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COOKING NEWSLETTER - MAY 2011

Welcome to the Hub-UK Newsletter. If you have ideas that you think might work we would love to hear from you and by the same token if you think something is rubbish let us know . . . but do it nicely! newsletter@hub-uk.com

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AROUND THE SUPERMARKET  

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 . . .

Having been told that you have to be on Facebook if you are anyone Hub-UK now has a Facebook page. . . not sure whether it is a good idea or not. Perahps you can surprise us by taking a look, leaving a comment or two and clicking on the Like button.

Marco Pierre White . . . another fascinating journey?

Apples and oranges? Chalk and cheese? Marco Pierre White and Bernard Matthews?

I've eaten Bernard Matthews products when times were hard or I needed to save money. They are cheap food and I think that is the way I view them - cheap food for the masses. What self respecting foodie would ever admit to cooking or eating Bernard Matthews meat products? So what should we make of Bernard Matthews teaming up with Marco Pierre White, two extremes of the culinary world?

Obviously this is a marketing exercise on the part of Bernard Matthews Farms which is still trying to recover from the devastating effects the outbreak of Bird Flu at one of its farms caused. For BMF it is a bold stroke to raise awareness of their products and get people to perceive them as more up market whilst keeping them within the price range of the average household. So still turkey for the masses but with a bit of class!

Ever fancied a cooking holiday? Ever fancied learning
to make bread - www.cookingholidays.co.uk

When Marco started pushing Knorr Stock cubes (did he get the contract before or after he pushed them on Hell's Kitchen) I could go along with the logic of that - making stock at home isn't really practical and the product itself is top quality. But why would he want to associate his name with a product or brand that has previously been regarded as being at the bottom end of the food market. Loads of money no doubt but I am sure he is very conscious of maintaining his reputation so on that basis the product has to be given a go.

For my taste testing I selected Marco's Wild Mushroom Crust Turkey steaks . . . and I have to say I was pretty impressed. I am not going to be serving it for a dinner party but served with a veg and some potatoes this makes a very tasty meal. I tried it on its own and when I had finished I wanted more which has to be a good sign. Quick? Twenty minutes in the oven just about gives you time to do some potatoes and steam a veg so there is really no excuse for not cooking a hot meal. I will certainly try the others in the range and, if they are as good, it takes care of one meal each week for when I am busy with work.

Having been pleasantly surprised by how good it was I have decided to try Marco's Turkey Breast joint with Sage & Onion Stuffing for dinner this evening accompanied by Jersey new potatoes and fresh purple sprouting broccoli. And I have to say it was excellent. There was a lovely smell as it was cooking and when served the meat was moist and tasty. Certainly to be recommended if you are looking for a turkey roast for two people.

For anyone new to cooking and wanting to do a roast dinner but scared about what to do this would make an excellent starting point as it couldn't be easier to do as the gravy is included and all you need to do is cook the vegetables of your choice.

The critics may mock Marco Pierre White for getting involved in this sort of promotion but if people are going to be encouraged to cook and eat fresh food then it needs more top chefs to climb down from their pedestals and get involved in the real world where most of us don't have the time to prepare meals after a hard day at work.

Note: Since publishing newsletter have also tried Marco's Cracked Black Pepper Crust Turkey steaks . . . just as good!

Marco's Wild Mushroom Crust Turkey steaks   Marco's Wild Mushroom Crust Turkey steaks
Marco's Wild Mushroom Crust Turkey steaks
  Marco's Parmesan and Rosemary Crust Turkey steaks
Marco's Parmesan and Rosemary Crust Turkey steaks
Marco's Cracked Black Pepper Crust Turkey steaks   Marco's Cracked Black Pepper Crust Turkey steaks
Marco's Cracked Black Pepper Crust Turkey steaks
Marco's Turkey Breast joint with Sage & Onion Stuffing   Marco's Turkey Breast joint with Sage & Onion Stuffing
Marco's Turkey Breast joint with Sage & Onion Stuffing
Marco's Turkey Thigh Joint with Sage & Onion Stuffing   Marco's Turkey Thigh Joint with Sage & Onion Stuffing
Marco's Turkey Thigh Joint with Sage & Onion Stuffing

Have a look at the TV advert featuring Marco and Martin Kemp:

Editorial note: This site is not paid to promote products for Bernard Matthews Farms

A NOTE FROM TUSCANY  

Roast Chicken and more . . .

In this part of the world, up to the end of WWII most people were dirt poor share croppers working the land but giving half what they produced to the Aristocrat landlord. Very little money was in circulation and people ate what they could grow. So there was no point in rearing a cow for beef or a pig for pork, you could not eat it all before it went off and no one had any money to buy the extra.

