Scallops have had a bad press, but, when sustainably fished, there is no finer seafood. Do you cook the gastropub favourite at home?
Botticelli's Venus rose from the shell of one, Princess Diana had one on her coat of arms and Maggi Hambling's four-metre-high steel sculpture dominates the beach at Aldeburgh. Scallops are as much a part of our culture as our cuisine – hence, later this week, the cobbled streets of Rye, a small fishing town in East Sussex, will be teaming with men rushing wheelbarrows of scallops from the harbour to the local pub, to be sauteed and served in their shells. This isn't a return to greener methods of transportation, but part of Rye's now annual scallop festival, which this year runs from 15-23 February.
"The idea is to promote one of the key foods that we have right on our doorstep," says Paul Webbe, who runs Webbe's restaurants and cooking school. "Our bay is full of them from late November until mid-April and they are enormously popular – because they're delicious, and people also want to support a major local industry in a small community."
This particular mollusc has always been popular. Archaeological evidence suggests humans have been eating them since the dawn of time. Certainly the Greeks and Romans enjoyed them. The philosopher Xenocrates recommended them grilled and served with vinegar and silphium, a seasoning popular in antiquity. Fast-forward a few hundred years, and medieval pilgrims on the route to Santiago de Compostela carried the shell to use as a plate (its size ensured their requests for sustenance were not too demanding). Nowadays they are on the starter menu of every second gastropub and the main menu almost everywhere else.
"The scallop is fantastically versatile," says Webbe. "It can be served raw and thinly sliced, marinated with spices as a ceviche; seared or pan-fried; on its own or as an accompaniment to other fish or meat." It is also simple to cook at home, perhaps one of the easiest seafoods with which to impress. But this year, perhaps more than ever, scallops need the support the Rye festival gives them. They have come in for a lot of bad press. There have been reports of slaves being used aboard the big trawlers that fish for them in the North Sea.
Then there is the damage caused to the seabed by the dredging equipment that is too often used to catch them (and the wasted bycatch). Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is urging us all to seek out more sustainable sources as part of his Fish Fight campaign. His restaurants use only scallops that have been hand-dived – not least, says head chef Gill Meller, because the divers that catch them (Portland Shellfish and West Country Catch) bring them in fast, so they taste better.
"When very fresh they have a unique texture, which is silky and creamy, and a subtle, sweet flavour," he says. "But the sweetness begins to diminish within hours of coming out of the water and the texture is entirely spoiled by freezing." At the other end of the country, the Ethical Shellfish Company hand-dives for scallops around the Isle of Mull, while in between, small teams of divers have begun to emerge in response to growing concerns about the environmental impact of scallop-fishing.
But they cannot meet the demand for supply, says Claire Pescod from the Marine Stewardship Council. "If a fish is MSC-certified, you know it has been sustainably sourced, even if not hand-picked," says Pescod. "But not every fishery will apply for accreditation, so sometimes you just need to find out a bit more about how they've been caught."
In Rye, scallops are fished using small boats with limited dredges that cause less damage to the seabed than bigger boats, and they are fished only in season for a few days at a time. If we're careful about where they come from, we should be enjoying scallops for another couple of thousand years at least. From tartar to poached, they lend themselves to new combinations and flavours, whether it's Mediterranean-style with chorizo or seared and served with chilli, nam pla and lime juice, along the lines of those dished up by the Thai chain Giggling Squid. There are plenty of ideas around.
But the real beauty of scallops is that simplicity is key. Their flavor is almost enough on its own, and they come with a naturally sculpted serving dish – a food deserving of celebration.Lizzie Enfield
Curried Sweet Potato Salad is a fabulously flavorful spin on a classic potato salad. Made with the more nutrient-rich sweet potato and paired with a savory curried yogurt dressing, this potato salad is both nutritious and tasty.
If you know me at all, you know that I’m no fan of preparing sweet potatoes in gooey, sweet dishes. Rather, I enjoy making a Savory Sweet Potato with Bacon and Swiss Casserole, Mouthwatering Sweet Potato Latkes, and even Sweet Potato Fries with Chipotle & Cilantro Mayo.
I find the combination of sweet and savory undeniably addictive, and this Curried Sweet Potato Salad is no different.Curried Sweet Potato Salad
This recipe is taken from my book Simply Salads by Season, and serves 6-8.Curried Yogurt Dressing
Makes about 2 cups.
Whisk all ingredients together until smooth. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to a week.
First, bring the sweet potato cubes to boil in a large pot of water then cook for approximately 10 minutes.
Drain the sweet potatoes then place in a large bowl to cool.
Next, combine sweet potatoes, green onion, and eggs in the bowl.
Mix well with curried yogurt dressing.
