Off the streets, into the kitchen - A Better Food company campaign in support of Square Food & St Mungo's.

Our newest partner is the brilliant Better Food Company - Bristol's organic food store - who've chosen to support Square Food for 2017-18. Over the year, Better Food will aim to raise £10,000 to support Square Food’s work, teaching people from all walks of life to cook from scratch.

At Square Food, our plan is to use this money to work with St Mungo’s, Bristol and develop a rolling cookery programme to reach anyone who is experiencing, has recently experienced or is at risk of homelessness, to teach them new skills and build confidence, whilst empowering them to find their own route to recovery.

The money that Better Food's staff and customers raise will launch a brand new training programme in partnership with St. Mungo’s Recovery College in Bristol, training clients of the college, reinvigorating the college’s disused kitchen facilities and inspiring peer to peer learning.

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A Sustainable Future

Our hope is that this programme’s impact will reach beyond just the first year’s trainees, too. Each year, trainees will finish the course by preparing a fundraising feast, raising money to kick-start the following year’s training course. Throughout the year, we'll work closely with the trainees, giving them the confidence to share their skills with others and ensuring that the college’s wider community benefits from the programme. 

Over the coming months, Better Food staff and customers will be raising money to help breathe life into the project, with the aim of taking in our first students in September 2017. Beyond that date, Better Food will continue to fundraise to ensure the continuation of the project term by term, and into the future beyond. 

Visit the Better Food Fundsurfer page to find out more about our latest fundraising activities and to review our overall progress towards our target.

#StreetsToKitchen

Risotto and the night train from Milan

The first risotto alla Milanese I had was in a trattoria just next to the huge Milan central station. It was in July 1965. I was 14 years old and on my way back to London from a holiday and was booked on the night train from Milan to London. I could tell you more about the circumstances leading up to this but Claire says I haven’t got time. 

The food on that holiday – maybe even this one risotto – left a huge impression on my sense of what good food and cooking was about. 20 years later, when I was making risotto myself in my first restaurant with alla Milanese or with red wine, wild duck and thyme or with crab or just with lemon, the memory of this one dish was like a kind of guardian angel; it had set a quintessential standard.. The rice had achieved that keen balance between softness and firmness –how on earth did they do that? the beef marrow, parmesan and saffron – flavours I had never even tasted before – cast a kind of spell over me. It was so delicious that I almost cried while I was eating it. Maybe I was just tired. Maybe I was in love. A food memory is never far from such things. But what I do know is that even though I never saw myself then as becoming a chef, this risotto had done a little magic, had made an inexorable link between my love of cooking and my choices in life. 

To watch Barny cook risotto followed by a three course Italian feast - arancini, antipasti, Risotto alla milanese (or with beetroot and pecorino for non-meat eaters) and panna cotta with Yorkshire rhubarb to finish, book here

  

Mostly Plants: A Vegan Cookery Demo & Dinner

MOSTLY PLANTS: a Vegan Cookery Demo and Dinner

Friday 24th February 2017,  7pm - 10.30pm
Spike Island Cafe, 133 Cumberland Road, BS1 6UX
£25

Continuing the collaboration between Spike Island Café and the Square Food Foundation, Barny Haughton presents a vegan cookery demo, followed by a three  course feast.

Barny says, ‘This is definitely not just for vegans. I’m going to show how plantbased food is as delicious and satisfying as traditional meat based dishes’.

The evening will explore the huge diversity, depth of flavour and texture in food which comes from plants - whether the plant itself - how many ways do you know how to make cabbage taste delicious? - or a by-product of a plant - preserved, ground, cured, fermented or even distilled.

‘Eat food, not too much, mostly plants’

Michael Pollan's book In Defense of Food, The Eater's Manifesto contains this now often quoted encouragement to consumers. ‘We’re not suggesting that the only way forward is to be vegan’, continues Barny, ‘though a recent Telegraph report suggests that veganism is the fastest growing lifestyle movement of the last 10 years, particularly for the under 35s.’

‘We hope the food itself will exceed our guests’ culinary expectations and leave them with some for thought too’, Barny concludes.

Barny will be joined by special guest Sue Miller from Miller Green, a vegan
food delivery service. They’ll explore the case for eating less meat, the new found joys of vegan cooking and how people and planet can benefit from eating a more plants and fewer animals. Miller Green’s mission is to create 'vegetable-based dishes for people who love food’.

This collaboration in part of a series creating a conversation around food, cooking and how it impacts everything we do, every day.

