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  • Posted on April 20, 2016

    Oh I do like to be beside the seaside...

    Author Fiona Bird was on BBC Radio 4 Midweek today talking to Libby Purves about her latest book Let Your Kids Go Wild Outside, life on South Uist and seaweed, and it was a fascinating chat; you can catch up here. Fiona is hugely knowledgeable about seaweed and the many things you can use it for (she even dropped off some seaweed shortbread at the office!) so we thought we’d share some of the seaweed-y wisdom to be found in this amazing book, along with a super easy craft project. Over to Fiona…

    Seaweed and its amazing uses

    Macroalgae is a really useful weed. You can pop seaweed in the bath, cook with it, or use it in craftwork. Plan a visit to a herbarium, where you will be able to see beautifully preserved plants and seaweeds—our ocean flowers—and find out the best ways to preserve a seaweed’s shape and color.

    Collecting, Drying, And Storing

    If you are not planning to use your seaweed fresh from the seashore, then it can easily be dried and stored for using in recipes or other projects later on.

    Collecting Seaweed

    There are a few rules to bear in mind when collecting seaweed from the seashore for use at home:

    Don’t pick storm-cast seaweed for cooking; only use seaweed that is growing.

    Do use a pair of scissors to cut seaweeds from their holdfasts at low tide on a clean beach. (Remember to take scissors with you when you visit the beach.)

    Don’t cook with floating seaweed or seaweed that grows at the top of the shore near drains. Sea lettuce and sea grass like growing here—instead, pick these seaweeds from rock pools at low tide.

    Do wash the seaweed in the sea so that any hidden “visitors” can find a new home locally. You should also rinse the seaweed in cold water when you get home.

    Do use a separate bag for each type collected, as this will make it easier to sort out your seaweeds when you get home.

    Drying Seaweed When you get home, wash the seaweed thoroughly. Rinse it in   cold water and squeeze out as much of the water as possible. A salad spinner is helpful here—spin the seaweed around, just as you would if preparing salad leaves.

    Next dry the seaweed. Lay the pieces of seaweed on a tray lined with newspaper or some paper towel—making sure that they aren’t touching—and leave to dry on a sunny windowsill. You could also pop the tray in a warm airing cupboard. On a sunny day, you can dry larger seaweeds such as sugar kelp by pegging them on a washing line. You can also dry seaweed on trays in a low oven or even in a food dehydrator if you have one. Some people dry seaweed in a hot oven, but you must be eagle-eyed if you do this and make sure that the seaweed does not burn.

    Storing Seaweed When you have dried the seaweed, cut it into manageable lengths or grind it in a food-blender. It is easier to grind a little at a time, pop it in an airtight container, and then repeat the process until you have used up all of the seaweed. Shake the containers when you remember and use the dried seaweed as a flavoring, just as you would herbs or spices.

    No-sew Seaweed Bath Sacks

    These easy-to-make bags make a lovely seaside vacation memory or gift. Younger children can practice knots as they tie the sacks. Soak the bath sack in your bath water for 5 minutes before you use it, unless, of course, you want to spend a long time in the bath. As the seaweed rehydrates, it releases a gel that has skin-softening properties.


    4 Dried seaweed, cut or broken by hand into short lengths

    4 Jelly bag, pop sock, or a leg of pantyhose (tights), cut below the knee

    4 Ribbon, for tying (optional)


    Stuff the dried seaweed into the jelly bag, pop sock, or section of pantyhose and then tie a knot (and a ribbon, if using) tightly at the top to make a sack. You can use colored or patterned pop socks or pantyhose if you wish to make your bath sacks look really pretty.

    Let Your Kids Go Wild Outside by Fiona Bird is available here.

    This post was posted in Book Reviews, Craft Projects, Featured, Interviews, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with homemade, school holidays, kids, photos, nature, activities for kids, 2016

  • Posted on March 29, 2016

    Springtime at Walnuts Farm...

