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There is always something happening in supermarkets
- new products, product demonstrations, shelves reorganised
so you can't find anything. Not always interesting,
quite often boring and sometimes a chore but just occasionally
something catches your eye, something is interesting
. . .
HP Guinness Sauce
on the supermarket shelves this year I think this
is a real find. Works great as a sauce with sausages,
etc and works well in cooking. I used it in my Oriental
stir fry instead of something like soy sauce. Have
also used it to cook fish baked in foil . . . flavours
not bad but not sure if you want all your fish looking
the colour of smoked mackerel.
Someone said they wouldn't buy it because they hate
Guinness! You don't get the taste of Guinness but
the combination of all the ingredients combine to
make a unique and enjoyable taste. Like anything you
cook with alcohol, the alcohol doesn't stand out for
its own flavour but becomes part of the overall taste.
Haven't tried HP Guinness Sauce butties yet but I
am sure they would be equally as good as tomato sauce
And what did the launch publicity have to say about
this new product?
A smooth little number with a tangy flavour
Heinz is proud to present a truly unique
addition to the HP family.
Two iconic brands have collaborated to create
HP Sauce with Guinness - a distinctive, quality
sauce that combines the best of both brands to bring
your food to life. This exciting new sauce blends
the unique taste of the black stuff with the spicy,
familiar taste of HP resulting in a tantalising
blend of familiar flavours that fans of both will
Made with quality ingredients, HP Sauce with
Guinness is a perfect complement to sausages, adding
a delicious, rich and tangy taste to your everyday
banger butties. But banger butties are just the
beginning, as this tasty new sauce also lends itself
to a whole range of delicious mid week meals . .
And one of my favourite parts of the promotion is
the video featuring Phil Vickery (not the Chef):
Editorial note: This site is not
paid to promote HP products.
NOTE FROM TUSCANY
saw some lovely weather at the end of March even though
there was still some snow lingering on the tops of the
mountains. Lamb is starting to be on offer at the butchers
without having to order it and the neighbours are suffering
the start of the spring glut of fresh eggs, so lots
arriving on the windowsill to make Fritatas,
the Italian omelet made with blanched veg.
The big news at this time of year is the arrival
of lovely ripe oranges and lemons from the south, we
can get them all winter long but right now they are
at their most succulent with soft edible peel. Time
to make Insalata di Agrumi or Citrus Salad,
thinly sliced oranges, (and lemons if you want) fresh
red onion, with olives that will have been harvested
in late autumn then stored under brine.
It works fine as a side dish to roast chicken and
makes a nice contrast with baked fish. In some parts
of the Mediterranean including Sardinia it is used to
Insalata di Agrumi or Citrus Salad
4 - 6 oranges, depending on size
1 lemon (optional)
Black olives,(stoned if you can find them)
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh ground black pepper.
1 red onion, very fresh
How to make:
the oranges in half then with the flat side down
on the chopping board slice through a thinly as
you can. A sharp slicer works well too but not the
slicing disk on a food mixer as it tend to mash
them up. If you find the peel too tough or hard
to slice thinly you can peal the oranges first.
Discard both ends which are largely just pith.
the onion in a similar way.
oranges make the first layer on a large plate, then
the onions and finally the olives.
olive oil and black pepper over the top and a little
dish can be served right away but best left to sit
for half an hour.
makes an appetizer by adding some Greek Feta cheese.
OK I know it's not really Italian then but Sarah my
wife loves it, which is of course the equivalent to
a Royal Command.
and Brooke Martin learning to make Insalata
on an Italywithrelish
Cooking holiday in Cortona, Tuscany.
have been curing hams for hundreds of years, the practice
is even said to date back as far as Roman times. The
most common ham in Spain is the Serrano or Mountain
ham which accounts for around 93% of ham production
in the country.
How long the ham is cured for depends on its intended
grade or the preferred length of time the secadero
(curing house) prefers. The majority of Spanish Serrano
hams are cured for around a year, these are sometimes
called bodega hams or jamon curado
which basically means they are a ham which has been
hung for the minimum length of time required.
Higher grade hams which are cured for longer are
usually labeled reserva or grand reserva, again depending
on the time hung, any ham which is cured for more
than 14 months can be granted the reserva label. There
are however some secaderos that cure their hams for
22 24 months, these examples are typically
called Anejo meaning old. Anejo hams tend
to be large weighing in at anywhere between 9
11kg, the reason for this is that due to the curing
time the hams have to be large and plump initially
as they will lose up to 35% of their weight during
What about flavour?
Flavours do vary between hams and although subtle
to anyone but the connoisseur texture and aroma also
play an important role. As a general rule the longer
the ham is cured for the more intense the flavour,
anejo hams have real depth and go well with bossy
red wines, manchego cheese and fruit. Younger hams
are milder but still deliver good flavour and texture
and are ideal for tapas and also cooking in recipes
such Serrano ham croquettes, stuffed chicken or lightly
fried with poached egg.
Whichever ham you choose the flavour will be greatly
enhanced by carving your slices wafer thin, these
slices also need to rest at room temperature where
they will to sweat, it is at this point that your
Spanish ham is ready to be thoroughly enjoyed.
The first time I made this it was fascinating to
watch Grandma fighting with the kids for seconds!.
