Thursday, 27 January 2011

Food label 101"

Food labeling is a minefield. Marketing is used to bamboozle us in the form of terms and logo's. Marketing techniques are to reassure us the food we eat has arrived to us by compassionate and environmentally sound means.

Lets start with logos to avoid:

All the red tractor means is that the food has met the EU minimum legal requirements for food safety which can be pretty vague at the best of times.

The Lion mark is just a indication the eggs are safe to eat nothing to do with the conditions they were laid in.

What to look for:

Organic is a land-based farming system using no chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Animals have outdoor access and other higher welfare e.g. later weaning in pigs. There are currently nine different organisations who can give organic certification.

The Soil Association Organic Standard provides the highest welfare levels in the UK e.g. smaller flock sizes for chickens and no live exporting of dairy calves.

Freedom Food is the RSPCA's labeling and assurance scheme dedicated to improving welfare standards for farm animals. The scheme covers both indoor and outdoor rearing systems and ensures that greater space and bedding material are provided.

Other stores might have their own standards which can go above other standards e.g. Waitrose and M&S whose basic level meat and poultry generally have a higher standard of welfare. Stores such as Whole Foods Market have their own labelling system with a good base level and very high welfare at best e.g. no mutilations and very extensive free-range (see their standards brochure).

Marketing is a stick that is used to cudgel you into buying food and sad to say it almost always has no bearing on how you food was prepared. Starting with terms like "Farm Fresh." "Freshly Caught." They are nothing more than a marketing ploy and mean nothing in terms of animal welfare. Be wary of the following terms they are only designed to make you salivate and have no bearing on how your food was produced.

·      Original
·      Traditional
·      Homemade
·      Traditional style
·      Real
·      Style
·      Farmhouse (pâté)
·      Handmade
·      Premium
·      Finest
·      Best
·      Quality
·      Selected

I suggest reading the ingredients and making an informed decision based on what the produce contains, not being drawn in by clever ploys designed to help shift units.

Be sure of your legal terms as far as your meat is concerned "Free Range" only describes chicken no other meat if you are sold "Free Range Beef or Pork" you are being conned restaurants often use the free range blanket. The terms are free range for chicken, outdoor reared for pork and Grass fed for Beef. All these terms should ensure the welfare standards for the animals. Be sure your meat is sourced from the EU preferably the UK and is not ‘Intervention meat’ a term used by butchers for cheap meat from South America. This intervention meat will have been almost always been kept in the most hideous factory conditions but is the cause for up to 80% of deforestation.

I hope this post helps you make informed decisions please contact me with any questions, stay hungry.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Are you Game?

Game is a underrated Great British staple and I urge you all to try some. Not only is Game very low in fat it has a flavour which is truly unparalleled.

Rabbit is my favorite, it is tasty, sustainable, cheap and always in season. My favorite is a rabbit stew as demonstrated by Floyd

I strongly suggest you try rabbit, venison, pigeon Pheasant etc as they are British and most importantly sustainable( I know banging on but sustainability is important). Please visit Jose's Blog for more in-depth look at game it is an invaluable resource if you want to try cooking game for yourself(link below).

jose-l-souto Game chef extraordinaire

I will be back shortly with an awesome and simple mackerel and horseradish dip recipe stay hungry.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Combo Recipe 1 - Chocolate and avocado Mmmmmousse

Simple too make with 4 ingredients and has no dairy whatsoever as I used 100% Cacao as I like it very rich,I used Willie's World Class Cacao as for me it has best flavour of all chocolate products on the market. Chocoholics Visit his website it rocks best chocolate bar none . You can choose too add a lower cacao solid if you wish or even the milk choc but this combo does not work with white choc. Also make sure your avocado is very ripe!!!
Important equal quantities of avocado, Brown sugar and chocolate. Ratio I used 200g is roughly 4-6 portions.
This will give you balance between the Flavours.
A squeeze of lemon juice is to aid this balance as it is a gastric. (Balancing Flavours and gastric lessons too come in future posts)
The Techniques  
You will need one of these a ban-marie, which is just a glass bowl over a saucepan with cold water. Do not let the water touch the bottom of the Bowl hugely important!!
Break up the chocolate into small evenly sized pieces and place in the Ban marie bowl place Ban marie on a medium heat and allow the chocolate to melt. Two important rules of melting chocolate in a ban marie are do not stir too much otherwise the chocolate could separate and if the water in the saucepan for the ban-marie begins to boil take it off heat and let the steam do the work.
Once the chocolate has melted incorporate the sugar and mashed up avocado add a squeeze of lemon and mix together. If the mixture is lumpy then you can blend it to achieve a smoother result. I have chosen to add some chopped up blanched pistachios as a garnish mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmjoy.


Monday, 10 January 2011

Calling all chilli lovers

Chipotle Tabasco is a must for your store cupboard it has a fantastic smokey quality too it which gives way to the usual Tabasco kick. my favorite is on top of home made potato hash brown with a poached egg truly legendary !!! BUY IT!!!!

Killer Hash Browns

  • Parboil diced potatoes until tender then drain.
  • In a large pan sauté banana shallots until translucent add 100-ml of chicken stock and a very generous shake of the chipotle tabasco.
  • Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes to reduce the stock a little.
  • Smash the potatoes (not mashed just broken up) and toss with thyme, tarragon, salt and pepper. Combine with shallots
  • Wipe out pan and heat butter.(you can use olive oil with butter to stop it from burning only a small amount 1tsp) Make potato mixture into patties and cook in the heated pan until potatoes begin to turn golden on both sides.

Food Inc

Watch this video and understand where modern food comes from i recommend watching full movie insightful about modern food practice. 


“The belly rules the mind. 
Spanish Proverb”

Welcome to my Blog I am a chef who wants to help everyone enjoy food like me with love.
Lets start with the basics. Today we are talking combo's get these right and create amazing food everytime all the time. 
From the weird:
Chocolate and avocado

To the Wonderful:
Chillies and Ginger

Combo's are the cornerstone of every good cooks, chefs or gastronomes food journey.
I highly recommend the Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit (published by bloomsbury isbn 978-0-7475-9977-7) as a guide through the world of combo's a quintessential book for any foodie.

Tomorrow I will post a killer recipe for a Avocado and chocolate mousse stayed tuned fellow food fanatics