So if you ate any meat at all it would have come from the animals scratching around the farm yard or in the coup, they needed little food or fed themselves. Pigeons, rabbits, ducks and chicken were and still are the main ingredients of the Sunday roast,

Whereas in the UK we tend to cook a bird whole, often stuffed, here they are all jointed first then cooked with various herbs in the oven. Today we have guests over to eat so we will use the big wood oven, like those for making pizza but a bit higher inside.

We fill it up with wood, light it up and then go off to prepare the roast. The oven dome is at first black then turns white as it heats up, we close the front hatch for a while to turn the wood into glowing coals. The whole process takes about an hour and a half.

The poultry and rabbit are cut into eight pieces along the joints and one cut across the breast piece for the chicken. Having everything the same size means that it all cooks in the same time and does not dry out. In the pan is placed garlic, fresh chilli pepper and bay leaves. Then the olive oil, not a drizzle more like a down pour, sprinkle with salt and pepper then roast. After about twenty five minutes it all gets basted and splashed over with white wine.

Today we are having it with roast spuds and roasted bell peppers and courgettes, these last two only take about 15 minutes.

Chef Jonathan Arthur
www.italywithrelish.it

Sorrento cooking holiday 9th July www.italywithrelish.it/sorrento - a few places remaining: mention Hub-UK in your first email & get 10% off.

LIVING THE GOOD LIFE IN SPAIN  

Spanish Ham Tapas

Serrano ham is one of those versatile foods that has a number of uses, not only is it tasty on its own it can also be cooked with and used in a number of dishes both hot and cold. For cold tapas slices of good ham can be paired with some other famous Spanish foods, the most popular probably being Manchego cheese from La Mancha, a classic combination with a real flavour punch! Here are some other ideas:

Broad beans - “Habas con jamon” is a famous starter in Andalucia, the beans can either be boiled first or simply eaten raw straight from the shells. Usually served with slices of Serrano ham on top of bread with a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil broad beans are one of those vegetables that really bring out the hams flavour.

Almonds - Almonds are another good pairing and again very popular in Spain. Usually served in tapas bars either in two separate tapas dishes or as a round presentation of ham with almonds in the centre the wafer thin ham slices are wrapped around each nut before being enjoyed with a short beer.

Tomatoes - Tomatoes on the vine (especially cherry vine tomatoes) are sweet and compliment both Serrano and Iberico ham slices. For a fusion of real Spanish flavour try a drizzle of extra virgin finished with cracked black pepper over the tomatoes before serving with short ham slices which can be placed over the top of the fruit.

Fruit - Serrano ham and melon is probably the most famous, turning the tables in the flavour department where the mild saltiness of the ham compliment the melon (cantaloupe is best) There are however other fruits which match equally well – try peach, nectarine, orange and the other firm Spanish favourite figs, either raw or baked.

The suggestions above are of course very simple (as tapas should be) but for the more adventurous you can also include the ham in cooking, try a cold green gazpacho with iberico or serrano ham shavings, stuffed chicken breast or mackerel and other favourites such as on a tostada or lightly fried with a poached egg for breakfast, the list really is endless!

Hams and ham pieces >>>

EASY TO MAKE RECIPES . . . CUTTING CORNERS  

This makes a simple starter which anyone can make.

SMOKED HADDOCK AU GRATIN

Ingredients:

1 smoked haddock fillet, skinned and diced
1 onion, finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 button mushrooms, chopped small
3 tsp light soy sauce
Basil leaves (15 to 20) chopped
Grated parmesan (or similar)
Oil

How to make:

  • Gently sauté your onion, garlic, chilli and mushrooms until the onion is soft
  • Add the haddock and soy sauce and continue to sauté for another three to five minutes.
  • Add basil leaves and stir in to evenly distribute.
  • Remove from heat and divide between two ramekins.
  • Cover the top of each ramekin with parmesan cheese.
  • When ready to cook place in the middle of a preheated oven at 180°C and cook for ten or twelve minutes.
  • Serve hot

Serves 2

SOUP OF THE MONTH  

ALMOND AND GARLIC SOUP - AJO BLANCO

Finca Alta CocinaThis Spanish Tapas recipe for Almond and Garlic Soup (Ajo Blanco) comes from Chef Ewa of Finca Alta Cocina, a wonderful country house in Southern Spain with its own cookery school, swimming pool and six acres of grounds offering relaxing holidays and superb food, with or without cooking classes.

Ingredients:

220 g whole blanched almonds
75g stale bread, soaked in water
750 ml iced water
3 garlic cloves, crushed to a paste with some salt
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp sherry vinegar
200g white grapes
Salt, pepper

How to make:

  • In a food processor grind the almond to a smooth consistency, add 5 tablespoons of water.
  • Process again until you have a paste, add the soaked bread and garlic.
  • Process again until very smooth.
  • Keeping the motor running add the olive oil and the rest of water, season with vinegar, salt and pepper.
  • Transfer to a bowl and chill.
  • Just before serving check the seasoning and add the grapes cut in half.

