Hailed by food writer Tom Parker Bowles as ”a king among onion marmalades, thick, rich and sticky…”, this unctuous, moreish marmalade is the perfect partner for cheese (and other things). In fact, we think a lot of cheeses out there might be feeling quite lonely without it.
Rich, dark and in a handsome, heavy jar, Sticky Onion Marmalade is just one of the good things you’ll find on the Olives Et Al website. Olives are the stars of the show, of course, but there’s more – their Tapenade Marocaine (with olives, preserved lemons, capers and garlic), for example, or their “summer-in-the-south-of-France-in-a-jar” Tapenade Provencal, made from olives, anchovies, capers and garlic.
The Olives Et Al story goes as follows….some years ago, Annie and Giles Henschel embarked on a year-long adventure to the Mediterranean, the Middle East and North Africa, gathering authentic recipes along the way. Once back, and now based in Dorset, their search for exotic ingredients – and good olives – in England proved disappointing, so they launched Olives Et al in 1993 and the rest, as they say, is food history.
Sticky Onion Marmalade
Jamie Oliver’s Crunchy Raw Beetroot, Feta and Pear Salad
We couldn’t do Best of British without including our favourite British chef Jamie Oliver… so we’re celebrating Veggie Week(end) with his Crunchy Raw Beetroot, Feta and Pear Salad.
When most people think about beetroot in salads, they think of big vinegary crinkle-cut chunks from a jar and immediately say no! But remember, beetroots are only vinegary when they’re pickled. When simply boiled or roasted they are juicy and sweet as you like. Raw beetroot is amazing in salads, giving you a deep, earthy, minerally flavour, lots of crunch and, of course, incredible colours! Did you know you can get golden and stripy beetroot as well as purple? Have a look next time you’re at a farmers’ market or buy some seeds and grow a few yourself.
Remember to wear an apron when chopping beetroot, and wash your board and hands afterwards or you’ll get red fingerprints everywhere. If your knife skills aren’t up to speed yet, buy one of those matchstick peelers or matchstick mandolins in good cook shops. Then you’ll be really quick at it.
Dress the beetroot and pear matchsticks in a little of the lemon oil dressing and season with some salt and pepper. Taste to check that the flavours are balanced and lovely, and add a little more lemon juice to check the sweetness of the pears and beetroots if you need to.
Divide the salad between four plates or put it on a big platter, crumble over the creamy white feta, and sprinkle over the baby mint leaves and the sunflower seeds if you’re using them. Simple, but it’s a treat and a half.
• 4 good-sized beetroots, lovely different colours if possible, scrubbed, peeled and cut into fine matchsticks
• • 3 ripe pears (or you could use apples), peeled, cored and cut into matchsticks
• 1 x lemon oil dressing see below recipe
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 200g/7oz feta cheese
• a small bunch of fresh mint, smallest leaves picked
optional: a large handful of sunflower seeds
“The most exciting new soft cow’s cheese in Britain today” – Neals Yard Dairy
We got excited, too, when we tasted this. Randolph Hodgson at Neal’s Yard Dairy wasn’t kidding when he called this Tunworth treasure “The most exciting new soft cow’s cheese in Britain today.”
One of Britain’s best, Tunworth is better than a brie – in our opinion. Less “nutty” than a camembert, more intriguing than a brie, Tunworth is soft and mellow (but not bland). Its oh-so-slightly melting texture is something best described as very close to cheese heaven – in fact even the rind is mellow, so there’s no sharp mouldy, cardboardy rind taste to ruin the creaminess – something that can happen with some bries.
Tunworth has won major accolades for its makers, Charlotte Spruce and Stacey Hedges, who make the cheese from fresh milk on a farm in Herriard in Hampshire. It won the Supreme Champion at the British Cheese Awards in 2006 beating 840 other entries and went on to scoop a Gold at the World Cheese Awards in 2007.
