Friday, 23 June 2017

Learning about nutrition at Surrey Docks Farm

With its thriving vegetable plot, herb garden and array of chickens, goats, sheep, geese and an enormous pig, Surrey Docks Farm in Rotherhithe is the closest many Londoners – big and small – get to being in the countryside.

Across from the looming glass towers of Canary Wharf, the farm occupies a 2.2 acre-site by the Thames. Once part of a shipyard in the 18th century, the site has also been used as a timber wharf, a stopping point for the River Ambulance Service ferrying smallpox patients to isolation hospitals and a Fire Service river station - before becoming the city farm it is today.

As a working farm, it is the perfect place for our mini chefs from the Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers to learn about food and nutrition. Over the past few weeks, our chefs, aged between six and 13, have discovered how to prepare and cook healthy meals as part of the Mini Cooking Club’s overall aim to show how a balanced diet contributes to health.

Besides chopping, mixing and peeling ingredients, our chefs have also learned about food safety, food groups and table manners.

“Don’t complain about the food!” one of our young participants said, when asked to give an example of good table manners. Luckily with chicken burgers, roasted sweet potato and fresh vegetables on the menu last Saturday, there were few complaints.

Burger and chips

Prep and cooking time: 45 mins
Serves: 4


500 g pack of lean beef mince (you can also use turkey, chicken or lamb mince – or halloumi for a vegetarian option)
2 sweet potatoes
1 tsp paprika
1.5 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
4 wholemeal baps
2 tomatoes, sliced
75 g pack of young leaf salad

1) Heat the oven to 200°C, fan 180°C gas mark 6. Wash the potatoes and cut into finger-width chips. Spread in a single layer on a large non-stick baking tray and drizzle with 1-tablespoon olive oil and scatter the paprika on top. Bake for 45 minutes, turning a few times.

2) Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil in a large frying pan and add the onion, garlic and dried mixed herbs. Cook for 5 minutes until soft, then tip into a large bowl and add the beef mince. Season and bring the mixture together with your hands. Divide into 4 and shape into burgers.

3) Using the same pan you used to cook the onion mixture, fry the burgers for about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to a baking sheet and cook in the oven for a further 10 minutes, until cooked through, piping hot and no pink colour remains.

4) For halloumi, cut in slices and cook in a frying pan with olive oil.

5) Serve each burger in a wholemeal bap with 2 slices of tomato and some salad.

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