Going sweet and savoury with Great British Biscotti

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Learning to make our biscotti

Learning to make biscotti on our trip to Italy last year was one of our highlights, and one of the things we make most often. However, when I saw what the Great British Biscotti Co are up to, then it made me think about changing things up a bit.

 

Savoury biscotti from Great British Biscotti Co

 

Savoury biscotti.

Never come across them before, and have to say I’m quite converted. The team sent me a box of pretty much everything they do, and we’ve had a great time sampling them.

Twice baked, as per tradition, these have some great flavours going on. For the savoury ones, they’re great alongside a chilled glass of wine, but I decided to try the tribe out on these with some different toppings too.

 

Great British Biscotti Serving Suggestion

 

For the Chorizo & Parmesan and Parmesan & Fennel, I made some whipped ricotta with olive oil, lemon zest, salt and pepper. I added some parma ham to the chorizo one and then a fennel salami to the other one.

I was a bit stumped on the Indian spice one, and in the end went with a goats cheese with a hint of honey. The sweetness set off the warmth of the spices nicely.

I would say these are great to have in the cupboard as a standby for a plate of snacks like these, or a last minute crouton on some soup, or just for munching. The sweet ones had traditional flavours like the almond one, perfect to go with a coffee. We were also really fond of the honey and lemon as a perfect accompaniment to an afternoon cup of tea.

 

Great British Biscotto Co

Check out their stockists list to find them close to you, or look out for the distinctive bright packaging in good food stores in your area.

Though I still think they missed out on a great naming opportunity, I’d have gone with Britscotti myself.

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Gung Hay Fat Choy – my favourite New Year

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Celebrate Chinese New Year in tasty style

I don’t love the New Year that falls at the end of December. It always seems to be disappointing reality over incredible expectation. I mean, how many dreadful, overpriced meals, followed by a triple rate taxi ride if you can get one have already paid the babysitter quadruple rates.

How much better to wait a few weeks, and then indulge in some great Chinese food. I mean, we’d love to be heading to Hong Kong to celebrate it, but Chinatown would do, or even just a good local Chinese restaurant.

I’m sure if it’s a good restaurant, you’ll need to book for the weekend ahead, but I reckon it will still be a better deal than most places on New Year’s Eve. Alternatively, have a trip to a good Chinese supermarket ahead of time and get stocked up. I’m buying won ton wrappers and making pot stickers.

I’m sure if you live near a Chinatown then there’ll be plenty going on to enjoy. And you might not even need a babysitter, as most events happen in the daytime. Now, pass me some dim sum please!

Photo by Paolo Camera on Flickr.

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Food culture, not just ancient culture, in Paphos

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Food culture and more in Paphos

Paphos is the joint European Capital of Culture this year (along with Aarhus in Denmark, in case you’re interested). Which might surprise you, as you might just think of it as a place for a week in the sun. But there’s more to it than that.

Now, there are lots of incredible sites of ancient culture in Paphos and the beautiful surrounding countryside, which you could spend weeks exploring. There are many beautiful hotels, and there are some really naff ones (hello The Roman, I’m looking at you).

But I’ve already written that my favourite thing, unsurprisingly, about Paphos is the food, which is definitely about culture to me. Let’s face it, if anything binds us to those who went before, it has to be that we all had to eat and drink.

And culture can be many things. There’s history to the dishes, passed down the generations from ancient starting points. There’s the mixing of cultural influences, particularly in somewhere like Cyprus, a great trading post or stopping off post for travellers in all ages.

There’s myth and legend, which is bound to either get mixed up in food and drink, or get some good retellings after a little bit too much of the local wine. And there is some good wine, although my experience it doesn’t travel well.

My original article is here, and I would love to be there, eating some of these dishes, at some of these places. I have to give a health warning here, I no longer have connections with the island (well, not living ones, my dad is enjoying his eternal rest under a shade giving tree there) so I haven’t been in about 4 years, but I would still recommend it.

Look, like many places with sunshines and beaches, there are some incredibly naff parts where you could be anywhere. But with a bit of searching out, and heading a bit off the main drag, then you will definitely find out why Paphos is well deserving of its year in the cultural spotlight. And you will enjoy some brilliant, local, seasonal cooking, at a fraction of the price those titles might set you back in many other cities.

And I would still prefer a Keo beer to Denmark’s biggest beer export. Especially on the beach at sunset.

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Japanese Peruvian food is this year’s big thing!

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Lemon and chilli to get us going

 

Well, it is in this household, thanks to a great couple of hours on a course at Divertimenti just before Christmas. I’d never heard of Japanese Peruvian food and, being an out of towner, then couldn’t reel off 3 Peruvian restaurants I’d eaten at.

All the Londoners could.

