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The cooking Journal
Mush-Shrooms
Mushrooms have been eaten and used medicinally for thousands of years, all around the world. Ancient Egyptians considered mushrooms to be plants of immortality and recognized them as a gift from the god Osiris. They valued mushrooms so highly, only the royals were allowed to consume them; commoners were forbidden to touch, much less eat them. Today, mushrooms are growing in popularity worldwide due to their nutritional properties and versatile uses in the kitchen.But what makes mushrooms so special? Are they good for the environment too?
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Duck spring Rolls with a plum sauce
This crispy duck spring roll makes a perfect canape for Christmas Day! A sweet and tangy plum sauce is the perfect complement on the side or as a dip.
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Sweet & Sticky Ribs  
Slow cook these pork ribs so they're really tender then coat in an irresistibly sweet, sticky sauce! The combination of the bourbon and the gorgeous blend of spices is guaranteed to melt in your mouth.
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Chocolate dipped Festive flapjacks
This is a take on my very own granolas recipe now made festive with a decadent dipping of delicious and luxurious chocolate.  It is a wonderful Christmas treat using all of the festive ingredients we love. I also prepare some extra to give to friends and family as they make a wonderful and thoughtful Christmas gifts!
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Chicken Dhansak Curry
Don't let the spices in this curry put you off, it's much simpler than you think! The lentils are a great source of protein, and they provide a wonderful sauce when combined with the sweet and sour notes of the tamraind and jaggery! Garnish with some coriander, a dollop of yogurt and serve with pillowy rice, you will not be disappointed!
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Chicken, Bacon & Oregano Traybake With Garlic Roasties
This recipe  is so simple, but it is packed with flavour. We all know that when it comes to dinner time a fuss-free tray bake dish is the way to go.  When you are out to save some time and energy, nothing else beats an all-in-one-supper like this Chicken, Bacon and Potato Tray Bake.
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Hearty Quinoa and White Bean Chili
The weather has been cold of late so that means it's the perfect time for making a nice big pot of piping hot vegetable chili! And we have a super yummy recipe for you!It’s so simple to make but the result is a really flavourful and hearty meal. You can make it ahead of time and it’s great for meal prep and freezes well. It’s low in fat and high in protein for a deliciously well balanced meal.
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Winter Slaw with stilton
If your looking for something a little fresher this festive period why not try our festive winter slaw with Stilton! Crunchy red cabbage, fennel, apple and toasted walnuts are finished off with a sprinkling of blue cheese. 
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My Favourite Herbs for Christmas
I do a lot of cooking over Christmas, usually for family and friends, cooking from scratch and feeding the 5000….  I love it of course and I like the fact that I have time to add my favourite ingredients even if it means nipping out to the garden to find my herbs, often buried in leaves from the autumn fall and sometimes frost or snow, even if it is somewhat chilli!  At this time of year, I feel that whilst I want to achieve great flavours, I also want to ensure I’m using ingredients that have nutritional value to protect us over the cold winter months. Here are some of my favourite herbs for cooking over Christmas.
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Cranberry and Oat Busicuits
These cookies are a fantastic alternative to the classic raisin and oat cookie. They are soft, chewy and oh-so-good. The spices and cranberries brings a Christmassy feel to them.
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Clementine Carrots
We've made the humble carrot a lot tastier this festive season! Cooked in clementine juice, honey and butter, these Chantenay carrots definitely deserve a space on your dinner table this Christmas Day. 
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Cranberry Orange & Port Mince Tarts with Brandy Butter
A Christmas classic with a boozy twist! If you want to get stuck into some Christmas baking this festive period, what better baked good to make then mince pies! Made super simple with ready rolled pastry and mincemeat filling, we've added a few more special ingredients to give it that unctuous taste! Pair it with the brandy butter and you'll be everyone's friend at Christmas!
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Spiced Marinated Lamb with a Winter Salad
This slow-cooked lamb recipe benefits from being marinated with a spicy rub overnight to give real depth of flavour.  The dressing is a classic that will pair with any number of meats or even great as a pasta sauce.  Of course the salad is always a crowd pleaser and is hugely versatile.   
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Classic Mediterranean Ratatouille
Ratatouille hails from France where it is a culinary speciality of Nice. It was initially a dish made by peasants or poor farmers prepared during the summer months when there was an abundance of vegetables. Ratatouille can be found in many European countries under different names. It is essentially a stew of various vegetables. In Italy this dish might be called caponata. Ratatouille is a variation of similar dishes from the Mediterranean, you can have it as a main or side dish, for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It can be served hot or cold with rice, bread or potatoes or in France it is served with Fish such as Tuna. At The Cooking Academy, we like this dish not only for its rich taste but also because it uses lots of vegetables, garlic, herbs and spices making it highly nutritious.
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Let’s keep the planet alive – protect soil diversity
If the impact of lockdown has taught us anything, it is the importance of looking after our planet and ecosystem.   What happens in the Amazon rain forest directly affects us in a very short period of time, and whilst the Amazon may seem thousands of miles away, the impact of global warming has already had very real effects on our own climate and weather patterns here in the UK.

