NEWSLETTER - AUGUST 2011
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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
. . .
Squeeze & Stir
How popular is cup-a-soup? I would think there are
few kitchen cupboards that do not have a packet or
two, especially with teenagers who are too lazy to
do much food preparation. In case you are unfamiliar
with it cup-a-soup is an instant soup product sold
in a powdered/dehydrated form contained in a sachet.
The soup is made by putting the contents of the sachet
into a mug or cup, filling the mug with boiling water
and stirring the mixture.
Cup-a-Soup is actually a brand name for Batchelors
Cup-a-Soup (in the UK) but has entered the language
as the term for any similar soup, much like words
such as Google and Hoover have done.
As far as I am aware Heinz have never been involved
in marketing such instant soups but the company's
soup sales must have declined over the years as a
result of instant soups. It would appear that Heinz
is looking to fight back through this new product,
Heinz Squeeze & Stir.
This is how Heinz describes the new soups:
A range of rich instant cup soups, perfect as a
snack or with a sandwich. Available in four tasty
flavours, including the nation's favourite Cream
of Tomato. Each recipe is made from a concentrated
puree to give you a thick and delicious cup soup,
simply add boiling water, stir and enjoy. Guess
what? Each recipe also counts as 1 of your 5 a day,
is low in fat and has no artificial colours, flavours,
preservatives or MSG. 'Real soup goodness, in an
I tried two flavours, "the nation's favourite
Cream of Tomato" and Cream of Tomato with Basil
(I don't like Minestrone nor vegetable soups)
and I have to say they tasted good. I am not a great
fan of instant packet soups as there seems something
unnatural about dehydrated foods and what might be
are simple to make. You just rip off the top and,
as the title suggests, squeeze the contents into a
mug. The first time I made it I measured the water
quantities but decided this was a bad idea as no-one
eating soup like this has got the time to be fiddling
around with water measuring. It is simpler (using
a standard size mug) just to squeeze the soup into
the mug, add enough boiling water to enable you to
mix the water and paste until it is smooth, then top
up with more boiling water. The mug does not want
to be full to the top as this will it watery and lose
some of the flavour but if you get it right you will
have a tasty soup and, if the description is right,
one that "is low in fat and has no artificial
colours, flavours, preservatives or MSG".
[MSG is Monosodium glutamate, also known as
sodium glutamate, is a salt used as a flavour enhancer.
There are health concerns about the use of monosodium
glutamate in food but little proof that they are
justified. MSG is a sodium salt of glutamic acid
which is a natural constituent of many fermented
or aged foods, including soy sauce, fermented bean
paste, and cheese, and is also a component of hydrolysed
protein such as yeast extract. If something can
naturally occur in food should it be regarded as
My conclusion was that the Squeeze & Stir products
were good, especially for those needing something
in a hurry and not having a saucepan available to
heat up a tin of soup. The two I tried tasted as you
would expect them to (like the Heinz tinned soups).
The question is will the catch on? I doubt it because
the instant dehyrdated/powder soups are so firmly
fixed in people's minds when it comes to this sort
of thing and it does seem a bit more fiddly than just
ripping open a packet, adding the water and a quick
stir. On top of that will enough supermarkets stock
it in a prominent position long enough for it to gain
a customer following.
Conclusion is it will not be around in twelve months
time but nice product.
Editorial note: This site is not
paid to promote any of the products or places featured
in this newsletter.
THE GOOD LIFE IN SPAIN
fire roasted peppers
Char Grilled Vegetables
Char grilled vegetables are a firm favourite in Andalucia
during the summer months, translated as escalivada
this side dish is served cold usually with meat such
as barbequed chicken or pork. We first learned about
this recipe whilst enjoying a barbeque with our Spanish
neighbours, the vegetables were prepared the day before
and left in the kitchen to cool overnight ready for
peeling the next day.
