A Trip to The Cookery School with #CurrysintheKitchen


I was invited to take part in the #CurrysintheKitchen event at The Cookery School in Glasgow. All us lucky bloggers were given plenty of food and water for the day, plus we made and ate four different baked delights over the course of five hours. I was amazed at how much we packed in to the time.

 

Cookery School Group

 

We also got to take these hand mixers away with us, as well as our aprons and a goodie bag from Kenwood. What a day!

 

Now that you know exactly what I got out of it, I have one further admission. Kenwood are giving one last prize to the blogger who offers up the best baking tip in their blog post: a Kenwood mixer. So, as though all the baking and freebies weren’t enough, I do have yet another incentive to write this post. But it’s not all about me (just mostly). It’s also about a shout out to Curry’s, who have written their own blog about the event, and also to The Cookery School, who made it such a huge success. Every member of staff at The Cookery School was helpful, friendly and efficient, and almost miraculously cheerful for a Sunday morning. Nothing was too much trouble for them, and I would recommend them to anyone who’d like to learn some kitchen magic. The facilities are spacious (big enough to cram all those bloggers in, anyway!), clean and comfortable. Plus, the outside of the building is awesome, who doesn’t want to learn to cook in a corset factory?

 

Double plus: from the front room, you can see one of Glasgow’s TARDIS population. If that won’t bring you baking luck, I don’t know what will.

 

Finally, how could I fail to thank Joe Blogs, the blogger network who brought us all together? From the initial invite to the final goodbyes as we all left bearing our new hand mixers, Shaun and Gemma were superstars. The day was exceptionally well organised (which appeals to me, I do love some good organisation), but managed to avoid that dreaded feeling of ‘organised fun’. We were in safe hands all round.

 

On to the pictures. Starting at 1130, we made fruit scones, cupcakes, Victoria sponge and chocolate chip muffins. Here are some shots of my team in action. Some snaps are from my baking buddy R at BeautyH2T (that’s her looking either happy or terrified about making scones), and some are from Joe Blogs.

 

 

 

These pics feature our scone making attempts, including me praying to the dough gods, which wasn’t a step we were officially taught. They lead me on nicely to my first baking tip of the post (don’t worry, there are only two…).

 

When you’re making scones, you want to rub all the butter into the flour until it’s well distributed, with no lumps. Everyone knows that. What everyone *doesn’t* know is that there’s an easy way to tell if you have any lumps left or not. Simply shake or tap (or shoogle) your mixing bowl gently against the work surface. All the lumps will rise to the top, so you can work them into the flour.

 

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This also works for soil, if you’re a gardener. In fact, that’s where I learned the tip, from sowing seeds with my dad. Thanks dad!

 

More pictures:

 

 

Here you can see us working on the sponge mixes. That Victoria sponge was a triumph, I’m telling you.

 

Once those were out of the oven and cooled, we decorated our cupcakes. There were dozens of coloured sprinkles, sweeties galore, whipped cream and buttercream, melted chocolate and cream to make ganache… It was decoration heaven. We were also shown how to make piping bags out of greaseproof paper, which was my favourite thing I learned all day.

 

My second baking tip arose from this new skill. I made a paper piping bag, but before I piped the buttercream on to my cupcakes, I thought I’d try something a bit fancy. It totally worked, and I had mega cake pride, which you can now share.

 

To achieve ruffled icing without a nozzle, take your paper or plastic piping bag and cut a small hole in the tip – this is where your icing will come out. Don’t make it too wide. Now, use your scissors to cut a slit through the middle of the hole and a little way up the sides of the bag. When you pipe the icing, it will come out in a flat ribbon shape, that you can make into a ruffled edge.

 

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So pretty! I couldn’t bring myself to apply too many decorations, despite the vast array available. I’m kind of a purist that way. They were filled with white chocolate, though, so the decadence was all on the inside.

 

We all brought Tupperware, cake tins and assorted other vehicles to take our baking home with us – my final stash was so pretty:

 

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And yes, that’s a partially-eaten scone at the bottom. Not something one would normally consider ‘pretty’, but it’s amazing what an Instagram filter will do for you.

 

Thank you again to Curry’s, Kenwood, The Cookery School and Joe Blogs for a true Sunday Funday. Check out the #CurrysintheKitchen hashtag to see everyone else’s photos and messages.


Home Grown Tomatillos


Do you have a best friend you call your wife?

You don’t?

Well, you are missing out, chums.

 

My wife, Miss M, bought me some fun seeds a while back – a packet of tomatillos and a packet of cucamelons. Tragically, the cucamelons didn’t make it (I blame the Scottish weather) but apparently the tomatillos were an unstoppable force! I say ‘apparently’ because I am appalling at gardening – I have the black thumb of doom when it comes to plants. It’s just not my thing. Father Rock Salt, on the other hand, is a gardener extraordinaire, so I asked him to help me with growing these.

 

Tomatillos on Plant

 

Look at them go! They grow in wee paper lanterns that can start to split open as the fruit gets ripe. Isn’t nature cool?

 

Tomatillos Close Up

 

 

Tomatillo Close Up

 

Once you peel the husk away, the fruit needs to be washed since it has a coating of sticky sap, particularly around where the stem connects to the plant.

 

Tomatillos Peeled

 

They look most like under-ripe tomatoes, but in fact they’re more closely related to gooseberries (or so Wikipedia says). They have a sharp, tart taste, and are chock full of tiny little seeds.

