No. 101 - September 2011
SPECIAL AUTUMN EDITION
Welcome to the September 2011 Special Autumn edition of the Recipes4us Newsletter. If you have any suggestions, additions or interesting questions for the newsletter, please write to me at Newsletter@Recipes4us.co.uk . You can now quickly share this page with your friends and family via twitter, facebook, email plus lots of other options by using one of the buttons below. There's even a print button.
* * * New Section * * *
Autumn Food and Recipes
There are many vegetables and herbs and some fruit which are at their best during the Autumn months, and certainly in the UK, the game bird season is well under way from September.
Although there are thousands of recipes on this site suitable for autumn cooking, I've set up a section devoted to the autumn season which features specially selected recipes using the freshest and best autumn ingredients including meat, fish, fruit and vegetables.
Not only is there a selection of recipes but there are also some additional extended editorial pages focussing on specific Autumn ingredients such as damsons, Florence fennel and truffles, which feature lots of information plus "Editor's Choice" recipes.
As well as more substantial "warmers", I've included some lighter recipes in case of Indian summers, which can last through to October. So now you can find a good selection of autumn recipes in one place. Click the picture banner above to visit the new section.
Following the success of the MasterChef LIVE Challenge in Birmingham at The BBC Good Food Show Summer, the organisers are currently looking for keen culinary members of the public to take part in this thrilling competition and cook their signature dish live on stage for John Torode and Gregg Wallace at MasterChef's live show from 11th - 13th November at London’s Olympia. Click here to find out more
What's in Season in
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 the latest Recipes4us additions plus the next in the Phil Vickery Pudcast series
September Weekday Menus
Click the picture to find this month'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, which have been planned to supply you with a balanced diet. It's also been designed so that you can interchange one day's menu with another in the same grouping and most of the main courses are ready to serve in less than 40 minutes - great for working people.
Focus On . . .
3rd September is International Bacon Day. Traditionally, the slaughtering of pigs took place during the autumn months when not only were the pigs suitably fattened, but the weather was ideal for curing the excess meat ready for winter use, so this article is particularly pertinent for this special autumn newsletter.
I could write a whole section on bacon. In fact, I will probably do that for the main website soon, however in the meantime, I'm just going to touch on some of the basics. I learned a couple of things when researching this subject, so hopefully, you will find this as interesting as I did.
What is bacon?
Originally the term "bacon" referred to any pork - fresh or preserved, however today the term is only given to pork which has been preserved by either wet or dry salt curing.
What's the difference between bacon and ham?
The term bacon refers to any cut of cured pork, both joints and rashers, before and after it has been cooked.
The term ham refers to a particular cut of bacon from the hind leg called gammon, which has been cooked. So, the way I understand it, any other bacon joint which has been cooked isn't called ham, it's called boiled (or baked) bacon.
How is pork cured and smoked to make bacon
There are two basic methods of curing - wet and dry. In general, the longer the cure, the longer the meat will keep.
Dry-cured bacon is pork which has been rubbed with a dry mixture of salts, sugar and sometimes other ingredients. This is the most sort after, and unfortunately most expensive type of bacon, but generally produces the best quality bacon, particularly for frying or grilling.
Wet-cured bacon is pork which has been soaked in a brine (salt and water) solution. Unfortunately, some manufacturers also inject the meat with the brine solution which not only increases the weight (which is great for their profits as we are in effect paying for water), but also results in a less tasty bacon which leaks liquid when fried or grilled resulting in less crispy bacon.
Tendersweet bacon undergoes a milder curing process, usually using more sugar.
The curing process takes from a few days to several months after which time it can be left as it is which is called ‘green’ bacon.
Smoked bacon is bacon which has been cured by one of the methods above and then smoked. The smoking process not only adds extra flavour but further increases its keeping properties.
Bringing home the bacon
Have you ever wondered how the phrase "bring home the bacon" came about? In the 12th century, a church in the town of Dunmow, Essex (UK) promised a flitch of bacon to any married man who could swear before God that he had not quarrelled with his wife for a year and a day. Thus, any man who could "bring home the bacon" was held in high esteem by the community for his self-control and patience. Mmmmmm.
Even today the town of Great Dunmow holds The Dunmow Flitch Trials every 4 years which awards a flitch of bacon (a salted and cured side of pig) to married couples from anywhere in the world, if they can satisfy the Judge and Jury of 6 maidens and 6 bachelors that in 'twelvemonth and a day', they have 'not wish themselves unmarried again'. If you (or your spouse) want to apply, visit the official website at www.dunmowflitchtrials.co.uk
The picture above isn't really a flitch because it is just a side of fresh pork i.e. it hasn't been cured yet.
