Saturday, 23 July 2016

July 2016 Favourites List



Visiting Liverpool on a Beatles pilgrimage was a lot of fun. I went on a surprise trip organised by Him Indoors, my long suffering partner and hubby. It was a treat for me, as he knows how much I love the Beatles. Whilst I knew some of the story of the Beatles, I did not realise how humble their beginnings truly were. Seeing their childhood homes, schools, and stomping ground was fascinating, eye opening and touching.

Also fascinating was, that despite conquering the world and having global superstardom of a kind which was rarely attained in the 1960s, they remained grounded by Liverpool. They continued to live in the city, maintaining their friendships and family relationships.

The Beatles were the first big band to obviously come from “The North”. Back in a time when the only accents heard on British television were generally upper/middle class southern accents, they were a breath of fresh air. They provided inspiration to young people all around the country that ordinary people with talent could make it. Their cheeky charm and ready wit made them likeable and accessible.

Many places in the Beatles’ Liverpool featured in their songs, as did characters from their local area, both real and imagined. Somehow, seeing the places brings the songs to life just a little bit more.

Last month, I reflected on the 400th Anniversary of the passing of William Shakespeare, the father of English literate. So it seems appropriate this month to reflect on the greatest band of all time, England’s very own Beatles. Their songs are so well known, and they are so much a part of our culture, it is easy to overlook how important, influential and how damn good they actually were.

So I’m sharing my pictures of the Beatles’ homes in Liverpool. And I ask you to rediscover their greatness by revisiting their music.

On to this month’s favourite things…

Arnold Grove, George Harrison's childhood home

Recipes:

What's good for the goose, right? Some lovely ideas for using gooseberries this Summer. Sour, sharp, sweet, delicious! 

Here's some fresh inspiration for your barbeque cooking - Beef picanha with lemon verbena herby chimmichurri.

Marinaded beef steak in a soft taco... traditional Mexican cooking. https://food52.com/recipes/57201-skirt-steak-asada-tacos

Forthlin Road, Paul McCartney's childhood home

A fancy spicy lamb chops with gravy? Mr Todiwala, that sounds ace!
http://www.bbc.co.uk/…/recip…/parsee-style_lamb_cutlet_13755

Gently cooked sea bass in a coconut and chilli sauce, Brazilian style from the brilliant Diana Henry: 

New potatoes, especially Jersey Royals are a Summer treat! Here is a Spanish style pork chop recipe with garlic, paprika, fennel seeds and parsley with some anchovy stuffed olives: http://www.deliciousmagazine.co.uk/recipes/spanish-style-pork-chops-with-new-potatoes-and-olives/

Mendips, John Lennon's childhood home (with Aunt Mimi)

Blue plaque for John at Mendips

Nepalese Cardamom chicken recipe from Karen Burns Booth:

5 Summer recipes from Nigel Slater: Roast chicken, mango and ginger salad, Roast lamb with za’atar and broad bean freekeh, Roast courgette, herb labneh, Pistachio and lemon thyme biscuits (for serving with ripe soft cherries), Chilled rice, apricot compote and sesame: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/jun/19/5-nigel-slater-recipes-for-early-summer

Wholegrain pearled farro in a salad with courgette ribbons and toasted hazlenuts: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/food-and-drink/recipes/courgette-and-farro-salad-with-toasted-hazelnuts/

Admiral Street, Ringo Starr's 2nd childhood home

Articles/Know How:


Review of Cyrus Todiwala's new cookbook. Be brave with spice, you won't regret it! http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/spice-up-your-cooking-a7131226.html

Film:

Trumbo

Spotlight







Please note: as with every monthly Favourites List, all of these items have been selected by me simply because I love them. I do not receive any money, benefits in kind or other incentive for posting these links or recommendations.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

June 2016 Favourites List

The Summer Solstice has happened here in the UK, we hoped for much this Midsummer's Night, but received precious little magic and even less sunshine. The Great British Summer is late in arriving, and we wait with baited breath...

The Summer Solstice was a time for magic and mayhem, hence William Shakespeare's famous comedy involving two mortal couples and their trials and tribulations in love as the Fairy King and Queen play games at their expense. 2016 is the 400th year of the passing of the Bard of Avon, which has led to to we Brits to reflect.

