Welcoming Spring – Forage & Cook

Forage & Cook Course with Tom Baker at Loaf. Photo: Jane Baker

With a glimpse of sun and warmth, bulbs are emerging from their winter sleep, buds are forming on hedgerows and trees, and blossom is bursting into flower. The seasons are changing and with spring come’s the first of our Forage and Cook courses for 2014.

Illustration: www.walternewton.

April: Wednesday 16th
May
: Tuesday 6th (one place available), Wednesday 7th (one place available)
June
: Tuesday 3rd, Wednesday 4th

 

Foraging isn’t just a countryside past-time, it can be an urban adventure too! Join us for a delightful evening wandering the urban wilds of south Birmingham in search of edible treats, before returning to Loaf HQ to turn them into some fabulous seasonal dishes. This course is aimed at those with little or no experience of foraging, and covers all the practicalities, legalities, and safety aspects of picking wild plants to eat. By the end of the evening you will be able to confidently identify several readily available wild foods, know how to properly prepare them, and be eager to get out there on your own adventure.

To find out more and to book visit: Forage & Cook

How do you turn a kitchen novice into a fantastic cook?

We can’t claim to be able to turn you into Michelin star chefs. Sorry.

Illustration: www.walternewton.Often, we meet neighbours, friends and Loaf customers who’d love to shake up their culinary skills and become better home cooks. Most people’s concern is how to work with ingredients to turn them from bland, same-old set dishes, to an endless repertoire of flavoursome meals that they would be proud to serve. Basically, what’s the magic?

And it’s my concern too. I may be married to Tom, but I don’t share the same culinary experiences, and therefore skill or knowledge (even though most people think we share the same brain!). I’m good at Marketing – but I also love eating good food from around the world, and watching the joy it gives others. So i’m slowly starting to learn too. I’ve done the Bread: Back to Basics course and i’m booked on the Dosa and Handmade Pasta courses.

My culinary wish list is as follows:

  • Understanding flavours – I have a great sense of taste, and grow my own fresh herbs, but I’d love to grasp making fantastic flavour combinations, to transform a dish with a few simple touches.
  • Building Blocks – How do I make the classic stocks and sauces from around the world extra special? (béchamel to improve my Italian cooking; tasty vinaigrettes to lift my salad, tomato-based sauce to die for;  a good solid home-made mayonnaise, and classic French and Asian stocks).
  • Preparing ingredients and utensils – Sometimes my timing goes awry or i’m slowed down by not knowing which utensil to select, or how to use it well for the job intended.
  • International Cuisines – I grew up eating classic British meat and veg dinners, which I love. But i’m also blown away discovering international cuisines from Asia, Europe and Africa, and I simply how I can make them too.

So,  i’m upping my game and booking on some Kitchen Essentials courses , to tick my culinary wish list boxes. Stocks and Sauces, Beans, Pulses and Grains and Knife Skills to start. Fingers crossed.

Kitchen Essentials: a series of evening cookery courses

Led by Loaf Baker and trained chef Dom Clarke, this series of short workshops are designed to help create more adventurous, faster, efficient home cooks. They cover a wide range of skills, and work well as single courses or as a whole set. Each once does what it says on the tin, teaches you a new and essential kitchen skills. Once you’ve learn the magic they’ll be no turning back. All with an evening meal included, cooked by you! Coming up:

Kitchen Essentials: Illustration: www.walternewton.comKitchen Essentials
Knife Skills: Tuesday 18th March
Stocks and Sauces: Tuesday 18th February
Cooking Vegetables: Tuesday 25th February
Herbs & Spices:  Tuesday 11th March
Beans, Pulses & Grains: Tuesday 1st April
Cooking Meat: Tuesday 8th April

To find out more about each workshop visit: Kitchen Essentials. £30 per person per workshop (except Cooking Meat – £40).

www.loafonline.co.uk/cookeryschool

Jane Baker

 

Happy Christmas & Thank you!

What a year!

It’s been fantastic. Thank you to everyone that has made 2013 a real success. We’ve grown from strength to strength over the year, increasing our staff  team, taking on new directors, extending our selection of bread & cakes, developing new courses and pop-up events and meeting lots of new faces in the cookery school, bakery & on our local high street in Stirchley.

