With the start of the school holidays next week, as well as the various long weekends, we are still able to offer some exciting and mouthwatering classes for April. To all who are going away, have a relaxing safe holiday, and to those staying behind, hope to see you at one of our classes.
Cookbook of the week
The Food of Spain gives you the real taste of a country that has an intense passion for its food….. read more, click here
April individual class programme ….. click here
May individual class programme….. click here
Did you know – The Chinese make a clear distinction between eating to live and eating for pleasure. Everyday meals predominantly consist of energy-rich ‘zhushi’, or ‘principal food’ such as rice and noodles. They are complemented by ‘fushi’, or ‘secondary food’ such as flavourful – but superfluous – meat or vegetables. However, at times of celebration, eating for pleasure is the order of the day, with banquets dominated by rich and varied dishes.
Food quote of the week: -‘A well-filled stomach is indeed a great thing: all else is luxury of life.’ – Chinese proverb
Kitchen tip of the week: – when you nick your finger while cutting veggies….. click here.
Look forward to hearing from you.
Wickedfood Cooking School – Food Feature and Recipe of the Week
Marinating is the process of soaking foods in seasoned, and often acidic, liquid to tenderise it or impart flavour – or both. It should not be confused with macerating – a different process that is usually reserved for fruit, involving steeping the food in a liquid (such as alcohol, or even tea) to infuse it with its flavour.
Marinating is used in many cuisines. Many of the spicy and sour foods of South-East Asian cooking, or the intensely rich offerings of the Caribbean, rely on marinades for their characteristic flavours. Marinades are extremely versatile and can be used to impart just a touch of flavour, with a few simple, fresh seasonings; or used to create strong flavours, with powerful aromatic herbs and spices.
The key ingredients for marinades come in three groups – acids, such as vinegar or lemon juice; oils; and seasonings. A good marinade might have a balanced and varied combination of the three, depending on the type of food and the flavours you want to achieve.
Other flavouring ingredients can be used too, including honey, horseradish, anchovy, ketchup, soy sauce, tamari, Tabasco, fermented fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce and yoghurt. The choices are, literally, quite endless!
Marinating couldn’t be simpler, but it does mean you need to plan ahead so you can you leave the meat, fish or vegetables to steep in the marinade to absorb fully all the flavours. You can always use this time to prepare the rest of the meal. If leaving food to steep for more than a few minutes, it is always better to keep it in the fridge while it marinates to avoid bacteria growth.
What it does
The varying ingredients in a marinade work in different ways.
Oils lock in the natural flavour and moisture of foods. Olive, walnut and sesame oil are great for lending extra flavour to the food (but be aware of using certain oils if your guests have nut allergies). Oils infused with ingredients such as garlic, chilli or lemon can add a more intense flavour to your dish if used in a marinade.
Acids such as wine or sherry, vinegar and fruit juices tenderise meat by unwinding the meat proteins. Acids break down tissue in meat, allowing for the flavours of your marinade to penetrate better, giving a juicier and more flavourful end product. This method is particularly useful for tenderising tougher cuts of meat.
Be careful not to over-marinate delicate foods such as fish, which can easily become mushy and unpalatable. Harder vegetables such as aubergine, courgette or beetroot can also benefit from the marinating process. Citrus-based marinades are superb with fatty meats such as duck, imparting a fresh flavour to the dish.
Seasonings such as salt and pepper, fresh herbs, spices, ginger, chilli, garlic, shallots or onion can add spectacular flavour profiles to your food. Ideally, select seasonings that are complementary to your main ingredients, such as dill for chicken or white fish, rosemary for lamb, or even cinnamon for pork.
Other useful marinade ingredients that can be found in any store cupboard are honey, mustard, sugar, thick-cut marmalade, tomato ketchup and whole spices such as cumin, coriander or cardamom (slightly crush the pods before using).
As well acting as a flavouring tool and a method of keeping in moisture, a marinade can also become the cooking or braising liquid. Boeuf bourguignon and that other French classic, Coq au vin, both use a wine marinade that becomes the stock for the cooking.
Containing the flavour
Use plastic, glass or ceramic containers for marinating; metal can react with the acids and spoil the flavour. Shallow vessels are best because they allow the marinade to cover more surface area. If the food is not completely covered or submerged in the marinade, turn the food every half-hour to ensure even marinating.
It may help to prick meat with a knife or fork to encourage flavours to be absorbed beyond the surface. Crushing ingredients such as garlic to release the juices (instead of simply cutting it) can add a more intense flavour, as can crushing whole black peppercorns. The zest of citrus fruits such as lemon or lime contains fragrant essential oils that can also impart a delicate yet rich aroma to chicken or fish.
Getting the timing right
As the action of the marinade actually softens the foods by breaking down the structure and fibres, it is important not to over-marinate food as it can become mushy or fall apart.
Follow the timings recommended in recipes or use the following guidelines for the best results:
- red meats such as beef or lamb – four to six hours
- game meats such as venison – four to six hours or longer
- pork – two to four hours
- poultry such as chicken or turkey – two to four hours
- duck or game birds – four to eight hours
- whole fish such as trout or sea bass – one to two hours
- fish steaks or fillet pieces such as tuna or salmon – half an hour to one hour
- vegetables – half an hour to one hour
Rubbing it in
Rubs differ from marinades in that they are made up of only dry ingredients – usually a combination of herbs, spices, salt and sugar. Meat, poultry or fish benefit from this type of marinating where the rub is sprinkled onto the food and left to chill in a refrigerator. Rubs are also useful for curing raw fish such as salmon. Although they’re called rubs, you should just pat the rub onto the food rather than rubbing it in, especially with meat.
Wickedfood® Cooking School runs cooking classes throughout the year at its purpose-built cooking studios. Classes are run in the mornings and evenings 7 days a week (subject to a minimum of 12 people). The venue is also popular for corporate events and private functions – team building cooking classes, birthdays, kitchen teas, and dinner parties with a difference.
Our classes are hands-on, where every person gets to participate in the preparation of the dishes. They are also a lot of fun where you not only learn new skills, but get to meet people with similar interests. For corporate groups and teambuilding cooking classes these classes are a novel way of creating staff interaction or entertaining clients.