Sunday, December 23, 2012

The push for Christmas perfection

I'm just back from enjoying a friend's Christmas ale (brewed with nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and cloves) and home-baked bread, including another guest's Christmas fruity walnut and beer bread. This was a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe, (this version made with a mix of Red Stripe and coconut porter, apparently) and was absolutely delicious. No kneading or rising time required - I'll be making it myself as soon as I get a chance.

On the subject of Christmas television cookery programmes, I always have a burst of initial enthusiasm, only to start feeling slightly exhausted by them at some point in December.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The celebrity chefs and the supermarkets

Most of us take it for granted that a bit of home cooking is generally healthier than buying a supermarket ready-meal.

But not if you follow the recipes of some of our celebrity chefs, according to a study in the British Medical Journal that has made some headlines today. The study, which looked at 100 recipes by celebrity chefs and 100 supermarket ready meals, found that the recipes scored worse on calories, sugar, fat and saturated fat.

It's not a perfect study - it only looked at five cookery books, the top-sellers in December 2010, so the recipes aren't the most recent ones, and only four chefs are represented (Jamie Oliver had two best selling books at the time).

Jamie Oliver

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Halloumi with tomato sauce, roasted garlic and peppers

Some of you may remember that I promised to make my grandmother her first dish of couscous. Well, she'd never had it before, and at age 100, I thought it was time she tried out this quick and versatile staple.

But what to serve with the couscous? Tomato sauce and roasted vegetables has long been a favourite of mine with couscous, especially if you make the sauce a bit spicy. But I thought the dish might want a bit more of a focal point.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Socca, farinata and other things you can do with a bag of chick pea flour

A few months ago I bought a bag of chick pea flour from the local health food store. I didn't have any firm plans for it, but it was going cheap due to being near its best-before date, and I can never resist a bargain.

Since then the bag of flour has become unequivocally out of date, and I have wondered what to do with it. It still seems to taste fine. So I have used it as a thickener in some curries, which works quite well. It lends a flavour of its own as well as helping to make a thick sauce (which is happily low-fat too). But it was going to take a lot of curries to get through a 1 kg bag of the stuff. Then I made a simple soup with it, based on a recipe on the packet. It tasted fine, but I've made better soups.

And then I came across socca - or is it farinata? It's a dish found in southern France, Italy, and various other parts of the world. Depending on thickness, it can be a pancake or a flatbread. Either way, it's made from chick pea flour, water and olive oil.