Every parent wants their child to eat more vegetables, and with concerns about sugar and childhood obesity on the rise, Riverford Organic Farmers are taking action with a new scheme to get children at local schools, nurseries and pre-schools to love the green stuff!
Self-confessed Veg Nerds, Riverford, is delighted to announce that Inwood’s Small School is the first to register for the scheme in the area. They kicked off the partnership – which will also help the primary school to raise funds when parents get vegboxes delivered to their homes – with changing their school kitchen supplier to Riverford.
Mariamah Mount, SENCO said “We are happy to be able to extend our commitment of organic to fresh fruit and veg and dairy products, as we believe in as a school that sustainable, unprocessed and seasonal is best. The flavours and taste are amazing and the children have already noticed the difference!”
Riverford have also supported the school this week with a vegcookery lesson for the children which consisted of an interactive talk about where vegetables come from and why it’s important to eat a balanced diet. The children all washed, chopped, snipped, squeezed and grated fruit, veg and herbs to create tasty and colourful rainbow salads.
Riverford believes that, one of the best things you can do for your children is involve them in preparing family meals. This can be time-consuming and messy, but it’s important, as what you teach them now will build firm foundations for their future attitudes towards healthy eating. Let them wash, chop, grate, smell and touch fruit and vegetables, and talk about where they come from. A vegbox is an ideal way to do this, and we also have loads of hints and tips to help parents encourage children to eat well and get them involved in the kitchen in fun and safe ways.
The Riverford Veg for Schools scheme is open to all schools, pre-schools and nurseries. Find out more at www.riverford.co.uk/veg-for-schools or call customer services on
Food & Drink
If your dad is anything like mine, I always struggle with gifts for him, be it Birthdays, Christmas or Father’s Day. Usually he, father frustratingly, asks for socks! Over the years, I must have bought every possible style going; thermal ones, ‘cool feet’ for summer, stripey, spotty, plain (one of my Mum’s real pet hates!) ones, even comic ones, so this year I really want to get him something special, and more exciting than socks. Throughout the years he has been amazing to me; from getting up at 5am to help me with Science homework to ferrying me around at all hours in the night, to being a wonderful Grandad that he is today, so I decided he needed something indulgent to enjoy.
Hotel Chocolat have a huge range of suitable gifts for your dad, grandad, stepdad or someone else entirely this June 18th, to suit every budget and every taste. Here are some of their offerings to tempt you…
For the Whisky Loving Dad
‘We poured ourselves a lot of honeyed 10-year-old single malt, poured over a second, 12-year-old single malt that was aged in whisky and sherry casks, then slipped into a high-rye bourbon and a comforting whisky cream liqueur. This was the starting point for our collection of finest whisky recipes, each tipple paired here with the perfect premium chocolate and finishing touches to bring out their best – think thick caramel to enhance hints of dried fruit and spices or a drop of honey to reveal unexpected orange notes. The result: 12 chocolates in four fine recipes.’
For the Beer Loving Dad
Can your dad spot a stout at twenty paces and discern his cocoa beer from his pale cocoa beer with his eyes closed? Then this is the Father’s Day gift for him. A refreshing Pale Cocoa Beer, a rich and malty Cocoa Beer,
a toasty Porter-style Dark Cocoa Beer Truffle Selector and the piece de resistance four of our favourite beer-based chocolates in the Beer Collection; that’s a chocolaty take on Ginger Beer, Caramel Stout, Pale Cocoa Beer and Cocoa Beer.
For the Chocolate Loving Dad
If your dad enjoys chocolate biscuits, then give him the ultimate treat this year with this decadent Billionaire’s Shortbread Slab. A luxurious blend of irresistible caramel and mellow 50% milk chocolate, with a scattering of crispy shortcake biscuits. Our iconic Grand Slabs are an event: satisfyingly snappable and shareable, they’re something to get family or friends round the table for. Inspired by the fluid shape of molten chocolate cooled on a marble chocolatier’s table, they’re sketched by our in-house artist before being translated into chocolate.
For The Fire-Loving Dad
If your dad enjoys his food with a bit of a kick, then he will love this new Chilli Chocolate Box.
‘We’ve added a dash of Habanero to a Slab of our smooth, elegantly balanced 70% dark as well as a soft praline brimming with hazelnuts – we call it the ‘five-second effect’ because that’s all it takes for the warmth to come through!’
