Category Archives: Savoury

Making butter

Like most little girls I was a fan of dressing up – putting on outfits of questionable taste and highly flammable fabric, waddling around in my mother’s heels and pretending to be some sort of ingénue heiress from the past. Or Nancy from Oliver. Or Liesel Von Trapp.

I have to confess that the urge to ponce about in big dresses has never really left me (hence the amateur dramatics), although these days it’s sadly less socially acceptable to get done up like a dog’s dinner and mince up and down the stairs all day. There are other ways however, to fulfil my love of the past and its traditions. A lot of them involve the novels of Daphne du Maurier and watching costume dramas, but now and then I also like to bring it back to life through food.

There’s been a resurrection in the last couple of years of going back to basics in cookery – a much-needed revolt against the horror of mass food production. Being swept away by this myself, I recently made butter by hand for the first time and got completely hooked. It’s so easy and so completely satisfying, I’m trying to make it a regular thing. It does leave the kitchen looking like a fetishist society has held an evening do there, but no matter.photo[5]

It goes without saying you need to use the best cream you can – my most successful batch to date has been using untreated Jersey milk cream from Neal’s Yard – but the rest is up to you. You can add salt if you like, or if you’re making it for a particular occasion, garlic, herbs or chilli will all work well too. The second time I made it I followed Darina Allen’s advice and left the cream to ‘ripen’ for 24 hours on the balcony. Either Ms Allen’s method is different to mine or she likes her butter tasting a bit rank, because I found it had a very sour flavour which to be honest tasted off, so I recommend you use cream straight from the fridge. Don’t expect it to taste like proper French butter either, I’m not sure how they achieve that flavour but I haven’t managed it. What you do get is butter that tastes like the best fresh cream – it’s delicious and incredibly moreish. The recipe below is for a basic salted butter, but if you like it unsalted (though God knows why you would) just leave the salt out. And if you’re adding flavourings, put them in with the salt.

What you need:

  • 600ml excellent quality double cream
  • 1-11/2tsp flaked sea salt (optional, but highly recommended)
  • some sort of electric beating device
  • a pair of butter bats (these aren’t completely necessary and you can just use spatulas or similar, but if you can find them in antique or second hand shops get a pair), soaked for 30 minutes in iced water
  • ice

1.    You can use a stand mixer, food processor or just an electric whisk to do this, although I don’t recommend one of those singular whisks that attach to a stick blender, they will give up the ghost too quickly. Put the cream into a sterilised large mixing bowl, the bowl of a stand mixer or a food processor, and beat it (with sterilised beaters) until the cream has completely overwhipped. Keep going and the butterfat will start to separate from the buttermilk. If your cream has come straight from the fridge this might take a while but it will get there in the end.

photo[3]

2.    Once the butter starts to come together, pour everything into a sieve set over a bowl to collect the buttermilk, (in true Victorian dairy maid fashion you can keep this to make bread). Put the butter back in the bowl and beat it briefly again to release any leftover buttermilk, then sieve once more.photo[4]

3.    Fill a large clean bowl with cold water, drop some ice cubes in it and put the butter in. Knead it with your hands to squeeze out any remaining buttermilk. Change the water 3-4 times during the kneading, until the water stays clean when the butter is kneaded. Put the butter onto a spotlessly clean surface and scatter over the salt. Bash it around with the butter bats (or spatulas) to distribute the salt through the butter, then shape it into a block and wrap in clingfilm or baking paper. If you’re not going to eat it all right away shape into two blocks and freeze one – keep the other half of the butter in the iced water while you’re shaping the first. It will keep in the fridge for around 5-6 days depending on how fastidious you’ve been with getting rid of the buttermilk. Spread it liberally on good bread, or if you’re feeling flush, try baking with it. photo[1]

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Pumpkins (and I’m back)

It’s been a while, I know. Let’s just say I’ve been very busy. (My mother would say lazy, but we won’t split hairs). But Truefoodie is back, and this time she’s trying something new. Well, a little bit new – all posts will now be featuring photography by the lovely Oli (who happens also to be my chap). Bear with us – Oli is new to food photography, and I am new to food styling in my kitchen, in the dark, with a load of Ikea crockery.  But we’ll get there.

