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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 . . .


RhubarbJanuary is a difficult month if you're looking for something new and interesting around the supermarket. It is not traditionally a time of year for new lines to arrive on the shelves and nor is it a time when food manufacturers are running promotions. As usual the start of January sees the arrival, almost instantly Christmas and the New Year has passed, of the obligatory Hot Cross Buns and the Cadbury's creme eggs making one forget that winter has long way to go before Easter arrives.

There is one great crop that arrives on the supermarket shelves in January and that is forced rhubarb. There is nothing nicer than likely stewed rhubarb, with its beautiful pink colours, search with a dollop of clotted cream or some nice thick double cream. One of the simplest and most enjoyable deserts in the UK culinary calendar.

Did you know:

  • Earliest recorded use of rhubarb is 2700 BC
  • Early use of rhubrab was as a very important drug of the time for gut, lung and liver ailments
  • Rhubarb was originally known as as the Rhacoma root
  • Rhubarb was brought to Europe in the 13th century by Marco Polo
  • The drug from Rhacoma root (rhubarb) was so expensive in mid-17th century England that it cost three times the price of opium
  • Rhubarb was first used in English cooking in the late 18th century
  • The forcing of rhubarb first began in Yorkshire in 1877
  • Rhubarb leaves are toxic
  • Rhubarb is considered to be a vegetable
  • Rhubarb is a native of Siberia
  • Rhubarb is a laxative . . . so don't be too greedy!

The rhubarb we buy these days in UK supermarkets starts arriving in early January and comes from what is known as the Rhubarb Triangle. The Rhubarb Triangle is a small area in West Yorkshire approximately 9 square miles in size, located between Wakefield, Morley and Rothwell hence the Wakefield Festival of Food, Drink & Rhubarb (details of which you will find below under the Food Calendar).

The rhubarb growing industry was considerably larger before World War II and has contracted considerably since then as rhubarb became unfashionable and with the advent of overseas fruit being brought into the country in chilled containers.

These days rhubarb is again gaining in popularity but still something that a lot of people no longer eat. If you have never tried rhubarb you really don't know what you are missing and it is so easy to prepare as the packs on the supermarket shelves are already cleaned and trimmed. All you need to do is chop it up, put it in a pan, add two or three tablespoons of sugar and a splash of water then simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes and it is done!

for further information on rhubarb grown in Yorkshire's rhubarb triangle have a look at the website of E Oldroyd and Sons who have been growing rhubarb for several generations -

Editorial note: This site is not paid to promote rhubarb and nor is it an expert on health matters.


Lomo – the undiscovered Spanish delicacy

What is lomo?What is lomo? Spanish lomo can be purchased fresh or cured, the latter being a real delicacy and a cured Spanish meat with a wonderfully unique flavour. Premium cured lomo per kilo is more expensive than its Spanish ham counterpart and depending on our taste buds, rivals Spain’s most famous cured export in the flavour department. Iberico lomo from the acorn fed Iberian pigs really is a gastronomic experience in every sense of the word – nutty flavour, melt in the mouth texture and fabulous aroma.

Lomo is a pork tenderloin, the finest choice of meat from the pig. In Spain you can buy lomo in various forms. Firstly there is Lomo de Cabeza this cut is from the top end of the loin and is marbled with fat – ideal if you prefer a little more fat in your meat. Secondly there is Lomo de Corteza, this is a piece of pure loin with around half an inch of fat on one side, the main characteristic of this piece is the rind which is also present. Lastly we have simply Lomo, a prime piece of cured tenderloin with hardly any fat present, this is the most expensive but you will know where your pennies have gone when your wafer thin slices literally melt in the mouth.

One local speciality in the Altiplano region of Granada in Andalucia is Lomo de Orza. This pork is not cured but preserved, pork chunks are slowly fried and seasoned before being preserved in extra virgin olive oil, each butcher or “carniceria” having their own preferred recipe passed down from grandfathers and grandmothers. This pork is the most expensive as every batch has to be hand made and all the fat is trimmed resulting in something very special indeed.

So there we have the finest four examples of Spanish pork tenderloin, a cured meat definitely not for the packed lunch box but to truly savour with a drizzle of extra virgin, a fine red and perhaps a slim wedge or two of Manchego…

Discover Lomo and other hand made specialities from Spain >>>


After last month's simple recipe for fish I thought it would be nice to add another one to everyone's repertoire. It is just so easy to do. Get your fishmonger to clean and descale your fish and then you have to do very little to cook a very impressive dish. Whilst the recipe calls for trout you can use other fish according to availability - small sea bass or grey mullet work well. Simple food is often the best - when you have tasted this dish you might agree!

Trout with Tarragon Baked in Sea Salt


2 rainbow trout
Bunch of fresh tarragon
Celery salt
1 egg
1 kg sea salt
1 tsp water

How to make:

  • Mix the sea salt with the egg and water so that the salt is moistened and will be easy to mould around your fish.
  • Cover the base of an ovenproof dish just big enough to take both fish (I remove heads and tails), to a depth of about 1/4 inch with some of the salt mixture.
  • Stuff cavity of trout with fresh Tarragon and rub outside with celery salt.
  • Place trout on salt bed and cover with remaining salt so that it is completely sealed.
  • Bake at 200ºC / Gas Mark 5 for 25 minutes.
  • Serve with green salad and some nice chunky chips.

