Tuesday, 30 September 2014

The mystery of the nutless nuts

By Susan Low

Like many an urban forager, I’m always on the lookout for free eats that are unravaged by pigeons, foxes, crows or dogs. So when I spotted these spiky pods enclosing shiny hazelnuts under a tree near where I live in Balham, I thought I’d hid the nut jackpot.
Foraged hazelnuts - jackpot! (Or so I thought...)
Oddly, though, I’d walked past that tree every day for years, but had never seen it produce nuts before. And – weirdly – the neighbourhood squirrels hadn’t yet discovered them. Curiouser and curiouser…

Thursday, 25 September 2014

GBBO 8: tears in the tent (not to mention the delicious. office)

After Bake Off virgin Hugh's first foray into writing about the nation's favourite (baking) soap last week, the obsessive is back. And I'm upset this morning. Yes, I am. Ever the fan of the modest (but also talented) contestant, I'm gutted to see the tearful departure of the sweet-natured Martha, with her air of innocence that belongs to a bygone age.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

GBBO episode 7… by a Bake Off virgin

The technical challenge: Paul Hollywood's Kouign amanns
I’ve never seen The Great British Bake Off before. But I know it's the kind of show where literally anything can happen (well, as long as it’s baking oriented). After the excitement of Bingate and No-onegoeshomegate, I couldn't resist any longer. Yet I confess I was slightly disappointed by my Bake Off initiation show. It was a  tame affair – although Mary Berry, wearing her trademark teacosy jacket, did make Paul crack a smile with her comment about 6 inches being the perfect length… for an éclair.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Conflict Kitchen comes to London

By Susan Low
The pop-up where peace is on the menu
In a city like London, which leaves no gastronomic stone unturned, you can feast on the cuisine of a different country or culture every night for months without eating the same dish twice. But now, a new supper club has put something entirely different on the table: peace.

Until 27 September Conflict Kitchen, a pop-up supper club launched as a joint effort with the London-based peace-building NGO International Alert, is turning a dining room in east London into a public forum for discussing conflict.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Feast your eyes…

By Susan Low
It’s tempting to just let the gorgeousness of these home-grown babies speak for themselves but, a bit like a proud parent, it’s hard to resist going on about how chuffed I am with my garden progeny.

They're ripe, they're red, they're irresistible - and I grew them myself
My gardening year got off to a depressing start when a fox cub laid waste to our carefully planted seedlings, but perseverance – and an electronic fox-scarer – paid off. Helped along by the hottest July on record and good rainfall, my trusty toms rose to the occasion and rewarded me with a bumper crop of curiously coloured, oddly shaped and ridiculously flavourful fruit.

So, yes, I’ve been eating a lot of tomatoes – but loaves-and-fishes-like, my plants just keep producing more. So this weekend, it’s going to be a proper tom-fest in my kitchen.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Great British Bake Off episode 6: European cakes

Judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry

Wilkommen and bienvenue to our review of last night’s Great British Bake Off (watch it here). This week, it was all about European cakes, which gave hosts Mel and Sue a chance to dust off some of the dodgiest accents not seen since Mind Your Language ended in the late ’70s.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Can cook, must cook

TV dinners: are we looking but not cooking?

By Fiona Beckett

It’s always struck me as ironic that with more and more cookbooks being published, it’s harder to find the raw ingredients you need to make the recipes in them. In most supermarkets, the rows of chill cabinets full of fresh meat and fish have been largely replaced by aisles of ready meals and – more curious still – meal kits of ready-prepped ingredients you can ‘cook’ yourself.

From the food manufacturers’ point of view, of course, this is all to the good. Instead of selling us relatively inexpensive chicken or pork they can ‘add value’ by gussying it up with ingredients and sauces, then charge us twice as much. And by weaning us off the ‘chore’ of cooking they claim to save us time. Time to do what? So we can slump in front of the TV?

As American writer Michael Pollan points out in his absorbing book Cooked, there are now millions of people who spend more time watching food being cooked on television than they spend actually cooking it themselves.