Thank you to all our customers, friends, colleagues & families. Special mention also goes to our:

  • Bread Bond Holders – without whom none of this would have been possible – thank you
  • Bread Club members – for returning to the bakery week after week to pick up baked goodies!
  • Loaf Directors – Matt, Michelle, Russ… and former directors Tim & Ria
  • Loaf Staff – Andy, Dom, Jane, Nancy, Sarah & Tom
  • Cookery School Guest Tutors – Haseen, Lap, Lizzy, Mohini, Rachel & Steve
  • Everards Brewery – our landlords who have helped us grow on Stirchley high street
  • Stirchey Stores Members – for sharing the Loaf love by selling our bread & cakes in the shop
  • Creative & green fingered friends – Clare, Fraser, Jack, Jacob, Kerry, Mike, Paul & Walter
  • Fellow Food Lovers – Brad, Carl, Chris, Krishan, Lap, Nico, Nick, Vic
  • Fordall Farm – a community owned business who are a real inspiration to us.

And many, many more… there are just too many to mention!

Loaf in Lights - Christmas 2013

Have a very Happy Christmas and promise of a wonderful new year.

We look forward to developing new & exciting projects in 2014 and hope you will join us for the ride!

From the Loaf Team

x x x

* Christmas Closure – The Loaf Community Bakery, Cookery School and Stirchley Stores will be closed from Wednesday 25th December, re-opening on Thursday 2nd January 2014. Bread Subscribers – we will be baking for you again on Friday 3rd January.

 

Christmas Goodies from the Bakery

The mincemeat that we made back in October is maturing nicely, and quite frankly we’ve held off long enough. Now December is upon us, we’ll be unleashing glorious mince pies on you every day in the bakery. We have a deliciously rich mincemeat, which will be stuffed into our own sweet shortcrust pastry and baked fresh daily.

PRE-ORDER STOLLEN – This year reserve your Christmas Stollen (for collection in the shop on 23 – 24 December only). We do not offer a postal service. Our usual selection of bread produced in the Loaf Community Bakery will also be available to buy as usual in the Stirchley Stores co-operative community shop.

Christmas Stollen

CHRISTMAS OPENING HOURSThe Loaf Community Bakery, Cookery School and Stirchley Stores will be closed from Wednesday 25th December, re-opening on Thursday 2nd January 2014.

STIRCHLEY BREWHOUSE – We’re taking a small break from Stirchley Brewhouse throughout December. It’s all hands on deck in the bakery instead in the run up to Christmas. The smell of seasonal dried fruit & spices is amazing. Brewhouse will be back again in early 2014.

CHRISTMAS OPENING HOURS @ Stirchley Stores:

Tuesday – Friday     2 – 7pm

Saturday                8.15am – 2pm

Monday 23rd December      2 – 7pm

Tuesday 24 December    8.15am – 2pm

Closed 25th December – 1st January.

Re-opening on Thursday 2nd January 2014, 2 – 7pm.

 

 

An Alternative Christmas

Baker Kids Christmas Cookery CourseIf you’re one of those people who cringes at the sight of shop windows turning Christmassy on November 1st, then you’re probably fed up with the commercialization of this time of year and the rush for presents too. So here’s some alternative Christmas pressie ideas from the Baker family. For the past few years we’ve been doing a handmade Secret Santa for adults and a fun activity (and small present to unwrap!) for some of the children. It’s been great fun. Try these:

Alternative Christmas Present Ideas

Hand Baked – we’ve created our own hampers full of sloe gin, ras el hanout (Moroccan spice blend), jams and chutneys, lemon curd, chocolate truffles, elderflower cordial etc… and of course fresh bread for the table. You could even go the whole hog and make Christmas Cakes or puddings too.

Hand Crafted – i dusted the sewing machine off and made textile table bread baskets from recycled materials, and vintage tea cup candles. We’ve also received embroidered Loaf couches. You may have seen these in the Cookery School being used to prove dough if you’ve done the Bread: Back to Basics course.

Baker Kids Christmas Cookery CourseShare a Skill – Last Christmas we invited all seven of our Baker nieces and nephews to the Cookery School for their very own course making bread, pizzas, pitta bread, humous and lots more. Then we sat down and tucked into our food creations for lunch. It was a fantastic opportunity to spend time together and teach them new cooking skills, especially as we don’t all live in the same city. And it went down a treat. We threw in some some baking gifts to unwrap too (novelty biscuit cutters etc).