    Spring is very much springing here in the UK. It starts with the crocuses and snowdrops, then the bright yellow daffodils start making an appearance and suddenly there are lambs frolicking in all the fields. So to celebrate the arrival of our favourite season (sssh! Don’t tell summer!), we thought we’d share this seasonal passage from our new book The New Homesteader by Bella and Nick Ivins. Over to Bella and Nick…

    Hand-raising Orphan Lambs

    We started keeping sheep three years ago, as organic lamb is expensive to buy. When they are slaughtered in the autumn, the cuts we order from the butcher include rack of lamb, chops, ground mince, kidneys and boned shoulder and leg of lamb, and the sweetness add tenderness of the meat is indescribable. We’ve found that four small sheep can comfortably feed a family of four and our friends throughout the year.

    The cycle starts in spring, when the three-day-old orphan lambs are delivered. These are the lambs that a ewe is unable to suckle – she only has two teats, so anything more than twins is not sustainable. Bottle-feeding lambs is time-consuming, so most commercially-minded farmers are happy to give up orphans rather than see them go to waste.

    Raising these lambs is sheep-keeping in its easiest form, as there is no breeding or shearing involved. At first they are bottle-fed powdered milk, then weaned onto a compound pelleted feed (lamb creep) and grass. The nutritional value of the grass is at its highest in spring and early summer. When this starts to decline, the lambs need hay and a concentrate feed and things start to get expensive.

    For the first few weeks, the lambs are kept in our potting shed on a bed of straw and only venture outside on warm spring days into a small area of grass enclosed with wooden hurdles. We shut them back in at night, out of reach of predators like foxes and crows. Once they are big enough to fend for themselves, the sheep are turned out into the field, but having been bottle-fed they always come rushing to the gate at the sight of us.

    Sheep kept for only a few months are low maintenance. They need a regular supply of fresh water and we supplement the nutrition they get from grass with a bucket of feed mornings and evenings, but this is more as a treat than for any other reason. They are also sprayed with a chemical treatment to prevent flystrike and biting lice.

    The arrival of the orphan lambs coincides perfectly with the school Easter holidays, providing daily entertainment for the children and their friends.

    There is nothing more life-affirming than having a soft little lamb, with wrinkly, ill-fitting skin that’s too big for it, sitting on your lap, greedily feeding on its lukewarm bottle of milk. Where we live in Sussex, orphan lambs are known as sock lambs, probably because they were wrapped in socks in the farmhouse kitchen to keep them warm.

    The milk replacement powder available from our local agricultural merchant arrives in a bag with making-up instructions usefully printed on the back. Four bottles will fit into a wire rack so, if necessary, all four lambs can be fed simultaneously. Once weaned, the lambs move on to grass and concentrate ‘creep’ feed. The sock lambs are always the smallest of their siblings and need to take every  opportunity to put on weight over the summer.

    The New Homesteader by Bella and Nick Ivins is available here. All photography is by Nick Ivins.

    This post was posted in Featured, Interviews, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with photos, nature, home, 2016, spring

  • Posted on March 21, 2016

    Motivation Monday: Dynamic Yoga

    Next up in our #MotivationMonday series of posts is an extract from our book Dynamic Yoga by Juliet Pegrum. Dynamic yoga is a rigorous, powerful form and the book provides a perfect introduction so even beginners will feel the benefits right away. In this post, Juliet shares her top hints and tips for supporting your yoga regime, and getting the most out of dynamic yoga workouts.

    Drinking and Eating

    It is important to feed and hydrate your body appropriately while practicing dynamic yoga—advice is provided here on how to do so.

    How to drink

    The intense heat that builds in the body from the combination of movement, internal locks, and breathing produces profuse perspiration. Sweating removes toxins from the body, but it also releases essential salts and minerals, and it is therefore advisable to rub the moisture back into your body after practice, so that the minerals can be reabsorbed. It is advised to avoid exposing your body to the open air in an attempt to dry the sweat, since this will cause a sapping of your vital energies, creating weakness in the body. Wait for at least one and a half hours after practice before venturing out into the open air, and half an hour before taking a hot bath, to give your body time to reabsorb the essential salts and minerals.

    Because of the fluid that is lost from the body during practice, it is important to replenish the system with fresh water, but it is not recommended that you drink either before or during your workout. It is best to wait for 20 minutes after the workout, by which time your body will have cooled down. Do not drink ice-cold water, which is too shocking for the system, but choose fresh mineral water at room temperature. If you are feeling particularly dehydrated, it is good occasionally to mix a sachet of rehydration formula into the water (this can be purchased over the counter at a good pharmacy). Another fast method for rejuvenating the system is to drink freshly squeezed fruit or vegetable juices, which are also full of vital nutrients.

