the young or if you enjoy a meat-free diet, there are plenty of vegetarian cookery schools dotted around the country, most notably in Edinburgh (although by no means exclusive to Scotland’s capital).

To highlight just what I mean, a recent blog post on kaveyeats.com tells the tale of a chef, Kavey, funnily enough, who was invited some time ago to attend a public relations exercise for a well-known brand at Food at 52 – a delightful, family-run, olde worlde cookery school. Since then, John and Emily, Food at 52’s proprietors, have managed to grow its classes and repertoire, move into bespoke premises yet – much to Kavey’s delight upon her recent return – managed to retain all of the olde charme of the original family home school as was in their brand new premises. The retention of the warmth and overwhelming hospitality that she felt on her original visit has been recreated at the new location, between tube stops Angel and Old Street, purely down to John’s previous life experience of running a set-building company for the flicks, which he drew upon to fit out the new cookery school himself. Talented booby.

That’s the scene set, no Bela Lugosi in sight, just Kavey and the revamped kitchen (do you see what I did there?) with its range, custom-made hoods over the ovens and a trestle table to work around so long it could double up as a bowling lane when not in use by budding chefs.

But that’s a little aside from the main point of this article, although is a nice aside as many chefs who blog don’t often go to the extent of giving you a visual. So, who attended this cookery class with Kavey?

Well, first and foremost there is John, the aforementioned set-building half of the duo that run the school, whose background is obviously in construction. However, it is he who teaches the class Kavey has been invited to in order to get her blessing on the school’s new abode, along with an able assistant who (hopefully) won’t mind me saying this, was John’s skivvy for the day.

Then there’s Kavey herself, a renowned chef in her own rite turned pupil for the day.

Other students who joined her at the trestle table, in no particular order, were a professional food blogger whose written content was accompanied by a video review of a series cookery classes they were attending, in this case Food at 52, obviously.

There was then a Scottish mother and daughter team in London for a break who had taken the opportunity to top up their culinary skills. And another mother and offspring team were there, however this second particular team included a red-head mother-to-be and an infant in utero, who was not so many days away from announcing their arrival. She, likewise, was taking the opportunity to indulge in a cookery lesson before the little one came along, limiting this type of activity for the foreseeable future.

And finally, a recently graduated student (unfortunately, Kavey couldn’t recall whether it was physics or an engineering qualification the lad had attained) whose girlfriend had bought him the cookery class as a birthday treat.  Female logic prevailing, if ever their was evidence of its superiority.

So there you have it – a diverse cross section of the UK public enjoys the camaraderie and the satisfaction of partaking in cookery classes with no inhibitions or, if they had them beforehand, are soon dispersed.

So, what’s stopping you? Check out our hand-picked cookery courses or drop us a comment below if you have something to say – all comments will be replied to.

Categories
cookerycourses.co.uk recipes Food and Ingredients

Celebrate National Cherry Day with a summer fruit crumble

Article original posted July 16th, but those nasty little gremlins pinched it.

While it’s still summer, and we’ve had a few cherries on top of the icing on the cake at the Olympics – six golds in one day, yesterday; stunning or what? – why not celebrate with this stunning recipe for fruit crumble, starring my favourite fruit of them all, the humble British cherry.

Today is National Cherry Day, did you know? No, I didn’t know we had one, either, but hey-ho, there you go. In order that no one’s opportunity passes by to pop their cherry dish into either a crumble, clafoutis or bun in the oven, we’re going to bring you the second in our series of recipes here on cookerycourses.co.uk.

There is the opportunity to make a clafoutis on the Great British Chefs blog, but as this website is aimed at those wanting to learn to cook, I’ve got a good idea that the majority of people picking up on this post, if they’re ought like me, couldn’t find their way to making a stimulating clafoutis even if they had a map. There is, however, another decent little recipe for a summer fruit crumble, the star ingredient of which is indeed the Great British cherry. Hurrah!

