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Monthly Archives: April 2010

This is the only British vegetable to enjoy ‘European Union
Protection of Designation of Origin’, this little cultivated new potato
is the first variety of the season to appear. Grown commercially on the
island of Jersey since early in the 18th centuary, replacing the
islands then main crop of cider apples. These new potatoes now comprise
75% of the islands agricultural output, producing a maximum yield of
50,000 tones every year. Regarded by many as the Champagne of potatoes,
with a season starting in mid March and running through to the end of
July. They have a sweet, nutty flavour with a firm, dense texture,
creamy colouring and distinctive kidney shape. Versatile, but best
cooked simply with a little butter, fresh mint and sea salt. Still
cultivated using traditional methods that were established in the 1100s.
Despite modern advances in farming techniques they are still seeded by
hand in the autumn ready for planting, again by hand, in January.
They are fed on a natural fertilizer produced from local
seaweed. The early crop is planted on the steep island slopes, a process
which is completely undertaken by hand. Later crops are planted during
March on the islands flatlands.
Tales abound as to how the Jersey Royal came into
existence. Island folklore suggests that it was simply discovered
growing on a hillside. Another tale recounts that a 17th century local
farmer Hugh de la Haye attended a dinner party with an extremely large
potato, found growing on his farm. The potato was cut into 16 portions, a
piece for each guest, and planted on a steep slope. That spring a large
crop of rounded tubers was produced, with one plant in particular
producing the classic kidney shaped potato which we know today. High in
carbohydrates and fibre, low in fat and with the skins containing good
levels of vitamin C and B. Never peel a Jersey Royal, simply wash away
the flaky skin prior to cooking. Serve sautéed with spring onions, smoky
bacon and cherry tomatoes. Or tossed in balsamic vinegar and walnut oil
together with a little garlic, mustard powder and chopped parsley. Mix
with grilled goats cheese, pine nuts and fresh figs. Cook on a barbecue
for about an hour. Or roast in goose fat with fresh rosemary and thyme.

Way back in 1998 Gordon Ramsay stated that: “…I’m not a celebrity chef! That’s Brian Turner and Garry Rhodes, their celebrity chefs. Let’s get it right, I’m a cook and I enjoy cooking, I’m not interested in signing a multimillion pound deal that I can conduct a kitchen from an office. I want to continue cooking. I want my own individuality and I would like to have a set-up ware I’m no longer a thirty three percent share holder, I want to be a hundred percent owned.” How things change Gordon…

If you happen to be plagued by ants then an aardvark could well prove to be the perfect solution. A sweet and simple little mixed beverage, a therapeutic treatment to those complex and well organized insects. To produce an authentic aardvark cocktail blend equal quantities of apple schnapps, blueberry schnapps, butterscotch schnapps, peach schnapps and strawberry schnapps. Serve over crushed ice together with the pulp of a squeezed passion fruit and a dash of fresh lime. Garnish with a sprig of mint. But beware, do not sniff this up through your snout. Enjoy your aardvark.

In 1998 Gordon Ramsay dramatically resigned as
Head Chef of the Aubergine restaurant in London, when the owners
mistakenly sacked one of his brigade. Gordon left the Aubergine taking
the entire staff with him, including waiters and dishwashers, and begun a
project to open his own restaurant. He obtained finance totalling 1.2
million pounds from his father-in-law and the bank, and embarks on a
journey to open his own establishment. Gordon takes over the vacant La
Tante Claire in London, striping it and completely refurbishing the
dinning and kitchen areas, turning it into ‘Gordon Ramsay’. The project
took eight months to complete and made Gordon the man he is today.
Amazingly the entire process was caught on camera. A British television
crew followed the whole procedure as chef Gordon Ramsay became
entrepreneur and resturanter, going after his ultimate prize, 3 Michelin
stars. On opening night the pressure is high, and Gordon begins to feel
it as a shortage of fresh salad causes him to loose is cool. Eventually
things are up and running smoothly, making £50000 a week. Then he
discovers that the Michelin inspectors are dining at his restaurant, but
can the team reach the standard required to achieve a third star? Then
while setting up a banquet for 650 people at Versailles, Gordon clashes
with organisers in a way only he could.