 

Tomatillo Sliced

 

Tomatillos aren’t common here, so I had no experience of preparing them. That’s what the internet’s for, right? The most common thing to do with them is to make salsa verde, and that’s more or less what I did. I didn’t follow a particular recipe (unsurprisingly), but here’s a rough idea of what it looked like:

 

  • clove of garlic
  • half a red onion
  • half a red pepper
  • half a yellow pepper
  • one bowlful of tomatillos (a bowl the size of the one in the photo above)
  • juice of half a lime
  • pinch of cumin
  • pinch of chili flakes
  • salt and pepper

I cooked everything up in a pot until the tomatillos were soft and a little yellow, then I pureed it. Really, that’s all there was to it.

 

Note: When I say something like that, you can always tell that I haven’t taken any photos, and that I’m not totally convinced I can remember how I made whatever thing I’m talking about. 

 

I also roasted up some chicken strips, which were seasoned with lime zest and juice, garlic, cumin and cinnamon (as well as the standard salt and pepper) and thrown in the oven. Another time I might cook the chicken in the salsa, but I was winging it. The flavours in the chicken were great, especially the hint of warm cinnamon. I also rattled up some guacamole, and heated flour tortillas. Dinner was served.

 

Tomatillo Sasa Verde

 

 

Tomatillo Salsa Fajita

 

The salsa was beautifully thick once I’d whizzed it up, ideal for wrapping up in a tortilla. I threw the other half of the peppers and onion into the dish, raw, for a nice contrasting texture. I also finished with some spring onion, for added bite. We could have used some extra components – a bit of salad, refried beans, corn on the cob, maybe a pot of rice – but nobody went hungry. We also didn’t have any leftover sauce in the dish, it was all scraped up and spooned onto our fajitas. I took that as a sign of approval.

 

The tomatillos were a great gift, and I hope Father Rock Salt feels suitably compensated for growing them for me, since we shared the end result for Sunday dinner. Thanks all round to my collaborators in seed-buying and plant-growing – I’ll stick to the cooking.


Malaysian-Inspired Noodles with Lingham’s Chili Sauce


I was sent a bottle of Lingham’s chili sauce, in return for a blog post. As it happens, I was already a fan of Lingham’s, and I was more than happy to restock my cupboard in exchange for posting a recipe featuring the product. Lingham’s is the good stuff. Get the chili, garlic and ginger one if you can find it, it’s off the chain. This is a terrible disclaimer. Sorry about that. 

 

Alright, I’m already a Lingham’s fan. I didn’t have to be converted, and this wasn’t my first time tasting their chili sauce. However, there was plenty I didn’t know about the history of this particular chili sauce. The most surprising thing is that it was made in Malaysia – I hadn’t given *too* much thought to its origins, so finding out a bit of the history of the sauce, which dates back to 1908, was really interesting.

 

Lingham's Bottle

 

More interesting, though, was what I was going to do to showcase the sauce. Sure, I could do what I’ve always done and dip (read: drown) some dumplings in it, but I felt like I should branch out. I don’t have much experience with Malaysian food, so I turned to the blog Rasa Malaysia for inspiration. Before long, I had settled on a recipe I wanted to try, though of course I adapted it a little…

Malaysian-Inspired Noodles for two, based on the recipe from Rasa Malaysia for Mee Goreng.

For the sauce:

  • 4 tbsp Lingham’s chili sauce
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

For the noodles:

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 generous teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 stick lemongrass
  • 1 red chili, sliced (and seeded, if you like)
  • 1 large chicken breast
  • baby pak choi, tenderstem broccoli, mange tout and baby sweetcorn, or your own favourite stir fry veg
  • 2 blocks dried noodles
  • spring onion for garnish

 

First, prepare the sauce. Mix everything in a small bowl until combined, and check the taste. You can add more chili sauce or more sugar to taste. It might seem quite salty, but that’s OK – it’ll be covering a lot of ground later.

 

Lingham's Mee Goreng Sauce

 

Prepare everything for the wok. Cut the chicken into small cubes, and slice or dice the veg into bite-sized pieces. Chop the garlic and ginger finely, and slice the chili into rings. Peel the tough outer layer from the lemongrass and cut into a few pieces.

 

Put the kettle on to boil, for your noodles.

 

Heat the oil in the wok, and add the garlic, ginger, lemongrass and chili. Toss them in the oil until the garlic begins to brown and everything is fragrant, then add the chicken and vegetables.

 

Put the noodles over a high heat to boil.

 

Cook the chicken and veg for three minutes, until the noodles are done. Drain the noodles and add them to the wok. Mix well.

 

Stir Fry Noodles

 

Once suitably mixed, pour in all the sauce. Mix again until all the noodles are coated, and cook for a further five minutes, or until everything is cooked through (especially the chicken).

 

Serve, garnished with chopped spring onions and additional chili sauce, as required. Watch out for lemongrass bits.

 

Finished Lingham's Noodles

 

Lingham’s is a tangy, vinegar-based sauce with a medium kick. This recipe calls for a lot of it, and while it’s spicy I still found room to add a little more. It doesn’t have the searing heat of other sauces, like sriracha, so it’s ideal for a dipping sauce or a garnish. This was the first time I’ve cooked with it, and it’s a great addition to a stir fry. I also happen to know it’s great with eggs –  a nice coriander omelette perched on top of this bowl of noodles would be a great addition. However you use it, don’t forget: you have to do the Lingham’s Shake, side to side, to mix it all up perfectly before you pop the cap.

 

Isn’t that a better way to say ‘shake well before opening?’. I think so.

 

 


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