Let’s face it, we haven’t even got a Wahaca yet in Nottingham. But I digress. We picked this because it was the course on the date nearest to MGGs birthday, not because we’d seen in Olive that Peruvian and Japanese Peruvian would be big in 2017.

Led by Fabricio Cano, this gave us an introduction to the cuisine, but with recipes that I’ll be making at home. Teriyaki sauce will be coming from a pan not a bottle in the future, apparently keeps well for a fortnight in the fridge. This time we converted it into a Peruvian teriyaki beef with stir fry vegetables, definitely one for a week day supper.

 

Beef teriyaki on the go

 

I loved doing the ceviche and the sushi rolls. I mean, look at the tuna we started with!

 

Some serious tuna going on

 

Being in the Midlands fish this fresh is a little more difficult to come by, but I would definitely do this if I was passing a good fishmongers.

 

Tiradito Nikkei

 

We did a salmon ceviche maki alongside the tuna dishes, all amazing. Fabricio talked about lots the techniques of ceviche, how long to leave it for, even down to things like ditching the middle of the red onions for ceviche as the flavour is too strong.

 

Ceviche Nikkei

 

MGG and I both loved making the gyoza, and were pretty impressed with our pleating. We could have just polished off the plate of these, and will be making these soon.

 

Pork gyoza, pleated by us

 

I loved this as a course, there were 7 of us on it, everything was really well organised, and the pace was great. Sitting down to eat everything we’d cooked together was lovely too, helped along with some sake, a classic Chilcano de Pisco and some good wine. That was me, not MGG.

 

Peruvian Japanese lunch is served

 

This is not for you if you’re a bit shy, as you are essentially cooking in the middle of the lower shop floor, but that wasn’t a problem for us. I’d definitely look to go on other courses at Divertimenti, there’s everything from baking through Italian food, knife skills to Malaysian. Fabricio is teaching again in March, this time Peruvian street food.

Lovely to go on, reasonable from a cost perspective and a great range of subjects. The only downside is you’ve got to try and get through the Divertimenti shop without spending anything…! So tempting, so many things you never knew would help your cooking and baking!

 

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Food trends of 2017: what will the hipsters do?

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What will the hipsters eat this year?

 

I had thought about trying to analyse the many lists of food trends for this year, to see if could reach a consensus of what were the really big things making food waves.

Well, turns out Eater (not to mention their big team of writers) got their first, and their list of all lists is most definitely worth a read. But analysing that, I would say from their leg work that these are things that are getting lots of noise so might be worth a taste or two. Unless you’re a hipster, in which case get busy on all of these!

 

Cauliflower

 

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

 

Photo from BBC Good Food

Well, who am I to disagree with Bon Appetit and the James Beard Foundation, but I would have thought this one was beyond a trend now, and is now mainstream, but maybe not. They both say it’s the new kale, which hopefully means kale is over and done with. So, possibly time to start perfecting your cauliflower pizza crust or rice.

 

Vegetables

 

Vegetables may be about to rule the world

 

It’s a takeover. It’s all about the veg. Apart from where it’s about the return of proper butchers. Or maybe it’s more about balance than ever before. But Bloomberg, James Beard and the Telegraph are all backing veg for an even bigger role this year. Good news for vegetarians, that maybe there might be choices on the menu, which is probably good news for all of us.

 

Savoury Yogurts

 

Beetroot moves into dairy

 

Maybe this is the spin off of the rise of vegetables, and that they are just taking over everything. Apparently could be beetroot, carrot or sweet potato amongst others. Waitrose say it’s a thing, and the Telegraph reported it.

Beetroot from Pinterest.

 

Sprinkles

 

Sprinkle as though you're a 7 year old!

 

Enough with the healthy stuff, this is a trend all about full on, technicolour desserts, overflowing with sprinkles and other sugary stuff. It was a trend from the James Beard Foundation, but pulling on reports from the New York Times, BuzzFeed and the Washington Post, not to mention all over Pinterest. But if it’s a dull night in January, then I say bring on the sprinkles.

 

Filipino Food

 

 

 

I thought that Japanese Peruvian food was going to be the thing, or maybe just because that’s the last course we went on. But according to Bloomberg and Food Network, Filipino food is the next thing. It could be great, as they describe it as the original fusion food, with influences from Chinese, Spanish, Malay and other South Eastern Asian cuisines amongst others. We will all know more about lumpia, longganisa and kinilaw by the end of the year. To be fair, we haven’t even got a Wahaca yet in Nottingham, so it may take some time to experience this locally.

 

These lists don’t really matter, you can just ignore them as you choose. Or you can have fun exploring some of them. Which to me is what food should really be about.

Now, pass the sprinkles please.

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Get more Greenery into your kitchen in 2017

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It's all about Greenery: Pantone Colour of the Year

I was at the launch of the Pantone Colour of the Year last week, and apparently green is the colour for next year. More precisely, a shade called Greenery.

