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Food & drink | The Guardian

Latest Food & drink news, comment and analysis from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice

Rachel Roddy’s recipe for beef with tomatoes, capers and oregano

Tue, 10 Jul 2018 11:00:41 GMT

Capers bring a deliciously sharp kick all sorts of savoury dishes, and this classic beef in tomato sauce is no exception

While not quite goats in trees, the caper plants that grow on the steep concrete embankments on either side of the Tiber river in Rome are quite remarkable. “How do they hold on?” asked my young son when we stopped to look at a great bushy cluster, before he was distracted by the apocalyptic pile of twisted yellow rental bikes that had clearly been hurled from the Roman pavement 10 metres above. The distraction of bike hooliganism meant I didn’t have to admit to having no idea how capers cling to sheer embankments, or that, until the age of 32, I thought capers were a variety of seaweed.

Capparis spinosa – Flinders rose, or the caper bush – is a rupicolous species, which means it can grow and thrive on rocks and crevices, withstand wind and the harshest environments. Capers grow in great tangles on sand dunes in Pakistan, the coastal deserts of Libya and Tunisia, on the volcanic soil of the Sicilian islands Pantelleria and Salina, they clamber the ramparts of medieval castles in Spain like free climbers ... and grow spontaneously on the Aurelian Walls in Rome. It was the trailing bunches clinging to a section of ancient city wall near my flat in Testaccio that taught me that the nubs of flavour on my pizza and the essential jolt of unabashed flavour in sauces, came from land, not sea.

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Four lunchbox recipes for busy people | Rosie Birkett

Sun, 15 Jul 2018 15:00:10 GMT

A dip, two inspired salads and a light fish picnic ideal to pack and go for a quick lunch

Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Break down 1 broccoli head, peeling and chopping the stem, and toss in ½ tbsp rapeseed oil. Season with salt, pepper and dried chilli flakes and roast for 10 mins. Add 1 handful of whole almonds, more oil and toss. Roast another 8-10 mins, then cool and box up. Blitz 1 tin of drained cannellini beans with 1 garlic clove, 6 anchovy fillets, the juice of 1 lemon, 2 tbsp mascarpone and seasoning, then jar and pack. Serve the dip with the broccoli.

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Pasture, Bristol: 'This man seriously wants to feed you' – restaurant review

Fri, 06 Jul 2018 12:00:26 GMT

It’s one of those menus that I adore: something for everyone and the devil hiding in a hundred raunchy details

Six months into my tenure as your restaurant correspondent, I have decided that the city, after London, that excites me the most to eat in is Bristol. Yes, it’s a surprise to me, too. Bristol is remarkably self-effacing about its greatness. It’s almost as if it saw what happened to Brighton in the 1990s, when everyone with a fine arts degree, a will to procreate and a dream of making artisan candles was priced out of Westbourne Grove.

It suits Bristol, perhaps, that the last time many British people remembered it was 2011, when Tricky loomed mysteriously on stage with Beyoncé at Glastonbury like a man kicked out of a lock-in returning to demand one last drink, then vanished again like a trip-hop Mr Benn. Maybe Bristol won’t thank me for telling you of restaurants such as Sam Elliot’s Pasture. Or for mentioning the lovely Lido, with its pool-side bistro. Or the 12-seater gem Box-E. Or the veggie-centric small plates at Root. Or any projects to which Josh Eggleton turns his hand.

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Liam Charles’s recipe for plantain tarte tatin with spiced cream

Sat, 14 Jul 2018 06:00:37 GMT

The Bake-Off star turns the classic French dessert on its head with this Caribbean variation

Tarte tatin is pretty much one of your five a day. Whether you make it with the classic apple, or with peaches, pineapple or – as I’ve done here – the more left-field plantain, it’s packed full of fruit ... oh yes, and caramel, flaky pastry and, naturally, a sidekick of cream. Plantains, rum and spice are old friends, so I suggest a whipped spiced dollop with raisins. Go on – it’s good for you.