Serves 4

Chef Ewa
www.finca-altacocina.com

FOOD CALENDAR  
MAY EVENT DESCRIPTION LINK
  5th-08th Real Food Festival Real Food is all about great tasting, sustainably and ethically produced food and we're aiming to connect you to the most extraordinary food experiences you will find anywhere.

From large scale annual food festivals to regular produce markets, with the best of British street food thrown in, you can explore the very best that this nation has to offer.

The next Real Food Festival takes place from 5th - 8th May 2011 at London's Earls Court.

Click for more
       
  15th-22nd British Tomato Week

Following the success of last year's British Tomato Week, the British Tomato Growers' Association is approaching this year's event with even more energy and enthusiasm than usual. The next British Tomato Week will take place between May 15th and May 22nd 2011.

Click for more
       
  23rd-29th National Vegetarian Week
To launch the week there will be an event in Manchester city centre, Meat Free in Manchester is on Saturday 21 May, hosted by the Vegetarian Society, packed with skilful chefs, tasty treats, fun and frolics.

Get involved in National Vegetarian Week by attending an event, tasting or trying one of the many mouth-watering recipes on offer. How about organising a Come Dine at Mine event or doing something silly to raise a few funds for the Vegetarian Society’s charitable projects? Whatever you do, get involved and tuck into a tasty seven days.

National Vegetarian Week is co-ordinated by the Vegetarian Society.

Click for more
 
28th-30th Hampton Court Foodies Festival

Visit Hampton Court Foodies Festival in the beautiful grounds of Hampton Court Palace for a celebration of fine food and drink over the May Bank Holiday weekend.

Meet Michelin-starred and top chefs in the Chefs Theatre where award-winning chefs prepare their favourite dishes live on stage, passing on hints and tips for you to try

Shop for ingredient from local producers selling fresh seasonal produce and buy speciality food and drinks as well as try hands-on food and drink masterclasses led by industry experts, with plenty of tastings.

Click for more
         
WHEN SCHOOLS TAUGHT DOMESTIC SCIENCE  

CUSTARD TART

Ingredients 

For pastry:
6 ozs flour
3½ – 4 ozs margarine
1½ dessert spoons water
Pinch of salt

For custard filling:
2 eggs
½ pint milk
2 level tbsps castor sugar
Pinch of nutmeg

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 190°C / Gas mark 5

To make the flan case:

  • You will need a 7 inch flan ring.
  • Sieve the flour and salt into a mixing bowl.
  • Rub in the margarine until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.
  • Mix in the water to form a firm dough.
  • Roll out into a round large enough to line the flan ring or sandwich tin.
  • Use rolling-pin to lift pastry over flan case and carefully (without breaking) press the pastry smoothly round sides and bottom.
  • Cut off surplus pastry with a sharp knife.
  • Line the inside of pastry case with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans or dried peas to prevent the pastry from rising.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.
  • Carefully lift out the paper and beans or peas. Return to the oven and bake for a further 10 minutes to partly cook the pastry.
  • Cool slightly and remove pastry case from the flan ring and place on a baking tray.

To make the custard filling:

  • Beat the eggs and sugar together.
  • Heat the milk but do not allow to boil.
  • Pour milk over the beaten eggs, stirring well.
  • Cool mixture and strain into a bowl.
  • Carefully pour the custard into the flan case and sprinkle the top with nutmeg.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 25 – 25 minutes or until the custard has set.

Note:

You can of course buy your pastry ready made and you might also want to add some vanilla extract to your custard for added flavour.

Makes 1 x 7 inch tart

THE MIXING BOWL . . . RANDOM BITS AND PIECES  

How to tell whether an egg is fresh or not

Place the egg in a glass of cold water

  • A fresh egg will sit horizontal at the bottom :
    these eggs are suitable for baking (but preferably not meringue) and will maintain a good tight shape when fried or poached and the yolk should stand quite high with a good semi-circular shape.
  • As the egg increases in age and the air pocket gets bigger it will tilt upwards slightly:
    these eggs are suitable for meringues, baking and will maintain a reasonable shape when fried or poached, the yolk will be flatter in shape.
  • An egg that sits vertically is stale:
    these eggs are not really suitable for baking, are best used for scrambling or omelets, will not maintain even a reasonable shape when fried or poached, the white will spread and the yolk will be quite flat. When trying to separate, the yolk will probably break as the egg white that surrounds it will be weak.
  • An egg that floats should be disposed of . . . carefully!

    Tallyrand

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