Sunday, 25 September 2016

Ludlow Food Festival

I recently visited the original food festival, Ludlow Food Festival almost two weeks ago. The festival, which is about one hour away from where I live and set in the historic and picturesque town of Ludlow has been on my radar for some time. I've visited Ludlow once before, a few years ago and probably spent less than a couple of hours there so I was almost a newbie to this town and the food festival. Ludlow Food Festival is based in stunning Ludlow castle, the approach to the food festival is very food oriented, you walk past the local food market selling a range of beautiful seasonal English produce.

The various stall holders were underneath tents which was brilliant for someone like me who doesn't like the rain and was worried about the weather. I spent time admitting the 100-150 exhibitors who were all offering local artisan producers. There were a steady hand of samples to try, but what I really liked is the stalls that I visited is that all the stall holders took time to explain their product, the techniques used and the passion really shined through from each stall holder.

From scrumptious breads, Mediterranean olives, blissful brownies, oils, flavoursome drinks and gorgeous cakes, there really is something for every food lover. I also noticed that a lot of the items were on sale was significantly cheaper compared to other food festivals that I have attended.

There were a hosts of kitchen demonstrations and happenings going on. Graeme Kidd Stage which offered top chefs as did Wots Cooking Stage which offered demonstrations from head chefs, Masterchefs and food writers. Also, there were lots of interesting food talks, masterchefs,  slow food taste workshops and pop up restaurants. I wish I had planned my day better and took full advantage of the different talks that were happening as with most things food related, you can always learn more about a particular cuisine or ingredients for example.

I was only able to watch Andrew Birch, head chef at Fishermore Hall, Ludlow. Andrew showcased how to cook a lovely hake with chorizo, wiltered spinach.

One thing that I did notice at Ludlow Food Festival, was there a number of families attending, much more than other food festivals. With a dedicated children's corner this food festival is very child friendly (I observed some face painting which looked fun).

Ludlow Food Festival tickets cost £8.50 per adult, £2 per child and £20 for a family (2 adults and up to 4 children).

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary tickets to Ludlow Food Festival.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Stewed Peas

Purists may frown on me as I present, my version of “stewed peas”. Traditionally stewed peas (kidney beans stewed in a broth and with seasoning) is cooked with pigs tail. Why pigs tail? It is flavorsome, the pork fat provides the necessary flavor and offers meat at a ridiculously cheap price. Also, I think the pigs tails is a lasting legacy from Jamaica’s colonial history. 
Although my local market sells pigs tails (there is a large Caribbean community and this sells well), many markets and supermarkets do not sell pigs tails so I thought I would go for the next delicious and economic cut of the old hog, a gammon joint. The gammon cooked and added with the peas (kidney or gungo) and spices served with rice make a modern take on a Jamaican classic, but nevertheless a hearty one.

1 gammon joint weighing
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp mustard
400g kidney beans, drained
400g gungo peas(use 2x tin of kidney beans if you can’t get hold of gungo peas).
1 onion, skin removed, finely diced
2 tbsp West Indian hot pepper sauce
Pinch of black pepper
3-4 sprigs of thyme
2 cloves of garlic.

Leave the gammon to soak overnight in a large saucepan, the following day drain the water and refill with fresh water. When you are ready to cook the gammon, drain the water and marinade with the honey and mustard. Pour two cups of cold water to the saucepan and boil on a low heat for 1.5 hours with the lid on. After 1.5 hours, carefully remove the gammon and place on a chopping board. Pour the excess water from the pan and only leave around ½ cup of water. Add the onion, kidney and gungo peas, hot pepper sauce, thyme and garlic and cook for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, slice the gammon into thin bite size pieces and add back to the pan with the peas. Cook for a further 10 minutes.

It’s traditional to serve this with rice but it also goes well with herb-drenched potatoes or a baked potato.


Thursday, 15 September 2016

The Palomar Cookbook

Living outside of London, I only know a snapshot of the fabulous and trendy restaurants that are in the capital. One of the most talked about restaurants of the last year or so is The Palomar. Any food blogger based in London worth their salt would have paid a visit to this restaurant. I, for one have read many reviews and seen many tantalising photos. In case you are wondering, what is The Palomar, it is a restaurant inspired by recipes from the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Levant (Middle East) but make these recipes very modern and accessible. They have a new cookbook out and it is fantastic.

There are a ton of recipes which feature ingredients that I love but not always featured in Middle Eastern cookbooks such as pork and shellfish. I like the feel of this cookbook, although it's a restaurant cookbook, it's one that's accessible to the home cook. Flicking through the pages, I get the sense that to work at The Palomar is like a big family with a wide variety of chefs to contribute a melting pot.
There aren't many chapters but the chapters that follow cover a comprehensive range of easy to follow, accessible recipes. The book is split into the following:

