NEWSLETTER - JUNE 2012
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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 . . .
I first set up home back in the mid 70s doing the weekly shop
was a very different proposition to what it is today. Because
of work commitments, and of course no late night shopping
(everything closed at 5.30pm), the weekly shop was done on
a Saturday morning. It had to be the morning or all the decent
fresh produce would be gone by the afternoon.
Living in a small Welsh market town (population 7,000 and
that was the biggest town in the county) meant that getting
in and out of town, and even parking on the main street, was
fairly easy. It needed to be, as the weekly shop had to be
done and it was not going to be a one-stop job like a visit
to one of today's supermarkets. Lists had to be written and
meals for the whole week planned if everything was going to
be done as fast and efficiently as possible, if visits to
the butcher, the greengrocer, the baker and the small supermarket
were going to go smoothly. You might even want to visit more
than one butcher and greengrocer depending on what you were
I have not mentioned the fishmonger. There was one but fresh
fish inland back then was not what you would call appetising.
The best fish used to come into town during the week. A local
fisherman would arrive on a Tuesday (market day) in a converted
ice cream van with fresh fish caught that morning but sadly
not for the weekend shop. So for fish we tended to rely on
the local frozen food shop, a local forerunner to today's
How well a weekly shopping trip was going to go was also
dependant on whether grandparents had the children and also
how many people you stopped to chat to. In a small town everyone
The big advantage back then was how fresh everything was
although with the exception of the butcher, choice of products
was very limited to what we get in today's supermarkets. So
what was the trigger for this trip down memory lane?
was something I spotted in Tesco's veg section, British Freshly
Dug New Potatoes. These British potatoes are harvested
daily to bring you that 'fresh from the field' taste.
Back when I used to grow my own, or buy them from the greengrocer,
new potatoes had a wonderful fresh taste which you would not
get at any other time. This product brought the memories flooding
back and the potatoes were part of a very enjoyable meal.
It made me realise how easy it is to eat well at this time
of the year without having to do much cooking or spending
hours in the kitchen.
of the improvements the big supermarkets have brought to our
tables is the amount and variety of cold foods available,
especially salads. No longer do we have to put up with one
variety of lettuce served with a few slices of cucumber and
a tomato. The range of lettuce is outstanding and it is easy
for anyone to put together not only a tasty salad but also
one that looks appetising and is bursting with a variety of
colours. This is the time of year to take advantage as much
of the salad produce is UK grown and at its tastiest. Even
better if followed by some English strawberries and cream
I cooked a great evening meal the other night.
I say cooked because all I actually cooked was some of the
Freshly Dug New Potatoes, and they were delicious. Just like
those fresh out of the garden and what is more they were locally
I bought two fillets of lightly smoked salmon cooked with
herbs and wild garlic, a few King Prawns marinaded in garlic
and oil and a selection of salad stuff (bought too much as
usual but it kept for the next day). A lump of salty butter
on the potatoes and a first class meal was served.
From the time the potatoes came to the boil the meal took
roughly 15 minutes to prepare and serve. Who says they haven't
got the time to cook?
So why not take advantage and give yourself an easy time
in the kitchen. Great salads are to be enjoyed . . . even
if summer seems a bit elusive!
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THE GOOD LIFE IN SPAIN
paprika or pimenton is one of those ingredients
that can be found in every Spanish kitchen. Paprika is used
in dozens of Spanish recipes and also by butcheries (carnicerias)
as paprika is a vital ingredient in the most famous of Spanish
sausages - the chorizo. It is paprika that gives the chorizo
as well as salsas and other dishes their deep red colour and
of course flavour.
Paprika is made from dried chili peppers which are ground
into a fine powder, the strength and flavour of the end product
depends on the type of pepper used with hot peppers being
used for picante paprika and sweet peppers being
used for the dulce or mild/sweet version. You
can also find a smoked variety, again in hot and sweet versions
as well as an agri-dulce strength which typically
has a spicy flavour in between the two. Smoked paprika is
made by hanging the peppers in large drying sheds where they
are smoked dried for two to three weeks using oak.
Some paprikas, especially the smoked variety even carry
the denomancion de Origen stamp (D.O) which guarantees
the products quality, the most famous region is La Vera
so if your paprika tin has this stamp on it you can rest assured
that you have some of the finest paprika money can buy.
Smoked Spanish paprika is a spice that compliments many dishes,
its smell quite potent and used sparingly (you never need
very much) adds a lovely depth to cream based dishes, casseroles
and even soups. Paprika of all varieties is commonly used
as a garnish due to its deep red colour and is popular for
sprinkling over mayonnaise, soups and even salads.
With a long shelf life of well over a year your paprika will
happily sit in a cool dry place, typically sold in 75g tins
this is more than enough to last in the family kitchen for
a good few months.