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Ugly Dumpling, London: ‘Inventive, cheap and hit-and-miss’ – restaurant review | Jay Rayner on restaurants

Sun, 08 Jul 2018 05:00:18 GMT

Some of the food may be flawed and exceedingly silly – but it works

Ugly Dumpling, 1 Newburgh Street, London W1F 7RB (020 7287 5336). Meal for two, including drinks and service £25-£40

Having a long history is not the same as being good. Some things – jellied eels, say, or Norman Tebbit – have been around ages and have always been awful. And then there are things which have awfulness thrust upon them by virtue of having existed long enough for the world to have moved on without them. So it is with the curry puff from Old Chang Kee, which began life as a food item sold from a Singapore street-food cart in 1956. The cart became a restaurant, which in turn became a 100-strong chain across Asia and Australia.

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2017's best restaurant – Pidgin, east London

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 10:00:28 GMT

Their menu changes weekly and no dish is repeated – the winner, as voted by OFM readers, is a small restaurant that’s big on creativity

When the public ballot opened for this year’s Best Restaurant, James Ramsden sent a tweet to his then near-17,000 followers: “If you vote for Pidgin in the #ofmawards I’ll personally empty your dishwasher.” Now the east London restaurant he co-owns has won – by some margin, as it happens – does he not regret making that offer?

The 31-year-old Ramsden laughs. “Yeah, it was actually a fairly clumsily written tweet, but I’m glad it was, because it was meant to say ‘…for a year’. As far as is practical, though, I will honour the offer. I mean, it’s a bit of a weird thing to do, to call me up and say …”

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OFM Awards 2017: Best Sunday Lunch – the runners-up

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 10:00:28 GMT

OFM readers vote for their favourite roasts – from well-hung beef in Wales to whole suckling pig in Nottingham

Blacklock, Soho
This chophouse scooped this award last year for its superlative roasts. Joints are slow-roasted over coals, there’s a £20 all-in meat platter, and you can wash it all down with a breakfast martini.
24 Great Windmill St, W1D 7LG; 020 3441 6996

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Holborn Dining Room: ‘Its pork pie is a bold expression of pig’ – restaurant review

Sun, 15 Jul 2018 04:59:00 GMT

If you come here and don’t order a pie, you’ll only have yourself to blame. Don’t let me down, says Jay Rayner

Holborn Dining Room, 252 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EN (020 3747 8633). Meal for two, including drinks and service £60-£130

My late mother had no truck with religious observance. She preferred cultural signifiers of her Jewishness like a full fridge, a belief in the utilitarian qualities of cake liberally applied and a hatred of silence at the table. There was, however, one way in which she observed Jewish religious ritual, though she was utterly bewildered when I pointed it out to her. She liked to cook gefilte fish, that sustaining mix of ground white fish, bound with matzo meal and sweetened with sugar. It comes in two forms. There is the boiled, served cold with its own fishy jelly, an abomination I always regarded as the closest food could come to cruel and unusual punishment. And then there is the fried, which is a different matter altogether. It should be crisp and golden outside and light and fluffy inside. Cooking them made the house smell of indulgence. I would watch them being lifted from the oil with a slotted spoon to the rack to cool a little. At which point I would try to take one and would have my hand verbally slapped away. “Not until they’re cold.”

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How do you like your pinot?

Fri, 29 Jun 2018 15:00:45 GMT

Deep, fruity reds and English sparkling wines are all on the spectrum of this grape variety

What should you expect when you order a pinot? At the very least that you’ll be asked if you want pinot noir or pinot grigio, but you could equally well be offered a rosé or a sparkling wine (the pinot family accounts for two out of the three classic grapes used in champagne and sparkling wines).

According to Jancis Robinson et al’s magisterial Wine Grapes, pinot has more than 1,000 permutations that contribute towards making the already-complicated world of wine even more daunting. The fact that pinots go by different names doesn’t help, either. Pinot grigio is also known as pinot gris (pronounced “gree”) and grauburgunder in Germany, where they also use the word spätburgunder for pinot noir. In Italy, it’s pinot nero.

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Cocktail of the week: buggy whip

Fri, 13 Jul 2018 14:00:12 GMT

The summery flavours of strawberry and rosewater take Campari to a new level

The sweet sharpness of the strawberry makes it a very handy ingredient for a cocktail, so it’s worth putting a few aside for drinks, rather than covering them all with sugar and cream.