Spanish char drilled vegetables are very easy to
make although you have to allow a couple of hours
for the vegetables to cool, if you are planning a
relaxing summers weekend cooking outdoors then this
delicious recipe is perfect and packs a real Mediterranean
The ingredients for escalivada are simple
onions, tomatoes and red bell peppers, this recipe
is also a great way of using up those peppers and
tomatoes that are looking a bit tired in the back
of the fridge. The golden rule is a layer of hot coals
on the barbeque (wood fired barbeques are best for
the smokey flavour), once the barbeque is generating
some serious heat add the onions to the grill, the
onions always go on first as they take the longest
to cook, peppers and tomatoes follow when the onions
become soft. Barbequing the vegetables is simple,
they just need to be turned every five minutes or
so, peppers should turn jet black and the tomatoes
soften until the skins begin to fall away. Cooking
medium sized onions will take around half and hour
with the peppers and tomatoes being ready in less
than 10 minutes.
When the vegetables are done remove them from the
barbeque and wrap them in good old fashioned newspaper
an Andalucian trick that makes them easier
to peel. Leave wrapped up for a couple of hours or
until cool enough to handle. Now for the messy part
peel the vegetables by hand, they do not have to be
completely clean, in fact some burnt pepper skin adds
to the whole flavour. Once peeled it is then a simple
process of chopping the veg into strips and pieces,
scissors work well for this. Once fully cooled mix
together in a bowl and place in the fridge.
For serving your Spanish escalivada the vegetables
need a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
and some fresh bread kept handy for mopping up the
juices. Escalivada is a great side dish and very aromatic
whilst cooking over the hot coals, it may take a few
hours to make but the recipe is simple and most definitely
worth the wait! You can of course make this recipe
using only red peppers, fire roasted peppers have
a sweetness that will compliment a whole range of
barbequed meats as well as being a tasty ingredient
for salads. Roasted peppers also go well with sliced
Spanish ham or other cured meats such as lomo pork
tenderloin balancing the light salty flavour with
a sweet hint of barbequed pepper, add a spicy olive
oil for delicious Spanish tapas. Escalivada will keep
refrigerated for up to three days but by far the best
way to enjoy is to eat within 24 hours and serve with
your chosen meats. Happy barbequing!
Ingredients Direct from Spain >>>
TO MAKE RECIPES . . . CUTTING
curry recipes call for a lot of spices which can be
a bit daunting when first trying to cook a curry. This
recipe is a lot simpler but will still taste delicious.
5 tbsps oil for frying
1.5kg braising steak, cubed (not too small because
of the long cooking time needed to thicken the sauce)
800g red pepper, chopped
450g onions, chopped
12 cloves of garlic, crushed
3 in (7.5mm) ginger, peeled and grated
900g skinned tomatoes (or 3 cans)
1 tbsp Madras curry powder
2 level tsp salt
3 heaped tbsp sage
5 heaped tbsp parsley
How to make:
the oil in a large pan and fry the onions and peppers
a slotted spoon remove the onion and pepper to a
blender and liquidize until very smooth.
the garlic and ginger for 1 minute in the remaining
oil in the pan, (low to medium heat - don't burn!)
add curry powder and fry for another minute.
the onion and pepper paste and stir well.
the meat and bring to the boil.
the tomatoes and add to the pan together with the
salt and herbs.
on a moderately low gas, without a lid, until really
tender (probably 2 - 3 hours depending on how tender
the meat is, although the longer cooking time does
produce a more intense sauce).
Do keep your eye on the curry during cooking.
You want a nice thick sauce at the end, but if you
find the sauce is reducing too fast you can put
a lid on to prevent further evaporation.
with plain boiled rice or pilau rice and perhaps
a vegetable side dish if you really want to impress.
recipe freezes well so you can make a batch and freeze
it in individual portions until needed
Portobello Mushrooms are pretty much available all
year round in the supermarkets, but if you can find
some that have been locally picked at this time of year
then they have an extra autumnal character, making a
humble soup into a special seasonal treat. This recipe
comes from www.salamandercookshop.com.
