Back to basics

12-year-olds Molly Hook and Lucas Gibson tell us about their tasty, kid-friendly cookery course at Blackfrairs, Newcastle

During the Easter holidays, we went on a Smart Cookies workshop at Blackfriars. We loved the experience and here is our diary telling you all about it. We arrived at the workshop for 10am. There were seven other children there, as well as our instructor Emma and her helpers. We felt very excited about learning new skills and eating what we had made.

Firstly, we made the eton mess and started with the meringues. We cracked the egg whites into a large bowl and whisked them until soft peaks had formed. We slowly added the caster sugar to the eggs until they were thoroughly combined. After scooping them into piping bags and attempting to make some sort of swirly dollop, they went in a warm oven to dry out for two hours. We would make the rest of the eton mess in a few hours.

While they were drying out, we made the hummus with vegetable sticks. This was quite an easy recipe as all you needed to do was add all of the ingredients to the food processor, blend until a lovely, fine puree had formed, chop up the vegetables and then serve.  Shop-bought hummus often has a lot of fat in it, but ours didn’t.

Blackfriers 23We learned how easy it is to reduce the amount of fat when you make it yourself! We thought the hummus was very nice and went best with the cucumber and carrot sticks. In our first break we ate more hummus, which was delicious and had so many amazing flavours in it, and played outside on the green outside the workshop. When we were called in, all the ingredients and utensils were ready to go for us to make our bread buns.

The first step for making bread buns was to add the yeast to the water and allow the yeast to dissolve. In the meantime, we mixed the flour and salt together in a bowl. Then we poured the yeast mixture into a well we created in the flour mixture and carefully – using a fork – brought in the flour to make a rough dough (adding a splash of water if the dough was a little dry).

Then we kneaded the dough for five minutes. It was hard work, but we were left with beautiful bread buns. They were placed in a bowl to prove for 40 minutes. When we came back from our second break, we made the sweet potato fries and the lamb burgers. For the fries, we just chopped the sweet potato into chunky chip sizes, tossed them with olive oil and smoked paprika and baked them for 40 minutes.

By the time they were going in the oven, the meringues had come out and had chilled for enough time that we were allowed to make the eton mess. Our healthier version included yummy Greek yoghurt, instead of double cream. We broke up the meringue into bite sized pieces, then added as much vanilla yoghurt, raspberries and homemade raspberry jam as we wanted.

The next dish we were going to make was the lamb burgers. Many people associate roast lamb with Easter, which is why we decided to make it in our workshop. When it was a few minutes until lunch, we assembled our burger with cheese and ketchup and took the sweet potato fries out of the oven and then onto our plates. We learned that sweet potatoes are much better for you than white potatoes – they’re full of vitamin C!

We walked up to the restaurant holding our meal and dessert and we were so excited to try out what we had made. When we tried the lamb burger, it tasted so good and way better than those you buy in the shops. The bread bun with it tasted really nice too, along with the crunchy, tasty sweet potato fries.

We attempted to make some sort of swirly dollop

When we had devoured the burger and fries, we couldn’t wait to try the eton mess. It looked really appetising. The homemade jam was warm, the raspberries were fresh, the vanilla yoghurt was refreshing, the meringue was fluffy and the taste all together was delicious. We were definitely going to make some of these meals at home!

Blackfriers 2After a play outside in the gardens, we went back inside to make the apple, pear and lemon cakes. At first the name of it sounded a bit strange and we were worried we wouldn’t like the taste, but Emma reassured everyone that the fruit just makes it moist and doesn’t really add to the flavour. The bowl was passed around for everyone to add one ingredient to the batter. While this was happening, everyone was singing childhood songs and it was really funny!

Once all the ingredients were added and the batter was complete, the bowl was passed around one more time so everyone could fill two cupcake cases. When they were baking in the oven, we made our last dish; grilled pineapple with a passion fruit dressing. It was a great, healthy dessert, full of natural sugars and high in vitamin C. To make the grilled pineapple, you just had to complete a few easy steps and we think this was the easiest task. All we had to do was slice the pineapple into strips, then grill them like you would grill a burger or a sausage.

For the dressing, we had to mix the lime juice, honey, yoghurt, mint and passion fruit together and display in a bowl or a dollop on the side. When it was time to try it, we all had at least one strip. Molly preferred it without the dip, however a lot of people preferred it with the dip. Molly loved the pineapple so much that she had extra strips!

We both learned a lot of new things at the workshop; new recipes and some fun tricks. We will definitely be making the hummus, lamb burgers, cakes and grilled pineapple again. Our parents came to collect us at 3pm and we had a really good day.


The Smart Cookies Cookery course costs £15 per person. For more information, or to book | 0191 261 5945 | blackfriarsrestaurant.co.uk

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