Spanish Paprika and Spices >>>
TO MAKE RECIPES . . . CUTTING
recipe from Natoora
for Cherry Cake is ideal to make at this time of year with
cherries now on sale in all the fresh fruit outlets.
350g fresh cherries
250g plain flour
125ml pot vanilla yoghurt
1.5 tsp. baking powder
a pinch of salt
180g caster sugar
the oven to 160°C.
the cherries and remove the stones.
the butter with the sugar with a whisk until you have
a smooth cream, then add the eggs, yoghurt and salt, mixing
until all the ingredients are blended together.
slowly sieve in the flour and the baking powder.
Line and grease a cake tin.
the base of the cake tin with half of the pitted cherries
and pour the cake mixture over them.
add the remaining cherries on top.
the cake for about 1 hour until a skewer comes out clean.
ready, leave you cherry cake to cool in the tin.
with whipped cream and cherries.
HERB SOUP WITH CHEDDAR
great soup idea for using up spare herbs rather than letting
them go to waste . . . adjust this soup, by either thinning
it down or leaving out the flour altogether, chill it and
it is also a great summer soup!
1 lt milk
1 lt chicken stock
5 garlic cloves
1 small onion
150gm cheddar cheese
1 tbs chives
50 gm coriander
50 gm dill
100gm spinach leaves
the milk and stock and add the sliced garlic and finely
over a low heat and allow the flavours to infuse for 15
the butter in a large saucepan over a low to medium heat,
add the flour and stir continuously for 5 minutes to cook
add the milk / stock mixture (approximately 200 mls at
a time), stirring thoroughly each time to remove any flour
lumps and achieve a smooth finish.
all combined bring to a boil and allow to simmer very
gently for 1 hour.
through the cheddar, taste, and add more cheese or season
if required - it should have a light cheese flavour only.
soup should not be left standing on the heat too long
once the herb purée has been added or it will turn
from a fresh, bright green to an unappetising dull,
grey / green colour.
SCHOOLS TAUGHT DOMESTIC SCIENCE
12 ozs Sugarpaste
8 tsp cherry jam
5 ozs unsalted butter
6 ozs caster sugar
2 1/2 ozs ground almonds
5 ozs self raising flour
12 ozs prepared fondant icing
1 1/2 ozs flaked toasted almonds
oven to 200°C / Gas mark 6
out the sugarpaste and spread with 6 teaspoons of jam.
the sugar and butter.
in eggs, almonds and flour.
over the sugarpaste and level the surface.
for 15 minutes and then reduce temperature to 180°C
/ Gas mark 4 and cook for a further 30 minutes.
from tin and fit the rolled out fondant icing to the top.
the remaining jam over the fondant icing and sprinkle
the almonds over the top.
To serve cut into 16 squares.
MIXING BOWL . . . RANDOM BITS AND PIECES
sauces can be a lengthy and troublesome process if you allow
it to be. The tips I give here are aimed more at the home
cook than the professional chef, who will know these already.
are many thickening agents for sauces, but lets just look
at the more common ones you might come across:
This can be used in three ways: as a roux, beurre manié
or mixed with water.
roux : made by melting butter or oil, mixing in
flour and cooking it over a medium heat for 5 minutes.
Most classic recipes call for equal quantities of fat
to flour, I much prefer more fat than flour. Why? Well
for one thing it allows for a much richer flavour, but
also allows the roux to combine into the liquid easier.
On average use 75 gm butter to 60 gm of flour per litre
of liquid….most recipes state 100 gm, 100gm and 1 litre;
this will cause a thick, stodgy, 19th century style
sauce more akin to porridge and not the lighter ones
we prefer today.
manié : basically as above but used to add to sauces,
should they need extra thickening once made. A French
term : Beurre = butter, manié = handled, so named as
it is normally made by kneading the4 flour and cold
butter together to form a paste.
water : flour and water combined to form a slurry.
Mainly used to thicken gravies for roast meats.
Mixed with water or other liquid to a slurry, this may be
used for thickening most sauces, but normally reserved for
reduction sauces: sauces where the liquid (stock, wine etc)
is simmered until reduced to taste. Once the liquid is ready
and has boiled, removed from heat and add the slurry in
slowly, while whisking quickly; it will thicken almost instantly
so take care not to add to much. The downside of cornflour
is that it will dilute the sauce's colour
Used as for cornflour with the advantage of the fact that
it will not dilute the sauce's colour, but will give it
a nice sheen (more expensive to purchase though). It is
really difficult, if not impossible to thin sauces down
after they have been over thickened with arrowroot or cornflour,
so please take care!
Finally if you want to make seafood or fish sauces but cannot
buy the stock, do what a lot of professional chefs do, use
a light chicken stock. Many chefs do not use fish stocks as
they will sour quickly and for food hygiene reasons are very
unstable. However, please, please use a good quality stock
whether it is fresh, powdered or cubed . . . a dish is only
as good as its sauce which is only as good as its stock.
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