Read our dispatch from the world of food as the roving BBC Good Food team hits the scene to discover new trends, hot ingredients and what you should be eating to stay in vogue. Here's what we ate in June...
Bloody Mary with a twist
We’re big fans of sipping restorative Bloody Marys of a weekend, and tomato juice seems to be a blank canvas for some inventive liquid artistry in the bar world – we’ve had them with dashes of stout, gherkins, rashers of bacon… You name it. Our cookery assistant Chelsie visited London’s Kurobuta this week, where she enjoyed sushi with a side of Kikkoman Bloody Mary. The fiery, vodka-based tipple came served in a mini soy sauce bottle and was made with tomato juice muddled with wasabi and cucumber. For one final flourish of Japanese finesse, the rim was coated in sashimi salt. The gauntlet has been laid – can the Bloody Mary get any flashier than this?
Food editor Cassie’s seasonal fridge/freezer/garden-raid supper is everything that’s great about summer. Podded, lime-coloured broad beans, freshly-pulled radishes and a side of wild garlic carbonara (the leaves were frozen in spring), all enjoyed in the back garden. The salad days are well and truly here. Plus, kudos to Cassie’s choice of cheese - bocconcini makes a nice departure from traditional mozzarella. The Italian pearls are firm, creamy and dangerously bite-sized.
There’s a reason we all buy our butter in packs – it’s super tricky to make properly. This week, staff writer Holly gave it a go when she visited the Ballymaloe Cookery School, headed up by chef and culinary doyenne, Darina Allen. The school has a herd of Jersey cows, which are milked daily. The milk is then filtered, churned and run through a separator to collect the cream, which in turn is whipped into butter and shaped into tempting, golden cigars, ready to be sliced into generously-thick butter coins. Try not to salivate over the idea of one sat atop freshly made toast…
A Simpsons-style slice
This week, we tucked into a creation billed as the Homer Simpson of the cake world – and we reckon it would definitely get Marge's beehive aquiver. With its sponge layers, meringue buttercream, buttermilk doughnut topping and macarons, popcorn (are you still with us?) and pink wafer adornments, it’s pretty much everything we love in one saccharine deity. We’re seeing a lot of cartoony drizzle cakes at the moment, which feature clever, cascading chocolate toppings. Long may the trend continue.
Afternoon tea on the go
Trains are so dismally associated with slogging it on the daily commute it takes a pretty special one to make us feel like boarding for leisure. But we’ll make an exception for the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, whose sister train, the Belmond British Pullman, took off from London for a three-hour afternoon tea extravaganza last weekend. Digital assistant Sarah nested in its antique opulence and enjoyed an array of Fortnum & Mason sandwiches, patisserie, cakes, tea and English sparkling wine. It certainly makes the flat white in Styrofoam and 07.56 from Platform 1 routine seem frumpy.
Extolling the gastronomic virtues of a gland isn’t the easiest of tasks (there’s also the incorrect association with nether regions to get around), but trust us when we say sweetbreads are worth a second look. These pale pink throat and pancreas glands actually sit at the thinner end of the offal wedge in terms of flavour, although they do involve some hunting out and a touch of sinew trimming. At this week’s Taste of London festival, Shoreditch restaurant Lyles served them breaded with wild garlic, and as almost everything is improved by a dip in a deep fat fryer, we reckon this serving mode could tantalise even the staunchest members of the gland-phobic brigade.
Say hello to the next big baking trend. Like the ombre before it, and the rainbow before that, anti-gravity cakes are set to become your new favourite slice. These novelty cakes involve suspending an object – most often a sweet packet – over a cake using a rod to replicate a cascade of sweets (if you’re a bit lost, Pinterest is home to some mind-bogglingly elaborate versions). ASDA’s riff on the trend is an American-style stack of waffles with gushing ‘maple syrup’, which our digital assistant Sarah enjoyed on her birthday last weekend. Food editor Cassie created her own version for our July magazine, so pick up a copy if you want to discover the secret tool behind her waterfall of Smarties.
Food editor Barney knows how to brunch in style – his croque madame had us drooling in envy this week. He created a sandwich using authentic Poilane bread, aged gruyere – one of our favourite cheeses for melting – and ham, then pan-fried it until crisp and served it topped with a perfect fried egg.
We’re totally down with a sweet and salty flavour contrast, but bacon in ice cream? Would you go there? Before you answer, may we introduce Cassie’s sundae of salted peanut, cookies, blueberry and maple-glazed rasher ice cream creation, also known as 'The spirit of Elvis in a diner-style glass'. If you want to try candied bacon for yourself, use streaky bacon and brush it with maple syrup or honey before laying the rashers out on a baking tray. Cover them with parchment and a second baking tray so you end up with nice and neat, flat rashers.
