Saturday, November 24, 2012

How to cook for forty humans

I was the chef tonight for 40 people!  I cooked for the People's Kitchen, which I mentioned in a previous blog,  as a volunteer.  I was nervous because first we bought the wrong naan (it has yoghurt in it so it wasn't vegan), and then the grocery delivered all the food  20 minutes late.  But with Kate , Adrian (who are regulars) and other people's help everything turned out OK.  Although a large number of people came early so there wasn't enough food to feed late people.  I felt sorry for them, especially in this cold rainy night.

It was my first time to cook for that many people; it's quite different experience.  The pot was so big and deep I even couldn't stir from the bottom to top.  I think cook separate batches will get better result.

Tonight we served sweet and sour red cabbage, lentil soup and naan, all for only £ 3.5.   A lot of people show up there regularly, a nice mix of young and older people, who all seem to be friends. The people's kitchen is totally run by volunteers; it is really impressive.  They embody the collective ideal much more than the Communism I grew up with as a child  - they are ahead of China!


Lentil and Bulgur Soup
recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living 
Serves 4 


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup green or brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 1/2 cup tomato puree  
  • 1/2 cup bulgur wheat
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper 


   1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook carrot, celery, and shallot until tender, about 6 minutes. Add water and lentils, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, until lentils are tender, about 20 minutes.

   2. Stir in bulgur, tomato puree and cook, partially covered, until bulgur is tender but still slightly chewy, about 5 minutes.

   3. Drizzle with vinegar to taste. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with oil, and season with pepper.

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