Serve and enjoy!
In my book, Simply Salads by Season, you’ll get dozens of new recipes for dressings, condiments, and salads — all organized by season.
Tired of picking up bottles of salad dressing with ingredients labels that read like chemistry texts? Saddened by how even so-called organic dressings still contain unhealthy refined oils like canola and soy?
Want to know how to take advantage of all the in-season, local, beautiful fruits and vegetables available from your local farmers?(Click here to buy Simply Salads by Season.)
(photo credits: Suzanne Perazzini)
Cheese on toast, curry or a pint of bitter … if you've been abroad, what food and drink is first on your list when you get home?
I'm sitting in Changi airport in Singapore, thinking about food. Having bulldozed my way through the city's hawker markets on a stopover from Australia, my mind is on my next meal. Not the foil-wrapped tray that awaits me, but a proper taste of home.
I've been away from the UK for 15 months, and in that time been asked what I miss, crave and covet. A greasy spoon fry-up, a bacon sandwich, Sunday lunch or a binge of Monster Munch and the Beeb? It's like being asked to pick my favourite song. Home is London. It's Yorkshire and Lancashire, too. All play parts in my life and shape my tastes. Choosing between them is too loaded for me to consider on an empty stomach, so rather than a homecoming meal, I am preparing for a homecoming food journey.
London is the first stop and the scene of my last meal all those months ago. Atonement for an airport festive turkey sandwich is on the cards. There is only one place to wipe the slate clean on that breaded abomination: Brixton, a place I've missed more than I would have imagined. The lanes of Brixton Village and Market Row, the bustle on Electric Avenue. I've tried to explain it to many, but they don't quite get the appeal. Perhaps it is an experience that has to be had, not explained.
Amongst the myriad tastes there is a spot where I'd be divorced pretty sharpish should I not make it the first stop: Rosie's Deli Cafe, sitting boxed in between tables with a coffee and fancy cheese on toast. Yes, I could have gone for bone marrow at St John or salt marsh lamb at the Canton Arms, but Rosie's appeal is far beyond comfort food. It is comfort of a different sort. The kind you feel when moving to a city, finding your haunts and defining your village. Biting into a generous cheesy wedge feels like home.
The homecoming could stall here on a slice of toast, but must move north. To Yorkshire, and an experience that I've tried to replicate in Australia but as yet fallen short. Ingrained in my childhood is my introduction to curry. My dad would take us to Bradford, for dinner (or should that be tea?) at the celebrated likes of the Mumtaz and Aagrah, or somewhere a bit more flock than fancy. I'm imagining a lamb rogan josh, the quintessential Kashmiri dish of my childhood and one that I graduated to from korma training wheels. It all felt very grown up at the time, and an experience that most of my friends didn't have. It could be anywhere, as long as there is a pile of chapatis and rain beating on the front window. On the bleakest of winter nights, a curry can lift the spirits. In western Australia, where winter days feel like the best of English summers, the rain or bleak chill is the missing ingredient.
Last stop, and a short hop over the Pennines to Colne. It is sacrilege for a Yorkshireman to consider Lancashire home, but this mill town is where I find myself drawn. A ritual pint of Burnley's finest, Moorhouse's. A Black Cat or Pride of Pendle, drawn from a hand pump; I'll watch as the glass fills with each pull. My stepdad will know where it's particularly good, and be sure that I have at least one before trying anything fancy. Every homecoming needs a raised glass, and this is the place and the beer.
Whether these departure-lounge daydreams will live up to the food fetishising remains to be seen, as does the question of where home is. Either way, it will be a homecoming that won't see me go hungry.Max Brearley
Ah, breakfast. It is a universally acknowledged truth that breakfast can be the single most challenging meal of the day to routinely prepare WITHOUT falling into ruts — particularly if you’re trying to eat a gluten-free diet, even more so if you’re trying to break out of the cereal box.
After all, just how many different ways can you prepare eggs and/or oatmeal before you die of boredom?
Thankfully, Beth Ricci of Red and Honey has written The Breakfast Revolution: Recipes from Outside the Cereal Box, and she’s even generously offered an exclusive coupon to you all.Does this sound like you?
In her foreword to Beth’s cookbook, Stephanie Langford writes:
You stumble out of bed, bleary-eyed, to the sound of an irritating alarm clock or (much better) the sound of your darling children asking to be fed yet again (what exactly is up with this whole 3 meals a day, 7 days a week thing?). Breakfast time. That most rushed and over-looked of meals. Why does it always get the least of our attention?
Breakfast is so rushed in my own home that I often simply fail to make it. Instead we drive through a local burger joint that serves of breakfast tacos made with pastured eggs — and barely make it to my boys’ school on time.