The good thing about this recipe is that for sweetness, it draws mainly on the natural sugars found within the fruits themselves, contains fibre in the oats and wholemeal flour, protein in the hazelnuts and Chia seeds contain even more omega-3 per gram than salmon.  What’s more, all of the fruits are blessed with their own antioxidant qualities, helping to rejuvenate your skin and lower your ldl cholesterol. Bonus! Combine all of that with the essential fatty acids (mono- and polyunsaturates) that feature more heavily than the saturates and you have to ask: who said desserts couldn’t be delicious yet also be healthy eating? What’s more, its sooo simple to make, it’s child’s play.

A dessert healthy, tasty and good for you? Get away!

So, herewith, the ingredients. For the fruits, we have 400gm of cherries, 125gm each of blueberries and raspberries and 200gm of strawberries. Remember to wash them all well. The cherries need to be stoned and, quartered, the strawberries sliced similarly. The raspberries are to be halved and the blueberries left whole. This will make the base, along with one teaspoon of chia seeds and 100ml of water.

For the crumble, a 100gm of each of the following: porridge oats, wholemeal flour (sieved to retain the bran – we don’t need that), hazelnuts (coarsely chopped in a food processor) and melted butter. Also, 75gm of brown sugar, ½ teaspoon of cinnamon and one teaspoon of chia seeds.

In an 11″ flan dish (approx.), layer the fruit, squishing it down gently until something like level, but not entirely spirit-level flat. Add the water and then sprinkle the teaspoon of chia seeds across the top.

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5 (190°c).

Everything else but the butter, tip into a mixing bowl. That’s the chopped hazelnuts, tsp of chia seeds, cinnamon, oats, sugar and flour. Mix together with hands, then pour over the melted butter. Grab yourself a wooden spoon and combine; you should have a mixture that looks like clusters, which you can then layer over the top of the fruit. Don’t worry if it doesn’t entirely cover the fruit – there should be chunks jutting through like a rocky desert landscape.

Place the flan dish on a baking tray in the middle of the preheated oven for about half an hour – the mixture should have begun to brown and the cherries and berries bubbling through the crumble by then – if not, leave a little while longer until they’ve done so.

The fruit will remain hot for some time, so be careful; custard is my fave with this dessert but you can temper the heat by serving it with ice-cream or – if you’re ultra-healthy – yoghurt will make a decent accompaniment, too.

So, now you can at least enjoy National Cherry Day, even if the summer has been a little bit of a let down, to date.

 

Categories
Cooking Courses News

Cookery experts sought for NHS project

Cookery experts are current being sought to share their knowledge, skills and passion as part of programme sponsored by NHS Norfolk which aims to provide cooking courses dedicated to simple, healthy and cost effective food.

It is hoped that trainers for the not-for-profit Joy of Food scheme will inspire others while offering advice and practical support on simple ways to enjoy a more balanced and varied diet.

The cookery courses, which are currently taking place on a regular basis throughout the county, aim to demonstrate how to use a wide range of techniques and ingredients.

Whilst a number of trainers have already volunteered, more trainers are required especially in west Norfolk. Each volunteer is being asked to commit to a minimum of one three-hour session per week. Anyone can apply to become a trainer, from keen amateurs to professional chefs; the only requirement is a love of cookery and a genuine passion for food.

Trainers will be required to teach small classes in community venues, such as village halls, pub kitchens and children’s centres.

A spokesman for the project explained that they are aiming to recruit individuals who possess a good knowledge of food and cookery and who are comfortable standing before a group of people and passing on what the know. The trainers will also be passionate about cookery and be keen to inspire others.

Organisers are planning to launch more specialist cookery courses to supplement the basic workshops. These are expected to include courses devoted to chicken, fish and bread making as well as a workshop dedicated specifically to cooking on a tight budget.

A public health official for NHS Norfolk explained that a well-balanced diet plays a really important role in helping to prevent poor health. It is hoped that the programme inspire a variety of different people who have never taken responsibility for cooking their own meals.