To book, click here

For more information, see:
http://spikeislandcafe.co.uk/new-events/
http://www.squarefoodfoundation.co.uk/
http://millergreen.co.uk/
 
Previous and future events:


The first demo and dinner, Pasta Making, was a sell out with wonderful feedback: 
“We went to a pasta cookery demo and meal on Friday evening - it was fantastic."
"Lovely demo by the charming Barny Haughton from Square Food Foundation, followed by a delicious meal, washed down with plenty of Italian wine.”
“Really nice crowd. Lots of chat with interesting people. Will be going to more events, both at Spike Island, and Square Food Foundation.”
“The pasta making demo was great! Very nice atmosphere and a great opportunity to watch a chef doing pasta in front of you, with the chance to hear all the tips and secrets. And the meal afterwards was fresh and delicious. It's a must do!” 

The third in the series is Risotto - the mysteries of this simple ingredient
transformed into food of the gods unravelled before your eyes.

For more information, contact Liz Haughton, Spike Island Cafe
07815 774436

www.spikeislandcafe.co.uk

Happy #HomemadeSoupDay

Minestrone Soup by Barny Haughton

 

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 100g pancetta rinds removed and roughly chopped
  • 2-3 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 small leek, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 large potato, peeled and chopped
  • 2 x 400g cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 75g long grain rice or macaroni
  • 2-4 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley, to taste
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • shaved Parmesan cheese, to serve

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add pancetta, celery, carrots, leek and onion and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the vegetables are soft.

Add garlic and potato and cook, stirring for 5mins. Add the tinned tomatoes then half cover the pan, lower the heat and simmer gently for about 15 minutes.

Add the rice or pasta then bring to the boil again and simmer for 15-20 minutes, check consistency and add more liquid if necessary. Stir in parsley and taste for seasoning.

Serve hot, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

 

Community Cookery Schools in Bristol: Changing the City's Food Habits And Health?

The Bristol Food Connections Festival is now in its 3rd year. And for 2016, Barny & the Square Food team will be at the Riverford Yurt on Friday 29th April with representatives from other of Bristol's Community Cookery Schools to discuss what difference we're really making. 

Away from food television, fat and sugar politics, celebrity-ism and the middle-class food revolution, perhaps our relationship with food is being changed by people making soup out of vegetables which would otherwise be thrown away or by a class of children who have made fresh pasta, gone home and shown their parents how it is done.

There are over 100 food education initiatives in Bristol. From full-fledged cookery schools and urban growing projects to after-school cookery clubs, the business of teaching and learning about food is everywhere in the city. This event explores how they work and what impact they are having on people and the city.

Beyond teaching ordinary people to cook healthy and affordable food, could community cookery schools also be having an impact on social welfare policy, on food ethics, urban and local food systems, shopping habits, public health policy, environmental awareness, mental health strategies, school communities, and food poverty awareness?

Following a live cookery lesson with Square Food's Barny plus other cookery teachers from Co-exist Kitchen, HHEAG and All About Food, illustrating how a typical community cookery class might work, you can look forward to a panel of cookery teachers and experts along with volunteers and students to lead a lively debate on these topical and far-reaching issues.

This is a free event but you'll need to Click here to register your attendance. 

Square Food Foundations spiced lentil & vegetable soup

A hearty meal for 6

 

This is a vegetable soup with spices in it. You could use other vegetables – eg sweet potato, celeriac, swede, parsnip - than the ones I have indicated.

The spices are important; they really do bring depth and sparkle to even quite dull vegetables. But if you don’t have all the spices, just use ones you have or curry powder or paste will do fine as well.

Note: if you buy spices, buy the whole seeds not the powders - and invest in a pestle and mortar. It will become one of your favourite kitchen friends.

 Ingredients

2 sticks celery
2 carrots
1 large white onion
300g butternut squash or similar
2 potatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
½  tsp chilli powder or flakes
1 tsp cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, ground
1tsp turmeric powder or fresh turmeric root grated
3 tsp freshly grated ginger
100g red lentils
1 tin coconut milk (optional but lovely)
Water
Groundnut oil
Large bunch freshly chopped coriander
2tsp salt

 

Dice all the vegetables separately quite small – 1cm

Fry the celery carrot onion & celery until soft & caramelised. This can take 15-20 minutes but it’s worth it

Add the garlic and spices & cook for a few minutes longer, stirring well

Now add the potatoes, squash, lentils, coconut milk, 500ml water (approx.) & the salt and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer gently for 1 hour or until all the vegetables and lentils are soft. You may need to add a little more water. If so adjust the seasoning accordingly

Stir in the chopped coriander just before serving.

 

 

Roast Vegetable Frittata

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This is the perfect meal to use up any leftovers, especially after a sunday roast

Serves 4

600g (1lb) mixed winter veg such as potatoes, shallots or onions,carrots, squash or pumpkin, parsnip, celeriac, beetroot
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
3 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
8 eggs
handful mixed herbs, such as curly parsley, chives and thyme, finely chopped
20g (¾oz) Parmesan, hard goat’s cheese or other strong-flavoured hard cheese, grated
100ml of milk

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5, 190°C, fan 170°C. Meanwhile, peel and slice or cube your chosen veg.

