No. 99 - June 2011
Welcome to the June 2011 Recipes4us Newsletter. If you have any suggestions, additions or interesting questions for the newsletter, please write to me at Newsletter@Recipes4us.co.uk .
Focus on . . .
10th June is Herbs & Spice Day (US) and with summer well on its way in my part of the world, basil is one of the first herbs which spring to my mind when I think of summer eating. A wonderfully aromatic herb with a fresh, almost sweet flavour, basil goes very well with many vegetables, particularly tomatoes, as well as fish, meat and not forgetting pesto. It can be eaten cooked in recipes or raw in salads. Very versatile.
Here's a recipe for the classic Italian starter, Insalata Caprese - Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil Salad. It is important to choose the best quality ingredients for this very simple recipe. Only the ripest of ripe tomatoes, freshly ground black pepper, extra virgin olive oil and a good quality mozzarella will do. Buffalo mozzarella would be my choice however a good cows milk mozzarella is fine.
Serves 2 Prep time: 10 min
200g/7oz Mozzarella, cut into 6mm/¼ inch slices
2 large Tomatoes, cut into 6mm/¼ inch slices
Fresh Basil Leaves
Sea Salt and Freshly-ground black pepper
Black Olives or drained capers (optional)
Extra-virgin Olive Oil
1. Divide the tomato slices between two individual serving plates, top each with a slice of fresh mozzarella then place a basil leaf on each or shred the leaves and sprinkle over the top.
2. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper then divide the capers or olives between the plates if using.
3. Just before serving, drizzle over the extra-virgin olive oil.
The ingredients should never be allowed to sit in the oil for any length of time so they become soggy and the traditional recipe never uses any vinegar of any kind.
Whilst on the subject of basil, I never have much luck growing basil from seed or keeping basil plants bought from supermarkets indoors for any length of time. However last year I managed to plant out an indoor plant which survived in the open ground all summer. I recently came across some instructions on how to grow basil from cuttings so I'm going to have a go with a plant I recently bought from a supermarket (before it dies on me) and with a bit of luck, I'll have 4 new plants to plant out in a few weeks.
The instructions are simple enough:
1. Choose 10cm/4-inch stems and using a sharp blade (not scissors) cut just below a leaf node - the part on the stem where new leaves/stems sprout.
2. Strip any leaves from 3/4 of the stem then place in a glass of water and leave in a very bright but not too hot place until roots start to form on the stem making sure to change the water every couple of days.
3. Once the roots are around 5cm/2-inches long, pot up individual stems into pots at least 10cm/4-inches wide, filled with potting compost. Water in and then place in direct sunlight. It recommended that the plant gets at least six hours of bright, direct sunlight each day.
Well, I've done steps 1 and 2 as you can see in the picture above and hopefully by July's newsletter, I'll have some pictures of 4 basil plants whilst still having the main plant available for use in my kitchen.
BBQ Week: 30th May - 5th June
30th May - 5th June 2011 is National Barbecue Week in the UK and, strangely enough, it coincides with National Burger Month (US). National BBQ Week™ in the UK is run by the National BBQ Association, so for further information about the week and events visit www.nationalbbq.co.uk .
Visit the BBQ section for a wealth of information and hundreds of recipes to make your barbecue a success. Click the links below to go straight to the information you need.
18th June is International Picnic Day
There are so many recipes suitable for picnics there's a whole section dedicated to picnic recipes. Click here for Picnic Recipes.
Just to get you started, here are a couple of Recipes4us videos showing how to make two excellent picnic dishes: summer frittata and chickpea and tomato salad.
You can view them here in small format or, for the full size videos visit our Cooking Videos page.
You might also wish to visit the following sections for extra suitable recipes
Click the picture to find lots of information about tapioca plus recipes
What's in Season in June
Click here to see what's in season this month and to find a UK Farmers' Market near you. There are Lots of seasonal recipes too
Click the picture to find June's weekday menus to help you plan your meals and shopping weeks ahead. Each weekday has a main course, suggested vegetable side dishes and accompaniments plus a dessert.
Click the picture to find the latest additions
3 ways with . . .
