30 July 2013

Alan Coxon's new TV series transmits this week

Photo: ©Moe Kafer

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Alan Coxon's brand new TV series 'From Birmingham to Bombay' will be showing this week on Food Network UK.


Starting from Thursday 1st August at 11.30am and 12 noon, the food and travel series looks at the history and origination of five of the UK's (and world's) most popular curries.

This is in addition to the official launch date that is on the 19th-23rd August at 12 noon.

The series is available via the following :
Freeview channel 48
Sky channel 262
Virgin Media channel 287
Freesat channel 403

The first of the set of five cookbooks (read our blog post) is now available from www.booksbyalancoxon.com and looks at the foods of Northern India, the Punjab, Amritsar and includes Tandoori recipes, stories from the Golden temple and communal kitchens.

26 July 2013

Cajun Salmon with Mango Salsa & Beany Rice

Photo: © childsdesign

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We’ve been almost melting in the recent heatwave but that doesn’t stop us from turning to spicy foods, in fact they somehow seem more appealing. The best approach is to keep things light and not go for heavy sauces but something simple with a refreshing accompaniment.

Fish and fruit might sound like an odd combination but we can assure you that it really does work. The mango salsa is fresh and lively and really complements the spicy warmth from the Cajun Spice Mix on the salmon. The salsa also cuts through the oiliness of the salmon too.

If you don’t want to go to all the trouble of making the rice dish (but it is worth it) you could serve with plain boiled rice or new potatoes instead.

Best enjoyed outdoors!

Ingredients (serves 2)

For the salmon

  • 2 rounded tsp Cajun Spice Mix
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 skinless salmon fillets each weighing about 125g
  • 1tsp olive oil
  • knob butter

For the mango salsa

  • 1 lime
  • quarter small red onion, very finely chopped
  • pinch salt
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 5cm piece cucumber
  • 1 ripe mango
  • handful fresh mint leaves, chopped

For the beany rice

  • olive oil
  • half small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • half tsp cumin seeds
  • quarter tsp smoked paprika
  • salt
  • 120g long grain white rice
  • just-boiled water from the kettle
  • half 400g can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Method
For the salmon
Mix the lime juice, olive oil and Cajun Spice Mix in a bowl to form a thick paste.
Rub the mixture well all over the salmon fillets.
Please the salmon in the bowl, cover with cling film and put in the fridge until you’re ready to cook.
Preheat the grill. Heat the oil and knob of butter in a frying pan until the butter starts to foam. Place in the fish fillets, presentation side up and fry gently for a couple of minutes until the fish turns opaque to the half way mark up the sides. This will depend on the thickness the fillets. Baste with the hot butter and then place under the hot grill for a couple of minute to cook the top.

For the mango salsa
Grate the lime zest into a medium sized bowl then cut in half and squeeze in its juice. Add the salt, the red onion and chilli and stir to mix.
Cut the cucumber lengthways, then use a teaspoon to remove the pulpy seeds. Chop the cucumber into small dice and add to the bowl.
Prepare the mango using a sharp knife. There is a large flat stone in the centre, so first the ‘cheeks’ need to be cut off. Hold the mango in a vertical position and slice it lengthways either side of the stone.
No hold each ‘cheek’ with flesh side up and using a small knife cut a criss-cross pattern into the flesh, taking care not to cut right through the skin. This can then be turned inside-out by pushing the skin upwards releasing the cubes of flesh which can be sliced off.

There are a couple of places on the web that show you how to do this. See Delia Smith’s instructions  or watch this video.

Add the mango pieces to the bowl along with the chopped mint. Mix well to combine everything. Cover the bowl and set aside.