Put the veg into an ovenproof dish, about 23cm (9in) square. Add the garlic, oil, season and toss well.

Roast for about 40 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the veg is tender and starting to caramelise in places.

Beat the eggs together with the chopped herbs and salt and pepper. Take the dish out of the oven, pour the egg evenly over the veg and scatter over the grated cheese.

Return to the oven for 10-15 minutes until the egg is all set and the top is starting to colour. If your oven has a grill, you can use that to accelerate the browning of the top. Leave to cool slightly, then slide the frittata out on to a plate or board. Serve warm or cold.

 

 

 

 

Roast Squash & Chickpea Curry

Serves 6

Ingredients 

2 onions finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 red peppers, roughly chopped
2 x 400g cans tomatoes 

1 x 400g can chickpeas (or equivalent weight dried, soaked overnight and cooked according instructions on pack)
2 tsp fenugreek
2 tsp coriander seeds (seeds all ground together) 2tsp fennel seeds (seeds all ground together)
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp freshly chopped ginger
1 finely chopped red chilli
2 tsp turmeric
big handful freshly chopped coriander,
2 bay leaves
2tsp fennel seeds

Use a mixture of the following vegetables, all chopped or broken (in the case of the cauliflower) into bite-sized pieces: cauliflower, carrot, sweet potato, celeriac, swede, parsnip. You can use blackeye or other beans instead of chickpeas if you’d prefer. Use dried rather than tinned pulses if you can: they are cheaper, taste much better - and less weight to carry home from the shop. Allow about 300g total weight of vegetables/pulses per person.

Method

In a heavy-bottomed pan sweat the onions, garlic & peppers over a low heat, until soft. Add the spices, stir to toast a little, then add the tinned tomatoes and an equal quantity of water to tomatoes. Add the salt and bay leaves. Simmer well for an hour; should be sweet, aromatic, rich.

Meanwhile, toss the vegetables in a little oil, salt, turmeric and fennels seeds and roast them in a hot oven until brown but still almost crunchy – especially the cauliflower.

Once cooked, combine the vegetables with the base sauce and simmer very gently for 25 minutes. Add freshly chopped coriander and serve with flatbreads and yogurt. 

 

A feast of vegetables

We've been busy this week, cooking with our Back in the Kitchen group, some of the women at One25, and today with a gang of half-termers who'd booked our one-day Let's Cook Workshop. In amongst all that, Barny's found time to put the finishing touches to his programme for next week's Vegetarian Cookery workshop.

For those of you already booked, here's what you can expect to cook/prepare/eat and for those who haven't got a place, you can still get one! 

Barny's Feast of Vegetables, Thursday 5th November 2015. 6pm 

2 raw winter vegetable salads

Roast cauliflower with hazelnuts

Bruschetta of mixed greens

Vegetable frittata

Spelt grain, squash & purple sprouting with harissa

Roast vegetable curry

Goat’s cheese & vegetable pasty

 

And to whet your appetite even further, here's a taster in the form of one of the recipes

Bruschetta of mixed greens

This makes a delicious winter starter. Use a mix of, say 3 greens; eg curly kale, spring greens, cavolo,  purple sprouting broccoli. Or just one will do nicely as well

500g mixed greens stripped of stalk & torn into bite-sized pieces

3 red onions finely sliced

3 garlic cloves, finely sliced (not minced)

¼ tspn chilli flakes

Olive oil, lemon, black pepper, salt

In a saucepan, sweat the onions in olive oil until soft and slightly caramelised. Add garlic & chilli flakes and continue sweating till the garlic is soft and almost brown. Transfer to bowl. Don’t clean the pan.

Heat the pan with a little more olive oil until almost smoky hot, add the cabbage leaves, toss a little in the oil and then add just enough water to get the cooking of the cabbage going – about 200ml. The less you can get away with, the less you will have to drain off – along with flavour from the cabbage.

Season the cabbage with just a pinch of salt and cover with a lid. Simmer until cabbage just cooked. Remove from heat and add back the onion/garlic mixture.

Grill thick slices of bread brushed with oil and garlic. Heat up a generous mix of the cabbage in a small frying pan, heap on the slices of grilled bread

Olive oil & a squeeze of lemon…..

 

 

Provence in the Autumn & other French Cooking

Provençal stuffed vegetables

I hate the word ubiquitous almost as much as I hate what generally passes for a stuffed pepper, but never has the word had a better soul mate. The stuffed pepper, along with nut-roast and vegetarian beef Stroganoff, was what vegetarians got offered in restaurants in the 1960s instead of Steak Diane or Truite aux almonds, but which, unlike these equally abused dishes, still lies dormant in the culinary wastelands.  At its very worst, its stuffing is composed of overcooked, but somehow dry, boiled rice, mixed together with undercooked fried onion and tinned tomato to form a stiff porridge. This mixture is inserted into a whole red pepper which has had its top sliced off (in the 1960s the pepper was green, but we’ve moved on a long way since then). The pepper is then cooked with its lid on, long enough to warm the porridge, but not soften the pepper. It is served, falling over and spilling its greyish contents onto the plate, with grated cheddar - or without, if the victim is vegan. 

