What we ate in December

Read our weekly food trends update to discover right-now ingredients, fun foodie events, Instagramable restaurant dishes, exciting street eats and exactly what you should be eating to stay ahead.

Our weekly food diary sifts through the latest food trends, restaurant updates, farmers' market finds and seasonal treats to help you find your next favourite foods... 

In December we were...

Craving...​

Have you ever tried a biskie? This sensational snack has been around since last year, and combines all our favourite sweet treats - part biscuit, part cookie and part cake. The result? A tantalising mash up of tastes and textures - crisp, soft, chewy, cakey and creamy - with a much heftier helping of buttercream than a mere macaron. Created by two sweet-toothed sisters, the biskie is the signature bake of Cutter & Squidge, based in London. We tried this pistachio roseberry flavour, a delicate blend of pistachios, rasberries and rose, encrusted in crushed pistachios and finished with a pink meringue petal flower.

 

Snacking on...

Word on the street: the 'in skin' to be seen snacking on is no longer crackling, but other, alternative shards of joy. Rosie Birkett made this crispy chicken skin on a shoot for our February issue. Increasingly, we've been seeing crispy poultry skin popping up as garnishes and seasonings on the foodie scene. Our features editor Natalie tried an epic Christmas turkey burger at pop-up Slow Richies, scattered with turkey crackling pieces, and topped with a giant shard of crackling piercing the top of the bun.

 

 

Testing...

If cooking the perfect steak is an art that you're yet to master, let us introduce you to your new secret weapon... your freezer. Freeze-fried steak is the latest technique that we've been trying out - and trust us when we say that the results are definitely worth writing home about. We loved the fantastically firm texture and succulent, juicy meat that this method yields. To recreate at home, take a steak out of the freezer and pop in the fridge for three hours, so that it's semi-frozen when you fry it. Season simply with salt and pepper and fry hard and fast to caramelise, then pop in the oven for 15 minutes. Once your digital thermometer indicates that it's medium rare in the centre, it's ready to serve in neat, even slices. The technique is already being used in steakhouses in the USA, and with such a superior finish, we predict freeze-frying will really heat up here in the UK.

 

Dining on...

While there's a time and a place for tradition, sometimes we're all about a quick foodie fix. In November, we wrote about congee, an Asian rice porridge that is usually slowly cooked using fresh ingredients until it reaches its super-thick texture. This week, inspired by Dan Doherty's much-Instagrammed, beautiful bowls of this comforting dish, Barney set about creating a cheat's version. Using leftover cooked rice and some Asian-style chicken stock, we simply boiled it until it broke down into a porridge-like consistency. Delicious!

Trying for the first time…

This week, we ventured beyond the usual jam and custard into the realms of the savoury doughnut filling, as demonstrated by this exemplary spicy venison & vermicelli doughnut served at London's Gunpowder. The wonderous orb had a fabulous combination of tastes and textures, and a heady kick of Indian spice complemented the rich meat, which was encased in an extra-crispy doughnut shell. Named after a traditional mix of pulses and spices, Gunpowder is a diminutive restaurant serving small sharing plates of Indian home-style cooking. The chef and owner bases the menu on dishes passed down through their family, and we're only too happy to sample the new takes on tradition.

Snapping up…

This budding trend sees us looking past the vegetable patch and exploring the possibility of bringing the herbaceous border to our plates. Likely fuelled by the rise of Instagram, chefs have increasingly been using edible flowers to take their dishes from simple to snappable. This selection is from Eat My Flowers, who hand paint each flower with pasteurised dried egg white and caster sugar to preserve it within hours of being picked. We’re exploring this budding trend in our March issue, so stay tuned for a floral feast. Bloomin’ lovely!
 

Testing…

Like so many food trends, funnel cakes have washed up on our shores from the USA, where they’re a popular snack at funfairs and festivals. As their name suggests, they’re made by using a funnel to drizzle batter in thin ribbons, increasing the surface area that sizzles in the hot oil. The result? A crispy, crunchy and deep golden treat that just needs a dusting of icing sugar to finish. We've been perfecting the recipe and will be sharing it very soon - watch this space!

 

Celebrating…

We’re not exaggerating when we say that we tried the best cheese in the world this week, and over 250 cheese experts from across the globe would agree. Le Gruyère AOP Premier Cru scooped the top prize at the World Cheese Awards for the fourth time in a row at the NEC in Birmingham. Amid the bustle of the BBC Good Food Winter Show, over 2,727 cheeses were submitted, sampled and scored in a 1,100 square metre arena. With a real depth of flavour, we could see why the judges were impressed by the creaminess, nuttiness and fruitiness of this Gruyère. 
 

Dining on…

London restaurant Arbutus put down its roots in the depths of the recession, so its no wonder that its chefs champion the move towards nose-to-tail dining and an appreciation of offal. Their à la carte menu, featuring tongue, testicles and tripe, lavishes love on these underused cuts of meat, transforming them into feasts for both the eyes and stomach. We sampled this warm, crisp pig’s head, which was sticky and delicious, paired with creamy potato pureé and pickled mooli to cut through the richness of the meat. Offal-ly good stuff.
 

 

Dining on…

It seems like everyone is talking about seaweed at the moment, and for good reason. Not only does this star ingredient boast some serious health benefits, it’s also making an appearance on trendsetting menus. This week, we sampled a delicious dish of dulse with buttery sauce and beautifully translucent cod at Noble Rot. The menu at the new wine bar is overseen by Stephen Harris of legendary The Sportsman at Seasalter, and the style of food is described as ‘Franglais’ – fine British produce, influenced by classic French flavours.

 

Trying for the first time…

Meat lovers, look out – there’s a new delicacy in town. Mangalitsa is a Hungarian breed of pig, characterised by fatty, marbled meat, and has recently been hailed as the Kobe beef of the pork world. This week, we tried Mangalitsa atop a perfectly round pancake, finished off with fiery horseradish, as cooked by guest chef Daniel Berlin at Lyle's. While the rare breed is yet to be picked up by the mass market, we’re expecting that this marbled meat will be featuring in more menus in the near future. Over and snout!

 

Drinking…

When do you need the healing powers of cold pressed kale juice most? The morning after the night before? Or is that when you need a hair of the dog? At Blacklock they’ve worked out you might need both, so its gin and juice cocktail combines Neat Juicery goodness with a miniature gin. Sheer gin-ius.

 

 

 

Craving…

There may soon be snow outside and the echo of Christmas carols in the air, but it’s currently Easter in our test kitchen, where John Torode joined us this week to shoot for our March issue. Not only did he give us a masterclass in our all-time favourite classics such as luscious lamb, cauliflower cheese and some seriously good gravy, he also lifted dessert to dizzying heights. We’re still dreaming about this nut-crusted, biscuit-based, super gooey chocolate pie, finished with salted caramel sauce and coffee cream. With a texture somewhere between a tart and a cheesecake, we reckon this recipe is set to be super popular come springtime.

Read about what we were eating in November
Read about what we were eating in October
Read about what we were eating in September
Read about what we were eating in August
Read about what we were eating in July... 
Read about what we were eating in June... 
Read about what we were eating in May...
Read about what we were eating in April... 

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