vegetarian

Friday Favourites - Summer Cookbooks

 

Today The Amazing Blog wants to share with you some of our #amazingfinds with four new cookbooks that have encouraged us to create some fantastic international dishes for our friends. Our gastronomic journey starts with India moves onto to Morocco and then the Philippines and returns back to the UK just in time to put the BBQ on!

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Let’s kicked off by something of a whirlwind of inspiration in the culinary prowess of Asma Khan, who moved to the UK in 1991 from Calcutta without any knowledge of how to cook, but a firm belief in the power of food to bring people together, and the opportunities created through this to forge new friendships, learning of different cultures and traditions along the way. Although it was British constitutional law which focused her attentions to begin with, having finished her doctorate in 2012, she turned her entrepreneurial talents towards the kitchen, and has been gaining awards and garnering attention ever since. As a descendant of the ancient Rajput Suryavanshi Bargujar clan on her paternal side, and pioneering tea planters in Darjeeling from her maternal ancestry, Asma’s heritage is undisputed, and her book ‘Asma’s Indian Kitchen’ is a delicious romp through India’s rich history, and culinary voyage. “Your food should feel like an embrace” she tells us, and such warmth emanates from the pages. Beautifully photographed and with anecdotes peppered throughout, her book really is a delight to enjoy in and out of the kitchen! Her Shahi Kofta - or lamb meatballs in a rich gravy - are a sensation, as are her stuffed bell peppers - or Bharwa Simla Mirch to use the correct terminology … useful to know, especially if you fancy trying out her award-winning restaurant Darjeeling Express in Soho. Published by Pavilion Books for £14.99  and available here .

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If Morocco is more your thing, then Nargisse Benkabbou is offering up “Casablanca - My Moroccan Food” to encourage us to whip out that tagine, and start making magic with the amazing flavours of her culture, but often with a mix of Western dishes too. Again, here we don’t just have a culinary manual to enjoy, but rather more an introduction to how these foods fit within the gloriously colourful culture and traditions. Nargisse began sharing her feasting knowledge originally through a highly successful blog, ‘My Moroccan Food’, and this book is the natural result of those posts. If you are partial to a spot of marinating - and who of us aren’t - then try the Sweet Chermoula Seared Beef, which promises a ‘flavour bomb’, and we love the idea of a dish taking us to far-flung places with the aromas of Casablanca which are promised in the Amlou Rolls.So many temptations to try, and written with a warmth and friendliness utterly reminiscent of Morocco herself. Octopus Books have brought us this one, priced at £20 and available here 

 

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Perhaps the Philippines as a gastronomic destination gets your taste buds going? The New Filipino Kitchen is another huge spectrum of different tastes and flavours from the myriad of islands with so much to explore, and brought to us digitally thanks to Jacqueline Chio-Lauri who has edited a collection of fascinating stories, giving extra meaning to each recipe from a wide ranging assortment of cuisine masters - and all for us to try from the comfort of our laptop. Describing the chapters under the heading of simply ‘seafood’, ‘meat’ or ‘desserts’ feels a little like short-changing this extensive jaunt around those 7000 or so islands which make up such a vibrant nation. However, the ‘New Filipino Kitchen’ is a serious contender for our attention if culinary escapism is your thing. Quite unique with the information it relays, this book could send us into a frenzy - imagine if you will ‘Stuffed Fish Grilled in Banana Leaves and Eggplant Salad with Toasted Pancetta’, or to translate that properly and pay due homage, ‘Inihaw Na Isda At Ensaladang Talong’ … Well Imagine it no longer, simply turn to page 36, and enter Tasting Heaven! Both digital and hard copies are available on Amazon here from £15.18

 