The legumes farcis de Provence are, properly made, barely from the same gene pool. This recipe uses the same vegetables as the ones for making ratatouille – which in itself makes a very good stuffing. Instead of using meat (see below), you could use a mixture of ricotta and soft goats cheese. Like so many dishes Provençal, it is delicious cold as well as hot and can be prepared well in advance. For six people. 

For the vegetable cases

6 medium-sized, firm but ripe tomatoes

3 small aubergines

6 small red or white onions

6 small red or green peppers

3 medium or 6 small courgettes

 

For the stuffing

300g minced veal, beef or pork

100 g diced bacon or salt pork

1 large or 2 small onions, diced

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

The pulp of aubergine and tomato, chopped

I cup boiled rice ( leftover risotto rice is perfect)

2 tablespoons grated parmesan

2 tablespoons mixed fresh herbs (basil, tarragon, parsley), chopped

salt, pepper, olive oil

 

For the top

A cup of soft bread crumbs

Zest of half a lemon

2 tablespoons mixed fresh herbs – as above

salt, pepper, olive oil

Peel off the outer skin of the onions, leaving the top and tail intact. In fast boiling salted water, briefly – 1 minute – blanch the courgettes and then, for a little longer, the onions. Cut the courgettes in half, lengthways. Cut the aubergines in half similarly and slice the tops off the tomatoes, peppers and onions. Using a combination of small sharp knife and a dessert spoon, scoop out the insides of all vegetables but the peppers, reserving the pulp of the tomato and aubergine for the stuffing. Remove the seeds and white fleshy bits of the peppers. Brush the aubergines and peppers with olive oil and a little salt and bake in a medium oven for about ten minutes, just to soften them.  

To make the stuffing, use a deep-sided frying pan or casserole and fry the onions until soft in a little olive oil. Ad the meat and fry briskly, stirring as you do, until the meat is slightly browned. Add the salt pork and garlic, fry a little more, and then add the tomato and aubergine pulp.  Season with salt and pepper and cook gently for about 25 minutes or until the meat is tender. Finally, add the rice, parmesan and herbs, mix well, check for seasoning and transfer to a bowl. 

Mix the breadcrumbs, lemon zest, herbs, salt and pepper with a little olive oil, just enough to hold the mixture loosely together. Stuff the vegetables with the meat mixture, scatter the breadcrumbs on top, drizzle with olive oil and bake for about 25 minutes.

(The wine which springs to mind as the perfect companion to this dish is a Rosé from Bandol. Crisp, fresh fruit with the gentlest hint of tannin in its pale blush-pink colour)

Book onto Provence in the Autumn at Square Food Foundation and learn how to cook Provencal stuffed vegetables and other delicious French classics. 

13 cooks reach a milestone (and write a charter...)

We've just wrapped up our second training programme for care home cooks from the Milestones Trust. 

During the course of this ten week programme we have cooked some 28 dishes, from soups to souffles and lentil and bean fritters to spiced chicken wings, used hundreds of fabulous ingredients, had a seminar on the Food For Life Catering Mark Standard, visited an organic grower, washed dirty vegetables, washed up, burnt things, jointed chickens, picked herbs, eaten lunch, dozed off, drunk coffee, tea and even wine.

A collection of moments captured during the programme. 

A collection of moments captured during the programme. 

But maybe the most important thing we did was talk. And it was the debates and discussions which led the programme through all its changes and challenges. There were times at the beginning when I think people wondered why on earth they were on the course. So much to learn, so little time to learn it. Too many obstacles. And we kept coming back to the big questions of time, knowledge, resources, complex and differing demands of residents, support from management…

But out of the debates and discussions and along with the chopping and cooking, came the learning. The reasons for being on the course became clearer, confidence and purpose grew; there was method in the madness.

And in the end what we were really talking about was not so much knife skills or techniques or budgets or food safety but about a different approach to food and cooking. And how these different principles could be applied in practice in our own kitchens and what the next steps towards making a real difference might be.

Which is where the cooks charter came from….

The Milestones Home Cooks Charter

This is the idea we discussed for the group to set certain standards within their own kitchens which would be in line both with the Milestones Trust Food Policy and The Food For Life Catering Mark Standard. 

