Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Is there such a thing as a 'Best Ready Meal'?

I am a really big fan of Leon. The food is really fresh and healthy, absolutely delicious, and reasonably priced too. Perfect. So, I was really shocked to see one of it's founders, Allegra McEvedy, reviewing the 'Best Ready Meals' in Sunday's Observer Food Monthly. It just goes against everything that (I think) Leon stands for.

Was very relieved - and amused - then to see this entry from her on The Guardian's new food blog.

Monday, 28 May 2007

Yummy Vietnamese

I ate out at Namo on Saturday night. It's the best Vietnamese I have ever had, although admittedly I have only ever eaten at three restaurants. The other two were both on Kingsland Road and not a patch on Namo. If you aren't near to Victoria Park they also have a restaurant in Dalston, called Huong-Viet. If it's anything like this I'd say well worth checking out.

Check out Time Out's review

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Soil Association plans to cut down food miles

An interesting article on the BBC's site today about plans from the Soil Association to cut back on food imported by air freight. One option they are set to propose could even strip food of it's organic status if flown into the country.

Click here to read more

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

My life as a photographer - 2

Success! My first published photograph, in last week's issue of Time Out.

Monday, 21 May 2007

Supermarkets shape up

Good news! Both Asda and M&S have announced that they are to phase out food additives by the end of the year. I came across this in The Independent last week. Click here for the full article.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

The Elderflower harvest

'Now is the month of Maying...' aaaand making Elderflower Cordial. I've never made this before, but living in close proximity to a large, free supply I've been looking forward to this one. The recipe comes from a great book The new English kitchen, changing the way you shop, cook and eat by Rose Prince. A great writer, with many a savvy thought on how to improve your eating, avoiding the big four supermarkets - I would recommend it to anyone who likes to know a little more about where their food comes from and what goes in it. Anyway, here's the recipe:

Citric or tartaric acid is necessary to stop mould growing in this cordial. Buy it from Asian shops, if possible; it is very expensive bought from the chemist. (I actually bought mine here)

Makes about 4 litres / 7 pints

5 lemons, halved
5 oranges, halved
1.9kg / 4lb golden granulated sugar
4 litres / 7 pints water
25 very large elderflower heads
60g / 2oz citric acid

Put the fruit and sugar in a large pan and cover with the water. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar, then add the elderflower heads. Turn off the heat and leave to cool completely. Add the citric acid, strain through a cloth into very clean bottles and cork. Drink diluted with water.

Following on from this, David and I decided it would be put to rather good use in a cocktail - so we invented the Elderflower Easy. I like it - I hope you will too!

1 measure vodka
1 measure elderflower cordial
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
top up with soda water

Serve over ice.

Please note
, since writing this I have made another batch, not half so 'elderflower-y' as the first. The conclusion is that to get them earlier on in the season (let's face it, my harvest from yesterday was a little past it) for best results. In addition to this I have had a tip from Miss Katie Theakston, that flowers are best picked earlier on in the morning, when at their most fragrant!

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Back to basics

Not really about food (that to follow), but I have just come back from holiday and really wanted to recommend this place. If you're looking for a basic, chilled, eco place to holiday look no further. Aspros Potamos is just 1km from the coast in South-Eastern Crete, tucked away in the hills. Staying in renovated Olive Farmers' cottages the place has no electricity, with a large solar panel system to provide lighting in the bathrooms and hot water for the shower. Walls are thick enough keeping you cool in the summer, and there are log fires to warm you through the winter - using paraffin lamps and candles for lighting.

This place is absolutely top (if you don't mind roughing it a bit). My only reservation is that in all the good you do staying without electricity you do (kind of) need a car to get around, as it's quite remote.

Monday, 7 May 2007

The elusive Bridfish Smokery

I feel resigned to the fact that every attempt to find this place, open, is doomed. The latest was yesterday, whereby we ended up driving up and down the same road in Bridport, for a good 15-20 minutes! Still, I did manage to catch them at the farmer's market in Weymouth last year, and mighty fine they were too. Particularly the smoked prawns!

For those feeling a little luckier, you can find them here:

Bridfish Smokery
Unit 1 Old Laundry Trading Estate
Sea Rd North

Tel: 01308 456306
Fax: 01308 456367

* Following on from this I can confirm that I have finally managed to visit this place during opening hours. Again, the smoked prawns were delicious, but also the smoked goat's cheese - which believe it or not was polished off in about an hour by just three of us!

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Emma v The Aubergine

I have never been a fan of the aubergine. One of my parents' favourite vegetables; this would be served up at least once a week throughout my childhood. To me they have the texture and appearance of giant slugs. It's just not pleasant. So... last week when one large (and I must admit, fine) specimen turned up in my veg bag I decided it was time to move on.

I made this Middle Eastern dip - Babaghanou - which actually turned out to be quite good. You can make it using Tahini, but I found that this swamped it, so recommend making it without.

Note: I have seen a couple of reviews of this which aren't too peachy elsewhere on the internet, but I crushed the cumin seeds up fresh, which I think makes all the difference!

In Egypt, aubergines were roasted over hot coals until the skin was charred. At home, I char the aubergine directly over the gas flame, turning frequently with tongs until the juices begin to ooze out. It can also be baked in a 220°C oven for 30 minutes.

2 large aubergines
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

Char aubergines over gas flames until soft, then allow to cool. Peel the eggplants and let them drain in a sieve. Peel the aubergines and let them drain in a sieve. Purée the aubergines in a food processor with the lemon juice, ground cumin, garlic clove, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer to a bowl and stir in chopped parsley. Add tehina if you like.

Makes: 2 cups without tehina, 3 cups with 1 cup tehina, if desired

Source: 'Memories of a Lost Egypt: Reminiscences and Recipes' , Colette Rossant