    How to eat

    Food is one of the main human preoccupations and has a powerful effect on our mind and emotions. According to the scriptures pertaining to yoga, the consumption of foods either enhances or hinders the practice of yoga.  In India, it is believed that foods are a combination of particular energies. There are three energies, known as sattva, rajas, and tamas, of which all manifest objects are comprised in different proportions.

    Sattva is a clear, lucid energy and can be felt internally as periods of joy, clarity, and efficiency. Tamas is the polar opposite—its energy is heavy and inert, and it can be experienced as moments of laziness and lethargy. The third energy, rajas, is caused by the tension created in the opposition of sattva and tamas. Rajas energy is restless and active, and it can be experienced as manic energy. It drives us to a state of either lethargy or clarity.

    Good foods for yoga

    The best foods for yoga are those that enhance sattva energy (such as rice, yogurt, legumes, ginger, milk, and sugar), as they create a more tranquil state of mind. Foods containing tamas energy (such as red meat or rich, stodgy food)—and overeating—produce apathy. Foods containing rajas energy (such as hot and spicy foods) affect the mind and heat the body, causing restlessness. Most yoga practitioners favor a vegetarian diet.

    Dynamic Yoga by Juliet Pegrum is available here. Find all of our #MotivationMonday posts here, and we’ve shared lots of vegetarian recipes on the blog which you can find here.

    This post was posted in Featured, Interviews, UK, What's new and was tagged with mind body spirit, healthy, mindful exercise, 2016, exercise, yoga

  • Posted on March 2, 2016

    Shades of Grey on tour!

    Assuming you haven’t been hiding under a rock, you’ll know that magnolia is out, and grey is in! And never mind 50, according to the introduction of our new book Shades of Grey, by blogger-extraordinaire Kate Watson-Smyth, there are 500 shades detectable by the human eye! So, it can be a bit of a minefield. We celebrated the publication of this lovely book recently with a blog tour and a launch at the swanky MADE.com show room on Charing Cross Road.

    Very Lovely launch venue, with some beautiful grey pieces of course.

    Naturally we needed 50 Shades of Grey

    We also embarked on a gorgeous blog tour visiting five of our favourite blogs and websites, with sneak peeks and Q&As throughout the week.

    We started things off on Luxpad by Amara where Kate was talking all things grey, and offering advice on how to introduce grey into your home. They illustrated their Q&A with some of the gorgeous photography from the book, including this beautiful kitchen:

    Katy Orme at Apartment Apothecary followed this up with a fab review: “filled with brilliant advice, inspiring images and Kate’s witty writing style is the cherry on the top” – we can’t help but agree!

    On Wednesday Swoonworthy posted a super review and a peek at some of her favourite images from the book, including this lovely sitting room – how much do you want to curl up on this gorgeous sofa?

    The Chromologist featured a second interview with Kate, in which we learned what Kate likes best about this most elusive of colours.

    Finally, we finished up over at The Lifestyle Editor who was definitely ‘seduced by the stunning interiors in this book’.

    What a lovely week! Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’re off to paint our house grey!

    Shades of Grey by Kate Watson-Smyth is available here.

    This post was posted in Book Reviews, Featured, Interviews, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with interiors, event, Book Launch, photos, blog tour, 2016, grey

  • Posted on February 6, 2016

    Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester

    To celebrate the imminent publication of Will Torrent’s new book, Afternoon Tea at Home, Will and head pastry chef of The Dorchester, David Girard spent a busy morning in The Dorchester kitchen chatting all things afternoon tea. The book features guest recipes from some of the world’s top afternoon tea institutions, including The Dorchester’s delightful Beehive Tarts. Here Will and David talk about just why we love afternoon tea so much, and David shares his patisserie secrets with a step-by-step for making the perfect caramel!

    Will: What is it about afternoon tea that people love so much?

    David: Afternoon tea is an experience, a special moment you share with people you care about. It’s also very relaxing. You choose the tea, a classic sandwich and a scone, but the real surprise is the patisserie…you can create something individual, for a specific moment. It’s all about stopping for two hours in the afternoon and just enjoying the passing of time.