Baker Kids Christmas Cookery CourseYou could try this in your own kitchen, or think of a different skill to share, or as an alternative plan a day trip somewhere fun together instead. Everyone has a skill, passion or place they’d love to visit with their loved ones. So be creative.

Try baking, making your own hamper or food related paraphernalia or go on an adventure somewhere new together as a family or group of friends.

If you’re still stumped – here’s a little bit of Loaf help along the way. Try the following:

  • Bake – Bake beautiful bread to your heart’s delight. Make you’re own bread using peels, baskets, scrapers & knifes, or give the gift of bread making equipment from the Loaf Cookery School.
  • Read Up – Pick up a bread making or foraging book then recreate the magic in your own kitchen or give a gift to a loved one. Check out our Mini Loaf Bookstore  (pictured below) in the Cookery School. We currently have: Dough by Richard Bertinet ; Bread Matters by Andrew Whitley; & Food for Free- by Richard Mabey. We’ve also got The Handmade Loaf by Dan Lepard coming soon.
  • Give the Gift of Learning –  buy a Gift Voucher for a loved one at Loaf Cookery School.

For any of the above pop into the Cookery School, call 0121 458 7682 or email Nancy on info@loafonline.co.uk . Unfortunately we cannot deliver books or cookery school equipment by post.

Gift VoucherMini Loaf Bookstore

 

Coming up next week… our Shellfish course

Seafood Two: Shellfish course

This Wednesday 23rd October – 6.30pm to 9.30pm.

Being one of the furthest cities in the UK from the coast it’s not surprising that so many of us in Birmingham love seafood but don’t know where to start when it comes to shellfish preparation. It’s a forgotten food skill that our coastal ancestors would have passed down through generations, but in recent years we’ve begun to lose.

Seafood Two: Shellfish. Photo: Jane Baker

Here’s how the evening will look…

Shellfish Masterclass

  • Clean, prepare, and cook a range of shellfish such as crabs, oysters, and lobster.
  • Master how to cook beautiful Asian & European style shellfish dishes.
  • Take away tips and recipes to create the magic at home in your own kitchen.
  • Under the expert guidance of fish expert Lap-fai Lee

Evening Meal included
Enjoy a fantastic shellfish feast such as crab linguine, dressed oysters, and chargrilled squid, at the end of the evening.

Receive a Loaf Loyalty Card for future discounts on Real Bread in the shop.

Seafood Two: Shellfish. Photo: Jane Baker

Afterwards why not take a visit to to the fantastic wholesale fish market in Birmingham city centre brimming with a wide range of fish and shellfish, and begin to create the magic again at home.

For more info and to book click here Seafood Two: Shellfish

And if f you like the sound of this why not try our Seafood One: Fish course two

Coming up next week… our Shellfish course

Seafood Two: Shellfish course

This Wednesday 23rd October – 6.30pm to 9.30pm.

Being one of the furthest cities in the UK from the coast it’s not surprising that so many of us in Birmingham love seafood but don’t know where to start when it comes to shellfish preparation. It’s a forgotten food skill that our coastal ancestors would have passed down through generations, but in recent years we’ve begun to lose.

Seafood Two: Shellfish. Photo: Jane Baker

Here’s how the evening will look…

Shellfish Masterclass

  • Clean, prepare, and cook a range of shellfish such as crabs, oysters, and lobster.
  • Master how to cook beautiful Asian & European style shellfish dishes.
  • Take away tips and recipes to create the magic at home in your own kitchen.
  • Under the expert guidance of fish expert Lap-fai Lee

Evening Meal included
Enjoy a fantastic shellfish feast such as crab linguine, dressed oysters, and chargrilled squid, at the end of the evening.

Receive a Loaf Loyalty Card for future discounts on Real Bread in the shop.

Seafood Two: Shellfish. Photo: Jane Baker

Afterwards why not take a visit to to the fantastic wholesale fish market in Birmingham city centre brimming with a wide range of fish and shellfish, and begin to create the magic again at home.