For the beany rice
Place a medium sized saucepan over a medium heat and add a small amount of olive oil. Add the onion, garlic clove, bay leaf and cumin seeds and fry gently until the onion becomes translucent but not browned.
Tip in the rice and add a pinch of salt and the smoked paprika. Stir the rice gently until it is coated with the oil, onion and spices. Then pour in some freshly boiled water - the water should just cover the rice. Add the beans and shake the pan a little to mix them in. Bring to a light simmer and cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and turn the heat right down. Leave to cook for 15 minutes. Once the time is up remove from the heat and leave to stand with the lid on.
Before serving, remove the bay leaf and garlic and gently fluff up the rice using a fork.

To serve, pile the beany rice onto plates, place the fish on top and spoon over a generous amount of mango salsa.

18 July 2013

Well dressed for dinner with Mr Filbert's

Photo: © childsdesign

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Whilst writing our review we are experiencing quite an intense heatwave, which as a result, salad has become a regular mealtime choice. So just as well we have a couple of Mr Filbert's drizzles to hand.

Mr Filbert's sent some for us try and we can say that they have been thoroughly tested since unpacking the parcel.
The dressings, or drizzles as Mr Filbert's calls them, are made in true artisan style and crafted using their own extra virgin rapeseed oil and locally produced vinegars as the base. You can really taste the subtle nuttiness of the rapseed oil, which is the perfect foil for the other flavours.
The consistency is just right meaning that the dressing clings well to foods but isn't in any way gloopy. As with most oil and vinegar dressings they do separate and a good shake of the bottle will amalgamate them again.

We tried two varieties which are quite different in character:

Dorset Honey & Mustard with Zingy Gooseberry
This one is refreshing in flavour with a nice tang and a little kick from mustard and black pepper. A delicate sweetness and perfume from some local honey gives it balance.
We liked the fruity twist from English gooseberries – they really give the dressing a little lift.
We reckon it would be smashing with mackerel.

Tangy Apple & Balsamic Vinaigrette
By contrast, this drizzle is decidedly richer in flavour than the first. Dark in colour and savoury in character it is certainly more robust. At first we couldn't quite pin down what gives it such a savoury taste and on closer inspection of the ingredients, noticed that it contains soy sauce. Not something we were expecting but the end result is desirable nonetheless.
Sweet complex balsamic vinegar combined with fresh apple makes it particularly delicious. There's a hint of garlic too. It was wonderful on an Italian style salad with Parmesan.

Don't just reserve these drizzles for the salad though, they are so good and can be enjoyed in their own right as a simple dip for bread.
You can even use them as a quick fix marinade. We used the Tangy Apple & Balsamic Vinaigrette in this way and added it to chunks of raw chicken, red onion and peppers, left to marinate in the fridge for a few hours and then chargrilled. Of course this would be ideal for the barbecue at the moment.


We are pleased to award Mr Filbert's our 'Artisan Food Trail Approved' status for their Dorset Honey & Mustard with Zingy Gooseberry Drizzle and Tangy Apple & Balsamic Vinaigrette.



To find out more about Filbert's Fine Foods visit their page on The Artisan Food Trail here.

Note: Mr Filbert's have just recently rebranded so the samples we were sent we're from the old-look range. According to their website the drizzle range consists of four varieties and the Tangy Apple & Balsamic Vinaigrette seems to be no longer made, however (at the time of writing) old stock is still available in their shop.

11 July 2013

Really interesting snacks from Mr Filbert’s

Photo: © childsdesign

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Mr Filbert’s is going through a rebrand of their products at the moment.
The package design has changed to be more reflective of the high quality product within, as we found out when Mr Filbert’s sent us some of their nuts to try.

The design is indeed more sophisticated with a clean look. The all over bright colours have been pared down to accent hues and white. The Mr Filbert cartoon character has been retained as well as the original (but simplified) logo design, which works well on the plain background and the use of product photography gives consumers a good idea of what they’re buying.

We tested the Italian Herb Peanuts & Hazelnuts and the Moroccan Spiced Almonds and were immediately impressed by the freshness of the nuts themselves. Mr Filbert’s take particular care with their ingredients and use
a hot air-roasting method, which explains why the nuts are moist and flavoursome.