Serves 1

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Hot reds for warm weather

Thu, 12 Jul 2018 11:00:40 GMT

Whether you favour a lighter red wine for summer or stick to heavier, year-round favourites, there’s something here for every palate

There are two main camps, I’ve worked out (in an entirely unscientific way), in terms of what makes the ideal summer red. The first, of which I confess I’m a member, make the switch from more full-bodied reds to lighter, fresher ones to suit the temperature and the lighter food of the season. The second, which includes a significant number of my friends, see no point in adapting their normal drinking patterns to the weather and resolutely stick to their usual blockbusters.

Well, fair dos – if you’re having a barbecue, for example, a big, bold red may well work better than a fragrant wisp of a wine. So if you fall into that latter category, let me suggest Boom Boom Syrah for a start, a bottle that a publican friend brought out for me to “taste” recently and that we then proceeded to demolish between the pair of us. (Yes, I know: middle-aged drinkers are the worst.)

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Cocktail of the week: Lost in Marrakech

Sat, 14 Jul 2018 11:00:37 GMT

A fragrant, floral sip that’s bursting with citrus freshness

This was inspired by a trip I made to Marrakech last year, and by the intoxicating smells of the souks there. As someone who is driven by ingredients and flavour combinations, on my return home I started playing around with what I’d experienced in Morocco. This is the result – it’s a great refresher for enjoying outdoors on a warm day.

Serves 1

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Anna Jones’s peach, apricot and plum recipes

Sat, 14 Jul 2018 06:00:36 GMT

Apricot-stuffed almond crumble muffins and brown sugar pavlova put stone fruits – fresh and tired alike – to inspired use

If you ever need a reminder to live in the moment, look to a peach (or a nectarine or apricot, for that matter). There is a sweet spot, a moment of glory, when the sun has ripened stone fruits to perfect, plump sweetness: as you bite, the juices will run down your chin but the fruit will stay intact, coming perfectly and pleasingly away from the stone. If your stone fruit hits this moment, eat it unadulterated over the sink or with a napkin for chin dabbing. If, like me, the sweet spot often eludes you, here are two recipes: one that will make under-ripe fruit sing; the other to bring the over-ripe back from the brink.

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Tamal Ray’s recipe for raspberry and lime bars

Tue, 10 Jul 2018 05:00:39 GMT

This tangy fruit curd on an oat biscuit base is a twist on the classic American lemon bar

These are a variation on an American classic: lemon bars. If you’ve never tried them before, picture a layer of zingy, fruit curd on a buttery, shortbread base. I’ve used raspberries and lime here, but feel free to experiment with other citrus fruits; red grapefruit makes a particularly delicious alternative.

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Nigel Slater’s summer fruit recipes

Mon, 16 Jul 2018 07:00:31 GMT

Gooseberry cheesecake, ricotta cream and cherry compote, peach and honey cake – Nigel Slater’s sun-filled fruit and dairy puddings

There comes a point in deepest summer when every meal seems to end with the marriage of fruit and some sort of dairy produce. Ripe cherries with ricotta, gooseberries with cream cheese, or perhaps a peach cake with a dish of lightly whipped cream. I also like to start the day with yogurt, muesli and strawberries that have been marinated with orange and a drop of sweet-sour balsamic vinegar. This year has been particularly fine for soft fruit, so here are some of my favourites from this long summer.

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House of Commons: ‘smell of boiled cabbage’ – restaurant review

Sun, 01 Jul 2018 05:00:31 GMT

The idea of visiting the Strangers’ Dining Room is exciting, the reality sadly disappointing

Strangers’ Dining Room at the House of Commons, Westminster, London SW1A 0AA. Visit parliament.uk to book. Meal for two including drinks and service £180

Many wretched schemes have been devised within the Houses of Parliament to separate the British from their money, in return for scant reward. There’s the poll tax, which was a charge on breathing. There are VAT increases, instituted to sort out a financial mess you didn’t make. To these should be added one more: the shameful price they are charging to serve mediocre cooking to hapless members of the public.

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Why are you throwing away your celery leaves?

Sat, 14 Jul 2018 06:00:31 GMT

Celery leaves are as fragrant as herbs, so use them as such, or put them to use in a salad

A bushy head of celery with its leaves intact is quite spectacular and almost twice the size of a regular, chopped bunch from a supermarket. The stems tail off into broad, aromatic and savoury leaves that can be used as a herb to add depth to a soup or stew, or chopped up into a robust and bitter leaf salad.

