You are what you eat & drink

Dishes

Chewsday

Spanakopita

A Greek recipe.

Reblogged from: A Life Moment

Spinach Filo Pastry – Spanakopita / Byrek

Spanakopita/Byrek is one of my favourite recipes ever, in fact I consider it as a special treat as it is healthy, delicious and nice to look at. You can use spanakopita as a starter and even make a really good impression if you cook it to a party with your friends or  family. I believe that what makes it special is the fact that it really enhances the flavour of the vegetables taking away the earthy and bland taste.

All you need is:…

Now if you want to know what you need and how to do it you’ll have to visit A Life Moment.

This recipe is flexible, you can substitute different greens, spinach, chard, etc and you can change the ricotta cheese for feta.


Chewsday

Reblog

Crispy Cajun Salmon

crispycajunsalmon

I confess, the ingredient list looks like a real clash of cultures but this is the crispiest batter and the salmon holds the Cajun spice flavour so well, it is a delicious treat.

Traditionally catfish would be used with this recipe but it works well with snapper too.

My Cajun spice rub recipe is in the blog or use your preferred mix.

Serves 6 with side dishes.

You want the recipe? Check Cooking up the Pantry


Healthy Hangover

How to have a healthy hangover: sweet potato wedges

Sweet potato wedges and fried egg Photograph: James Wragg

You know you’re about to face the hangover of the festive season. But it’s okay – we’re going to get through this, together.

While you’re still upright, pop down to the shops and get some sweet potatoes and eggs and you’ll be all set for the big day. Parchment paper would be good too, if you can find some.

Because I’m a fellow student, I know just how tempting it is to order takeout when you’re hung over. I’ll hazard a guess that the last time you dialled up was when you were hung over, waiting for a film to buffer in a darkened room.

How much do you think you’ve spent on hangover fast food during your academic career? I’m willing to bet that it’s a couple of hundred pounds.

And let’s not even get into the nutritional value of the food you’ve been devouring while avoiding the rest of the world in your grotty pyjamas.

A thought struck me one hungover day this summer – in between binge watching sitcoms online and deliberating on takeaway pizza toppings – why didn’t I just cook something from scratch?

It took a bit of effort to crawl into the kitchen, but my body and my wallet were both extremely grateful.

And since my epiphany, I’ve been blogging about easy recipes that you can follow even in the dark depths of a hangover.

Here’s an incredibly simple recipe to get you started. It’s inspired by the classic greasy-spoon egg and chips, but don’t let that put you off. It’s cheap, healthier, and super easy to make.

Eggs are the perfect hangover food – they contain cysteine, which is used by the body to break down toxins.

And sweet potatoes are a source of complex carbohydrates, which will mean a slow release of energy to help you through your challenging day.

Best of all, this recipe is vegetarian – and gluten free. I have a friend with coeliac disease who swears by these wedges. Here’s how to get cracking.

Source: TheGuardian click for the recipe


Chewsday

Reblog… link below.

Garlic Shrimps Flambé with Cognac

I love shrimps and prawn!

Originally the recipe was intended to be prepared with king prawns. Well I really don’t know if it would be better with them as the result was so delicious that I can’t imagine it better.

For 4 peoples served with fresh bread (as baguette) and salad this makes a main course.

I can imagine that this served on noodles would make a delicious dish as well.

If you prefer to use this as starter this would serve about 8 to 10 persons.

You want the recipe and how to do it… then visit Art and Kitchen


Chewsday

Curried Baked Fish

I’ve tried it, and liked it.

Recipe and what to do: Success


Chewsday

Reblog

Ligurian Pesto sauce

For this weekend, I thought about a very simple recipe both in taste and in the preparation, the Ligurian Pesto sauce!
It’s a sauce very easy to prepare and it will taste great.