    W: How and where do you get your inspiration for all of your lovely patisserie?

    D: The patisserie must be seasonal. I also read a lot, think a lot and look at social media. I share my idea with some of my team and we sit down and draw out what we want to do. Then we just try until we get the result! I also actually work with our floristry designer, so we can work on the same colour palette for the patisserie and the flower bouquets.

    W: What is your favourite part of afternoon tea? The pastries, the sandwiches, the scones or something else?

    D: I will say as a pastry chef, it’s always the patisserie I get excited about, but as I said, I think the whole experience has to be memorable.

    Thanks David! Now to turn our hands to the caramel...


    4 g/2 sheets leaf gelatin

    200 g/1 cup sugar

    300 ml/1¼ cups double/heavy cream

    A pinch of salt

    90 g/6 tablespoons butter

    To make the caramel, first soak the gelatin in cold water for 10 minutes. Put the sugar in a pan set over a medium heat, leave it to melt, then turn up the heat and bring to the boil – be careful not to boil too much as you only want to caramelize it slightly.

    In a second pan warm the cream, then carefully pour over the melted sugar – it will bubble up a lot.

    Add the salt, bring back to the boil and remove from the heat.

    Add the butter and stir until melted. Drain the gelatin and squeeze off any excess water before adding to the caramel. Stir in, then pour into a jug/pitcher and set in the fridge to cool.

    For the Dorchester afternoon tea, David uses caramel as a filling for these cute ‘Beehive’ Tarts. You can find the full recipe in Will Torrent’s new book, Afternoon Tea at Home.

    Afternoon Tea at Home by Will Torrent is available to pre-order here.

    This post was posted in Featured, Interviews, News, News, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with sweet, 2016, Afternoon tea, patiss, caramel

  • Posted on January 4, 2016

    Challenge Yourself in 2016

    January is the perfect time of year to set yourself goals. Whether it's eating that little bit healthier, taking up a new craft, or a new fitness goal, we're here to help! All this month, we'll be sharing #MotivationMonday posts to inspire and encourage you so make sure you keep an eye out!

    So, is your resolution to see the world, push yourself further than ever before and achieve something truly great? Ever thought about an ultramarathon? How about swimming to France?  (She says, ever so casually.) Well, Up For the Challenge? by Dominic Bliss is packed full of ideas to push you to your limits! Here, he tells us all about the Channel swim.

    The English Channel Swim from Up for the Challenge?



    TOUGHNESS FACTOR: ✖✖✖✖✖✖✖✖✖✖



    The English Channel may be just 21 miles (34 km) wide at its narrowest point (on a clear day you can see all the way across), yet it has proved far too mighty a challenge for many an unwary swimmer. The lion’s share of swim-powered crossings are attempted northwest to southeast, from Shakespeare’s Cliff or Samphire Hoe (in between Folkestone and Dover on the English side) to Cap Gris Nez (in between Boulogne and Calais on the French side)—a stretch of water known as the Strait of Dover.

    As well as the 21 miles (34 km) of sea to plow through, there are added hazards. First off, swimmers must take into account the very strong currents, often pushing them well over the official distance by the time they reach the French shore. The water can be cold, even in summer, with waves sometimes reaching more than 6 ft (2 m) high. The Channel Swimming Association (the official body that governs this rather eccentric sporting feat) also warns that “jellyfish, seaweed, and the occasional plank of wood” can put you off your stroke.

    If you want your effort to be recorded as an official crossing, then wetsuits aren't permitted. Instead, swimmers smear their bodies with grease. And grease offers little protection from either stinging tentacles or planks of wood. Bear in mind, too, that the English Channel is one of the busiest shipping channels in the world, with more than 600 tankers and 200 ferries negotiating its waters every single day. For safety reasons, all swimmers need to be accompanied by a pilot boat. It’s that or risk being swamped by a passing 500,000-tonne supertanker.