This is a North African spice mix commonly used in Moroccan cookery and containing over twenty various spices. Translating as ‘head of the shop’ and so named because it was the shop owner that would blend the spices, usually to his own personal taste. The exact blend varies and is available ground or whole, but it is always warm and aromatic. A typical ras el hanout could include cardamom, mace, galangal, long pepper, cubebs, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, rose buds, lavender flowers, Spanish fly, ash berries, grains of paradise, black pepper, chufa nuts, turmeric, cassia, nigella, monks pepper, belladonna and orris root.

We at The Foodies Handbook believe that eating out should never be reserved just for those special occasions such as an anniversary, birthday or that Sunday lunch treat. A meal with family and friends, an after work gathering or just a spontaneous whim can easily become something special. Our finances may not always stretch as far as we would like and consequently British restaurants and bistros have seen customer numbers drop tremendously over recent months. As a result many eateries have introduced special offers and promotions in an attempt to retain regulars and to entice new custom. So, if you are looking to save money without sacrificing quality then we are in a position to help. In association with money supermarket.com The Foodies Handbook are able to offer a number of café, bistro and restaurant discount vouchers. Offers available include a free bottle of wine, two courses for £10 or a whopping 25 percent discount. Click on the link bellow and start making savings today, simply enter your location to see what offers are available near you. Enjoy.

A
cultivated perennial plant with spear-shaped green shoots that are eaten
as a vegetable
or as an ingredient in sauces,
soups, pastas, etc,
while still young and
tender. The British green asparagus season is a highlight of the foodie
calendar, with the first delicious spears appear at the end of April.
The asparagus season lasts just eight weeks, so it is important to make
the most of each delicious bundle. Asparagus is eaten worldwide most
commonly in Britain with fillet steak, in America stir-fried with
chicken or shrimp, in China with eggs, in France it is steamed and
served with hollandaise sauce, while in Italy it is eaten with melted
butter, lemon and parmesan cheese. It is not generally considered to be a
delicacy, but is highly regarded by those who appreciate its delicate
flavour and distinctive texture. Asparagus is low in calories, contains
no fat or cholesterol, and is very low in sodium. It is an excellent
source of folic acid, potassium, fiber and rutin. Often steamed in tall,
narrow asparagus cooking pots which allow the shoots to be steamed
gently, their tips staying out of the water. The bottom portion of
asparagus will often contain sand, so thorough cleaning is recommended
before cooking. Fresh asparagus may be kept for several days before use,
stored in an airtight jar with a little water at the bottom and kept in
a fridge. Latin name Asparagus officinalis.

A ‘marmite’ is a large deep earthenware cooking pot with a close fitting lid, used to produce soups, stews and stocks. Derived from the French word marmouser meaning ‘to murmur’, because of the sound of the rattling lid during cooking. However ‘Marmite’ is probably better known as a sticky dark brown vegetarian yeast and vegetable extract, rich in B vitamins. Devised by the German chemist Justus Liebig in 1866, Marmite is a trade name said to have been inspired by the marmite cooking pot, a picture of which appears on the jars label. The shape of the jar resembles the shape of the pot. Recently an extra strong and more mature version called ‘Marmite XO’ has been launched. This is four time stronger than the traditional spread, souped-up with super-strength. Original Marmite has been used as a component of army ration packs since World War 1 and is used as a spread on bread and crackers, or as a flavouring in soups, sauces and stews.

ITV1 has replaced the popular ‘Hells Kitchen’ with a new programme: ‘Marcos Kitchen Burnout’. The new format will be far cheaper for the production company and broadcaster ITV1, it will not be set in its own purpose built restaurant and the apprentice chefs will not be living together, a huge saving. Also, celebrity dinners will now be required to pay for their meals. It was no secret that Hell’s Kitchen was an expensive show. This time they are keeping the costs down and making it easier for celebrities to take part because they will no longer be required to live with everyone else. The new show has also been pre recorded  and will be aired on Friday nights in April. Those taking part include Russell Grant, Nancy Dell’Olio, Kelvin MacKenzie and Carol Smillie.

Chef Heston Blumenthal has challenged himself to create a deliciously spectacular adventure, taking as his inspiration the children’s classic ‘Charlie And The Chocolate Factory,’ written by Roald Dahl, farther of aspiring food goddess Sophie Dahl. Food boffin and alchemist Heston will conjure up some of the books magic, creating such items as edible wallpaper and psychedelic ducks. “I don’t do food in an ordinary way,” says the Michelin star chef. Heston’s ‘Chocolate Factory Feast’ will be shown on Channel 4 at 9pm on Tuesday April 6th.