If we don’t even have time for the drivethru, my boys are consigned to eating a quick Paleo breakfast bar.
I console myself with the knowledge that my boys are not being raised like I was — as cold cereal junkies who consider Pop Tarts a “hot breakfast.” And I tell myself: I packed them good, wholesome lunches of 100% real food, that counts for something, too, right?
Nevertheless, this is not the ideal way to start a day.
But Baked Ramekin Eggs? Those definitely are.
So here’s what this e-book does: it inspires me.
Not with complicated, gourmand-pleasing recipes, but with useful tips for how to organize my breakfast-making to maximize speed and efficiency without compromising on nutrition or flavor.Perhaps the most useful tip to me? Make several big batches of things on the weekend that you can reheat for breakfast throughout the week.
That’s because no matter how I manage it, I just don’t seem to have time in the morning. It doesn’t matter if I wake up earlier; in a home full of young children, there’s always something.
But I do have time on the weekend, so it’s simple to spend an extra half hour whipping together a couple big batches of goodies to use later in the week.Here are a few of my favorite recipes:
This e-book is positively PACKED with breakfast ideas for the gluten-free home — everything from breakfast tacos to breakfast soup.
In other words, I can’t imagine being bored for breakfast ever again.Best of all, the e-book sells for just $8.95.
HURRY. The coupon expires February 23rd!(Click here to buy Breakfast Revolution today!) Want to read more BOOK LOVE posts?
This is the 11th in a weekly Weekend Book Love Series (see them all here).
Next week, I’ll be reviewing Robin Kone’s The Clutter Trap.
(Seriously, I get about a dozen books each month from authors and publishers asking me to review them! It’s time I did something with my never-ending supply of interesting books and select the most awesome, most useful, most well-written of the lot to review.)
Two new exciting eateries have opened in Cork in recent months; both are off the beaten track.
I’ve been hearing about Iyers on Popes Quay for several months and at last I managed to pop in. It’s a tiny little restaurant serving South Indian street food. It’s chic, tiny, just five tables and a counter with a large blackboard menu on the wall behind. I love South Indian food and there it was, samosas, dosas, uthappam, Madras thali, mango lassi, chai…
The owner Gautham Iyer comes from Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu and his wife Caroline hails from Sligo, he’s an aeronautical engineer and she’s a jeweller. They’ve lived in Cork for 14 years and have at last achieved their dream to open a little restaurant serving the sort of Indian food they and their friends love to eat and have been craving. They opened on 17th January 2013 and the word spread fast, they were often sold out before they closed at 5:30pm. They now stay open on Thursdays until 9pm. However you and a group of friends can book a table of eight or ten on another night by arrangement. The food is simple, delicious and tastes authentic. On a recent visit they also had a couple of tempting cakes, the Pistachio and Rosewater cake had sold out so we enjoyed a slice of freshly made Mango, Banana and Coconut Cake and a Cashew and Coconut Cookie that had the bonus of being gluten free. Iyers is a vegetarian restaurant and Gautham cooks in the Ayurvedic tradition.
Don’t miss their chai, when I closed my eyes I was sipping the spicy brew in a roadside dhaba in India – Iyers is definitely worth seeking out, they don’t take bookings and by the way it is stunningly good value for money.
Ramen on Angelsea Street is owned by John Downey a Ballymaloe Cookery School graduate, who was a retail manager for Aldi in his last life. He now serves new Asian Street food in a contemporary setting. The open kitchen at the end of the room has five or six bustling Asian chefs in bright orange T shirts. Rustling up the yummy food is head chef Zuul Basir from Kuala Lumpur.
It’s all very convivial, there’s a long timber sharing table down the centre of the restaurant as well as side tables along the wall. The menu is divided into Soups, Salads and Nibbles, and Something for Kids. Dishes from the Wok, Rice dishes, Noodle dishes and there’s strictly no MSG.
Chop sticks, soy sauce and chilli oil are on the table, customers order and pay first. Your choice of dishes arrives on a little metal tray; there will be an empty ice cream cornet for your complimentary whipped ice cream. If the generous helpings defeat you, take home the remainder.
Again it seemed to me to be exceedingly good value for money – tasty delicious food, the word is out so you may have to queue at peak times but the general consensus is that it’s well worth the wait.
Gautham Iyer’s Spicy Potato Curry (Urulaikizhangu Kari)
500g – ½ kg (18oz) potato (waxy new potatoes are better)
1 1/2 teaspoons red chilli powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon gram flour/ rice flour
salt – to taste
for the seasoning you will need
2 teaspoons sunflower oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
a very small pinch asafoetida / hing
225ml (8fl oz) water
1 teaspoon urid dhal (optional)
small sprig fresh curry leaves
Peel and chop the potato (into small cubes) and leave soaking in a bowl of water.