Even a beheaded bunch of celery has a few leaves tucked inside its core: pale, sweet and delicious. Use these leaves, the core and celery butt, thinly sliced, to add crunch and aroma to a salad. If your market stall or supermarket doesn’t stock whole celery, ask them to. I know from experience that just a few requests will prompt them to consider it.

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Six of the best summer cheese recipes

Sat, 14 Jul 2018 06:00:36 GMT

Make a bright baguette with peach and gorgonzola or dig into a sharing plate of sticky baked feta

Prep 10 min
Cook 30 min
Serves 4

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Cocktail of the week: the hanky panky

Fri, 29 Jun 2018 14:00:44 GMT

A sweet martini, with a twist

Serves 1

50ml Italian vermouth (I use Punt E Mes, but Antica Formula also works well) 
50ml dry gin (I use Tanqueray)
3 dashes Fernet Branca
1 twist orange peel, to garnish

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Which is the right white wine for a summer fling?

Fri, 13 Jul 2018 11:00:09 GMT

Sauvignon blanc is a shoo-in at this time of year, but a Uruguyan blend or a Portuguese bargain might turn your head, too

Whereas the last column was all about whether blockbuster reds can be classified as summer wines, with whites it’s more about sweetness – and how much of it you feel comfortable with – than strength. Few except the diehard chardonnay-lover crave a richly oaked white burgundy on a sultry evening, I reckon; summer is all about freshness, crispness and maybe a touch of floweriness, too.

There are wines I would sip as an aperitif right now that I wouldn’t fancy half as much at other times of year. My favourite so far this summer has, surprisingly, been a Uruguayan white called Estival (£12.75, 12.5%), an unusual but mouthwateringly juicy blend of gewürztraminer, chardonnay and moscato. Waitrose has a cheaper option along similar lines called Haut Les Mains 2017 (£6.49, 13%), which is an even more abstruse blend of viognier, chardonnay, vermentino, mauzac, muscat and roussanne and which is also deliciously summery.

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Great British Bake Off: ‘Last year we just tried to make sure we didn’t destroy our careers’

Sun, 15 Jul 2018 10:00:07 GMT

After a triumphant first series together, Prue, Paul, Sandi and Noel are back to tell us about the pressures of the show, the Hollywood handshake and why they might be naughtier this year

I have never been starstruck by a tent before, but then, this isn’t some damp old pop-up that’s been rotting at the back of the garage for a decade. This is the tent. The Great British Bake Off tent. The Great British Bake Off tent, during bread week, and I step inside its hallowed canvas just as a selection of ambitious showstopper challenges in unthinkable shapes have been taken out of the oven. I take a step, starting to salivate at the smell of baked dough and spices, and the floor creaks unnervingly. Someone with a clipboard shouts: “Don’t walk near the bakes!” The middle of the tent, down which the contestants make the long procession to the judges with their offering, is wobbly and uneven. I tiptoe, suddenly petrified that I’ll be responsible for destroying four hours’ worth of intricate bread work with one dodgy footstep.

On TV, you get a sense of what it must be like to be in there – the chocolate-melting heatwave days, the sweaty pressure of tight time constraints and unfamiliar ovens, the kind of gentle chaos that led to baked alaska-gate, when the nation stopped to pay witness to a woman accidentally removing someone else’s ice-cream from the freezer. But you can’t get any idea of how delicious it smells, all that bread, spiced and hot and buttery, desperately trying to stay upright in positions never attempted by baked goods before.

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Salt, Stratford-upon-Avon: ‘I want this restaurant to be great’ | Jay Rayner

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 05:00:21 GMT

Paul Foster won top awards as a young chef, now he’s got his own place in the Midlands. And Jay feels fully vindicated

Salt, 8 Church Street, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6HB (01789 263 566). Meal for two, including drinks and service: £70-£110

Paul Foster is living other chefs’ fantasies. He has the thing they all want: the small but perfectly formed restaurant where he can be himself. From a distance he has made this look effortless. I’m sure it wasn’t. I first ate his food at a hotel in Suffolk I had never heard of back in 2011, where he was ravaging the river banks for ingredients, pairing roasted chicken wings with brown shrimps and laying pieces of hake on swollen beads of bright green tapioca, flavoured with fiery wild watercress so it looked like frogspawn. There was a poise and balance to his cooking that won him a bunch of awards, including the Observer Food Monthly young chef of the year award. Which is obviously The Only Award Worth Winning.