 

Pantone Colour of the Year Greenery around the home

 

Probably easier to get your head around in the kitchen, than perhaps in your make up bag:

 

Pantone Colour of the Year Greenery in your make up bag

 

But if you want to be ahead of the curve, then here’s a few things I’ve spotted that are in a similar territory.

Chop 2 Pot from JosephJoseph

I think the team at Joseph Joseph have been into this colour for a little while already, as this Chop to Pot is not new. However, these are still an incredibly useful thing to have in the kitchen, regardless of colour.

Kitchen Craft Healthy Manual Juicer

Get ready for the new year, the new colour and inevitable healthy eating resolutions with this Manual Juicer from Kitchen Craft. Makes it sound like you’ll get some exercise at the same time as making your juice, possibly a slightly more peaceful exercise than some mechanised juicers.

 

Asher Tumbler LSA

Update your glassware, whether for water or wine, with this tumbler from LSA International. There is a broad range of colours available but this one is the one if you want to be on the trend.

 

Cow on Grass Milk Jug

 

This milk jug definitely looks like it’s got the right colour going on, or you could say that Greenery was inspired by grass. Whichever way, I think this is a great addition to the breakfast table, produced by Hanne Rysgaard Ceramics.

 

Pea Pod Oven Gloves

 

Freshen up the kitchen with a new pair of oven gloves, like this lovely pair from Thornback & Peel. I love the pea pod pattern, colour is definitely right on trend, and oven gloves always make a great gift, for yourself or anyone else who loves to cook.

 

Basil & Mint Candle from Orla Kiely

I think this Basil and Mint Candle from Orla Kiely ticks the boxes, both in terms of colour, and also the natural world inspiration behind the trend too. Great scent to give a food lover, this will definitely perk up any room.

So, you can get ahead of the crowd and stun them with your colourful kitchen, with a colour that’s inspired by rebirth, energy and positivity. It would be very nice to think that that’s what 2017 has in store for all of us!

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How to liven up lunchtime in the office

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Made In the Office - tasty meals in the office kitchen

 

I really liked the premise of this book, Made in the Office, as there are many days when a sandwich at lunch in the office is really not very inspiring. This is all about how to step it up a gear with just a kettle, a toaster and a microwave, which I think most offices can run to.

Now, the breakfasts are lots of versions of porridge, but most of these sound better than the sachet stuff that goes in the microwaves at our office. The thought of trying eggs florentine at work is interesting, but I might give it a go at home first.

 

Easy eggs florentine in the office

I like the sound of the lunches, although some of them sound like they’d have people tutting in the microwave queue as they take a little while. I mean, 6 minutes for quinoa and then another 1 minute, and there’s going to be a bit of eye rolling going on. And cooking salmon in the microwave in the office is a little unsociable I think, but other than that things like a burrito bowl with chicken, feta and sweetcorn sound amazing.

 

Salmon on Asian Slaw

 

Covering breakfast, light and more substantial lunches as well as some snacks to keep you going, this is a lovely little book. I think it makes a great gift because it’s just a bit different as a theme for a cookbook, but a situation that many of us can relate to. Written by Rachel Maylor and published by Frances Lincoln, this is currently £12.08 on Amazon.

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The Friday Five – how to kick start your food business dream

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When I tell people that I spend quite a lot of time writing about food, quite often I get someone tell me that they really want to start their own food business. Some have a really great idea, some just fancy the idea. Which is definitely not a great place to start from. But if you think you’ve got a good idea, or want to see what it could be like, then these might set you up well for a different future ahead.

 

A Delicious Life - New Food Entrepreneurs

A Delicious Life: New Food Entrepreneurs

This is a great book for inspiring your idea, and girding your loins into action. To be fair, you could read this and enjoy the stories of the great start ups but I think you’ll find it really inspiring to see what these food lovers have achieved. It should also show that it’s not about wafting around your kitchen knocking up a few cakes. Well, not if you want to make a living!

 

Fabulous Food Concepts

 

Fabulous Food Concepts

This is another book for inspiration, both with the stories and the photography. These are businesses that are working to produce great food but respecting the planet at the same time. Definitely an inspiring book, almost certainly a very pretty book.

 

Cooking up a business

 

Cooking Up a Business

Ok, down to business then. This is a bit more down to it practical advice, from food safety regulations through to how get meetings with grocery store buyers. If that’s the route you want to go. I like that there’s a section on what they wish someone had told them at the start. Always good to learn from others mistakes. And then try not to make them yourself!

 

Packed - The Food Entrepreneurs Guide

 

Packed – The Food Entrepreneur’s Guide: How to Get Noticed and How to be Loved

We’re onto the more serious end of things now, thinking about how you’re really going to get your product out there and noticed. It’s about how to make sure it’s your product customers and retailers pick up. Tessa Stuart has plenty of expertise in this area so you’re really getting thoughts and ideas from the best. Great place to start.

