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Book Review: Qaqamiigux

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Shortly before I moved, I came across references to a new book with an unpronounceable title – Qaqamiiĝux̂: Traditional Foods and Recipes from the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands. I was intrigued, especially since I had to look up where the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands are. It turns out that they’re off the south western coast of Alaska, with a cool, wet and stormy climate. The region is volcanically active.

Qaqamiigux (if you’ll forgive the ongoing lack of accents, I can’t quite get them to display correctly in HTML!) is the word for subsistence in the local language – hunting and gathering. The book arose out of anthropological work in the region, and aims at improving the diet of local people by ensuring that they still have the knowledge and expertise needed to harvest and process local foods. A lot of the information included was gathered through interviews with elders; some of whom have since died.

The diet in the islands has changed considerably in the last few centuries. The population was once entirely dependent on the local environment for sustenance, but new foods were introduced by the Russians when they arrived in the islands in the 1700s. From an anthropological perspective, it’s interesting to note how they were not immediately accepted by the locals – for one thing, they were too expensive. But the Russians did successfully introduce vegetable gardening.

The Americans brought more new foods, and livestock, when they bought Alaska – but again, they were not initially accepted by the local population. Even in times of hardship (and famine seasons are a feature of the environment), the islanders clung to their traditional fare. Only social changes, and being made to feel that their traditional foods were ‘inferior’, led to their wider adoption. [It’s interesting to juxtapose this BBC article on which meats are considered ‘normal’ and why – which looks at this scenario from the opposite direction.]

The Russians brought food such as flour, sugar, tea and salt. Whilst they were useful additions to the diet, and allowed new methods of food preservation that are still in use today, you can see that they may also have been the start of a problem. When the Americans brought their packaged and processed foods, which are widely available today, the islanders began to adopt the Western diet that is making so many of us overweight and leading to chronic diseases such as diabetes.

Qaqamiigux is an attempt to reverse that trend, by bringing the younger islanders back in touch with their local foods and a healthier diet. It is a mixture of traditional stories and wisdom, practical knowledge on harvesting and processing local foods, and recipes to add them into a modern diet. There’s information on safe canning, nutritional information for all of the ingredients covered, a pronunciation guide and a full set of references in the back of the book.

I feel I have to offer a warning at this point – do not buy this book if you are vegetarian, and are offended by images of dead animals. They abound in the book, and the animals featured are ones that we would not normally see on the dinner table. Marine mammals loom large, with the traditional diet including seals and sealions. Whales and sea otters were once (but are no longer) on the menu.

Fish and bird eggs are included, as are reindeer and caribou (although these were introduced into the islands). For each species there is hunting/harvesting information, details of butchery and preservation, recipes and traditional stories and the values they encompass. Coming from a culture that wouldn’t dream of catching and eating animals like seals, it makes for fascinating reading.

There’s also a section on edible plants, some of which sound very interesting. The Chocolate lily (Fritillaria camschatcensis) is also known as wild rice, as its bulbs look like tightly-packed rice grains when they are harvested in summer and early autumn. They’re a starchy staple, as are the bulbs of the bog orchids (Platanthera convallariaefolia and Platanthera dilatata). The roots of the blue lupine (Lupinus noot-katensis) are mentioned as ‘Aleut potatoes’, which I found interesting as unusual edibles have been marketed to the UK population as ‘like potatoes’ ;)

The local berries we would now doubt find familiar (if not immediately palatable), but you would have a harder time convincing people from outside the region to eat Cow parsnip (Heracleum lanatum), which is called Putchki. Toxic chemicals in the ‘skin’ of the plant can cause burns on human skin in conjunction with sunlight (parnsips can do the same, for reference – same plant family). The book notes that harvesting on a cloudy day is preferable, and that the plant has to be peeled before being eaten, but is used much like celery.

