No. 87 - April 2010

Celebrating 10 years Online !


Welcome to the April 2010 newsletter. If you have any suggestions, additions or interesting questions for the newsletter, please write to me at Also, if you come across any publications mentioning, don't forget to let me know.

Once again,  the layout  may have changed slightly, so make sure you go right to the end to ensure you don't miss anything.




Florence Sandeman,



Find the best of UK produce online  Food shopping has never been easier !

Easter Teatime Treats


4th April is Easter Day


Indulge yourself, your family and your friends with some truly scrumptious teatime treats from traditional Easter cupcakes to American Easter Whoopie Pies (which are all the rave this year) to lavish layer cakes.  Below are 5 delicious recipes guaranteed to make your Easter tea special.

Coconut Passionfruit Cake Apricot Pecan Simnel Cake Easter Bunny Biscuits Chocolate Easter Cupcakes Easter Lemon Whoopie Pies


Click here to find lots of other Easter recipes plus general information about Easter food traditions.


Cooking Skills . . .

           Making Sauces (Part I) 


Although there are now lots of ready made and convenience sauce mixes available in one form or another, making your own sauce is not only cheaper but in most cases they taste much nicer and once you've mastered the two basic sauce- making techniques, you will be able to create all manner of sauces for any occasion in a matter of minutes.

In this feature I am going to deal with the first of these techniques - making a sauce using the roux method.  Roux is the name given to a cooked butter and flour mixture which is used to thicken liquids. Sauces made using this method are very versatile as they can be made thin enough to pour, slightly thicker to coat or thick enough to bind together ingredients such as in vol au vent fillings and as the base in soufflés.

To make a roux, the butter is melted then an equal amount of plain flour is added and cooked for a short time  before the addition of liquid.  The amount of time the flour and butter are cooked  before  the addition of liquid, plays an important part in the finished appearance of the sauce:-

  • White Roux  - 1-2 minutes when a very white sauce is required

  • Blond Roux - 2-3 minutes until straw coloured suitable for most white sauces

  • Brown Roux  - 3-5 minutes or until a nut brown colour

About Mother Sauces

Mother sauces are so named because you can make lots of variations from the basic sauce recipe. The mother sauces using the roux method are two white sauces - Béchamel and Velouté and a brown sauce - Espagnole.

The difference between the two white mother sauces is that a Béchamel is made with seasoned flavoured milk, whilst a Velouté  is made with a light coloured stock  such as chicken, fish or veal.


A more simple white sauce, suitable for most uses, can be made with unflavoured milk. This has the added advantage that it can then be made into a sweet or savoury sauce.

In the above video I make a classic Béchamel sauce using the roux method which has mostly been filmed in real time so you can see how quick and easy it is to do.  This sauce forms the basis of many other sauces including mornay (cheese) Soubise (onion), Indienne (curry) and Aurore (tomato).  Click here for the full sized video.

April Site Updates



What's in Season in  April


Click here to see what's in season this month, how to cook it and to find a UK Farmers' Market near you.




Weekday Menus



Click the picture to find this month's  weekday menus to help you plan your meals and shopping weeks ahead.  Each weekday has a main course, suggested vegetable accompaniments plus a dessert which have been planned to supply you with a balanced diet. It's also been designed so that you can interchange one day's menu with another in the same grouping. Most of the main courses are ready to serve in less than 40 minutes - great for working people.





Culinary Videos


Click the picture to find the latest additions including Phil Vickery's latest pudcast


* * * April Special Feature * * *

Whoopie Pies


Long time favourites in the USA, whoopie pies are now taking the UK and other places by storm,  with several stores now selling their own unique versions including Harrods (Knightsbridge, SW1) and apparently M&S very shortly.

If you've never come across them, they are best described as a cross between a cake and cookie (rather than biscuit), individual sized (up to 10cm/4-inches in diameter) and traditionally made up of two shallow chocolate cake halves sandwiched together with a sweet marshmallow-type filling.

According to folklore, Amish women living in the Pennsylvania region of the USA would bake them from left-over batter for their husbands’ and children’s lunches and when the farmers or children found these sweet treats in the bottom of their lunch boxes, they would shout "Whoopie!" A fun story for a fun name though how true it is remains to be proven.


Click here to watch the full sized video

They are just as easy to make as cupcakes and many might say more delicious to eat because the filling and (if using) topping, are evenly spread between the two layers of cake which means you get a bit of everything in every bite.

I've set up a whole page on this site just dedicated to whoopie pies where you can find lots of information about them plus a selection of whoopie pie recipes. In the meantime, see how easy it is make them in this video.

A Traditional Whoopie Pie

Plain and simple



A 21st Century Whoopie Pie

Adorned with icing and decorations





Food in the News ...


Selenium may decrease diabetes risk: French study

Stephen Daniells, 19-Mar-2010

Increased blood levels of selenium may decrease a man’s risk of abnormal blood sugar metabolism, and maybe protect against diabetes, says a new study from France.

> > > > More  External link)



   3 in 1 . . .

23rd April is St. Georges Day AND

Shakespeare's Birthday


From A Midsummer Night's Dream, IV, 2:
BOTTOM: ... And, most dear actors, eat no onions nor garlic, for we are to utter sweet breath



To celebrate I have found an Elizabethan recipe for a garlic sauce which is trebly appropriate as it happens to be national Garlic Day on the 19th April. 


I haven't tried it myself, but I'm hazarding a guess it would go very well with baked or roast chicken.



Elizabethan Garlic sauce

75g/3oz Ground Almonds
5 Garlic Cloves, crushed
360ml/12fl.oz. Chicken stock
2 tbsp Breadcrumbs

Place all the ingredients in a saucepan, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time.



Custom Printed Aprons

Full length white chef's aprons with exclusive fun designs for him and her. Buy from stock or have your own unique design professionally printed.