 

Good Food Great Business

 

Good Food, Great Business: How to take your artisan food idea from concept to market place – well this one is going to walk you through step by step from start to shelf. Plenty of real life examples for you to learn from and think about, pitfalls to look out for, and what to plan for.

 

So, if you really have the passion, and the dedication for long hours, then these might inspire and help set you off on the right foot.

If your idea is on opening a deli, then I can highly recommend the Retail Ready course from the Guild of Fine Food. Charlie Turnbull’s finance section was an eye opener for many, but better to decide upfront that it’s not for you than plough everything into it then find out it’s not for you. Forewarned is definitely your best plan! And there’s no harm in saying not for me, or not now.

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Keeping the kids entertained with jars

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How to keep bored kids entertained in the kitchen

 

It’s that stage in the holidays where the kids start moping around, complaining that they’re bored, and parents are running short of ideas.

Well, this book might help. Mason Jar Nation, whilst not purely food or drink idea based, could provide a few hours entertainment for the kids. It could end up producing something for dinner, or something to carry to a picnic, or some other craft projects, although these are probably more suitable for older kids.

And much older if it’s the Pineapple Vodka!

 

Mason Jar Nation - great cookbook gift for a food lover with kids to entertain

 

Of course it’s all been about the Mason jar, which you may or may not have hanging around the house. Personally I think the trend has probably reached a peak, and you could do many of these with any fairly robust glass jar you have hanging around the house.

I mean, if you’re going to try making homemade butter with them (which would be great fun) then then the butter isn’t going to know it’s being churned in a Mason jar or a leftover jam jar, just as long as the lid is tight fitting.

A nice little book, not worth the full price though but there are options on Amazon from £4.73.

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Learning to cook the Italian way at Tasty Tuscany

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Al fresco dinners at Tasty Tuscany

 

As I mentioned on Tuesday, MGG and I have just enjoyed 8 days. in Tuscany, 6 of which we spent immersed in the world of Italian cooking with Manul and Paolo at Tasty Tuscany.

Perched on a hillside (count the hairpin bends getting up there, all five of them!) it’s idyllic, peaceful (if you ignore the cicadas) and surrounded by olive trees. And it has a kitchen that I could happily live in, and a huge marble table that any would be chocolatier in particular would have huge envy of.

 

The marble kitchen table at Tasty Tuscany ready for lessons to begin

 

The 6 nights there give you a good combination of cooking lessons, and trips out around the local area. Let’s face it, it was nearly 30°C most days at midday, and not many of us amateurs would choose to be cooking in that heat, so lessons were at 5pm, ready for that evening’s meal.

The three lessons focused on a northern dinner, a southern vegetarian dinner and a Tuscan dinner, so reflecting three diverse styles out of the many that actually make up “Italian” cooking. As Manul says, these are family dishes, not restaurant dishes and actually, for me, that makes them much more useful. We’ve already cooked some of them again since our return home.

The style is very relaxed, there were three of us staying, with a maximum of six, which the kitchen can comfortably accomodate. It doesn’t need any particular level of skill, just enthusiasm, the ability to follow instructions, and to just enjoy. The wine usually came out at some point in the process and there was lots of laughter.

And then there were the dishes. We can’t really decide which we liked the most, but we’ve already cooked the pork loin in vin santo again along with the white cabbage and dried fruit salad.

 

Pork loin with vin santo at Tasty Tuscany

 

Tomorrow will see us revisit the cannelloni with aubergine rolls (and I didn’t think I liked aubergine before this trip), and probably the chocolate chip cantuccini as well.

 

Cannelloni with aubergine rolls at Tasty Tuscany

 

We enjoyed all the meals, particularly when it was cool enough to eat outside (though take industrial strength mosquito repellent, they’re real biters up there) and I loved how many different salads we did.

 

View of the main house at Tasty Tuscany

 

The rooms are comfortable, though don’t come expecting 5 star facilities (this is not the trip for you if that’s what you need). Plenty of space, beautiful views, though we were so busy that we didn’t see much of the rooms. There’s also a gorgeous saltwater pool, perfect around 6pm if you’re not cooking for a pre-dinner dip.

 

Pool with a view at Tasty Tuscany

 

I’ll write separately about some of the trips we did from here, as we loved many of those adventures too. I would highly recommend this trip if you are looking for a holiday that’s a good mix of activities and sightseeing, busy times and some down time, great food and meeting new people. I’d love to go in October/November when you can get involved in the olive harvest and all the steps involved with the oil extraction.

If you’re a last minute kind of person, I believe they do have some availability in August and September, so get in touch with them now. Your tastebuds will thank you!

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