Apparently it is much easier to make bacon at home than one might think however, as I haven't tried it myself, I am not going to comment any further about it. Perhaps I will give it a go before I add the article to the main site and report back to you as to how it went.
Bacon Buying tips
• Bacon should not really smell of much. If it smells strong then it’s not fresh
• Bacon should but not wet or slimy just slightly damp
• The fat should be firm and white although the fat of smoked bacon may be slightly yellow
• There should be no green shimmering parts on the flesh
• The rind should be smooth and elastic. The colour will depend on the curing process
• The meat should be firm with a deep pink colour.
A few cuts of Bacon
Sliced bacon include:-
Streaky bacon rashers: These are cut from pork belly. It is very fatty with long layers of fat running parallel to the rind but for me, is the best tasting, especially in a sandwich. Pancetta is the Italian equivalent of streaky bacon.
Back bacon rashers: These are cut from the loin in the middle of the back of the pig. They are lean and meaty with much ess fat than streaky.
Bacon joints include:-
Collar is taken from the back of a pig near the head.
Hock comes from the ankle joint between the knee and the foot.
Gammon is the large, lean, upper part from the hind leg which once cooked is referred to as ham
Cooking Skills . . .
Autumn is the ideal time to make homemade pickles. Not only is there a glut of cheap vegetables available, but it's also perfect timing for the pickles to be ready to eat at Christmas with the leftover turkey or to give as presents.
You may recall an article I did last year about making small quantities of jam at home. Well the same can be done when pickling veggies. I find this particularly useful with my own home grown produce as I often don't have a huge amount spare at any one time, but I don't particularly want to eat the same vegetables for days on end just because they have to be harvested.
The art of pickling is not only an age old way of preserving fresh produce but it's also a very simple way. At it's most simple, you only need the produce to be pickled, salt and vinegar. Add some extra ingredients and you can create some delicious and uniquely flavoured pickles.
Pickling spice is the traditional way of adding flavour to the vinegar when making pickles. These can be bought ready mixed, however it's just as easy to make them from scratch which has the added benefit that you can create your own "house" blend.
Popular ingredients used in these spice blends include - though not necessarily all at the same time - crushed cinnamon sticks, whole mustard seeds, coriander seed, dill seed, whole peppercorns, whole cloves, whole allspice, juniper berries, crumbled mace, bay leaves, dried chillies, ground ginger. If you prefer you can tie these up in muslin before adding to the vinegar for easy removal later, otherwise just add to the vinegar in a saucepan, bring to the boil and leave to infuse for a while - from 5 minutes to a couple of hours. Below are 3 examples of different flavoured vinegars:-
A Basic vinegar recipe
2 teasp salt
½ cinnamon stick
1 teasp black peppercorns
4 Whole Cloves
4 bay leaves, crumbled
1 teasp mustard seeds
A Sweet Vinegar recipe
600ml/20fl.oz. White Wine Vinegar
2 teasp salt
up to 100g/4oz Sugar
1 cinnamon sticks broken up
1 teasp mustard seeds
4 whole allspice berries
1 teasp whole black peppercorns
2 whole cloves
A Spicy Vinegar recipe
600ml/20fl.oz. White Wine Vinegar
2 teasp salt
1 teasp dill seeds
2 teasp coriander seeds
1 teasp cumin seeds
1 teasp mustard seeds
1 teasp whole black peppercorns
1 teasp ground turmeric
1 teasp chilli flakes
Additional flavouring ingredients can also be added to the jar when filling with the vegetables such as finely sliced onions or chillies.
Preparing the vegetables
Very firm vegetables such as beetroot and pickling onions should be cooked in the flavoured vinegar until just tender. Firm vegetables such as cauliflower, green beans and carrots should be blanched in salted water for a few minutes then drained well and dried before being added to the jars and having the hot vinegar solution poured over the top. Soft/watery vegetables such as courgettes and gherkins benefit from being salted first, then rinsed well and dried before being placed in jars and having hot flavoured vinegar poured over the top. This will soften the vegetables slightly without making them go very mushy.
It's important to dry the vegetables well as additional water will dilute the vinegar, reducing its preserving qualities.
Be mindful of how the vegetables will look in the jars, especially if you are planning to give them as presents. For example beans look attractive when cut to long lengths which will fit upright in the jar and courgettes can be cut lengthways in the same fashion or very thinly sliced.
Below are some pictures showing the various steps for pickling courgettes . . . from my garden. I only made one jar as I only had one large courgette spare.
