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.

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