Food Blogs

Why packaging can spoil the flavour of food and how to avoid it

Guardian Food Blog - Tue, 07/15/2014 - 06:00
When your bottled water tastes like plastic, it may not mean you are swallowing toxic chemicals, but it's far from refreshing. Find out what jars, tins and bottles do to your food

Food packaging has become a new whipping boy. Its excessive use devours our planet's resources, while toxic chemicals lurking within it might be quietly poisoning us. Both of these worries only serve to add to the unpleasantness of being able to taste the damn stuff.

Flavour contamination from packaging is a big, much-studied commercial issue. A company in America called ScentSational Technologies have, for example, devised methods for scenting food packaging, partly as a means of mitigating what is known in the industry as "flavour scalping". This is when some of the food's flavour is lost to the packaging, or when the food absorbs aromas from the packaging.

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Do TV cookery programmes really influence the way we cook?

Guardian Food Blog - Mon, 07/14/2014 - 13:00
A new survey indicates we are spending more time in the kitchen after being inspired by TV food programmes a good boost for our cookery skills, but only if it's fun and convivial

The Welsh dairy Rachel's recently commissioned another of those surveys looking into the nation's cooking habits, this one scrutinising the influence of cookery television. If people's answers are to be believed, some of the results may surprise you according to the data gathered from the 2,000 participants, the average Brit cooks five nights out of seven, and spends around 49 minutes cooking each meal.

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Fight Back Friday July 11th

Food Renegade - Fri, 07/11/2014 - 04:58
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.

JULY GIVEAWAY: Breville Convection Toaster Oven (Worth $250)

Food Renegade - Fri, 07/11/2014 - 03:41
This month, I'm giving away a Breville OV800XL Smart Oven 1800-Watt Convection Toaster Oven with Element IQ to one of you. I adore my toaster oven! Not only is it an excellent and easy way to re-heat leftovers, it's a great way to keep my kitchen cool when baking during the summer months.

Is Your Cinnamon Real?

Food Renegade - Thu, 07/10/2014 - 23:08
A lot of folks have made a hubbub about whether or not your cinnamon is real. Their claim is that Ceylon cinnamon is the only true cinnamon, and that Cassia (or Saigon) cinnamon is fake. They are missing the point. The truth is, both belong the same family of plants (and even the same genus -- cinnamomum). And both are similar although the taste is somewhat different. That said, I do believe there's such a thing as fake cinnamon, and it can impact not only your measure of culinary delight, but also your health.

Sweeter than Sugar

Darina's Blog - Thu, 07/10/2014 - 17:32

They say that a little of what you fancy does you good. But unfortunately all evidence points to the fact that sugar is damaging our health in a myriad of ways we are only beginning to understand. Make no mistake about it, sugar is addictive and is set to be the ‘New Tobacco’ as it becomes abundantly clear that it’s an ingredient we absolutely don't need: empty calories that pile on the pounds without nourishing us in any way. Type 2 diabetes and obesity are increasing dramatically around the world but excess sugar is also linked to cancer, heart disease, mood disorders and of course tooth decay. 
International doctors, scientists and obesity experts are joining forces to put pressure on governments to force food and drink manufacturers to cut hidden sugar in processed foods. According to the head of the Action on Sugar group, Professor Graham MacGregor - who also spearheaded the hugely successful campaign on salt reduction: “Provided the sugar reductions are done slowly, people won't notice.”
They have calculated that reducing sugar in processed foods by between 20 and 30% over the next 3 to 5 years could remove 100 calories a day from diets, enough to reverse the obesity epidemic.