For the Dad Who Loves All Sorts
If your dad just has a sweet tooth, then why not surprise him with one of the selection boxes, made with the finest recipes in milk, dark, white and caramel chocolate, from praline to desserts and fruity truffles to tipsy ones. From pocket sized boxes at just £7.50 to the Father’s Day Sleekster at £22.50, there are a range of options available. If you want to spoil him all year round, then check out the chocolate subscription which features yet-to-be-released recipes. He can choose to receive his favourite selection – Classic, High Cocoa, Mellow, Fortified (made with premium tipples) or Rare & Vintage (rare cocoa from around the world), delivered every 4 weeks for 3, 6 or 12 months.
For more information on Fathers Day gifts at Hotel Chocolat, or to find out more about their exquisite subscription selection boxes, please visit their website www.hotelchocolat.com, find them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.
Jersey Royal potatoes are at their best in May – so it’s time for you to learn how to cook them to impress friends and family while they are in season. If anyone knows their Jersey Royals from their Maris Pipers its Steve Smith, Head Chef at Michelin-starred Bohemia.
Below, Steve shares his top tips for how to cook the perfect potatoes this season.
Fresh is best
Cooking with fresh Jersey Royals may seem like stating the obvious, but it has such a huge impact on the final taste. We are lucky at Bohemia that we can locally source them so they are always at their very best. At home, avoid any potatoes that have gone soft or green.
Avoid the fridge
It is a common misconception that if you want food to last longer you should keep it in the fridge. Wrong! When it comes to Jersey Royals you should store them in a cool, dark place as putting them in the fridge turns the starch to sugar, making them lose much of their signature flavour.
Save the skin
Simply wash off the excess dirt from the potatoes rather than peeling or scraping them. This removes any unwanted bits without wasting a good source of fibre and texture.
When boiling or part-boiling the Jersey Royals place them in cold, salty water and allow the water to gradually reach boiling point. You can add a bit of mint or dill to the water for flavour when cooking. Once the water has come to the boil and is simmering, the potatoes should take around 10 minutes. You can tell when they are ready by stabbing them with a knife. Leave them to cool in the water.
Nice and crispy
If you are roasting your potatoes then you want them to be as crispy as possible. In order to do so, get a potato masher to crush the cooked potatoes to increase the surface area so that the heat gets into every crevice. Sprinkle with a bit of fresh thyme and Maldon salt then roast the Jersey Royals at around 200°C.
Bohemia Bar & Restaurant provides unrivalled Michelin Star dining in the heart of Jersey. Head Chef Steve Smith, who has held a Michelin Star for over 15 years from the age of just 24, has created a truly outstanding dining experience with his ingredient and flavour driven tasting menus.
Bohemia Bar & Restaurant, Green Street, St. Helier, Jersey JE2 4UH, Channel Islands
For reservations please call: 01534 880 588 or visit www.bohemiajersey.com
Dunkery Beacon Country House Hotel in Somerset is championing Exmoor’s food heroes, smallholders, kitchen table top producers and garden growers this month (May, 2017).
John, who runs the hotel and restaurant in Wootton Courtenay with his wife Jane, an experienced wine expert and hotelier, explained: “We’re very lucky in these parts to have lots of lovely asparagus grown on our doorstep and we celebrate National Asparagus Month in May with wonderful asparagus inspired dishes on our menu and the British season goes on well into June, while stocks last.
“May is its peak harvesting time and it’s all the more delicious when it is picked just a few miles down the road from you and in our case at Withycombe Asparagus and arrives on our diners’ plates within a few hours of leaving Court Place Farm. You can’t get any fresher than that!”
Asparagus can only be harvested for around two months each year in the key areas in the UK that grow it. Depending on the weather, the crop is traditionally picked from around St George’s Day, April 23, and harvesting ends on June 21, the longest day of the year.
“In Somerset, we find it’s so popular that the harvest gets eaten up very quickly and in fact it’s pretty much just May when you can find fresh, locally grown asparagus in local farm shops and on restaurant menus. So, if you want to be sure to get your fix of the freshest, be fast off the mark!
“We weren’t the first to eat it, the Greeks and Romans bagged this title some 2,000 years ago. Not only did the ancients like its flavour and texture but, apparently, they also recognised its medicinal properties. Legend has it Julius Caesar was a purist and loved his asparagus with just a hint of melted butter.