It’s world soil day today and in celebration to raise awareness we’ve planted over 1000 bee and wildlife-friendly bulbs here in our garden which will hopefully pop up in spring next year.  It’s part of our commitment to helping increase soil biodiversity which is essential to maintain a healthy ecosystem and what our own human well-being depends upon.   Furthermore, we now recycle all of our natural food waste into composting bins together with all leaf mulch to return the food and autumn leaf drop back to the earth in the most natural way possible.  It is part of our commitment to increasing biodiversity and in the process improving the wellness of our clients for the crops and herbs we use in our everyday classes.

Plants nurture a whole world of creatures in the soil, that in return feed and protect the plants. A diverse community of living organisms keeping the soil healthy and fertile. This extensive underground world constitutes soil biodiversity and determines the main biogeochemical processes that make life on Earth possible.

What is World Soil Day

#worldsoilday is celebrated annually on the 5th December and is a worldwide campaign to "Keep soil alive, Protect soil biodiversity" and aims to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems around the world not just in our own area. The campaign also seeks to encourage governments, organisations, communities, and individuals around the world to proactively improve soil health in their local regions.

Did you know?

  • Soil is a living resource, home to more than 25% of our planet's biodiversity

  • It is estimated that only 1% of soil microorganism species are currently known compared to 80% of plant species

  • Up to 90% of living organisms live or spend part of their lifecycle in soils

  • Soil organisms can break down certain contaminants.


 
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Red Lentil and Pumpkin Dal
This pumpkin dal recipe is wonderfully seasonal, it's perfect for cold autumn nights served alongside pillowy rice, a dollop of youghurt and a sprinkle of coriander. You can easily swap the pumpkin for butternut squash just increase the cooking time if needed. Enjoy!
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The Mental Health Pandemic
Levels of anxiety and depression have been significantly elevated as people struggle with illness, isolations, and uncertainty.  Research is beginning to reveal the contours of the pandemic related mental health that many predicted.  
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The Three Sisters Planting System
This year as a result of lockdown I’ve been able to spend so much more time in the garden and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Whilst doing some plant research, quite by chance I happened to come across a method of planting referred to as ‘The Three Sisters’.  It is a system of planting sweetcorn, beans, and squash together in close proximity. 
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Red Quinoa Bowl, Sweet Potato, Broccoli, Peanuts and Miso Dressing
Full of slow-release energy goodness and packed with flavour. The quinoa forms the base of the salad, which is a great vehicle for any green or roasted root vegetable. You can substitute the sweet potato for baby carrots, parsnip or butternut squash and the broccoli can be swapped out for kale or swiss chard.
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Baking Conversion Chart
When cooking a recipe from an American cook book, or following a recipe from an American website, you’ll need a cups to grams converter, as the weights and measures used vary quite a bit from the metric measurements we use in the UK. We've put together a handy cheat sheet to print out and put on your fridge!
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