You will note that of my favourite TV shows for the month I have chosen two comedies inspired by and featuring Will Shakespeare. Upstart Crow represents a return to sitcom writing form by Ben Elton, his best work since Blackadder II to Blackadder Goes Forth, with the dream combination of Peep Show's David Mitchell as the working class bard and Liza Tarbuck as his good missus Anne Hathaway (yes, really, that WAS her name). Why Upstart Crow? Because the learned, established arts community did not want to accept the son of a glove maker into their ranks. Cunk on Shakespeare, my other choice, is the intentionally hilarious mock-documentary as historian, intellectual and cultural commentator Philomena Cunk takes a "journey" into the world of Will. 

My pictures this month are not of Elizabethan printing presses, only because no self respecting museum was going to let me gawk around with my camera taking pictures. And unlike Philomena Cunk, I was unlikely to be allowed to handle Shakespeare's First Folio, white gloves or no gloves. 

So instead I've gone for some heritage technology from the 1940s to 1960s. The days when early plastics made cutting edge technologies affordable through mass production. It seems amazing these days when a mobile phone with telephone capabilities, a video camera combined with stills camera, a computer and the power to connect to the internet can fit in the palm of your hand that these were the beginnings of those technologies. But I think they're rather stylish and we should never forget how we got from there to here.  

 
And now I will leave you to dip into this month's lovely stuff which I've collected together for you.

Recipes:


Black pepper steak stir fry recipe by "Big Spud" (AKA Gary Fenn):
http://bigspud.co.uk/recipes/black-pepper-steak-stir-fry/

A creamy lamb shank and shoulder soup with dill, Greek "Easter" soup: http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Greek-Easter-Soup

I only got converted to broccoli as an adult. It is high in vitamin C and calcium and obviously full of fibre. This pasta dish is quick and simple, full of lovely ingredients like Dolcelatte and walnuts!

Herby rice, Persian style, would be great with fish. Din Dins Kitchen on Grays Inn Road do a similar rice dish. 

Quick easy Indian street food snack, vegetarian friendly and full of fibre and protein. http://maunikagowardhan.co.uk/cook-in-a-curry/tamilian-channa-sundal-chickpeas-tossed-in-curry-leaves-chillies-and-mustard-seeds/

 Pistachio and rocket pesto sounds pretty cool to me - looking forward to giving this a go very soon! http://www.tastyeasylamb.co.uk/Recipes/grilled-lamb-steaks-with-pistachio-and-rocket-pesto

 An overnight marinaded roast chicken - one to start on Saturday for Sunday lunch! http://www.greatitalianchefs.com/recipes/roast-lemon-chicken-recipe

A sly way of using those rock hard avocados you sometimes end up with - avo pickles!

 Recently I've been messing around with new twists on Shepherd's Pie. This carrot mash topped version by Nigel Slater looks excellent!

An alternative Tabbouleh recipe: one made from quinoa. http://www.aforkstale.com/quinoa-tabouli-recipe/

Fish is for Friday - how about this archive recipe from Kavita of Kavey Eats? http://www.kaveyeats.com/2014/02/baked-chorizo-cod-potatoes.html
 
A squid "Pad Thai" style dish from Leon restaurants' new salads book: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/jun/13/recipes-from-leon-thai-squid-salad



Articles/Know How:

Three London restaurants make top 50, with six in the top 100. The Ledbury, Clove Club, Dinner, Hedone, Lyle's and St John make the list. http://www.standard.co.uk/goingout/restaurants/world-s-50-best-restaurant-awards-three-london-restaurants-make-the-list-a3270786.html

Useful guide to how long you can store certain produce: 

I am currently growing some Cyprus mint from off cuts of a bunch bought. I wonder how many of these really work - time to experiment! The food items you can regrow from scraps:


What you might have missed at Snig's Kitchen:

London Produce Show 2016, my observations of brilliant new fruit and veg products with an account of my experience of a special session for press and media. 

Small production, craft beer, super pizza, great fun menu. A fab place for evenings out in South East London!

My other writings:

Employment rights: An unseen iceberg in the Brexit debate: http://www.solicitorsjournal.com/comment/employment-rights-unseen-iceberg-brexit-debate

Employment rights - the neglected issue or elephant in the room in the EU referendum discussion: https://www.city.ac.uk/news/2016/may/employment-rights-the-elephant-in-the-room-in-the-brexit-debate 

The Queen Is Dead by The Smiths; 30 years on: http://snigskitchen.tumblr.com/post/146314674099/the-queen-is-dead-by-the-smiths-celebrates-its (originally posted here: http://johnnymarrvellous.com/tqid/tqid-051.php,  Graphic design and layout by Aly Stevenson and Ory Englander.)