    The first recorded cross-channel swim was all the way back in 1875 by a certain Captain Matthew Webb. On August 25, on his second attempt, he swam from Admiralty Pier, in Dover, to Calais in 21 hours and 45 minutes. Despite being helped by three support boats and a generous all-over smearing of porpoise oil, Webb was forced by sea currents to zigzag his way across the channel. He swam 40 miles (64 km) in all, and picked up a fair few jellyfish stings for his troubles, but ended up one of the most famous sports celebrities of his era. A Victorian Michael Phelps, you might say. After his sporting feat he was in constant demand for swimming exhibitions and galas. And all sorts of Captain Matthew Webb official memorabilia—books, pottery, matches, dinner sets—were made available for his adoring fans.

    Webb’s last ever stunt, and arguably his most audacious, was an attempt in 1883 to traverse the treacherous rapids of the Niagara River below Niagara Falls. Shortly after embarking on his swim he was pulled under. His drowned corpse was found four days later downstream. A memorial in his home village of Dawley, in the English county of Shropshire, simply says: “Nothing great is easy.”

    Ever since those initial Victorian toes in the water, hundreds of different swimmers have successfully crossed the English Channel. At the time of writing (according to the Channel Swimming Association) there have been more than 1,900 solo crossings made by over 1,400 people. The record time is held by Australia’s Trent Grimsey (six hours, 55 minutes), while the record number— a staggering 43 crossings—is held by Dover resident Alison Streeter, aka Queen of the Channel. “It has a unique fascination,” she says of the watery gap between England and France. “It is a living thing. You never know what sort of conditions you are going to meet out there.”

    Up for the Challenge by Dominic Bliss

    Photo courtesy of Channel Swimming Association, Steve Hadfield and Michael Read.

    Find out more about Up for the Challenge? by Dominic Bliss here.

    This post was posted in Featured, Interviews, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with New Year, Dominic Bliss, Motivation Monday, sport, 2016, challenge

  • Posted on November 23, 2015

    Miranda's Turkey Tips!

    The centre-piece of most British and American Christmas and Thanksgiving tables, the Roast Turkey is a stalwart of our celebration food today but did you know that turkeys were first domesticated in Central and South America? In her latest book, Modern Meat Kitchen, Miranda Ballard shares the quintessential Roast Turkey recipe, with everything you’ll need to ensure a juicy roast. You can download our Roast Turkey recipe card, and make sure you’re subscribed to The Pantry as we’ll be sharing lots of recipes and ideas for all the trimmings in the coming weeks – you can subscribe here. Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and Christmas will follow quickly after, so we chatted to Miranda to get her top Turkey tips on making the most of your roast!

    A Turkey Crown is a great option for a smaller gathering. The smallest free range whole turkey will still be over 4kg, enough for 8 people, so it’s a lot of leftovers for two or four people. However, it’s better value to order a whole turkey and remove the legs yourself – just follow the principles Miranda shows in her How to Portion a Chicken video over on The Pantry YouTube Channel. You could then pop the legs in the freezer to have roast turkey legs another time or debone and dice them to make a casserole or stir fry.

    You might have heard of brining a turkey - basically soaking it in a salted and seasoned tub of water overnight. A really well-farmed bird should never dry out, even with the most basic attention to roasting it, but if you want to really ensure that it’s as moist as you can possibly make it, brining is a good idea. Just find something big enough (some people use the sink - or bath!) and fill with water, two large handfuls of salt and then as much seasoning as you like - bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, garlic, juniper, black pepper, mustard seeds, cloves... You can add red wine or port too. Just chuck it all in, soak the turkey overnight and then shake dry before stuffing/roasting.

    The Bronze turkey has become very popular in the UK in the last 10 years. This is partly because of the increased awareness and value of free range farming. The traditional white turkey actually prefers to stay indoors, very rarely venturing out even if the barn doesn’t have side walls, whereas the bronze turkey likes to roam and explore and behave more ‘free range’. Just ask your turkey supplier - “did it eat what it wanted to eat and do what it wanted to do?”

    And if that wasn’t enough turkey for you, we recommend you give this a watch! If you gobble at a turkey, it’ll gobble back. We know you laughed too!

    Modern Meat Kitchen by Miranda Ballard is available here, and don't forget to sign up to The Pantry for more festive foodie ideas and recipes!