“But is it really good for you too? Yes, it certainly is. This little veggie is packed full of folic acid, is high in fibre and rich in vitamins A, B, C and E. Perfect for your skin and hair among many other health benefits.”
The couple’s award-winning fare includes dishes made from as much produce sourced nearby as possible and John grows his own herbs, berries, fruits, salads and veggies.
Their double award-winning Coleridge Restaurant, named after the famous, Romantic Movement poet who lived in the area in the late 1700s, uses Exmoor honey, eggs, pork and even offers Exmoor roasted coffee and blended tea.
John also makes all his own bread from flour produced at the nearby National Trust owned and run working mill in the medieval town of Dunster.
“We’re committed to supporting as many ventures like this as possible and we even source veggies and fruit from the back gardens and plots of various villagers nearby wishing to share their spare crops.
“Food tastes better if it is transported as swiftly as possible from field to fork or plot to plate and is healthier for you too, so it makes sense to use the wonderful local ingredients we have nearby and particularly if it comes from the village itself.
“I grow a lot of my own stuff too and we have just built two new large raised beds for growing more of our own vegetables and salads this year.”
Also on the menu is sea bass, bream, trout, cod and scallops from nearby Devon as Exmoor covers a bit of Devon as well as Somerset.
John, who has more than 27 years’ experience in catering, notching up numerous top chef roles in this country and overseas, added: “We’re offering customers details of the provenance of the seasonal food we serve and in some cases, it might be that the person who grew the veggies or salad they’re enjoying is sitting at the table next to you having come in for an evening meal too! And how wonderful is that?
“Exmoor is often overlooked as a foodie destination but it’s a great place full of hidden culinary gems and somewhere off the beaten track to explore. It’s still got some really wild and remote spots and the farmers and producers that work on the land here are a hardy bunch.”
The décor and ambience of the hotel is of the very highest of standards too.
Each room has a mix of traditional, enhancing the sloped ceilings in some places and the character of the building, and modern décor – they are fresh, clean, uncluttered yet cosy and welcoming.
Jane says: “We offer luxury accommodation for those wishing to escape the hurly burly of everyday life and to unwind in a truly tranquil location with stunning scenery all year.”
To find out more about Dunkery Beacon Country House, please call 01643 841 241 or visit www.dunkerybeaconaccommodation.co.uk.
Chef, restaurateur, food writer and TV personality – Aldo Zilli certainly is a tour de force. Angela Cave delves into his marvellous world and finds out the next project on his list!
If you want something done give it to a busy person is an adage which so often proves to be correct – and in the case of chef and TV star Aldo Zilli it is certainly true. His restaurants are testaments to the love of food that he has had since his childhood in Alba Adriatica, in the Abruzzo region of Italy, and with books, TV programmes, a cookery school and his role as executive consultant chef to the San Carlo Group, resting on his laurels is not on the cards! We had the pleasure of chatting to him about all things culinary – with a bit of Italian common sense thrown in!
You came from a family of 9, that must have made for busy mealtimes when you were a boy?
It did, we were poor, I had seven brothers and one sister and I am the youngest so it was lively!
My mother was a cook who could conjure up fantastic food from very little – and she made sure that we all had enough to eat, and that it was good and wholesome too – we had no money but we had lots of love.
I worked in a fish mongers as soon as I was old enough to, and got paid in fish to help the family out. I loved being in the kitchen, though that was not what boys were supposed to do according to my Dad who was keen that I join my brothers in the local leather factories. Being me, I didn’t listen, and so I learnt a lot about simple good cooking from my mum and that has stayed with me, in fact my next book will be a book on Cecina Povera- literally poor cooking – that just means simple basic ingredients cooked to bring out the very best.
I guess that means that you have to start with really great ingredients – plump juicy tomatoes and luscious lemons…
Absolutely, and that means that you need to know how to buy well which is a skill we are forgetting. In Italy we go to the market, we pick up the melon to see if it is ripe, we chose the very best peppers – which are not shrink wrapped – and we smell the produce too, if you did that here you might be arrested! People need to be aware of buying well, getting to know their supplier and letting them know what you want – just because fruit and vegetables are identical doesn’t mean they taste good.