  • An introduction
  • What's in the cupboard - a comprehensive chapter with all the recommended ingredients which can transport you to the Mediterranean and the Levant in no time. The list of ingredients include: Dry Stores, Spices, Spice Mixes and Nuts.
  • The meal before the meal -One of my favourite things about recipes from this part of the world: Mezze. There are recipes which I would automatically buy instead of making my own such as Cured Lemons, Harissa and Tahini sauce. Some recipes to try include hand chopped chicken liver, Matlucha, Carrot & Fennel with Harrissa & Cured Lemon and Chickpeas with Spinach & Yogurt. 
  • Raw beginnings - a wonderful collection of fresh and healthy delicious. Recipes to try include: Morroccan oysters, Scallop Tartare with Middle Eastern gazpacho, kulenia (Lebanese take on steak tartare).
  • The main act- the very best of the Palomar. This is my favourite chapter of this book. Recipes to try include: Shakshuka two ways (fast traditional and new-style Shakshuka), polenta Jerusalem style, Cod Chaymeh, Shakshukit (deconstructed kebab), Pork Belly with Ras el Hanout, Dried Fruits & Israeli Couscous and Hake with Deep-Fried Cauliflower.
  • The pastry room. A sweet lovers paradise. Standout recipes include Orange Blossom ice-cream in katafi nests, Vanilla & Caramelized Pine Nut Ice Cream, Date Roulade, Kulaneh Bread and Honey Cake. 
So far, I've made Grazia's Tomato Salad and Shakshuit.

Recipe from Shakshuit 
For the meat
50ml olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
50g pistachio nuts
50g pine nuts
4 garlic cloves, chopped
500g minced beef
250g minced lamb
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp toasted and ground cumin seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp Harissa
1 tbsp cured lemon paste

For the tahigurt
200g Greek yogurt
5tbsp tahini
salt, to taste
squeeze of lemon juice

For the toppings
4 tsp Harissa
4 tsp cured lemon

For the meat, place a large, shallow pan over a medium heat, add the oil and then the onion and sweat for 5 minutes. Add the pistachios and pine nuts and sauté for another 5 minutes, then add the garlic and sauté for a further 3 minutes.
Add the minced meat in 3-4 batches, breaking up the each batch with a wooden spoon and allowing it to cook for 3-4 minutes, before you add the next bath so that you don't get lumps. You can increase the heat to high now, but just make sure you continue to stir.
After 10 to 15 minutes, add the rest of the ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook over a medium heat for another 5 minutes so that all the flavours combine well.
Meanwhile, make the tahigurt. Mix all the tahigurt ingredients together in a bowl and divide between 4 soup plates (or funky pans , if you have some)
Divide the meat between the 4 plates and layer with all the toppings. 


Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Quiche Lorraine

This is the third time, I have blogged about quiche lorraine. There's a reason for this, it's the first tart I learnt to bake so I've been making this for almost 15 years now. I like to try other people's versions of recipes and this quiche lorraine from my Afternoon Tea Cookbook was a wonderful treat. I was drawn into its classic and simple recipe. Creamy yet somehow light, this is the ideal lunch or dinner.

Serves 4-6
175g plain flour, sifted, plus extra for dusting
Pinch of salt
1 egg yolk 
115g unsalted butter, at room temperature, diced

For the filling
6 smoked streaky bacon rashers, rinds removed
300ml double cream
3 eggs plus 3 yolks
25g unsalted butter
ground black pepper

To make the pastry, place the flour, salt, egg yolk and butter in a food processor and process until blended. Turn on to a lightly floured surface and bring the mixture together into a ball. Leave to rest for 20 minutes.
Lightly flour a deep 20cm/8inch round flan tin and place it on a baking tray. Roll out the pastry and use to line the tin. Trim off the excess. 
Gently press into the corners of the tin. If the pastry breaks up just push it into shape. Chill for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6
Meanwhile, cut the bacon rashers into thin pieces and grill until the fat runs. Arrange the bacon in the pastry case. Beat together the cream, the whole eggs and yolks and seasoning. Carefully pour into the pastry case.
Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180C/350F Gas mark 4 and bake for a further 15-20 minutes. When the filling is puffed up and golden brown, and the pastry edge crisp, remove from the oven and top with knobs of butter. Stand for 5 minutes before serving.


Thursday, 1 September 2016

Fermented Foods at Every Meal

Believe it or not, this is my first Fermented cookery book: Fermented Foods at Every Meal. I've enjoyed making chutneys, pickles and preserves but never fermented anything. To be honest, my knowledge of fermenting was somewhat limited. So, what is Fermentation? Well, it is "foods that have healthful microbes deliberately added to modify them". Fermentation uses good bacteria to make food more nutritious. Hayley Ryczek, the author shares with the reader how you can easily make 10 fermented foods. There are further recipes which in-cooperates the fermented recipes into everyday dishes. 

Dried fruit chutney.

Dried fruit chutney

Dried Fruit Chutney
Equipment You Will Need;
Mixing bowl
Mixing spoons
1 glass quart jar with lid (950ml)
Cheesecloth or cotton fabric square
Rubber band or string

130g chopped dried apricots
75g raisins
60g sweetened dried cranberries
80g chopped onion
45g chopped dates
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
2 teaspoons raw honey
1/8 teaspoon garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
120ml whey
60ml raw apple cider vinegar
60ml water
zest and juice of 1 orange

If you are wondering how to make whey or what it is, have a look at this recipe, it's best to start with making this first.

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients. Mix well. Transfer the mixture to a 1-quart (950ml) jar and press down using the back of a spoon to remove any air bubbles. Cover the jar with a cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band or string. Allow to ferment at room temperature, out of direct sunlight for 8 hours or overnight. Stir, cover with an airtight lid, and refrigerate for 24 hours before using. The chutney will keep for up to 1 month in the refrigerator.

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