28th June is National Tapioca Day. But exactly what is tapioca? Well it's is a starch which has been extracted from the root of the plant species Manihot esculenta, commonly known as cassava, manioc and yuca amongst other names. The name tapioca is derived from the Brazilian Tupi word "tipi'óka" which refers to the process by which the starch is made edible.
Tapioca is gluten free making it suitable for those who are allergic to wheat flour as it can be substituted for wheat flour in many recipes. It can be bought in various forms which are used in different ways. For example tapioca starch is mostly used as a thickening agent whereas tapioca pearls are used to make sweet puddings.
You can find out more about the different forms of tapioca, how they are processed from the poisonous bitter cassava root and their uses by visiting the new Tapioca page featured in the June Site Updates section above.
Have you heard of bubble tea?
I only came across it recently whilst researching tapioca. Apparently it's becoming very popular worldwide and there are even bubble tea cafes. The black bits at the bottom of the drink above are tapioca balls. Click the picture to find out more about it and how to make your own.
Here are three recipes using tapioca.
Gluten Free Tortillas HT CBF Mexican 30mins plus resting
Tapioca Nutritional Values Per 75g/ 3oz/½ cup
Total Fat 0.0152g
Total Carbohydrate 67.4g
Dietary Fiber 0.684g
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
In my kitchen . . .
Over the past year, I seem to have purchased a number of new items for use in my kitchen. Some are not really worth talking about, after all, a wooden spoon is a wooden spoon. However, I think others might be of interest and are worthy of a mention, so that's what I will be doing from time to time.
As 4th June is National Cheese Day in the US, the first in this new section is very appropriate. I'm not quite sure why, but a couple of months ago I got a sudden urge to try to make my own cheese. I have made a cottage cheese type affair in the past by just heating some milk and adding enough lemon juice to set it but I wanted to try making more sophisticated cheeses - parmesan came to mind especially as it's so expensive to buy.
The first thing I did was buy a cheese-making book from Amazon because what I found on the net either didn't explain everything to my satisfaction or conflicted. Having read the book which was relatively comprehensive, the next thing I did was order some equipment. Now, when I say equipment, this included specialist ingredients such as rennet and cultures, including a parmesan type and a blue cheese type.
Equipment/ Ingredients for Feta Cheese Recipe
Rennet, plastic colander, cheesecloth
You'll also need a large pan and a thermometer - I already had those
I must admit I went a bit crazy and bought all sorts of things which I haven't used yet, including some moulds, wax for sealing hard cheeses and some bits and bobs like cheesecloth.
I decided to try a relatively simple recipe for Feta Cheese. It didn't need much specialist equipment apart from Rennet and cheesecloth. The colander is just an ordinary cheap plastic one. Below is the recipe and pictures of the process and of the finished cheese which, even if I say so myself, was pretty good.
What is rennet?
Often used in cheese making, rennet which is naturally produced in mammals' stomachs, contains enzymes which help animals to digest mother's milk, including one which coagulates milk, causing it to separate into solids (curds) and liquid (whey). For vegetarians, there are non-animal versions available .
Homemade Feta Recipe
Makes approx 175g/6oz
2.5L/87fl.oz Goat Milk
¼ teasp Liquid Rennet
1. Warm the milk in a large saucepan to 30C/86° F. Add the buttermilk and using a slotted spoon stir well. Remove from the heat, cover the pan, and leave for about an hour.
2. Add the liquid rennet to a small amount of cold mineral water, then add to the buttermilk mixture. Stir gently but thoroughly for 1-2 minutes then cover and leave the mixture for a further 1 hour until set.
3. Using a knife that will reach to the bottom of the pan, slice the curds into 1cm/ ½ inch" cubes. Check the temperature of the curds and, if necessary, heat very slowly to bring to 30C/86° F then leave to rest for 20 minutes. There should be an almost-clear liquid whey between the cuts. Try not to disturb the curds.
4. Transfer the curds into a cheesecloth-lined colander and leave to drain. When most of the liquid has passed through, gather the corners of the cheesecloth quite tightly then leave to drain at room temperature for around 8 hours.
5. Remove the curds from the cheesecloth, slice into 2.5cm/1" slices, sprinkle with salt. Cover, and leave at room temperature for about 24 hours.