There are sections on tidal foods harvested from the beaches, and seaweeds, and one on ‘other foods’ – the ones that were introduced by the Russians, and are part of the culture now.

So… Qaqamiigux offers an interesting insight into the food culture of the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands for those of us who live elsewhere. However, it is important to bear in mind that this is a cookbook aimed at the modern inhabitants of the region. Its recipes are not entirely traditional; many of them call for packaged ingredients, or canned soup – like most American recipes. If you buy this book wanting to recreate ‘authentic’ recipes in your home kitchen then you may well feel disappointed (although most people would struggle to get hold of sealion intestines anyway).



If you live in the US, you can buy a hardcover copy of the book direct from the publisher, or via Amazon. The RRP is $55.

To avoid a wait, and overseas shipping, I bought the Kindle version instead, which is £6.33 or $10.19. Remember that you can get a free Kindle app for most devices now, you don’t have to own a Kindle to read the books.

Qaqamiiĝux̂: Traditional Foods and Recipes from the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands
by Suanne Unger

Kindle edition, £6.33
Hardback, 381 pages, $55, published 15 November 2014
ISBN 9780991459100
Publisher: Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association,Inc

Posted in Blog on Oct 26, 2014 ·

Tags: books & food.

Ethiopia!

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Ethiopia is in the news today, remembering the famine of 30 years ago. Rather than dwell on the past, I thought I would share this upbeat video from Perennial Plate – celebrating Ethiopia’s food culture:


Ethiopia! from The Perennial Plate on Vimeo.


The description of the video on Vimeo says “We travelled to Ethiopia for two weeks and filmed the making of injera, false banana and coffee as well as everything else we saw. Please watch, enjoy and visit this amazing country!”

For those of you who are intrigued by the ‘false banana’, it’s Ensete ventricosum, also known as the Ethiopian banana, Abyssinian banana, or simply ensete. I found a nice article that explains how this multipurpose plant is turned into different foods – ensete doesn’t produce fruit, but has edible pseudostems (the ‘trunk’ is formed from tightly-packed, overlapping leaf sheaths).

Posted in Blog on Oct 23, 2014 ·

Tags: food & ethnobotany.

Simple Suppers: Dairy-free creamy pasta

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Commute
I don’t have photos of these recipes because… well, they were tasty and we ate them. So feast your eyes on my new route to work instead :)

One of the great challenges, during our summer of waiting to move, has been feeding ourselves. We packed away a lot of the ‘unnecessary’ cooking equipment for a few weeks, only to find it was out of action for a few months. With numerous false starts, I kept running down the cupboards and the freezer, in anticipation of a move date that never came. Stress levels rose, cooking mojo vanished and we ate far more oven chips than you can imagine.

So I am looking forward to settling in to my new kitchen, having everything to hand, and beginning my culinary explorations once more.

One of the things that I struggle with is Italian food, due to its fondness for dairy products, and the fact that I don’t love tomato-based sauces. But I had half a carton of Oatly oat cream to use up, so last week I invented a dairy-free spaghetti recipe that turned out nicely – it’s a good, quick, store cupboard meal:

Ingredients (to serve 2)
1 onion, chopped (roughly or finely, it’s your choice!)
2 large cloves of onion garlic, crushed and sliced
1 packet (about 2 handfuls) of chopped, smoked cooking bacon
1/2 carton Oatly* oat cream
2 servings of pasta (we only had spaghetti….)
1 large sweet pepper, or a handful of smaller peppers, chopped
A little oil for frying

Method

  1. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.

  2. Meanwhile, fry the onion and garlic together over a low heat, until they start to turn translucent. (I like my onions soft, not crunchy.)

  3. Turn up to a medium heat and add the peppers and cook for a couple of minutes.

  4. Add the chopped bacon, and stir for a couple of minutes, until the bacon is cooked through.

  5. Drain the cooked pasta, combine with the bacon and onion mixture and stir in the Oatly cream. Gently heat through; your supper is ready to serve when it’s hot enough for your tastes! There’s no need for the sauce to boil….