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Thomasina Miers’ recipe for caesar salad with grilled mackerel

Sat, 14 Jul 2018 11:00:37 GMT

This easy twist on the classic salad is all about summer freshness

It is little known that the caesar salad, that brasserie mainstay, is a wholeheartedly Mexican affair. It was invented by a chef called Caesar Cardini and, unlike most of Mexico’s culinary gems, it quickly became one of the country’s most famous exports – although apparently the original recipe didn’t call for anchovies (I know!). Here is a version inspired by a delicious trip to a restaurant called Magpie in London.

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Cocktail of the week: Army & navy

Fri, 06 Jul 2018 14:00:05 GMT

A rich and creamy take on the gin sour

A wonderfully rich twist on the gin sour, which probably originated at the Army and Navy club in Washington DC. We replace the classic almond orgeat with a homemade cobnut version, but hazelnut works well, too: just whisk two parts sugar into one part hazelnut milk.

Serves 1

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Meera Sodha’s vegan recipe for tomato farro with summer greens

Sat, 14 Jul 2018 06:00:37 GMT

This ancient grain has great texture that’s a useful tool in any cook’s armoury

I like a chewy texture: the toothsome type found in udon noodles, Jelly Tots, dates, sticky rice, bagels and pasta. It is, I think, why I am a recent convert to farro, an ancient species of wheat. It has a joyful little bounce about it and a good, nutty flavour. Farro makes a deceptively simple meal, too, as in this tomato dish, while also being elegant and mysterious at the same time. It’s a useful tool in any cook’s cupboard, not just as a vehicle to get summer vegetables to the table, but also when you need a good “bite” to eat.

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Here’s what a wine needs now – concrete

Sun, 15 Jul 2018 11:00:06 GMT

The forward-thinking winery’s vessel of choice is the concrete vat

Concrete was once the building material of choice for Le Corbusier’s bright modernist future, before becoming a cold symbol of dystopia and then rehabilitated for polite society in the 2000s. It’s been a curiously similar story with concrete in wine: back in the early 20th century, a bank of spotless concrete tanks was very much the thing for your futuristic, forward-looking winery.

As a material, it was easier to clean, more hardwearing, better insulated and cheaper than oak, which began to seem inefficient, pre-industrial and hopelessly unprogressive by comparison. By the 1980s, concrete was itself starting to look dated. Stainless steel vats, with whizzy temperature controls, available in all manner of sizes, were the kit to have, making a style of lively, fruit-driven wine that proved hugely popular. Oak, which had never gone away, was also very much back in favour, its ability to soften wine, and bring toast and vanilla flavours, now a stylistic choice to brag about.

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Thomasina Miers’ recipe for watermelon and chorizo salad

Sun, 08 Jul 2018 06:43:43 GMT

Alive with flavour and texture, this refreshing salad is summer on a plate

I am so tempted to make wild and wonderful salads in the summer. Crisp, crunchy, fresh tumbles of texture, bite and colour. Rice salads, warm salads, fresh salads, grilled salads. Some are starters, a celebration of seasonal fruit and veg, while others are heartier – vehicles for a wonderful piece of meat or fish, or cheese or nuts. They can be rich in colour, glorious to look at and taste fantastic. That they are so good for you is a happy coincidence.

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Bright, London E8: ‘Future-facing, lovingly sourced and whip-smart’ - restaurant review | Grace Dent

Fri, 13 Jul 2018 12:00:09 GMT

An ever-changing, reassuringly brief menu that is challenging without losing its cool

Being cool is a complex, multi-faceted thing. I wrote a fortnight ago about Neptune in Bloomsbury, a restaurant posited as the capital’s newest, coolest, prettiest place to be tagged on Instagram while picking at eel carpaccio. Bright, meanwhile, in London Fields, is also very cool, but a completely different subsection. Bright is chef-scene, actual “foodie” cool. It is a stripped-back, semi-industrial, chicken liver agnolotti and bull’s heart tomatoes with marjoram type of cool. It’s a place hewn by young men – Liam Kelleher, Phil Bracey and William Gleave – with the kind of hospitality pedigrees that cause earnest food bloggers to clutch their faces like rapt Victorian cherubs.

