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Keep your finger on the Pulse!

Today, Sunday 16th October 2016, is World Food Day. Why does this matter? Well one of the biggest issues related to climate change is food security. One of the world’s poorest populations are farmers and other primary food producers, who are being hit hardest by higher temperatures and an increasing frequency in weather-related disasters. So to address this issue as well as the ever increasing world population, a more sustainable way of producing food is now an urgent issue. This is a worldwide problem, not just for poor countries.

The global message for World Food Day 2016 is “Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too.”  2016 has been declared the International Year of Pulses (beans, peas, chickpeas & lentils) by the United Nations and so I was very fortunate recently to have been invited to the Cookhouse in Borough Market where other bloggers and I were treated to a fabulous demonstration about Pulses by Jenny Chandler.

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The venue was perfect for this event with a lovely view of the Market and a great demonstration platform where you could clearly view every step of the demo.

Jenny is such a lovely person and she exudes her passion for pulses and food in general when you meet her. She started off by explaining how pulses are such an obvious answer to some of our food problems in this country and abroad as well as her work with the UN to promote pulses as a sustainable food.

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The ‘Pulses’ organisation does huge amounts of work to encourage farmers in this country and around the world to grow more pulses and create a more sustainable environment for people. Do check out out their website for more information on Pulses, recipes and how the countries are collaborating to help climate change and food security.

Did you know peanuts are classed as a pulse?

Jenny’s love of world food, and especially food from the Mediterranean, is apparent when she talks about the different ingredients she uses in her recipes and it was nice to hear how her experiences around the Globe have influenced her work and her passion for pulses.  It is this global experience which is highlighted in her upcoming demonstration kitchen residency at Borough Market

Thursday 3rd November 12.30-2pm – The Americas

Thursday 10th November 12.30-2pm – Africa

Thursday 17th November 12.30-2pm – Asia

Thursday 24th November 12.30-2pm – Europe

I know which of these themed demo’s are attracting me – how about you? 🙂

It was nice to see how a simple meal of Quesadilla’s could be made using homemade re-fried beans and then adding this to a flour tortilla with spring onions, chopped coriander leaves, jalepeno peppers. The thing I am going to try out when I make these is adding Wendsleydale cheese as Jenny explained how it’s not always easy to get Mexican cheese and so Wendsleydale comes close to that kind of texture. Yum!

Jenny made some flavour packed Falafel, not using the usual chick peas, but delicious Fava Beans. Fava Beans are also known as Broad beans or Pigeon beans and I was surprised to learn that the UK is a big exporter of this humble pulse. I thought the use of Fave beans in Falafel made them taste less heavy and went so well with the parsley, garlic and cumin they were blended with.

I really liked the way Jenny served the Falafel in Gem lettuce leaves which means that there’s no heavy pitta bread so I felt that I was getting the most out of the Falafel’s nutrients and it can become such a light meal – a genius idea! The health benefits of grains and pulses are so important and Jenny has also highlighted these as well as amazing recipes in her book ‘Pulses‘.

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Filed under bread, cooking class, Dinner, Food, Lunch, recipe, Uncategorized, vegan, vegetarian

Artisan Bread baking at Ann’s Smart School of Cookery

I am very lucky indeed to have foodie friends and even luckier to be gifted a cooking class for my birthday this year! The lovely Dharani and I went on a baking class at Ann’s Smart school of Cookery and this class was held at their branch in St Katherine’s Docks in London. It was a dreary day in London so it was nice to walk into a cookery class which starts with the enticing smell of yeast! It’s a small venue but just enough to fit in the 20 people who signed up and a great long industrial kitchen tables for us to sit around.

The class started off with an introduction with our Tutor, Stuart, who was very charming and explained the plan for the day. It was interesting to learn a different type of making a standard dough which involves adding the flour to the liquid and not the other way around. It was a revelation for me and I am looking forward to trying it out for myself at home! We started off with the Brioche and the dough was given to a pair of participants who very ably used this ‘introverted technique’ of bread kneading and the ingredients put into this enriched dough had such an amazing aroma! YUM! Surprisingly the same basic dough was used to make all of the breads, with adjustments only made for any added ingredients e.g. herbs, spices and olives for the Foccacia.

Some of the different breads made by various participants on the class.

Some of the different breads made by various participants on the class.

Myself and Dharani had the awkward task of making 30 identical crostini’s. It was arduous work and mine were so untidy compared to the lovely ones Dharani made! However it was worth it in the end and they were so yummy with the different dips we had to sample them with.

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Crostini’s in progress!

Me being silly with the Hippo face oven glove :-) (I need to get me some!)

Me being silly with the Hippo face oven glove 🙂 (I need to get me some!)

Dharani's perfectly shaped Crostini's <3

Dharani’s perfectly shaped Crostini’s ❤

The other participants on the class that day had other types of bread to make; pizza, cob, foccacia and seeded rolls.  It was amazing to see such soft bakes turn out so well with very little time for proving. But I guess that’s what happens when you have a bread making class for only 2.5 hours!

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Foccacia

Check out the air bubbles in this soft and pillowy Foccacia!

Check out the air bubbles in this soft and pillowy Foccacia!