For my first post back, I thought I’d talk about pumpkins (and squash). Since the beginning of the summer, Kew Gardens has been running an exhibition called the IncrEdibles, and yesterday we inadvertently walked into its last day. The exhibition – showcasing the exceptional variety of food grown around the world – had moved on to an autumnal theme for its last incarnation, and we were fortunate to be some of the very last people to see the absolutely breathtaking pumpkin house before it was dismantled.Image

I knew that pumpkins and squash came in lots of different shapes and sizes, but I had no idea how vast the family actually was. And they all have such fantastic names – crown of thorns, turk’s turban,  sweet dumpling, potiron tristar triamble (I’m not making this up)… Fortunately for us, it being the last day of the exhibition they were selling all these beauties off, so after a quick google consultation with Sarah Raven, I bought a crown prince, a rouge vif d’Etampes, a kabocha and two munchkins. (I am still not making this up…) The munchkins were too gorgeous to chop up, so they’re going to be varnished and displayed somewhere. I have yet to work out where.Image

The rest I chopped up, skin and all, deseeded and roasted in olive oil until golden, caramelised and sticky. Half of it went into a salad last night, with coriander, basil, toasted macadamias, pomegranate molasses, rocket and goat’s cheese, and the other half I made into this rather nice soup this evening.

Because the pumpkins were already cooked, I don’t have a raw weight for them, but I reckon that one decently sized butternut squash would about cover it if you can’t get anything more exotic. Just roast whatever you have, and any leftovers can be frozen or chucked into a salad. The choice of cream is up to you – I used clotted cream because it was what we had, but double, crème fraiche, yogurt or even cream cheese would all work well. It’s a midweek supper – there are no rules to it.

soupPumpkin, apple and horseradish soup

Serves 4 as a starter or 2 for dinner, with a portion leftover to freeze for a solitary supper

 Drizzle olive oil

2 onions, roughly chopped

2 eating apples (I used braeburns), peeled and roughly chopped

350g (cooked weight) roasted pumpkin or squash

1ltr vegetable or chicken stock

About 2 tsp grated horseradish (English Provender is a good make)

2-3 tbsp of something creamy (see above), plus extra to serve

Spring onions and chilli flakes, to serve

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and when warm, add the onion with some sea salt. Cook for 5-6 minutes over a medium heat, until the onion has softened – it shouldn’t colour. Add the apple, and cook for another 5 minutes or so, until everything is very soft but still uncoloured.
  2. Add the pumpkin and the stock, bring to a gentle simmer and cook, covered, for around 5 minutes, until the apple is completely cooked. Remember the pumpkin is already cooked, so don’t overdo it.
  3. Add in the horseradish, season very generously, then blend until smooth. Check the seasoning and horseradish and adjust accordingly. Transfer back to the wiped out pan and heat until just simmering. Stir through the cream, check the seasoning again and ladle into bowls. If you want to do a fancy drizzle on top, let the cream down with a little water until pourable and spoon over the soup. Scatter with spring onions and chilli, and serve. If you want to vary the topping, chopped parsley, toasted nuts, or some julienned pieces of apple would all be lovely.

 

 

 

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Tomatoes on toast

Just in time for the August bank holiday

No matter how appalling the weather has been for the rest of the year – how many barbecues have been rained off and festival goers covered in mud, you can guarantee it will always be hot and sweaty during the last weeks of August. Because the last weeks of August are when we cook Christmas dinner, and, presumably to punish us for being so previous with his son’s birthday celebrations, God likes to play a little joke.

The joyous occasion came to pass last week. While everyone was sunning themselves in parks, I was shoving a roast turkey in the oven and blanching as the idle meat thermometer on the side read 38C. And then we lit a fire. And after a few days of this sweaty festive ordeal, the very last thing I wanted to do was come home to a hot dinner. So I suppose it’s God’s way of mitigating his hilarious heat wave timing by making sure that all manner of gorgeous, refreshing vegetables are in season right now.

For those in London, if you only go to Borough market once a year, it should be in August. The stalls are riots of the most divine fruit and veg, piled high, soft, succulent and ripe. It’s absolutely mesmerising. On escaping from the office winter-wonderland in search of an antidote for supper, I was utterly spoiled for choice, but came to rest on the heritage tomato table in Turnips. My god. Row upon row of plump, glossy tomatoes, watermelon striped, primrose yellow, huge red Coeur de boeuf, and elongated San Marzano. Completely ignoring the price tag, I filled bags with the most unusual I could find, took them to the counter, then nearly had a heart attack. On a cautionary note everyone, when being seduced by vegetables in Borough market, always look at the price tag. My haul worked out at approximately £1 per tomato. Hmm. Needless to say I balked, went to remove them, remembered all those mince pies and meekly handed over my card, grabbing a sourdough baguette before scuttling away.

