No. 86 - March 2010


Welcome to the March 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 !



1st March is St. David's Day


St David's Day is the national day of the Welsh. 

Dewi Sant (as Saint David is called in the Welsh language) the patron saint of Wales, was a Celtic monk  who lived in the sixth century and St David's Day dates back to 1120, when Dewi was canonised by Pope Callactus II.

Visit the Wales Cooking by Country page to find out more about about Welsh cuisine plus traditional Welsh recipes or the St. David's day page for more information about the Patron Saint of Wales.




Food in the News ...


Food packaging made from sugar 'could soon be composted at home'

Researchers from Imperial College London have used sugars from trees and grasses to create a polymer - a large molecule that can be used to make plastic

> > > > More  External link)


* * * March Special Feature * * *


Crumbles have been popular in British cuisine for centuries and are an excellent alternative to pies, especially as the crumble mixture is more simple and quicker to make. Although crumbles are mostly thought of as a dessert, they can also be made with savoury fillings where the sugar in the crumble is replaced with other ingredients or seasonings such as cheese or herbs. Just imagine a traditional creamy fish pie but with the mashed potato replaced by a crips savoury crumble topping. Yum !

Over the years there have been lots of adaptations and additions made to the original recipe, particularly when it comes to adding extra ingredients to the crumble mixture.

I've set up a whole page on this site just dedicated to crumbles. To find lots of alternative sweet and savoury crumble topping recipes plus complete crumble recipes visit the Crumbles page.

In the meantime, you can watch me make a delicious plum crumble in one of my latest videos. This recipe uses chopped walnuts in the crumble topping for extra texture which goes perfectly with the soft fruit filling.


Click here to watch the full sized video

17th March is St. Patricks Day

Did you know....

                                St.Patrick's day is a public holiday in Montserrat ? ! ! ?

St. Patrick's Day is one the the most widely celebrated Saint's days and even though he is the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick Day celebrations capture the imagination of many non-Irish people with marches and parades held the world over.

As one might expect, the UK, USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia hold many celebrations both large and small, however I recently found out that it's also very popular in Argentina, particularly in Buenos Aires, where they hold  all-night parties in designated streets.

If you can't make it to Buenos Aires, you can still join in the celebrations.  Just adorn something green and cook up one of these traditional Irish recipes in the comfort of your own home.

If none of those take your fancy, visit our Irish Recipes page for lots more.
For detailed information about Irish cuisine and history visit our  Ireland Cooking by Country page.

Cooking Skills . . .

              Making Ravioli



Did you know.....

Although no-one can be sure when Ravioli were first made, the earliest written mentions appear in 14th century manuscripts in Italy .... and England !

20th March is Ravioli day. However, when I decided to put together something  for this newsletter, to my utter amazement, I found I didn't have a single ravioli recipe on the website.


How to make ravioli dough

Click here for the full sized video


How to cut and fill ravioli


Click here for the full sized video

This has now been rectified with (what turned out to be) a vengeance. 

The more I thought about it, the more information I felt should be made available, so I ended up writing a whole new section covering everything you'll ever need to know about making ravioli at home including full pages on optional equipment, history, flavoured and coloured dough, fillings, sauces plus general instructions and tips.

Please, don't be put off by the above - at its simplest, homemade ravioli is easy to make,  but it can be made into an extra special, unique and delicious dish with a little thought given to the dough, filling and sauce. Much more interesting and tasty than the limited range you can buy in shops.

And to prove it you can watch me make the dough, cut and fill  homemade ravioli in two of the latest Recipes4us video productions.

Don't forget to visit the Ravioli Page for lots more detailed information about preparing and cooking homemade ravioli plus lots of dough, filling and sauce recipes.







Other Food Celebrations in March


14th Mother's Day (UK)

31st Oranges & Lemons Day

National Celery Month

National Flour Month

National Peanut Month

National Sauce Month 


March is National Noodle Month (US)


Coincidentally, the dough used  to make ravioli can also be used to make Italian noodles e.g. fettuccine and tagliatelle. Just imagine the interesting recipes you can create using homemade flavoured or coloured Italian noodles.

> > > >  more about Noodles


You can easily make your own noodles with the aid of these specialist kitchenware items  




Noodle recipes from around the world


14th March is Mother's Day (UK)

Visit our Mother's Day page for lots of ideas and recipes to treat your mum on her special day or this delicious homemade Chocolate Fudge Cake

Preparation Time: 10 minutes          Cooking Time: 30 minutes         Serves: 6-8


175g self raising flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
150g golden caster sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
2 eggs, beaten
150 ml sunflower oil
150 ml Gold Top Milk
75g Gold Top slightly salted butter, softened
175g Icing Sugar
3 tbsp cocoa powder
Approx 1 tbsp Gold Top Milk
50g dark chocolate, grated
1 x chocolate flake to decorate (optional)

1. Pre-heat oven to 180ºC/350F/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line two 18cm (7 inch) sandwich tins. Sieve the flour, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl. Add the sugar and mix well.

Make a well in the centre and add the syrup, eggs, oil and Gold Top Milk. Beat well with electric whisk until smooth.

