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Fusion or confusion?

--> I spent a little time in the company of Silvia Anglada recently.
Her restaurant, Es Tast de na Silvia is the certified epicentre of Slow Food in the Balearic Islands, located in Cuitadella (Menorca). As I watched her cooking and explaining her philosophy, I soon realised that Silvia is incredibly passionate about the food we eat, where it comes from and how it is grown. She has been at the forefront of the slow food movement in Spain over the last few years and her restaurant promotes the use of locally produced, seasonal, biodynamic foods. She believes deeply in a reconnection with the lost rhythms of nature, the traditions of the past and working the land. She also believes in producing and eating great, local food in a relaxed, sociable way and wastes absolutely nothing from any of her ingredients in the kitchen…her delicious dessert was flavoured with juice from the “inedible” skins of broad beans!

Wild Asparagus time in Mallorca

Wild asparagus or “Ttrigueros” as they are known here in Spain, grow all over the Island of Mallorca in March and April.  The locals spend hours scouring the fields and roadsides filling their baskets with them. 
Growing wild throughout the Mediterranean, the Romans are believed to have been the first to domesticate asparagus. After the fall of the Roman Empire, asparagus was cultivated in their monastery gardens, along with medicinal herbs. Cultivated for more the 2000 years, asparagus will grow wherever it can find a good footing. Wild Asparagus loves secluded hedgerows and undisturbed country roads. When choosing asparagus, look for firm, brightly- coloured spears with tight, crisp tips. (Very large stalks tend to come from older plants and can be tough.). If the stalks bend without breaking it’s a good sign that they have definitely seen better days. Asparagus is usually boiled or steamed, but can be grilled or roasted for a different, slightly nutty flavour. There is a special aspa…

FOOD TRENDS FOR FOOD NERDS

-->One of the biggest food trends for 2018 is the fermentation of foods. From Asia’s top chefs refining age-old recipes of kimchi, miso and fermented tofu to artisan producers around the world making craft beers, all-natural sourdough bread, or the finest organic chocolate, to “food nerds” experimenting with bubbling jars of kombucha, fermented food is growing in fame and finding its way into the repertoires of the worlds top chefs in restaurants all over the planet. Yes my friends, sauerkraut is now sexy!
I think the growing interest in fermenting is tied to a bigger food movement that is concerned with the provenance of food … people want to know the story of what they eat. In the past, all food had a story – where the berries were picked, how, when, where and what was hunted. Over time, supermarkets have made us lose our connection with food. I believe people are now looking for more variety and individuality in their food as most mass-produced food is aimed at the lowest common…

"The Rolls Royce of Rice."

As a chef, I’m more than a little obsessive about finding the best ingredients for my kitchen; I also believe that we as cooks have a duty to really get to know and understand where those ingredients come from, how they are made and why they are so special.
One of the ingredients that I’m obsessing about right now is Acquerello rice. It’s organic, aged Italian carnaroli rice. That's right, aged! It is grown using a crop rotation system and is the only rice variety sown on the farm, to avoid the possibility of inadvertent hybridisation with other varieties. After the harvest, the grains of Acquerello carnaroli are aged from one to three years, a process which, by allowing the rice to “breathe”, optimising its qualities and characteristics. Aging renders starch, proteins and vitamins less water-soluble, improving the consistency of the grains and enabling them to absorb more cooking liquid. When cooked, the grains become bigger, firmer, do not

Turn the other cheek

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At our restaurant, we love to slow cook delicious, tender beef cheeks until they practically melt in your mouth. They are consistently popular with our guests; especially during the winter months when there is a little chill in the air. I would argue that stewing and braising are the quintessence of good home cooking. Rich comfort food with robust flavours in the shape of pot roasts, casseroles, hot pots and stews, cooked slowly to create memorable dishes that are not only delicious but also economical.
There is a myth that slow cooking is a lot of bother and takes too much time. The reality is that braising can be quick and easy to produce, leaving you time to get on with other things while the meat is cooking and tempting you with all those fabulous aromas that float around the kitchen.

SPICED CHICKPEA & SPINACH PATTIES WITH HARRISA MAYONNAISE

Ingredientsserves 4
400g cooked chickpeas, drained 150g spinach, cleaned and chopped 1 tbsp ras el hanout 1 large egg yolk 2 tbsp Gram chickpea flour, plus extra for dusting Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

SOUL FOOD

--> When it's cold outside and the rain is lashing against the windows we tend to look to uncomplicated comfort foods, certain dishes that can be easily made from simple ingredients to warm our souls and sooth our cold bones. If you are looking for a little comfort during the long winter nights, there’s nothing more satisfying than a big bowl of steaming hot soup.

For most of us, soup represents nourishment, healing and comfort and the secret to good soup is to make the perfect stock.
Stocks need a little care and attention but if you follow these basic rules, you’ll be rewarded with clear-looking, healthy broths with flavours that are true and clean. For a simple chicken stock, place 2 clean chicken carcasses in a large saucepan and cover them with cold water. Bring the stock slowly to the boil and skim the impurities and fat from the surface as they rise to the top. Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer. Add 2 small diced onions, 2 crushed garlic cloves, 2 sliced carrots…