Heat the oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. When the seeds begin to splutter add the urid dhal (if using) and curry leaves and fry till the dhal turns golden brown.
Add the asafoetida and turmeric followed immediately by the drained potatoes. Stir for a few seconds.
Add 225ml (8fl oz) of water and then add the salt and red chilli powder and let the potatoes cook completely. If necessary add a bit more water.
Once the potatoes are cooked, reduce the flame and add 1/2 teaspoon oil and stir the potatoes to fry them.
Sprinkle the gram flour/rice flour to help the potatoes brown evenly.
Transfer to serving dish and serve hot with rice or bread of your choice.
Niloufer’s Cauliflower and Chickpeas
Serves 4 – 6
2 tablespoons ghee, clarified butter, or canola oil
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
1 small yellow onion finely chopped
2 tablespoons grated, peeled fresh ginger
2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced into a paste
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon cayenne, or more to taste
1 teaspoon garam masala
12 oz cooked chickpeas (or 6oz dried – soaked overnight and cooked)
1 head cauliflower, broken in florets
large handful fresh ciltrano (coriander) leaves and stems chopped
juice of 1 lime
Heat the ghee in a large skillet over a medium heat and toast the fennel seeds for about 1 minute. Add the onion, ginger and garlic and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon to keep it from sticking, until brown, about 10 minutes.
Add the turmeric, cayenne, garam masala and a big pinch of salt to the skillet and cook, dribbling in a little water as you stir. Add the chickpeas, cauliflower and ½ cup water. Cover and cook until the cauliflower and ½ cup water. Cover and cook until the cauliflower is tender, 15 – 20 minutes. Add the chopped ciltrano (coriander) and lime juice and serve with yoghurt and rice or big floppy flat bread chapatis, if you like.
Mekong Duck - Ramen Style
John Downey from Ramen Restaurant in Cork city kindly shared this recipe with us. It’s a firm favourite with his customers.
2 duck Breasts
2 teaspoon garlic, chopped as finely as possible.
2 teaspoons fresh root ginger, minced.
1 tablespoon tomato purée
50mls (2fl oz) pineapple juice
50mls (2fl oz) orange juice
2 teaspoons soya sauce
2 teaspoons sweet chilli sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon five spice
cherry tomatoes (halved)
Pre-heat the oven to 160°C/320°F/Mark 3
Delicately score the fat on the duck breast and roast for 25 minutes. While this is roasting, create your Mekong sauce, by mixing all of the ingredients together with a hand blender. Prepare all of your vegetables and set aside for cooking. Slice the roasted duck breast into bite-size slivers.
Once the duck is cooked (it should still be slightly pink), heat your wok as hot as you possibly can. Add a splash of rapeseed oil, sauté the garlic, add the ginger, the Mekong sauce and the duck and cook on a high heat for 1 minute, until you achieve peak temperature. Add the vegetables; toss for thirty seconds and voila!
Serve with steamed jasmine rice.
Hospitality and business course “Being ‘the best’ takes time, dedication and an absolute commitment to raising standards, every day. It is an infinite journey and it’s what separates the best from the quickly forgotten.” says Georgina Campbell who is teaming up with business mentoring company Conor Kenny and Associates to run the Hospitality Business Development Programme, over a 3 month period from Thursday 13th March to Thursday 29th May. The programme was created by people who are immersed in the industry and the practical workshops will drive and accelerate growth. www.georginacampbelllearning.com or call Linda Halpin – 01 663-3685 for bookings
Calso Cooks – Real Food Made Easy- Watch out for the new kid on the Irish food scene, Paul O’Callaghan aka Calso. He came late to the discovery that real food can be produced with very little effort and be tastier and healthier than the fast, convenient foods he’d survived on ’til then. Paul had his own plastering business in his native Armagh but when the recession hit, he lost everything. At first, he struggled with depression and feelings of helplessness but by a quirk of fate, the house he rented had some land attached so he decided to try growing some of his own food. He was soon hooked on cooking (and eating!) the ingredients he produced. In 2001 he started his blog Calso Cooks from the Sustainable Larder. Paul now runs his own food business, has a column in ‘EasyFood’ magazine and contributes to the Breakfast Show on 2fm. Look out for his first cook book Calso Cooks – Real Food Made Easy published in paperback by Mercier Press.
e. When the watercress begins to form little white flowers the leaves elongate.
It’s time to announce the winner of January’s All-Clad Stainless Steel Cookware Set.
First, let me apologize for taking so long to get this to you. The first week of February was incredibly hectic. (You know how it goes with snow days and sick kiddos catching their obligatory winter cold…). Anyhow, I appreciate you guys hanging in there waiting for the winner announcement.