Korean lamb cutlet
The whole BBC Good Food team visited Taste of London this week, and most of us dashed to The Clove Club concession to sample the dish crowned star of show – lamb cutlet with Korean gochuchang chilli sauce, black sesame and mint. We’re big fans of the Clove Club, which is headed up by Isaac McHale and serves, among many dishes on its ever-evolving, seasonal menu, buttermilk fried chicken with pine salt, served in a bushy bowl of pine leaves – we do love our chicken with a side of conifer. The lamb was a triumph, and proof that the Korean food trend isn't going anywhere any time soon.
Beef short ribs
Super meaty menu choices aren’t going anywhere any time soon – apologies to those of the veggie persuasion out there – and for true aficionados, your standard steak just doesn’t cut it anymore. To be a T-bonafide member of the carnivore club, you need to be up on your unusual cuts. Beef short ribs are the new rack of pork ribs, and Barney demonstrated a great way to serve them this week by braising them for hours in beer then finishing them off on the barbecue. Head to your butchers to nab a loot before they gain a premium price tag.
The BBC Good Food team is en vacances this week – kind of. We’ve been roaming the aisles of the BBC Good Food Show Summer in Birmingham, all in the name of representing the brand and staying abreast of the best independent producers. One of our favourite finds was this mini shed of kippers, naturally smoked in lovely Lancashire. We’re huge fans of the humble herring, and think kippers are well overdue a comeback in the breakfast stakes. Move over, avocado…
Elderflower drizzle cake
Our very own cake queen, Cassie, had an uncharacteristic wobble when she turned a super-seasonal sponge out of its tin this week. She averted a baked blight by gluing her elderflower bundt back together with icing then finishing the whole lot off with drizzle icing and edible flowers. That’s why she’ll always be baking royalty in our eyes…
A certain member of the Good Food team (yours truly) is worryingly obsessed with jerk seasoning, so when it was served up on barbecued cauliflower at the Meatopia preview party this week, it was a momentous moment. As it was an evening celebrating all things carnivorous (are you sensing a theme this week?) it was tossed with rare rib eye steak and served with fennel seed slaw. Seriously sensational, but the cauli was good enough to serve alone. If you want to try it, there’s no need to pre-boil it. Just cut it into chunks and throw it straight onto the griddles.
Dinner with a side of elbow grease
Mariana spent her Thursday night wearing a fetching plastic bib and wielding a hammer as she got stuck into the Fruits De Mare Street pop-up at Bistrotheque in East London. Along with seafood rolls with chipotle mayonnaise, squid & seabass tartare and chips with curry sauce (yes!), her and friends, merry from plenty of coriander & ginger fizz cocktails, tackled whole crabs by strategically freeing its sweet and juicy meat using a hammer. Cracking stuff…
Three cheers for the fact we’re right in the middle of the short elderflower season. If you’ve already been plucking and are stuck with what to do with a bulging sack of buds, homemade cordial is a safe bet. Barney whipped up a batch this week, ready to use in sorbet, cakes and cocktails. If you’re heading out elderflower foraging for the first time, be sure not to get them mixed up with cow parsley – the flowers are remarkably similar and someone we know ended up with a very disagreeable cow cordial. Just remember this – elderflowers grow on trees, and cow parsley from the ground.
If the idea of salted, pressed and dried fish eggs turns you green around the gills, maybe bottarga isn’t for you. It’s usually made from tuna or grey mullet roe and it’s available powdered or in a set stick for grating. It finishes off a fish dish in rather magnificent fashion, as demonstrated on the delicious and hearty menu at the Sabel pop-up dinner held in East London this week. Chef Toby Williams sprinkled bottarga over grilled, fresh sardines, which are our catch of the day right now.
Architecture in food
This week, our assistant food editor Miriam attended the 42 Plates pop-up, which is hosted by a duo who match their menu with the four walls of their host venue. The event at the East London Liquor Company saw the couple utilise the boozy surroundings to optimum effect. On the menu was gin-smoked halloumi, whisky pulled chicken and a tonne of other barbecued treats and sensational sides to go with them. Miriam piled her plate high and garnished her dinner with several chunks of cornbread – we like her style.
Our digital content editor Mariana has an adventurous and curious palate, and this week it led her to a melano fruit, also known as a horned melon or blowfish fruit. This African-grown oddity looks more like a weapon than something to scatter over a salad, but its flesh is a little like cucumber. You’re likely to find it in specialist grocers and organic shops rather than supermarkets, so if you cultivate a taste for it, it may prove to be a rather expensive habit.
This week, our dedicated health editor Roxy put our 7-day Summer Diet Plan to the test, so her kitchen was abuzz with the production of peanut houmous, courgetti & veggie mealballs and lots of other rainbow foods. She reports that she slept better and felt more alert, had stacks of energy and found the dishes filling and satisfying. If you fancy giving it a try, sign up to our free Summer Diet Plan today.
What do you think of this week’s eats, and what have you been feasting on?