Both varieties have just the right amount of added flavour and are extremely moreish!
The Italian Herb Peanuts & Hazelnuts are tumbled with oregano, basil, sea salt and garlic and are pleasingly savoury, aromatic with a hint of sweetness.
Serve these with a glass of wine and we think they’d be gone pretty quickly!

The Moroccan Spiced Almonds are perfectly balanced in flavour. Sweetness from some fragrant honey, just the right amount of salt and a warming blend of spices – a little heat from the chilli and earthy nuttiness from the cumin.
A cool herbal mint hit completes the sensation.
We think they’d make the perfect accompaniment to a nice cool glass of Manzanilla sherry.

Of course, these nuts are great as a nibble but you could also sprinkle some into your salads too and make them part of a meal.

A quick look at the ingredients list shows that everything in the pack is entirely natural. No E numbers, additives or flavour enhancers here. They are also gluten-free and dairy-free.


We are pleased to award Mr Filbert's our 'Artisan Food Trail Approved' status for their Italian Herb Peanuts & Hazelnuts and Moroccan Spiced Almonds.




To find out more about Filbert's Fine Foods visit their page on The Artisan Food Trail here.


  We’re nutty about facts so here are some to ponder…                

  • Rich in Vitamin E, a handful (30g, about 20 nuts) of almonds provides 85% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for Vitamin E. Originating in the Middle East almonds are now found growing in Southern Europe, California, Africa and Australia.
  • Hazelnuts are also known as cobnuts, and filberts and contain significant amounts of B group vitamins They have the highest in fibre and lowest in fat content of all the nuts. Hazelnuts have been eaten by humans since the Stone Age period, as they are abundant in hedgerows throughout Great Britain and the rest of Europe.
  • Also known as monkey nuts or groundnuts, peanuts are true legumes. They are grown throughout South and North America and the tropics, forming a staple food of tropical cuisine. Peanuts are a rich source of protein, iron and zinc.

2 July 2013

'From Birmingham to Bombay' first book published

You may remember a little while back we published a post about Alan Coxon’s forthcoming TV series From Birmingham to Bombay, which touched on a rumour of the accompanying books. Well, the first book has finally been published and is available as a downloadable e-book, and a Kindle book as well as a physical print-on-demand version.

It is a real pleasure to work with Alan Coxon and we’d like to thank him for giving us the opportunity to design and publish his book series and website.
The Artisan Food Trail offers a variety of services to its members either directly or through carefully selected partners. Design and working for publishing companies is something that we have been doing for nearly 30 years, so it seemed only natural to offer our experience to benefit AFT members.

Back to the book. Part one in a series of five books covers the Punjab and Amritsar region of India and takes the form of a 74 page, full colour culinary travelogue.
Including behind the scenes stories and delicious recipes from the northern regions of India, Alan visits the Golden Temple and sees how 40,000 chapattis are produced every day by volunteers. He goes behind the tandoori and looks at herbs and spices, such as cardamom, mustard and ginger which are used extensively throughout the region.

Recipes from the book include Paneer Tikka Kalimirch, Kandhari Barwaan Khumb, Green Fish Curry, Tandoori Murgh and Chooza Makhni.
If you enjoy the foods of India, curries and especially tandoori, then this is a book that won't disappoint.

Sanjeev Kapoor
The foreword is written by Sanjeev Kapoor which is a great endorsement and as he’s one of India's most respected celebrity chefs, it says a lot for Alan's knowledge and recipe authenticity.

One of the advantages of seeing the copy while working on the design is that we got to try out some of the recipes! The Tandoori Spice Blend on page 28 made for a particularly tasty chicken.

If you would like to buy the book, From Birmingham to Bombay Part One: Foods and Influences of the Punjab and Amritsar, it is available through www.booksbyalancoxon.com
The downloadable e-book and the Kindle book are both priced at £3.99 and the physical print-on-demand version is priced at £14.99.