There's been a huge increase recently in the number of people who claim to be coeliac or have a dietary intolerance. One of my best friends is a diagnosed coeliac and she has my full understanding and empathy for the difficulties she often has to face when eating out. I'm always more than happy to cook something for her using potato, buckwheat, maize flour or other gluten free ingredient, and she never moans, complains, or gives restaurants a hard time when she goes out, despite being very ill if she does consume gluten in any recognisable amount. So when I recently heard at a local cafe, a customer asking if the soup, which was gluten free and had run out, had only been served to gluten free customers and another who was happy to eat bread pudding for dessert after asking for gluten free options throughout the starter and main courses I was very annoyed.
I am so excited! I made my own sugar today from a whole, raw sugar beet. Now I need to know if this passes the 'clean' eating test. Everywhere I seem to look at the moment in my foodie world I am surrounded by clean eating. Blogs, newspapers, Newsnight, social media - it's the buzz word. Gluten free, sugar free, natural, unrefined, superfoods, bad bad food processing, dreadful dairy ingredients, killing you softly with your grains...wheat. We need to be very careful that this current trend does not lead to a dysfunctional relationship with food. Mind you, it is actually nothing new. In 1982 when I was 23 yrs old, about the age of many of these beautiful, mainly thin, young, clean eating women, I wrote my first recipe book. That's me in the picture. About as much publicity as I got at the time was the second page of the Bury Free Press. But I love the Bury Free Press, so that's great. My books, the First and Second Chalice Recipe Books (never managed a third!) were vegetarian and vegan recipe books. I owned and ran the Chalice Vegetarian Restaurant in Bury St Edmunds at that time and we made our own Tofu, sprouted our own beanshoots, ate every grain under the sun, including quinoa, buckwheat and linseed, grew our own veg, used unrefined sugar in everything, put honey in our Barleycup, and as for the deadly nightshade vegetables and leather shoes.....no way! So with some fond memories of my formative cooking years and a nod to healthy eating I bring you my Sugar Free Lemon, Cinnamon and Sugar Beet Tart.
Goodbye cupcakes, biscuits are back. The cupcake is on the decline and we think the next baking trend will be biscuits, not cookies, but good old butter based, crisp biscuits. Bring on the bourbons!
Icecream is also on the up and together with the biscuit we guess the ice-cream sandwich could be the new dessert craze.
Tea will be trending, not just the current resurgence of the vintage cuppa but in cocktails and as iced teas. Think rooibos, jasmine, hibiscus and green tea in your cocktails. This is our Fresh Red with Mint. Rooibis espresso, apple juice, mint and squeeze of lemon.
Vermouth has been neglected despite being an essential component of the current trend of cocktail making. It is a great aperitif in its own right and you will see the real vermouth action in Spain where it is poured straight from the barrel to the glass. Look out for this Italian vermouth bianco made by chemist Mauro Vergano. It is made from a base of Cortese and Moscato grapes, steeped in citrus and herbs. Subtle aromas of orange blossom over a base of herbs. Delicious! Justin and Jurga Sharpe have it on the menu at Pea Porridge restaurant in Bury St Edmundsl
If 2013 was the year of Quinoa then 2014 will be the year of Buckwheat. Usually referred to as a cereal grain, buckwheat is a superfood and actually a type of fruit. A relative of the rhubarb plant, buckwheat has a mild nutty flavour and a slightly softer texture than other grains. Well known uses for buckwheat are the flour (great for pancakes), soba noodles and kasha. Kasha are the whole buckwheat kernel; you can find them roasted or unroasted at most health food stores. The buckwheat plant's flowers are also used to make a dark, rich honey. Originally from China, the main producer today is Japan, where people eat soba noodles on New Year's Eve as a symbol of longevity. Buckwheat is high in magnesium, good for healthy muscles. One cup of soba noodles has about half the calories of a cup of regular pasta. Buckwheat also contains the antioxidant rutin, known to help lower cholesterol and strengthen small blood vessels. Buckwheat is also a gluten-free food, which makes it a perfect substitute for those who have trouble digesting wheat. The fascination with Asian food will also continue into 2014 with rice playing a big part in the return of the carbs.
