Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: December 2009

Shortbread Is a traditional Scottish pastry famous for its crumbly sand-like texture and brittle a consistency, this results from the fact that no liquid is used in the recipe. The gluten in the flour particles does not create any cohesive structures due to the lack of water, so yielding a crumbly and sandy paste. Shortbread is normally produced by pressing the resulting paste into flat decorative moulds, which are then baked on a tray or non-stick sheet. Traditional Scottish shortbread recipes consist solely of butter, flour and sugar. A typical recipe would consist of 500g of plain flour, 250g of unsalted butter and 125g of sugar. Often  a recipe known as a 3:2:1 mix is used, this would be for example 3lb of flour, 2lb of butter and 1lb of sugar. They may vary in the proportion of flour and butter used, some use double the amount of flour to butter by weight, while others will indicate a higher butter quantity so giving a softer texture and more pliable paste. The butter should always be at room temperature and cut into small cubes. Always add the butter to the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Always sieve the flour. Add gradually to the creamed butter and sugar mix, turning lightly. Knead thoroughly. The consistency of the dough is dependent on the amount of humidity in the butter as well as its temperature. If it is too cold or too dry the dough will not hold together for rolling. It could still however be pressed together into a mould. Pastes produced with a higher butter content will need to be chilled before rolling. Some recipes suggest a sprinkle of salt while others stipulate avoiding even salted butter. Salt does far more than simply add flavour when used in foods. As a seasoning, preservative or flavour enhancer it begins to affect cakes, pastries, biscuits and breads from the moment it is added. So what exactly does salt do and why would you include it a shortbread recipe? Firstly even a small amount of salt will slow down the chemical reactions that are happening in the shortbread paste, in yeast dough for example the addition of salt slows fermentation activity to a more manageable rate. Salt makes the paste a little stronger and tighter. It improves the shelf life of the finished shortbread, but its effects depend on ambient conditions. Salt is hydroscopic, which means it absorbs moisture. In humid climates salt will trap moisture from the air, so making a crisp crust soggy and shortening shelf life. In dry climates salt helps trap any moisture in the paste for longer, so inhibiting staling and extending shelf life. Salt also adds flavour. It enhances the natural flavour of other the ingredients including butter and flour. Several verities of salt are available including fine, course, rock salt and sea salt. All types act chemically in the same the same way, with no difference in cooking results. Many variations of the basic shortbread recipe exist. Some include flavourings such as vanilla extract, sour cream almond oil, while others recommend replacing half of the flour with ground rice or semolina. Shortbread should be baked at 350°F/170°C gas mark 6 for 20 minutes 20 until lightly browned. Sprinkle with castor sugar while still warm. Cool on a wire rack and serve as required.


Salt does far more than simply add flavour when used in foods. As a seasoning, preservative or flavour enhancer it begins to affect cakes, pastries, biscuits and breads from the moment it is added. So what exactly does salt do and why would you include it a shortbread recipe? Firstly even a small amount of salt will slow down the chemical reactions that are happening in the shortbread paste, in yeast dough for example the addition of salt slows fermentation activity to a more manageable rate. Salt makes the paste a little stronger and tighter. It improves the shelf life of the finished shortbread, but its effects depend on ambient conditions. Salt is hydroscopic, which means it absorbs moisture. In humid climates salt will trap moisture from the air, so making a crisp crust soggy and shortening shelf life. In dry climates salt helps trap moister in the paste for longer, so inhibiting staling and extending shelf life. Salt also adds flavour. It enhances the natural flavour of other the ingredients including butter and flour. Several verities of salt are available including fine, course, rock salt and sea salt. All types act chemically in the same the same way, with no difference in cooking results.




Commonly used in Ghanaian dishes, Asian cuisine and authentic Chinese stir-fry’s, rats are just too squeamish for most of us to even consider. However, hungry contestants on the recent reality television show ‘I’m a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here!’ decided the arguments came second to the need for food. With a diet consisting solely of rice and beans celebrity chef Gino D’Acampo, together with actor Stuart Manning, decided to capture, behead, skin and gut a live rat which they had found in their jungle camp. Gino then produced a risotto using the animals meat. Both men were arrested and have now been charged with animal cruelty. Both will appear in court at Murwillumbah, in New South Wales, Australia, on February 3. If convicted, they face up to three years in jail and a fine of A$2,000 (£1,100). It is the first time that such charges have been brought against the show in nine British series, although the producers love nothing better than feeding contestants live insects and scaring the daylights out of them with snakes, spiders and various reptiles. Animal rights campaigners have consistently condemned the programme, but ITV says that it works closely with the New South Wales RSCPA to ensure that its guidelines are followed. Killing and eating invertebrates is understood to be acceptable to the authorities in Australia, sources close to the show said; killing and eating animals that have not been bred for food however is not acceptable. When asked about the incident Gino replied: “I saw one of these rats running around. I got a knife, I got its throat, I picked it up. I skinned it. I cooked it…” Afterwards he said that: “It was the best recipe I ever did. It was beautiful.”

 

Chef Gordon Ramsay has been forced to abandon his dreams of conquering New York, quietly selling off his flagship foreign restaurant The London NYC, which was within the cities Manhattan Hotel. After three years of continuing financial problems the restaurant has been taken over by the Blackstone Group, which currently operates the hotel. The London NYC will continue to operate under the Ramsay brand, but the chefs involvement will be limited to advice on menus and service. The Michelin two-starred restaurant was opened in 2006 with an investment of £5 million, however it has never quite hit the mark with New York’s dinners and has suffered from limited bookings and poor reviews. It failed to make it into a list of the cities top 50 eateries with many critics unhappy at Ramsay’s absence and lack of effort, regarding the London NYC as just another Ramsay outpost. Ramsay has admitted that his overseas ventures contributed to such heavy losses that a year ago his bank’s auditors recommended he file for bankruptcy protection in the US, a spokesman added: "In line with the restructure of the international Gordon Ramsay Restaurants, the day to day operation of Gordon Ramsay at The London NYC is now the responsibility of the hotel, who now operate the restaurant under licence from Gordon Ramsay Holdings. "

Cooking has always been Gordon’s passion and his no-nonsense approach in the kitchen is legendary. This award-winning chef knows just what it takes to get those kitchen tasksdone quickly and easily. Using high quality kitchen appliances is a must – and now you can confidently step up to the plate with the exciting new Gordon Ramsay Professional range of kitchen appliances, designed to give you and your kitchen that all-important cutting edge. The Gordon Ramsay Professional range boasts a stunning collection of professional food preparation products in a sleek stainless steel finish…and they’re tough, just like the man himself! These include a Stand Mixer, Food Processor, Blender and two Hand Blenders – that will whiz through any task with ease. Also available is a Grill Griddle and a Convection Oven with Grill, both serving up deliciously authentic chef-style cooking. To complement the collection additional products have been included – all reflecting the quality and design of the overall range. These include a Kettle, Filter Coffee Maker, Milk Frother, Two and Four-Slice Toasters that are so good-looking you won’t want to hide them away! Gordon says: “As a chef, I work at a thousand miles an hour, but when I am at home, I want to slow down a little. and In a domestic kitchen, having a quality set of time-saving tools can make a big impact on both speed and efficiency, crucial when you have hungry mouths to feed! So, I have introduced a range of professional grade kitchen products – all tested to meet my high standards – and designed to make your life much easier in the kitchen. Enjoy.” This truly stylish professional kitchenware range, will not only bring a great new look to your kitchen but also bring that expert finish to your cooking. Each of these appliances sports advanced features guaranteed to make light work of any kitchen task. Now you’ve got the right kitchen tools, it’s down to you! Done!