Image from the origal post

Want the recipe and ‘how to’… Check out the post on: The Wine Lifestyle


Chewsday

How to cook the perfect Christmas lunch

Jeremy Lee reveals the chef’s secrets to the main Christmas event: delicious turkey and all the trimmings

Christmas lunch. Photograph: Romas Foord for Observer Food Monthly

The truly great magic of Christmas is where it falls amid the seasons: the final farewell bid to autumn is made at the close of November swiftly followed by the mighty push through December to the big day itself. For sure, there are the presents and the parties and extraordinary cavorting during the preceding weeks, but it is the keenness of the cold and the great change in the seasons that so defines the quite magical reign of winter. And, oh my, how the appetite is quickened for Christmas foods so steeped in tradition for, come winter’s call, the kitchen is the true heart of the house. Here all is warmth and cheer, so, when the final preparations are made and the food is carried through to table, all there is to do is sit, fill your plate, fill your glass and raise your voice to join in the sheer and utter marvellous joy of good things well done for all.

Source: TheGuardian Read more for the recipes

  • The Turkey
  • Cumberland sauce
  • Roast potatoes
  • Giblet gravy
  • Sprout tops
  • Clementine sorbet
  • Steamed fruit pudding
  • Custard

Chewsday

Quinoa protein savoury balls

These are minty high protein, low fat bite sized balls. Peppers and onions add crunchiness in the bites and sauces makes it retain the moisture.

Health Benefits:

Quinoa is gluten free with a good balance of all eight essential amino acids; it is a good choice for vegetarians.

Quinoa is also high in fibre and has a low-GI, beneficial for keeping blood sugar levels stable; it is also an ideal grain for diabetics. It is one of the most nutrient rich grains being a good source of iron, Vitamin B & E. It is a “super food” and an amazing winter energizer.

So try this veggie quinoa minty balls with salad/rolls or pasta.

Source: Chitra’s Healthy Kitchen Oh, you want the recipe, well go and have a look.


Image

Cool Little Pizzas

cool-little-pizza-pan-tortilla


New Zealand Whitebait

New Zealand whitebait are the juvenile of certain galaxiids which mature and live as adults in rivers with native forest surrounds. The eggs of these galaxiids are swept down to the ocean where they hatch and the young fry then move back up their home rivers as whitebait. They are much smaller than Chinese or British whitebait.

The most common whitebait species in New Zealand is the common galaxias or inanga. The other galaxiid species identified with whitebait in New Zealand are the climbing galaxias or koaro.

The Common Galaxias or the Inanga (Galaxias maculatus), is a family that is very widespread in the southern hemisphere.

The most popular way of cooking whitebait in New Zealand is the whitebait fritter, which is essentially an omelette containing whitebait. – Wikedpedia

The near translucent whitebait

The near translucent whitebait

And the fritters…

Recipe and photographs courtesy of Kirsty Bowyer (New Zealand foodie)

Heaven on a table!

Recipe, etc: World Nomads

What wines would you pair with this?

Personally, I’d go for a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio.

Any other suggestions welcome in the comments.


Atomic Buffalo Turds

Reblog from Patrons of the Pit

A Hint of Warm: Jalapeno Poppers

“The Sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent upon it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the Universe to do.” – Galileo Galilei

Atomic Buffalo Turds. Yup, that’s a fact. That is what the under ground grilling community calls them anyways. Now I can’t quite figure out why they call it that, for I have on occasion made the acquaintanceship of a buffalo, and I can assure you that their back end tokens look nothing like what we’re about to cook! But who cares I guess. The name is catchy if not down right deplorable. And it is kind of fun to serve up a plate of declared buffalo turds and see how your guests thus roll their collective eyes. You might, I suppose, be better off calling them by their politically correct name, jalapeno poppers. In the end, it doesn’t matter I guess, because good is good, and these things are fabulous if you haven’t had the opportunity. Cream cheese stuffed jalapeno peppers wrapped in bacon and smoked on the pit. Glory! Lets get after it!

Read the rest of this great post on the link above.


