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Monthly Archives: March 2010

Coming soon to The Foodies Handbook are a series of exclusive bistro, café and restaurant discounts and promotional offers. Brought to you in association with these offers will be made available through our website, so keep an eye out for the links…

Spring is upon us with green shoots pushing through chilly soil. This month begins with All Fools Day and is followed by St Georges Day on the 23rd and Anzac Day on the 25th. Vegetables in season are: asparagus, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, chives, courgettes, cucumber, leeks, lettuce, marrow, morels, parsnips, radishes, spinach, spring onions, tomatoes and watercress. Fruits in season are: Asian pears, bananas, pineapple and rhubarb. Seafood in season are:  brown crab, crawfish, halibut, lemon sole, lobster, mackerel, oysters, prawns, salmon, shrimps, trout and whitebait. Meat in season this month are: duckling and early lambs.

Thai green curry paste is used commonly in Asian cookery to add flavour and aroma. To produce take 2 stalks of lemongrass, 4 spring onions, 3 fresh green chillies, 4 cloves of garlic, a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, a bunch of  coriander and 1tsp of coriander seeds, 8 fresh lime leaves, 3tsp of soy sauce and 1tsp of fish sauce. Trim the lemon grass stalks, peeling away the outer leaves. Crush the stalks with a rolling pin. Trim the spring onions. Halve the chillies. Roughly chop the garlic and ginger. Add all of the ingredients together in a processor and blend to a smooth paste. Use as required.

If you like your food to be out of the ordinary or are especially fond of eggs, then an Ostrich egg could be just the thing for you. Food retailer Waitrose will soon be selling fresh Ostrich eggs at £15.99 each, but be warned because you will require a huge appetite to eat a whole one. Each egg weighs 3lb and is 24 times the size of a hens egg. The free range eggs are said to have a distinctively light flavour and texture, making them ideal for cooking. They work well scrambled or as omelettes, and could be ideal if you like experimenting with new ingredients. The sale of duck, pheasant and goose eggs as increased recently, and now it’s the turn of the ostrich egg. The eggs are to be supplied by the Clarence Court Ostrich Farm in Lincolnshire. The Ostrich egg is the largest egg of any bird species. The eggs will be available in 19 selected Waitrose stores, all within London, during the laying season of mid- April to August. Supplies are being restricted due to the small number of birds involved, but if there is sufficient demand then the Waitrose said that it would consider locating additional suppliers. It should be noted that it would take 2 hours to hard-boil an Ostrich egg and that just one would yield either 100 meringues, 32 soufflés or 50 éclairs.

Chef Rowley Leigh of Le Cafe Anglais in Bayswater

Tabasco is a term generally used to indicate the hot chilli sauce of the same name, a commercial condiment produced by combining the Tabasco chilli pepper with distilled white vinegar and salt. The resulting mixture is then allowed to mature in oak barrels for three years, this allows the unique flavour and aroma to develope before being bottled. Produced by the McIlhenny Company on Avery Island, Louisiana, USA. A family business, Tabasco was once exclusively produced using peppers grown only on Avery Island, although the company now also uses peppers grown in South America. The Tabasco sauce was invented in 1868 by Edmund McIlhenny, a Farmer and former banker from Maryland whom had moved to Louisiana in 1840. Initially McIlhenny used discarded cologne bottles to distribute his sauce to family and friends. In 1868 when he began selling his sauce to the public, it was then that he ordered thousands of new ‘cologne bottle’ from a New Orleans glassworks. The sauce is still sold today in bottles similar to the original design. On his death in 1890, the business was taken over by John Avery McIlhenny who expanded and modernized the business. Johns brother Edward was the next family member to take control of the company in 1898. He ran the company until his death in 1949. The company was next headed by Walter S McIlhenny, he oversaw production until his death in 1985. Paul C McIlhenny was next to oversee the Tabasco company, and still heads this family business today. Sprinkle a few drops onto pizza, pasta, salads and stir fries or in soups and sauces. As they say on the bottle, ‘shake on a little excitement’.

The upmarket supermarket chain Waitrose, part of the John Lewis Group, has announced a dream alliance that is set to be the envy of the food retail world. Delia Smith and Heston Blumenthal will come together for the first time in a collaboration that will see these two top food icons in TV, press and online advertising. Both Delia and Heston will act as food ambassadors for the Waitrose brand; inspiring cooks, sharing their expertise and showcasing recipes – whilst offering tips and championing individual ingredients. On working with Waitrose, Delia says ‘After many years of communicating recipes I am delighted that now everyone who follows them will be absolutely certain of being able to find all the ingredients’. Heston says ‘I am very excited about my relationship with Waitrose who share my love of great food and drink – I’m looking forward to working with them and their exceptional group of farmers and producers. I’m also excited about sharing some great practical tips, ideas and recipes with the home cook, to encourage us all to get the best out of our ingredients, and hopefully add some fun and excitement to the weekly shop’. The campaign will debut towards the end of March and is the first-ever personality fronted ad campaign from Waitrose.

This is a light fruit cake similar to the traditional Christmas cake. Eaten during Lent and at Easter it has a layer of marzipan baked into its centre, with another coating on the top of the cake. Around its edge eleven marzipan balls or roses are placed, these represent the true disciples of Jesus, Judas being omitted. In some variations Christ is also represented by a ball placed at the centre of the cake. The Simnel cake has been known mediaeval times and were originally a Mothering Sunday tradition, when young service girls would make one to be taken home to their mothers on their day off. The word simnel is probably derived from the Latin word simila, meaning ‘fine’, this is because of the fine graded flour with which the cakes were made. Another sugestion is that the name ‘Simnel’ is believed to have come from a brother (Simon) and sister (Nell) who wanted to make a cake for their mother. One wanted to bake the cake, the other to broil it. They decided to do both and bring them together in one cake.

This could well be the ultimate smoking gun.

Channel 4 has confirmed that it has no immediate plans to broadcast an unaired British series of Gordon Ramsays Kitchen Nightmares. The series of six programmes was recorded in 2008, but has remained in the production companies vaults due to what the channel describes as ‘contractual problems’. It is believed that Ramsays deal with American broadcaster Fox prevents any programmes being shown in the UK prior to them first being screened in the US. It has been suggested that American audiences would not find the British version of Kitchen Nightmares appealing, because of its emphasis on food production and service rather than owner personalities and human conflict.

Le Creuset was first produced in 1925, and is still manufactured at the companies original foundry at Fresnoy-Le-Grand, France. Grills, grillits, skillets, casseroles, oven dishes and saucepans are constructed from pure cast iron, fashioned by pouring molten iron from a large cauldron, known as a ‘creuset’, between two sand moulds. When the shape is cast and the iron cooled it is trimmed and grounded by hand, coated in enamel and fired at a temperature of 840°C, giving the distinctive super smooth and even finish. The Le Creuset stoneware range is made using traditional methods and is double glazed to give a tough, scratch and craze resistant surface. These storage jars, ramekins, pots, baking dishes and utensils are freezer, dishwasher and microwave proof.