*You could use soy cream if you like it (I think it tastes like cardboard), or regular cream if you don’t have issues with dairy.


Yesterday was a cold day in the office, and when I got home I had a hankering for something involving hot, bubbling cheese. And so the final carton of Oatly cream in the cupboard came out for another pasta extravaganza – this time a pasta bake.

Pasta bake is an awesome way of turning leftover pasta into a new meal – simply pop it into a suitably-sized casserole dish, sprinkle with grated cheese and pop into a medium oven for about half an hour, until the cheese is golden and starting to bubble. The trick is not to overdo the cheese – it seems like more would be better, but when you cross the line you get a gooey, greasy mess…. A generous sprinkling, but not a complete layer, is what you’re aiming for. This one isn’t dairy-free, unless you forgo the cheese :(

Anyway, digging through the last remnants in the freezer, it was the chicken breast’s turn to take a bow. With its more subtle flavour, it was going to need a bit more attention to seasoning….

Ingredients (to serve 2)
1 onion, chopped (roughly or finely, it’s your choice!)
2 large cloves of garlic, crushed and sliced
1-2 chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
1 carton Oatly oat cream
2 carrots, peeled and cut into small chunks
2 handfuls of sweetcorn kernels
2 servings of pasta
Small chunk of hard cheese, grated (mine was goat)
A little oil for frying
Teaspoon of dried mixed herbs

Method

  1. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions, and preheat the oven on a medium setting.
  2. Meanwhile, fry the onion and garlic together over a low heat, with a sprinkling of mixed herbs, until they start to turn translucent.

  3. Turn up to a medium heat and add the carrot chunks and the chicken, frying for several minutes until it is browned on all sides and well on the way to being cooked.

  4. Chuck the sweetcorn in with the pasta for a couple of minutes to defrost (if frozen) or cook a little bit (if fresh), and then drain when the pasta is cooked.

  5. Combine the pasta with the chicken mixture, add the carton of Oatly and mix well. Pour into a casserole dish and sprinkle with the grated cheese.

  6. Bake in the middle of a medium oven for about half an hour, until everything is hot and bubbling and the cheese is melted to your liking.

The dried mixed herbs added a lovely note of sage to the proceedings, so you could use fresh sage leaves instead if you have some handy.

You’ll notice that in neither recipe have I mentioned seasoning – in the first the smoked bacon took care of any salt requirements, and I didn’t feel pepper would add anything. In the second recipe I mostly forgot, but in actual fact it didn’t taste as though anything was missing – the cheese adds a salty note. You should, of course, feel free to season to taste :)

So… not gourmet standard, perhaps, but tasty and filling and a nice change from heating up some form of convenience food, and created from what we had on hand.

How do you like to dress up your pasta?

Posted in Blog on Oct 7, 2014 ·

Last modified on Oct 8, 2014

Tag: food

Write Club: Lavender and Oregano Salt: A recipe (of sorts)

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Today’s Write Club 2014 entry is a recipe from Beth Tilston of the seed blog. You can also find her on Twitter.

You can vote for this post by using the social media buttons in the sidebar to like it, and by leaving a comment.



The other day I noticed that the pots of herbs which sit outside our back door were giving me clear signs that they were about to give up the ghost for the year – and the lavender, which a month ago was humming with bees, was now beeless and gone to seed. Time for the final, and biggest, herb harvest of the year. I cut them all back and put them on trays on a high shelf to dry out, ready for use in the winter.

With some of the herbs, oregano and lavender, I made what has become known in our house as ‘special salt.’ Now I’ll admit that the idea of herbed salts might seem a first to be a little, well, unnecessary. After all, what is wrong with straight up, common or garden normal salt? Isn’t lavender and oregano salt a little bit aspirational? A little bit… Pinterest? It may very well be, but the fact of the matter is that this salt is magic. By magic I mean it takes food from, “These potatoes are nice, Beth” to “Wow, these potatoes are amazing! Wait, is that… lavender?”