When Lobster was Spam

It’s no surprise that lobster didn’t use to have much of a reputation. It is, literally, a sea insect. The lobster belongs to the same animal group as both the spider and the common bug, which should be your first clue. They were initially thought of as giant hassles that got in the way when fishermen were fishing for, you know, fish. You know in Forrest Gump when they first pulled up their nets and a bunch of junk fell out? The lobsters were the equivalent of that toilet seat.

The lobsters they presumably found crawling around the bottom of the fish bucket were originally what fishermen gave to their indentured servants to eat. People were so averse to eating it that they ground it up and used it as fertilizer, instead. Being seen as someone who had to eat lobster was something you generally didn’t tell anyone until at least the third date.

British POWs during the Revolutionary War supposedly revolted over being fed too much lobster, after having apparently developed culinary Stockholm Syndrome from British food. Some states actually had laws against feeding lobster to inmates more then a few times a week, on the grounds of cruel and unusual punishment, as it was seen as the equivalent of eating rats.

Then How Did it Get So Fancy?

Somebody went and invented the railroad. Soon, rich people from the middle of the country–who were painfully unaware of what was cool–were tricked into buying the sea insects. But after tasting them, they realized that they must have discovered the long lost gatekeeper for butter.

Ironically, lobster is now a commonly requested food for prisoners receiving a last meal before execution, where as back in the day who knows how many last meal requests were something to the effect of, “Anything but more freakin’ lobster, ya cruel bastards!”

Read more on Cracked.com about other foods that were once not in the popularity polls,


Olive Ascolana

Fried Olives typically from the Ascoli area are pitted, stuffed with minced meat, breaded and deep fried.
Image: Italian Heritage Magazine

Image: Italian Heritage Magazine Read more

But not only minced beef, savoury cheeses or prosciutto can also be used for the filling.

This appetizer is one of the most representative of Italian culinary tradition and it will surely be a hit with your friends.

Ingredients:
• 2,2 lbs (1 kg) of soft tender olives from Ascoli
• 1 oz (30 g) of the soft, inner part of bread
• ¾ cup (80 g) of grated Parmesan cheese
• 1 egg / the grated zest of ½ lemon
• (A pinch of) nutmeg / (a pinch of) clove powder
• About a cup (200-250 ml) of white wine
• Salt / a small stalk of celery
• A small carrot / ½ onion • 3,5 oz (100 g) of chicken breast
• 3,5 oz (100 g) of beef meat
• 3,5 oz (100 g) of pork meat

For breading and frying, we’ll have:
• breadcrumbs / 2 eggs / some flour
• 2 cups (½ l) of extra virgin olive oil

Right click on the video for the link and full text.


How to cook the perfect Lancashire hotpot

Is it possible to improve on the simple perfection of the original Lancashire hotpot – and where do you get your mutton?

The perfect Lancashire hotpot. Photographs: Felicity Cloake for the Guardian

One of the great stews of the world, Lancashire hotpot is a dish that makes a virtue of simplicity. The name, often assumed to refer to the cooking vessel used (traditionally a tall, straight-sided earthenware pot) is actually more likely to be connected what lies within, which originally would have been a hodge-podge or jumble of ingredients – whatever was to hand that day.

Millworkers are often said to have invented this particular hotpot, but, as has been pointed out, few people would have had ovens at home in the mid-19th century, when the first recipes appear; perhaps it was baked in the communal bread oven as it cooled, or the recipe may have originated somewhat higher up the social scale. Whatever the true history, it is an indisputable northern classic.

The meat

Jane Grigson’s Lancashire hotpot.

Jane Grigson sadly observes in English Food that “in the old days, mutton was the meat used [but] now it is almost impossible to buy” – most contemporary recipes call for lamb instead. I try one, from Margaret Costa’s 1970 Four Seasons cookbook, that uses mutton, which does indeed prove surprisingly difficult to track down; halal butchers are often the best bet. It’s well worth doing, though: the meat is leaner, the flavour more savoury and it stands up much better to long, slow cooking.