But this doesn't mean it'll be easy, says Yoni Freedhoff from the University of Ottowa, Canada, another advisor to the group:   "Not only has added sugar found its way into virtually everything we eat, but worse still, the use of sugar as a means to pacify, entertain and reward children has become normalised to the point that questioning our current sugary status quo often inspires anger and outrage."
Deep down, we’ve all known this was coming.
People are aware that fizzy drinks, sweets, cakes and biccies are loaded with sugar, but they are often amazed to discover that sugar can also be in many types of bread, soups, sauces…
So what to do?
Over the years we’ve noticed many items getting progressively sweeter. In fact, I’m convinced that sugar itself has become more intensely sweet, since we are now using imported sugar now that our domestic sugar beet industry is gone. Can this be my imagination? I’m awaiting the results of a scientific analysis. In the meantime we have been systematically reducing sugar in many of our recipes often without a murmur of complaint.
Sugar is unquestionably addictive, so cutting sugar out of our diet altogether is a ‘big ask.’ It can certainly be done but one may have to endure a couple of weeks of ‘cold turkey’ then apparently the craving dissipates. However with a certain resolve it should be possible to cut out sweet fizzy drinks, sugar in tea and coffee, sweetened yoghurt and soups. There are still some supermarkets that have aisles of tempting sweets and bars as one queues for the till, perhaps it’s time for Mammies of the world to unite and demand support to help solve this global problem of obesity.
So what are the alternatives? 
  • Bananas are naturally sweet and can enable you to reduce or eliminate sugar in banana bread, muffins or buns. 
  • Think about eliminating breakfast cereals from your shopping list and replace with porridge, a brilliant food which also includes fibre.
  • Honey can be substituted for sugar or add a sprinkling of plump raisins or sultanas. 
  • Several of my grandchildren love peanut butter on their porridge, sounds very odd but it’s been their winter breakfast of choice for many years and keeps them sated until lunch time.
  • Completely eliminate sugar sweetened drinks. Substitute real apple juice with sparkling water or just water.  
  • Dried fruit and nuts or blueberries are good for snacks - but why are we snacking all the time? 
  • A bar of dark chocolate has less sugar but at least has the benefit of antioxidants.

Learn more...
At the Ballymaloe Cookery School we are doing our bit to address the issue and in June we held our first Sugar Free and Fabulous course, for those looking to cut back, or even cut out sugar from their lives. It was well attended and so we look forward to running another in 2015 to share natural ways to enjoy 

sweetness without the use of artificial sugar substitutes.

Categories: Darinas Blog

How to make the perfect arancini

Guardian Food Blog - Wed, 07/09/2014 - 12:10
Are these fried rice balls the best use for leftover risotto, do you make them from scratch in the traditional Sicilian style, and what do you stuff them with?

How to make the perfect tiramisu
How to cook the perfect osso buco
How to cook the perfect polenta

Arancini, named after the little oranges that these fried rice balls are said to resemble, are best known in this country as a handy way to use up leftover risotto. In fact, they hail from a land far too sun-baked to have developed much of a taste for rich, starchy rice dishes. Indeed, they are said to have been introduced to Sicily by the Arab invaders who also brought rice to the island in the 10th century and, according to Giorgio Locatelli in The Food of Sicily, have only latterly been adopted by the traditional risotto belt far to the north.

He reckons they would have fulfilled much the same function as a pasty in this country the perfect portable, high-energy snack for a day's work in the fields or out on fishing boats. Antonio Carluccio describes them as the Sicilian equivalent of "a sandwich at lunch". They also make ideal picnic fare and, thanks to their ability to soak up large amounts of alcohol, unsurpassable party food.

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Delicious Watermelon Cake [Grain-Free]

Food Renegade - Tue, 07/08/2014 - 17:18
My recipe for Watermelon Cake is definitely a conversation starter, and it looks stunning. This recipe is the epitome of perfection for summer - cool, sweet, refreshing, and easy! You only need a few simple ingredients - most of which you might already have on hand this time of year.