Ingredients

3 teaspoons dried lavender
9 teaspoons dried oregano
9 teaspoons peppercorns
1 teaspoon coriander seed
250g quality salt

The process of making ‘special salt’ is so easy it can barely be called a recipe. First, cut your herbs a few days (or more) in advance and let them dry out in your preferred manner. I had good results with just putting them on some paper on a tray. Next, put all of the ingredients except for the salt in your pestle and mortar (actually, put them in your mortar, the pestle is the club bit – thanks Wikipedia!) and grind until the peppercorns and coriander are broken up and the oregano is in small flakes. Because of the lavender, your kitchen should be smelling like a perfumiers by this point. You must be ready to remove any scoffers and naysayers from the vicinity – they’ll change their minds. Now add your salt and mix it all together. If the salt is in particularly big chunks, you might need to grind the whole concoction a bit more. Spoon into a receptacle with a lid and allow to infuse for a week. I’ve never done that because I am weak-willed and can’t stop myself from using it, but you might do better…



Posted in Blog on Sep 22, 2014 ·

Tags: competitions & food.

Book Review: Taste of Beirut

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One of my all-time favourite restaurants (which sadly closed, after the smoking ban came into being) was a Lebanese restaurant in Oxford. (There are two more, but they can’t match the quality of the food, or the jovial atmosphere.) It was a wonderful place to go in a large group, as they would just keep bringing out plates of mezze until everyone was stuffed. I found two of the dishes particularly moreish – small triangular pastries (sanbousek) filled with feta cheese, and a salad of garlicky broad beans. When dining in a smaller party I tended simply to order those, along with some grilled chicken and rice with vermicelli.

I have never managed to recreate any of them successfully (although I came close with the rice), and once we’ve moved and I’m settled into my new kitchen, it will be time to try again. This time I will have more of a clue, because I have been reading Taste of Beirut: 150+ Delicious Lebanese Recipes from Classics to Contemporary to Mezzes and More, which is written by Joumana Accad, the blogger behind the Taste of Beirut blog. I have been following the blog for some time (I can’t remember how long!), and it has an interesting flow of new and traditional Lebanese recipes, along with snippets about Lebanese life and plants. I am glad that it has solidified into book form (I have the ebook version; a paperback is being released on 10th October).

Accad was born and raised in Beirut, but has spent thirty years living in the United States, giving her a unique insight into the difficulties of cooking a cuisine from within a different culture. Her philosophy is to reach the highest level of flavour with the smallest number of basic ingredients – for her Lebanese food is about conviviality rather than complexity. Perhaps that’s why I like it ;)

Accad walks you through the basics of Lebanese cuisine, including her shortcuts for busy modern cooks. The Introduction explains some basic do’s and don’t’s, and Chapter 1 explores the crucial ingredients you would find in a Lebanese larder. Here you will learn about freekeh, mahlab, mastic and the elusive Sahlab (a starch extracted from Turkish orchids that I know as sahlep).

In Chapter 2 there are recipes and instructions for staples such as a basic bulgur pilaf, flatbread dough, the rice and vermicelli pilaf I’m so fond of and various sauces and condiments (including toom, the garlic paste). Many are quick and easy, or can be made in advance and stored in the freezer.

Chapter 3 introduces the hearty Lebanese breakfast, centered around flatbreads (which would traditionally be made in the local bakery). Chapter 4 moves on to lunch, and a variety of ‘sandwiches’ that are really wraps with traditional Lebanese fillings.

It’s party time in chapter 5, with a selection of mezze recipes for when you’re feeding a crowd. Although we tend to think of mezze (or Spanish tapas) as an entirely foreign way of eating, as I was reading through this book I remembered the British love of buffets. Our finger foods might not be quite as exotic, however….

