Archives for August 2012

Why don't we eat more cauliflower?

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Clare Hargreaves Clare Hargreaves | 14:50 UK time, Wednesday, 29 August 2012

If there’s one dish that reminds me of childhood home, it’s cauliflower cheese. My mum was a reluctant cook so cauliflower cheese became our staple diet – every day for high tea. We washed it down with weak tea and Women’s Institute cake. Actually, mum did a pretty good job: unlike the cooks at school who turned cauliflower into grey mush, she never overcooked it. And she lavished the magical tree-like florets with generous amounts of cheese-rich sauce.

So I’m sad to hear that we Brits no longer want to eat this wonderfully eccentric-looking vegetable. Sales have dropped around 35% over the past decade, and last year, nearly half of British households didn’t buy a single cauliflower. In short, if we don’t start buying this snowy brassica again, growers are now warning it could soon become extinct.

Cauliflower cheese

 

The reason I’m fighting to keep cauliflower on our tables - apart from bringing back tender childhood memories – is its sheer versatility. It’s crunchily delicious eaten raw in a salad with plenty of lemon, in fritters, or as a pretty crudité to dunk into delicious dips. It combines brilliantly with spices, green beans, cucumbers and courgettes to make a piccalilli, and is amazing in a curry. Cauli is nice roasted too. And few things pair better with fresh scallops than a silky smooth cauliflower purée.

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Cake: man v machine

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Deborah Reddihough Deborah Reddihough | 10:10 UK time, Wednesday, 22 August 2012

As part of our on-going series on the kitchen gadgets that really count, this time our eye turns to cakes. Discussions in the office pit me against the rest of the team who believe an electric hand whisk is an essential piece of kit when making cakes. I remonstrate that people were making cakes long before we had electricity in our houses, but they insist: cakes are just better when an electric whisk is used. Time to find out…

 
Mary Berry's Victoria sponge cake

Mary Berry's Victoria sandwich is a baking classic and highly rated by users of BBC Food. 

The set up
A basic sponge recipe is needed so that we can easily assess any differences in texture, taste and appearance. Moist cakes such as fudgy chocolate cake and carrot cake have more tolerance for slip-ups than simple sponges, so I decide to plump for the classic Victoria sponge. Mary Berry’s perfect Victoria sandwich is our highest-rated sponge cake recipe so, knowing the recipe works, it seems a sensible choice.

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Outdoor entertaining Moro-style

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Louisa Carter Louisa Carter | 15:07 UK time, Thursday, 9 August 2012

With hopefully a few weeks of summer to eke out, I got thinking about how to manage outdoor cooking and eating in a more effortless and stylish way than I have in the past.

When the sun suddenly shines and I decide to throw an impromptu barbecue, it's often the same food that I reach for – sausages, whole mackerel, courgettes halved lengthways and brushed with olive oil; all fine food but it's time for something new.

Barbecue food

So who better to ask than Sam and Sam Clark of award-winning restaurant Moro in London? They will be cooking at this weekend’s Wilderness Festival where food is arguably the headlining act (the line-up of chefs also includes Yottam Ottolenghi, Fergus Henderson and Valentine Warner).

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In praise of British butter

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Deborah Reddihough Deborah Reddihough | 12:00 UK time, Friday, 3 August 2012

When it comes to dairy, the French are commonly considered the best producers in the world, with some regions being given the protection of AOP status. And when we’re looking for something special to smear on our bread we reach out for French products, because they’re the best. Right? Well, maybe not.

As the Isigny AOP butter website puts it “How do we explain the fact that gourmets favour Isigny butter? It is simple! The Isigny terroir has the advantage of a mild, damp climate”. Mmm, remind you of anything? The British climate is nothing if not mild and damp - so why aren’t our dairy products held in equally high esteem?

Butter

British: you can't put a better bit of butter on your knife.

There are lots of fabulous butters available in the UK and you don’t have to look far to find them: most supermarkets stock butter from small, local producers and typically the price will be less than that of the big-brand butters. So you can support small businesses and dairies, pay less and most probably get a better tasting product – what’s not to like?

The UK’s mild summers punctuated with frequent bouts of drizzle produce green and pleasant lands that are perfect for dairy production. The best cream comes from dairy cows grazed in meadows, so climate is crucial because it affects what will grow in the fields and therefore what the cow eats. And a cow’s diet has a marked effect on the flavour of butter.

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