Hulme locals experience joys of spring with vegan cookery demo
Spring has certainly sprung, and last week I was lucky enough to hold a cookery demo at Hulme Community Garden Centre (HCGC) in Manchester. The weather had been glorious all week, and didn’t disappoint on the Friday for the cooking session.
To give a bit of background on the centre, HCGC is a not-for-profit, community-led organisation and charity in a bustling community just outside Manchester city centre. It’s a fully organic garden centre, growing a lot of its own stock while also offering training, gardening sessions and events throughout the year.
Its public gardens, open 7 days a week, offer visitors and volunteers a chance to escape busy city life and enter a relaxing green space. Through its work with the local community, it was an ideal location for a plant-based cooking demo.
In the event of rain, I chose to present the demo in its large poly-tunnel; a cosy and warm space, ideal for group sessions.
It was a very relaxed event, beginning with a brew and a chat to get to know each other, and an introduction to how the day would go.
I began by making an easy yet tasty dessert of tofu chocolate mousse, which took less than 5 minutes. This had to be created first to enable it to set in the fridge, and it also gave us a chance to taste what was on offer for later. This dish is ideal for those with a sweet tooth, but also looking to add more protein to their diet with the tofu. It’s also a dish that can be adapted, or used for tartes and toppings. Full recipes from the day are at the bottom of this post.
We then got stuck in creating a simple and tasty one-pot stew that can be adapted depending on what you may have in the fridge or cupboards. It gave us a chance to continue chatting about meals for one, cooking on a budget and tips on reducing food waste while saving money. This dish is ideal for anyone who hates spending a lot of time cooking or chopping because it requires minimal effort and is simple to create.
While the stew was bubbling away, we put together a lovely fresh salad and fruity cous cous. Both dishes were simple yet nutritious and full of flavour, and quick and easy to make.
Once the stew was ready it was time to eat outside in the sunshine where we continued chatting, and had a chance to look around the garden centre.
Tofu Chocolate Mousse
Makes 4 pots
1 packet of firm tofu
180g dark chocolate
1 tsp agave nectar/maple syrup/golden syrup
- Over a low heat melt the chocolate in a pan, making sure it doesn’t stick.
- Once the chocolate has melted, add the tofu and agave nectar.
- Using a hand blender, blend all the ingredients until smooth.
- Spoon the mixture into ramekins and place in a fridge to set.
This mixture is quite thick, so you can add up to 100ml non-dairy milk to make it smoother. It can also be used as a torte filling with a simple biscuit or pastry base.
Simple One Pot Stew
1 tin chopped tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, peeled
Small handful fresh mint or 1 tbsp dried
1 tsp dried oregano
Small handful of fresh coriander or 1 tbsp dried
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp mixed spice
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp salt
Black pepper to taste
1½ onion, 1 red pepper, 1 green pepper, 2 carrots, 1 aubergine cut into chunks
1 tin chickpeas
1 cup (250ml) vegetable stock
10 dates, pitted and cut in half
Half a bag of fresh spinach
- In a food processor or using a blender, blend all of the sauce ingredients until smooth.
- In a large dish place 1 tbsp oil in the base of a pan and layer half the vegetables, chickpeas, dates and olives then repeat. It doesn’t matter which order they’re in.
- Add the sauce mixture and stock.
- Place on a medium heat and bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer. The stew will take around 45 minutes to cook, but this depends how hard or soft you prefer the vegetables. During this time, make sure the stew doesn’t stick to the pan by stirring every 10 minutes.
- 5 minutes towards the end place the spinach on top of the stew and allow to steam.
Fruity Cous Cous
2 spring onions, finely chopped
2 ripe tomatoes, finely diced
1 satsuma, chopped into small pieces
small handful of coriander chopped finely or 1 tbsp dried
½ tsp smoked paprika
juice of one lemon
1 cup dried cous cous
1 cup hot vegetable stock (250ml)
- Remove pomegranate seeds, and place in a bowl. Don’t throw away the juices, but try and make sure the white part of the fruit isn’t included.
- Add all other ingredients and mix thoroughly, allowing the cous cous to swell.
- After 10 minutes, if the cous cous is still a little hard, add an extra 50ml hot water.
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