Science proves mozzarella is the best

Mozzarella PizzaThe true connoisseurs of the pizza will tell you that making and creating the perfect slice of Italiana takes a lot of skill and knowledge. There are numerous variables that need to be micromanaged at every step of the preparation and cooking stages but, along with the base and the tomato sauce, mozzarella has remained a constant.

As to why this southern Italian cheese has become the traditional choice we will likely never know – the true story has probably been lost in a long and winding game of Chinese Whispers – but it has been the default option because it melts to absolute perfection, it compliments just about everything else and, well, it is delicious.

All very good reasons indeed. …continue reading Science proves mozzarella is the best

Baked Alaska

Baked AlaskaThere must be some cruel folk at the BBC.

On one of the hottest days of the summer, the people behind the cultural behemoth that is the Great British Bake Off decided to focus upon desserts and set the contestants the most monumental of tasks: to make and cook a Baked Alaska.

Alternatively known as a lace au four, the Baked Alaska consists of ice cream and sponge cake that’s topped with meringue before being cooked in a hot oven before being served.

The ice cream is supposed to remain cold too, just when you thought it all sounded remarkably easy.

Luckily however, meringue is a great insulator so it isn’t as tricky as it first sounds – but we still don’t envy anybody who has to prepare one in a baking hot tent!

Here’s our take on this tricky dessert.

Ingredients

  • Vanilla ice cream
  • 100 ml water
  • 400g sugar
  • 6 egg whites
  • 15cm plain sponge

Method

  • Put the sugar and water into a saucepan and heat until the mixture begins to boil. When it does, use a brush dipped in cold water to wash the crystals down. Continue heating for a moment until it is syrupy in consistency.
  • Beat the egg whites in a bowl until stiff and pyramids are formed when the whisk is removed from the mixture.
  • Slowly continue mixing the egg whites whilst adding in the syrup. Be careful not to allow the syrup to come into contact with either the whisk or the outside of the bowl.
  • Continue beating until glossy and stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed
  • Place the sponge disc on a large serving plate and spoon on the vanilla ice cream.
  • Spread the meringue over the ice cream, using a palette knife if necessary to seal in the ingredients.
  • Now, the hard part: Either use a blowtorch to colour the meringue or quickly put it into a preheated oven (200°C/Gas Mark 6) for 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

Did you know that Americans love to credit their former president Thomas Jefferson for serving up one of the first recorded Baked Alaskas? However this wasn’t a ‘true’ Baked Alaska as it was encased with pastry instead of meringue.

By Aaron Gustafson (Flickr) CC-BY-SA-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Allergen labelling laws

AllergensWith new allergen labelling laws coming into effect later on this year we ask are you aware of what needs to be done?

The entire industry is combining its efforts to make the necessary changes as seamless as possible, but as ever, more needs to be done.

Simply put, existing regulations which have been in place for well over a decade are being expanded this December.

This means that the entire foodservice industry – which includes cafes, restaurants and pubs – to track all the allergenic ingredients that are used on site.

…continue reading Allergen labelling laws

Are you set for the Bank Holiday rush?

Tables and chairs

Can you hear that faint sound on the horizon? That, my friends, is the alluring call of the Bank Holiday weekend and this time around it is set to attract people in droves to restaurants, cafes, bars and other such establishments.

And there isn’t going to ‘just’ be a mild upturn in revenue either.

A recent survey predicts customers are going to spend 120% more over the next few days than they would on a normal weekend.

Three cheers to the Bank Holiday!

It’s just a shame that it’s going to be the last one for eighteen weeks.

…continue reading Are you set for the Bank Holiday rush?

FSA warns against bad barbecue practices

What is it with barbecues?With the August Bank Holiday tantalisingly on the horizon just like the late summer sun, people are hoping that the weather holds up so that they can turn towards a little bit of outside catering over the course of this extended weekend.

But the Food Standards Agency has issued a few carefully chosen words on warning ahead of the elongated weekend.

Food poisoning, they say, is still a real danger and that problem is exasperated when people turn to cooking outdoors. …continue reading FSA warns against bad barbecue practices

Cooking for 41 hours

ClockWe’ve seen and heard of some pretty exhausting shifts that have been put in by chefs, but the near two day shift worked by Gareth Kyle really does take the biscuit – and the world record.

As part of the Eat! Festival, Kyle, from Gateshead, set himself the mammoth challenge of breaking the current world record for non-stop cooking. Over the weekend he put in a ridiculous 41 consecutive hours in Newcastle city centre and entered the record books.

Streamed live, Gareth’s event will now enter the Guinness Book of World Records and as per the rules passers-by got to sample his culinary handiwork as none of the food prepared could go to waste.

…continue reading Cooking for 41 hours

Beer cocktails

Beer cocktails

For one reason or another United Kingdom is a region that is besotted about certain periods of our history, our heritage and identity, and the interplay between different eras and different social classes. Take the immense popularity of Downton Abbey and other period dramas that are set at the turn of the century when the British Isles were thrust into a state of flux through generational, political and technological change. In literary circles this ear was known as the Fin de Siecle, or as Dorian Gray mused to his good friend Lord Henry: “Fin du Globe.” It was a time of upheaval that we have been fascinated with ever since.

Consequently it should be of no surprise that one current beverage trend that is adorned on menus up and down the country can be traced back to the reign of Queen Victoria.

…continue reading Beer cocktails

Common causes for restaurant complaints

StressEarlier on this month an online booking company published a list that will surely resonate with the vast majority of visitors to this humble blog and our valued customers.

It was revealed what our pet-hates are when dining out. Now whilst we might be in catering industry at a professional level, we all probably are keen restaurant goers ourselves, so the chance is that we have witness these behaviours first-hand.

Unsurprisingly the public are most offended when they see people clicking their fingers to (try) and attract the attention of the waiting staff.

It’s commonly seen as bad practice and yet people continue to do it. …continue reading Common causes for restaurant complaints

Potatoes cause a scene

PotatoesOne of the leading potato breeders in the United Kingdom – yes, such a title does exist and it is highly sought after in the industry – has spoken out to criticise the current fascination with aesthetically beautiful spuds.

According to Dr Finlay Dale, from the James Hutton Institute, people are far more on concerned with external quality that other factors, especially when it comes to the breeding process.

Speaking at the Potatoes in Practice event, held this year just outside of Dundee, Dr Dale stated that “[Britain] must have the most attractive compost heaps in Europe.”

…continue reading Potatoes cause a scene

Sticky ribs with a bit of a kick

RibsWith the weather being at its tumultuous British past these past couple of days, the idea of cooking some proper barbecue ribs may be at the back of most people’s minds – we imagine that the weekend has been filled with internal debates such as “should I brave the wind and rain and buy that inflatable dinghy?”

But now that the tail end of the (ex) Hurricane Bertha has now passed us all by and a degree of calm has set in, the sun has reappeared. It’s almost as if it is summer once again.

So in order to celebrate, we’re going to light up that grill and cook some ribs. But not just any ribs; extra sticky and garnished with some peppers, you’ll be getting a couple of not-so subtle kicks – of the good kind – to go alongside some great flavours and the succulently cooked ribs.

…continue reading Sticky ribs with a bit of a kick