I love scrutinising the murky world of London restaurant hype, because nothing is more likely to make a man called Brian from Congleton bash out: “I don’t bloody care what London people think is cool! I just want my dinner,” on his 14-inch Dell Latitude. But Brian, these things do matter. By this time next year, you’ll be knee-deep in replicants of Bright’s katsu sando – panko’d pork cutlet and shredded cabbage between slices of white bread with a dollop of hot mustard.

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Nigel Slater’s grilled chicken with miso recipe

Tue, 17 Jul 2018 11:00:04 GMT

A simple and satisfying light dish for a warm summer’s evening

Take a couple of whole chicken legs and remove the bones. (See below for guidance.) Mix together 4 tbsp of white miso paste, 2 tbsp of maple syrup or honey, 2 tsp of sesame oil and 3 tbsp of groundnut oil. Push the meat down into the marinade, cover and set aside in a cool place for a good 20 minutes, longer if you can.

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Who should replace the irreplaceable David Dimbleby? Arise, Mary Berry | Sam Delaney

Tue, 19 Jun 2018 11:11:24 GMT

Question Time is a tetchy show for a tetchy nation. For our sanity, I say we replace one benevolent ringmaster with another

With a calm authority in his timbre and a cheeky twinkle in his eye, David Dimbleby – the nation’s Dumbledore - has expertly guided the show through its golden age, harnessing all the rage and energy of modern Britain into an improbably palatable hour of weekly TV.

How can it possibly go on without him? The runners and riders are already in place: Kirsty Wark is the bookies’ favourite, Emily Maitlis is not far behind, and Samira Ahmed has boldly applied for the role via Twitter. There are surprisingly few male names being mentioned, with Maria Miller MP – the chair of the parliamentary women and equalities select committee – leading calls for the BBC to appoint a woman to the role for the first time.

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Rachel Roddy’s recipe for plum granita

Mon, 16 Jul 2018 11:00:36 GMT

Iced treats are a summer staple, and this one is simple and simply delicious

Unlike ice-cream, which is evergreen, sorbet and granita don’t really have a role from late autumn to early spring. Like suncream and sandals relegated to the back of the wardrobe, fruit ices are sent to the back of the mind during the months of jumpers and thick soup, except maybe for a Christmas palate cleanser.

Their return is directly related to the weather. As days get warmer – and, this year, sweltering – smooth scoops and icy shards progress from being a novelty, to a pleasure, to a relief, to an absolute necessity.

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Cooking on High: Netflix's foray into weed cuisine is half-baked

Fri, 22 Jun 2018 10:00:25 GMT

An unusual cooking competition show sees expert chefs make sumptuous meals with cannabis while a judging panel of weed enthusiasts get stoned

As Canada becomes the second country to legalize recreational marijuana, and weed dispensaries that look like Apple Genius bars sprout in progressive states across the US, it was only a matter of time before Netflix threw its hat in the proverbial smoke ring. The result is Cooking on High, television’s first ever cannabis cooking competition show, one that remarkably fails to capitalize on either of the dual pleasures at its core: binge-watching and/while getting high.

Related: Netflix develops marijuana strains based on its original shows

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How to make the perfect fish tacos | Felicity Cloake

Wed, 11 Jul 2018 08:00:08 GMT

If good fish tacos aren’t on your local takeaway menu, they’re fun to make at home – and here’s how

As a California girl, the new Duchess of Sussex claims “few bites of food” make her happier than fish tacos from Mexico’s Baja peninsula just south of the border: “Being from Los Angeles, I was conditioned to like Baja-style food from the womb … trust me, they are insanely good! I dream about those tacos.”

As with all the best dishes, there’s some debate about its origins, with the city of Ensenada and the town of San Felipe both claiming paternity: the first credits Japanese migrants for the crispy, tempura-style fish, and the latter the local climate, which apparently is only tolerable on a regular diet of mustardy beer batter. One serves the fish in corn tortillas, the other in corn or wheat, one fries in oil, the other lard, one adds guacamole and ketchup – and that’s before you even get to the choice of fish or salad.

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Yasmin Khan’s Palestinian recipes: hummus, kefte and pomegranate cake

Sun, 15 Jul 2018 10:30:06 GMT

With her new cookbook, Zaitoun, Yasmin Khan shines a light on Palestine and its people. Plus seven recipes from the book

We’ve got this really weird thing going on at the moment,” notes the writer Yasmin Khan, “where Middle Eastern food has exploded in popularity at the same time as the Middle East is imploding. That was a big motivation for my book: can we join the two up because it’s great that everyone’s going crazy over pomegranate molasses, za’atar and labneh, but let’s also not forget the other side.”

