This Week in Food

Welcome to this week’s update on our pick of foodie news! Let us know what you think about the stories below, or what you think we’ve missed, in the comments.

1. Thanks to the (so far…) mild spring, asparagus season has come early this year and The Telegraph have pulled together a list of recipes to help you make the most of the delicious veg! Asparagus is only at its best for around two months a year, so you’d best hurry if you want to give it a go – our favourite recipe from The Telegraph, asparagus and potato salad, is below:

Ingredients

200g new potatoes

100g fresh peas, podded

100g fresh broad beans, podded

200g asparagus

Juice of 1 lemon

4 tbsp olive oil

½ a bunch of dill

½ a small bunch of parsley

For the mayonnaise

2 egg yolks

1 tsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp Dijon mustard

400ml olive oil

Cook the new potatoes in well salted boiling water. Pod the peas and broad beans and boil them in a separate pan of boiling water too, until just cooked. Add them to the potatoes in a salad bowl. Snap the tough stalks from the asparagus, and boil gently in a wide shallow pan until just soft. Chop the spears into three and add them to the potatoes, peas and broad beans. Squeeze over the lemon and drizzle with olive oil. Add the herbs, roughly chopped, mix well and check the seasoning. Leave to sit while you make the mayonnaise. In an electric mixer or with a hand whisk. Whisk the eggs yolks with the vinegar and mustard until light and fluffy. Slowly add the olive oil, whisking all the time in a steady stream until you have a thick mayonnaise. If you can’t get the mixture to thicken or it has “split”, start again with one egg yolk and incorporate the split mixture into the egg slowly, whisking all the time, as you did the first time. Serve the salad at room temperature or slightly warm, on its own or as an accompaniment to a piece of fish or meat, with a dollop of mayonnaise on top.

2. Celeb chef James Martin has created a tasty-looking range of airline meals for Thomas Cook. The meals will be available from the 1st of May on flights from Stansted Airport and start at around £6. James’ menu includes bacon and egg breakfasts, braised British beef and vanilla and ginger cheesecake, as well as options such as cheese gnocchi with butternut for vegetarians or pasta and meatballs for kids. Sounds like fine dining to us! Interestingly, on the 1st of May it’s also exactly 85 years since the first in-flight meals were served on commercial aircraft.

3. We’ve got our fingers crossed for sunshine from here until Autumn, and the BBC Food website has put together a list of picnic-friendly recipes that are making us wish the rain would go away that little bit quicker! We’d never thought of sushi on a picnic, but correctly stored it’d be an unusual treat, and the sun-dried tomato and rosemary palmiers would be lovely washed down with a glass of Elderflower cordial. All that’s missing is the sun!

4. We know you’re not supposed to play with your food, but this doesn’t really count! Artistic-type Bruce Lowell has created a variety of foods out of Lego, and (apart from the hard edges) they look good enough to eat –

You can view the rest of Bruce’s Lego artworks on his Flickr page.

 

This Week in Food

Welcome to this week’s update on our pick of foodie news – don’t forget to let us know what you think in the comments!

1. A new book entitled ‘What’s Cooking? Famous Designers on Food’ has revealed  the cooking secrets of 28 top designers including Vladimir Chaika, Helmut Schmidt, Wally Olins and Zandra Rhodes. The book allows the creative bunch to share their own foodie stories through sketches, photos and anecdotes – Mike Dempsey, for example, adds a dress code to his contribution of Welsh Rarebit – ‘Black horn-rimmed glasses, white Oxford button down shirt, slate-grey, single-breasted, all-wool Jaeger suit, knitted tie and black loafers’ – while Marion Deuchars’ recipe is less exact, as she says: “I vary the ingredients depending on what’s in the fridge”.

2. The secrets to saving time in the kitchen have been let loose! Okay, so there’s nothing earth-shattering in this list pulled together by Yahoo! but there are some handy hints from Simon Webb, recent winner of the British Culinary Federation’s prestigious Chef of the Year title:

  • Enlist the help of others
  • Prep and make sure you have everything you’ll need before you begin cooking
  • Buy the right kit, such as good-quality saucepans
  • Have herbs on hand to liven up a dish
  • Break up your work by doing as much in advance as possible
  • Keep it simple by using as few pans as you can – less washing up!
  • Do the work in advance – prepare portions of kitchen staples and freeze them
  • Keep a sense of perspective – enjoy your cooking, but don’t become a slave to the kitchen!

3. Eels, the slippery favourite, may be making a comeback. Once a working-class favourite, the critically endangered status of the eel (according to the Marine Conservation Society’s list of fish to avoid) has meant that it has all but disappeared from the nation’s menus. However, a body called The Sustainable Eel Group has been set up to devise a recovery plan that will change the ways that eels migrate and increase their adult population. Doing so will take years, but in the meantime the body has another solution – pay fishermen to catch elvers (baby eels) in tidal rivers and move them safely to waters where they can flourish.

Schoolchildren have also been enlisted to help and around 50 schools will be receiving tanks full of eels – sponsored by celebrity chefs such as Brian Turner, Mitch Tonks and Martin Wishart – which will be fed for 10 weeks until they’ve doubled in size. The eels will then be released into local inland rivers.

4. We know that cooking nourishes your body, but did you know that it could also sustain your brain? Research undertaken by the Alzheimer’s Society has shown that cleaning, washing up and cooking can help to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, even in those over the age of 80! Eating a Mediterranean diet high in antioxidants and healthy oils has also been proven to keep you young in body and mind, so keep cooking up those Italian fish dishes as you age!

