Welcome to the Blend blog! We're a small communtiy food organisation based in Sheffield, England. On our blog we'll try and keep you upto date with the stuff we're doing, share recipes and talk about anything to do with food. Please write on the blog, tell us what you think and what you eat.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

We need your recipes!

Short blog post this weekend and one that’s more about contributions from you, the Blend blog readers.  
This year I’m going to be involved in the production of a cook book as part of my work with Blend. The idea behind the book is to produce one that’s not a poncy cheffy one, unattainable to the mere mortal with unaffordable ingredients and has a ridiculous number of processes. We actually want to produce one that is made up of recipes that normal people make in normal houses without a team of chefs on hand to do the mis-en- place. I’m quite fed up of seeing endless celeb chef cook books on the shelves of book stores, when pretty much everyone has got a recipe they knock up that they could share and other people would like to give a bash.
If you’re reading this and have got a recipe that means something to you and want it to be considered for our book, either put it as a comment at the bottom or email it to and we’ll see what we can do. Also if you’ve got a picture of you and your food to go with your recipe, please send it in too. The book should be out early 2013 but I’ll keep you updated on our progress on here.  
Take care,

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Risotto, south indian beef curry and pineapple filo pie.

Hurray, a week where I get to do some cooking and have a few evenings free to write up the recipes on here.

Yesterday (tuesday 17th July 2012) cooking demo for the nhs in Chapeltown market just down the road from me yesterday. Did 3 dishes but the stand out one for me was beetroot and greenbean risotto with goats cheese. Simple delishious meal with an amazing colour. Also been getting into the idea of not having to rely on a piece of meat or fish to base a meal around. Beetroot is a great vegetable that we should eat more of (not the crap pickled stuff you get in a jar though!), its good roasted, turned into crisps, boiled or steamed.
 For this risotto you only need about 7 or 8 ingredients. They are onion, garlic, veg stock, white wine (optional), arborio rice (this is a shortgrain rice and costs about a quid for a pack in asda and morrisons et al), cooked beetroot, some blanched green beans and some decent cheese. 
Fry the 1/2 an onion and 2 or 3 garlicb cloves (you can add thyme and bayleaf if you want to) till softened then add the rice. Stir the rice (1/2 a pack) so its coated with the oil and garlic then pour in a glug of wine simmer till the wine has absorbed into the rice. Next, gradually add the stock a bit at a time adding more for about 10 mins. Chop the beetroot up and add along with the green beans. Add a little more stock and cook for another 3 or 4 minutes. The rice should be cooked and vegetables hot, add a generous amount of good cheese, some salt and pepper, stirring through the risotto and serve. Risotto shouldn't be stodgy and is a great meal that takes very little time to prepare.  

Tonights tea was a take on a South Indian curry called Mamsa Ishtew, which basically means lamb stew with coconut and vegetables. I altered it and used some beef shin as it looked better than the lamb when I was in the shop. It benefits from a long slow cook and is truely delicious, aromatic curry very different from the ones you get from most curry houses in this country. I love asian food more than pretty much any other continent, it is so varied and tasty.
This is the recipe for 2 or 3 portions
350g beef shin, chopped
1 tin of Coconut milk plus a tin full of water.
1 Green Chilli’s, sliced (add a couple more at the end if you like it really spicey)
Ginger, 1 inch of fresh, sliced finely.
Cinnamon 1 stick
pinch of cumin
pinch of fenugreek
Cloves 2
Star Anise 2
Onions 1, sliced
Garlic, 4 cloves sliced
1 Aubergine
Coconut oil 1 tbsp
Salt and pepper

1. Fry the beef in a bit of oil till it starts to brown. Add the onion, chilli, garlic, ginger and all the other spices (don't worry if you've not got all of them, use what you've got!) and cook for another 5 minutes till the onions are starting to soften and the smell of spices fills your house. 
2. Add the coconut milk and some water to cover the meat, bring to a boil and simmer for at least 2 hours.  
Add the aubergine and cook for another 30 to 45 minutes.
3. By now the meat should be tender, the aubergine nicely softened and the sauce slightly thickened.
4. Boil a bit of rice and make some chapati, which is as easy as mixing chapati flour, water and a pinch of salt together, kneading, rolling out and cooking in a dry pan for 2 minutes.
5. Serve and have a glass of larger with it. 

Don't normally do puddings in the week but I had a pineapple that needed using up and a pack of filo pastry in the fridge as well. 

Peel and chop up a small pineapple, roast in the oven with a sprinkling of brown sugar, some rum, a pinch of cinnamon and a little grate of nutmeg for 15 minutes.
Melt some butter and brush the 6 sheets of filo pastry with it. After this sprinkle with a little more brown sugar, some cinnamon and grated nutmeg too.

