Category Archives: FOOD STUFF

Smoothies and juices

Smoothies and juices

Juices of one sort or another have been enjoyed for millennia, and shakes have been indulged in for decades, but the growing fascination with juicing and blending is something else again. Maybe this smoothies and juices obsession is triggered by our growing interest in health and nutrition and the desire to improve our consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables, or because we’ve realized there’s more to liquid refreshment than a carton of orange juice. Whatever the reasons, the fact remains that homemade smoothies, juices and blends are one of the most exciting things happening in today’s kitchens.

Homemade vinegar

Homemade vinegar

Vinegar is one of the most important and underrated store-cupboard ingredients. It has the ability to totally transform your cooking, so use it with confidence and authority. That contrast of rich and fatty flavours with vinegar and pickles is amazing. That’s why having pickles in a kebab, and vinegary mint sauce with lamb, is so good. Vinegar is also a wonderful stomach settler, and helps you digest rich foods. Give it a go. Make your own vinegar. There are two main, easy ways you can have a go at making your own vinegar. To start off with, you need a bacteria called a vinegar ‘mother’ to essentially spoil wine and turn it into acidic vinegar. These spores are floating around in the atmosphere invisibly all the time.

The cranberry trail

The cranberry trail

Christmas wouldn’t be the same without cranberry sauce to accompany the turkey. But cranberries can be enjoyed year around, in your cooking or as a sauce, jelly or juice. As the landscape of New England in the States takes on the hues of autumn, with rich gold, burnt sienna and terracotta, acres of dazzling scarlet appear. That essential part of Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations – the cranberry – is ready for harvest. Cranberries are one of only three fruits native to North America (the other two are the blueberry and Concord grape), though they also grow wild in the UK, as well as other parts of Europe. And long before the first Pilgrim Fathers arrived in 1620, the American Indians had many uses for the red bitter berry growing among the boggy marshes.

Buffets and bowls

Buffets and bowls

Buffets probably need no introduction, but ‘bowls’ might. Bowl food is 21-century party fare, as substantial as lunch or supper, but served in a bowl and designed to be eaten standing up. When it comes to informal gatherings, people might have rather different ideas. Some people like buffets because guests can help themselves and sit down at the table or perchsomewhere to chat and eat. Sor others, buffets are still way too formal. Space is also at a premium at some houses, so guests have to cram together and pitch in. The ideal way forthe host to entertain the family and friends is with one choice of main course presented in bowls, which people eat standing up. We’re giving you few positive points for each of the two options for your birthday party or family gathering. You may like the both ideas equaly, but, depending on the situation, one option may be more suitable than the other. However, the choice of styles is entirely up to you and the occasion.

Jointing a bird

Jointing a bird

A bird has a few bits to it, but fortunately all birds have the same bits. Some of the best are inside the bird and most prized is the liver. When buying a bird you will often find a plastic bag inside containing the offal and neck; these are great for making stock. The hen of any bird has the plumpest breasts. The breasts are guarded by the wings and above that you will findthe opening to the neck- remember: the wing end is the neck end; the other end is the cavity. Stuffing goes in the neck end, howeveryou can put flavourings in the cavity. It is much more economicalto buy the whole bird, joint it yourself, and get the most out of it, rather than buying the portions in a foam tray. Learning to joint a chicken is one of the most useful skills a cook can have and is easy with a bit of practice.