Tomatoes on toast has to be one of the simplest, but most delicious meals on the planet. But you have to have good tomatoes, and while £10 for two people might be a little excessive, when you’ve spent all hot summer day steaming Christmas puddings and making pigs in blankets, it seems worth it. We ate them with a very cold bottle of Viognier, and finished the meal off with fresh figs and a tiny goat’s cheese crottin drizzled with honey. Not a stuffing ball in sight…

Tomatoes on toast for two – hardly a recipe, but worth knowing anyway

Around 600-700g ripe mixed tomatoes, roughly chopped

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1shallot, finely chopped

drizzle sherry or red wine vinegar

pinch caster sugar

2-6 slices (depending on size) sourdough baguette or similar crusty, chewy bread, toasted

1 garlic clove, halved

sea salt and black pepper

handful basil leaves

Mix the tomatoes with 3tbsp of the extra virgin, the shallot, the vinegar (proceed cautiously and keep tasting) and the sugar (ditto). Leave it to sit for 15 minutes so the flavours mix. Rub the bread with the cut side of the garlic clove and place on two plates. Season the tomatoes generously last minute (the salt draws the liquid out of them so do this as late as possible) and taste again. You may find you need a little more vinegar after you’ve added the salt. Toss the basil leaves through and tip on top of the bread, finishing with a final drizzle of olive oil. Serve immediately, preferably outside.

If you like, you can add a few shavings of good Parmesan over the top, but I think it’s just as gorgeous unadorned.

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Pork belly

As soon as people find out what I do the first thing they invariably always ask is ‘So what’s you signature dish then?’ My usual response to this is a heavy sigh, a slightly bored expression and a ‘well I don’t really have one, I’m always cooking different things’. But recently, I’m actually starting to think that I do have a signature dish. And I think it might be pork belly. So apologies to all those I’ve sighed at recently.

Pork belly, or belly pork as it was called before it became fashionable, was seen as being wildly uncouth about 15 years ago – I remember my family of butchers loving it, but we were about the only ones, and it was dirt-cheap. Now, it’s on just about every restaurant menu, and it’s normally not done properly at all. They don’t cook it long enough, or they try and jazz it up by removing the skin and cooking it separately until it’s that horrible, dried-out bubbly consistency that just falls apart in your mouth. Proper crackling should make you ever so slightly concerned for your teeth, but still be irresistible.

Although the price has gone up recently with its rising popularity, it’s still a lot cheaper than most other meat – a free-range belly at my local butchers is about £9.50 a kilo, and 3kg will feed up to eight people, depending on greed. It’s my go-to dish for having people over  – it’s utterly low-maintenance and everyone (me included) gets absurdly excited about the crackling.

You’ll see a lot of recipes that only tell you to cook it for a couple of hours, but for me, 5 is the absolute minimum. The thing that tends to turn people off about pork belly is the quantity of fat you have to wade through to get to the meat, but long, slow cooking melts almost all of this out, and what you’re left with is meat so tender it falls off its bones, and a rich, intense sauce (I hate the word jus, but I suppose that’s what it is), that you can spoon straight from the pan.

I add flavourings according to what I’m cooking for the rest of the meal. A while ago I rubbed harissa all over the underside before cooking, and before that it was jerk seasoning. This weekend, though, I wanted to serve affogato and ricciarelli for pudding, so I decided to go down the Italian route, with sage, garlic and lemon. Another huge bonus of cooking this for friends is that it’s so rich, all you need with it is a big, sharp salad, and some potatoes chopped small, tossed with olive oil and then roasted until golden. I’m absolutely allergic to cooking side dishes last minute, so anyone who’s been for dinner at my house will probably be nodding in recognition right now. That is, unless they came for Sunday roast. I’m not a total philistine.

And a quick word on salad. While it may seem like the easy option, you can still make it fabulous – just think about what the meat needs to complement it. I did raw fennel, watercress, radish and little gem – crunch to balance the softness of the pork, heat from the radish and watercress to counteract its sweetness, and a sharp French vinaigrette to balance the richness.

My last point, and I know you already know this, but don’t you dare buy rubbish pork – quite apart from the pig having had an awful life, the meat and skin will be inferior, which means you won’t get lovely crackling and it won’t taste nearly so good. Rant over. Enjoy…

Slow-cooked pork belly with sage, lemon and garlic

This amount fed four of us with some leftovers, but could easily have fed five, and still had leftovers.