For more info and to book click here Seafood Two: Shellfish

And if f you like the sound of this why not try our Seafood One: Fish course two

Indian Flatbread Workshop – with Gujarati food expert, Mohini Howard

Indian Flatbread Workshop – Weds 6 November 2013, 6.30pm to 9.30pm. 

This is a one -off workshop, so places are limited and book fast.

If you were here for our Pop-up Paratha event back in September, you’ll remember how tasty  Mohini’s massala stuffed indian flatbreads were. So, with such interest, we’ve decided to put on an Indian Flatbread course to teach you the secrets too.

Mohini Howard pop-up paratha event

Returning as our guest tutor Gujarati food expert, Mohini Howard, will take us through making a basic wheat-based dough, which will be rolled by us into chapattis, puris and parathas. We’ll also be making Mohini’s great potato massala stuffing for parathas. We’ll then move on to a maize flour paste which is turned into a Gujarati classic – rotla.  We’ll then finish up by cooking our chosen breads and sharing them together with Mohini’s killer daal and if you’re lucky some homemade chai.

Dosa, the classic south Indian rice-based flatbread is not covered on this course, but has a course all of it’s own – check it out here.

The Indian Flatbread Workshop Costs £50 (including VAT). 

For more information and to book click here

Pop-up Paratha event

Indian Flatbread Workshop – with Gujarati food expert, Mohini Howard

Indian Flatbread Workshop – Weds 6 November 2013, 6.30pm to 9.30pm. 

This is a one -off workshop, so places are limited and book fast.

If you were here for our Pop-up Paratha event back in September, you’ll remember how tasty  Mohini’s massala stuffed indian flatbreads were. So, with such interest, we’ve decided to put on an Indian Flatbread course to teach you the secrets too.

Mohini Howard pop-up paratha event

Returning as our guest tutor Gujarati food expert, Mohini Howard, will take us through making a basic wheat-based dough, which will be rolled by us into chapattis, puris and parathas. We’ll also be making Mohini’s great potato massala stuffing for parathas. We’ll then move on to a maize flour paste which is turned into a Gujarati classic – rotla.  We’ll then finish up by cooking our chosen breads and sharing them together with Mohini’s killer daal and if you’re lucky some homemade chai.

Dosa, the classic south Indian rice-based flatbread is not covered on this course, but has a course all of it’s own – check it out here.

The Indian Flatbread Workshop Costs £50 (including VAT). 

For more information and to book click here

Pop-up Paratha event

Birmingham Post Review – Forage and Cook Course

If you missed it, last week we had another wonderful piece of press coverage in the Birmingham Post, thanks to feature writer Mary Griffin.

Mary, who rolled up her foraging sleeves and joined us, alongside other course participants including Halo Garrity, Rob Walker, Dave Smith, Chrissa Murrell and her husband Stu, discovered that you really can find bounteous edible wild foods on your urban doorstop. Even in Stirchley.

Birmingham Post, 25 Sept 2013

Birmingham Post, Life  (25 September 2013, page 11)

Mary’s list of wild foods found in Stirchley near Loaf included:

  • Hawthorn (whose berries can be used in a hedgerow jelly)
  • Sumac (the red conical flowers can be dried and sprinkled on a salad)
  • Wild cherries (Tom tells us where to look out for them around Birmingham)
  • Meadowsweet growing in the long grass (a little sprig can infuse tea or cream)
  • Horseradish (which we dig up a thumb-sized chunk of)
  • Nettles (Tom shows us which bits to pick and which to avoid) and vetch (with a peppery, rockety flavour)
  • Yarrow (a good substitute for lavender or rosemary)
  • Dead nettles (no sting and you can suck the nectar out of the flowers)
  • Himalayan balsam (a non-native invasive plant with tasty pink flowers)
  • Rowan (which makes a good jelly mixed with apples)
  • Wood avens (which can make dandelion and burdock if you infuse the root)
  • Rosehips (which make good syrup)

…as well as mint, sloes, elderberries, blackberries and hazelnuts.

Amazing really. And that’s just a small sample of hundreds of wild foods that can be found locally, and in cities across the UK.

Tom Baker leading the Forage and Cook course. Photo by Jane Baker

For more information and to book on any of our courses visit the Loaf Cookery School page

To read the review online visit the press section on our About Us page and click on the link to the Birmingham Post. Or if you have a printed copy, it’s on page 11 of the Life section.