You have fabulous ingredients in this country, you have seasonal food and you have regional food so you need to celebrate that – I will say that I think British chefs are now the best in the world, you have some truly amazing talent.
How did you get into cooking as a profession?
We moved from the hills to the coast and there were a lot of hotels. I thought that with the cooking I learnt from my Mum I could work in a hotel kitchen, because if you could cook you could eat. It was a way to support not only myself but my family. I ended up learning German from working there and then aged sixteen I went with my mate Nino – one is brave at that age – to live in Germany. It was tough and it was lonely, no communication with friends and family, no mobiles, but I learnt a lot and I learnt quickly.
On my travels in Germany and Switzerland I met a girl who said London was amazing and that I should go. I didn’t really want to but she went and I followed, and as soon as I arrived I loved it and felt that I wanted to stay, so I did.
You are a such a busy person, you are on the TV, you have a programme on Radio Soho every Monday from 11-12, you have a new TV series on the way, how do you juggle it all?
I guess I have always been busy, when you come from a big family you just have to get on with it. I love my work and I love new projects too – so I don’t really think about it, I just do it and most of the time it is great fun, there are challenges too but life is a bit like the sea, rough bits and smooth bits but always a journey to go on.
When you cook for someone special what do you cook?
I love to cook seabass in black salt from Sicily – the drama of cracking the crust always impresses – and it tastes delicious. With it we would drink a delicious Trebbiano pecorino from the Abruzzo – pecorino is a grape variety as well as a cheese – and the wine is so typical of my region – ahh, perfect!
What is the latest thing that you cooked that you love?
Actually it is grape jam from my own grapes which grow along the side of my house – I couldn’t think what to do with them and then I remembered my mother’s marmellata which she made after the harvest; and it is delicious, I will make a crostata with it.
What advice would you give to someone going into the industry today – and what would you have been if not a chef?
Honestly, do something else! No, really it is so different now from when I started, we worked seven days a week, fifteen hours a day, you wouldn’t be allowed to do that now and there are fantastic opportunities, but is hard work for sure. If I wasn’t a chef I would have liked to be a drummer – or an actor. I love films – I was in Emmerdale and it was great, so that is my other career choice.
We are now eating out so much more and travelling more too and I am guessing that that is reflected in the food we want to eat.
I think it is, my restaurants recognise that and, for example, San Carlo Fumo in St Martins Lane offers cicchetti, which are small plates representing many regional specialities. This gives people the chance to discover new things as well as being reunited with culinary friends!
The Butcher has been a quintessential fixture of the High Street for hundreds of years, but why is it that many of us only visit them so occasionally?
National Butchers’ Week is about to get into full swing again from 14th-20th March and we want to help you understand what a fantastic service they can offer and why you should get to know the rather knowledgeable person behind the block.
For many consumers, the process of buying meat has become somewhat dislocated and quite wasteful, with many of us buying vacuum-packed products, the providence of which we do not always know, and sometimes letting it go to waste because we have brought the wrong product or too much of it. The National campaign aims to turn people back towards their butchers with the knowledge that they are in the best hands for service, expertise and variety.
Far from being more costly, butchers can offer invaluable advice on different cuts to enjoy, such as those suited to low and slow cooking or even meats that you had never attempted to cook at home. They can even give you those off cuts that make a dramatic taste difference to sauces and stocks.
Editor Rod Addy of the Meat Trades Journal, which organises and promotes the week, said: “Never before have butchers been in a better position to capitalise on consumers’ desire to shop outside big mainstream retailers and try out new things. For example, the rise in popularity of eating out over the past few years and the need to save cash has led shoppers to reduce restaurant bills by recreating the dining out experience at home. Butchers, many of whom now supply restaurants directly or offer a restaurant service themselves, are ideally placed to capitalise on that trend.”
Evidence suggests that they are doing so, he added, with independent meat traders increasingly offering ready-to-eat and added-value products requiring less preparation. Others are holding cookery demonstrations to show how consumers can make the most of the meat they buy while not breaking the bank.
If you care about buying meat that has been properly sourced from the best farmers, beautifully in season game or even amazing hand-made sausages, pay a visit to your butcher. After seeing the difference in price and quality you won’t look back.