Mouth-filling, more-ish and fortunately for cheese connoisseurs, available at a number of outlets in the UK.
Al fresco lunches wouldn’t be complete without this fresh and fabulous Gold Taste Award-winning Pea and Mint Soup by Rod and Ben.
Rod and Ben’s soups change with the seasons, which makes them about as close to home-made as you can buy. Hailed by Masterchef’s Gregg Wallace as a clever way to get children to eat more veg, they’re made in smallish quantities, shipped straight from Devon.
And there’s more to these soups than meets the tastebuds. If you’ve gone gluten or wheat-free you’ll like their Tomato & Basil, Beetroot & Cumin, Leek & Potato, Carrot & Coriander and Spicy Parsnip varieties. The rest of the range sound tempting too, but there are too many to list here.
There’s also a recipe book’s worth of recipes on the website – we love the Honey and Walnut Coleslaw and Spinach Creams: www.rodandbens.com/recipes.html
The soups are available at Morrisons, Selfridges and other stores nationwide.
Pea & Mint Soup – £3.20/600g
It’s Chelsea Flower Show week and the season of strawberries and cream, Pimms, elderberry cordial and that controversial, most British of British plants that manages to masquerade as a fruit – rhubarb (!)
So we thought we’d celebrate the goodness of Great Britain with our “Best of British” series which starts this week.
It’s all about savouring the flavours of what Britain makes best: local cheeses, handmade chutneys, brilliant designer breads, and yes, even champagne and tea (from Cornwall of course!) Enjoying good food, supporting great local producers.
When you’ve just come back from a place and all you can think about is going back again, the best way to savour its flavour is through food. After a long weekend in Fez and the magical mountains around Ifrane and Azrou, breakfasting on crispy Moroccan pancakes (msemen and beghrir) and downing fresh mint tea in the parchment dry 30C heat, Britain feels familiar but disappointingly grey, drizzly and damp. A bit of a let down after drinking in the peace and beauty of the countryside around Fez – already missing those blue skies, warm evenings and genuine hospitality.
So maybe Greek-Australian food writer Tess Mallos’s “The Food of Morocco” could be just what the doctor ordered to banish those back-in-Britain blues. Mallos delves deep into the roots of Moroccan cuisine, highlights regional specialities and foods, and the result is a perfect mix of photo-travelogue and recipes, in equal parts.
Tess takes you on a culinary journey from the souks of Marrakech to the home kitchens of Rabat, the tea houses of Casablanca to the extravagant banquets of Fez. Crispy briouats with seafood, a rich lamb tagine, deliciously sweet honey cakes…
Hmm…two Italian treasures set off on a reconnaissance trip around their homeland, stopping here and there to reminisce about life, love and squeeze in the occasional recipe? Initially it sounded like “yet another” food programme but Antonio Carluccio and Jamie Oliver’s pal Gennaro Contaldo made a feast of it.
But alas, the Italy they remembered had changed somewhat. They met young Italian women far too busy to cook (to Carluccio’s disbelief) but after challenging an Italian criminologist who was a stranger to the kitchen, the duo had convinced her to try her hand at making some home-made pasta. She loved it.
Parts of the first episode (1/4) were surprisingly poignant: a) We heard Antonio admit he would love to meet a woman who shared his love of food (cue dinner for two at the duo’s medieval guesthouse, with a rather nervous 25-year old Italian beauty, organised by a dating agency, while Gennaro doubled as chef/waiter); and b) We then joined them on a visit to a rehab centre in Rimini where young men who had “fallen out” of society were turning their lives around by learning how to make fabulous foods and cheeses which the centre sold to generate income.
Hopefully the next episode is as bittersweet and beautiful as the first one; this time the gallavanting gourmets will be in Amalfi.
Love Italy and want to escape for an hour? Signore Carluccio and Signore Contaldo await you. Wednesday, BBC2 , 8pm.
The cookbook, Two Greedy Italians, is out now.