Cutting and salting Filling the jar with veggies Flavouring the vinegar Topped with hot vinegar
I sliced the courgettes using my new mandoline (more about that in a later newsletter) then placed layers in a colander, salting each layer as I went. No need to overdo the salting - just enough to lightly coat. Place on a plate to catch any dripping liquid.
After an hour, I rinsed the courgettes under cold running water, dried them very well on kitchen paper then layered them in my prepared jar, leaving 1cm/½-inmch head space. I cut some slices in half to fill voids around the edges.
I used bay leaves, fresh chillies, coriander seeds, black peppercorns and cloves to flavour my vinegar and also added some sugar for a sweeter end result. I used a mixture of white distilled and cider vinegar as it's what I happened to have.
Once boiled for a few minutes, I allowed the flavoured vinegar to cool just a little, strained it, then poured it over the courgettes, filling the jar to the top and pressing the courgettes down with the back of a spoon so they were completely immersed.
These can be eaten in as little as 5 days although the flavours will develop further the longer they are left. Always store in a cool place which for most of us will mean the fridge in these days of centrally heated houses.
In my kitchen . . .
Recap: Over the past 18 months, 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.
This time I am going to feature my latest cake tin purchase. I haven't needed to buy any cake tins for many many years. I have several different types/shapes most of which I have had for over 20 years. However this isn't an ordinary cake tin. I was contemplating buying a bundt tin despite the fact that I knew I probably wouldn't use that often. So when I came across this item I was really pleased.
Basically it's a springform tin with an additional insert which converts it to a ring mould (bundt) tin.
If you are not familiar with springform tins, they have a loose bottom which is easily removed by means of the sides of the tin being very slightly expandable using a clip mechanism.
The springform part with the plain base is great for making items such as cheesecakes which need to be unmolded without having to be inverted. They are equally as handy for making single tier cakes.
With this tin, the plain base can be replaced with the bundt base and voila - a ring mould tin ideal for more unusually shaped cakes, breads and desserts. So far, my tin has been completely leak free, and although it feels quite light, has kept its shape. It's not suitable for microwave cooking or for dishwashers however it is completely non-stick and whilst I haven't tried it myself (and the instructions don't say), I 'd hazard a guess that it would be freezer proof so an excellent choice for making moulded ice cream/iced desserts for special occasions.
Although the sides are straight and plain, the bundt insert does have a pretty pattern on the bottom/top which transfers well to a cake mixture as can be seen in the picture on the left.
The tin is not as deep as some bundt tins at around 7.5cm/3-inches, however the cake on the left doesn't show the maximum depth a cake could be as I didn't make enough mixture to 3/4 fill the tin.
All in all, I think this is a really handy baking tin to own, not least because you are getting 2 for 1. See the shopping arcade below if you want to buy one from Amazon.
Below is a recipe for Banana Bread which has been made extra special by using the bundt insert and even more delicious and really pretty by adding a lemon drizzle icing.
275g/10oz (3 medium) over ripe Bananas, mashed
150g/+5oz Caster Sugar
150g/+5oz Softened Butter
300g/11oz Self Raising Flour
A Pinch of Salt
For the Glace Icing Drizzle
100g/4oz Icing (confectioners) Sugar - sieved
Approx 30ml/2 tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
Iced Banana Bread Recipe
Prep and Cooking time: 60 minutes plus cooling
Makes 1 x 23cm/10-inch Ring Cake
1. Preheat the oven to 180C, 350, Gas mark 4 and lightly grease a 23cm/10-inch Bundt tin or ring mould.
2. Place the peeled bananas in a large mixing bowl, mash well then add the eggs, sugar and butter and beat together with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer until well blended.
3. Add the flour and salt and fold in with a spatula until just mixed. Do not over-mix.
4. Pour mixture into prepared tin and bake for 40-45 minutes, until a wooden toothpick or knife inserted into centre comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes, before turning out onto a wire rack. Allow to cool completely.
5. Place the icing sugar in a mixing bowl, add the lemon juice and mix until well blended and smooth then drizzle over the cake so the icing runs down the sides. Allow the icing to completely set before serving.
Be generous with the icing as the banana bread mixture isn't that sweet.
Food to think on
Well, it's that time of year again when kids, young and older, will be going back to full time education. It's a well known fact that eating correctly can greatly enhance brain function and the ability to concentrate, so if you are in charge of making up lunch boxes for your children (or even yourself) you might find the following information helpful and it will certainly save you time thinking up what to put in tomorrow's lunch box.