  1. All food and drink ingredients used in the kitchen to meet the FFLP Bronze Catering 
  2. Organic Sunday Lunch  (once a month) 
  3. Milk: 20% Organic milk
  4. Bread: one day a week home-made bread
  5. Vegetables: 20% organic
  6. Eggs: 100% free-range eggs
  7. Fish: always MSC approved fish
  8. All meat & poultry Red Tractor as standard (ie always traceable to the farm, assurance of high standards of animal welfare etc) 
  9. 20% meat and poultry free-range or organic

We're still a way from reaching some of these targets but to have got this far is to have reached a milestone. Our next cohort of cooks arrives later this year and we're already excited. For more information about the Milestones Trust, click here. Or, to find out more about the professional training that Square Food has to offer, click here. 

Clifton Lido Funds Cookery Training for Primary Schools

Following on a successful year as Clifton Lido’s good cause 2013- 14, funds raised by Lido will assist two primary schools to join our unique programme: How to Teach Cooking in Your School

The programme supports schools implementing new National Curriculum requirements; teaching hands-on cooking in schools.  This is a professional development course for teachers with a whole school approach.

Applications are open to Bristol Primary Schools for a partially funded programme; training and empowering teachers to deliver cooking lessons embedded in the curriculum.

Interested schools should write to info@squarefoodfoundation.co.uk for an application form. More details can be seen here. Deadline for submitted applications: November 14th

Background: The National Curriculum has changing - requiring all primary schools to teach hands on cooking.  Square Food are thrilled that the School Food Plan states 'instilling a love of cooking in pupils will also open the door to one of the great expressions of creativity.' Square Food Foundation is playing a central role in supporting Bristol's schools to achieve this. Our Primary Schools Programme empowers teachers to teach cookery in the classroom, developing skills, techniques, recipes and confidence.

Square Food wish to work with teachers from across the city; thereby sowing the seeds of change for generations to come, reaching children far and wide – turning the tide and reinstating cooking as a lifelong skill.

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Following the successful pilot with Knowle Park Primary and Victoria Park Primary Square Food are now working with other primary schools; embedding cookery in the whole school.  We would like to offer two partially funded places to two additional, really committed, primary schools.

“You are taking it beyond the safe zone, you are taking it to proper cooking skills.”- Holymead School Governor

“Amazing, fabulous, delicious, and helpful!” -Child from Knowle Park Primary

“I didn’t like it, I loved it.” “I don’t like broccoli, but I liked that!” -Children from Victoria Park Primary

“We are delighted that Lido, its staff and members have been able to support Square Food over the last year – and that this programme will provide a lasting legacy of our partnership, supporting food education in schools across the city” -Mark Thwaites, General Manager, Clifton Lido

Middle Eastern-style spiced baked apples

We love Autumn, and to celebrate we've been baking apples all week.  Our Kids Simple Suppers class and Back In The Kitchen over 55's have tested several recipes and the winner is.......

Middle Eastern-style spiced baked apples

4 large apples

45g unsalted butter, softened

75g nuts (eg cashew, almonds, pistachio)

100g dried fruit (eg apricots, raisins, dates)

50g pomegranate seeds

2 tsp cinnamon

80g muscovado sugar

1 tbs pomegranate molasses

½  tsp rosewater

1 tsp lemon zest

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c
  2. Core the apples from the stalk end down, making sure that every last trace of core & pips has been removed, but carefully enough not to pierce through the bottom of the apple
  3. Chop the nuts. The best way to do this is to put the nuts in an ‘envelope’ of greaseproof paper and bash them gently with a rolling pin. In this way the nuts won’t scatter all over the place. Don’t chop them too fine.
  4. Chop the fruit to the size of the dried fruit in a fruit cake
  5. Mix the fruit and nuts together with the butter, sugar, cinnamon and pomegranate seeds. Add the molasses, rosewater & lemon zest. Mix thoroughly
  6. Fill each apple with the mixture, pressing it well into the cavity
  7. Place on a baking tray and cover with foil
  8. Bake for 45 minutes
  9. Serve with pouring cream or home-made custard or even a scoop of vanilla ice cream if you enjoy the hot/cold thing

We're also celebrating Autumn with a very special offer. We invite you to bring a friend for free and hope you'll take this opportunity to join us and to introduce some new people to our Masterclasses.

**** Autumn Offer - Bring a Friend For Free ****

Win A Copy of The Kitchen Orchard Cookery Book

The Kitchen Orchard

For Natalia Conroy, an exciting new food writer, the kitchen is an orchard, the source of abundant meals, platefuls of fresh salad or slow-cooked vegetables. She combines seasonal produce with essential everyday ingredients making sure nothing goes to waste. 

Not so different then from Barny's own food philosophy that underpins each and every one of Square Food Foundation's Masterclasses.

Natalia's first cookery book is the Kitchen Orchard - a gorgeous hardbacked back with more than 100 recipes to feast upon. We've got three copies, each worth £25, to give away to our Square Food supporters. 

All you have to do is Like Square Food's Facebook page AND share the newsletter (pinned at the top of the Facebook page) and we'll enter your name into a prize draw.  Winners to be announced on 2nd October 2014.  