6. Drain any additional whey cover, and refrigerate for up to 5 days. At that time, you can cut it into cubes or crumble it and use it fresh or preserve it in brine or marinate it olive oil with herbs or other seasonings as I did this part of this batch. Great to give as a gift.
click on the pictures for larger versions
I would mention that unless you have a large quantity of free milk available, it is unlikely that you will save any money making your own cheese. Depending on the type of cheese, it can take around 4 litres of milk to produce 225g/½lb of soft cheese - a lot more milk is required for pressed hard cheeses.
I will hopefully be setting up a section about making cheese at home on the main website once I have a little more experience. In the meantime, if you want to have a go, you can find a large selection of equipment and ingredients at Moorlands Cheesemakers who, happily, deliver worldwide. Click the logo to visit their website.
Napkin Fold of the Month
The Mortar Board
This is an elegant fold which works well in contemporary settings and is reminiscent of graduates’ hats - hence the name.
They can be folded and stacked well before they are needed.
1. Place the napkin back side up and fold the bottom third upwards
2. Fold the top third downwards to create a wide rectangle.
3. Fold the two left hand corners across so they meet in the middle forming a point at the left hand edge.
4. Fold the right hand portion downwards so the top edge meets the edges of the two little triangles.
5. Fold top corner downwards at a 45 degree angle so the top corner meets the right hand corner
6. Turn the napkin over with the pointed end away from you then fold in half upwards. Turn the napkin over.
Book Review ....
Although this may seem a bit "cut of my nose..." as a collector of cookery books, I completely understand the desire for readers to buy them, even though my website should provide all the recipes you'll ever need. Anyway, this is another new section for this newsletter and hopefully, I will be featuring at least one new release every month.
By Wendy Sweetser
Price £12.99 | ISBN 9781847738554 | 144 Pages
There's a brief introduction about equipment needed and basic cupcake making instructions which is nothing much to write about, but then come the recipes which are broken down into 10 chapters, namely Party Time, Seasonal celebrations, Romance, Cakes for Kids, Fruits and Flowers, A taste of the exotic, Spoil yourself, Size matters, Not so guilty and Free from...
I've managed to get a 25% discount for UK readers. Sorry subcribers from the rest of the world, couldn't swing that, but it's worth paying the full price anyway.
Enter the discount code R4us to get the 25% discount plus free P&P when ordering the book through the Publishers website. Here's a direct link
Order "Special Cupcakes" Now
(Offer valid until 1st October 2011 to UK residents. Discount cannot be used in conjunction with other offers)
The above chapters are a little misleading inasmuch as there are recipes in each category which would easily slot into other categories, so my advice is to just read through the whole book initially. It will make your mouth water!
What I particularly liked was the range of flavours and ingredients used: strawberry cupcakes are nice but how about Strawberry Daiquiri cupcakes. Other "adult" recipes include Piña Colada, Dark Chocolate & Chilli and Pistachio, Rosewater & Grenadine. There are loads suitable for kids especially when it comes to the decorations - lots of ideas to create fun-looking cupcakes. There are also a few which use more unusual ingredients such as Beetroot and Bitter Chocolate or Plum Polenta & Walnut.
The recipes are complete with frosting/icing and decorating instructions, a full colour picture and an extra little tip. All in all, a nice book to add to any collection.
Other special food celebrations in June include:-
5th National Gingerbread Day
7th National Chocolate Ice Cream Day (US)
National Lobster Day
17th Eat your Vegetables Day
National Dairy Month (US)
National Papaya Month
National Seafood Month (US)
National Soul Food Month (US)
Food in the News . . .
Coffee may reduce risk of certain breast cancers: Study
High daily intakes of coffee may significantly reduce the risks of
certain types of breast cancer by about 60 per cent, according to new
> > > > More External Link
Opinion: Adding Vitamins/Minerals to food
A few days ago, news reports stated that Denmark had banned the sale of Marmite because it is fortified with vitamins. Since the initial report the Deputy Head of the Nutrition Division in the Danish Embassy in London has issued a statement on the matter saying that “Neither Marmite nor Vegemite and similar products have been banned by the Danish Food And Veterinary Administration.” However, “fortified foods with added vitamins, minerals or other substances cannot be marketed in Denmark unless approved by Danish food authorities.”