Accad’s recipe for pumpkin fries will draw the attention of Americans, and gardeners will love her use of Swiss chard. She offers a dip recipe that makes use of the troublesome stalks, as well as stuffed chard leaves in place of vine leaves. If you tend towards lazy gardening then the dandelion leaf salad might be more up your street!

Chapter 6 looks at main courses, concentrating on the stews that are a home cooking mainstay, and the kibbeh (a mixture of minced meat and bulghur wheat) that is Lebanon’s national dish. Vegetarian options are available, known as ‘sad’ or ‘tricky’ kibbeh, as they were traditionally served during times of fasting… or hardship.

And chapter 7 rounds out the book with desserts, including an easy way to make baklava, and some other recipes that look (to my eye) more modern than traditional. There is a glossary of Lebanese words at the back.

I would have expected some recipes for drinks, but none are included. Arak gets a mention, as does ayran (a yoghurt drink), and there’s mention of the use of sahlab to thicken drinks. Perhaps there are none – I don’t know. But if it is an omission then it’s a minor one. There is plenty here for the adventurous cook to get their teeth into, everything is explained clearly enough for anyone less experienced, and there’s a good photo of each finished dish so that you know what you’re aiming for.

I am thoroughly looking forward to trying a number of these recipes over the coming months, although I will have to look elsewhere for clues on how to recreate my beloved broad bean salad. In the meantime, I need to find those Swiss chard seeds….



Taste of Beirut: 150+ Delicious Lebanese Recipes from Classics to Contemporary to Mezzes and More
by Joumana Accad

Kindle edition, £10.93
Paperback, 320 pages, £11.51, published 10 October 2014
ISBN 9780757317705
Publisher: Health Communications

Disclosure: I was provided with a review copy of the ebook by the publisher, but these words are my own.

Posted in Blog on Sep 20, 2014 ·

Last modified on Sep 19, 2014

Tags: books & food.

Review: Walkers taste challenge

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Walkers taste challenge
Walkers’ new crisp flavours, ready for tasting

For a bit of fun last week at work, one of my colleagues brought in the new Walkers crisps flavours for a blind taste test. Walkers are asking people to vote for their favourite – I assume the one that gets the most votes will continue to be on sale for a while, whilst the rest are thrown into the dustbin of history.

Each flavour was laid out on a numbered plate, ordered from 1-6 going clockwise from the top right in the photo above. The colours ranged from very pale through to quite pink. We were each given a sheet with the flavours on, and had to pair them up with the numbered plates. I had an inkling that it wasn’t going to be easy – and I was right.


  1. The first plate was not a good one to start with. The pale crisps had no smell, and no discernible flavour. They were salty, but non-descript. I thought they tasted as though they’d been down the back of the sofa for a couple of months! After I’d tasted them all, a process of elimination led me to guess (correctly) that these were Ranch Raccoon. Now, I have no idea what raccoon tastes like, but these crisps taste like nasty.

  2. The second flavour was easier, as it was pale pink and had a hint of smokey BBQ about it => Pulled Pork in a Sticky BBQ sauce. A little too sweet for my tastes, and another “No, thanks”.

  3. This was the easiest of the lot. Very yellow, with a pungent smell of spices, it could only be Chip Shop Chicken Curry. This was the least nasty of all the flavours, and the one I would choose to eat if I was being forced.

  4. I got this one wrong, mixed up with no. 6. It had a fruity flavour, reminiscent of lychees to me. Again, pale pink. A second taste gave a tang I thought might make it Cheesy Beans on Toast, but in fact it was Hot Dog with Tomato Ketchup. One you know, you can get a hint of those little cheap pork sausages you find in tins of spaghetti….

  5. The spices made this one easy – Sizzling Steak Fajita. Unfortunately it’s more like Sizzling Green Pepper Fajita – an overwhelming sour taste makes it very nasty, although one of my colleagues picked it as their favourite. Taste is a very individual thing!