Other Food Celebrations in April


4th Cordon Bleu Day

8th Empanada Day

14th National Pecan Day

19th National Garlic Day

26th -2nd May National Bread Week

30th Raisin Day




    Take some . . .

         Roquito® Peppers


Although Roquito® Peppers are marinated in a sweet brine, they still have a great crunch, and their fiery warmth is balanced with the chillies' natural sweetness. They have an intense flavour and a bit of heat so you can put them in no end of recipes to add some extra sparkle.


Below are a couple of short videos courtesy of featuring these delicious chillies. The first video is an intro to using their product and the second is a recipe using Roquito® peppers by chef Alex Mackay who also gives some hints and tips for making the most of their great flavour and crunch.


More ideas for using Roquito®  Peppers

•  The shape of the chillies makes them perfect for stuffing

•  Chop and sprinkle over pizzas and salads to add some heat

•  Use in sandwiches



For a full sized video of the recipe plus the written instructions click here.


Recipe of the Month


Rhubarb & Custard Pots with Lavender Biscuits


Staying on the rhubarb and Easter themes, here's a delightful dessert courtesy of Carnation. It's actually the latest Phil Vickery Pudcast recipe so you can also watch a video of him making it  here.

Serves: 4
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes plus chilling


Zest and juice 1 orange
1½t bsp sugar
500g (1lb 2oz) rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
140g (5oz) Carnation Condensed Milk Light
300ml (½pt) water
4 rounded tsp custard powder
6tbsp half fat crème fraîche



1. Place the rhubarb in a pan with the orange juice and sugar. Cook until soft and pulpy. Cool then chill for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile make the custard; place the condensed milk and water into a pan and whisk together over a moderate heat. Mix the custard powder with a little cold water to make a paste then add into the pan and whisk until smooth.

3. Turn up the heat and cook the custard until thickened. Leave to cool then cover with parchment paper (this will prevent a skin forming on the custard) and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Cook's Tip....


Don't be tempted to add any more liquid when cooking the rhubarb as it has a high water content already.

Lavender Biscuits

Makes 24
Preparation time time: 10 minutes

Cooking time:  10 minutes


175g (6oz) butter
175g (6oz) lavender sugar
8tbsp Carnation Condensed Milk Light
1 egg, beaten
175g (6oz) plain flour
115g (4oz) self raising flour

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, 375°F, Gas Mark 4.

2. Beat the butter, sugar and condensed milk until pale and creamy. Beat in the egg, then sift in the flours. Work with a spoon and then your hands to form a soft dough. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to the thickness of a pound coin. Cut into shapes using a biscuit cutter.

3. Transfer the biscuits to parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes. Leave to cool and dust with sugar.


To serve

Mix the crème fraîche into the custard and beat until smooth. Place the cooled rhubarb into dishes and top with the creamy custard, serve with a lavender biscuit.

3 ways with . . .


Did you know....


                    Forced rhubarb is grown in almost darkness –  usually by candlelight?


You should start seeing fresh rhubarb in the shops soon. Unfortunately the season doesn't last that long so you have to be relatively quick to make the most of the very short Rhubarb growing season.

Below are three very different recipes using rhubarb which demonstrate just some of the ways it can be used - both sweet and savoury and you can find lots more recipes using rhubarb on the Rhubarb Recipes page.

Salmon with Rhubarb

Rhubarb Fool Veg

Rhubarb Cake


Rhubarb Nutritional Values

Per 100g/4oz = 18 Calories

% Daily Value *
Total Fat 0.168g 0%
    Saturated Fat 0.0445g 0%
    Polyunsaturated Fat 0.0832g  
    Monounsaturated Fat 0.0328g  
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 3.36mg 0%
Potassium 241.92mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 3.81g 1%
    Dietary Fiber 1.51g 6%
Protein 0.756g 2%

% Daily Value *

Vitamin A 2 %     Vitamin C 11 %
Calcium 7 %     Iron 1 %
Vitamin D 0 %     Vitamin E 0 %
Thiamin 1 %     Riboflavin 1 %
Niacin 1 %     Folate 1 %
Vitamin B-6 1 %     Vitamin B-12 0 %
Phosphorus 1 %     Magnesium 3 %


1 %



1 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.


The Kitchen Garden


Still talking of rhubarb, last October I bought a rhubarb crown to grow in a pot.  It looked really fact it looked dead, but I re-potted it into a larger container as soon as I could and left it to its own devices.  What joy spring brings !


October 2009

1st March 2010

26th March 2010

Garden Experiment 2010

It's still too early for me to sow the seeds as they don't need to be sown until mid-April earliest (indoors) so  you can still join me in the experiment by ordering a packet yourself.


For more herb and vegetable growing instructions visit our growing herbs and vegetables section  or for more detailed information on growing fruit as well as herbs and vegetables,  plus lots of in-depth gardening articles,  visit our sister site

April in the Kitchen Garden



Sowing is still the order of the day but unlike March, April is a time when you can sow the majority of vegetable and herb seeds outdoors unless there is an unusually long cold snap.



Continue to sow Aubergines, Capsicums (Sweet peppers), Chives, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary,  sage,    sweet basil,  thyme,  tomatoes.


Start thinning out seeds which were sown in pots or trays last month once they  are about 12mm/1/2" tall.. Don't delay too long as crowded plants not only fight for light, making them grow tall and spindly, but they are also more prone to damping off disease




Continue to sow Broad beans, Brussels sprouts, dill, summer cabbage, carrots, turnips cauliflowers, Kohl Rabi, Leeks, peas, lettuce, marjoram, parsnips,  radish, spinach, spring onions


Start thinning out seeds which were sown last month but in order to prevent large gaps occurring, only thin to half the final distance.


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