2kg piece free-range pork belly, bone-in and skin scored (your butcher will do it, unless you’re handy with a Stanley knife*)

Small bunch sage, leaves removed and finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

zest 1 lemon

2tbsp olive oil

About 2/3 bottle white wine (don’t worry too much about quality – I used Stowell’s…)

1. Heat the oven to 130C (110C fan). Turn the pork belly over so it’s skin side down, and with a sharp knife cut down along each rib about half way into the flesh – no deeper. Mix the sage, garlic, lemon zest and olive oil together and season very well, then rub this all over the underside of the meat, pushing into the cuts. Line a roasting tray with foil, sit the pork belly skin side up and push the foil up around it so it forms a smaller tray. Pour the wine into this – it should come about 11/2 cm up the side of the meat. Pat the skin dry with kitchen roll, scatter sea salt over and into the scores and cook in the bottom of the oven for 5 hours. Check periodically – it will shrink quite a lot, and as it does, keep pushing the foil closer into it to protect the outside meat.

2. After this time, remove the pork from the oven and turn your oven up to as high as it will go (I normally go for about 240C). Pour off the juices that will have collected in the foil and set aside. Close the foil up around the meat so only the skin is exposed, and return it to the top of the oven, then cook for around 20-25 minutes checking to see it’s not burning, until the skin is crisp, dark golden and slightly bubbled. Remove, making sure to enjoy the sound of it audibly crackling, transfer to a board and rest for 10 minutes, then slice down along the ribs, (this is easiest if you take the crackling off first) and serve with salad and potatoes. Skim most of the fat off the cooking juices and you have a ready-made sauce. Any leftovers can be kept for 2-3 days, pulled into shreds and reheated to make an excellent sandwich.

*Truefoodie accepts no responsibility for you getting ahead of yourself and slicing your finger off with a Stanley knife

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The rise of the tenuous celebrity chef

It has seemed of late, that when a celebrity has reached ego satiety from tv, film or tabloid, they will do one of two things. They will either enter Celebrity Masterchef, or they will write a cookbook. If it’s the former, then I will sigh in a slightly superior manner and take the opportunity to loathe Gregg Wallace a little more, but if it’s the latter, there will normally be anything from a slight hiss to a positive spit of rage.

Because who do these people think they are?

Ker-ching…

Take Sophie Dahl. Actually born Sophie Holloway, she opted to take her maternal surname (cannot imagine why), and has so far published two cookbooks with accompanying tv series. She’s a contributing editor for Waitrose Kitchen. I can’t argue with the fact that she can write (given her pedigree it’s hardly surprising), but can she cook? Uhhhm, no. Not really. Oh, you cry, but she went to Ballymaloe! And? Thousands of people have been to Ballymaloe, but that doesn’t make them equipped to teach the nation how to eat. It seemed to me that the main content of her first book was the flouncy introductions to her recipes, urging you to eat them by candlelight, your head resting on your beloved’s chest as soft piano music tinkled in the background. Did she mention she’s married to Jamie Cullum? And once your head is full of romantic notions of eating dimly lit prawn curry on top of a short jazz musician, are you actually going to notice the recipe is only really flavoured with curry powder? Obviously not, as some bright spark commissioned a second book.

And Gwyneth Paltrow. Just because she named her child after a fruit, it doesn’t mean we all want to eat her macrobiotic muffins. Stick to acting Gwynnie, it’s a rare gift for an American to produce a convincing British accent. Fay Ripley attracted my ire when she announced that she wanted to write a book to teach people how to feed their families. Well, that’s a lovely sentiment Fay, but why you? Do you have any authority on cooking? No? Oh, Cold Feet? Well, carry on then.

The latest offering to irritate me afresh is Gok Wan. The simpering lifestyle coach is about to appear in his own Channel 4 tv series about Chinese cookery, with a sparkly book to match. His credentials? Alright, they’re better than some, his father owned a Chinese restaurant. But looking through his book, there are almost as many pictures of him gurning with noodles, gurning with rice, gurning with potstickers as there are recipes. And do I really want someone with such a complex history with food telling me what to cook? I’m not sure I do.

Look good eating that naked and I might be impressed.