The result is Zaitoun, a zingingly evocative collection of personal stories and 80 recipes from Palestinian kitchens. Calling it a cookbook does it a disservice. As with Khan’s 2016 debut, The Saffron Tales, which followed her scouring Iran for its most beloved dishes, Zaitoun deserves to be read as much as cooked from.

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Nadiya Hussain: how Nigel Slater changed the way I cook

Fri, 13 Jul 2018 11:00:10 GMT

The TV cook on how the writer and presenter became her kitchen hero

I first saw Nigel Slater on telly in about 1995 – the year my brother was born. I realised I already had one of his cookbooks, The 30-Minute Cook – I just didn’t know who he was.

He had a recipe – his cooking has definitely evolved since then – for French toast using melted ice-cream. And I thought: “That’s AMAZING.” It was exactly the kind of cooking I wanted to do. Clever, waste-conscious, always useful … I’ve been following him ever since. On my shelf I now have Eat: The Little Book of Fast Food, Real Fast Food, Real Fast Puddings and last year’s The Christmas Chronicles. The latter is my favourite. I particularly love his fruit cake recipe – it is perfectly rich and fruity, and the only one I ever make now. Why use a different recipe when the one in his book works so well?

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Yotam Ottolenghi’s summer recipes

Sat, 14 Jul 2018 09:00:35 GMT

For a truly seasonal spread, pair garlicky flatbreads with cold cuts, spiced chicken with an Asian salad, and a strawberry-spiked take on a classic Italian pudding

Today I am celebrating the season with three dishes that are perfect for summer dining. To keep things light on a hot day, serve these olive oil flatbreads with a selection of cold cuts and salads. You can whip up my strawberry tiramisu cake the day before, then flip it impressively on to a plate so you can enjoy a hassle-free outdoor lunch. And for a vibrant meal-in-one to accompany good wine and conversation, there’s a crunchy, sweet and sharp chicken and egg salad. Three very good reasons to bask in the summer sun.

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Four wines that don't need to make a point

Fri, 06 Jul 2018 15:00:04 GMT

What’s the point of wine scoring? How a wine tastes depends on all sorts of variables, like temperature, food, time of year. Picking the right wine for the occasion is more important

There was a bit of a Twitter storm recently after a bordeaux producer suggested that half the wine critics who rated the en primeur releases didn’t know their fundaments from their elbows. Well, fair enough, the biter bit and all that – chefs often have a go at restaurant critics, too. I have no axe to grind here, because I don’t cover the en primeurs on the basis that most of you treat wine as a drink, not as an investment, but it seemed to me that the brouhaha missed the point that scoring is a really unsatisfactory way to assess any wine.

First off, these scores are being given to unfinished wines that still have many years until they mature. Then there is the absurd scoring scale out of 100, by which 88 is regarded as low and 94 high.

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Have cookery shows become too difficult?

Wed, 27 Jun 2018 05:00:34 GMT

Series like Bake Off: The Professionals are testing their contestants to the limit, and turning off have-a-go home chefs in the process

As a culotte-wearing, peach-cheeked, dairy-overweight teenager, I once decided to cook my family savoury stuffed pancakes for dinner after watching a particularly thrilling episode of 90s TV staple Ready Steady Cook. Maybe I was mesmerised by the lightning-fast chopping of one of the decade’s many new celebrity chefs, or perhaps it was Fern Britton’s cream blazer that a freshly upholstered armchair, but I was hooked like a halibut. The resulting meal, needless to say, was four parts egg, two parts cream and 10 parts underfried chaos.

While Ready Steady Cook’s pancakes may have outfoxed me, they’re nothing compared with the challenges being set by this decade’s equivalents. Forget your £5-a-pop, pre-tea sprint round a four-ring hob. Anyone worth their salt on modern cookery television is expected to go far further: whip up a flock of tuiles, erect a croquembouche, re-create a meal blind (no recipe, no instructions, just a single taste beforehand), gut pigeons, cook without gadgets or simply blow through a spanische windtorte in a matter of seconds. From Bake-Off: The Professionals to MasterChef, modern cookery shows have become difficult, bordering on the impossible.

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