Food and nutrition blog
Create and Cook - the work continues...
20 March 2018
Entries close in late March and students have been trialing their two course spring/summer themed menu in their Food and Nutrition lessons. The themes of food provenance, sustainability and seasonality are running through the course this term and students have been exploring their local farm shops, finding delicious ingredients such as smoked garlic, local cheeses, free range eggs, asparagus and Oxfordshire honey as a starting point for their recipe ideas.
Starting with the ingredient rather than the recipe is what all good chefs do and this idea is beginning to filter through to the students as they create their menus. Berry fruits have been a popular choice for dessert ideas, whilst locally reared beef and chicken have been on the menu too.
Create and Cook competition
21 February 2018
Cooking with local and seasonal food is the theme of ‘Create and Cook’, a competition held in Hampshire, Sussex, the Isle of Wight, Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire. The competition consists of creating a two-course menu using at least three local ingredients. It challenges students to learn more about the food closer to home. Cooking with local food means there is less travel to transport the food which is better for the environment.
We had to think about what local ingredients we wanted to use and decided to base our two recipes on summer grown fruit and vegetables. The main course was 'Dukkah crusted chicken', using locally-reared free-range chicken, courgettes and red pepper. The dessert we chose was blueberry, lime and ginger cheesecake, which will use locally grown blueberries. We made the ginger biscuits ourselves and chose flour from a local mill (Wessex Mill). We are having a class 'cook off' next week, and two students will be chosen to enter the Oxfordshire competition.
In theory lessons we learnt about how good chefs choose the best ingredients as a starting point, then they base their dishes on these ingredients, rather than choosing the recipe first. We also learnt about food provenance, sustainability and seasonality.
It was quite difficult to find locally grown fruits and vegetables in winter, but some students found honey, local cheese, free range eggs and smoked garlic which they used in their recipes.
We have included our dessert recipe as well as Holly and Sophie's chicken recipe for you to try at home.
Blueberry, lime and ginger cheesecakes (Georgie and Anna Y9)
10 ginger biscuits (such as ginger nuts i.e. not the thin ones) crushed
25g unsalted butter, melted
150g full-fat cream cheese
Finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lime plus extra to decorate
150ml double cream
8 tbsp blueberry jam plus extra to serve (optional)
- Put the biscuit crumbs into a small bowl and pour over the melted butter. Fork together until the crumbs have absorbed all the butter. Divide the mixture into four portions and spoon each of these into a martini glass or tumbler. Pat down gently to compress the crumbs and make a firm base for the cheesecakes. Transfer to the fridge.
- Put the cream cheese, lime zest and double cream into a large mixing bowl and mix gently until the cream and cream cheese are just combined. Add the blueberry jam and gently stir it through the mixture so it is ripple through with swirls but not fully blended.
- Remove the glasses from the fridge and divide the cheesecake mixture between them. Chill for a minimum of one hour, or overnight, before serving.
- Decorate with lime zest and a dollop of extra jam to serve if desired.
Jamie Oliver’s Golden Chicken (Sophie and Holly Y9)
Locally grown foods: spinach, peas and free range chicken.
1 organic chicken stock cube
½ a bunch of fresh sage
100ml single cream
30g Parmesan cheese
4 x 120g skinless higher-welfare chicken breasts
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 rashers of higher-welfare smoked streaky bacon
200g baby leeks
200g baby spinach
200g frozen peas
- Scrub the potatoes clean, finely slice in the processor or by hand, then tip into the medium pan and cover with boiling water and the lid.
- Peel the onions, finely slice in the processor or by hand, then tip into the roasting tray with 2 tablespoons of oil, crumble in the stock cube and season with sea salt and black pepper.
- Tear in the sage leaves and stir regularly, adding a splash of water if they start to catch.
- On a large sheet of greaseproof paper, toss the chicken with salt, pepper and the rosemary leaves, then fold the paper over and bash and flatten the chicken to 1.5cm thick with a rolling pin.
- Put into the frying pan with 1 tablespoon of oil, turning after 3 or 4 minutes, until golden and cooked through.
- Drain the potatoes well in a colander, then tip into the onion pan, stir together and arrange in a flat layer. Pour over the cream, then finely grate over the Parmesan and pop under the grill on the top shelf.
- Halve the leeks lengthways, rinse under the tap, then finely slice. Put into the empty lidded pan on a high heat with 1 tablespoon of oil, stirring often.
- Finely slice the bacon and add to the chicken pan, tossing regularly.
- Stir the spinach and peas into the leeks and once the spinach has wilted and the peas are tender, pile on a board or platter with the chicken and bacon on top. Serve with the gratin.
Swap that chocolate bar for these power-packed treats!
8 February 2018
The challenge for the Year 9 cooking club was to find a sweet, but nutritious snack as an alternative to the ‘empty calories’ found in chocolate or cookies. It is true that dried fruit contains sugar, but because it is bound together with fibre it takes longer for your body to digest, releasing the sugars more slowly than ‘free’ or added sugars. Fibre also has the advantage of making you feel full and some dried fruits, such as apricots are a good source of iron. 46% of teenage girls in the UK consume less than the lower recommended nutrient intake of iron, so it is important that if you don’t eat red meat, you consider other sources of iron, such as fortified cereals, wholegrain bread and nuts such as cashews.
Sienna chose to make Raw Mango and Coconut Bites, a recipe by Madeleine Shaw, which were high in fibre, but low in added sugar. These are very easy to make if you have a food processor and they looked and tasted great, but as they are still rather sweet we thought that one or two would be enough! If you dislike coconut, you can replace it with ground almonds, but remember that any snack containing nuts is more suitable out of school, as St Helen's is nut free.
200g dried mango
Grated zest of 1 lime
180g desiccated coconut
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1tsp freshly grated ginger
A pinch of salt
2Tbsp sesame seeds, plus extra for rolling
- Soak the mango in a bowl of water for half an hour, then drain.
- Place the mango and the rest of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until fully combined.
- Mold the mixture into 5cm balls and roll each one in sesame seeds until fully covered. Refrigerate until firm.
Shivani baked these Oat, Coconut and Apricot Bars, adapted from a Deliciously Ella recipe, which were a fruitier and less sweet version of a flapjack. In Ella’s recipes she replaces sugar with alternatives such as honey, agave syrup or rice syrup. It is worthwhile noting that these still count as ‘free’ or ‘added’ sugars, but this recipe relies more on the natural sweetness of dried apricots, which are high in fibre and a good source of vitamin A, iron and potassium. Coconut oil has received a lot of marketing hype recently, but it actually contains more saturated fat than butter, so it should be eaten in moderation.
Shivani said she enjoyed the flavour of these oat bars, but they were a little dry so you might need to add another tablespoon of coconut oil or honey if the mixture is too crumbly.
250g soft dried apricots, plus a handful extra for chunks
210g porridge oats
45g desiccated coconut
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons rice syrup or honey
Pinch of salt
- Preheat your oven to 170 o C and line a baking sheet with baking parchment.
- Put 3/4 of the dried apricots in a food processor along with the coconut oil, oats, rice syrup or honey, desiccated coconut and salt – blend until completely combined. Once combined, add the last 1/4 of dried apricots and give another very quick whizz to make nice chunks.
- Transfer the mixture to the baking tray and press down very well, making sure it is all evenly spread – I use half the baking sheet to make thicker bars.
- Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden. Once baked, remove from the oven and cool down for 15-20 minutes before cutting into bars.