And the winner is …
Congratulations, Julien (julienroohani@…)!
Please contact me within 48 hours with your mailing address so I can send you your prize.Didn’t win? Don’t despair!
Check out this month’s giveaway — FEBRUARY GIVEAWAY: $500 Amazon Gift Card.
Wishing you all the best,
All across the world we use food-related endearments, mostly sweet foods in small portions, but also tempting savouries, vegetables and farmyard animals. Which ones do you prefer?
Valentine's Day is upon us, and with it an annual feast of wearily familiar foods of love. Endless heart-shaped nibbles in degrees of lurid tastelessness or disturbing anatomical detail loom; suggestively shaped ingredients and dishes are thrust forward, and the internet bristles with talk of edible aphrodisacs. For most of the year, though, the foods of love are refreshingly different: they're the affectionate nicknames people use for their loved ones on a daily basis.
Most popularly used as terms of affection are sweet things: sugar, honey, sweetheart, even treacle. Baked goods also put in a strong showing. There are sugary pies (sweetie, cutie, honey again), buns and cakes, from pikelets and muffins to cupcakes and angel cakes. Dumpling, while used, seems at the limits of acceptability, while crumpet, fat rascal and any sort of tart are probably firmly off limits – although there's no accounting for taste.
This principle also holds true in other languages. In Finland muru, meaning breadcrumb, is a popular name for your Valentine, and not just on what's known there as ystävänpäivä, which translates pleasingly as a "day for friends". Xiao bao, or little bun, is heard in Mandarin, and in Spain, terrón de azúcar, or sugarlump, is not uncommon (although considered a bit twee). In eastern parts of India women are sometimes called mishti, a very lovely sounding word meaning sweet.
It's not all about sweetness, though – just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, affectionate nicknames depend on what you like. A Greek friend tells me that if they like meatballs they might call someone "my little meatball" (keftedaki mou in Greek), or there's fasolaki mou (my little green bean) as well as loukoumaki mou (my little turkish delight). Tempting savoury things have a place in affectionate English, too: pickle, sausage and beefcake come to mind.
This is also true in parts of southern Germany, where mein Spätzle, a sort of pasta, is a known term of endearment. And if anyone can shed light on exactly why "several pages could be written (by someone with a strong stomach) on German food endearments" it would make fascinating reading, especially as a Bavarian friend I consulted said she couldn't think of any.
Personal taste goes some way towards explaining terms that at first might seem a bit odd. There's another theme involving small round things, such as the French petit pois (my little pea) and the well-known petit chou (little cabbage), which might not immediately scream cuteness but seem strangely logical. Then again Russian has mya morkovka, or my little carrot, and the rounded French veg appear among a bevvy of poultry (mon canard, my duck; ma cocotte or poule, hen; poulet and poulette, chicken and pullet) and other farmyard references such as mon cochon, pig, and mon coco, my egg. Parts of Britain follow a similar tradition – duck in the Midlands and hen in Scotland, for example.
All good yeomanlike stuff, but the prize for lyrical metaphor must go to the Japanese, who recall images of traditional feminine beauty with the compliment tamago gata no kao – an egg with eyes.
All this, though, is surely just scratching the surface of the full food-love lexicon. With one eye on the bounds of good taste, what have you heard used as a food-based term of endearment, and what do and your partner use yourselves?Rick Peters
Welcome to another Fight Back Friday! Today we are bringing together another collection of recipes, tips, anecdotes, and testimonies from members of the Real Food Revolution.
Who are they? Why, they’re the Food Renegades. You know who you are — lovers of SOLE (Sustainable, Organic, Local, and Ethical) food, traditional food, primal food, REAL food, the list goes on. I believe that by joining together, our influence can grow, and we can change the way America (and the industrialized world) eats!
So, let’s have some fun.
If you want to participate but aren’t sure how, please read these guidelines for how Fight Back Fridays will work.
Please be courteous and use your BEST blog carnival manners! In the very least, that means remember the two most important things you can do:
Please also feel free to make use of any of the banners below by saving the image to your desktop then uploading it to your own server. (You don’t have to use them, but they’re there for you!)
If you don’t have a blog but are interested in joining the conversation, you can leave your comments below!
I can’t wait to see what you all share!
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Even the BBC pronounces 'restaurateur' incorrectly, and contestants on The Taste seem unable to say 'cardamom'. Which food solecisms wind you up – and which words do you struggle to pronounce?
A red-faced BBC was recently forced to amend the trailer for its new series The Restaurant Man, after complaints that the voiceover mispronounced the word "restaurateur" by inserting an errant "n". The complaints were not made by aurally assaulted viewers, but the show's own presenter Russell Norman, who finds this common solecism all too depressing. He told eagle-eared Twitter followers, who had also noted the Beeb's boob, that it had taken "a little effort" on his part to get the trailer changed.