Back to School
Keeping it interesting but nutritious
In general, if you include carbohydrate in the form of bread, rice, cereals or pasta; protein in the form of meats, poultry, eggs, cheese or nuts; fresh produce in the form of fruit and/or vegetables and a drink, you won't go far wrong.
Although "easy to eat" items such as sandwiches are handy, you can make it a little more interesting by simply putting all the ingredients into containers and letting kids make their own concoctions "on site".
Also, try not to include the same protein ingredient every day, for example a balanced weekly menu may consist of the list on the right.
Same goes for fruit and vegetables. If you vary the colours of fruit/vegetables, your child will be more likely to get the complete range of vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
Monday - Egg
Tuesday - Sliced Meat
Wednesday - Cheese
Thursday - Chicken
Friday - Fish e.g. Tuna
Mini Pitta Breads, Tortilla Wraps, Mini Bagels, Small Rolls, Sliced Bread, Pasta Salad, Rice Salad, Bulgur Wheat salad
(packed separately or combined with a carbohydrate)
Small chicken drumstick, A small wedge of Frittata, Tinned Tuna, Tinned Sardines, Egg Mayonnaise, Hard Boiled Eggs, Slices of Chicken fillet, Grated Cheese, Soft Cream Cheese, Mini Cheeses, Sliced meats such as HAM and Beef, Cubes of Corned Beef, Peanut Butter, Hummus or Bean Dips plus Crackers or Vegetable sticks for dipping
Veggies: Carrot Sticks, Cherry Tomatoes, Slices of Cucumber, Slices of Sweet Peppers, Celery Sticks
Fruit - Whole fresh fruit such as small bananas, pears, apples, kiwi or a few small fruit such as grapes, cherries or blueberries, chunks of melon
Fromage Frais, Fruit Yoghurts, cubes or slices of Cheese, Cottage Cheese
Water, Flavoured Waters, Fresh Fruit Juices, Squash, Milk or Flavoured milk
Healthier snacks include dried fruit such as raisins, nuts, cereal bars, Olives (why not?!)
Kids off to Uni?
If your kids are off to university, especially if it's their first year, you could do worse than to point them in the direction of our series of Student Articles which offers advice to students on a number of subjects such as cooking on a budget, shopping for food, store-cupboard staples, cooking tips, kitchen equipment, basic kitchen and food hygiene plus lots of easy, nutritious and delicious recipes which won’t break the bank.
You may no longer be in the position to ensure they are getting a reasonable diet, and they probably won't fully appreciate your effort to set them on the right road, but tell them anyway. The first time they run out of money before the end of the month and end up having to eat beans on toast for a few of days, I guarantee they'll thank you. Do take a look yourself, as it might give you some ideas as to what you could buy them in the way of kitchen equipment.
There's also our handy student recipe iPhone app which they can use whilst on the go shopping in markets, grocers or supermarkets.
Student Recipe iPhone App
This collection of 60 recipes has been put together especially for students. Most are economical, quick, easy to make and nutritious, however we've also included some "treats" for when you've done well with your budget and have a little extra to spend. To make it even easier, you can also choose the serving amount on many of the recipes - from cooking for 1 to feeding the house (8) - and the recipes are listed in clearly defined sections in order of preparation/cooking time. You can even email your favourite recipes to friends directly from the app.
Only £0.69p download from Apple iTunes
Food in the News . . .
Hungary prepares for 'discriminatory' fat tax
Hungary will introduce a fat tax as of September 1 this year -a move the food industry says is unnecessary and ineffective in achieving widespread dietary shifts.
Hungarian food manufacturers will have to pay a tax of 10 forint (€0.37) for foods bearing fat, sugar and salt at levels over a certain threshold, something backed by some consumer groups concerned about eating habits that promote the rise of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
> > > > More (external link)
Opinion: Adding taxes to high fat/sugar foods
The news item above tells of Hungary's new law to tax food manufacturers who produce foods which contain over a certain amount of sugar or fat, however thefre has also recently been much chatter in the media about calls for the UK government to put a tax on foods which are high in sugar and fat to discourage people from buying them in an effort to decrease obesity in the populace. Some people have gone further and said that healthy foods should have their prices decreased. The only way I can see to decrease the price of "healthy" foods is for the government to subsidise the producers, so more than likely, everyone would be paying for that through taxes too.
Whatever happened to personal responsibility? Why should everyone have to pay extra for certain foods just because some people over do it? In these days where most people in the UK have full and unlimited access to information via television, radio, the internet, free healthcare and professional advice, I cannot believe there is anyone here who doesn't know the possible consequences of eating excessive amounts of high fat/sugar foods.
