Categories
Food and Ingredients News

Celebrate National Cupcake week – 17th-23rd September

If you’re into your cookery, baking especially, you may already be aware that we are almost upon National Cupcake Week. Yes, yes, I know. But don’t be fooled by the femininity that the name ‘cupcake’ imbues – in the land of online baking, they are big business.  Let’s put it this way – if they were a football player for Team Cooking, Manchester City or Chelsea would be vying to pay them £250k week for the potential ROI this delicate little buttercup of baking has.

To ensure that they’re not missing out on the impending baking frenzy, the baking mad kitchen’s latest news letter leads with the story, citing famous chefs’ recipes and even suggests we throw a ‘cupcakes and cocktails’ party. I may not be so well blessed in the cake field, but I know enough about cocktails to suggest that even this frangipane of an idea is stretching the imagination, somewhat. Would you really spoil a measure of Cointreau by mixing it with egg and flour? Okay, maybe it’s just me, then.

Could you imagine beetroot cupcakes? Or, indeed, any type of vegetable ingredient going into this favourite mother-and-child baking lesson favourite from down the ages? No, me neither, but that’s what’s being suggested. I think I may get a little more sympathy for that than the cocktail comment. But I don’t know – if you’ve got your own experiences – even if it’s just blowing something by adding too much rum and applying an aggressive flame – share them with us in the comments, below.

To be fair, it’s not all whacky cupcake ideas. Eric Lanlard has christened a traditional recipe with his own twist the ‘red velvet’, which incorporates natural vanilla and dark chocolate – now that’s doable. Like, very.

But Lanlard’s not the only one getting in on the act. As you’d expect, there are a host of associated products being featured that, rather handily (somewhat contrivedly so, the cynic may proffer) there is a range of extracts just perfect for cupcakes and that just happen feature in Lanlard’s recipes. You can, however, win 20 sets of said extracts and see if you can marry them with the Cupcakes and Cocktails section, which lists everything from daiquiri recipes to Bailey’s cupcakes.

The red velvet is both the featured recipe of the month and is available in his Home Bake book, available at Amazon.co.uk with free shipping to the UK in paperback format – see, we can do promos, too!

And I know I’ve perhaps jibed about the ‘coincidental’ nature of some of the ingredients that go together – as if by magic – hand in hand, here, but there is the opportunity to win 10 copies of the MacMillan Little Book of Treats  launched to raise awareness of the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning and, of course, to raise funds for the irreplaceable cancer charity – worth signing up to Lanlard’s site (a condition of competition entry) just to support the group.

Okay – the recipes are not exactly cookery courses per se, but the community feel of the site and the openness of the forum is perhaps as close as you’ll get to sharing a cooking experience with other fledgling chefs without actually turning up to a cookery class yourself. And from the comfort of your own chair, you can become the creator of cupcakes, cocktails and catastrophes along with me in the member’s only community area. See you on the inside.

 

 

Categories
Cookery Class News

Japanese food not all raw fish and teryaki

If you thought that learning to cook Japanese is as easy as scaling a fish and sending it around a conveyor belt and labelling it as sushi, think again.

As with their culture, the Japanese rightly put similar passion and effort into spreading their culinary expertise as they do into projecting their national heritage. To the majority of the Western World, Japanese cooking remains a mystery and it takes teachers like Reiko Hashimoto to impart that knowledge.

In a self-styled cookery course, including beginners, home cooks, gourmet and master chefs, Reiko has released her cookery course in book format, entitled “HASHI – A Japanese Cookery Course”.

Other than the ‘gourmet’ aspect, the anticipated book follows the same structure as her cookery classes and displays a similar frenetic energy and passion, bringing a wide and varied menu to the would-be cook.

Sushi still on the menu

As you would expect, there is a section relating to sushi under the fish and seafood chapter, but this is where the book takes on a whole new tone

Stepping Stones to Japanese expertise in the kitchen

Not only does each section provide a cookery class for each recipe, but you take the lessons learnt in the former section through to the next, building your knowledge as you go.

Beginners under starter’s orders

Soups and starters really set the tone of the cookery book from the outset, taking you through a six-course meal.

With further chapters concentrating on Salads and Side Dishes, the Fish and Seafood as previously mentioned, Meat and Poultry, Rice and Noodles and Tofu you have the real Japanese cooking experience laid out for you, if you cannot get to the cookery class, in person.

Pig out with Japanese meat dishes

There is, throughout the book, a continual reference to pork as one of the staples of Japanese protein (other than Tofu), ranging from marinaded pork bellies in brown sugar and ginger to soups using the versatile ingredient with roughly chopped root vegetables.

For those who only think of Japanese food as raw fish and teryaki, this collection will open your eyes to the versatility of the Japanese kitchen.

Unusual for cook books of this nature, which stumble from recipe to recipe, this publication uses prose that flows throughout.

In addition to this extraordinary book, the London Cooking Club have long been fans of Reiko’s recipes – you can discover more about them and how their past successes in “Demystifying Japanese Cooking”, online.