The Ballymaloe Cookbook 50 Year Anniversary Edition

Dermies Blog - Tue, 07/08/2014 - 17:17

In 1964, Myrtle Allen took a brave step in opening The Yeat's Room - a converted drawing room of the family country home at Ballymaloe House, East Cork to the public. Since the beginning, Mrs. Allen's food philosophy has been to showcase traditional Irish farmhouse cooking, on a seasonal menu, placing artisan producers at the forefront of each dish. It was this commitment and passion for local produce that later lead to Mrs. Allen founding Euro-toques Ireland - a leading organisation of professional cooks and chefs actively promoting Ireland's culinary heritage across Europe.

Since 1964, Mrs. Allen has earned Ballymaloe House the coveted award of a Michelin Star in the late seventies, before going on to write one of the most successful cookbooks ever printed in Ireland - the best selling Ballymaloe Cookbook - a comprehensive cookbook on Irish cooking. In May of this year, to mark fifty years of the world renowned Ballymaloe House and to celebrate Mrs. Allen's ninetieth birthday, a revised and updated edition of The Ballymaloe Cookbook has been released. The revised edition captures the history of Ballymaloe House, the impact Mrs. Allen has made on Irish cuisine, with a number of forwarded messages by key figures in Irish cooking including; Darina Allen, Ross Lewis and Georgina Campbell - all of whom share their experiences of Ballymaloe House and how it came to shape their passion for local food.

Set alongside stunning food imagery by Joanne Murphy are over a hundred recipes from classic, simple recipes taken from the past fifty years at Ballymaloe House with some never seen before recipes. The Ballymaloe Cookbook is a unique cookbook containing recipes tried, tested and loved by many guests who have dined at Ballymaloe House since 1964 and is available in all good bookshops and on the Gill and Macmillan online store here.

'It isn't just a collection of recipes but a reflection of a genuine and authentic way of life, related to the land, the culture and the produce of the country in which Myrtle Allen lives' - Financial Times

'Staying and dining in Myrthle's hotel allows for that very rare moment in time when you pause for a minute, take it all in and, all of a sudden, everything seems very okay with the world'
Yotam Ottolenghi 

* * *
Recipe: Ballymaloe House Fruit Tart

Serves 8:

- 170g Pastry Trimmings or Shortcrust Pastry
- 450g Prepared Apples, Gooseberries, Plums, Redcurrants, Rhubarb
(or a mixture of apples and blackberries).
- 225g Caster Sugar
- 170g Puff Pastry
- Egg Wash


1. Line a 25cm (10inch) plate with pastry trimmings or shortcrust pastry rolled into a circle (it should be 5mm or 1/4in thick)

2. Thinly peel and core the apples and cut into chunks. Place them in the centre of the pastry, leaving a 1 cm (1/2inch) border round the edge. Sprinkle with sugar.

3. Roll out the puff pastry 5mm thick and cut a circle for the top of the tart. Brush the edge of the pastry base with water. Put on the top, press the edges together and knock up the sides. Cut a slit in the centre. Brush with egg wash. Bake at 200 degrees / Gas Mark 6 for an hour.

* * *
Competition: Win A Luxurious Picnic Basket of Ballymaloe Relish Goodies & A Copy of The Ballymaloe Cookbook by Myrtle Allen

To celebrate the release of the revised edition of The Ballymaloe Cookbook, Gill & MacMillian and Ballymaloe Country Relish have come together to offer a prize to one lucky follower. The prize includes a luxurious picnic basket of Ballymaloe Relish goodies with a copy of The Ballymaloe Cookbook.

Enter the competition by clicking the link HERE

Categories: Past Student Blogs

Eight of the most outlandish food health claims

Guardian Food Blog - Tue, 07/08/2014 - 10:00
Think today's faddy diets and superfoods are bad? In years gone by, the public was told that Coca-Cola cures impotence, biscuits prevent masturbation and pomegranate juice helps you cheat death

Who knows what constitutes a healthy diet any more? The backlash against carbohydrates and the growing consensus that butter, cheese and eggs might not be so bad for us after all represents a dramatic departure from the low-fat doctrine of recent decades. Barely a day goes by without new headlines trumpeting the miraculous powers of some food or drink (chocolate, for instance, or red wine), frequently followed by others saying precisely the opposite.

