Our weekly food diary shares right-now ingredients, fun foodie events, Instagrammable restaurant dishes and trendy street eats.
This week we tried...
If you thought 2018 would be the year we finally stopped talking about gin, well, you’d be wrong. The Gintleman, aka Carl Hawkins, of Birmingham cocktail bar and gin parlour Jekyll & Hyde has opened our eyes to savoury gins at one of his regular gin tasting events at Loki wine bar (also in Birmingham). These are gins specifically designed to be enjoyed with food. For example, if you’re cooking a tomato-rich Italian dish like spaghetti Bolognese, you can pair it with Black Tomato Gin. As the name suggests, it's made from black tomatoes grown in volcanic soil for their sweet, intense flavour. It’s also got a slight peppery kick, perfectly complementing Italian cuisine as well as seafood. And what about a gin to go with curry? We’ve got you covered there, too: Crazy Gin. Made by a producer from Wolverhampton who wanted to inject his Punjabi heritage into a gin, it contains a range of spices you’d find in curries, including coriander, turmeric and black pepper. We tried it with a range of Indian snacks like pakoras, samosas and bhajis and it was the ideal pairing.
Have you heard? The great British banger has been given a flexitarian makeover. Good news for the health-conscious, veg-crunching generation and parents who want to reduce the amount of meat the family consumes. The last few years have seen a steady rise in sausages that contain less pork and more veg and pulses, without compromising on flavour. We’ve previously tried (and loved) smoky chipotle sweet potato & red pepper sausages from The Crafty Carnivore, but now supermarkets are getting in on the action too. The latest to land on shelves are Good Health sausages from Waitrose that contain at least 25% veg, fruit or pulses. Choose from pork with butternut squash, quinoa & kale, mini Toulouse-style with butterbean, lentil & garlic pork, or pork with chickpea, spinach & tomato. So, do they taste good? This week, we put them to the test the best way we know how: by giving them to our head of magazines Keith Kendrick and his kids – the ultimate sausage connoisseurs. The verdict? Not only are they bursting with flavour, but the texture sets them apart from your traditional banger. Each ingredient is identifiable and the nuts and grains add satisfying bite.
You may have heard of Chinese hotpot and you may have tried Korean BBQ, but have you ever had the two combined? Introducing ‘mookrata’, a concept we are very excited about. The word mu kratha in Thai literally means ‘pan pork’ but is commonly used to refer to the combination of Korean BBQ and Chinese hotpot, which is hugely popular in Thailand. This month, it’s come to the UK in the form of the Mookrata pop-up, upstairs in London’s Shuang Shuang restaurant. In a highly interactive, fun way of eating, diners are given a hot plate for grilling meats (the Korean BBQ part) with an integrated, moat-like ring around it for the hot broth to go into (the hotpot part). Add veg and noodles to the broth whilst frying the meat on the hot plate, then amp up the flavour with a range of toppings and sauces including miso, ginger and garlic, or a hotter, sriracha-based sauce. A conveyer belt also travels round the room, offering extras like kimchi, more noodles and other meat and fish options. We hope to see more of this fun fusion concept appearing across the country.
Last week we tried...
Fondue is back! You may know it as a French Alpine favourite or 70s dinner party classic, but sales of fondue sets recently doubled at Lakeland and it's now popping up on restaurant menus. Not surprisingly, cheese-only eatery The Cheese Bar in Camden, London, got in on the action with the launch of ‘fondue Thursdays’ in November and it's proved so popular it's being extended till February. And we can see why. Their classic fondue combines four quality cheeses – Coolea, Ogleshield, Doddington and Mayfield – plus a splash each of white wine and kirsch, and there’s also a blue cheese & cider option. If those don't have you salivating, the sides will. As well as fresh baguette and pickles (that come as standard) there’s Cobble Lane Cured charcuterie, truffled roast potatoes, pigs in blankets and deep-fried Brussels sprouts. Dipping a herb-studded sausage wrapped in crisp, salty bacon into a pot of hot, oozy cheese has been a highlight of January – comfort food at its best. You could try making our easy fondue recipe at home or watch our fondue video guide.
Healthy Diet Plan
For those wanting to start the year in healthier fashion, as opposed to eating sausages dipped in cheese (fair enough), this one’s for you. We’ve just launched our free 2018 Healthy Diet Plan, a seven-day menu created alongside nutritional therapist Kerry Torrens. It features well-balanced breakfasts, lunches and dinners packed with healthy fats, lean protein and slow-release carbs, plus expert tips and advice. If eaten in the recommended order each day, the plan provides a balance of protein, fat and carbs to achieve optimal nutrient levels and manage hormone and blood sugar levels. Plus, you’ll get your five-a-day, every day. Our health writer Sarah Lienard has been following the plan and her highlights include steak with sweet potato fries (this diet sounds good so far...), beetroot & halloumi salad plus lamb biryani. Whether you want to lose weight, increase your energy levels or just feel better, you can find the Healthy Diet Plan in our January issue (on sale now) or sign up for free.