  6. And last, but not nastiest, was another pink crisp with a fruity hint that made me think of Vimto. I thought Hot Dogs, but it was in fact Cheesy Beans.

So… I’m not voting for my favourite, because they were all quite unpleasant. I don’t imagine any of them will be long-term Walkers flavours, but we’ll see. The combined smells of 6 different crisp flavours made the office stink for a while, and it was surprisingly hard to find anyone willing to polish them all off. But we had lots of laughs doing it.

When you now what you’re eating, it’s easy to recognise the flavour. When you don’t, it’s quite hard. It gives you some sympathy for people who can’t tell which meat they’ve been given in their take-away curry (but not for the people who are trying to fool them…!).

Have you tried any of the flavours? What did you think – do you have a favourite?



I didn’t get a look at the packets, and I couldn’t find listings of the ingredients for these flavours on the Walkers website. It’s a fair bet that most (if not all of them) rely on some kind of milk product. I’m OK with that in small doses, but not on a regular basis. If you’re badly affected by milk (or anything else) then please find out what’s in these, before you eat them!

Posted in Blog on Sep 16, 2014 ·

Last modified on Sep 15, 2014

Tag: food

Review: Mrs Crimble's coconut macaroons

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Giant choc coconut macaroon

There’s a weekly tradition at work of a meeting that involves cake. A nominated person brings in cakes for everyone else, and we sit and have a natter for half an hour or so. Some people bake; some people buy cakes. There is a slight snobbery about it – baking is better, and if you can produce nicely iced cup cakes, that’s a bonus. I think some of my colleagues are avid fans of the Great British Bake Off.

We have various allergies and intolerances we have to cater for, and one week one of my colleagues brought in a packet of Mrs Crimble’s Coconut Macaroons, which are gluten and dairy free (it’s worth noting that although they don’t contain any dairy ingredients, they are made in a factory that uses them, which might be an issue if you have a severe allergy). My cow’s milk intolerance doesn’t usually bother me when it comes to baked goods*, but I thought I would try one of the macaroons, and I’m glad I did!

They’re truly lovely – moist, coconutty and distinctly moreish. They come in packets of six, and at the moment I am having a macaroon most days, as my afternoon treat. They also come in a chocolate variant, which involves a chocolate layer on the base and drizzled stripes. They’re great if it’s not hot enough to melt the chocolate, at which point they become a little messy to eat.

I recently discovered that you can also buy individually-wrapped giant versions, so I had to try one. They are made to the same high standards, but I didn’t find that bigger is better. As you’re chomping through the great dome of the middle bit, it does become a little bit of a chore….

So… coconut macaroons. Thoroughly recommended by me, so don’t eat them all! You can read the full ingredients and nutritional information on the Mrs Crimble’s website, along with some lovely sounding dessert recipes that use macaroons. Nom.



*I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s one of the proteins in cow’s milk I have a problem with. Perhaps baking denatures the pesky protein.

Posted in Blog on Aug 19, 2014 ·

Last modified on Sep 26, 2014

Tags: food & reviews.

My temporary spice rack

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Temporary spice rack

My temporary spice rack

“The important thing is the spices. A man can live on packaged food from here ‘til Judgment Day if he’s got enough rosemary.” Shepherd Book, Firefly

We still don’t have a moving date. It feels oh so close, and at the same time, so very far away. It is months now since we put a lot of our things into storage to declutter the flat; my collection of herbs and spices was one of the things deemed non-essential, and I have been left with a limited range in a collection of tiny storage boxes. Ryan has a selection of herbs in the freezer, and there are some odd bits and pieces left in the cupboards, and that’s my lot. For the most part it’s OK, but it’s occasionally frustrating to realise that you just don’t have something.