Put the pastry on top of the cooked pineapple but not neatly at all, it should be a bit all over the place. Put the pie into the oven (gas 6 / 190c ish) for about 20 minutes or the pastry is crispy and golden brown.
Eat it with a good dollop of icecream.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Angram bank school

So getting back to food after that slightly soppy last blog entry.

We've been doing some cook along sessions at my old junior school (Angram Bank in High Green, Sheffield), for the past couple of months. Its been slightly odd going back after nearly 20 years and seeing some of the same teachers still working there (Mr Jacklin and Mrs Fisher to name, names!) and also people who were there  when i was there and now have their own children at the school. We've been getting between 6 and 10 families along to the sessions and have made everything from pizza and kebabs to traditional pastys and it has been brilliant.

Today was this young man's birthday, so we decided to make our own chocolate brownies to celebrate him turning 7.

 This was the recipe we used, get ready for the sugar hit.  

Chocolate brownies
140g/5oz dark chocolate
225g/8oz butter
5 eggs
450g/1lb caster sugar
110g/4oz plain flour
55g/2oz cocoa powder

1.   Heat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5. Line a 20x30cm/8x12in roasting tin with baking parchment.
2.   Gently melt the butter and the sugar together in a large pan.
3.   Take off the heat and beat in the rest of the ingredients.
4.   Turn into the roasting tin and bake for 30-40 minutes until the top of the brownie is firm but the inside still feels soft.
5.   Take out of the oven and cool in the tin. Cut into 5cm/2in squares when cool.

Sad times

So last week saw the end of an era at Blend as Mr Tim Balhatchet was involved in his last ever (possibly) cook along as he's getting hitched and buggering off to Preston to live with the lovely Ruth. Tim has been involved in firstly the Shipshape healthy eating work, which resulted in the evolution to Blend!

To some it up, Tim is awesome and deserves alot of credit for the work we have been able to do over the past 3 years. This has ranged from the early days where me (Chris) and Tim were running cookery classes in a tiny kitchen at Lowfield School for local families, our chef of the year event that we ran nearly 2 years ago now (Tim is in the ridiculously coloured t shirt on the left in pic 1) and being a fouding member of the cook alongs and Blend.

Not only has Tim been key part of the Blend team, he's also a top bloke who will be sadly missed by all involved. All the best for the future pal and a big thank you from all of us

Chris x

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Mexican cook along recipes

So we did mexican food at our last cook along last week and it was pretty decent in my opinion. The food we make at our cook along classes is dead easy to make and affordable. Below are the recipes for chilli, refried beans and ceviche. The recipes have been simplified slightly and if we had a few more hours, i'd cook the chilli alot longer and use chuck steak rather than mince.

Chilli Con Carne

Ingredients (4 portions)
Minced Beef 500g
2 onions, diced
2 / 3 garlic cloves, chopped.
2 carrots, diced
2 sticks of celery, diced.
2 peppers, diced
1 or 2 tsp chilli powder
1 or 2 tsp cumin powder
1 stick of cinnamon
1 tin of kidney beans
2 tins of chopped tomatoes.
Fresh coriander
Sour cream.
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil.

1.   Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a deep based frying pan and brown the mince off. When the meat is brown, take it out of the pan and put to one side.

2.   Fry all of the diced vegetable in the pan for about 5 minutes or till they have started to soften. Add the spices and the mince into the pan.

3.   Add the kidney beans and the tins of tomatoes, bring to a boil and cook for 30 minutes to an hour. If the chilli reduces too much add some water to the pan.

4.   Season the chilli with salt and pepper, then add the chopped fresh coriander and serve with some sour cream.

Re-fried beans

Ingredients (2 to 4 portions)
1 tin of kidney or pinto beans
1 onion, diced.
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
Fresh coriander, chopped.
½ chilli, diced.
Vegetable oil
Water 1 tbsp
Salt and pepper

1.   Heat a tbsp of oil in a pan and fry off the onion, garlic and chilli for a couple of minutes.

2.   Add the beans to the pan along with the water. Cook for about 5 minutes.

3.   Mash the beans with either a potato masher or in a food processor along with the coriander and a pinch of salt and pepper. 

Mackerel Ceviche

Ingredients (4 portions)
4 fresh mackerel fillets, skinned and boned - make sure these are as fresh as possible!
2 limes
Handful of chopped coriander
1 chilli, finely diced.
3 spring onions, finely chopped.
Caster sugar, a pinch.
Vegetable oil, 2 tsp.
Salt and Pepper.

1.   Using a sharp knife, thinly slice the mackerel fillets and lay on a serving plate.

2.   Take the zest off the limes, juice them and mix with the vegetable oil, chilli, sugar, spring onions and some salt and pepper.

3.   Pour the lime mixture over the sliced fish and leave to stand in a cool place for between 10 and 15 minutes.

4.   Sprinkle the chopped coriander over the fish and serve straight away.