I was recently asked to organise a 6-week cooking course for a group of men who had been taking part in an initiative with Aberdeen Football Club Community Trust – Fit Fine (get it).

These men have, to varying degrees, all struggled with fitness in the past. Some are severely obese, some obese and some just a tad over weight. The thing that has brought them all together is their health and their love for the football team, a love that I have shared with them as far back as I can remember, I didn’t need to be asked a second time.

Dean checking his veg

Week one

One Monday evening I met with 5 guys and community worker Dean. We made our way to ‘Cook at the ‘Nook’, got everyone acquainted with the kitchen and set about making Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Pepper soup (you’ll find the recipes below).

I had intentionally made week one easy so that I could see where extra support might be needed in the following weeks, and apart from a few mistakes here and there, everyone got on great, the soups looked fantastic, was super healthy, and the banter was jovial and friendly.

The guys reported back that the soup was great with one being challenged by his wife ‘You never made that’ (talk about making a rod for your own back).

Chopping Peppers

Week two

At the end of week one we had discussed what people would like to make in week 2 and the unanimous decision was a chicken curry. I had a wee think and decided that I was going to challenge them and put together a recipe for a Chicken Rogan Josh (recipe below).

So we met up on the Monday again, read through our recipes, made our spice mixes (nae curry powder here), and set about cooking up a storm. The food was flawless, the guys were once again on form and had a great time. I had – due to time constraints – pre-made a naan bread (recipe below) dough, however the lads shaped and cooked these and had them with their curries. 

We still have 4 more weeks to go, so keep your eyes open for more adventures and recipes.

Recipes

Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Pepper

Roasted Butternut squash and red pepper soup

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons of oil
  • 500g of butternut squash deseeded and diced
  • 1 small Onion, roughly diced
  • ½ red pepper deseeded and roughly diced
  • 1 Carrot roughly diced
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 1 Carrot roughly diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger powder

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6.
  2. Tip the prepared squash into a large, bag with the onion, carrots and red pepper. Add the oil and pepper and toss everything together until the vegetables are evenly coated. Tip into a large roasting tin and spread out to form a single layer.
  3. Roast in the oven for 40–45 minutes, Drizzle over the honey 5 minutes before the end of cooking.
  4. Place the large, saucepan over a medium heat, add the ginger and garlic, and fry for a minute. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil, then stir in the roasted vegetables. Remove the saucepan from the heat and, using a hand blender, blend the mixture until smooth. Return to the heat to warm through and serve hot with crusty bread.

Chicken Rogan JoshChicken rogan josh

Ingredients

  • 2 x Chicken Breast, diced into 1inch pieces
  • 1 x 15ml spoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped.
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into strips.
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Small piece root ginger, grated (or 1 teaspoon of powder)
  • 1 x teaspoon cumin
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • 1 x fresh small chilli (or pinch of chilli powder)
  • 1 x teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 x teaspoon coriander
  • 1 x 5ml spoons paprika
  • 1 x 5ml spoons ground cinnamon
  • 50ml water
  • 1 x 15ml spoon tomato purée
  • 3 chopped tomatoes
  • 75ml natural low-fat yoghurt (optional)

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or wok. Add the onion and fry over a low heat until the onion is soft but not brown. Stir regularly.
  2. Add the ginger, garlic, cardamom, cloves and red pepper and cook for a further 2–3 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Next, sprinkle the cumin, coriander, turmeric, chilli powder, cinnamon and paprika over the onion mixture. Cook for 1–2 minutes, stirring all the time.
  3. Add the chicken and stir so that the chicken is coated in the spice mixture. Continue to cook the chicken over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until the chicken changes colour, from pink to white.
  4. Add the water, tomato purée and chopped tomatoes. Stir well and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 mins, stirring occasionally and adding water if it gets too thick.
  5. At the end add the yogurt, stir through and allow to heat for 1-2 minutes. Serve with rice or Nan bread.

Naan Bread

Naan bread

Ingredients

  • 100ml warm milk
  • 1teaspoons caster sugar
  • 1teaspoons dried active dry yeast
  • 200gplain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoons  salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 50ml natural yogurt, lightly beaten
  • ½ egg (or 1 small egg), lightly beaten

Method

  1. Put the milk in a bowl. Add sugar and the yeast. Stir to mix. Set aside for 15-20 minutes or until the yeast has dissolved and the mixture is frothy.
  2. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl. Add the remaining the yeast mixture, vegetable oil and yogurt and egg. Mix to form a ball of dough.
  3. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth and satiny (I did this in a stand mixer). Form into a ball. Rub bowl with lightly with oil, and roll the ball of dough in it. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and set aside for 1 hour until doubled in size.
  4. Preheat the oven to it's hottest temperature. Put your heaviest baking tray to heat in the oven. Preheat your grill.
  5. Punch down the dough and knead again divide into 2 equal parts. Keep covered when not working with the balls of dough. Roll the ball of dough into a tear-shaped naan, about 25cm long and 13cm wide at it's widest point.
  6. Remove the tray from the oven and slap a naan on it. Put in the oven for 3 minutes, it will puff up. Now place the tray under the grill for about 30 seconds to brown slightly (I didn't bother with this as my naan browned in the oven). Wrap the naans in a tea towel or foil. Make all the naans this way. Serve hot.
  7. I kept them warm wrapped in foil in a turned off warm oven, you can reheat them in the microwave for 40 seconds or so.