I’d assumed that the hotpot would be a repository for tougher, less desirable cuts of meat, but cutlets – the tiny, delicate chops from the top of the best end – are surprisingly common, used by Lancashire chef Paul Heathcote, Grigson and Costa. Gary Rhodes goes for meatier chump chops, while Michelin-starred Nigel Haworth sticks in a medley, including the neck chops, but also shoulder, neck, shin and loin.

I’m also going to use a mixture: the lengthy cooking time suits tougher cuts like neck and shin down to the ground, transforming them into something silky and succulent, but the bones from the cutlets add flavour, as well as being traditional – JH Walsh’s 1857 Manual of Domestic Economy calls for “fine chops from a neck of mutton”, trimmed nicely. I prefer the slightly larger middle neck to the best end, if you can get it.

Costa adds kidneys, which also pop up in many early recipes, along with oysters, which no longer seem in the thrifty spirit of the dish. The kidneys aren’t to my taste – after two and a half hours in the oven they’re tough and rubbery, but if you like them, by all means cut one per person into quarters and add them to the rest of the meat.

The gravy

Margaret Costa’s Lancashire hotpot.

That meat should sit in a richly savoury gravy – Heathcote adds no extra liquid, which means the dish is moistened only with greasy lamb fat, while Grigson’s water makes the whole thing sadly insipid. Much better to cook it in stock, as Costa suggests; Rhodes goes for white wine and veal jus, but it needs no such fancy flavours.

I do like Heathcote’s idea of flouring the meat before cooking, however. This is never going to be a gravy you can stand your spoon up in, and Rhodes’s notion of removing the meat and potatoes after cooking in order to reduce and thicken the sauce proves an impossible mess, but a bit of body is never unwelcome.

The potatoes

Nigel Haworth’s Lancashire hotpot.

I’m always surprised when recipes that make a great feature of the potato make no mention of what variety to use – waxy and floury yield very different results, yet only Haworth specifically calls for maris piper. Because they’re sliced and baked in the manner of a dauphinoise, I initially warm to a waxier sort, which holds its shape. After eating Haworth’s version, however, I realise one of the chief joys of this dish is the way the potatoes that have come into contact with the gravy dissolve into a rich, meaty mash, while those on top go crisp and golden – for which one needs a floury variety such as, indeed, a maris piper.

Using two layers of potato, one in the base of the dish and one at the top, as Costa suggests, doubles the pleasure. Brushing the top with melted butter, as Haworth and Grigson do, helps the crisping process, as does uncovering the dish to allow it to brown at the end. It’s also very important to season each layer as you go; a dish this simple stands or falls by its seasoning. Pouring the gravy over the top of the potatoes, as Rhodes suggests, is a good way to add yet more flavour.

Rhodes also pre-fries his potatoes in dripping before adding them to the dish. While they’re good, they’re no better than Costa’s, so I decide to skip this step. Heathcote, meanwhile, cooks his potatoes separately, in vast amounts of clarified butter, to produce a rich potato cake reminiscent of a pommes anna. Potatoes and butter are always going to be delicious, but it’s a shame they’re never given a chance to mingle with the meat – the hotpot is not a dish in need of deconstruction.

The rest

Paul Heathcote’s Lancashire hotpot.

Onions form the third prong of the hotpot trinity; there’s no need to pre-cook them, as Heathcote suggests. Lamb is a meat that tends towards fattiness as it is, so adding any more takes the dish perilously close to greasy.

Rhodes and Heathcote use carrot, which adds a welcome touch of sweetness, but doesn’t stand up well to such prolonged cooking. Rhodes also chucks in celery and leek for good measure, both of which are an unnecessary distraction. Heathcote, meanwhile, makes a gravy which includes bacon and lentils for his modern take on the hotpot, which, like his roasted shallots, is frankly just a bit bizarre. Like Rhodes’s garlic and rosemary, it is needlessly complicating a dish that should be a simple pleasure. Costa’s thyme and bay leaf seem to blend into the whole far more harmoniously.