"I don't correct people who mispronounce it," Norman later told me. "But I will explain patiently if they are curious that the word derives from the French verb restaurer, to restore. So a restaurateur is someone who restores, and he or she does that restoring in a restaurant."
At the risk of succumbing to what Stephen Fry decries as the "vice" of word pedantry, I say: three cheers for Norman. Sometimes it seems that the mispronunciation of food words has become a contagion. If you tuned in to The Taste's recent spice episode, you might have noticed contestants (some of whom are professional chefs) busily adding "cardamon" to their spoons, leaving it to guest judge Yotam Ottolenghi (the patron saint of the spice) to locate the missing "m".
I ask Richard Ehrlich, the chairman of the Guild of Food Writers, whether it is wrong to hurl a bread roll at the television screen when food words are mispronounced. "It is very important for food professionals to say things correctly," he assures me. "For broadcasting professionals especially, a mispronounced word can become common parlance, and the integrity of the word can be lost."
He says many people, including those whose work involves food, come verbally unstuck when it comes to foreign food terms, such as daube (dobe not dawb) or saute (sowtay not sawtay). I hang my own head in shame when it comes to chorizo. I feel so awkward uttering the Castilian "th" that I end up mumbling the word incoherently into my menu (it's choreetho or choreeso, not choritzo).
Evidently, I'm in good company. "One of the most eminent chefs of modern times doesn't pronounce daube correctly," Ehrlich says, declining to name the culprit. "But we wouldn't like it if food professionals from France or Italy pronounced sausage as sowsage.
"Whenever someone speaks professionally about food, they have an obligation to know and convey the correct pronunciation. It's not about showing off, but showing respect for the dish or ingredient you're talking about. A nod in the direction of correctness is all I am asking for."
I completely agree. The problem is, correctness is a tricky thing. Which of these discombobulated food words winds you up the most? And how do you say them?
Strong black coffee made by forcing steam through ground coffee beans has no "x". It might not take long to drink it, but it's not expresso.
Why do so many US TV chefs mangle the word for the Italian cheese by pronouncing it rigoata? Why? It is pronounced pretty much as it is spelled: ree-cot-a.
Admittedly this Thai word is tricky, but watch this short clip about the cult spicy sauce and you'll never be confused again. Say it: see-ra-cha.
Another tongue-twister for many people, who mispronounce the smoked and dried jalapeño pepper as chipoltay. Wrong. It's chi-poat-lay.
Mmm. There is division about whether the bright yellow spice is pronounced tur-mer-ik or too-mer-ik. I say it's the former, but whatever it is, it's not choomerick.
The universal cue for Italian waiters to roll their eyes in despair. "Ch" in Italian is pronounced "k", so it's broo-sket-tah – not, not, not brooshedda.
This ubiquitous South American pseudo-grain is insanely popular, despite the fact that many people don't have a clue how to say it. The majority view is keen-wah, although some people I know insist on kee-noah.
I have no idea how to correctly pronounce this Vietnamese noodle soup – some say "foe" and others say "fuh". Apparently it varies from region to region. As a result, I generally just point at the menu.
High on my pet-hate list is the the North American pronunciation of herb without an "h". Eeuugh. Some experts, however, insist that it's not an Americanism, because the h was not pronounced on either side of the Atlantic when the colonies were settled. This fact does not make me cringe any less when someone describes basil as an erb.
An interesting one. Norman befuddles me by saying he knowingly mispronounces culinary, a word he claims should be pronounced kewlin-erry. Online editions of the Cambridge, Collins and Macmillan dictionaries say that in standard British speech it is pronounced kul-inary, while in American usage it can also be kyoo-linary. "If you pronounce it properly, people think you are odd or just plain wrong," Norman says. "This is known in linguistic and etymological circles as a 'lost cause'. Sometimes it's easier to go with the flow." Indeed.
Do you like the crunchy, bready sort or the creamy, custardy variety – or is treacle tart best left for schoolchildren?
Hot on the heels of the toothaching tablet, and as part of my continued campaign to persuade you that sugar is not the devil's latest weapon of choice , I bring you treacle tart. Unabashedly sweet and wonderfully sticky, it's one of those childhood pleasures that never quite leaves you, even if you're "really more of a fruit person these days".
Treacle tarts in their current incarnation only date from the invention of golden syrup in 1883 – treacle remained the generic name for syrupy byproducts of the sugar refinery process for some time afterwards, though the new desserts bore little relation to their bitter black predecessors. (The idea of binding breadcrumbs together with sugar is a far older one; medieval gingerbread worked on the same principle, but using honey.)