Sometimes you just can’t beat a plate of chips – each one crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and generously sprinkled with salt. Over the years, we’ve seen a number of different vegetables trying to compete with the classic potato chip. Great for those who want to cut the carbs, you can use just about any veg for fries – provided they are well seasoned and boast that combination of a crunchy exterior with a soft middle. We’ve tried fries made from carrots, courgettes and even avocado, but the latest vegetable to get the chip treatment – and our favourite so far – is aubergine. Enjoyed by our cookery writer Sophie Godwin on a sun-soaked restaurant terrace on Australia’s Gold Coast (alright for some!), these aubergine fries had a lightly spiced, crunchy coating with hot, meltingly soft aubergine flesh inside. Dunked in ‘kewpie’ mayonnaise (a popular Japanese mayo made with rice vinegar) they’re a lighter, Asian-inspired take on French fries. We reckon it’s only a matter of time before aubergine fries appear on menus here, too. If you fancy turning veg into fries at home, check out our recipes for skinny carrot fries or more indulgent asparagus fries with baconnaise.
What we ate in December...
Boozy smoked salmon
Smoked salmon and booze – no doubt both are on your Christmas shopping list, but ever tried the two combined? The brilliantly named Pished Fish specialise in delicious, booze-infused cured salmon after founder James Eagle began smoking fish in the garden shed in Camberwell, London, about four years ago. He says, 'I used to travel a lot in Scandinavia and I always thought the gravadlax had more interesting flavours as it's cured in herbs, spices and alcohol. I started curing my own salmon the same way, with an emphasis on the alcohol and complementing herbs and spices.' Using fresh Scottish salmon is also key for a meaty texture with well-balanced, delicate flavours. The alcohol is subtle, too, and combined with a range of flavours from whisky & maple syrup to cocktail-inspired varieties like dark & stormy and Margarita. Plus, just for Christmas there's 'sozzled Santa' with brandy, cinnamon, nutmeg and clementine zest. Find stockists, or buy online.
Christmas pudding doughnuts
Calling all doughnut lovers – your favourite sweet treat just got a festive makeover. This is a Christmas pudding doughnut from Bread Ahead, a bakery that has become famous in London for its fat, pillowy doughnuts. The Christmas pudding flavour is a special (on sale at Bread Ahead's Borough Market site Monday-to-Friday and all other London sites on Saturdays and Sundays) for the festive period. A twist on their classic vanilla crème pâtissière-filled variety, the doughnuts are rolled in cinnamon sugar straight from the fryer before being generously filled with spiced crème pâtissière that includes Christmassy flavours like nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. To make it even more festive, it's topped with a gingerbread star – great for scooping up the crème pat overspill! The flavours are delicate, not at all sickly or too heavily spiced, and the texture is light and fluffy. If you fancy trying your hand at making doughnuts, Bread Ahead's Justin Gellatly has shared his doughnut recipe with us (for what he calls 'pillows of joy'). Merry Christmas!
Christmas pudding brownies
If doughnuts aren't your thing, how about a festive chocolate brownie? We may seem obsessed with all things Christmas-pudding flavoured, but 'tis the season after all! This Christmas pudding brownie comes from Gourmet Brownie. After appearing at various farmers' markets, delis and cafés, the company decided to offer a mail order service and have a range of gift boxes to buy online. Part of their Christmas box, which includes festive flavours like gingerbread and winter berry, the Christmas pudding brownie is rich, gooey and chocolatey with notes of Christmas spice, dried fruit and a hint of brandy and orange. For the Christmas pudding haters out there (we know there are quite a few of you), this could be the dessert that changes your mind. Feeling inspired? Try making our mulled wine brownies.
Last week we tried...
If you’ve ever been to the Czech Republic, chances are you've come across trdelnik. A little difficult to pronounce, but all too easy to eat, these sweet pastries, also known as ‘chimney cakes’, are made from dough wrapped around a long wooden, or metal, stake where they're grilled, rotisserie-style, usually over an open flame. They're then immediately rolled in sugar and nuts to give a crunchy, caramelised finish – think brioche meets doughnut but with a sweet crust. Our social media manager, Laura, enjoyed some while exploring the Christmas markets in Prague. But it was the trdelniks at one particular shop that made a big impression; the Good Food Coffee & Bakery sells these golden chimney cakes with a huge variety of fillings from apple strudel to charcoal ice cream. They also do savoury versions like bacon & egg and even mac 'n' cheese! We don’t think it will be long before these tubal treats are gracing Christmas markets here in the UK.