If you want to find out more visit
Prestat, chocolatier to Her Majesty The Queen, has created a fabulous NEW Hot Cross Bun Spiced Easter Egg – combining velvety milk chocolate with a secret spice recipe to create the nostalgic taste of hot cross buns. Each egg is filled with a clutch of mini gold foiled eggs before being tied with a ribbon and placed into one of their beautiful boxes.
Founded in London in 1902, the chocolate shop was opened by descendants of Louis Dufour (the man who created the world’s first recorded chocolate truffle in Chambery, France in 1896). Prestat’s reputation for making exquisite handmade chocolates quickly spread and before too long, maharajas, sultans, presidents and stars of the stage and screen had all experienced the delight that only the finest chocolate can bring.
Prestat’s quintessential Mints and their Rose and Violet Crèmes were Her Majesty The Queen Mother’s favourite chocolates. Both The Queen Mother and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II granted Prestat a Royal Warrant and Prestat chocolates continue to be served at every major state banquet. Prestat is one of the few British artisan chocolatiers to make all its own chocolates – giving it complete control of recipes and the sourcing of ingredients as well as the opportunity to nurture the traditional skills needed to create its handcrafted chocolates.
Prestat’s kitchens have won 13 Gold Great Taste Awards in the last two years, as well as being voted ‘The Country’s Best Chocolate and Confectionary Brand (2014-2015).
This Easter there is no better way to treat a special someone in your life with some of the finest chocolate available. These sumptuous Chocolates are available at Prestat’s Concession in the Harrod’s Foodhalls (www.harrods.com) as well as in Selfridges, Harrods and John Lewis. Some lines are also available in Waitress and Ocado.
To find out your local stockists, please visit www.prestat.co.uk
Fairtrade Fortnight is the highlight of the year for the Fairtrade movement in the UK and in 2017 it will run from Monday 27 February until Sunday 12 March.
The multi-platform celebrity fronted campaign will call for a living wage for world’s poorest farmers and workers. Fairtrade is the most widely recognised ethical label in the world and one that has paved a more conscious way of shopping since it started more than 22 years ago.
It currently works with 1.6 million farmers and workers across 74 developing countries, providing a safety net against volatile market prices and the Fairtrade Premium – often the only resource to improve their social, economic and environmental conditions. Here are a selection of Fair-trade Recipes for you to try at home.
A great pick me up – these biscotti are packed with nuts, dried fruit and a hint of coffee – perfect dipped in an espresso! fairtrade
500g Fairtrade unrefined caster sugar
1 Tablespoon Fairtrade espresso
1 Tablespoon baking powder
5 eggs, lightly beaten
the finely grated zest of 1 ½ lemons
150g Fairtrade cashew nuts
150g Fairtrade Brazil nuts (roughly cut into 6-8 pieces)
100g plump sultanas
100g sliced Fairtrade dried apricots
100g sliced dried figs
1. Heat the oven at 180°C. Then mix the flour, sugar, espresso and baking powder together in a large bowl. Add half the eggs and all the lemon zest and mix well. Gently mix in the remaining eggs. Add the nuts and dried fruit and mix well.
2. Divide the dough into 6 and roll out into sausage shapes about 3cm in diameter and place on baking parchment on baking trays, at least 6cm apart. You may find it easier to dampen your hands when rolling these out to prevent the dough sticking to your hands. Lightly flatten the ‘sausages’ and bake until golden brown, approximately 20-30 minutes.
3. Once baked, remove from the oven and leave to sit for 10 minutes to cool and firm up. Drop the temperature of the oven to 140°C. Using a serrated knife, cut the biscotti on an angle into ½ cm thick slices and lay these out on the baking trays.
4. Return to the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes then turn the biscotti over and cook until they are pale golden, approximately 10-15 minutes. Once done, remove from the oven and cool on cake racks, then store them in airtight jars. They’ll keep for 2-3 weeks.
Arianna’s Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls
“I have known the basic version of this recipe by heart for as long as I can remember. My mother, who is Norwegian, has been making these rolls for every significant family event since she learned them from her mother. When I was shown how to make them as a little girl, always by eye as the recipe had never been written down, I felt so grown up – as if I was being trusted with the most amazing family secret.