    This post was posted in Featured, Interviews, News, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with christmas, chicken, homemade, savoury, video, 2015

  • Posted on July 13, 2015

    Bastille Day Wine

    In celebration of Bastille Day, we’re looking to our favourite French lady for some top tips. Whatever you’re after, bubbly, a lovely red or something a little bit unusual, Isabelle Legeron MW and her Natural Wine cellar have got you covered with the pick of French wines! Santé!

    La Ferme des Sept Lunes, Glou-Bulles

    Rhône, France, 2011

    Gamay (Pink)

    Light-bodied Bubbles

    I can literally drink gallons of this stuff. The ultimate picnic companion, and great for summer drinking, it is soft and juicy. Like many great growers, La Ferme des

    Sept Lunes is all about polyculture: the grapes rub shoulders with apricot trees, animals, and grains.

    *No added sulfites

    Raspberry | Nutmeg | Cotton candy (candy floss)


    Domaine Julien Meyer, Nature

    Alsace, 2012

    Sylvaner, pinot blanc

    Light-bodied White

    Although it has many organic and biodynamic farms, Alsace is still reliant on a heavy-handed use of sulfites, which means that growers like Patrick Meyer are few and far between. On taking over the estate, Patrick started eliminating enzymes, yeasts, et al, because, as he explained, it just didn’t make sense. Today, he is an inspirational grower, with soils so alive they are said to remain warm even in winter. Nature is one of the most accessibly priced natural whites: light and fragrant, its texture is almost honeyed, though bone-dry.

    *No added sulfites. Filtered

    Jasmine | Kiwi | Anis

    Le Soula, La Macération Blanc L10

    Roussillon, France, 2010

    Vermentino, macabeu

    Medium-bodied Orange

    Gérald Stanley is a young, talented, and extremely dedicated producer who, after joining the project in 2008, turned Le Soula around completely. Today, thanks to Gérald’s influence, the wines have blossomed into stunners that each year express more and more of the emotion of their home. This blend of varieties, which are grown on poor, extremely low-yielding, decomposed granite soils at some 1,600ft (500m) altitude, was Gérald’s first stab at making a skin-macerated white. Delicious and compelling.

    *Total SO2: 25mg/L

    White peach | Dry sage | Almonds


    Domaine de L’Anglore, Tavel Vintage

    Rhône, France, 2011

    Grenache, cinsault, carignan, clairette

    Full-bodied Pink

    Beekeeper-turned-winemaker Eric Pfifferling is perhaps the reference when it comes to pinks. He makes some of the most exciting rosés around and they are famed for their ability to age. His Tavel Vintage is pleasurably drinkable, but with a power and weight that put it in a league of its own. Intense, long-lived, and a little zesty, this is rosé at its most profound.

    *Total SO2: 10mg/L

    Tangerine | Cinnamon | Gingerbread

    Henri Milan, Cuvée Sans Soufre

    Provence, 2010

    Grenache, syrah, cinsault

    Medium-bodied Red

    Located near the popular holiday destination of St Rémy de Provence (made famous by Van Gogh, who spent a year in an asylum there), the family domaine was taken over by Henri Milan in 1986, having wanted to be vigneron since the age of eight when he planted his first vine. After a disastrous first attempt at no-added-SO2 winemaking, which wreaked financial chaos for him, Henri’s butterfly range is today a hugely popular, very-easy-drinking, no-sulfite red; a bestseller in the United Kingdom. Pure and fragrant.

    *No added sulfites

    Spicy cherry | Violets | Damson

    To help you with the information here, for each wine, you’re given the Domaine name and the name of the wine, followed by the wine region and year of production. Isabelle then gives the grape varieties and the colour, and finishes up with sulphite levels and the all important aroma profiles. So, whatever you’re drinking to celebrate Bastille Day, we hope you have a great one!

    Natural Wine by Isabelle Legeron MW is available here.

    This post was posted in Featured, Interviews, UK and was tagged with drinks, wine, 2014, Isabelle Legeron, natural wine, France

  • Posted on June 1, 2015

    On Pairing Cheese and Beer

    It’s British Cheese Week, which, as I’m sure you can imagine, is totally a celebration we can get behind here at RPS and CICO Books HQ. We haven’t met a cheese we didn’t like (well, not totally sold on Brunost – Norwegian Brown Cheese, but otherwise…) and a lot of our favourite recipes involve cheese. Based on last week’s twitter vote over a Mozzarella and Halloumi recipe (halloumi won, you can give it a go here), you guys are all pretty big cheese fans too. Which brings us to an important question. What should we be drinking with our British cheese? Fortunately, Mark Dredge and the fabulous Beer and Food are on hand to let us know.