You want to know the how and the recipe? Then check The Guardian


Beer before the Sun is Over the Yard Arm

The Yard Arm

The Yard Arm

This is not considered socially acceptable, and is generally a rule that I play by. The old naval term, “the sun is over the yardarm” refers to 11am. I rarely have beer before lunch.

However, in my youth I have done some silly things, like beer on my cornflakes. But those days are long gone… so long gone. My rule is never before midday.

Then last night a post caught my eye; Beer For Breakfast: How to Make French Toast with Beer

Now, I thought to myself, that’s got to be worth a look.

The intro read:

“If you have booze for breakfast, let alone before midday, you are heavily frowned upon. But if breakfast is the most important meal of the day, surely it isn’t complete without some beer! Maybe substituting your morning cup of Joe for a pint is a bit weird, as is pouring it over your cereal, but it is both acceptable and de-bloody-licious to use it to make our French toast.

This isn’t your bog standard French toast where you just mix an egg with some milk, dunk your bread in the bowl and then fry it. This recipe is far more sophisticated, yet insanely simple, and your tastebuds will feel as if they’ve died and gone to heaven, only to realise that heaven is a pub with free flowing ale and no tab!e.

To make this taste sensation, all you will need is:”

You’ll have to check the above link for the recipe and instructions, and then you should have something like this:

I have been a French toast fan since I was twelve and my friend, imported from Scarborough, showed me how to make it on sleepovers, although we called it Eggy Bread. It remained Eggy Bread until my culinary tastes refined in adulthood and I discovered it was actually French toast.

I can report, this morning, that it is delicious, of course being descended from good British stock, mine was accompanied with bacon, pan-fried slices of potato and stewed tomatoes making it similar to a full English Breakfast.

Being as it was post-Coffee, it was accompanied by a large beer handle of Chateau Neuf de Sparkling Mineral Water,

I recommend trying it, nay, I urge you to try it, you’ll never look ordinary French toast in the same way again.

 


Beer Soup *Blink*

A reblog from Fromage Homage

Quicke’s Cheddar Cheese and Beer Soup

Beer Soup – Image from the post

I’m determined not to put the heating on until October but this autumn weather is certainly trying my resolve (hailstones anyone?!) So, it’s ridiculous Nordic cardigans, hot water bottles and comfort food all the way here. Rocket, lettuce and radishes have all fallen by the wayside in favour of starchy root vegetables and soups have kicked out salads. I first came across Cheese and Beer Soup in Kirstin Jackson’s exploration of American cheese…

Read more on: Fromage Homage on the link above.


This dish is called Odori-Don

Reposted from – DNamto.

odoti_don

Just come to know about this dish, thought to share with you all

This is a dish called Odori-Don. It has a dead squid on top that “dances” when Soy Sauce is poured on it, activating it’s neurons.

 

via This dish is called Odori-Don.


Turmeric Lamb Chops

Stolen, borrowed, purloined from Nigel Slater’s The Guardian Page.

A tasty, simple recipe for lamb chops

“The essence of the dish is the contrast between the charred edges of the crust and the sweet, rare meat within”. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin for the Observer

The recipe

Set aside four lamb steaks, about 200g each. Peel and crush a large clove of garlic and pound it with a pestle and mortar with half a teaspoon of fennel seeds, then add a teaspoon each of turmeric and ground coriander, and a little black pepper. Put 250ml of yogurt into a mixing bowl, then add the spice paste and mix well. Put the lamb steaks into the yogurt and leave for an hour or so. Remove the steaks from the yogurt with some of the spiced yogurt sticking to them and fry in a hot, shallow pan until a crust has developed. Then turn and cook the other side. Serve with rice. Serves four.

The trick

Let a crust form on the outside of the lamb during cooking. The marinade needs time to crisp, so put the lamb down in the pan and leave it for some time to develop a dark crust before you move it or turn it over. The essence of the dish is the contrast between the charred edges of the crust and the sweet, rare meat within.