Manufacturers, the advertising industry and the media have long indulged our appetite for "wonder foods". Remember the one about Coke curing impotence? Or sugar as a diet aid? No? For your benefit, then, here is a round-up of some of the most outlandish claims made over the years a suggestion, perhaps, that today's health headlines may best be taken with a pinch of (low-sodium) salt.

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Competitive eating: the best (or worst) food feats

Guardian Food Blog - Mon, 07/07/2014 - 15:32

Man v Food's Adam Richman is in trouble for online comments but arguably his greater sin was inspiring a generation of competitive eaters. Here are some of their best efforts

The Man bit of Man v Food, Adam Richman, is in hot water at the moment after posting some pretty abhorrent comments on Instagram. The Travel Channel has cancelled his forthcoming show, Man Finds Food, and a seemingly cheerful TV presenter has been shown up to be somewhat less benevolent, to say the least.

Still, if hes concerned about his place in TV history, Richman neednt worry its all but assured, with Man v Food spawning an extraordinary generation of competitive eaters. Ive been queasily dragging a net through the internet to find some of the most impressive/revolting/bizarre (delete as applicable) competitive eating efforts for your distraction.

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What's Cooking in Dublin?

Darina's Blog - Sun, 07/06/2014 - 22:47
Every now and then the Ballymaloe Cookery School team of teachers go on a research trip to see what is happening on the culinary food scene. The Dublin restaurant and café scene is really humming once again , and so we did an intensive trip to the metropolis and tasted some very exciting food in a variety of restaurants and cafés. Image from http://thefumbally.ieWe began our trip to The Fumballyin Fumbally Lane run by Aisling Rogerson and Luca D’Alfonso and their vibrant young team. The food is simple, delicious, uncomplicated but put together in a chic and edgy way. Specials are written on the blackboard above the till. The fresh produce for the kitchen is piled against the wall in wooden crates like a glorious still-life in this airy contemporary space with a cool, retro, comfy, shabby chic feel yet elegant feel.Image from http://thefumbally.ieWe really loved the brunch dishes – The Fumbally take on the Dr Seuss' famous green eggs and ham: toasted brioche with avocado and scrambled eggs and chorizo. The pulled porchetta with slow roasted shoulder of pork, caper mayo and spiced apple sauce was another great combo. 
The GreenHouse on Dawson Street served a totally different style of food.  Mickael Viljanen who hales from Finland is one of the most talented young chefs cooking in Ireland at the moment. He and his team cooked us a delicious three course lunch with lots of excitement on each beautifully crafted plate – a carpaccio of scallop, shoulder of suckling pig and apricot tart with elderflower ice cream.
We popped our heads into Murphy's Ice Cream from Dingle, then wandered through the aisles of tempting fresh produce in Fallon and Byrne. We found lots of new ingredients – fresh pineberries (like underripe strawberries), teff flour which I’d been looking out for to make an Ethopian flat bread and red rice from the Camargue. 
We also dashed past The Pepper Pot in the Powerscourt Centre where Marian Kilcoyne's (a past student) Café Restaurant was throbbing with lots of unbearably tempting treats. 
Ananda is the flagship restaurant of Asheesh Dewan’s Indian restaurant empire under the stewardship of Sunil Ghai and his team of Indian chefs certainly live up to its reputation. The Ballymaloe Cookery School tutors were totally wowed by his tasting menu which started with pan poori and ended with gulab jamun: pistachio icecream and caramel mousse. Image from brother hubbardWe got another warm welcome from Garett Fitzgerald and James Boland at brother hubbard in Capel Street. This café cum deli has built up a fantastic reputation in the less than two years since they opened. The menu is packed with unbearably tempting choices, gorgeous sandwiches, salads, brunch dishes piled high on good bread from Tartine Bakery, which is virtually the only item that is not made from scratch in house. Garett Fitzgerald and Danielle Beattie (who does all the baking) are both past students of the Ballymaloe Cookery School. I loved the cannellini beans with tomato sauce and slow roasted pulled pork with a fried egg and a sprinkling of sumac on top, but there were appreciative sounds coming from all directions of the table as we tasted our way through the menu.
At Palais des Thés in Wicklow Street Niall did a tutored tasting with us. We tasted a beautiful selection of exquisite teas including Thé du Hammam, Japanese Green Tea, Sencha Ariake.
A light lunch at Cornucopia the long established vegetarian restaurant in Wicklow Street was another enlightening experience. It really was a delicious few days!