******* Autumn Masterclass offer - Bring a friend for FREE*********

Thank you and please vote!

Over the last year we have been lucky enough to be the Clifton Lido's good cause; this has included a Bake Off, an overnight swim and a mountain of donated pots and pans that we have distributed to people who didn't have them at home. On top of this we have made some great connections, meeting people from around the city to tell them about the work we do.  These new friendships have brought new volunteers, new partnerships and new opportunities; supporting our mission to teach people from all walks of life to cook good food from scratch.  

A case in point,  Lido member Camilla Kerr kindly nominated us for the Lloyds Bank Community Fund Prize, we were short-listed and are now in with a chance of winning up to £3000 to spend on new knives, pans, bowls and chopping boards for our bespoke teaching kitchen in Knowle.  This is very good news indeed.

YOU can help us win. Simply vote for Square Food Foundation using one (or all) of the following methods: 

Online

Twitter #CommFund DJZ (You must have a Twitter account)

TEXT VOTE DJZ to 61119. Standard text message rates apply

At one of our local Lloyds Bank branches! Ask a member of staff for a token. You do not need to bank with Lloyds to cast a vote in branch.

  • Brislington Branch: BS4 3QA just off Bath Rd on Bloomfield Road behind the Sainsbury’s
  • Knowle Branch: BS4 2PY (Wells Rd, near Broadwalk Shopping Centre)

You can cast your vote NOW using one or ALL of the above methods! Each different method counts as one vote ;-)

At Square Food we consider ourselves lucky to have such good friends and supporters, all part of the Square Food family. Thank you to everyone who contributes, in so many ways - from attending an Masterclass, volunteering your time, donating a computer monitor, raising funds, voting in the above or simply reading this blog.  You are all helping and every single bit makes a difference.

Thanks in advance for your continued support

****** Autumn Masterclass Offer - Bring a Friend For Free *******

pan amnesty

Spread the word. 

Pan Amnesty with Lido - Sept 2013

Taking stock

A well-made stock has the potential to catapult your cooking to the next dimension, simultaneously utilising the vegetable drawer/allotment glut and giving you a warm glowy feeling inside as the summer sun fades into a distant memory.

square food foundation for web-21

This a general guide to all stocks; fish, meat and vegetable

Stock vegetables: The following ingredients are suitable for stock: onions, carrots, celery, leeks, fresh tomatoes – not too much – French bean or other trimmings -  fennel but only in a vegetable or fish stock – thyme, bay, rosemary – but not too much – garlic – always, perhaps asparagus trimmings, pea pods and carrot leaves in the summer.…… Never put the following ingredients in a stock: brassica, starchy vegetables, fines herbes (tarragon, etc.) or any vegetables which haven’t been properly washed or are turning brown. Stocks are best made with an accumulation of carefully looked after, refrigerated vegetable trimmings.

square food curry masterclass for web-4

For a meat stock, roast off the bones (unless they are left over from roast or otherwise cooked meat) and throw them into a pan with the vegetables and enough water to cover well. Bring to a rolling but gentle simmer. You will never get a good stock if you let it boil. As the stock cooks, the fat and other impurities will rise to the surface. Skim them off religiously every so often until the liquid looks clear. You can now either put it in the oven (on the floor of the oven) at about 110oC or gas mark 3 for about 5 hours, or simmer it on top: blip…….blip……blip….. very slow.

For a fish stock, put the washed bones, cleaned heads, fish bits and frames together with vegetables and water as above. Bring to a gentle simmer as above. Skim religiously as above.

A vegetable stock, not having the flavour benefits of meat and fish, needs to contain lots of vegetables. To get a good soup, stock base or risotto stock, I would use two heads of celery, 6 carrots a bulb of garlic and 3 or 4 leeks……

square food curry masterclass for web-45

To strain the stocks: pass through a colander and then through a fine sieve to remove any bits.

Learn to cook the perfect stock and delicious vegetable dishes with Barny: 12 Vegetable Dishes to Change Your Life

******SPECIAL OFFER FOR AUTUMN/WINTER ON ALL ADULT MASTERCLASSES – BRING A FRIEND FOR FREE!*******

Monday 21st July, The first Square Food LinkAge lunch club

We’ve been running Back In The Kitchen cooking club for nearly a year now.  A lively Monday morning “drop in” for over 55’s – full of banter and good honest cooking from scratch. In the beginning it was just Barny, one 'student' and one volunteer. Despite all the posters, tweets and newsletters, no one else turned up. Luckily, Barny isn't easily disheartened and with our friends at LinkAge Bristol on the case, it wasn't long before the word got out and we were soon over-run.

back to the kitchen group

Today, Back in the Kitchen is a buzzing, thriving class, with firm friendships formed, skills learnt/re-learnt, new recipes tried and many meals shared.