Serves 2

This gives you the method but what you stuff the fish with is entirely up to you . . . and of course what is available. You can take one simple cooking idea and create as many variations as you like.


Rustic Potato, Leek and Smoked Haddock Soup


100g butter
2 natural smoked haddock skin on bone in
60ml white wine
100g smoked bacon – diced 15mm
1 onion – peeled and finely chopped
4 large leeks – harsh green removed, quarter and wash well then slice
2 large potatoes – peeled and cut into 15mm chunks
250ml milk
600ml light fish stock or vegetable stock
120ml double cream
1 tablespoon flat parsley – chopped
Sea salt, white pepper and nutmeg

How to make:

  • Place a couple of knobs of butter on the flesh side of each haddock add a splash of white wine, wrap each haddock in tin foil and place in a hot oven for five minutes.
  • Remove from oven and pick the fish clean of all skin and bone, keep warm and reserve any juices.
  • Melt the remaining butter then add bacon, onions, leeks and potatoes and sweat over a low heat for 10–15 minutes.
  • Add milk and stock and cook for a further 15 minutes. Stir in the cream and any reserved juices from the fish, bring back to the boil. The potatoes should be cooked by this stage.
  • Add flaked haddock and chopped parsley and season with pepper and nutmeg.
  • You may only need a little salt as the haddock can be quite salty.
  • To serve ladle into bowls and swirl on some extra cream and chopped parsley, serve with hunks of fresh bread.

If you would like to see other recipes using Haddock <click here>

  06th British Yorkshire Pudding Day Yorkshire pudding is a traditional British dish eaten by most Britons at least once in their life. Although its name would suggest it originates from the North-east of England, its ancestry isn't really known, save that it's been eaten the length and breadth of the UK for centuries.

Roast beef and Yorkshire Pudding is one of the most famous of British meals, however many people in the UK eat Yorkshires with any roast meat or chicken, and it has always been a firm favourite as part of the "Sunday Roast Dinner".

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06th-13th Bramley Apple Week Bramley Apple Week 2011 takes place between 6-13 February and is a celebration of the versatility of the world’s best cooking apple. The Bramley Campaign has enlisted the culinary talents and expertise of the BBC’s Great British Menu winner, Mark Hix, to develop some delicious recipes to coincide with Bramley Apple Week.

Known as the ‘King of Cooking Apples’ due to its superior taste and fluffy texture the Bramley’s versatility makes it the perfect ingredient in a wide range of both sweet and savoury dishes. Full details may be found at, along with dozens of delicious recipe ideas for accomplished chefs or kitchen novices.

Click for more
12th-20th Rye Bay Scallop Week

The Rye Bay Scallop event runs from 12-20 February, with demonstrations on how to prepare the local speciality. The week long festival celebrates Rye's local catch with a number of events, including tastings and cookery demonstrations.Many of the town's top restaurants will be creating inspiring and imaginative dishes featuring scallops, the event is looking certain to be a great success again this year.

Rye, East Sussex

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21st–27th National Chip Week One half of the Great British takeaway receives well-deserved praise this week. The Love Chips website allows you to upload a picture of your perfect portion of chips and compare tastes with the rest of the nation as well as voting for your favourite chippie in the Golden Chip competition. Click for more
  21st–27th National Dairy Week

National Dairy Week is here to highlight how important milk, cream, cheese, butter and yoghurt are to a healthy diet and to dispel any myths you might have heard about dairy being bad for you. You can make sure you get a good dose of calcium this week with our delicious.

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  25th–27th Wakefield Festival of Food, Drink & Rhubarb Wakefield’s famous rhubarb has joined the hallowed ranks of Europe’s protected foods. Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb has been elevated to the same status as Champagne and Parma Ham. The festival will include street entertainment, cookery demonstrations, walks, tours, a Deliciously Yorkshire market and visits to the rhubarb growers. Click for more

Banana Tea Bread


110g margarine at room temperature
225g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp lemon juice
3 bananas
225g plain flour
3 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
60g walnuts


  • Preheat oven to 160°C / Gas Mark 3
  • Grease a 1kg loaf tin
  • Break the eggs into a jug and beat lightly
  • Cream the margarine and sugar and add the eggs
  • Mash the bananas with a fork and still into the mixture with the lemon juice
  • Chopped walnuts roughly
  • Gently mix in the flower, salt, baking powder and chopped walnuts
  • Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin smoothing the top
  • Bake for an hour to an hour and a quarter until the top is brown and the loaf is cooked through
  • Turnout onto a wire rack to cool completely
  • Serve sliced
Makes 1 loaf

When is the chip pan at the right temperature?

It's nice if you have the space in your kitchen for a deep fat fryer but if like me space is at a premium you have to make do with a good old-fashioned chip pan. The biggest problem with a chip pan is that you have no way of controlling the temperature accurately and the most difficult part is making sure the fat has reached the right temperature to start cooking.

You often see the tip of using a piece of dry bread to test whether fat has reached the right temperature - when the fat is hot enough the bread will be bubbling on the surface. I have never bothered with this trick as so often what I'm cooking in a chip pan is already frozen. So my tip for checking that the fat has reached the right temperature is to buy a pack of cheap frozen potato wedges and add one of those to the pan. Once it starts to bubble and then rises to the surface you know your chip fat is hot enough.

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