One of my favourite events (and probably any student’s) is one that includes free food! I decided to attend the Great British Cooking Demonstration on campus hosted by the Great Food at Leeds and the Global Community. To my surprise the tickets were almost sold out by the time I registered, so I would advise anyone willing to attend these events to register as soon as they can.
The theme for this cooking demo was to show students how to make delicious traditional British dishes. Although Leeds has a variety of multicultural venues to eat at like Italian, Indian, Greek, or Asian restaurants – it’s nice to get a feel for the British culture and get to eat something that is considered a specialty here.
The first dish that we were shown how to make was Tomato Soup. It sounds so simple but the way it was made (with specific ingredients like garlic and basil) really changed the way I remembered tomato soup. The recipe from the chef includes:
Vegetable stock (gluten free)
The chef started off by putting the garlic, tomatoes, and basil in the pan and covering it with water. Then he added tomato paste to give the soup its redness. He added the usual seasoning, and then a little bit of brown sugar at the end. The whole dish took him about 15 minutes to make, which is quite impressive especially since as students we usually want to make a quick meal in between classes. This tomato soup would definitely be a good idea to go with. The chef recommended investing in a hand blender which would make your soup into a puree – as you can see, it looks delicious.
The second dish was (of course) Fish and Chips. It was rated as the nation’s favourite dish up until 2014. Now curry dishes are classified as the nation’s favourite.
The chef started with the batter, which includes flour, water, salt and pepper, and you could also include an egg. Apparently, the taste is all in the batter, so if you like some other spices you could include those to make your own variation of fish and chips. The chef recommended to use haddock (as that’s his favourite fish) but most places also use cod. The fish that was served at the event was actually caught that morning and arrived in the afternoon – which only made the dish taste that much more delicious…
A traditional British thing to do is to cover your fish and chips with vinegar and salt. That was one of the things I found completely different (other than calling French fries chips), but to my surprise it does have a good kick to it.
For our final dish we got to taste the traditional British dessert called the Eton Mess. You can see where it gets its name from when you learn about how its made. The chef started off by pouring raspberry sauce at the bottom on the cup. Then he added double crème and icing sugar with vanilla paste, which was all whisked together beforehand. He then put fresh strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries on top. Covered those with more crème, and then at the top added meringue (which is dried out egg whites). He actually crushed the meringue and sprinkled it on the top of the whole Eton mess.
This dessert really hit the spot in terms of sweetness. It only took about 10 minutes to make, and you can do anything with it as long as you have the crème and meringue. Some students suggested they would add peanut butter, Nutella, and mars bars. I could definitely try those out as well.
The good thing about Leeds is that we have the city market where you can buy local, fresh berries and other things like meringue and crème. These dishes are definitely a good way of impressing your parents when you go back home, especially for me since I’ll be going home in the summer time back to Canada. Hopefully my dishes will turn out as good as these!
Overall, I would definitely recommend attending one of these cooking demonstrations. Whether you actually want to learn about a certain type of food, or just want to be a food critic for the day, it is worth it. You even get to meet new friends and bond over the simplicity of the Eton Mess! I’m already looking forward to the next event, see you there 😉