Will goat be the new kid in town? We think so. With the increase in goat dairy produce it only makes sense to eat the goat meat itself. A staple in the Caribbean with curried goat being a Suffolkfoodie favourite, we always have some goat meat in the deep freeze. Kid goat is actually very versatile and has a great subtle flavour. Slow roast shoulder or leg grilled over a charcoal fire served Greek style with lemon and herbs, yum
Home brewing could prove to be popular next year How about a Great British Brew Off? Not beer or wine, but VINEGAR. Yes, you heard it. Vinegar is easy to make and we will be starting a brew soon here at Suffolkfoodie HQ. Many years ago a friend with a wine shop kept a barrel for the bottle ends and left overs and brewed wonderful vinegar. We fancy this hand thrown vinaigrier. Drinking vinegars, or shrubs as they were known in the 17th Century are becoming trendy and light vinegar chasers ( yuk?) and savoury cocktails are going to trend soon. Chicken Tikka Martini anyone?
Clucking good chicken restaurants have been appearing throughout 2013 and they will continue to develop out of London. Chicken is still an economical meat and we have also been predicting eggs as a trend for the past year. Scotch eggs are back on the bars in many guises. How about devilled and curried eggs next? New cuts of meat will appear. In 2013 we saw a move towards the American cuts such as the flat iron steak (shoulder blade, known as Butler's Steak in good old Blighty.) Expect the Pork Porterhouse and Ribeye Chops. Out with the lamb shank and in with the lamb short ribs and lamb brisket. Pictured is The Tramshed chicken.
Finally, the last prediction is Wine Bars... Wine bars that really know about the wine and are happy to share their knowledge. Wine bars that are cosy and unpretenious and don't make you feel that you need to swirl, sniff and spit to enjoy a good glass of wine. Our favourite in London is Sager and Wilde. Looking for one in East Anglia please?
Tonight I made Pakora with a bag of out of date spinach which was just begining to wilt. Use any vegetables that you have shrivelling in the bottom of the fridge. Just cut the vegetables into slices, or shred according to their density. Remember that courgettes will cook a lot quicker than chunks of carrot. I have yet to find anyone who doesn't wolf down a plate of these delicious Indian snacks. Gram or Chickpea flour is easy to find, usually with gluten free products on the supermarket shelf, from wholefood shops or anywhere 'ethnic'.
Great to see the slightly hippy, bohemian Rainbow Cafe in Cambridge is still going strong. It was one of East Anglia's first vegetarian restaurants and opened in the 1980's. Lunch yesterday was Gado Gado ( the picture does not really do it justice) resh seasonal vegetables stir fried and served Indonesian style with turmeric brown rice and side dishes of peanut sauce, plum sauce and tamari added an extra punch of flavour. What a fantastic menu of interesting vegetarian world food. I fancy the Vegan Artichoke Parcel next time.
Suffolkfoodie followers, The Sparkes family, sent in this report following a very good meal at The Bistro on the Quay. Coeliac readers, give it a try and see if you agree.
This restaurant is a great example of how to get it right, from the cheerful attentive service to the beautifully presented and delicious freshly prepared food. I am a coeliac and also have some intolerance to dairy products. As soon as this was conveyed to the waiter he asked if I would like the chef to compose a separate menu just for me. Nothing is too much trouble. Such a change from the usual blank looks of ‘oh not another fussy eater’ that I normally get. A real range of starters, mains and desserts, it was hard to choose.
Recommendations - Bang Bang Chicken with peanut sauce, Grilled Sea Bass and the Grilled Thai Chicken breast. Must try - Samphire, I had never had it before. And Creme Brulee for dessert.
Yes, it is more expensive than your average pub, but then you are getting very high quality food, beautifully cooked and in a light and friendly atmosphere where you are made to feel that your custom is valued. I am going back to try the rest of the menu.
(Use either for plain pancakes or Buckwheat pancakes - which are gluten-free)
Makes 10 – 12 pancakes
- 175g/6oz Plain flour or Buckwheat flour
- 2 eggs
- 450ml/15fl oz milk
Sift the flour into a bowl. Add the eggs and gradually beat in half the milk. Add the remaining milk and beat until smooth. Leave to stand for 10 minutes.
Lightly oil a frying pan and place over a moderate heat. Pour in just enough batter to cover the base of the pan when tilted from side to side.
Cook until the underside is golden, then turn and cook on the other side. Cool on a wire rack or plate. Repeat with the remaining batter.
For banana fritters - add less milk to the mixture, a dash of spice and two mashed bananas - a great way to use up over-ripe fruit.
Forgot I was on veggie week and had bacon and eggs for breakfast, but made up for it by making delicious pakora with spinach out of the garden for lunch. Inspector X gave me her recipe - it's so easy - but it's on the gram flour packet too, if you can find any. I asked in Tesco just to see if they knew what it was, not expecting them to have any, and they bought me Rye flour. So went to Ipswich to the Norwich road shops where they have everything you could possibly ever want and spent too much on scotch bonnet peppers, plantain chips and frozen samosa's as well.