Categories: Darinas Blog

Butter is Best

Darinas Saturday Letter - Sun, 07/06/2014 - 12:36

The recent cover story on Time magazine was that butter is better so surprise surprise its official after all. Only two vitamins are water soluble, all the rest are fat soluble, so what does that mean? Well the reality is that unless you eat a little fat with the rest of your food the body can’t absorb all the nutrients from the food – that’s why, many people on a strictly low fat diet find themselves under nourished and often overweight.

Lovely Julia Child, the goddess of butter, cream and a good pinch of salt must be smiling wryly in his heavenly home. Butter is high in a compound CLA that protects us from tumour growth and cancer and provides omega 3 fatty acids. Recently a team of international scientists have completed an exhaustive new analysis of the research to date, drawing on 80 studies involving more than half a million people. They found NO evidence to support the theory that saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease. They did however find a link between trans fats and coronary problems
This meta analysis (basically a study of other studies) was published in the Journal Analysis of International Medicine.

More studies are underway but it does sound as though the days of – “I can’t believe its not butter” and the myriad of low fat products are numbered.
Its seems utterly incredible that the dietary advice that was stated with absolute certainly by the governments, Departments of Health, doctors and dieticians for over four decades was erroneous. Not only was it not based on fact but it now appears that a lack of saturated fat may in fact be damaging to our health. Why was it so easy to persuade not only the medical profession but the greater general public that butter, a totally natural product was less good than margarine and other highly processed low fat products.

Entire industries are now based on whipping up paranoia and demonizing fat. The war on fat is far from over, after years of conditioning, consumer habits are deeply formed and some people are actually nauseated by fat.

Interesting to be a fly on the wall in the marketing departments in some of those multi national company boardrooms these days. Flora have already launched a new “irresistible blend of butter and Flora” called GOLD. There is no doubt the real problem in our diet is an excess of sugar and ultra processed food – we can no longer say we don’t know.
We need to ditch fake food for real food and not just embrace any old fat, it needs to come from a pure and natural source.
Everyone agrees that people would be healthier if more of their diet was made up of what Michael Pollen aptly calls “Real Food”.

Pan grilled Mackerel with Parsley and Lemon Butter

The new seasons mackerel are in – such joy – fresh mackerel are my absolute favourite sea fish. This is a master recipe for pan grilling fish.
The simplest and possibly the most delicious way to cook really fresh mackerel.

Serves 1 or 2

2-4 fillets of very fresh mackerel (allow 6 ozs (170g) fish form main course, 3 ozs (85g) for a starter)
seasoned flour
small knob of butter

Parsley Butter
2 ozs (50g/1/2 stick) butter
4 teaspoons finely chopped parsley
a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice

segment of lemon

First make the Parsley Butter.
Cream the butter, stir in the parsley and a few drops of lemon juice at a time. Roll into butter pats or form into a roll and wrap in greaseproof paper or tin foil, screwing each end so that it looks like a cracker. Refrigerate to harden.
Heat the grill pan.

Dip the fish fillets in flour which has been seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper. Shake off the excess flour and then spread a little butter with a knife on the flesh side, as though you were buttering a slice of bread rather meanly. When the grill is quite hot but not smoking, place the fish fillets butter side down on the grill; the fish should sizzle as soon as they touch the pan. Turn down the heat slightly and let them cook for 4 or 5 minutes on that side before you turn them over. Continue to cook on the other side until crisp and golden. Serve on a hot plate with some slices of Parsley Butter and a segment of lemon.