Just as well, as I am now convinced that fresh fruit and vegetables bought in shops other than local farm shops and markets, often do not contain the levels of vitamins we expect, partly due to changed growing, harvesting and transporting methods and partly because the vitamin content of many fresh fruit and veggies starts to diminish as soon as they have been picked: a good argument for not doing a weekly shop where vegetables don't get eaten for several days.....and for growing your own.
I have always argued against taking vitamin tablets, especially the calcium based types which can have their own problems long term, however, with all the factors above, I have mellowed somewhat and feel a multivitamin a day would probably benefit most people. So, I for one am grateful for the vitamins and minerals added to items such as cereals, bread and dairy produce.
Recipe of the Month
Staycation Burgers with Tarragon Mayonnaise
This recipe is courtesy of www.simplybeefandlamb.co.uk which is great for the BBQ but if the weather lets you down, can be cooked just as well under the grill.
450g/1lb lean beef or lamb mince
1 small onion, peeled and grated
60ml/4tbsp prepared fruit pickle or chutney
15-30ml/1-2tbsp freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
Oil, for brushing
For the Tarragon Mayonnaise:
200ml/7floz prepared mayonnaise
15-30ml/1-2tbsp freshly chopped tarragon
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
Juice of ½ lemon
Preparation time: 10-15 minutes, plus chilling time
Cooking time: 12-16 minutes
1. In a large bowl, mix all the burger ingredients together except the oil. Using slightly damp hands shape the mixture into four 10cm/4inch burgers. Cover and chill for 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile prepare the tarragon mayonnaise; in a small bowl mix all the ingredients together and set aside.
3. Brush each burger with a little oil and cook under a preheated, moderate grill or on a prepared barbecue for 6-8 minutes on both sides until cooked and any meat juices run clear.
4. Serve in bread rolls of your choice with the mayonnaise.
Make sure your BBQ coals are hot enough before adding the burgers. You can usually tell they are ready as they'll have a thin coating of white ash all over.
Below are some items you may need to purchase in order to more easily prepare, cook or serve recipes featured in this newsletter. They are all available from Amazon : just click the links/pictures and get them delivered direct to your home or office.
Homemade Cheese BBQs & Picnics
The Kitchen Garden
June in the Kitchen Garden
You can now sow the seeds of more tender plants such as courgettes, marrows, runner, dwarf and green beans and outdoor cucumbers in their permanent positions.
Continue to make small sowings of carrots, lettuce, radish, spinach and spring onions to ensure a continuous harvest.. Continue gradually thinning out seedlings to their final spacing
Keep the young plants well watered but do not over-water.
Keep on top of weeds, removing them as and when you find them.
Continue potting up plants which are getting to large for seed trays or small pots.
Hardening off indoor sown plants should be completed by the middle of June. This should be done gradually putting them outside during the warmest part of the day and increasing the time the plants are outside.
Once acclimatised, plant out in their permanent positions in mid/late June.
Early staking of taller plants such as beans, peas and tomatoes will keep wind damage to a minimum.
For detailed growing instructions visit growing herbs and vegetables section
Garden Experiment 2011
Recap: Under normal circumstances, true watercress grows in shallow running water. The instructions for the variety I've purchased - Watercress: Aqua - suggests it is sown in pots which are stood permanently in trays of water. It also recommends growing in a shady place which suits me down to the ground as most parts of my little plot don't get that much sun. The texture of the land cress I've grown previously was a little coarse, so hopefully this "proper" watercress will be more delicate as promised.
So far so good. Germination was a little patchy, so earlier in the month I spread the little plants out more evenly to give them space to develop. As the picture shows, they are doing very well, despite the fact I let the trays dry out a couple of times though not for very long - naughty me !
As they are still quite small, I have resisted tasting them as they are bound to be tender at this stage, but I reckon it will only be a few more weeks before I can start harvesting hopefully in time for the next newsletter.
Whether you're looking for everyday, exotic or unusual food and drink, visit
UKFoodOnline.co.uk Food shopping has never been easier !
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