The twist

You could easily do this recipe with chicken breasts. Leave the skin on, and take care not to overcook. You could introduce a little cardamom to the marinade. Finish the dish with coriander leaves, mint and a squeeze of lime juice.

 


Turnips, what can you do with them?

Turnips (Brassica rapa)

Turnips (Brassica rapa)

A vegetable that many turn their noses up at; they’re not alone swedes (Swedish turnip) are often spurned as well.

“The turnip’s root is high in vitamin C. The green leaves of the turnip top (“turnip greens”) are a good source of vitamin A, folate, vitamin C, vitamin K and calcium. Turnip greens are high in lutein (8.5 mg / 100 g).”Wikipedia

So, by all accounts we should be eating them.

What can you do with a turnip?

Navets persillés - image: Pham Fatale

Navets persillés – image: Pham Fatale

Navets persillés are roasted  turnips in curly parsley butter. Roasting vegetables brings out great flavors and the addition of butter brings a nutty aroma.

Curly parsley and tarragon make the dish pop with a bright green color; add tarragon for a nice licorice flavor.

For the recipe visit: Pham Fatale

Turnip cake - image: Tea for Two Sisters

Turnip cake – image: Tea for Two Sisters

For the recipe visit: Tea for Two Sisters and check the link for Turnip Cake to find out more.

Buttered turnip puree - image: Food

Buttered turnip puree – image: FoodNetwork

For the recipe visit FoodNetwork Other recipes there too; like roast turnips & mushrooms, mashed turnips and shallots or sage, tugboat turnips…

Scalloped turnips - image: TasteofHome

Scalloped turnips – image: TasteofHome

For the recipe visit: Taste of Home other dishes include turnip slaw, turnip souffle & turnip casserole.

Turnip Chips with Crème Fraîche, Parsley & Red Onion - image: The Bitten Word

Turnip Chips with Crème Fraîche, Parsley & Red Onion – image: The Bitten Word

For the recipe visit The Bitten Word

Turnips, Greens And Beans - image: Wellsphere

Turnips, Greens And Beans – image: Wellsphere

For the recipe visit Wellsphere

 

Turnip Galette - image: Saveur

Turnip Galette – image: Saveur

For the recipe visit: Saveur

You can pickle them, make turnip fries, soups, smoothies, and don’t forget the turnip greens they go well stewed with a ham hock.

There’s a selection for you.


Gordon Blue!

April 4, 2013 is

National Cordon Bleu Day

It’s National Cordon Bleu Day! Did you know that “cordon bleu” means “blue ribbon” in French? In the 1500s, the Order of the Knights of the Holy Spirit became known as “Les Cordon Bleus.” The knights used a blue ribbon to hang their talisman, and eventually the term became associated with distinction and honor. Today, we still award blue ribbons for excellence!

In the culinary world, cordon bleu is a savory roulade dish made with chicken (or veal), ham, and Swiss cheese. Contrary to popular belief, chicken cordon bleu did not originate at Le Cordon Bleu culinary arts school. As with most dishes, it evolved over time and first appeared in America during the 1960s.

To celebrate National Cordon Bleu Day, cook up some delicious chicken cordon bleu for your family to enjoy tonight! Bon appétit! – Punchbowl

Some samples of Cordon Bleu

image: eatocracy

 

 


This has Nothing to do with Easter

Found this photo when browsing… looks good.

Poached Egg on Roasted Asparagus with Creamy Mustard Sauce

Just looks so yummy. Love the colour combination too.

Want to see more, want the recipe…

Then visit The Pescetarian and The Pig


What’s a Pintxo?

Well, according to Wikipedia, it’s a small snack usually served in a bar. They are particularly popular in Spain and the Basque Country. You can follow the link to find out more, quite fascinating.