TV:

Upstart Crow

Cunk on Shakespeare

The Night Manager

Music:

The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead

The Beatles - Revolver

The Beatles - Rubber Soul

The Beatles - Beatles For Sale

Please note: as with every monthly Favourites List, all of these items have been selected by me simply because I love them. I do not receive any money, benefits in kind or other incentive for posting these links or recommendations.


Monday, 13 June 2016

London Produce Show 2016

London's Grosvenor House Hotel was the host for this year's London Produce Show 2016, a place where both British and international fruit and vegetables were brought together in a celebration of food, drink, cooking in and eating out. 


I was invited by the organisers to check the show out and to attend their media masterclass of food issues and cooking. Feeling I had a real opportunity to see what's good, what's new andwhere the next big thing may be coming from, I couldn't resist. 


I began by watching a cooking demonstration by Chef Michael Dutnall MCA, who showed us how to cook an asparagus, scallop and broad bean risotto. 


This was no ordinary risotto, despite being cooked initially by the conventional method. 


What was unique was that it was topped with luxurious scallop roe and the scallops themselves were pan fried, rather than cooked in the risotto itself. This helps to maintain their texture and avoid overcooking, as well as give them a little toasted caramelisation. Decked with a parmesan crisp, the merest wafer thin cheesy crispy biscuit, the dish was a superb mix of flavours, textures and cooking techniques. 


Next up were Toast Ales. One key message of the show this year is the need for everyone to avoid food waste. A message I believe in strongly, having been brought up never to waste food. Very fitting given the problems of food distribution and starvation which exist in the world.

Toast Ales are a brilliant business who take all the wasted bread from supermarket sandwich operations, sandwich and lunch outlets and delis and use that raw material to brew a wonderful 5% amber pale ale. 


Brewed in London's Hackney, this beer addresses some of the awful waste created as a result of retailers' desire in providing perfectly square sandwiches. I bet you have, at home, made sandwiches which weren't totally square - curves, angles, dips. Did we complain? No! So why should 4 slices of bread be wasted AT EACH END of a loaf of bread (yes, that's 8 slices per loaf) to give us square sandwiches? This beer is an answer to a major conundrum. One slice of bread makes one bottle of ale.

Next was Love Beets new products showcasing the much maligned beetroot. I used to believe that I didn't like beetroot. Those jars of pickled beetroot, despite my intense taste for the sour, didn't appeal to me. I thought this was a dislike for the beetroot itself. I have since discovered that my distaste was for the spirit vinegar used for pickling. 


Love Beets make two Beetroot juice drinks, one plain and unadorned, the other flavoured with forest fruit red berries, providing a vegetable high in antioxidants. The plain beetroot juice is for those with very savoury tastes, and I enjoyed this drink a lot. The berry and cherry blend is sweeter and more mainstream in its appeal. Currently available in health shops, this is a very good product which should be more generally available. 



Another producer who caught my eye was Neame Lea Nursery from Spalding, Lincolnshire. This nursery intially specialised in flowers and bedding plants. However, their passion for plants has now crossed over into some wonderful culinary produce. 

The pea shoots "windowsill" pack is a product I hope to see available soon. Fantastically designed for the reality of urban foodies and their lives, the pack is compact, but packed with a good density of young pea plants, in a small tray which will fit on a kitchen windowsill. Easy to care for, to water and pick from, its a way of achieving a little bit of cheffy cooking at home!

 

Another of their products which I hope will be up and coming are their "microgreens". 


These sprouted seedlings bring out the intense flavour of an obvious aromatic such as basil, but also less expected plants; beet (beetroot) and radish. The combination with the more neutral, leafy sunflower seedlings is balanced and full of fibre and nutrients. A great base for salads. 



My next fascinating discovery was The Sweet Potato Spirit Company. They make a colourful range of handmade, small production distilled spirits and liqueurs from sweet potatoes in Evesham, Worcestershire. 
 

This selection of highly innovative booze will appeal to a very wide range of drinkers. The beautifully red raspberry liqueur is slightly sweet, and to my mind perfect for making Summer sunshine Kir style cocktails with sparkling wine. Think a Bellini, with a raspberry liqueur base. The Moonshine packs a punch, which will appeal to whisky drinkers. The Spiced Rum is strong, for dark rum lovers. The Orangecello is an orangey spin on Limoncello, sweet, citrus, lightly fruity. Great for Christmas celebrations, as we embrace more varied traditions for the Festive Season. Currently available online and for sale in Harrod's, this is a quality, single distilled product which is worth searching out. 

