Cook School Newsletter

Summer Cook School 2019 (cheap and cheerful tasty food on a budget)

As a result of feedback from the Friday Drop In group, an application was submitted to North Ayrshire Council’s Participatory Budgeting to fund a short term ‘cook school’ over the summer period. The idea was to encourage women to come together, learn from each other and to develop nutritious meals from food bank parcels or using fresh ingredients on a limited budget.

In June we were invited to attend a public event at Eglinton Park and ‘host’ a stall to promote our idea and encourage members of the public to vote for the project. One of the women who attends the Drop In agreed to come along with her daughters to help promote the stall. It was a very busy morning with our ‘bug bites’ (decorated grapes) and the girls proving to be a great success with the public, as we were awarded the funding. A huge thanks to them for all their hard work and efforts!

Starting in July 2019 and ran fortnightly, the project has proved to be very popular having regularly attracted between 8-10 women each time. The women were encouraged to use their skills, knowledge and experience and by learning from each other they came up with a range of different recipes and meal ideas. These have included: chicken and rice soup, lentil soup, spicy chicken pasta, Italian meat balls with home-made tomato sauce and meat free/vegetarian stews. We also made pancakes, frittatas and everyone’s favourite macaroni cheese! For those with a sweet tooth we also learned to make a mouth- watering delicious “No Bake Cheese Cake.” Many thanks to all the women who shared their recipes and ‘top tips’.

The women still continue to meet at the Friday Drop in, and continue to swap and share stories and ideas. We are currently working on recipe booklets and cards which will help ensure an impact beyond the initial project period. We are also planning to deliver some of shortened version of the cook school to the food bank and the women in our refuges early January.

What the women told us about the project:

  • “I’ve made some lovely meals that the kids have enjoyed”
  • “I have learned to be more confident and cook myself without help”
  • “(I have learned) how to feed a fussy child”
  • “New friends, learned new things and has made me feel part of the community”
  • “(I have) learned how to cook on the cheap”
  • “I have made dinner time more fun with my kids and they now help me cook….my kids also love the new things that I’ve learned and it has brought us closer together.”

Italian Meatballs

Serves 4

250g turkey mince
Italian seasoning (1tsp)
½ onion
1 Clove of garlic
½ pepper (red or yellow)
2 slices of bread
Salt and pepper (pinch of both)
1 egg
Flour (3 Tbsp.)

Grate the bread to make breadcrumbs. Finely slice the onion, garlic and pepper. Add breadcrumbs, onion, garlic, pepper and Italian seasoning into a bowl and mix together.
Add ¼ of the mince at a time into the bowl and mix well. Continue adding remaining mince and ensure it is mixed well with other ingredients.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg then slowly add small amounts into the mix to bind together. Do not use all of the egg as it will make the meatballs too runny. You should have ¼ of the egg left – discard this.

Using a dessert spoon, scoop some of the mixture, and using your hands (lightly coated in flour) roll the mixture into a ball. Don’t press too lightly as the mixture will stick in your hands. Make approximately 12 meatballs.

Place the meatballs onto a baking tray and cook for approximately 20-25 minutes at 180° (fan oven) or 200° normal oven. Serve with sauce and spaghetti.

Basic Pasta Sauce

1 tin of chopped tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
1 onion
2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning
Salt & Pepper
1 tin of tomatoes or 1/3 tub of passata
1 stock cube
1 desert spoon of oil (to fry)
Optional: red/yellow pepper, courgette, chilli or sweet paprika.

Finely dice onion & garlic and fry together in oil until golden brown colour. Add Italian seasoning. Dissolve stock cube in pint of boiling water.

Add pint of stock, tomatoes and tomato paste into onion & garlic. Bring to boil and continue to stir to avoid sticking to pot.

Reduce heat and part cover with lid to allow ingredients to reduce continuing to stir on regular basis. This will take 25-30 minutes.

Any leftover sauce can be stored in a container and frozen to be used at a later date.

Spicy Bean Stew

1x onion
1 teaspoon chilli [or sweet roasted paprika]
2 tins mixed beans
2 garlic cloves
2 tins chopped tomatoes

Rinse beans & set aside. Finely chop onion & garlic add chilli then lightly fry until softened.

Add tins of Tomato & beans and bring to boil then simmer for 15 minutes. Use only one tin if you don’t want too many tomatoes.

Increase/reduce chilli/garlic according to taste. You can use a can of beans & tomato sauce as alternative provided you rinse beans off. You can also use beans, chickpeas, kidney beans etc.

No-bake Cheese Cake

1 small tub of fresh cream
1 small tub of mascarpone cheese
½ teaspoon of vanilla essence
1 cup of icing sugar
½ packet of plain digestive biscuits
¼ tub of margarine
You will also need a whisk or hand blender.

Place biscuits in a sandwich bag and using a rolling pin break biscuits in fine crumbs before placing in a mixing bowl.

Heat the margarine and slowly add into the mixing bowl, using a fork to combine the biscuit crumbs.

Spoon mixture into a well-greased baking tray. Use spoon to press mixture firmly together to form a base about 2.5cm thick. Leave in fridge for at least an hour to set.

Using hand blender/whisk mix the mascarpone cheese and icing sugar together. Then add the fresh cream and continue to blend until the mixture begins to stiffen.

Remove the biscuit base from the fridge and add topping. Sprinkle with a dusting of icing sugar to finish off.

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