I have played around with and tweaked the recipe over the years until I perfected my unique version of my childhood favourite. When my mother finally admitted my rolls were better than hers, it was one of my proudest moments as a chef! To me, these rolls are a symbol of family, celebrations and the start of my love of baking which ultimately led me to become a pastry chef and own my own bakery in London: Bittersweet Bakers.” – Arianna Halshaw
For the doughfairtrade
500g strong bread flour, plus extra for dusting
120g Fairtrade golden caster sugar
21/2 teaspoons dried, quick-acting yeast
11/4 teaspoons salt
225ml whole milk
40g unsalted butter
1 large free-range egg
1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped
For the filling
150g Fairtrade light brown muscovado sugar
21/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
115g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g dark (70% cocoa solids) Fairtrade chocolate, finely chopped
For the cinnamon sauce
25g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
50g Fairtrade light brown muscovado sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1. To make the dough, put the flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Set aside.
2. Gently heat the milk and butter together until just warmed and the butter has melted.
Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, pour the warm milk and butter into the mixer bowl along with the egg and seeds from the vanilla pod, then add half of the dry ingredients and gently mix until combined.
3. Slowly add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until the flour has been fully incorporated and the dough is sticking to the sides of the bowl. If the dough is really sticky, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and starts to form a ball.
Turn out the dough onto a floured work surface and knead for about 6 minutes until the dough is firm and elastic. Alternatively, switch to the dough hook on your stand mixer and knead the dough in the bowl for 4 minutes.
4.Place the dough in a large bowl, loosely cover with clingfilm and place a damp tea towel over the bowl. Put in a warm dark place, such as an airing cupboard, and leave the dough for 11/2–2 hours, until it has doubled in volume.
5. Meanwhile, prepare the ingredients for the sauce. Melt the butter, sugar, salt and cinnamon together and pour into the bottom of a greased baking tray measuring 23 x 33cm. Set aside.
6. For the filling mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon and set aside.
Once the dough has doubled in volume, remove it from the bowl and smooth out onto a well-floured surface. Roll out into a large rectangle, roughly 35 x 45cm.
7. Spread the room temperature butter evenly onto the dough rectangle to within 1cm of the edge on all sides. Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon mixture over the buttered area and then scatter with chunks of chocolate, aiming for even coverage.
Starting with a long edge, carefully roll the dough, tucking it in firmly as you go, until you reach the opposite edge. Using a serrated knife, cut the ‘log’ in the middle, then into quarters, and then into sixteenths to ensure the rolls are uniform in size.
8. Put the rolls evenly spaced with a 1-cm gap between each one in the tray with the cinnamon sauce. Place a damp tea towel over the tray and allow the rolls to rise for a second time by leaving them for 45 minutes in a warm dark place.
9. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Bake the rolls in the preheated oven until they are puffed up and golden brown. Test by pressing lightly on one of the rolls: if it doesn’t feel soft inside, the rolls are cooked.
10. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes in the pan then, using a baking sheet or large plate that will cover the entire pan, very carefully but swiftly invert the pan. Be sure to use oven gloves because the sauce will be very hot. Delicious warm or cold.
Divine Chocolate Panettone
Not just for Christmas, a Panettone makes a lovely pudding or indulgent weekend brunch. The very fine, delicate cake-like crumb and texture of this festive Italian yeast bread is the result of several risings, so allow plenty of time. A large food mixer does all the hard work.
350g strong white bread flour
1 x 7g sachet easy-blend dried yeast
3 large free range eggs, at room temperature
2 large free range yolks, at room temperature
75g Fairtrade caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
grated zest of 1 unwaxed orange
grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
175g unsalted butter, very soft
50g candied peel, very finely chopped
1/2 x 100g bar (50g) Divine orange milk chocolate, very finely chopped
40g unsalted butter, melted, for brushing
extra flour for working
You will need a 15cm round deep cake tin (or coffee tin), greased and lined (base and sides, so paper extends 5cm above the height of the tin)
1. Put half of the flour into the bowl of a food mixer. Add the yeast and combine using the dough hook attachment. Beat the 3 whole eggs until just mixed then add to the yeast mixture. On low speed work the ingredients together to make a very thick, smooth batter. Cover the bowl with a lid or cling film and leave in a warm spot until doubled in size – about 1 hour.
2. Mix the two egg yolks into the batter then add the rest of the flour, the sugar, salt, plus the orange and lemon zest. Mix the ingredients together on low speed to form a very soft and sticky dough. Cut up the butter into small pieces and gradually work into the dough, still at low speed. Knead the dough in the machine on low speed for 3–4 minutes until it is no longer streaky but looks smooth and silky.
