Nature Queen's Blog

News from the world of Food and Beverages

Elisabeth Luard: ‘My old table is the only thing that matters to me in my new kitchen’ | My kitchen

An irreplaceable handmade table laden with memories is the heart of the kitchen for celebrated food writer Elisabeth Luard. Here she shares an extract and recipes from her latest cookbook, Flavours of Andalucia.

About two months ago, I packed up my country home in Wales and moved to London. You’ve no idea how much stuff there was. Five bedrooms, outhouses, 100 acres of woodland, an enormous library, and everybody’s debris. I had to concentrate everything right down into what I really minded about. Getting rid of one’s life can be traumatic, but I found it liberating.

When my children were small, I moved the family to Tarifa in southern Spain. It was the 1960s, not long after the Civil War. We built a house in a cork oak forest. The table is from that time – made by a carpenter named Ramon Sosa, a republican who had to stay deep undercover – it’s made as a shipwright would make it, everything is tongue-and-groove. The inset tiles came a few years later, they’re from the 19th century. I scrub it with bleach when I feel like it. The children had every meal at this table, and would slide anything they didn’t want to eat into the drawers. It is the only thing that really matters to me in the whole kitchen, I can do without everything else, so the fact that it fits in my new flat – it’s about 8ft long – is thrilling.

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Jeremy Lee’s alluring chocolate mousse recipe | King of puddings

A spoonful of real chocolate mousse is an alluring proposition. Do it justice and use the darkest chocolate imaginable for the finest possible result ...

Has there ever been a question quite so loaded with hope as: “Is there chocolate mousse for pudding?” One wouldn’t want to send one’s poor, hopeful diners into a gloomy decline with little chance of return … Might this be the reason why we put a chocolate mousse on the pudding menu at Quo Vadis, even giving the little pot of joy its own box? It is even given billing above chocolate profiteroles.

Chocolate mousse is as familiar to us all as The Sound of Music, the prospect of which excites the same range of emotions – from utter delight to utter dread. I confess to loving both the pudding and the musical. For now, though, I won’t waste another breath on Julie Andrews’ epic masterpiece, but I will happily talk chocolate mousse.

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Meera Sodha’s tomato curry recipe

In India, tomatoes tend to be used as a background ingredient, with the odd, and very tasty, exception

Last year I moved house and finally got a patch of earth to call my own. The first thing I did was plant seeds of my favourite vegetables in every inch of soil. I soon learned, however, that there’s a hierarchy of joy when it comes to home-growing, and there’s nothing I’d rather get dirt under my fingernails for than a tomato: I could inhale the smell of those vines for hours. It’s a deeply seductive fragrance of sweet tobacco and heady days in the sun. But the smell is a drawn-out tease, the start of a long drumroll, because the fruits take their time to arrive. When they do, they come in gangs: too few to too many in a matter of days.

India has a vast library of dishes that use tomatoes, but they tend to be in the background. Rarely are they the star, as they are in so many Mediterranean dishes, from spaghetti napoletana to gazpacho, which are built tomato-first. We have just a few rare jewels that truly celebrate the tomato, such as Keralan tomato fry and Gujarati sev tameta shaak; but it’s thakkali kuzhambu, from Tamil Nadu, on which today’s recipe is (very) loosely based. The sweetness and acidity of tomatoes is married to classic pickling spices, then tempered with curry leaves, tamarind and coconut: the ingredients that define south Indian cooking.

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Yotam Ottolenghi’s peach recipes

There are few things as, er, peachy as a ripe peach (and even unripe ones have their uses)

I went to a party earlier this summer and took a tray of ripe peaches instead of a bottle of wine. I would never have dreamed of taking a tray of, say, avocados or a bunch of bananas. It’s not that those fruit are any less special; it’s just that they don’t have quite the same wow factor, that tempting, “eat me now” look of a perfectly ripe peach.

The difference between peaches and avocados is all to do with the way the fruits ripen. Bananas and avocados (along with pears and tomatoes) are climacteric and often store their sugar in the form of starch. Once picked, a simple hydrocarbon gas called ethylene triggers the process that converts that starch back to sweetness. This makes such fruit a logistical dream for those who grow and sell them: they can be picked unripe and shipped hard (so they’re not prone to bruising), and ripened once the travel is done. (On a smaller scale, you can achieve a similar effect at home by putting an unripe fruit in a paper bag with a ripe one. The ripe fruit will emit ethylene, which helps ripen the unripe fruit.)

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Galica coast holiday guide: the best restaurants, bars, beaches and hotels

White sandy beaches, epic Atlantic scenery and supreme seafood combine to great effect on Spain’s most beautiful coastline

Lush green valleys and rugged mountains, sheer cliffs and wild, frothing, slate-grey seas. Bagpipes, baroque cathedrals and the smell of grilled seafood. The architectural grace of Santiago de Compostela and the industrial churn of Vigo. Galicia, the north-west corner of Spain, is a diverse region, but amid the variety there are two constants: first, it’s one of the best places to eat seafood in the world; and, second, its wild landscape, seemingly more Scottish than Spanish, is the most beautiful on the Iberian peninsula.

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