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This curry paste consists of  garlic, ginger, roasted peppers, paprika, garam masala, turmeric, sea salt, red chillies, coriander, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, black peppercorns, groundnut oil and tomato puree. Prepare the garlic and ginger, toast in a dry pan together with the other ingredients. When golden brown remove from the heat and crush in a mortar until a fine powder is obtained. Blend with a the oil and tomato puree to form a smooth paste. Use as required.

Processed food produces  providing in-flight food to US airlines are putting passengers health at risk. A report from Americas Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have issued a report detailing several problems at LSG Sky Chefs, Gate Gourmet and Flying Food Group. These companies supply Delta, American, United, Continental and US Airways amongst others. Problems included cockroaches, rats and an overall level of poor personal hygiene among workers. The FDA concluded that food poisoning outbreaks were a distinct possibility. The three producers named in the report operate 91 production kitchens across North America and supply over 100 million meals every year. The FDA reports that the problem is getting worse. A representative from Gate Gourmet satated that the findings would be taken ‘very seriously’.

June is a month rich in flavours and events, we will see the peak of the asparagus, new potato, strawberry and watercress seasons. Fathers Day, Henley Regatta, Midsummer’s Day, Royal Ascot and Wimbledon all occur during this warm and sunny month. June is full of fresh produce and it is always worth ensuring you start the month with plenty of free storage space in fridge, freezer and larder. Vegetables in season are: asparagus, aubergine, broad beans, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, Chinese leaves, courgettes, cucumber, fennel, globe artichokes, green beans, lettuce, mangetout, peas, potatoes, radishes, samphire, sorrel, spinach, spring onions, tomatoes, turnips and watercress. Fruits in season are: bananas, cherries, gooseberries, grapes, melons, raspberries and strawberries. Seafood’s in season are: crab, crawfish, haddock, herring, lobster, mackerel, prawns, salmon, sardines, sea bream, sea trout, shrimps, squid and whitebait. Meat in season this month is lamb.

Foods are packed with natural chemicals that are essential to our health, such as vitamins and minerals. But some foods contain potentially harmful substances called ‘natural toxins’.  Some toxins occur naturally in certain foods, while others are produced when the food is damaged, when moulds or other fungi begin to grow on the food. Dried red kidney beans contain natural toxins called ‘lectins’ which can cause stomach aches and vomiting. These are destroyed if you soak the dried beans for at least 12 hours and then boil them vigorously for at least 10 minutes in fresh water. Tinned kidney beans have already had this process applied and so can be used without further treatment. Potatoes contain low levels of the natural toxin ‘glycoalkaloids’. Higher levels of these glycoalkaloids are found in green potatoes, sprouted potatoes and potatoes stored in light. Severe glycoalkaloid poisoning is very rare, but it’s important to store potatoes in a dark, cool and dry place and not to eat green or sprouting parts. If you’ve removed the green parts and the potatoes still taste bitter, don’t eat them. If you come across a green potato crisp, it’s probably best not to eat it.  Mouldy or damaged apples may contain a toxin called ‘patulin’, particularly around the bruised or damaged part of the fruit. Do not eat these apples or use them to make sauce, desserts or juice. Toxins formed by algae in fresh or salt water are called ‘algal toxins’. Shellfish such as mussels, scallops and oysters are likely to contain these toxins. In the UK, paralytic shellfish poisons (PSP), amnesiac shellfish poisons (ASP), and the less toxic diarrhetic shellfish poisons (DSP) are the most common shellfish toxins. During the period of greatest risk, April to September, notices are posted in areas with high PSP, DSP and ASP levels warning people not to eat shellfish caught locally. Fishing may also be prohibited.

Cavolo Nero A classic and versatile Italian leaf vegetable similar to the traditional cabbage and member of the  brassica family. It has a deep green colouring and tapered leaves similar to kale. Commonly grown in southern Italy, it works especially well shredded in soups or simply sautéed in olive oil together with garlic and chilli. Often used in salads or as an accompaniment to various meats. Sometimes referred to as black cabbage it is an essential ingredient in the classic Tuscan soup ribollita, which is traditionally left  for 24 hours before serving, allowing the flavours to develop as the soup naturally thickens. An excellent source of vitamins A, B, C and K as well as fibre. For an easy Italian soup sauté fine diced onion, celery, carrots and garlic in olive oil together with a little butter. Add chopped tomatoes, precooked cannellini beans and stock. Simmer until tender. Add some shredded cavolo nero and simmer for a few minuets. Serve with warm crusty bread.