Cooking is never easy, especially for boys who rarely cook. The Spring Garden dish - a chocolate mousse with fresh fruits - is a good start for inexperienced people like myself to get a taste for cooking.
Besides learning how to prepare the dish, I learned how to be more environmentally friendly when cooking. Heating is a source of carbon, so if you cook less, there will be less carbon emissions. Plus, the nutrients in the fruits and vegetables will not be lost, which is better for the planet and for us!
Small changes to our cooking habits can help the planet and our health. For example, using local, organic ingredients creates less pollution. Airplanes and ships pollute a lot more than cars and trucks. So if we buy locally, not only does it pollute less but it's also healthier!
Ingredients from other countries don't just show up in our local supermarkets instantly. For the ingredients to stay edible, many preservatives are used, and they're not good for our health.
One thing you should keep in mind is how much of the ingredients you'll use when you're cooking, as well as making sure not to order too much in a restaurant. Leftover food is often just thrown away, and this adds to our growing landfill problem. It may also cause you indigestion, as you might try and force yourself to finish your food to avoid wasting it!
As a vegetarian, I was delighted to have an opportunity to learn more about vegetarian cooking. We were taught how to make a chocolate mousse, and I have to say, I'm actually quite the chef!
The workshop was held to raise our awareness about being environmentally friendly when cooking. The mousse we made was not cooked. In other words, it was raw. If eggs are used, the mousse needs to be cooked, and this uses up energy and creates carbon. Instead, we used avocados, which you don't need to cook at all.
We learned more from an interview with chef Michael Erlik, who taught us how to make the chocolate mousse. According to him, the food industry plays a crucial role in protecting the environment.
"Raw food could be the solution to many of the problems we face today," he said. "Take a look at the amount of energy used in the transportation of food. Say, for example, you want to make cheese. The milk comes from America, and then goes to Europe to be turned into milk powder. After travelling the globe, it is finally manufactured in factories in Vietnam. It then takes another journey to the world's supermarkets. Think about how much energy could be saved if everyone just made their own cheese."
It's quite difficult to be completely independent now, but we can cut down on imported food and find more environmentally friendly alternatives like raw food. Look at the ingredients in a packet of chips. Obviously there are essentials like potatoes and salt, but there are also a lot of chemicals in those products. They're not good for the environment, or for your health. Next time you want chips, consider cooking some yourself.
As Chef Erlik said: "Do something for the sake of the environment, for future generations to live on a clean, happy planet, and not for your taste buds!"
Spring Garden(fresh fruits chocolate mousse)
For the mousse
1. Put in a food processor:
- 100g pitted dates, soaked in warm water for 15 mins
- 50g walnuts
- 4g dissolved gelatin/agar agar (follow packet instructions)
- 100g chocolate spread
- 150g mashed avocados (1?avocados)
N.B. If you add too much avocado to the mousse, the chocolate will be ruined by the smell of avocados.
- 50g unsweetened cocoa powder
Mix until smooth and pour into ramekins. Chill to set.
For the base
1. Melt 100g chocolate. Put the chocolate into a heat-proof bowl, resting on, or sitting in, a pan of boiling water. Allow to melt slowly.
2. Mix into the melted chocolate:
- 100g roasted almond slivers
- 30g Dou Penotti (or any chocolate spread)
3. Spread the mixture out in a thin layer (ideally on a marble board) and chill until set.
4. Once chilled, use a cutter to cut rounds the same size as your ramekins.
- Remember to use up (eat!) the almond chocolate base that's leftover after cutting before it melts. This will help to reduce food waste.
For the sauce
Gently heat 100g raspberries with 20ml lime juice and 20g brown sugar or maple syrup until it just begins to boil. Leave to cool slightly, then blend.
1. Tap the mousse out of the ramekin onto the base. Drizzle with sauce.
2. Decorate with fruits and sifted cocoa powder.
- Use organic, local seasonal fruits. Organic means less fertiliser, and picking local, seasonal fruit means you're not choosing out-of-season fruit shipped from far away.
Source: Hong Kong Culinary Academy
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