Parsley Butter may be served directly on the fish, or if you have a pretty shell, place it at the side of the plate as a container for the butter. Garnish with parsley and a segment of lemon.

Madhur Jaffreys Chicken in a Butter Sauce

From Indian Cookery

The Indians too love butter – The sauce in this dish should be folded into butter at the very last minute as it tends to separate otherwise. However, you can combine all the ingredients except the butter up to a day ahead of time and refrigerate them until they are needed.
This is a wonderfully simple but spectacular dish in which the Tandoori chicken is transformed with a sauce.

Serves 4-6

4 tablespoons tomato puree
Water to mix
A 1 inch (2.5cm) cube of fresh ginger, peeled and grated very finely to a pulp
½ pint (275ml) single cream
1 teaspoon garam masala
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon sugar
1 fresh, hot green chilli, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon very finely chopped fresh green coriander
4 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground roasted cumin seeds
4 oz (110g) unsalted butter
Tandoori-style chicken

Put the tomato paste in a clear measuring jug. Add water slowly, mixing as you go, to make up 8 fl oz (225ml) of tomato sauce. Add the ginger, cream, garam masala, salt, sugar, green chilli, cayenne, green coriander, lemon juice, and ground roasted cumin seeds. Mix well.
Heat the butter in a wide sauté pan or a large frying pan, When the butter has melted, add all the ingredients in the measuring jug. Bring to a simmer and cook on medium heat for a minute, mixing in the butter as you do so. Add the chicken pieces (but not their accumulated juices). Stir once and put chicken pieces on a warm serving platter. Extra sauce should be spooned over the top.

Ballymaloe Green Gooseberry Tartlets

Use the last of the green gooseberries for these delectable tartlets, the butter pastry is rich, flakey and delicious.

Makes 36 tartlets approximately

1 quantity cold cream pastry
450g (1lb) green gooseberries (topped and tailed)
caster sugar

Preheat oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5.

Using plenty of flour roll the cold pastry to a thickness of 2mm (1/8 inch). Cut the pastry with a 7.5cm (3 inch) round cutter and use the disks of pastry to line a standard flat based bun tray.

Cut the gooseberries in half and arrange 6-7 halves on each disk of pastry. Place a rounded teaspoon of caster sugar on top of the fruit in each tartlet. Bake the tartlets for 15-20 minutes or until the sugar begins to caramelise and the pastry is a golden brown colour. Remove the tartlets from the bun tray while still hot – use a palette knife for this – and place on parchment paper which has been sprinkled with caster sugar.

These tartlets are best served warm.

Open Apple Tartlets: Replace the gooseberries with thinly sliced eating apple.
Open Rhubarb Tartlets: Replace the gooseberries with thinly sliced pink rhubarb.

Cream Pastry

This superb pastry keeps in the fridge for up to 6 days.

110g (4oz/1 stick) cold salted butter
110g (4oz/1 cup) plain flour
150ml (5fl oz/generous 1/2 cup) cold cream

Sieve the flour into the bowl of an electric food mixer. Cut the butter into small cubes and rub into the flour using the paddle attachment until the mixture forms a coarse texture (slow speed and then a little faster). (DO NOT over mix, if you do the mixture will form a shortbread like ball! Pour the cold cream into the coarse mixture and mix on a low speed until a smooth pastry forms. Wrap the pastry in parchment paper and chill overnight.
Always roll cream pastry straight from the fridge. If the pastry comes to room temperature it will be too soft to handle!

Hot Tips

New Seasons Marsh Samphire has just arrived. This is also called Glasswort and is quite different to rock samphire but equally easy to cook in boiling water (not salted) for about 3 or 4 minutes. Toss in melted butter and serve with fish and salad. Available from the Ballymaloe Cookery School stall in Midleton.