3. Cover the bowl as before and leave in a warm but not hot spot until doubled in size – about 2 hours. Flour your knuckles then punch down the dough to deflate it. Cover again and leave to rise as before until doubled in size – about an hour this time. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and punch down.
4. Combine the sultanas with the chopped peel and chocolate in a small bowl. Add a teaspoon of flour and toss gently – this helps prevent them sticking together in clumps in the dough. Scatter the mixture over the dough and gently knead in with your hands. Shape the dough into a ball and gently drop into the prepared tin. Cut a cross in the top of the dough with the tip of a sharp knife. Cover the top of the tin loosely then leave in a warm spot until doubled in size – about 1 hour. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
5. Brush the top of the loaf with plenty of melted butter then bake in the heated oven for 10 minutes. Brush again with melted butter, then reduce the oven temperature to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and bake for about 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Set the tin on a wire cooling rack and leave to cool for 15 minutes (the crust of the loaf will be very fragile) then gently turn out and leave to cool completely before slicing.
Store in an airtight container and eat within 5 days, or toast.
Utterly charming, inimitable and endlessly entertaining, The Hairy Bikers seem to effortlessly strike upon the winning formula each time they grace our screens. But, what are they like to work with? Television producer and food writer Pete Lawrence has worked with them for many years and helps us get to know them behind the camera lens.
As a television producer I have made several series with The Hairy Bikers over the past 5 years and as well has having the utmost respect for them professionally, do regard them as friends. The first time I met them was in a hotel café near Paddington. We started talking about a programme idea and I realised straight away that they were passionate about food, interested in history and genuine blokes. The series we were discussing was ‘The Hairy Bikers – Best of British’. I’m not sure how long we talked but I do know I missed several trains. The other thing that I noticed was just how many people came up to them in the course of our conversation. Most just wanted to say hello, others wanted photos or autographs but I can honestly say it was more than with any other celebrities I have worked with. That is still true today. What I like about Dave and Si is that are completely democratic – if I were the Queen, Pope or President, it wouldn’t have mattered, they would have still paused for a moment for a chat with their fans.
Dave and Si are ordinary blokes from working class backgrounds. Si grew up in the North East and Dave in the North West. Their roots are very important to them and because they are true to who they are, they attract a broad and loyal audience – in some cases an audience that would never normally watch a cookery show – but this is different, it’s ‘The Hairy Bikers’. That’s the first thing to learn when you work with them – they aren’t a ‘made-for-TV’ experiment, they are themselves. They were mates long before getting in front of the cameras and their friendship is solid and genuine. They are also great fun and pure entertainers and completely unique. They get away with stuff on TV that only they could do – whether dressing up, dancing, singing, being bonkers – that’s who they are.
They both worked in TV before becoming presenters. Dave was an award-winning prosthetics and make-up artist and Si, an assistant director on costume dramas. They met, (unsurprisingly) in a pub, while working on a Catherine Cookson drama ‘The Gambling Man’. The pub was called the Egypt Cottage near Tyne-Tees studios. It was full of the drama crew and actors all drinking champagne and Dave saw this ‘hairy young chap’ at the bar, asking for a pint and a curry. Dave immediately said he’d have the same and it turned out to be the start of a 25-year friendship.
I’ve worked on many series with them, since Best of British but we all think our next one is the best yet. The next series, The Hairy Bikers’ Comfort Food, will air in January on the BBC. Dave and Si cook some truly delicious dishes, have great fun and their friendship oozes from the screen. Co-incidentally it was filmed in my house and the freezer still has a few tubs of deliciousness on the shelves! It will be on BBC One in the afternoons in the new year – keep an eye out for it.
Si: Italy. I know it really well ‘cos my sister has lived there for 20 years so there a connection. Culturally and gastronomically it is so focused and such variety in food terms, regionally and seasonally.
Dave: It does depend a bit on where I have just been as I do fall in love with food cultures on a regular basis but if I had to choose one (and I have recently moved there partly for culinary reasons) it would be France. I love the classical tradition but also everybody’s ethos to food and life – no matter what job someone does, or what their social standing, everyone appreciates wonderful produce.