As for using poverty as an excuse, just take a look at the recipes in the credit crunch section on this site and it is as plain as day that eating sensibly needn't cost a fortune, so long as people are prepared to make a bit of an effort and stop being so apathetic.
I like cream cakes and I really don't see why I should to have to pay any more for them under these circumstances. I know . . . I should be making my own :(
3rd - 18th September is Scottish Food Fortnight
Scottish Food Fortnight is a national promotion of Scottish food and drink organised and funded by the Scottish Countryside Alliance Educational Trust. The campaign was established in 2003 to raise awareness of the quality and variety of food and drink and has grown to be one of the key events in Scotland's food calendar.
> > > > > More
17th Sep - 2nd Oct is British Food Fortnight
Now in its tenth year, British Food Fortnight is the biggest national celebration of the diverse and delicious range of food that Britain produces. This year the Department of Health has teamed up with British Food Fortnight to promote the importance of its 5 A DAY
> > > > > More
30th Sep - 6th Oct is British Cheese Week
During the 11th Century, much of the cheese- making in Britain was carried out by monks, whose monasteries were thriving following the Norman invasion. Their experimentation gave us, at the least the foundations of many of the cheeses made today.
> > > > > More
Napkin Fold of the Month
The Spring Roll
This fold is relatively easy to achieve and suitable for soft un-starched open weave fabrics. Even with a large napkin, it creates a compact design which fits easily on a small side plate.
1.Place the napkin back side up and fold the bottom third upwards
2. Fold the top third downwards to create a wide rectangle
4. Turn the napkin over positioning it to form a long vertical rectangle.
5. Starting from the short end nearest to you, roll up relatively tightly.
Place on the table or on a plate, seam side down to prevent it unrolling.
Book Review ....
I know I only featured this book very recently, however since then I have found out that 12th-18th September is National Cupcake week in the UK , so I thought I'd repeat it especially as there's still 25% off.
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.
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.
Kids' Packed Lunches
Recipe of the Month
Carrot and Beetroot Salad
This easy salad using two autumn season veggies is bursting with carotenoids with an anti-oxidant effect. Excellent with fish or grilled meats.
Serves: 4 - Prep time: 10 minutes
350g/12oz carrots, peeled and trimmed
350g/12oz raw beetroot, peeled and trimmed
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sherry or red wine vinegar
1 small bunch flat parsley, roughly chopped
1. Peel and trim the carrots and beetroot, then coarsely grate both on a grater – wear rubber gloves if you don’t want pink hands! Alternatively, use a food processor fitted with a grating plat. Place the grated vegetables in a bowl, add the shallots.
2. Heat the cumin seeds in small pan until they are hot and smell pungent. Remove from the heat and scatter over the vegetables. Add the olive oil, vinegar and parsley, then toss well. Leave to marinate for at least 15mins before serving.
When using home grown carrots or beetroot, only harvest them just before you are ready to use them in any recipe.
Price per portion: 74p
Per serving: 121 calories, 6.2g fat, 0.8g saturates, 12.8g sugars, 0.21g salt
The Kitchen Garden
September in the Kitchen Garden
By now most of the hard work has been done and you should be harvesting the fruit (and veg) of your labours.
Remember to keep tomatoes, peppers, courgettes, marrows and aubergines fed every week and water all plants regularly until fruiting finishes.
To aid the ripening of cordon tomatoes, remove some of the leaves or branches which may be shielding the tomatoes from the sun.
The main thing about these is to make sure the plants are anchored firmly by bringing up the surrounding soil and firming. You should keep an eye on this right up until you harvest them which could be as late as December.
Continue to protect the white curds from the elements by gently folding the leaves over the top of them.
Oh, and you might as well clear the plot of spent vegetation as you go. Not only saves a mammoth job in the future but it also helps protect against disease.
For detailed growing instructions visit our specialist growing herbs and vegetables section
Garden Experiments 2011
My watercressdidn't really recover from being harvested so I have to come to the conclusion that these are a "one off crop" plant which I must admit I found very disappointing. I'm not sure why I thought they would be a come and cut again crop. A friend of mine grew some and came to exactly the same conclusions.
On the good side, it was very tasty, tender and more similar to shop bought watercress than anything else I've ever grown. Would I grow it again? Wouldn't go out of my way.
Basil Root Cuttings in water
All the cuttings took well once transplanted into various sized containers so I'm very very pleased with this method of increasing basil plants, especially as the cuttings were taken from a shop bought plant. Ended up being very good value.
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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