My latest find was at the in Skibbereen Farmers Market in West Cork a vibrant melange of stalls selling not just beautiful local and artisan produce fresh fish and shellfish, it also has bric a brac, organic seeds, hand-woven rugs and fancy poultry…. Look out for one the newest stands Bantry Bay chocolates was selling little cellophane bags of crunchy toffees with a hint of sea salt – so good we fought over the last one.

Ballymaloe Cookery School Gardens are open to the public at present, the finest vegetable and herb gardens are bursting with produce as is the greenhouse. We even have peaches, apricots and a pomegranate. Don’t miss the shellhouse and maize and check out the fancy fowl and fat pigs. Gardens open daily from 11am – 5.30pm.

The OOBY Food Market which caused such a stir in East Cork reopens and will be operating from the wall outside Shanagarry Church from 10am – 12 noon every Sunday for the Summer – not to be missed….. Telephone: Olivia Connolly 021 4646041

Categories: Darinas Blog

Fight Back Friday July 4th

Food Renegade - Fri, 07/04/2014 - 04:51
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.

Would you give up steak for love?

Guardian Food Blog - Thu, 07/03/2014 - 16:41
Chris Martin's announcement that he is no longer vegetarian since splitting with Gwyneth Paltrow suggests that he did. How about the rest of us?

On Tuesday evening I found myself at Kensington Roof Gardens, attending an afterparty for Coldplay, who had that evening played the Royal Albert Hall. These kinds of events are always strange, faintly hysterical and ripe for over-analysis. This particular party was no different there was a rumour of flamingos in the gardens, sightings of Mel C from the Spice Girls, and, most interestingly for me, a strikingly carnivorous array of canapes.

As a general rule in life one probably shouldn't think too deeply about the canape choices of a rock band (not least since it's unlikely that they organised the party themselves). But Tuesday's platters of mini chorizo sausages and grilled prawns proved memorable if only because this week it was revealed that since the band's lead singer, Chris Martin, split with the actor Gwyneth Paltrow earlier this year, he has abandoned a vegetarian diet and returned to eating meat though he operates a firm policy on what that meat might be: "I'd only eat something that I think I could kill," he told Radio Two's Steve Wright. "I'd kill a fish. Not a giraffe."

Continue reading...

Carrot, Apple + Celery Juice

Carolannes Kitchen - Thu, 07/03/2014 - 13:31

A classic combination for juice lovers and one of the most powerful; containing an army of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins.

This is one of my easy go-to juices that I usually have the ingredients for in the kitchen. The level of antioxidants fighting off free radicals and boosting the immune system with each sip will have you jumping through the roof afterwards.

Carrots are a great source of vitamin A and beta carotene. They give you that twinkle in your eyes and a glow in your cheeks. I love carrots whole as they are but I think I would probably get pretty bored chomping through four carrots in one sitting, not to mention the sore jaw! So juicing these beauties is such an easy way of getting a good dose of the essential vitamins and minerals in them.

I’ve never been one hundred per cent keen on celery. My mum always adds it to vegetable soups and throws bite size pieces of it into salads, but I rarely used it myself. Now I find I’m benefiting so much from using them in juices. Apparently, celery is a great addition to your diet in order to aid the lowering of blood pressure and cholesterol, it is also a great anti-inflammatory veggie.

An apple a day, keeps the doctor away. Well two apples a day will surely keep him at a safe distance. Apples are one of my all time favourite fruits. They pack in a daily dose of vitamin C and are an excellent source of fibre.

So just imagine how happy your body will be after you’ve gulped down this beauty!


{carrot, apple + celery juice}

4 carrots

3 stalks celery

2 small apples

knob of ginger {optiona}

Chop all of the fruit and vegetables first and then juice according to your juicers guidelines.

I make my fruit and vegetables almost bitesize so I can juice them easily and efficiently.