This Week in Food

Hello and welcome to the first of our weekly round-ups of our favourite new stories from the world of food. If you think we’ve missed something or you’ve got something to say, make sure you let us know in the comments!

1. A survey commissioned by cheese brand Cathedral City has found how much the contents of our fridge has changed over the past twenty years. The results show that one in five of the 2000 people surveyed said that they choose quality over price when food shopping, and that the average weekly food spend is now £37.83 – compared to £20.58 in the 1990s. It was found that our fridges are bursting with more healthy and organic foods than they were 20 years ago, although we let the odd ready-meal slip in. Our tastes are also more open to the exotic, as curry paste and hummus both feature in the list, replacing beef brisket and dripping.

The top five food items 20 years ago were:

1. Cheese

2. Full fat milk

3. Iceberg lettuce

4. Lard

5. Marmalade

Compared with the top five food items today:

1. Cheese

2. Eggs

3. Mayonnaise

4. Butter

5. Margarine

2. The Independent has quizzed top chefs on their favourite kitchen tricks. Here’s a selection of the best and the handiest:

  • Rachel Koo’s top pasty tip? “For a buttery, flaky shortcrust, roll out the pastry between two sheets of baking paper.”
  • Angela Hartnett, chef patron for Murano and the York & Albany pub in London, advises that you should always add a pinch of sugar when using tinned tomatoes to take away the acidic taste without making them too sweet.
  • Lemon is the secret of Rowley Leigh, award-winning cookery writer and chef proprietor of Le Café Anglais. “There’s hardly anything I cook which I wouldn’t add a squeeze of lemon, to heighten the seasoning and bring out the flavour.”
  • If you’ve got a heavy seasoning hand, Jacob Kenedy, chef patron of Bocca di Lupo in Soho, advises that you can try to bulk the dish out by adding something (such as barley to a soup), balance salt with acid (a squeeze of lemon or dash of vinegar), or to kill it with fat (fat mutes flavours – add butter or oil).
  • Stevie Parle, chef and founder of the Dock Kitchen restaurant in west London, says that you should always buy your spices whole and always grind them with a pestle and mortar
  • Acclaimed cookery writer Claudia Roden says that in Catalonia, if people want peeled and finely chopped tomatoes for a sauce, they grate them
  • To get more juice out of your citrus fruits, warm them slightly before juicing says Isaac Mchale, chef and member of The Young Turks collective

3. The Telegraph has put together a list of Britain’s favourite sweets. Mmm! The list includes Jelly Babies (first introduced after the First World War as Peace Babies), colourful Liquorice Allsorts, Wine Gums – which have never contained wine, and famous seaside rock.

Polo Mints, Dip Dab’s sherbet and lolly combination, boiled pear drops and Fruit Pastilles also feature in the list, as do Flying Saucers which in 2004 were voted Britain’s all-time favourite sweet.

4. Everyone’s getting kippered – kipper sales are up! Sainsbury’s has reported an 80 percent increase in sales and Tesco has already sold 150,000 more kippers than last year. While the fish were a stable of Victorian breakfasts, they fell out of fashion due to the popularity of cereals and other more modern foods to start the day. But due to the low price, ease of cooking and nutritional value of the fish (only 125 calories per fillet and packed with protein), it’s no surprise that they’re selling like hot (fish) cakes!

5. One couple haven’t let their lack of Olympic tickets impact their enjoyment of the event – they’re eating their way around the world in celebration! Jack Hemingway and Sarah Kemp were unable to get tickets for their chosen events for this year’s Olympics in London, so instead they’ve set themselves the challenge of eating a dish (either homemade or in a restaurant) from every country that is entering the 2012 Olympics. They’ve eaten around 60 dishes so far since beginning their challenge seven weeks ago and you can follow the couple’s progress on their blog, Eat the Olympics.

Appliances Online get Colourful!

Appliances Online really do seem to love the New World Colours Collection.  Apart from running a competition on facebook where you can win an oven and hob, Becky Yardley has been commissioning Bloggers and Illustrators to show what’s best about the world in Colour!

Here’s her article and a bit about the Rainbow Cookery Book she comissioned.

The Rainbow Recipe Book 

To celebrate the New World Colours collection, we asked six food bloggers to create a colourful recipe for an online rainbow cookbook. We’ve then passed these imaginative inventions onto six illustrators to interpret in their own creative style. You can see the results below, with more detailed recipe instructions on each chef’s blog. So why not try one or two out this week and let us know how you get on!

Blue Cheese Gratin


Recipe by Clare from Seasider in the city. Illustrated by Katie from Sugarpatch

Green Lime Cheesecake


Recipe by Helen from Jessies Crazy kitchen. Illustrated by Lauren from Tastes like Love.

La Pizza Rossa


Recipe by Hannah from Home Baked Online. Illustrated by John N4Sketchpad.

Mango Lassi


Recipe by Solange from PebbleSoup. Illustrated by Jack Knight at Knight time Creations.

Meatloaf Cupcakes


Recipe by Mike from Mikes Baking. Illustrated by Claire from Aspergers Info.

Raspberry Tart


Recipe by Emma at Kitchen Goddess in Training. Illustrated by Dina at She loves mixtapes.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this project, we think it looks great!

What’s your favourite recipe?  And would you ever co-ordinate your food to your kitchen?  I know that at certain times of the year we do ‘colour theme’ our food a bit (think about christmas with all that red and green icing on a white background, or valentines day when there’s a real surfeit of pink).  It could be quite a challenge don’t you think?