Spoon the mixture into the two tins and bake for 25 - 30 minutes until risen and firm to the touch. Remove from oven, leave to cool before turning out onto a cooling rack.

For the icing, beat the butter and gradually add the sifted icing sugar and cocoa powder. Add just enough Gold Top Milk for a soft icing.

Spread half the icing over one cake and sandwich the two cakes together. Spread the remaining icing over the cake. Sprinkle the grated chocolate over the cake and serve.





3 ways with . . .


26th March is Spinach Day

Spinach is possibly the most versatile of all the leaf vegetables,  used not only as a vegetable in its own right, but just as often as an ingredient in recipes both raw and cooked.  Originating in the Middle East, today it is a widely used vegetable in many cuisines the world over. 

Below are three very different recipes using spinach which demonstrate just some of the ways which spinach can be used.

Spinach and Potato Soup    Veg  HT  45mins

Creamy Spinach with Pine Nuts     Veg   HT  ACC  30mins

Pork and Spinach Stir-fry     HT  MC  30mins


Spinach Nutritional Values

Per 30g/1oz = 11 Calories

Total Fat 0.105g



Saturated Fat 0.0168g



Polyunsaturated Fat 0.0438g



Monounsaturated Fat 0.003g


Cholesterol 0mg


Sodium 23.7mg


Potassium 167.4mg


Total Carbohydrate 1.05g



Dietary Fibre 0.81g


Protein 0.858g


Vitamin A

40 %


Vitamin C

14 %


3 %



5 %

Vitamin D

0 %


Vitamin E

1 %


1 %



3 %


1 %



15 %

Vitamin B-6

3 %


Vitamin B-12

0 %


1 %



6 %


1 %



2 %


*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.


March Site Updates



What's in Season

in March



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





Culinary History


Click the picture to find the latest articles on culinary related history





Culinary Videos



Click the picture to find the latest Recipes4us additions plus the next in the Phil Vickery pudcast series




March 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 side dishes plus a dessert which have been planned to supply you with a balanced diet.



Focus on . . .  


Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) has been cultivated for thousands of years in the Andes region and was a staple food of the Inca civilisation. Although used in the same way as a grain, it is actually a seed. For more information about Quinoa see our page on  Quinoa


Below are a couple of short videos courtesy of who sell ready to eat quinoa - great to have as a handy standby in your store cupboard. The first video is an intro to using their product and the second is a recipe using ready-to-eat quinoa by chef Alex Mackay.


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


Uncooked Quinoa is also now readily available in many stores so if you fancy cooking it from raw, (doesn't take long - about 15 minutes)  then visit our Quinoa Recipes page.



Recipe of the Month


Roast Boneless Shoulder of Lamb

with Watercress, Goat’s Cheese and Mint Stuffing


A delicious alternative to traditional Sunday lunch roast leg of lamb courtesy of

Serves: 4-6
Preparation time: 15-20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 40 minutes



1.3kg/3lb lean boneless lamb shoulder
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
15ml/1tbsp dried mixed herbs
10ml/2tsp olive oil
For the Stuffing:
1 large garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
45ml/3tbsp freshly chopped mint
1 x 100g bag watercress, roughly chopped
125g/4oz firm goats cheese, diced


1. To prepare the stuffing; in a large bowl mix all the ingredients together.

2. Preheat the oven to Gas mark 4-5, 180-190°C, 350-375°F.

3. Place the joint on a chopping board, remove any butcher’s string or elasticated meat bands (reserve for later), unroll skin side down and season on both sides with salt, pepper and dried mixed herbs. Spread the stuffing mixture evenly over the joint, but do not overfill. Roll up and secure with new butcher’s string or the reserved elasticated meat bands.

4. Weigh the joint and place on a metal rack in a large non-stick roasting tin, and drizzle with the oil. Roast for the preferred, calculated cooking time. Cover with foil if browning too quickly.


Remove from the oven, cover and set aside to rest for 15-20 minutes.

Cook's Tip....


This recipe works well using boneless breast of lamb too and both cuts are much cheaper than a leg lamb roasting joint.


The Kitchen Garden



As I mentioned last month, this year I'm going to try growing summer pumpkins. I've chosen the variety "Summer Ball (Sahara)" because not only will the plants produce 1kg/2lb pumpkins, but the fruit can also be cut when they are small and used like courgettes (Zucchini). They are suitable for containers as well as open ground.

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  if you want to  buy a packet yourself and give it a go you've got plenty of time to buy them.

Below are some handy gardening items to buy now...
if you don't already have them


Jobs to do in the kitchen garden

in March


Although March is thought to be the usual time for sowing many vegetable seeds, don't forget to  keep an eye on the weather and delay sowing outdoors until the soil is workable.


Below are some of the seeds you can start to sow outdoors if the weather in your area is sufficiently clement:-


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


You can also start sowing certain less hardy vegetables indoors so they get a head start before being planted outdoors including:-


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


Before sowing seeds indoors,  bear in mind that once they’ve germinated, it won’t be long before they start to romp away,  and extended delays in planting them out could leave you struggling with weak lanky plants. If in doubt, sow a couple of weeks later than you had anticipated.

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



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