Hands-On Team

Barley Risotto

Last Thursday the Hands-On team made a risotto with pearl barley – a great grain for slow-release energy. We made a very green blend of wilted spinach, shallots, garlic and vegetable stock to let down the barley – and finished the risotto with pan-fried portobello mushrooms and leeks. A hearty winter’s meal, with good nutritional profile.

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We have structured our Thursday sessions into sub-groups of 4-6 students, each group on a specific task, 2-3 groups making the dinner, and the other group(s) working on a saleable product – we have already begun with Sauerkraut (see last week’s post), and this week we experimented with vegan carob chocolate using very tasty freeze-dried strawberries we had just got in – the samples were very popular! In fact a vegan store in Wellington is keen to stock vegan carob chocolate if we can produce it for them – watch this space.

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Our New Production has started!

Two weeks ago on Thursday afternoon we started our new production of sauerkraut with the Hands-On team. We mixed green and red cabbage, with beetroot. After we sorted through our organic cabbages and removed the outer leaves, it was time to shred the veges in the food processor. Then we added salt and smooshed the cabbage and beetroot with our hands until the cabbage juice developed. We packed the mixture into our pickling pot and then went home to await the sauerkraut process. It was interesting to see the cabbage bubbling as the fermentation process started. We learnt that eating fermented foods introduces beneficial bacteria into your digestive system which helps the immune system.
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Parsnip Pasta

The last two Thursdays the Hands-On team has been busy spiralizing parsnip into fettucine! Lightly pre-baked in the oven, it is topped with creamy cashew and mushroom sauce and served with salad. Heaps of positive feedback from customers – amazingly the parsnip has a look, feel and texture and taste like fettucine, and the cashew cream sauce mixed with mushroom broth and topped with shitake mushrooms creates a delicious meal.

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Meanwhile another group of students were busy producing their first batch of sauerkraut! We used a mix of green and red organic cabbage, and organic beetroot to make a tasty sauerkraut, which the students will pack into jars this week. We tasted it earlier today, it’s coming on really well. Our sauerkraut is made just from cabbage and salt, and it ferments naturally to make a probiotic product which is great tasting and great for our digestion.

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Dinner Rolls, Broccoli & Spinach Soup, Eggplant Lasagna

Last week the Hands-On Team had a go at baking mini dinner rolls which were served with some vegan “butter” and a delicious soup made from broccoli, spinach and parsley. Everyone really enjoyed baking the rolls – dividing the dough, learning to “close” the dough so the rolls rises into a nice shape without splitting, letting them rise and baking them in the deck ovens.

The rest of the team prepared broccoli and a vegetable stock base for the soup, along with broccoli florets for garnish and toasted dukkah to sprinkle over the top.

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Portobello Mushroom Night

The Hands-On Team kicked off term 2 with the fairly ambitious meal of “Portobello Mushroom Tempeh Burger” served with lemon rosemary “chips”. While many of the students had one of their best cooking nights with us, flat-out on the pans and all hands on deck in the prep, we felt the final meal did prove to be a bit too ambitious, so we will have another crack at it – capturing just as much flavour, but we’ll come up with a more realistic assembly procedure! We think it’s really important for the students to experience success on the plate every time. And while being busy is great, we also want it to be achievable for them!

A bit of knife practice was needed for successfully scoring the portobellos (without cutting right through) before rubbing them in vegan garlic “butter” prior to roasting. A delicious rub was made for the tempeh with smoked paprika, garlic and various seasonings. Organic red onions and capsicums were very finely diced – great knife skills team, then briefly pan fried before serving over the smashed avocado. Fresh locally grown spray-free spinach was wilted in the pan just prior to serving.

Preparing the plates was a lot of fun, quite a production-line of students involved! Pan fry the capsicum/red onion mixture, wilt the spinach, plate the roasted portobellos, fill one with smashed avo, top with capsicum/red onion mix, top that with lettuce then the roasted tempeh slice and drizzle with parsley oil, in the other portobello add the wilted spinach and fresh slices of tomato, lightly dusted with salt. Now add some hot lemon rosemary “chips” and voila, a tasty meal!

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Vegan ice-cream with 3 toppings was enjoyed for dessert – the students have become quite proficient at making and dispensing the ice-creams.

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Creamy Vegan Polenta with Black Bean Burgers

For the last day of term 1 the Hands On Food Team made a delicious new meal of vegan polenta topped with garlic roast mushrooms, slow-roast tomatoes and black/red bean burgers. To make the polenta creamy we made seventeen batches of almond milk – rich and creamy (see recipe here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9H3RCqHmSE&t=78s ). Firstly we sauteed onion in the pan, then added the polenta, and after stirring it briefly over the heat, we gradually added all seventeen litres of almond milk! It was really creamy and delicious, topped with garlic roast mushrooms, slow-roast cherry tomatoes and burgers made from black and red beans. All students were engaged and focussed, and enjoyed not only cooking the meal, but also serving the customers. For dessert we had soft-serve coconut ice-cream (yes, vegan) topped with passionfruit or carob sauce – of course the kids really enjoyed dispensing and serving the ice-cream!

Great end of term everyone, ka pai. For Stuff article from the night see http://www.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/news/91573109/children-cook-vegan-meals-at-free-classes-in-palmerston-north.

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