Tear n Share rolls. I want to try out those saffron rolls - beautiful colour!

Tear n Share rolls. I want to try out those saffron rolls – beautiful colour!

What the course details do not explain on the website is how much of the baking we will be doing ourselves and I think that it something that I would have liked to know beforehand. In my opinion this class is for beginners to baking or for those who would like to be inspired. If you bake often and are seeking specialty bakes, then perhaps this is not the class for you. However, the school has many different types of classes and you can book here

This pizza was DELISH!

This pizza was DELISH!

Thank you to Stuart and the school for our bread-tastic day! It has definitely inspired me to experiment with different types of bread to provide much needed comfort during this cold season.  Dharani, I couldn’t have experienced this class without you, so a huge thanks and for taking some of these photos:-)

I have yet to experiment with the techniques that I learnt on the class, so watch this space for new bread recipes! But click HERE for my classic white loaf recipe that I use very often and can be adapted with different ingredients.

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Filed under bread, brunch, cooking class, Dinner, Food, vegetarian

The food chemistry behind the Alchemy festival

So I sit here after a couple of days after this years experience of the Alchemy festival, not just with content after eating the delicious food, but with great inspiration and in awe that this might be the best food festival at the Southbank so far! I mean, how are they going to beat this next year?! Kerb’s return to the Southbank has definitely started with a bang! It’s a wonderful spicy adventure with street food and drink from India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan and is running until the 25th May 2015.  If you haven’t been before, you are truly missing a delight for your taste buds! For me, as a frequent visitor of this festival, the fusion of music and food comes hand in hand. Delicious food for my tummy and melodious music to soothe my soul. However it has been a new experience for me behind one of the stalls this time and I have a new appreciation for the hard work that is involved in making each food stall a success. Hats off to you all! It’s a tough, tough job but you would never know it from all the big smiles that exude from the traders on these stalls and the friendly chat and absolute pleasure they display when making the food that they are all passionate about. All the street food traders are obviously passionate about food but I have had a privileged first hand experience in learning how much hard work is involved in bringing fresh, high quality ingredients to the customers at this festival. Papi’s Pickles celebrates the rich heritage of both South Indian and Srilankan food and their dishes and pickles use not only seasonal produce but also local, organic and Fairtrade ingredients for street food markets, events as well as pop ups. And that’s not the end of their passion! They are also a social enterprise seeking to work with unemployed Srilankan and South Indian women, and they really have achieved so much considering they have only been running for about a year.  Abi, the founder of Papi’s Pickles is a truly inspirational lady and entrepreneur along with the rest of the team who have developed the enterprise to get this far in such a short period of time. It has been an absolute pleasure working with the ladies at Papi’s Pickles  and you really do have to visit their stall to here their inspiring stories and taste the yummy dishes they have bought to this years festival. Definitely one organisation to keep an eye on 😉  They have a unique menu including pick-your-own-filling Uthappam’s, Kichdi with Srilankan Wambatu Moju and not forgetting their “to die for” Kulfi!

Abi from Papi's Pickles

Papi's Pickles

Papi’s Pickles

Delicious Uthappam by Papi's Pickles!

Delicious Uthappam by Papi’s Pickles!

Kothu Kothu brings the very famous “Kothu Roti” which is made with theatrical flare in front of your eyes! It was a pleasure speaking to Dharani who tells of her inspiration to start her own business and her determination to make a mark on the street food scene with her tasty dishes. And what a delicious mark she has made! I was very impressed with the vegetarian kothu roti I ate, which also comes with the traditional lime wedge and of course, extra chilli 🙂

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Kothu Kothu

Beaming smiles and lovely chat were served alongside the most delicious food from the team at Jaffrey’s Indian streetfood. The pakora’s are one of the crispiest I have ever eaten and I was particularly intrigued by the pureed aubergine sauce and chilli sauce which were refreshing and flavour-packed condiments served with the pakoras. Yum yum yum!  Perfect with a cup of hot chai which you can also get in a couple of the stalls there.

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Jaffrey’s Indian streetfood

Jaffreys indian streetfood

Or perhaps you may prefer one of the asian-inspired cocktails served at the Bar there. Some great flavour combinations which you can see in my photo below. Another little gem I discovered was the Ice Kitchen corner stall – the pistachio and rose ice lolly was out of this world! They have really fresh and clever flavour combinations that I haven’t come across with your usual ice lollies and I can’t wait to get a copy of their recipe book. 20150517_171147

This festival is like the “Mecca” for London foodies and for me it was a great pleasure this year to have met some fellow foodies Nessy Sam, Trishna Shah and Mallika Basu who I had previously connected with on social media. Along with the new stalls at the Alchemy festival this year there are also some familiar faces including Dosa Deli, The Peckish Peacock and Horn Ok Please.  You really are spoilt for choice and I am definitely not missing the chance to go again to try the rest of the food and drink before the end of the festival (and attempt to grow a second stomach too!). I am already thinking about what other dishes I am going to try out on my next visit and unashamedly drooling while doing so. I know…but you will understand the greediness I experience if you have already been to the festival 🙂 I really am no alchemist, but I’m sure some of this is pure food ‘magic’!

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