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Posts Tagged ‘Waitrose’

Cured meats, two of our favourite convenience foods: sitting on the left side of our slate roof tile we have saucisson with pimento and mustard seeds and on the right,  prosciutto crudo – home-carved from the boneless joint I scooped at Lidl just before Christmas…

£14 at Sainsbury's March 2009
….add rosé Champagne, one of my favourite things to drink, and we had the raw ingredients for a very Happy Valentine’s Day.  This Taittinger was an unusual tawny-orange, possibly from the extra year’s bottle age and meatier than most, possibly from the Pinot Noir, maybe the terroir: whatever the reason, it stood its ground with the charcuterie.  Sighing with satisfaction I could only hope everyone was having such a lovely, lazy afternoon last Sunday: everything came up roses.

Valentine’s Day luxuries without spending a fortune

  • Saucisson with pimento and mustard seed £3.99 new at Waitrose (paid £1.49 on sell-by date)
  • Prosciutto crudo joint £11.74 at Lidl (about £8 a kilo as far as I recall)
  • Taittinger Prestige Rosé £14-ish on the sale shelf in Sainsbury last Spring – total bargain! – now £36 approx.

btw: it was quite something to see the bunfight at the steak counter in M&S on Saturday – don’t these people have any imagination?

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Treat time at Waitrose: Tarocco “blush” oranges are on the shelves again, it’s Blood Orange season!tarocco

Much as I disapprove in theory, I do understand blood oranges’ rebranding to something a little less daunting; I remember as a child when presented with a carefully peeled and segmented Blood Orange I used to wonder if it really might be blood I was eating, and if so, whose, and how did it get there and how did they die – and then losing my appetite.  It’s a hard sell to the impressionable.

Blush might not be original nor evoke the sunshine blazing from the heart of each fruit, but if it means we can still get hold of these sparkling gems of the citrus world then I’m all for it, and as wrote Shakespeare for Juliet,

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

And the Tarocco is certainly sweet:   it’s one of the world’s most popular oranges, apparently, thanks to its sweetness, juciness AND glorious subtleties of flavour.    I’m told it also happens to contain the highest Vitamin C content of any orange variety grown in the world, PLUS a bucketful of anthocyanin antioxidants (thanks to the red bits).  As if that weren’t temptation enough the wonderful Tarocco is seedless and its thin skin is easy to peel – very little pith too.

It’s also pretty right-on, what with having its own AOC – or is that IGT – or DOP?  Not sure, but it’s EU protected, its production having been under threat from the ubiquitous and frankly dull in comparison Navel and Valencia oranges (of no fixed abode).  BBC Radio 4’s Food Programme about blood/blush orange growing in Sicily is excellent, full of information and an aural evocation of sunny Sicily, most welcome with our bleak British winter as yet unwilling to relinquish its icy grip: listen again and again…

I don’t advocate doing anything with a Tarocco during its short season of availability other than devouring it raw and alone (the orange, that is).  You could admire its rosy beauty in a salad with chicory or fennel with a strew of black olives, but don’t waste the exuberance of its flavour and fragrance by cooking a Tarocco – better buy a Seville for that.

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This stuffed bread makes wonderful picnic food as the filling holds itself in place allowing you to eat it with just hands – and a napkin for the fastidious. We took it for a packed lunch while decorating our new apartment and it was much more sustaining than the bag of Doritos (T’s choice, not mine) we’d munched on the day before: it didn’t stain everything orange either, which is a bit of a bonus when you’re trying to paint everything in shades of white.

butternut squash and stilton sandwich roulade

It’s a handy vegetarian addition to my picnic / packed lunch recipe repertoire.

slices of sage, squash and stilton calzoneButternut squash and blue cheese bread

  • 100g crumbled Stilton*
  • 100g diced cooked butternut squash
  • a sprig of fresh sage, chopped
  • 1 TBS chopped pecans (optional)
  • a handful of olive oil dough
  • olive oil
  • *Any creamy blue cheese such as dolcelatte, gorgonzola etc. will do just as well; here I happened to have some Stilton left over from Christmas haunting the freezer.

    Gently stretch out the ball of dough on an oiled swiss roll tin – or toaster oven tray – coaxing it towards the edges.  It will relax and stretch further so don’t be anxious about this.

    Strew the cheese and squash over the surface of the dough, padding the filling towards the edges.  Scatter with the shredded sage, then make a papoose by bringing the long edges of the dough to meet over the top and press them together to seal so the cheese doesn’t leak out when it melts in the oven. At this point it will not look at all promising, but have no fear.  Sprinkle chopped nuts, if using, across the seam and press them lightly into the dough so they stick.

    Bake in a hot oven (450F, 200C, Gas 7) for about 30 minutes, basting halfway through with a little olive (or hazelnut/walnut if you have it) oil for a delicately crunchy crust: cover the nuts with a strip of foil if they’re browning too fast (or blackening in my case, one hazard of using a toaster oven).

    Cool, loosen the bottom with a palette knife, then cut into slices or wrap the whole in foil to slice later.

    The sage makes a delicous ménage à trois with the blue cheese and squash, which the richly nutty pecans turn into a veritable orgy of flavours, or for an enjoyable alternative you could try swinging with rosemary and walnuts instead: a bit of gustatory promiscuity can produce some pretty interesting offspring.