“Monday mornings are the highlight of my week – I look forward to cooking so much, it makes me really happy”  Sally*

“I couldn’t boil an egg before I came here.  Now I regularly cook for my wife at home, scones, shepherd’s pie, all sorts” Tom*

“This is an inspiring place, full of good people” John*

 This week we tried something new, we ran a pilot Lunch Club in collaboration with Linkage and our landlords, The Park  This is an exciting development. Firstly it puts our club cooks to the test of “service” (at which they excelled) and secondly it brings new people together to enjoy a home cooked meal.

12 guests. 6 Back in The Kitchen class cooks. A menu of minced beef, new potatoes, summer vegetables and a summer fruit tart. A lovely space provided by The Park. White table cloth, flowers, cooking & service by the Back in the Kitchen class.

'Went like clockwork. There was a sense of this having the potential to become something special. For SFF, LinkAge, The Park and for everyone involved. For it to become a regular event in which to eat great food,  share food experiences and explore ideas for the future; Autumn, for Christmas, at The Park, foraging in the woods…. All ideas welcome.' Barny 

At Square Food, we know food is the great leveller – a simple way of bringing people together, and Monday proved that philosophy a hundred times over. We were delighted to be joined by local Councillor Chris Jackson who generously pushed back a meeting at City Hall to make time for a quick bite.

“Cooked impeccably” lunch club guest

“Excellent food, excellent company” lunch club guest

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All pictures, courtesy of LinkAge

We’re making plans for the Autumn about how to take this forward, and our guinea pigs, ahem - guests, gave glowing praise for both the food and the idea. They especially enjoyed being able to sit down with the cooks who made the meal for them.  Many thanks to our Back In The Kitchen Group for taking up the challenge, and doing so in such a professional manner, and to our new friends who came to enjoy the food and give us their feedback.  As ever, we are indebted to our gallant volunteers, without whom this wouldn't have got off the ground.

We're on the lookout for regular volunteers to support this project. If you think you'd like to give a few hours of your time each week,  please contact Gretchen@squarefoodfoundation.co.uk

And, if you would like to be kept up to date with our plans, or indeed join the Back In The Kitchen Cooking Club please email lucy@squarefoodfoundation.co.uk to register your interest.

The Island Goats

Part Four: Sunday 22nd June 2014 9.30 am  

In the end Pluto didn't come on the boat. Rupert, with his lifeboat team baseball hat on, said a flat no. And that was that. But of course, next to being with Rebecca, Pluto's favourite place is in the boot of her car, in amongst the soft muddle of old tartan blankets. So that's where he stayed for the duration of our swim, no doubt secretly in a state of blissful relief.

And I didn't cook breakfast over a driftwood fire on the island beach either. But I did, for the first time since swimming in the sea here in Ireland, put on a wetsuit; one of those short-sleeved, short-legged ones that make you like like an Edwardian gentleman swimmer but less elegant. If that's possible. Rebecca said I should wear one and she was right. We stood, in our wetsuits on the harbour side, looking over the wall at the sea and at the Island, waiting for Rupert to bring his boat to the harbour entrance. The sea wasn't flat or calm at all. There was a light North Easterly wind. We watched them both, the sea and the wind. They thought they would dance together for us.

I am not going to go into the detail of the swim itself except to say that the first half was strange and deeply unsettling and it was very good to have company. It turns out that Rebecca swam before she walked. If Rebecca swims like a seal, I swim like Charlie Chaplin. It was only after drinking a cup or so of seawater and after Rupert had called from the boat that we were half way there  that I really found myself understanding what being in this kind of water meant and how to not ever imagine you can do better than you are doing. Maybe that goes for most things in life. I am pretty sure that Rebecca could have swum to the Island, done a couple of circuits of it and be sitting on the steps of the jetty writing notes for next year's Ballymaloe Litfest before I had even arrived there if she had been less patient and supportive.

So a huge thanks to you, Rebecca. And to Rupert who, in a paradoxically reassuring way, scooted off to fish for mackerel at one point, his little blue boat bobbing carelessly some 100 metres away.

I would do it again. I am going to do it again. In the end it only took 45 minutes anyway. Nothing really.

So why did I do it, this Lighthouse Island swim which has so preoccupied me over the past couple of weeks? 

I think the reasons have changed. I think they always do when you set out to do something you have never done before. Of course it was about raising money. For SFF and for The RajKSoni Legacy Fund. And I'd like lots of it please. And if you want to sponsor me just go  to Localgiving.com/squarefoodfoundation. I was also doing it to support the marathon swims which happened at Lido on behalf of SFF and at Portishead on behalf of the RKSLF yesterday.  I salute all those swimmers and hope that their day was as wonderful and life-affirming as mine was on Friday.

So I think my real reason for swimming to the Island begins there too; with life itself. Well, three things; life, the soil & cooking.