Stale bread and cheap syrup proved a killer combination for thrifty cooks chasing maximum calories for their cash, which is probably why the dish remains so popular in schools to this day. And, let's face it, if you could keep it down at school, it's going to keep a sweet spot in your heart for life.Pastry
Shortcrust is the only choice for treacle tart, but I come across a real range. Simon Hopkinson and Lindsey Bareham use a plain lard and butter version in The Prawn Cocktail Years; Mary Norwak simply specifies 'shortcrust pastry' in her English Puddings Sweet and Savoury; Jersey chef Shaun Rankin makes an enriched pastry with eggs, icing sugar and ground almonds on the Great British Chefs website; Mark Hix goes for a sweet version with double cream in British Regional Food; and Annie Bell adds eggs and caster sugar in her Baking Bible.
Nice as the sweet pastries are, this isn't a dessert which requires any further sugar, and I like the contrast between the sticky filling and Hopkinson and Bareham's crisp savoury pastry. Lard helps with the crunch, but butter supplies more richness of flavour, so I'm sticking with that.
Hix and Norwak pour their filling straight into the uncooked pastry, which is a shame; with such a liquid filling, a soggy bottom doesn't even come into it – the pastry's still raw. Egg-washing the blind-baked shell, as Rankin suggests, helps keep the base crisp during cooking.Bread
Breadcrumbs aren't the only option for the substance of the filling. Hix suggests using oatmeal instead in his Norfolk Treacle Tart, which, though nice enough, doesn't deliver the sodden fluffiness I've come to associate with the dish. Bell uses a mixture of bread and grated apple, which, though pleasant, changes the character of the tart entirely – it becomes soft and fruity, rather than sticky and stodgy.
Rankin goes for brown instead of the standard white crumbs, which, although it almost certainly isn't what they used at school, I find I quite like; they add a certain malty flavour.
Bareham and Hopkinson use a high proportion of crumbs to syrup – in fact, I find I have to more than double the 7-8 tablespoons suggested by the recipe to even come close to saturating the crumbs. The texture, however, while still a little dry, is pleasantly chewy with a nice crunchy top – a striking contrast to most of the others, with their wobbly, almost custardy fillings.
To get the best of both worlds, I'll be using quite a bit more syrup than Bareham and Hopkinson, but almost as many breadcrumbs. I'll pour the syrup mixture over the crumbs in the case rather than mixing them together in a pan, so the top layer stays relatively dry and crisp.Liquids
Golden syrup is non-negotiable, though as Norwak suggests her recipe is "equally good made with the earlier black treacle", I decide to swap that in instead, and find it rather bitter for my taste – but adding a little to the syrup, as Hix does, helps to balance out the sweetness nicely. (Heating the syrup, as Bareham and Hopkinson cleverly recommend, makes it considerably easier to pour.)
The more custardy recipes favoured by Hix, Norwak, Bell and Rankin use cream, eggs and butter to cut through the sugariness of the main ingredient. The contrast between the crisp top of Rankin's pie, in particular, and the creamy, quivery interior is utterly delicious, so I've gone with his egg-heavy formula, as opposed to Bell or Hix's, which use more cream. He browns his butter first, but I can't taste it in the final dish, so that's a chef's tip I'm happy to skip.Flavourings
A good dose of sharp lemon juice is a must with all that sugar, but I think the zest, as used by Bell and Norwak, confuses the issue. Zest gives a surprisingly powerful flavour, and Bell's tart, in particular, ends up tasting more like an unusual, if very tasty, lemon tart than anything I recognise from school.
Salt is also vital for balance, but the 6g suggested by Rankin turns it into more of a salted caramel – if you're not bothered by raw eggs, adding it to taste seems a better bet.Temperature
Bareham and Hopkinson, and Norwak, cook their tarts at a reasonably high temperature (180C), but for the wobbly middle and crisp top I'm after, Rankin's initial blast of heat and slow, 140C finish works better.The perfect treacle tart
For the pastry
200g plain flour, plus extra to dust
100g cold butter, cubed, plus extra to grease
3-4 tbsp ice-cold water
1 egg, beaten with a little water
For the filling
400g golden syrup
2 tbsp double cream
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp lemon juice
140g fresh brown breadcrumbs
Put the flour into a large bowl with a pinch of salt. Rub in the butter until the mixture forms large crumbs, then add just enough cold water to bring it into a dough. Pat it into a disc, wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark four. Grease a deep, loose-bottomed 23cm tart tin and roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface to about 5mm thick. Use to line the tin, and prick the base in several places with a fork. Put a large sheet of foil on top, weighed down with baking beans, dried pulses or rice, and blind bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and beans, brush the base with the egg, and put back into the oven for five minutes, until golden.