Categories
Cookery Course News

When Britannia ruled the…kitchen?

If you mention ‘cookery courses’ in polite conversation, quite often the virtues of nouvelle cuisine are extolled or one instantly aspires to globe-trotting celebrity chefs who bring back recipes from around the world to treat the British public.

However, it may come as a surprise to many of you that back in the day (we are talking over half a millennia) British food used to be revered on the continent. 600 years hence, and the Italians were crazy for our cheese, which is thought to have been traded on the continent on the back of our wool exports.

A life in the Day

One food historian trying very much to revive past cooking traditions is Ivan Day, who runs cookery courses from his farmhouse in the Lake District. With over one thousand culinary items collected from centuries past, and only those required by health and safety from this one, such as a digital thermometer to check that the meat is thoroughly roasted, a cookery class here is a step back in time. Not a pair of white gloves in site!

It is definitely not a museum, however. As Ivan explains, museums store artefacts in a dead way; everything here gets used, from clockwork spitjacks to roast the meat before an open fireplace to sugar moulds popular in the 19th century to create cake decorations, supposedly the inspiration for the famous blue and white Wedgwood pattern.

Traditional Cooking Methods

But the course dates back further as Ivan’s explorations into forgotten UK cooking heritage transports us to the 16th century. At one time or another, name any of the last five centuries and Ivan will tell you, they have all been a personal favourite of his. What keeps this cooking course fresh, however, is the host’s constant self-learning. Our culinary evolution is a genuine passion for him; he rates the 18th century kitchen as one of the most sophisticated periods ever enjoyed by UK cuisine, whereas the 19th century produced ‘spectacular’ food.

Old meats new

No one reads the old books any more, of which Ivan has thousands, including handwritten notes and one farmer’s wife recipe book dating to 1830’s which was never published but is packed with recipes and processes which give us a real insight into who we were, compared to who we are. Of course, HSE is at the heart of many of today’s cooking methods and the utensils used described in cook books from days of yore, even if still manufactured, would be unlikely to pass such stringent tests.

Ivan is a genuine food archaeologist, but more; from his farmhouse, he is the last mutton ham curer in Cumbria. This is one item he’d love to see back on the menu having had a 200-year absence. From the Herdwick sheep, the breed used back then, this original recipe only takes 16 days to cure, and one afternoon to smoke.

If you’d like to learn to cook as in years gone by, few places offer more genuine opportunities than this Historic Kitchen.

Categories
Cook Books News

Cook books to add to Santa’s List

One of the many reasons people may be put off from joining a cookery school, especially a top-end one which involves interacting with other hopeful chefs, is their perceived lack of knowledge.

This is a barrier which can either stand in your way forever, meaning you never learn to cook like the competition chefs you know you can better on the television, or you can read up about it, so you can at least sound professional when you first enrol.

There are so many cullinary experts, writing in so many niches, it may be difficult to know which suits you best. The only way to find out is dive right in. The Evening Standard has produced a best of list of 2011 cook books. If there’s room in someone’s sack for one more present, perhaps you can point them in this direction…

Get your mince pies around this, for starters.

What can be more festive than a book containing Christmas recipes? For a mere £12.99, of which a portion is being donated to the National Grocers Benevolent Fund, Caravan have published ‘The Ultimate Festive Feast’. As the name suggests, its brimming with seasonal recipes with contributions such as Mary Berry’s chocolate roulade and tit-bits from the Frying Scot himself, Gordon Ramsey.

Spry’s coronation chicken streets ahead

For value for money, £30 will not buy you much more than The Constance Spry Cookery Book. Reprinted again, for the umpteenth time since it was first released in 1956, this encyclopedia of recipes could keep you in the kitchen forever. With a strong Gallic influence, Spry and co-author Rosemary Hume (accreditted with inventing coronation chicken) put together a tome worthy of its half a century plus legacy.

Jamie Oliver gets back to gastro basics

Jamie’s globetrotting menu may not be what you’d expect to see at his parent’s gastropub but, what the heck, it’s Jamie Oliver at his best. Influences from the Yemen, Guyana and the Med may not endorse the Great British Pub Menu, but well worth £30 for Jamie’s Great Britain, from Penguin.

If you’ve ever thought your cullinary expertise could conjure a cook-book then take a leaf from Claire’s Kitchen.

Claire Caminada has taken contemporary recipes and added her own twist to give them a uniqueness you won’t find anywhere else, especially not for less than the £16.95 price-tag for this collection she’s taken from her kitchen into print.

There are many more cook books in the extensive article, including Italian cooking from Alvaro Maccioni, food meets physics when Heston Blumenthal experiments with cooking in a whole new way, choices for those with a sweet tooth in Fiona Cairns’ Cake Book and Vegetarian delights in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg Every Day!

You can read the full article here to get you well and truly up to speed and possibly help you in your decision when choosing which cooking course is right for you in 2012.