{Don’t throw out your pulp when you have finished juicing. Simply add it to soups or homemade veggie burgers for an added boost of fibre.}

The post Carrot, Apple + Celery Juice appeared first on Carol-Anne's Kitchen.

Categories: Past Student Blogs

How to make the perfect Greek salad

Guardian Food Blog - Thu, 07/03/2014 - 08:00
Is the Greek salad a culinary cliche or summer classic? How do you perfect such a simple dish and has anyone ever had a really bad one?

How to make the perfect panzanella
How to make the perfect tabbouleh

I was amazed to discover we hadn't yet tackled the Greek, or village, salad in this column. It seems a glaring omission for what is clearly a bona fide summer classic or, if you're Nigella Lawson, an "abominated fixture in the culinary canon which no appetite for retro-chic can make cool" a description which forces me to sadly acknowledge my own terminal uncoolness. Ripe red tomatoes and cooling cucumber, rich olives and salty feta I'm not sure I can better Nigel Slater's description of it as "the ultimate high-summer salad best eaten with sand between your toes and salt on your lips".

In fact, it is so beautifully simple that it's a tough one to get wrong, sand or no sand. That said, it's pretty rare to get one outside Greece that really knocks your socks off. Anyone can make an OK Greek salad, but how do you do this classic justice?

Continue reading...

Mindfulness or cake? The battle against stress and comfort-eating

Guardian Food Blog - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 11:49
The sweet foods we crave to relieve stress have been shown to cause obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Short of a ban on sugar refinement, how can we break the habit?

The race against obesity continues apace. Last week, for instance, the bid to save New York's sugar addicts, by banning large bottles of soft drinks, fell flat. Meanwhile a small study published in the journal Neuroscience Letters discovered receptors for stress hormones in taste buds. This could help explain why people end up preferring sweeter foods in times of trouble.

"Stress and sweet are obviously linked. We've known that for a very long time," says Rocky Parker, lead author on the study at the Monell Chemical Senses Centre in Philadelphia. For instance, people with Addison's disease, a rare disorder that causes a deficiency of stress hormones, experience dramatically heightened sensitivity to sweet and salt tastes. But if you give someone with Addison's a shot of these stress hormones, their taste immediately returns to within normal realms of sensitivity.

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Have potatoes had their chips?

Guardian Food Blog - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 13:43
Sales of the humble spud are down 8%, with the Potato Council pointing the finger at our fondness for rice and fajitas. Do they still have a place at your table and how do you cook them?

Tough times for potato farmers. Sales of the spud have dropped 8% in the last year quite a juicy loss in an industry worth about £2.3bn annually. I haven't done the maths, but it's a lot of potatoes. According to the Potato Council, our increasing fondness for rice and fajitas is to blame for this blight on a great industry and an ingredient that has formed the core source of sustenance on many dining tables for many years.

Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin called the potato "eminently tasteless" (nothing but "a protection against famine"), and it would be a wretched thing if that view were spreading. Potatoes are a symbol of everything that is wonderful about cooking a simple ingredient with the potential for great things. Consider the baked potato, that majestic creation. An oven, a liberal hand with the salt and an ample slice of butter are all you truly need. How you then proceed is much-debated (you could do far worse than try Nigel Slater's stuffed with chorizo and manchego), which just goes to show what an emotive thing a simple baked potato can be.

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Snowballs aren't cakes, and that's a cold hard fact

Guardian Food Blog - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 11:05
So a Scottish tax tribunal has ruled that the coconut-covered marshmallows have 'sufficient characteristics' to be considered cakes. Apart from, that is, a total lack of sponge

Think a marshmallow covered in chocolate and coconut counts as a cake? Then balls snowballs, to be precise to you. Even if you're powerful and important. And especially if that power and import makes you a judge in the Scottish tax tribunal that, last week, was presented with a plate of "cakes" (including, incidentally, Jaffa Cakes) and asked to make a decision, worth £2.8m in tax rebates, about whether snowballs belonged there. About whether, in short, a snowball is a cake.

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