Made in Hackney

I hinted at exciting posts to come after Christmas. Perhaps I tempted fate – the plan had been to go to Barcelona for Christmas and come back with lots of stories to tell. Unfortunately, rain happened, and Gatwick North flooded, and I made it back to Euston M&S just in time to scoop some salmon en croute and roast veg off the shelves. My solo, ready-meal Christmas was surprisingly tasty, but I’m not lining up to repeat the experience! The one good thing was I managed to get three strangers to Kings Cross and Euston in time to catch trains to their Christmas destinations. I’ve been reading lately about how generosity can make us happier, and I can attest to that. I really love that peculiarity of Britishness that means we don’t speak to or even acknowledge each other unless something goes wrong, but then the Blitz spirit kicks in and we pull together.

Roll on the new year then. January was full of good intentions and empty of alcohol. I made it through the month but I’m rather glad to be back off the wagon. Wine has never tasted so good. Food, on the other hand, has been super healthy.

On that note, a few weeks ago I went to a workshop at the Made in Hackney Local Food Kitchen. The kitchen is downstairs from health food shop Food for All in Stoke Newington. I’ll let the video describe the rest:

The workshop I attended was one of the “pay what you want” Sunday workshops, on making packed lunches for work, with Portuguese cook Filipa. Over the course of a couple of hours we made several different recipes, before devouring them all together. We had been asked to bring a lunchbox along for leftovers, but no chance!

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Stirring the pot

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This was my allocated recipe – spicy black bean burgers

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Curried chickpeas – 15 minutes to make. I’ve already made this one for a packed work lunch.

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A great group of people to cook (and eat) with.

When I arrived at the workshop I was feeling a little harried due to a late bus. I left feeling deeply contented. The brilliant thing is I can bottle that feeling – or at least box it up – and carry it to work with me every day. It just takes a little planning and creativity.

Filipa has kindly let me share one of the recipes from the course. I can highly recommend checking out their other courses – and whatever you pay helps subsidise their work with low-income and vulnerable groups.

BLACK BEANS SPICY BURGER

Prep and Cook Time: 60 min
Yields: 8/10 burgers
Good for freezing.

Ingredients

1 small yellow onion, chopped (could use any kind)
2 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil (better if you use coconut oil)
3 cups (or 2 cans) cooked black beans, divided
½ teaspoon cumin powder

½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
Black pepper or red pepper flakes, to taste
2/3 cups oats
¾ cups fresh, frozen or canned sweet corn

Method

Preheat your oven to 180°C.

In a skillet, sauté onion and garlic in the oil for eight to ten minutes, or until golden, soft, and fragrant. Add 2 cups of the beans, the cumin, the paprika, the chili powder, the sea salt, and pepper to taste. Stir until all is warm.

Add the oats to the bowl of a food processor and pulse them a few times. Add the onion, garlic, and bean mixture. Process everything together, until it’s well combined but still has texture.
If you don’t have a food processor, just add everything to a bowl and mash with a potato masher, that’s what I did, because it’s faster and involves less washing up.

Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl. Add the last cup of black beans and the corn and mix well with your hands. Check for seasoning and season to taste. If the mixture is too mushy to form into patties, add a little more oats. Shape mixture into 8 large or 10 smaller burgers. Transfer burgers to a baking sheet and bake for 30 to 35 minutes (or until golden), flipping once through. Alternately, you can chill them for twenty minutes before transferring them to a grill and cooking through. You can also pan fry them in coconut oil until golden on each side.

This is a great recipe to make ahead and freeze, for those days you have no time to cook. I usually defrost the night before and then just get a side salad from the supermarket to have in my lunch break.

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