Pete: What is your ‘can’t be bothered’ culinary guilty secret?
Si: Really nice toast with either Marmite or a burgundy butter.
Dave: Without doubt pizza. There’s is a fantastic pizza place about 20 miles from my place in France and it is so tempting. Honestly, I sometimes cycle there just to make me feel less guilty.
Pete: What would be your top five ‘can’t live without ingredients?
Si: Salt, pepper, chillis, garlic and onions.
Dave: Olive oil, salt, garlic (basis of everything) and bacon.
Pete: You are household names across the world- how do you stay grounded?
Si: I try not to think about the showbiz stuff too much and remember my roots. It’s also about surrounding yourself with decent people.
Dave: My wife Lil keeps me grounded- if I get too big for my boots she will tease me without remorse. Work-wise Si and I tend to police each other too and give each other a nudge if we forget who we are. I remember a few years back I bought a Bentley Flying Spur…thought I was it…then after a couple of weeks the wheel came off on the M40. I sold it – thought it was God having a word!
Pete: Do you ever pinch yourselves?
Si: Yes ALL the time. We have been on an amazing journey – one people from our backgrounds rarely get the opportunity to make.
Dave: All the time – I never take anything for granted. It is like being in another world sometimes though. Last week we were filming together with cameras, lights and so on and yesterday I was down the tip hauling bags out the boot of the car – so real life never goes away.
Pete: I know you both work incredibly hard, how do you like to relax?
Si: Listening to music, reading poetry, watching TV and playing in a band
Dave: I love cooking and feeding people – I love it to the bottom of my boots and I never tire of it. I like fishing too but I don’t get much time for that.
Si: Some days are easier than others, but we are both committed to not leaving people short-changed.
Dave: Well, I have the greatest respect for our viewers and if people are polite I always say yes. At home, once I hit the sofa and start chatting with Lil – I’m totally relaxed.
Pete: What did you want to be as a child?
Si: A coastguard – or a lighthouse keeper. I guess it was growing up by the sea in Northumberland.
Dave: Either Blaster Bates….so a demolition expert or Neil Armstrong…so an astronaut!
Pete: What’s the most amazing thing you have ever eaten?
Si: A barbecued pork and egg sandwich. It was in Vietnam – bought from an elderly lady pushing a cart. It had fish sauce in it, the pork had been marinated, there was a herb called ram…it was crispy, savoury and a real surprise to the taste bud
Dave: It was on ‘Market Kitchen’ and chef Jun Tunake made a Foie Gras and artichoke soup – it was the most indulgent thing I have ever tasted. And then recently on the ‘Chicken and Egg’ series we made together, Si and I visited Georges Blanc’s restaurant. His Poulet de Bresse Chicken with Morels mushrooms was so good, I went back 2 nights running after the filming finished.
Pete: How do you get ideas for recipes?
Si: It comes from having a genuine passion for food and wanting to do it well.
Dave: I just think of something Id like to eat then work out how to do it technically. Like on the Home cooking series we have just done with you – I really fancied a banana tarte
tatin… I just thought that sounds nice lets make it.
Pete: What do you have cravings for?
Si: Bread, butter and beer.
Dave: Cheese. Cheddar. Not good for the diet!
Pete: What do you like watching on TV?
Si: Documentaries, news and anything made by you!
Dave: Benidorm! Anything with Rick Stein in it and box sets. I’m currently watching ‘The Tunnel’. It’s amazing. Oh and I’m quite partial to a bit of ‘To Buy or Not To Buy’!
Pete: What’s your favourite wine- cheese and motorbike?
Si: Wine would be a full bodied Marzo. Cheese would be Comte and for bike a Jota, without question
Dave: Wine would be Meuso – it’s a white burgundy- it’s a big ‘un. Cheese would be Beaufort- there’s a guy sells it in Rennes market- it does everything you would want a cheese to do. And motorbike would be a Laverta Jota 180…it’s from the 70’s and a work of art.
Pete Lawrence (@digthisfood) is the owner and Creative Director of Hungry Gap Productions Limited and Author of The Allotment Cookbook www.digthisfood.co.uk
Tray of assorted variety of candy apples at state fair
Ingredients Instructions Notes Recipe from Good Food magazine, November 2009
Tray of assorted variety of candy apples at state fair
Recipe from Good Food magazine, November 2009