No. 79 - July 2009
Welcome to the July 2009 Recipes4us Newsletter. If you have any suggestions, additions or interesting questions for the newsletter, please write to me at Newsletter@Recipes4us.co.uk .
Click the picture to find July's weekday menus to help you plan your meals and shopping weeks ahead. Each weekday has a main course, suggested vegetable side dishes and 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 and most of the main courses are ready to serve in less than 40 mins - great for working people.
7th - 13th July is National Salad Week (UK)
When thinking about salads, the first thing which often comes to mind is items such as lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, radish and the like. Certainly, when I was growing up in 50's England, in general, that's about all one could expect to get....accompanied by protein in the form of cheese, ham, eggs or chicken and often tinned foods such as pilchards or corned beef.
Today salads are a more sophisticated affair for many. Not only are complete dishes such as Caesar salad, Greek salad, pasta and bean salads commonly eaten, but a myriad of dressings are now used all of which are enhanced by the fact that we can now get non-local foods and decent olive oils and vinegars.
Whilst there's absolutely nothing wrong with a straight-forward cheese or meat salad, here are a few more unusual main course salad recipes to whet your appetite.
> > > > More about National Salad Week
July Site Updates
Flans, Tarts & Quiches - New!
Flans, tarts and quiches are a great way to combine different ingredients, flavours and seasonings in a compact format, with the additional advantage that many can also be served cold and are therefore suitable for picnics and buffets or advanced preparation and cooking.
I've set up a whole new page on the site dedicated to these versatile items in which you can find the answer to all manner of questions such as what is the difference between tarts, flans and quiches, the best pastry to use, how to make perfect flans, including a couple of short instructional videos, plus some handy pastry quantity weights and measures. And to make things easy, there's also a whole page with lots of sweet and savoury flan/tart/quiche recipes - over 60 in all.
The Kitchen Garden
* * * 2009 Garden Experiment * * *
As this will be the last report on this experiment I thought it might be more interesting to leave last month's picture up so you can see how much growth the lettuce has achieved. I've also taken a slightly wider viewed picture to show off just a few of my other veggies which I'm growing in containers this year.
Picture 1 - taken week beginning 18th May for June newsletter
As you will see in the second picture, they have done very well especially as it was only a matter of 3 weeks between taking the two photos. I also thinned the plants out shortly after the the first picture was taken, despite which, I actually started cropping on 10th June. Mmmmmm nothing like home grown lettuce.
Picture 2 - taken 9th June
With regards to the results of the experiment, although the lettuce on right hand side which are the "moon" seeds seem bigger, this is due to the fact that there is one particular variety which naturally grows taller - wasn't one of my best decisions to sow a mixture - so all in all, unless something remarkable happens in the next few weeks, my conclusion is that it made little or no difference planting by the lunar cycles.
Some of the other veggies you can see in picture 2 include climbing beans, peas, dwarf runner beans and carrots.
If you are interested in growing veggies in containers, just so you get an overall perspective of the size of pots in picture 2, the trough is about 3 feet wide x 9 inches deep: the 2 pots at the back (left) which have the climbing beans are 15 inches in diameter and 20 inches deep: the smaller pot just in front of those containing carrots is about 9 inches in diameter and 12 inches deep.
I only sowed about 12 peas in one third of a small trough measuring 30 inches x 6 inches which you can see at the back (next to the climbing beans). It was just an experiment to see how they'd do as I had never grown them before. I am amazed at the results and started cropping in mid June. I'm only sorry I didn't do the whole trough.
Unfortunately, I've run out of containers so that's a must for next year.Since writing that, I picked and ate the peas which were so good that I decided I couldn't wait until next year, so I made room in a small trough by transferring the existing plants elsewhere.
What's in Season in
Click here to see what's in season this month and to find a UK Farmers' Market near you. There are Lots of seasonal recipes too
Click the picture to find the latest Recipes4us additions plus the next in the Phil Vickery pudcast series
July in the Kitchen Garden
Plants such as courgettes, marrows, runner, dwarf and green beans and outdoor cucumbers should be romping away by now. Make sure you keep them well watered and weed free.
Continue to make small sowings of carrots, lettuce, radish, spinach and spring onions to ensure a continuous harvest. Alternatively just harvest every other plant. that way, you can have young small tender veggies now whilst leaving some to grow on. This method works especially well with Carrots, spring onions, turnips and beetroot.
When harvesting spinach, leaf beet and loose leaved lettuce, only harvest a few outside leaves from each plant, allowing the plants to keep throwing up new leaves.
Check the ties and staking of taller plants such as beans and tomatoes , loosening or tightening as necessary.
Pinch out side shoots which will appear where the leaves join the stems, when they are about 2.5cm/1" long. Once tomatoes have developed on 4 or 5 trusses, pinch out the growing tip.
Aubergines & Capsicums
Fine spraying of plants with water helps encourage fruit to set. Limit to 5 or 6 fruits per plant. Once the fruit start to swell, feed with tomato food each time you water.
Butternut Squash, Courgettes & Marrows
Pinch out growing tips of trailing varieties when they reach 60cm/2ft long or have 6-8 leaves. Keep very well watered but only water around the plants and feed with liquid fertiliser once the fruits begin to form. Continual cropping is necessary to prolong the harvesting period. Start cutting courgettes at about 10cm/4" and Marrows and butternut at about 20cm/8".