I had never heard of  ‘pintxo bars’ before I read this…

The best experimental pintxo bars in San Sebastián

San Sebastián’s famous pintxo bars serve fantastic food for a few euros – and now there’s a new generation of more experimental places to try, says the author of Real Tapas

Experimental pintxo at A Fuego Negro in San Sebastián

Last week, acclaimed Basque chefs Juan Mari Arzak and his daughter Elena, owners the famous Arzak restaurant in San Sebastián, opened Ametsa, their long awaited London outpost. Several notches down the price scale, in Donostia-San Sebastián itself, you can sample bite-size versions, cocina en miniatura or pintxos, the refined Basque version of tapas. Here is a selection of the top avant garde and experimental pintxo bars, plus a couple of classics thrown in.

Borda Berri

Iñaki Gulín has kept a loyal following ever since he blazed a trail at La Cuchara de San Telmo. This opened 12 years ago at the back of the old coastal quarter as an innovative, nueva cocina place with a young spirit. Then, five years ago, he and fellow chef Marc Clua left La Cuchara to open Borda Berri a few streets away in this foodie labyrinth, keeping the rock’n’roll style yet turning out impeccable pintxos with a twist. The homely bar, its yellow walls hung with old photos, is professional yet laid-back, not an easy balance. The pintxos are chalked up on a board and cooked to order: an unctuous risotto of mushrooms and idiazabal (a Basque cheese), garlic soup with pig’s ear, braised veal cheeks in wine or a bacalao (salt cod) taco. This is top, earthy Basque fare and not to be missed.

Bar Zeruko

Award-winning Zeruko is one of the old town’s most inventive pintxo haunts. The style is young, hip and playful, with mint-green walls, trestle tables and a bar laden with temptations. Aspic makes a comeback, enclosing diced vegetables and a soft-boiled egg, quickly heated beforehand, or wild mushrooms with foie gras mousse. Meticulously presented, though contrasts of textures and flavours sometimes go too far down the showy molecular route. Try the marmitako, a traditional Basque tuna and potato soup.

Read more bar reviews with photos

Read more bar reviews with photos


Never in a million years!

Should we learn to love eating insects?

Fried grasshoppers – a Mexican delicacy – are currently on offer in one London restaurant. Is it time to get over our squeamishness and learn to savour the taste of bugs?

Mexican grasshoppers fried in chilis … could you? Photograph: Alamy

On the menu the Mexican delicacy is described as “chapulines fundido“. Having eaten it – indeed polished it off – I would say it is the equivalent of an “insect moussaka”. The bottom layer is made of pureed fried grasshoppers (chapulines), which have been flavoured with softened shallots, garlic, smoky chipotle chillies and lime juice, topped with a gooey, fondue-style blanket of mozzarella and cheddar cheese (queso fundido). You can scoop it up, street-style, with corn tortillas or get stuck in with a knife and fork. And so that you are under no illusion whatsoever about the main ingredient, the dish is garnished with three crispy grasshopper bodies – minus legs and wings. Yum – or not.

Grasshoppers, of course, don’t routinely feature anywhere on British restaurant menus, but that could all be about to change. Wahaca, the sustainable Mexican street-food restaurant chain co-founded by MasterChef winner Thomasina Miers, is trialling the dish for one month only at its South Bank restaurant in London. It claims the unusual move – some might say shameless PR stunt – reflects its ethos of providing interesting, flavoursome fare while encouraging people to take the next step in sustainable eating by swapping meat for a protein-rich, environmentally friendly alternative. Meanwhile in a documentary next Monday on BBC4, Stefan Gates asks if eating bugs – from tarantulas to grasshoppers – can “save the world”.

More than 1,000 insect species are eaten in 80% of countries – mostly in the tropics. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation says insects are vital to meeting the nutritional needs of the world’s growing population but they hardly feature in the diets of many rich nations. As an ingredient, chapulines are a healthy alternative to meat; cooked grasshopper contains up to 60% protein, with 6% fat. Miers herself believes eating insects is no different from eating shrimp or prawns; after all, like insects, they are arthropods.

“It’s just not in our psyche at the moment,” she says. “The chapulines fundido is a great introduction to the beautiful earthy flavour of these insects as it tastes amazing and a salsa is much more palatable for the more squeamish diners out there.”

