Tag Archives: chocolate

This Week’s Food News

Chocolate is the new superfood
Joining blueberries, broccoli, and bananas, chocolate has now been anointed the latest ‘superfood’. Researchers found that, gram-for-gram, chocolate contained more ‘healthy plant compounds‘ than fruit juice. Good news for chocolate lovers everywhere. Go and stuff yourself with Dairy Milk and feel the well-being wash over you. Continue reading

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This Week’s Food News

Chocolate prices to rise
Political uncertainty in the Ivory Coast will lead to a massive rise in the price of chocolate, experts predict. In an effort to stem funds for controversially self-elected honcho Laurent Gbagbo, recognised leader Alassane Ouattara is contemplating an export ban. This has led to a 12%  leap in cocoa prices, with futures rising too. Chocolatiers, however, reckoned the rise was ‘short term’.

Chinese wine the next big thing
By 2015 China will produce more wine than Australia, according to a leading forecaster. Although China’s current offerings are met with turned-up noses by most oenophiles, its geography gives it some serious potential. So instead of Semillon and Chardonnay we may soon be supping Dragon’s Eye and Ju Feng Noir with our nuts.

French cuisine UNESCO protected
French food has joined the Royal Ballet of Cambodia and Mexico’s Day of the Dead Festival as one of UNESCO’s “World Intangible Heritages”, despite a general agreement that French food has lost its way (even Joël Robuchon admitted British food was better). Either way, France’s contribution to our own cuisine is undoubted and vast, so good on them.

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Other food news this week:
* Rapid growth in the UK for Caribbean food.
* Too much water in supermarket bacon, watchdog finds.
* South West named hottest region for UK food.
* Beef being sold as lamb in Falkirk.
* General panic about food prices continues. Yawn.

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Piece of the week
* A very entertaining piece by Christopher Hirst on the history of British binge drinking.

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Recipe of the week
* Helen Graves’s jerk chicken.

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Ollie and James run the marathon
My pal Ollie Thring and I are running the London Marathon on April 17th in aid of Action Against Hunger. We’d be incredibly grateful for any donations, which you can give here.

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Video of the week:

Let’s hope Ollie and I avoid a catastrophe like this:

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A White Christmas

This Christmas I challenged the readers of this blog to help me to rejuvenate what had become an all too methodical Christmas lunch. I wanted to eat something that went beyond our traditional and stale festive binge – nothing wildly different or controversial (I would never have been forgiven), but just enough to reinvigorate the day. There were some wonderful suggestions, from all over the world. Natasha’s fried carp with knedliky (Czech dumplings) sounded delicious but would have undoubtedly ended in a riot had it been served in favour of turkey. Alex, a Jewish friend, suggested latkas, potato pancakes eaten at Chanukah. Again, I was – I am – pathetic, and just didn’t dare produce these.

Some more conventional suggestions were embraced. However, after much deliberating I decided that, ambitious as I wanted to be with Christmas lunch, I didn’t really fancy the stress that would have undoubtedly been induced by attempting myriad dishes on Christmas morning. Doing turkey ‘n trimmings for 18 is stressful enough, so instead I dotted the various recipes around the festive period (there may still be time for more). They were all a complete delight. So thank you, everybody, for your truly inspirational input – you helped to make this Christmas much more fun.

Lambswool – with thanks to Nibbles for their suggestion

 

This is a medieval beverage, swilled no doubt by the gallon on high days and winter holidays. I tried it with ale, feeling that with cider (a more common variation) that it would just be like mulled cider. In truth it is probably nicer that way but it was still warming, aromatic and festive.

Makes 2 litres

6 Cox’s apples

25g butter

4 bottles good ale – Black Sheep or Landlord – otherwise good cider. White Lightning is excellent.

8 tablespoons brown sugar

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ginger

Peel, core and quarter the apples. In a large cauldron, melt the butter over a fire that is not  newly ablaze, and yet has not lost all of its fervour, and add the apples and spices. Gently nurdle those golden orbs until lightly bronzed like the sultry curves of a Moorish maiden, then add the ale and the sugar. Stir well and heat until just below the point at which the bubbles breaketh the surface. Leave for the length of the second act of the Bard’s Twelfth Night and serve in warm goblets ye rapscallion ye.

 

Hot chocolate with chilli – with thanks to Ms. Alex

This is just the thing to drink on a cold winter morning. Chocolate and chilli are terrific bed partners – the chilli helping the chocolate to coat the throat with a deep warmth that trickles down all the way to your toes. Fight any resistance to this idea and give it a go. It’s fab.

Makes 6 mugs

200g good quality chocolate (70%)

1 dried red chilli, finely chopped and seeds discarded

100ml water

1l whole milk

4 tsp sugar

250ml double cream

A little extra chocolate for dusting

Break the chocolate into bits and melt over a low heat along with the water and chilli. Meanwhile warm the milk almost to boiling point. Once the chocolate has melted whisk in the milk and add the sugar. Heat for another couple of minutes while you whisk the double cream until softly whipped. Pour the hot chocolate into warm mugs, top with cream and a little grated chocolate.

Brussels sprouts with black pudding – with thanks to The Student Gourmet

Prepare the sprouts by discarding any grotty outer leaves, trimming the bottoms and cutting in half. Add to a pan of boiling salted water and boil for three minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water for 2 minutes. You can do this well ahead (I did it on Christmas Eve this year and the sprouts were as green and fresh as ever).

Heat some butter or goose fat in a large pan and add some chopped up black pudding. Fry until crisp, stirring occasionally, then add the sprouts and cook for a further 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Serve.

Chestnut soup with chorizo and saffron cream – with  further thanks to the mysterious ‘Nibbles’

This is an adaptation of a recipe from the Moro cookbook.

Serves 6

200g whole Chorizo, cut into cubes

1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 stick celery, finely chopped

1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

1 dried red chilli, finely chopped

1 tsp finely chopped rosemary

1 tsp cumin seeds, crushed

400-500g cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped

1 tin tomatoes

1 litre chicken stock

2ooml double cream

a pinch of saffron

Olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and fry the chorizo until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon, reserving the oil.

Add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic and fry over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes, until lightly caramelised and soft.

Next add the chopped rosemary, chilli and cumin and stir for a minute or so, before adding the chestnuts, chopped tomatoes and chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, gently heat the cream and saffron together until the threads have dissolved. Set aside and blend the soup until smooth.

Whisk the saffron cream over a medium heat until it is a little lighter, then serve the soup with a few chunks of chorizo and some of the cream.

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