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Showing posts from 2012

Deep and crisp and even

I love the smell of the kitchen at Christmas and New Year. Heavy with the scent of cloves, cinnamon, ginger, sweet wine, golden syrup, orange peel and chocolate. Its so good it should be bottled and sold.
For me, the Christmas & New Year celebrations are the perfect time to prepare a few simple classics like chocolate truffles, biscotti and brandy snaps. I know brandy snaps can be a little fiddly, but once you have mastered the basics, they are really very easy to make. Just remember that once out of the oven the Brandy snap wafer is far too soft and delicate to curl, it needs to be left for about two to three minutes to start to firm up and become flexible. However, as the Brandy Snap wafer further cools it becomes hard and brittle, and within the next four to five minutes they become too brittle to curl, and they will break if you try. So there is only a small window of opportunity to curl them successfully. If they harden up, just pop them back the oven for a few moments and sta…

COOL AS A CUCUMBER

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Boring and bland? I don’t think so! Cucumbers are one of those special foods that have more uses than just culinary. A quick search turns up really useful things like firming up cellulite on skin, soothing dry, tired eyes, relieving sunburn and curing a hangover. I’m not sure if any of that is really true but what I do know for sure that in the kitchen, the wonderful crunchy texture and the refreshing cleanness of cucumber is a joy to work with, especially in summer as it is about 20% naturally cooler than other vegetables.

At their best, cucumbers have a bright, melony taste (cucumbers and melons are cousins) that is somewhere between fruity and vegetal, and they combine so well with an endless array of other ingredients from avocados, watermelon, tomatoes, melon and strawberries. Try simply slicing them

THE KING OF SPICES

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Pepper is a condiment that has been salt's partner on Western tables for hundreds of years. It adds a flavour of its own to dishes, as well as enhancing the taste of other ingredients.
The use of peppercorns is so common these days; it’s hard to believe it was once so valuable that it was used as currency. Sailors on the first ships to carry them were required to have their pockets sewn closed to prevent them from squirreling away any of the precious cargo. We may well take it for granted today, but the vast majority of savoury dishes include peppercorns in some form and they are ranked as the third most added ingredient to recipes, with water and salt leading the race.

SMALL PRICE, BIG FLAVOUR

Certain ingredients are so under-estimated that we seen to forget just how good they are when perfectly fresh and cooked with a little care and attention.
This week I wandered around the fish market and noticed that little by little, as we move into the high season, fresh fish prices are starting to escalate. It’s getting harder and harder to find a bargain, but there are a few exceptions that are big on flavour and come with a small price tag. One such ingredient is Mackerel. I know they sometimes get a bit of bad press, but for me they are always a real treat. Mackerel is a firmed fleshed, oily fish, very flavoursome and moist with a tender flesh. It has a distinctive silver-blue skin with dark bands and a

MY PERFECT COUSIN

Summer is the season when nature finally displays all its richness with a full array of colours & ripeness. The shyness of spring has turned into an overwhelming choice and abundance of fruit and sun-drenched vegetables bursting with flavours and vivid colours. The fresh fruit on the market stalls looked really awesome this week and the selection was truly inspiring. With luscious strawberries, stunning looking cherries, thirst quenching melons, the season’s first figs, apricots, plums, peaches and succulent nectarines all jostling for position as the stars of the show…
Sweeter than it’s first cousin, the peach, and darker fleshed; nectarines are a sweet, juicy treat that is virtually fat free and a good

…”LET THE SUNSHINE IN”

The warmth of the sun is irreplaceable, longed for in the depths of winter, it’s the only thing that, for all our technology, we cannot buy on the shelf. And when sun is shining, what we really need is light, refreshing and delicious food. Recipes that don’t require too much effort and hours in the kitchen
And as we move towards summer, produce is at its peak. Delicious fruits and vegetables abound at local markets and besides being low in calories, loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, you’ll be thrilled at how fresh, delicious, and satisfying it all tastes. Here are a few of my essential sunshine ingredients:
Watermelon -Natures Ice lolly has more than 80 percent water, so it’s an excellent way to satisfy your thirst and keep you hydrated during long summer days. Chilled soups –These are also the perfect appetizers to start your meal. Gazpachos are wonderful thirst-quenching, liquid salads, made with fresh, raw vegetables and ripe tomatoes; they are the perfect thin…

KITCHEN BASICS- CHOUX PASTRY

Some dessert connoisseurs may try to argue that Pâte choux is the ultimate, French, classic Pastry recipe.
For me, there is no doubt that Choux pastry is one of the lightest, crispiest pastries around, it's also so versatile and can be used in so many different ways both sweet and savoury. For some reason, it has a reputation for being difficult to master, but in fact it’s so easy once you know the proper technique its almost child's play. A pre-heated hot oven is essential to rise and set the choux and if you take it out of the oven before it’s cooked thoroughly it will collapse. Any filling should not be added until the last possible moment because it will make the choux pastry sag.
It’s made with plain flour, salt, butter, eggs, milk and a little sugar (if it’s being used for a sweet dish). Instead of a raising agent, choux pastry is puffed up by steam. It is used to make wonderful profiteroles, éclairs and forms the basis of the dramatic classic French dessert Gâteau St Hon…

SLEEP ON IT-One of the simplest ways to flavour food is to marinate it.

There are certain ingredients that you almost have to treat like a sponge. Take a simple, insipid chicken breast for example; it can be totally transformed with the addition of a few herbs & spices and a couple of hours marinating before being cooked.

Although the main purpose of marinating is to add flavour, in some cases it can also help to tenderise meat, chicken and fish. Marinades can even be used on some vegetables, including aubergines, courgettes and artichokes. Part of the trick is to plan ahead so your food has time to absorb the flavours. The best way to do this is to marinate the night before and sleep on it.


Most marinades combine an acid, like lemon