    For a punchy packed lunch just add a handful of rocket leaves and for a picnic add whatever you like, but the way this British summer’s been shaping up you’ll be needing a blanket, windbreak, hot water bottle – and your head examined: it’s blowing a gale as I type this.

    A note to British readers: some branches of Waitrose sell frozen butternut squash, which is pretty darn handy for this recipe as it’ll cook in the microwave in 4 minutes – and there’s no skin to deal with!

    This post is my first-ever entry for the WTSIM… summer picnic blogging event.

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    I read Nigel Slater religiously for years, but of late this gastro hag’s favourite fag has me feeling like an asylum seeker on the wrong side of a razor-wire fence.  Sophisticated as my crowded corner of Blighty sees itself, it’s outside the orbital, pretty far from any gastro-shopping epicenter and a long way from urban allotments.

    Sure, I check out the local farmers’ markets, and yes, I visit local farm shops, but even so I lack access to the exotica veggie cornucopia enjoyed by a Londoner and moreover I’m a plod, so hauling my ass up to New Covent Garden for 6 am just ain’t gonna happen, and a train ticket to Borough market would up my grocery bill by a good twenty quid; not to mention supersizing my carbon footprint.  So what’s a gourmet girl to do?

    A: Visit Waitrose and find these emerald gems to go home with. Frying tonight!


    pic and recipe to follow….gotta cook and eat ’em first

    200g bag £2.99 at Waitrose

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    Another confirmation of the wisdom of a locavore lifestyle arrives with the news in The Independent that MRSA may have entered the food chain in Europe.  If that doesn’t get us buying British bacon I don’t know what will, as if I wasn’t sufficiently peeved with my fellow consumers over porky products.

    Save Our BaconThis might be a good opportunity to repeat the point that the UK has the highest welfare standards in pig rearing of all Europe and yes, that does make our pork products a little pricier than Dutch and Danish, but surely folks, you can taste the difference!  If you doubt, give it a taste test: buy a pack each of Danish and British streaky rashers.  Start them sizzling (separately) and breathe in through your nose; you’ll get a good idea of the relative qualities of piggy diet and environment from that alone.  Don’t know about you, but I’d rather eat bacon that smells and tastes of pork than of garbage and latrines – literally.

    I see the June 2008 Waitrose Illustrated magazine carries a feature on the Save Our Bacon (i.e. save our pork farms) campaign with top chefs Fergus Henderson, Angela Hartnett, Tom Aikens and a couple of hairy bikers plus Jamie Oliver’s pig farmer friend Jimmy Doherty lending their clout:

    It’s a crisis but it’s not too late.  Consumers need to demand British pork.  If it doesn’t say British on the label, don’t buy it.

    Well, Jimmy would say that, wouldn’t he?  But he’s absolutely right: this Save Our Bacon idea is great, only last time I checked, Waitrose packs of dry-cured smoked streaky hailed from Denmark.  Perhaps Waitrose buyers share my own quibble with our pork industry: the prevalence of the wet cure in processing.  Just like the wretched Chorleywood Process for bread, the wet cure for bacon accelerates processing time and turns a hitherto quality product into a damp squib, but with a bigger-better-faster profit for the manufacturer, natch.

    Worst of all wet cures is the saline injection: you can tell if the label states more than 100% pork.   What? this is when saline solution is injected into the meat (so prior to processing, there was more pork per 100g of product than there is afterwards) to cure it from within.  And that’s the vile white salty stuff bubbling up from your bacon.  Conversely, with the dry cure, salt surrounds the piece of meat, drawing moisture out, concentrating the meat fibres and flavours, making for densely crisp and tasty bacon.  And bacon needs to be crisp and tasty or it’s not really bacon, is it?

    So, Waitrose, I add my wholehearted support to your campaign with this one proviso: insist your sources stop shooting the saline: quality pork requires quality processing.

    Here is a short and far from comprehensive list of respectable online UK bacon suppliers:

     You can read about the issues involved and sign the pledge here or here and if nothing else, avoid imported pork; it’s no bargain.

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    Yes, you read that right – oak smoked flour from Bacheldre Watermill – and with that great packaging, how could I resist?

    Actually it’s oak smoked stoneground strong malted blend flour and as I don’t share the English predilection for malty bits in my bread I thought my first loaf rather ho-hum. The smokiness was enjoyable though, and quite a bit cheaper than setting up a wood-fired oven.

    Possible solution: I sifted out those malty bits and fed them to the birds then made a fresh batch of dough, but the resultant loaf was still too worthy, in a knitted oatmeal kind of way, albeit with a crust to stop traffic (literally).

    My solution: blend it with regular flour at a 1:5 ratio.  Result: a whiff of wood smoke and wheatiness with an excellent rise.  Better than saving up for a wood-fired oven any day.

    £2.85 for 1.5kg from Waitrose

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    Remember my original loaf?  Well, to match the summer weather of late I made a batch of olive oil dough and created this marvelous taleggio and grilled vegetable roulade for Mr T’s team meeting.  Good thing we nibbled some beforehand as there were no leftovers.
    olive oil dough, taleggio, grilled vegetables

    It’s a ball of dough rolled around some cubed taleggio and thawed grilled vegetable mix from Waitrose, brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with Maldon salt flakes.  Oh, and then it’s baked at high temperature for a half hour or so.  A big success – simple, quick, healthy and delicious sliced for picnics … and team meetings.

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