You can’t argue with the need to get us to eat more sustainably, but given Britons’ aversion to dealing with, let alone eating insects, what do the punters think? On a chilly Monday evening – the first full day of the experiment – a handful of early evening diners at the South Bank restaurant have ordered the dish.

Friends Kate Franklin and Bella Lawrence have eaten more than half the portion they are sharing. “It was very tasty, very lemony in flavour,” says Kate, a 22-year old photographer. But Bella, also 22, isn’t sure about “the three smiley faces” on top, which lie uneaten. The pair agree that the initiative was a commendable one. The chain is doing a steady trade in the dish, if not a roaring one. General manager Dean Hughes said he expects the restaurant – which has 90 covers – to serve up 30 portions by the close of play. After the horsemeat scandal people are definitely looking for alternatives to meat,” he says.

In fact there seems to be more criticism of the heavy cheese layer – which tends to congeal as it gets cold – than the insect content. Personally, I enjoy the rich, smoky flavour and texture of the dish. But even I am unable to wolf down an entire bowl of crunchy grasshopper bodies, which are typically served in Mexico as bar snacks washed down with cold beer. And there is also the issue of the insects’ carbon footprint. Those used by Wahaca – vaccuum-packed in large bags – are imported to the UK from Oaxaca in Mexico.

Have you eaten insects, anywhere in the world? And could you imagine making them a part of your regular diet? Should we westerners just learn to get over our squeamishness?

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Sorry, but no thanks, I am definitely a part of the squeamish brigade.


Haggis

Bafflingly, for many people Scottish cuisine remains something of an oxymoron, little more than a cholesterol-laden punchline. – The Guardian

I have never eaten haggis, although I have heard a lot about it, and should I ever be close to one, I would try it.

Haggis - Image: diewhiskybotschaft.de

Haggis – Image: diewhiskybotschaft.de

The idea of haggis is intriguing. I like most offal foods, with the exception of tripe, so I see no reason for not liking haggis.

Haggis is a spicy, meatloaf-like minced sheep offal served with ”neeps and tatties,” or turnips and potatoes – the perfect Scottish comfort food. Image: Foodie International

Traditionally,  Haggis is a savoury pudding containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver and lungs); minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach and simmered for approximately three hours.”Wikipedia

But there are many many things you can do to haggis.

Haggis Sausage Rolls – Image: Dinner Diary (with recipe)

Haggis & Oatcake Canapé – Image: Yahoo Lifestyle and recipe

If you look around the net, you can find haggis balls, deep fried haggis balls, vegetarian haggis, haggis puffs, haggis crepes, haggis toasted sandwiches, haggis and chips.

Then there’s the fast food and international influences… haggis pizza, haggisburger, haggis pakora, haggis nachos, haggis burritos, haggis and onion bhajis… You can stuff chicken with it, you can get it in a can or in sachets.

The list is endless. Haggis has to be amongst the most versatile foods.

And… you can feed the scraps to the cat.

Then there’s haggis for dessert chocolates.

Haggis Chocolates – Image: SodaHead

Scotland-based chocolate maker, Nadia Ellingham, just invented a horrifying new desert: Haggis-flavored Chocolate. It’s chocolate with a hint of sheep’s liver, heart, lungs, oatmeal, onions and spices boiled in the animal’s own stomach. It’s amazing no one thought of this before.

In Ellingham’s defense, she has stated that she avoided including any haggis ingredients that would clash with the taste of the chocolate. But still, when the clashing ingredient in haggis IS haggis, it’s hard to understand what she left in.

There is much humour about the haggis…

haggisFrom:  Improbable Research – How to Raise Haggis

The Haggis – An Endangered Scottish Species

The Wild Haggis

The Haggis Hunting Season

As winter approaches, a crime against Scottish wildlife looms. From 30th November (St. Andrews Day) to 25th January (Robert Burns birthday), a small, defenceless furry creature is chased and killed to provide the Scots with their traditional feast.

Read more on: HubPages