Monday, 28 September 2009

Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival 2009

A wide variety of local food producers, the beautiful surroundings of Snape Maltings and perfect weather - this was my first taste of the Aldeburgh Food Festival and I was not disappointed. This is just how a food festival should be - a real celebration of small-scale, local companies committed to producing high quality products.

There was so much to choose from and I would have happily purchased something from every stall there but due to budget and boot space limitations and the fact that, no matter how yummy it all is, there really is only so much chutney a person needs, I had to keep my excitement in check. So here is selection of my personal highlights.

As well as pestos, Purely Pesto also produce a range of other dips and sauces. I fell for their Honey & Dill Mayonnaise in particular as I am a recent convert to the aromatic savoury flavour of that feathery herb.

Thorpeness Leaves provided me with a very generous bag of salad leaves (see above for the list of contents) and some colourful red and yellow cherry tomatoes.

Munchy Seeds' Vanilla Pumpkin seeds were just too moreish to walk away from.

Lunch was provided by Salad Days - an enormous bowl full of chicken, leaves, couscous, roasted vegetables and tomatoes.

The Metfield Bakery offered a wide variety of loaves, not to mention their permanent on-site deli and cafe which I will return to one day - sadly I left it too late to pick up one of the sourdough loaves that I'd had my eye on as they had all sold out by mid afternoon.

A jar of Coronation Sauce came from Stokes (one of the three brands owned by Essfoods) - providers of a variety of sauces and dressings.

The Cake Shop in Woodbridge must win the award for the most tempting display of brownies. Again, though, I waited too long and they were all gone when I came back to find one for my afternoon snack. I settled instead for one of their Combicorn loaves (so called because of the assortment of grains and seeds inside it).

The day was ended on a high note with this gorgeous Raspberry Frozen yoghurt, provided by Margaret's Frozen Luxuries. Happy days.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Caramel Oat Bars

Otherwise known as Millionaire's Shortbread but with a slight adaptation. Where Millionaire's Shortbread has a base of - yes, you've guessed it - shortbread, this version includes the added bonus of oats. This is a change I wholly approve of - it makes the base lighter and crunchier and adds to the contrast with the soft caramel and chocolate.

If you have any leftover condensed milk (I have yet to find a 175 tin of the stuff) and were wondering what to do with it then you might want to take a look at these oat bars or this fudge - you can always halve the quantities!

Caramel Oat Bars
(original source of recipe long forgotten)

100g/4oz butter or margarine
50g/2oz caster sugar
75g/3oz plain flour
75g/3oz porridge oats

175g/7oz can condensed milk
100g/4oz butter or margarine
50g/2oz soft brown sugar
vanilla essence

100g/4oz chocolate, melted (you can use dark or milk chocolate depending on the level of sweetness you're after)

1) Grease a baking tin approximately 30 x 18cm (12 x 7 in)

2) Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, stir in flour and oats to form a stiff mixture and press into the tin

3) Bake for 20 minutes at 180c/350f/gas 4

4) Meanwhile, melt the butter, condensed milk and brown sugar in a pan over a gently heat. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring continuously. Add vanilla essence to taste and beat well. Pour evenly over the cooked base and leave to cool.

5) Spread melted chocolate over the cooled caramel and mark with a fork. Leave to set before cutting into squares.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Unloved Cookbooks Part 3 - Everyday by Bill Granger

So I'm home again with a fully functional, fabulous kitchen and I'm raring to go. Normal service has not quite resumed mind you - cupboards have to be filled, appliance manuals need to be read - but nevertheless I am VERY happy to be home.

During the recent disruption I have managed to do a little work on my unloved cookbooks project and this time I turned my attention to Everyday by Bill Granger.

This one was a definite success as I had no trouble choosing recipes and have many remaining on my to-do list. Why did I not make more use of this book before??

I suppose it's mainly due to the fact that you could say that this is quite a "healthy" book - lots of fresh ingredients, fish, salads etc whereas alot of my favourites (Nigella et al) have more of a tendency towards the "comfort food" end of the spectrum with lots of receipes for pasta bakes, chocolatey puddings and pies which always appeal to my inner piggy. I was more than happy with the three recipes I chose though and would make all of them again.

All of the recipes below are adapted from Everyday by Bill Granger.

This first recipe was an unexpected success. I didn't expect to have the flavour that it did but it was surprisingly tasty and a big hit with all the family.

Baked Tomato and Mozzarella Pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 small carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
45g small black olives, pitted (or omit if, like me, you think these are the pinnacle of food evilry)
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
300g cooked short pasta (such as fusilli or penne)
75g fresh mozzarella cheese, torn into pieces

1) Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/gas 4. Heat the olive oil in a pan over a medium heat and cook the onion, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, carrot and celery and cook, stirring for 5 minutes more.

2) Add the tomatoes and bring to the boil, the reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the olives (if you really must), season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.

3) Stir the tomato sauce through the cooked pasta and spoon into a casserole dish. Dot with mozzarella and bake for 30 minutes until the cheese is bubbling (I cooked mine for a shorter time, maybe 15-20 minutes, as the pasta seemed to be drying out a bit).

Serves 4

The next recipe was definitely my favourite of the three. This is a wonderfully simple recipe but bursting with flavour. Limes are one of my favourite ingredients and roasting them in the oven filled the kitchen with a mouth-watering aroma.

Lime, paprika and honey glazed chicken

2 tablespoons plain flour
2 teaspoons paprika
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 chicken legs (or a mix of legs and thighs)
2 red onions, cut into wedges
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tablespoons honey
125ml/4 fl oz chicken stock
1 lime, cut into thin wedges

1) Preheat the oven to 220c/425f/gas 7. Mix the flour and paprika and season with salt and pepper. Dust the chicken pieces in the flour and then put in a large roasting tin with the onions. Drizzle with the olive oil and roast for 20 minutes, turning the chicken once during this time.

2) Mix together the ginger, garlic, honey and chicken stock. Pour over the chicken and add the lime wedges to the tin. Roast for another 10 minutes, or until the chicken is golden and glazed.

Serve with steamed rice and green. Serves 4.

Finally, a fresh and healthy pasta dish but delicious with it. Ideal if you fancy pasta but want to avoid anything too heavy.

Spaghetti with fish, chilli and parsley

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 garlice cloves, thinly sliced
1 long red chilli, thinly sliced (I substituted with a good pinch of chilli flakes)
250ml/9 floz dry white wine
1 tablespoon butter
250g firm white fish fillets cut into small chunks
Sea salt
200g spaghetti
Small handful finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Freshly ground black pepper

1) Heat the olive oil in a large pan over a medium-low heat. Add the garlic and chilli and cook, stirring for 1 minute, until light golden. Add the wine and butter, increase the heat to high and boil for 5 minutes (it does seem like an awful lot of wine but believe it does reduce down considerably - in fact I think I left mine a bit too long and ended up with very little liquid).

2) Add the fish and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes until just cooked. Season with salt and remove from the heat. Cook the pasta and drain well.

3) Add the pasta to the pan with the fish and return to medium heat. Stir gently to coat the spaghetti with sauce. Stir in the parsley and season with black pepper. Serve immediately.

Serves 2.