    Some of the best beer pairings you’ll ever have are with cheese. The key cheese-friendly qualities are the malt sweetness, which matches the sweetness or creaminess in the cheese, and the combination of carbonation and bitterness, which can fight the fat.



    Perfect Pair: J.W. Lees Harvest Ale

    Brewed in: Manchester, England

    ABV: 11.5%

    Blue cheese’s intense pungency combined with a buttery richness, caramel sweetness, and savory saltiness needs a beer with body and sweetness to give it balance. Barley Wine and Imperial Stout are unbeatable candidates for the job. J.W Lees Harvest Ale has brown-sugar sweetness, plus there’s dried fruit like chutney, plenty of alcohol, and a fat-fighting fizz.



    Perfect Pair: Crooked Stave Hop Savant

    Brewed in: Denver, Colorado

    ABV: 6.7%

    These firm sheep’s milk cheeses go together, as they share a sweet nuttiness, fruity acidity, and a lasting savory depth. Pale Ale’s citrus flavor is good, while drinking Cider is like adding a slice of fruit to the cheese. Crooked Stave’s Hop Savant is a Brett-fermented beer that’s loaded with American hops, so you get the funkiness of yeast and then the fruitiness of hops—it’s an astonishing and complex beer, which loves the saltiness, gives fresh citrus, and shares delicate acidity.



    Perfect Pair: Meantime India Pale Ale

    Brewed in: London, England

    ABV: 7.4%

    This is a tangy and nutty cow’s milk cheese with a tropical fruit flavor that clings to your tongue without letting go, thus demanding a hoppy beer. Made with Fuggle and Golding, Meantime’s India Pale Ale is a classic British version of the style. Marmalade, orange pith, a rose bed, and roast apple, plus bread and honey which suggest sweetness—and it all flows toward a clinging bitterness that cuts through the cheese’s richness, while boosting it with extra fruit.



    Perfect Pair: Magic Rock Cannonball

    Brewed in: Huddersfield, England

    ABV: 7.4%

    A powerful, tangy, and fruity Cheddar tastes great with a range of full-flavored beers that can handle the cheese’s oomph. With strong Cheddar, I’d go for an American-style IPA or Double IPA, such as Magic Rock Cannonball or Human Cannonball (a 9.2% ABV big brother to the regular Cannonball). All the citrus and tropical fruit bring out the cheese’s fruitiness, before the bitterness beats away the fat.

    This is an extract from Beer and Food by Mark Dredge which is available here.

    The images are taken from our Book of the Week, Grilled Cheese by Laura Washburn.

    This post was posted in Featured, Interviews, News, UK and was tagged with drinks, savoury, event, craft beer, beer, cheese, 2014, grilled cheese

  • Posted on May 18, 2015

    Tomato Flavour Friends

    Happy Monday! Not something often said, but this Monday is different. This week is British Tomato Week, celebrating the best of British tomatoes, which are now bursting onto shelves around the country. And, really, who could be sad when faced with a lovely fresh tomato!  One of our recently-published foodie books is The Tomato Basket by Jenny Linford; this book is a veritable celebration of the humble tomato, packed with history, recipes, tips for growers, and loads more.

    So, we thought we’d share a few tomato-based goodies with you this week! Why not head over to our brand-new-and-improved Pinterest account where you’ll find a whole board dedicated to the tomato. We’ve also got a very tasty Recipe for the Weekend planned, but today we’re going to let Jenny tell you all about what flavours work well with tomato… Over to you Jenny!

    Tomato Flavour Friends

    The tomato’s remarkable success as a popular ingredient, widely used around the world, is in large part due to its inherent versatility. Its distinctive yet subtle flavour, combining refreshing acidity with sweetness, goes well with a wide range of ingredients, allowing it to be successfully partnered with them in many diverse dishes. Certain flavour combinations, it must be said, work especially well.