Amaretti Stuffed Peaches
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup sugar
6 ripe peaches, peeled, halved and pitted
12 amaretti biscuits, crushed
1 egg yolk, beaten
3 tbsp cream, whipped
How to make:
Boil the wine and sugar for 5 minutes to form a
the peach halves in the syrup for 5 more minutes,
then lift them out with a slotted spoon and let
the amaretti crumbs and egg yolk into the cream.
the peach halves with the cream mixture.
on a serving plate and pour the remaining wine syrup
OF THE MONTH
1 oz butter
2 med onions, chopped
200 g smoked lardons (or chopped smoked streaky
Medium green pepper, chopped
2 large carrots, diced
2 sticks celery finely sliced
2 large potatoes, diced
2 large courgettes, diced
4 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
3 pts vegetable stock
Salt and freshly ground pepper
How to make:
the butter in a large lidded saucepan, add the onions
and fry over a medium heat for 3 minutes.
lardons, green pepper, carrots, celery, potatoes,
courgettes and sweat over a low - medium heat for
about 10 minutes.
the stock, parsley and freshly ground pepper. I
recommended that you hold on the salt until the
end of cooking and then season to taste.
for 30 - 40 minutes or until the vegetables are
Whats the Big Curry all about?
The Soldiers Charity Big Curry is our month-long
flagship fundraiser that takes place every April.
Becoming a Big Curry host is an easy and social
way for people to raise money for soldiers, former
soldiers and their families. Being a Big Curry
host can be as simple as a beer and Balti with
friends or as adventurous as organising a Gala
The London Chocolate Festival is a celebration
of everything chocolate. Visitors can expect an
array of chocolate products such as chocolate
bars, truffles and bonbons, as well as chocolate
cakes, crepes with chocolate, hot chocolate and
even savoury food with chocolate. Some of the
best chocolatiers and chocolate companies regularly
exhibit at the festival, and this is a unique
opportunity to meet some of them in person. As
well as stands selling chocolate, there are also
special activities such as tutored tastings, chocolate
baking demonstrations, book signings and more.
Make the most of the short British Asparagus
season by visiting the British Asparagus Festival
held in teh Vale of Evesham. Discover an array
of ways to snack on the spear from asparagus ice-cream,
to asparagus cake and if you play your cards right
you may get to meet Gus, the Asparagus man.
8 oz / 225g strong white flour
1 level tsp salt
½ oz / 15g fresh yeast
¼ pt / 150ml warm milk*
¼ pt warm water*
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 tbsp cold water
1 egg white, lightly beaten
* It is important to have the right temperature
(40°C / 104°F) when mixing so that the mixture
will be warm enough for the yeast to start fermenting
quickly. If the temperature is too high it will
start to kill the yeast so it is best to use a thermometer
to gauge the temperature which must be no higher
than 43°C / 110°F.
the flour and salt together into a large bowl and
mix in the yeast.
the warm milk and warm water and pour into the bowl
with the flour.
the mixture vigorously for 5 minutes to achieve
a smooth batter, then cover and put in a warm place
for about 30 minutes or until the risen mixture
starts to drop.
the bicarbonate of soda in the cold water and beat
it into the batter.
fold in the beaten egg white to produce a thick
batter the consistency of whipping cream.
cook the Pikelets, lightly grease a griddle, hot
plate or heavy-based frying pan and heat until a
drop of the batter sizzles immediately on contact.
a full tablespoon of batter on to the hot surface
and cook until the top of the pikelet is no longer
pikelet over with a thin spatula or palette knife
and cook the other side until it is lightly browned.
either hot from the pan, or leave to cool then toast
To make crumpets:
Prepare the batter with 1 oz / 25g more flour
and cook the one side only , with the batter contained
in a greased 3 inch / 8cm ring on the cooking surface.
After cooking leave to cool and then serve toasted
Makes 12 Pikelets
MIXING BOWL . . . RANDOM BITS AND PIECES
This month's helpful idea comes from Chef James
Benson who runs Benson of Broadway . . . "Quality
catering across the Cotswolds and Midlands. We bring
the restaurant to you. A chef in your home."
"Can I sear a steak on the griddle and then
wait a few hours before finishing it in the oven - for
As Obama would say - "Yes you can!"
something I've been doing since a few months after
I started the business. Originally I used to take
the steaks raw and the grill pan and do them there.
Of course, soon I found that every time we did that
the smoke alarm in whatever house would go off straight
away - and this really ruins the party atmosphere.
So since then I sear them on the griddle pan in my
kitchen, blast chill them and keep them cool in the
fridge till they are ready to be packed and then transport
them in the refridgerated van. When we get to the
venue they just need to be finished in the oven for
about 12 to 15 minutes for medium fillet (slightly
less for rib eye if they are thinner) - normally put
them in the oven as we serve the starter. When done
to the desired 'doneness' you can take them
out of the oven to rest, then flash them back in the
oven before serving for 2 to 3 mins to re-heat.
If you are doing this is at home the advantage is,
as well as breaking the prep in two, you also have
a few hours for the smoky smell wafting through the
house to dissipate - much better when you are entertaining
If you don't have a blast chiller just let them cool
down (preferably on a cooling rack over a tray - this
collects any dripping blood) after searing on the
grill pan, then when cool you can refrigerate them.
Covered with cling film of course, and on the lowest
shelf in the fridge in case they drip blood over the
rest of the fridge contents.
Note - steak should be kept in the fridge till
needed after searing and cooling - you want to keep
your guests safe.