Necessity is the mother of invention, however. When we discovered last night that we didn’t have a packet of our usual fajita seasoning, I had to improvise a suitable sauce for our tacos. Ryan was a little sceptical at the list of ingredients I collected:


  • Ground cumin

  • Mixed herbs

  • Hoisin sauce

  • Tomato ketchup

  • Steak seasoning

But after dinner he proclaimed it better than the packet mix. It’s not quite perfect – it lacks a certain smokiness. Ryan suggests replacing the hoisin with BBQ sauce; I’m leaning towards smoked paprika. Either way, it will have to wait until we’ve moved. I’m a dab hand at improvised pizza topping as well (usually tomato ketchup and basil pesto) – what’s your favorite foodie improvisation?

Posted in Blog on Aug 18, 2014 ·

Tags: food & spices.

Plate of the Nation - foodies wanted!

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Ingredients

Mayfly Television is making a new Channel 4 fly-on-the-wall TV show called Plate of the Nation (working title), which will take a look at how we cook and eat as a nation to provide an insight into the very heart and soul of modern British home life.

The show is about what we cook and eat, how we behave with each other in the kitchen, who our self-appointed household head chefs are, what we talk about at the dinner table and how food brings us all together.

They are now searching for foodie families and households across the nation!

They are looking for everyone from carnivores to vegans to showy self-styled chefs to people who don’t know how to boil an egg, and everything in between.

They want couples, solo chefs, shared communal kitchens and raucous family homes.

Most of all they want households where the kitchen is busy and filled with laughter.

If this sounds like your house or one you know, they’d love to hear from you.

Email: apply@mayflytv.com or tel: 0207 148 6731


NOTE: expressing interest in a show is not a guarantee you will be chosen to take part
Data Protection: Mayfly Television will not share your contact information with any third party without your consent and have in place systems and practices to protect your data. If you are under the age of eighteen, please ask your parents to make contact on your behalf. www.mayflytv.com/privacypolicy

Posted in Blog on Jul 1, 2014 ·

Tag: food

Review: Waitrose Makhani curry paste

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Waitrose Makhani curry paste

My cow’s milk intolerance makes it quite difficult to shop for processed food – once you start reading labels it’s amazing how many products milk (or a milk derivative) makes its way into. In an ideal world we’d all be cooking every meal from scratch, from fresh ingredients, but it’s not always possible. I haven’t yet mastered the art of making a decent curry by hand, for example.

Curry sauces can be particularly problematic, so I’m glad to have found one that’s almost dairy-free (it contains some clarified butter) and that I really like. Waitrose Makani curry paste is £1.65 for a 200g jar (avoid the ready-made jars of Makhani sauce if you have a problem with cow’s milk, as they contain double cream). Each jar contains enough paste to make 2 or 3 meals, depending on how many people you’re serving, and how strong you like your curries. Once the jar is opened, it will keep in the fridge for up to 4 weeks. If you don’t have a local Waitrose, you may be able to order online via Ocado.

I have three go-to options for using the paste, which is best added at the start of cooking. The first is the simplest – simply stirring it in for a dryish curry. You may need to add a little water to stop the sauce from sticking.

The second involves adding a tin of chopped tomatoes – you get a milder, saucier curry, with plenty of healthy vegetable content.

The third is my favourite, and by far the most decadent. I use either coconut milk or coconut cream to make the sauce. Again, the result is a milder and saucier curry – it’s divine, but you may want to factor in the extra fat content.

All three versions reheat nicely, if you find yourself with leftovers. Your home will smell like an Indian restaurant for a little while – it smells like a ‘proper’ curry!

This is, to date, the only curry paste/sauce I have found that I like and that I can eat, and I have been buying it now for several years. I am a genuinely satisfied customer, so if you’re a fan of the occasional simple curry then I recommend you give it a go :)

Posted in Blog on Jun 23, 2014 ·

Tags: food & meh!.

Unless stated, © copyright Emma Cooper, 2005-2014.