    When it comes to herbs that go well with tomatoes, basil leaps to mind as probably the best-known example. With good reason, as the fragrant clove-aniseed-mint notes in basil add a wonderful spicy touch to tomato’s bright, clean flavour. In Italian cuisine, where many recipes use the ripe, flavourful tomatoes that grow so abundantly in Italy, it is noticeable that several of them also feature fresh basil. Classically, of course, there is the salad of juicy, sliced tomatoes, dressed with good olive oil, perhaps enhanced by pieces of soft, moist mozzarella cheese, then topped with freshly torn basil leaves. Sicily’s supremely summery version of pesto combines sun-ripened tomatoes with almonds (which grow locally on the island), olive oil and basil. In Naples, pizza is traditionally made by smearing a thin, circular dough base with a tasty tomato sauce, baking it briefly in a hot wood-fired oven, and, for a final flourish, topping it with fresh basil leaves. Use basil to aromatise tomato-based dishes such as soups (hot or cold), sauces, salads, salsas or dressings. Do bear in mind, however, that basil quickly loses its aroma when cooked, so add it in towards the end of the cooking process to maximize its impact.

    Garlic and tomatoes are another much-loved flavour combination. With its pungent and powerful taste, garlic works well, rooting the tomato in savouriness. Garlic and onion, fried gently in olive oil until softened and mellow, forms the tasty foundation of many classic tomato dishes, such as a tomato sauce to serve with pasta or use on pizza. For a simple and effective way of using the two together, draw inspiration from Catalonia’s pa amb tomàquet. Served as a popular bar snack, this is made from slices of rough-textured country-style bread rubbed with raw garlic and then juicy fresh tomatoes, so that their juices infuse the bread, finished off with a sprinkling of good quality olive oil. Try Jenny's recipe here.

    Ginger is another fundamental flavouring that marries well with tomatoes. One only has to think of the many Indian tomato-based curries that begin by frying onion, garlic and ginger together. The two ingredients combine to be at once aromatic and refreshing, contrasting well with rich meat and poultry such as pork spare ribs, braising beef or duck.

    Just as herbs go well with tomatoes, so do spices, adding fragrance and perfume. Chillies and tomatoes, which both have their roots in Mexico, are another excellent partnership. Think of flavourful salsas, made from raw tomatoes, which are combined with refreshing citrus elements such as lime or lemon juice to give a tang, and chilli to give a piquant punch. Famous dishes including Singapore’s famous chilli crab or drinks like the Bloody Mary use the natural sweetness of tomatoes to mellow the hot chilli kick.

    Many salty ingredients work well with tomatoes. The complex saltiness of anchovies is a good example, adding deeper bass notes to tomato’s naturally delicate, acidic flavour. Use them to enrich tomato sauces, as with Italy’s gutsy puttanesca sauce or fry them gently in oil until they ‘melt’ before adding tomatoes for hearty stews or braises. Olives work  well with tomatoes too; their umami richness contrasts nicely with the freshness of tomato in dishes such as crostini or tarts made with tapenade and tomatoes. Bacon, ham, pancetta and guanciale, again from the same salty umami flavour family, offer much scope for tasty meals, whether in a robust all’Amatriciana sauce or as part of a savoury breakfast, with fried tomatoes nestling alongside slices of ham or bacon.

    The tomato’s ability to cut through rich ingredients with a zip of acidity makes it an excellent partner with cheese and rich dairy products – try cheese and tomato flans, pasta bakes, toasties or cheese-filled pancakes in a tomato sauce. Vice-versa, a spoonful of double/heavy cream, crème fraîche or natural yogurt stirred into tomato-based dishes such as soups or tomato sauce both enriches and contrasts. For similar reasons, tomatoes are an excellent ingredient to use with pulses, adding a refreshing lift to their characteristic earthy taste. The happy combination can be found around the world, in dishes such as Indian tarka dal, Italian lentil bakes and America’s Boston baked beans.


    So many excellent ideas, we’re feeling very inspired and can’t wait to get cooking!

    Extract from The Tomato Basket by Jenny Linford. The book is available here.

    This post was posted in Featured, Interviews, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with salad, savoury, event, flavour, vegetarian, tomato, Jenny Linford, 2015, healthy

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