½ a medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
40g plain flour
900ml hot chicken stock
450g Portobello Mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
100ml single cream
salt and pepper
a large knob of butter in a frying pan and gently
cook the onion and garlic until softened, covering
the pan so they dont brown.
the flour and cook gently for a minute or so,
stirring all the time.
the stock gradually, continuing to stir.
all but a large handful of the mushrooms, and
parsley and cover.
to the boil and then simmer for about 15 minutes
until the mushrooms and onions are tender.
Leave to cool a bit and then liquidise.
the remaining mushrooms in another knob of butter
until they start to brown and add them to the
gently for another 5 minutes.
the cream and season to taste.
/ 18th September La Hogue Producer Fayre
Hogue farm is holding its 6th annual Producer Fayre
on Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th of September 2011,
which has now grown into one of the largest food
festivals in East Anglia.
60 producers, including many from Suffolk, will
be offering free tastings of their products together
with information on how they are produced. The producers
include local meat and game farms, bee-keepers,
fishermen, quail producers, cheese producers and
fayre takes place between 10.00am and 4.00pm both
days and entry is FREE.
years special guest is BBC Masterchef finalist,
Dr Tim Kinnaird.
For directions: www.lahogue.co.uk
SCHOOLS TAUGHT DOMESTIC SCIENCE
for Lemon Meringue Pie
Pastry for flan case:
6 ozs plain flour
4 ozs margarine
1 1/2 desert spoons water
Pinch of salt
Filling and topping:
4 level tablespoons cornflour
Grated rind and juice of one lemon
Half pint water
8 ozs caster sugar
1 oz margarine
to make Lemon Meringue Pie
the oven to 190°C / Gas Mark 5
the flour and salt into a mixing bowl and rub in
the margarine until the mixture looks like fine
breadcrumbs. Mix in the water to form a firm dough.
in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
out the pastry into a large circle big enough to
fit a 7 inch flan ring. Ease the pastry into the
flan ring and press smoothly round the side and
bottom. Cut off the surplus pastry with a sharp
the inside of the pastry case with some greaseproof
paper and then fill with baking beans.
in preheated oven for 15 minutes and then remove
the baking beans and the paper and return to the
oven to bake for a further 15 to 20 minutes.
from the oven and leave to cool.
the cornflour with a little water to make a smooth
the remaining water and margarine into a medium-sized
saucepan and bring to the boil. Pour over the blended
cornflour and stir well. Return to the saucepan
and cook for 3 minutes stirring continuously.
from the heat and stir in the rind and juice of
the lemon together with 4 ozs of the caster sugar.
the egg yolks from the whites and stir the yolks
into the cold lemon mixture. Pour the mixture into
the flan case.
the egg whites until they stand up in stiff points
when the when the risk is lifted out quickly.
2 ozs caster sugar gradually and whisk again until
it is as stiff as before.
in the remaining 2 ounces caster sugar with a metal
the meringue mixture roughly over the lemon filling
so that it is completely covered.
in the middle of a preheated oven for 25 minutes
at 150 °C / Gas Mark 2 and then leave to cool
MIXING BOWL . . . RANDOM BITS AND PIECES
should only be eaten when there is an 'R' in the month
(even though these days you can buy them all the year
round) so September is the start of the new mussel season.
There is nothing quite like a bowl of freshly cooked
mussels and they are easy to prepare and cook yet a
lot of people are afraid to do their own because of
tales of food poisoning they have heard.
Follow a few simple rules and you can enjoy the
freshest of mussels at home and they are still great
value . . . which means bigger portions!
are a few very simple rules for you to follow which
were provided by Chef Jim Fisher of CookInFrance
your mussels with care, buying them only from reputable
supermarkets and fishmongers.
mussels are always sold live: they should be shiny,
mostly unbroken and closed, and generally smell of
nothing other than the sea.
them home straight away and cover them with plenty
of cold fresh water (mussels don't like tap water,
so they shut up and wait for the real tide to come
them well and remove any barnacles and the tough fibrous
'beard'. Throw away any with broken shells.
mussels that refuse to close when rapped on the side
of the sink are dead: throw them away.
that remain closed having just been through the cooking
process were dead before you bought them and should
also be chucked out.
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