Melt the butter in a medium pan, stir in the syrup and treacle, and heat until warm. Stir in the cream, take off the heat and beat in the egg, yolk, lemon juice and ¼-½ teaspoon salt to taste.
Tip the breadcrumbs into the pastry case and spread out evenly. Pour over the syrup mixture, making sure there are no dry patches, then carefully put back in the oven for 20 minutes.
Turn the oven down to 140C/275F/gas mark one and bake for another 15-20 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and the filling set, but still jiggly. Allow to cool before serving.
Treacle tart – sugary stodge or manna from a Victorian heaven? Are you a fan of the crunchy, bready sort or the creamy, custardy variety, and what do you like to serve it with? Does it go with custard, clotted cream, ice-cream (my choice), or is it best daringly au naturel?Felicity Cloake
Last month, I let my geek flag fly. How did I do it? I built a new custom desktop computer. One of my friends helped me build it, and while talking to him about exactly what I wanted my computer to do and how I planned on using it I had an epiphany.
In 5 years time, the only people using desktop computers will be geeks, gamers, and grandmas. The rest of us will be entirely on mobile devices of some kind.
Right now, nearly 70% of the traffic to Food Renegade comes via mobile devices — about 50% on phones and about 20% on tablets.
Just a year ago that number was at about 30%.
You see my point? Mobile is the future. Because of that, I’m excited beyond words to announce the arrival of a Food Renegade app!Food Renegade App Available in iTunes, Google Play, & Amazon
Food Renegade is an ancestral nutrition and food politics blog. In this app, you’ll get:
The part of this app that has me most excited, though?
Community photo albums. We can share photos of our dinners, photos of our farmers, photos of our real food kids helping us in the kitchen.
It’s a chance for us to truly get to know each other and form an inspiring community of educated, empowered people.Get the Food Renegade App today!
Please note: Downloading the app costs $0.99. This small fee ensures that the app is entirely ad-free and pays to keep it in the app stores.
P.S. This app has recently been updated to add new features. As such, the screen shots in the app stores are a bit outdated. I’m trying to get recent ones up there, but it’s a many-stepped process that takes a while. Thanks for your patience!
What’s Big Ag’s answer to the growing threat of Round-Up resistant superweeds? Why, creating an even deadlier GMO commodity crop that’s resistant to a more powerful herbicide, of course!
That’s what Dow has done — created genetically-modified varieties of corn & soy that are resistant to 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (commonly known as 2,4-D), the chemical that makes up half of the infamous Agent Orange herbicide deployed during the Vietnam war.
The USDA is currently taking comments (through February 24th) on these 2,4-D resistant crops.
Not safe, by any means.
Because Agent Orange has been around for a while, we’ve got a lot of data on the safety of 2,4-D.
Unfortunately, it’s been linked to hormone imbalances, nervous system damage, reduced immunity, and reproductive problems. (source)
And aside from public health concerns, the environmental impact of routine use of this herbicide are staggering:
Aside from its harmful endocrine and carcinogenic effects, 2,4-D is a very volatile herbicide, which can easily drift onto nearby crops, vegetables and flowers. In fact, a comparative risk assessment found that 2,4-D was 400 times more likely to cause non-target plant injury than glyphosate (also known as Roundup, the herbicide many currently used GE crops are engineered to survive.)
Yep, you read that right.
What’s so bad about drift? Aside from the obvious (all the nearby plant life that is unintentionally harmed), the EPA’s own toxicity research found the herbicide to be “very highly toxic” to freshwater and marine invertebrates. (source)
Conservative estimates say the use of the 2,4-D herbicide will increase 50-fold if these new GMO crops make it to market (others are placing the increase at nearly 400-fold!).
That means there will be at least 50 times more of this toxic herbicide in our waterways, 50 times more of it to affect neighboring ecosystems.
Additionally, in March 2011, the National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) released its Draft Biological Opinions and concluded that, “the proposed registration of pesticides containing 2,4-D … are likely to jeopardize the continued existence of one or more of the 28 endangered and threatened Pacific salmonids and 2,4-D are likely to adversely modify or destroy the designated critical habitat for one or more of the 28 threatened and endangered salmonids.”
The good news is that from now until February 24, 2014, the USDA is accepting comments on its pending approval of Dow’s 2,4-D Resistant Corn & Soy crops.Click here to submit your comments online.
The following tips for submitting comments are from The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund:
(photo by Roger Smith)
On Friday evening I sidled into a basement bar in Farringdon. My hat was low, my collar high, my demeanour shifty and in my hand I had a folded reusable shopping bag that I was prepared to use. I was there to meet my dealer. My rhubarb dealer.[...]