Now, you may rubbish me for having extreme professional jealousy, and to a certain extent you’d be right. It’s unbelievably frustrating watching talentless celebrities doing utterly predictable things with chicken, when it’s taken a lot of training and hard work to make me think I have any form of authority about cookery. It seems that because cooking is something that most people do, they feel entitled to share their opinions on it, and if they’re famous, this can mean globally. But it takes real skill to write a successful recipe, which most don’t have, and the upshot is a raft of failed dinners and disappointed consumers who were sucked in by the ‘Look, just look! You too could have my life if only you buy this book!’ of it all.

And before you judge any further, I have absolutely no jealousy towards the truly wonderful food writers and chefs that we’re also fortunate enough to have advising us – Nigel Slater, Diana Henry, Lucas Hollweg, Simon Hopkinson being just a few of my favourites. These people know their stuff, and you can trust their judgement implicitly because they’re not just in it to satisfy some whim for recognition in a different field to their norm.

So the next time Sophie Dahl looks like convincing you to eat something under the boughs of a blossom tree, or Gwyneth makes you think sugar is evil, or Gok Wan so much as opens his mouth, steel yourself, turn away and look to a respectable cookbook. Or, you know, you could always check out one of my recipes

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A rather wonderful salad

I may have mentioned this before, but I’m completely addicted to Vietnamese food. Milder, but just as intensely flavoured as Thai, and nowhere near as cloying and sticky as Chinese, it is a perfect combination of flavours – freshness from lime, herbs and chillies, depth from slow-cooked stocks and sticky marinades, and texture from crisp leaves and toasted nuts.

With my Hipstamatic

 Luckily, I seem to have imprinted my obsession onto the boy, who now requests this salad approximately once a week. Apart from it being completely delicious, it’s a break from the Pret sandwiches and frozen pizzas that seem to be the standard fare of one studying for financial exams. Plus it’s an excuse for him to eat an unholy amount of Sriracha.

Although the ingredients list is quite extensive, it’s really not hard and is perfect if you’re in the mood to faff around in the kitchen, wine in hand and music playing. This generally suits me best on a Friday night, when the results can be eaten in front of the telly. Occasionally straight from the bowl.

The ingredients here are my favourites, but by no means law, so mess around as you see fit. One thing I would insist on though is that you use carrot and cucumber – without their pickled crunchiness the salad loses a large part of its charm, and do try and find unsalted peanuts – cashews just don’t have the same impact. If you want to bulk it out a little more you can add 300g straight-to-wok udon noodles, tossed in a hot frying pan for a couple of minutes with a little oil, but even without them, it’s surprisingly filling.

Oh, and make lots. Between two of us we can usually polish off enough for 4, but it’s almost completely fat-free, and gorging yourself on veg really isn’t a big deal. Any leftovers are great for lunch the next day too – just keep some herbs and nuts back to add a touch of freshness. I sound like a Lenor advert don’t I?

...And looking slightly more refined.

Vietnamese chicken salad with peanuts and ginger

So much greater than the sum of its parts

Serves 4

Prep time: 40 mins

  • 3 medium carrots
  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1/2 white cabbage, shredded
  • ½ red onion, very finely sliced
  •  3 free-range chicken breasts
  • 2 star anise
  • chicken stock to cover
  • 3 garlic cloves, bashed and peeled
  • thumb size piece sliced ginger
  • 2 little gem lettuces, shredded
  • 100g unsalted peanuts, toasted
  • large handful each coriander and mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped

for the dressing

  • 4tbsp each fish sauce, sweet chilli sauce and rice vinegar
  • 11/2tbsp finely grated root ginger
  • juice 2 limes, plus extra wedges to serve

 1 Make the dressing by mixing all the ingredients together. Using a veg peeler, peel the carrots and cucumber, then drag it lengthways to make long ribbons of the flesh. Stop when you get to the lighter centre of the carrot, and the seeds of the cucumber. Toss these through with the white cabbage and red onion then pour over 2/3 of the dressing. Set aside – the dressing will gently pickle the veg.

2 Put the chicken breasts in a saute pan with the star anise, chicken stock, garlic cloves and ginger. Heat gently until the odd bubble is rising to the surface, cover and cook for around 20 minutes – don’t let it boil or you’ll dry out the chicken. Remove the chicken from the liquid, allow to cool slightly then shred. Keep the stock – it makes great noodle soup.