There are two jetties on the island. The one we arrived at and the one we walked to, over the island, to be picked up again by Rupert. A little way up the steep pathway, we came across a mother goat who had just given birth to two kids. The bloody afterbirth was on the grass, glistening in the sun. I would say the birth had happened while Rebecca and I were in the sea. The mother goat was licking one of the kids which stood blinking and wobbly in the sun, against the grassy bank of the path, in this new world, knowing nothing, not yet even having suckled from its mother. The other kid lay on the pathway. Its neck was crooked sideways and although alive and trembling, its mother was paying it no attention. She knew it wasn't going to survive.

There are 6 or 7 wild goats on the island - well and now there are 8. But not 9. They survive because there is fresh water from a spring to drink and grass and flowers and seaweed to eat. A small community of wild goats getting on with the business of living.

I have put life (and death) bit out of the three things because that's the bit we all recognise. But really the soil comes first. The thing we humans, as the world's most powerful community, are destroying little by little every day. We are not thinking about the soil.

In my last posting I mentioned Craig Sams' talk at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. If you have got this far with me on this journey, then read about Bio-char and its place in sustainable farming systems. By which I mean organic. Because that's more important than Bio-char; Craig himself began his talk with a brief history of the organic movement in the UK, placing its principles at the heart of his case for Biochar.

We have spent the last ten years not talking about organics. It's gone out of fashion. Even the Soil Association is having to be circumspect about it. And for the rest of us? It's too difficult, to expensive, the arguments for it are dubious, it won't feed the world, it's a middle-class Waitrose, colour supplement thing. Most chefs don't give a damn about it. And that alone speaks volumes. And Bristol Green Capital isn't engaged with talking about it either. Not really. It remains on the margins. Now we talk vaguely about sustainability because it's less provocative.

A wilful blindness to the plight of the soil. Don't tell me all the reasons why organics is not the answer to anything or that GM crops just might have the solution, that poor people can't afford organic food and what a romantic middle-class joke the whole notion of small organic farms is. I just can't bear that anymore. What's wrong with romance anyway? We are not feeding the world anyway, we can't ever hope to. Let's talk about the science and real solutions yes, but lets talk about the science of soil itself to start with.

Well, not right now. I just want to tell you where the cooking bit fits in otherwise you will just go to the pub or to sleep with boredom.

So this is where cooking fits in and in particular the notion that we need a culture of food democracy, of good food for all.

I think if more people cook good food from scratch, the soil will become more important in the landscape of their own lives. Whether they live in a city like Bristol or in a village in the heart of Devon. And when you really think about the soil you are thinking about life itself.

And I think the movement towards real cooking, which is already happening, will lead food culture inexorably to the health of the soil and therefore to principles of organic agriculture. We will make the connection.

That's the direction of travel we are on at Square Food Foundation. While I have been away in Ireland, a garden at the back of the cookery school has been made. I imagine the courgettes are being eaten and the tomatoes almost ripe in this amazing weather. A tiny patch of soil, a gesture, you could say. But it makes the connection between what we put in our mouths and where it comes from. And that's a start.

 

Today's the day

Friday 20th 7.15am. Ballymaloe Cookery School Pluto has been very quiet over the last two days. Yesterday, while I was in the kitchen at the cookery school preparing food for dinner last night, he came and put his head through the doorway and stood looking at me. No words passed between us. I continued podding broad beans. And then, after a minute had passed, Pluto turned and slowly walked away. I almost felt sorry for him.

So he is going to go with Rupert on the boat. As I write this Rupert doesn't know. This last minute decision was taken very late last night between Rebecca and myself. Pluto absolutely has to come with us. On our swim to the middle island two days ago, he stood on the beach and howled without ceasing until we arrived back 40 minutes later. Pluto has abandonment issues. I feel I have been to hard on the little fellow now, a little lacking in sensitivity and compassion. So, he will go on the boat with the breakfast ingredients I will pack when I have finished this post.

We can put my slightly less than jolly tone to this final pre-swim post down to nerves. Infact it is a beautiful morning here; the sky is blue, the air still. We are ready. I will be packing a breakfast of eggs, bacon, tomatoes, bread and butter, everything, of course, from the farm and gardens of Ballymaloe. And a frying pan. When we get to the Island, we will find drift wood, make a fire and make breakfast. I guess making coffee is going to be too complicated

I was told last night that an Irish naval frigate has been notified of our swim and will be dropping anchor this morning East of the lighthouse island to keep a watchful eye on us. I didn't know Ireland had a navy.

Last night before the dinner, Craig Sams gave a talk on Biochar. if you don't know what this is, check it out. It was a brilliant talk, a call to arms about the soil. Soil is life and we are destroying it. Organic agriculture with help from Bioachar provide part of the solution to this. Conventional agriculture is doing the opposite. It's as simple as that. It made me realise that even in the world of green thinking, we have largely abandoned the notion of organic. It's time to re-engage with it.

See you later

BH