After exploring the show, I had the chance to attend an event for media and press. First up was Tristram Stuart of Feedback, whose mission is to cut food waste. Tristram obviously wanted us all as individuals to waste less food; it makes no financial sense for UK homes to throw away unused food. However, his message was more far reaching and radical. 


One of the major causes of food waste is not home consumers. It is, in fact, the large retailers who make demands for produce to confirm to certain standards and reject tons of perfectly good produce every day for non-compliance. One example he gave was two tons of parsnips which were thrown away because of their size and shape. Surely they could have been made into soup, I asked myself? Why bin the lot?

I agreed with his message and mission. Do we really need all of our French beans to be of a certain length so that they fit into a pre-moulded plastic tray? Why should Kenyan farmers lose revenue because the big supermarkets have an inflexible view of what is acceptable? 

Next was Oli Blanc. If any of you know anyone with small children, chances are you know how hard it is to get them to eat fruit and veg.


Oli wants to change that and intends to do so using the medium that children know and understand - a smartphone or tablet app! Henri Le Worm is his creation, a French food loving worm (which Oli admits is based on his father, Chef Raymond Blanc!) who just loves to make wonderful food using fresh fruits and vegetables. Using games, music and beautifully colourful visuals, Henri and his family and friends will entertain and educate children.


Voiced by the inimitable and wonderful Simon Pegg (I am a big fan of Spaced!), Henri Le Worm is a joyous creation, underpinned by careful research and sound methodology. 

This was followed by the final treat, a cooking masterclass and 3 course meal cooked by Dick Middelweerd of iconic double Michelin starred restaurant Treeswijkhoeve. 


Dick was passionate about Dutch produce, its variety and quality. His three course vegetarian meal sought to highlight the best products and cooking/preparation techniques which can be used to create amazing results. 

Sweet and sour snack tomatoes with creamy Ruurhoeve cheese, basil oil and striped aubergine compote


This modest photograph does not do this tangy and refreshing dish justice. The vinegar-reduction marinated tomatoes were a mix of fruity, sweet and sour whilst keeping their integrity. The creamy, emulsified cheese was indulgent, a great contrast to the tomato. The basil oil highly intense in herbal flavours. The baked aubergine compote was soft and yielding, bringing all the other elements of the dish together. 

Terrine of Westland Vegetables with roasted sweet Palermo pepper puree and juice of Salatrio root ball lettuce


This carefully layered terrine was made from roasted aubergine, roasted peppers, sliced courgette and peeled roasted tomatoes. Each vegetable is prepared and cooked separately, and then the terrine is built with layers of gelatine. The roasted sweet Palermo pepper cream is vibrant and flavourful, enhanced with paprika. The lettuce juice made from a pack of lettuces (three different types) sold with the roots attached for freshness, with cucumber and sushi vinegar is fresh, vibrant and full of chlorophyll flavours.

For the next dish, we had a few unexpected ingredients. The first were roasted yellow beetroots. Maybe you have seen these before, but they were new to me. Roasted low and slow for 6 hours, these beets were sweet and soft and a different planet from sour pickled beetroot which puts so many of us off this vegetable.


The other unexpected ingredient was "popcorn shoots". These were early shoots of sweetcorn plants, grown without much light, in the same way as beansprouts. The sweet and easy to eat shoots are great for salads.


BBQ Beets with pineberries, goat's cheese and red pearl barley


This gorgeous, colourful dish was put together from yellow, red and white roasted beetroots. At the top of the dish is an audacious beet meringue made from egg white and purple beetroot juice stuffed with goat's cheese cream (coloured and flavoured with pineberry and purple beetroot juice). Pearl barley cooked in beetroot juice and seasoned with lime, white balsamic vinegar and horseradish provides substance with intense flavour. Cute pale pineberries give sweetness and freshness to the cooked elements. A beautiful dish for the eyes and the tongue and a great expression of what Treeswijkhoeve are trying to achieve with innovative ingredients and cooking techniques. 

The London Produce Show was an eye opening look at what I hope will be some new trends and products to become more available in the months to come. Treeswijkhoeve are a restaurant I would love to visit one day.

Snigdha attended the London Produce Show 2016 as a guest of the organisers. I thank them for inviting me. Snigdha has not received any incentive, financial or otherwise for posting this review, which represents my honest impressions and opinion.