3 Toss the chicken through the veg with the little gem and most of the peanuts, herbs and chillies. Pour over the rest of the dressing, toss everything together, then scatter over the remaining nuts, herbs and chillies and serve with the extra lime wedges, and lashings of chilli sauce (optional…).

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Why does my food taste average?

I’m sure this has happened to most of us. You’ve eaten something somewhere, you’ve managed to get hold of the recipe, you follow it to the letter, but it just doesn’t taste as good. And why does that starter from the Hawksmoor cookbook not fill you with the joy it did when you ate it at Hawksmoor? What is Ottolenghi doing that you’re not? And HOW does the meringue roulade in the magazine look so wonderfully crispy and light, when yours looks more like a slug?

It's all about the beating

Well, it could be almost anything – different ingredients, wrong season, complete lack of talent, but here are some of the more obvious ones that a trained chef will do without thinking, but you might be surprised to read…

Seasoning

Now I know I harp on and on about this, but there’s a reason I’m writing it first. Seasoning is the building block of cookery – without salt, your food will taste bland. Period. If you’re cooking with meat, you should always season it while it’s still raw, before it’s even seen the heat. It will make a huge difference to the flavour that just can’t be achieved after it’s cooked. And remember to season everything, even down to salad dressing. My idea of a pinch of salt is a four-fingered pinch so be bold, buy some Maldon and throw it about with gusto. And take heart, my blood pressure is absolutely fine.

Onions

Don’t rush your onions. They’re nature’s sloths, they like to do things in their own good time. If a recipe tells you to cook onions until caramelised, it’s safe to say you’re going to be waiting for at least half an hour, maybe longer if you’re doing a big batch. Cook them low and slow, and use plenty of butter. Caramelised onions form the flavour base for so many dishes, and if you rush the beginnings, the finished product will never taste as good.

Garlic

Burnt garlic will taint an entire dish, so treat it with respect. If you’re putting it with an onion base, add it only a couple of minutes before you add the rest of the ingredients – it doesn’t need as long as an onion to cook, just a few minutes to take the raw edge off. Never add it to really hot oil, it will burn instantly and smell of sulphur. For a dish like garlic prawns or mushrooms, add it finely chopped just before you serve – the heat from the food will soften it, and it will taste perfect.

Stock

This one is make or break, the difference between a masterpiece and a finger painting. If you’re cooking anything that lists stock as a main ingredient (a broth, a rich casserole, a gravy), you need to use the proper stuff. Either you can make your own, by roasting bones then cooking them slowly covered in cold water brought up to a gentle simmer with onions, bay, carrots, celery and peppercorns for about 3-4 hours, or you can buy the fresh ones from supermarkets. Heston’s from Waitrose is fantastic, well worth the cash and a gorgeous dark colour. The M&S ones aren’t bad either, and if you’re really stuck, the Touch of Taste bouillon bottles are ok too. But use fresh if you can, if only just to make me happy.

Ingredients

This is basically a common sense issue, but it stands to reason that some asparagus that’s come over from Peru in the dead of winter is not going to taste as good as a freshly picked spear from Kent in May. If you’re confused about what’s in season when, there are tons of websites you can look at (my favourite being this one from River Cottage). Also make sure you’re buying the best you can afford of the everyday stuff. Value Cheddar isn’t going to be a patch on the mature farmhouse stuff. Although this works both ways – for example, cheap mozzarella is better than buffalo for pizzas – the buffalo goes watery – you want the rubbery brands for cooking, save the good stuff for eating raw.

Meat

This needs a whole post to itself really, but please please always buy the best meat you can afford. Battery farmed chickens, grown super quickly with hormones taste bland, slimy and dry. And then there’s all the welfare issues. Anyone who thinks chicken or pork are tasteless has obviously been buying the budget packs, and if you find your cottage pie or lasagne has a slightly rancid taste, it’s probably because you used cheap mince. With meat, you get what you pay for, so find your nearest Q-Guild butcher, and start up a beautiful relationship with him.

Beating

Don’t get too excited, I’m talking about with a whisk. As you know from my cake post, butter and sugar needs a lot of beating to realise its full potential, but beating is equally important for other puddings. For example, your meringues should be beaten to firm peaks before adding any sugar, and even then it should be added a tablespoon at a time, and the mixture beaten well in between each spoonful. It incorporates as much air as possible, and breaks the proteins down in the egg white so your meringue will be more stable while cooking. And if you think that sounds like too much effort, just think of all the good it’s doing your bingo wings…

 

 

 

 

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