For detailed growing instructions visit growing herbs and vegetables section
Experimenting with . . .
I used to be a really good pastry maker - my shortcrust pastry was vertically challenged i.e. shorter than short. However over the years the results became more and more disappointing. I had long since been buying ready-made puff pastry (couldn't be doing with all that faffing about), but had also got into the habit of buying shortcrust pastry too, rather than risk having a recipe spoilt by my increasingly hard and brittle pastry. All that has changed !
Having done a little experimenting, I have found a way to make perfect shortcrust pastry in a food processor ... despite what Delia (Smith) says. Not only is it easy, but so long as you take note of a couple of points, it turns out brilliantly.
Here's one of the latest Recipes4us videos in which I show you how to make shortcrust pastry in a food processor, complete with hints and tips which will guarantee perfect results every time. Better still, it's really quick. Although this video is 8 minutes long, that's only because I do a lot of chatting (including not being able to pronounce the word "processor" very well on several occasions :( ) so you should be able to make it in 6 minutes max.
Parts of the method may surprise you....it did me.
Click here for the full sized video
3 ways with . . .
Fresh coriander, also known as Cilantro, belongs to the parsley family "Apiaceae", however whilst it may look like flat leaf Parsley, the taste and smell is much more pungent.
If you usually buy fresh coriander, you may find it on sale in rather large bunches - often way too much to use in one recipe - however, rather than leaving it to go yellow then having to throw it away, here are 3 great recipes so you can use it all up.
There are lots more recipes using coriander on the site. Simply use the search form to find them all.
Of course, to avoid having a surplus of fresh coriander, you can always grow your own. It doesn't require very hot conditions, can be sown outside in the border or in pots and indoors. And to prove it, here's a picture of some coriander which I sowed a few weeks ago outdoors. It's not too late to sow seeds now.
For detailed information on how to grow coriander visit
Q I am intending to prepare a meal for some friends of mine and had hoped to cook them Coq au Vin. However one of my friends will have a 7 year old child with them and I'm wondering whether this is a good idea bearing in mind the alcohol content of the red wine.
A Don't worry about the wine content in the recipe as much of the alcohol is driven off during the cooking process.
30th July is National Cheesecake Day (US)
I am a big fan of cheesecake. When I make it, I generally make "no-cook" versions. Here's one of my favourites and is as light as a feather. You can substitute the plums with peaches or nectarines or better still, mangoes.
Makes 1 x 20cm/8-inch cheesecake
Prep and cooking time: 40 mins plus chilling
175g/6oz Digestive Biscuits, crushed
50g/2oz Brazil Nuts, chopped
225g/8oz Cream Cheese
50g/2oz Caster Sugar
210ml/7fl.oz. Double Cream
6 Ripe Plums
1 x 11g/0.4oz packet Gelatine
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the crushed biscuits and nuts and mix well. Press into the base of a 20cm/8-inch loose-bottomed cake tin. Chill for at least 1 hour until firm.
2. Place the cheese and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat together. In another bowl whip the cream.
3. Peel, stone and chop five of the plums, place in a blender or food processor and process until quite smooth.
4. Add the plum purée to the cheese mixture, mix well then fold in the cream, blending thoroughly.
5. Dissolve the gelatine in 3 tablespoons boiling water then add to the cheese mixture in a thin stream whilst stirring constantly.
6. Pour the mixture into the tin containing the biscuit base and smooth the surface if necessary, although the mixture is quite runny and may well settle itself. Place in the refrigerator and chill for at least 3 hours or until set.
7. To serve – slice the remaining plum and use to decorate the top of the cheesecake.
When making this type of biscuit crumb base, try using other types of biscuits such as gingernuts, or nuts such as walnuts for a slightly different flavour.
Food in the News . . .
Credit squeeze key concern for food makers
Prices for key commodities used by food manufacturers may have eased since their peaks last year, but the cost of cereals and vegetable oils in the near term will remain far higher than pre-2008, projects the OECD.
> > > > More External Link
Could vinegar be natural fat fighter?
Ordinary vinegar – acetic acid – may prevent the build up of fat, and therefore weight gain, according to results of a study with mice from Japan.
> > > > More External Link
Recipe of the Month
Chilli, Pine nut and Garlic stuffed Trout
Here's another fabulous BBQ recipe courtesy of Morrisons Supermarket. Cooking the fish in paper and foil (en papillote) ensures it stays succulent. Although this recipe serves 8, it can be easily scaled down to serve less....or up to serve more!
8 fresh rainbow trout, gutted and cleaned
5 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
3 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
100g pine nuts
60g bag rocket
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Rinse the trout well and lay each one onto a sheet of greaseproof paper, large enough to wrap the fish in.
2. Use 3 tbsp of the oil to brush over the skin of the fish.
3. Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and add the onion, garlic and chillies, fry over a gentle heat until the onion has softened.
4. Add the pine nuts and cook, stirring, until they begin to take on a golden colour. Remove from the heat and toss in the rocket.
5. Use this mixture to fill the belly cavity of each fish, season and wrap well in the paper, then wrap the paper in foil. Barbecue for 7 minutes per side, or until cooked through.
6. Leave to rest in its wrapping for 5 minutes before carefully removing the paper and transferring to a serving plate.
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