While a traditional Italian panettone is hard to beat at Christmas, we’ve noticed a move away from the norm. Good news for raisin haters, as dried fruit is often swapped for other kinds of exciting additions to this enriched bread, from salted caramel, to prosecco, and of course, chocolate. But this week, we found our new favourite. Pistachio panettone from Italian producer Fiasconaro has a lovely light consistency and no dried fruit. It’s topped with white chocolate and whole, crunchy pistachios, but what really makes it sing is the sweet, pistachio cream it comes with. Sold together at Sous Chef, it's designed to be slathered onto a nice, fat slice of the panettone. The verdict? Well, we’ve never seen anything get devoured so quickly at Good Food HQ. The sweet pistachio cream, alone, is one of the best things you can find in a jar. In fact, you can buy the pistachio cream separately to be enjoyed on croissants, in baking, or let’s face it, eaten straight from the jar (yes, it’s that good). If you prefer a traditional panettone, check out our 2017 Christmas Taste Awards for our pick of the best supermarket offerings, or, better still, make your own.
A huge trend in desserts this year are chocolate domes that ‘reveal’ a dessert hidden beneath when you pour over a warmed sauce. Well, why not a chocolate bauble for the festive season? You’ll find this one being served by Happy Endings LDN, part of The Kitchens at Old Spitalfields Market. A fantastic, beautifully decorated bauble, it's served with a rich, hot chocolate sauce that melts the fine chocolate shell to reveal a creamy soft-serve vanilla ice cream. And if that isn’t enough to make you drool, there's a moreish medley of ingredients that provides an even more delicious nest for the bauble to sit in. That's made up with a combination of chocolate crumbs, cocoa-dusted chocolate twigs, sweet crunchy praline, zingy freeze-fried raspberries and heady sprigs of rosemary. The mix of textures, flavours and aromas make it a treat for the senses. If you can't get to Spitalfields, but want to impress dinner guests with a super trendy ‘reveal dessert’, make our mulled wine brownie surprise.
Earlier this month we tried...
You may have heard of okonomiyaki – a savoury Japanese pancake. 'Okonomi' means 'what you like', because customers can typically choose which ingredients to have in it. Here in the UK, the okonomiyaki we find at restaurants and street-food stalls normally consists of an egg-based pancake with cabbage and a choice of seafood or pork, drizzled with mayonnaise and sometimes topped with bonito flakes. However, this week, our senior art editor Rachel has been exploring the food scene in Hiroshima, where they have their own version. While traditionally, okonomiyaki is made by mixing the ingredients together in the pancake batter, in Hiroshima, distinct layers are assembled onto a pancake base, including, importantly, a layer of noodles. We’re big fans of this version as the differently textured layers – especially the added carby layer of soba noodles – make for a more satisfying snack. If you have a sudden hankering, check out our okonomiyaki recipe.
Mince pie croissant
Drop everything – we may have just found the perfect festive breakfast! French bakery Paul has launched a mince pie/croissant hybrid and we’re wondering why on earth this hasn’t been done before. On sale online and in Paul stores across the country, the mince pie croissant is a glorious combination of super light, flaky pastry filled with sweet, gooey mincemeat. Though it doesn't meet all the criteria of a croissant (fun fact: ‘croissant’ means ‘crescent’ in French, so it's the wrong shape), we can let that slide due to its deliciousness. The pastry is well layered and crisp while the mincemeat is fragrant with spices, albeit a teensy bit heavy on the orange peel. If you’re stuck for a festive breakfast or fancy a change from the usual mince pie, this one’s for you.
Advent calendars have been cracked open and the streets are filled with slightly panicked-looking shoppers… Yep, it’s official – the countdown to Christmas has begun! If you need a break from the madness, how about a festive cuppa? We tried a new variety of Christmas tea at Láng restaurant in the Shangri-La hotel, London. The aroma is so Christmassy, it may as well have been brewed by elves in Santa’s grotto. But, the taste is a lot subtler; pleasantly fragrant and mildly spiced. Ideal for cold winter nights. Another seasonal tea by Camellia’s Tea House is just one of many products featured at the café on their ‘Five Mile Menu’ – a fantastic concept meaning that all the ingredients used in Láng's kitchen have been sourced from within a five-mile radius. (Fortunately, they're just down the road from London’s famous Borough Market.) If you fancy warming up with a Christmassy cuppa, you could also try our new recipe for jasmine & ginger festive tea.
Missed an entry in our food diary? Find out what we've eaten previously...
What we ate in November 2017
What we ate in October 2017
What we ate in September 2017
What we ate in August 2017
What we ate in July 2017
What we ate in June 2017
What we ate in May 2017
What we ate in April 2017
What we ate in March 2017
What we ate in February 2017
What we ate in January 2017
What we ate in December 2016
What we ate in November 2016
What we ate in October 2016
What we ate in September 2016
What we ate in August 2016
What we ate in July 2016
What we ate in June 2016
What we ate in May 2016
What we ate in April 2016
One year of food trends