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Now, it would seem churlish not to include a cookbook with origins a little closer to home, and of course there is an enormous library of titles to choose from, but one which stands out with an irresistible edge is the “Fresh Veggie BBQ” by David & Charlotte Bailey,encouraging us to embrace the outdoor option of serving up a meal from a vegetarian friendly barbecue menu. Completely eschewing any notion that vegetarian food has to be less colourful or indeed tasty, David and Charlotte give us 60 recipe options like ‘Caramelized Bananas with Vanilla Ice Cream’, ‘Rosemary Sweet Potato Chips’ or - and this one is seriously tempting ‘Wild Mushroom & Artichoke One-Pot Pie’ to dispel those myths completely. However, this time of course our kitchen is found in the great outdoors through the tradition that is ‘barbecue’ which of course is a culture within itself. With advice on the different options open to us, from using dutch ovens to the very impressive discipline of burying our ingredients in hot ash and embers - otherwise known as ‘rescoldo’, we have an encyclopaedia of vegetarian goodies to try out -and with the weather back here at home offering us it’s most favourable conditions (Ok well that was in July perhaps not August!) We can’t be the only ones twitching to get those charcoals burning! Published by Pavilion Books with an RRP of £14.99 here the ‘Fresh Veggie BBQ’ is a must.

…And with all these delicious ideas, we’re preparing to cook up a storm this Bank Holiday weekend!

Urban Cordial

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As the temperature rises, our taste buds are craving something refreshing to cool us down, and the array of choice in the soft drinks sector is greater than ever before. However, with our awareness primed these days to know exactly what we are drinking, the challenge now is to source the perfect taste, but without all those sugary additives which are going to send our glucose levels rocketing. Fortunately, we at  The Amazing Blog only have to look as far as  Urban Cordial who have brought their delicious concoctions to market with a mouth-watering array of pairings. How do Strawberry & Sage , Pear & Ginger, Blackberry & Lavender or Apple, Lemon & Fennel  sound as an introduction to the range? Pretty impressive, when further investigation revealed that these tantalising flavours are just the tip of the iceberg - or should that be ice cube?

Now, a cordial may conjure up images of Grandma’s pantry, but these colourful offerings pack quite a punch in the zing department - both in each bottle’s contents, and also outside on each brightly illustrated label. All of course are alcohol free, and made from the best ingredients, although Urban Cordial are justly proud of bringing these to us with a laudable mission of sourcing their fruit on quality of taste and nutrients, rather than how they may be shaped! In a bid to incorporate a solution to the serious global problem of food surplus, Urban Cordial do not discriminate on appearance and is to be congratulated on saving over 30 tonnes of fruit from landfill.

Each bottle costs £5.50 plus £4.99 p&p, and the complete range is available for the bargain bulk price of £44.00 and with p&p free on orders over £40 here everyone’s a winner! However, some small independent grocery stores and also one or two of the larger high street names are taking up the option to supply, so getting our hands on these wonderful libations, is thankfully, becoming easier for all of us.

Irish Black Butter

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Let’s make a short hop, skip and a jump over to Ireland for this post, to highlight a small jar of pure versatility in the form of Irish Black Butter - a new concept using ancient techniques, for us all to enjoy whether we want to go down the sweet or the savoury route. The main ingredients here are the rich bramley apples from Armagh which are then blended with cider, brandy and spices, producing a mouth-watering conserve of dark velvet indulgence.

Now the obvious choice here for us at The Amazing Blog would be to try this on a slice of toast - very yum we can confirm - or perhaps a more decadent scone with some cream perhaps - completely yum - but the versatility of this ‘other black stuff’ comes when we start using in a more experimental manner for the ultimate ‘yum’. How about on our porridge? Or mixed with some thick greek yoghurt? The options for this little pot of black gold are endless, but one recipe, we would urge you to try is to slather it over a ham before cooking it - the delicious flavours from the oven will swirl around the kitchen like a warm Irish hug and tease those taste buds for what is to come. Not forgetting to mention that it is vegan, vegetarian friendly, dairy free, wheat free and comes in cute little jar. 

The Irish Black Butter Company was formed in 2017 by Alastair Bell who has a background in farming and events management. Clearly a well-founded belief in his Irish Black Butter, which has gone on to sweep boards of awards with two stars in the Great Taste Awards 2018 and Chefs Choice Award in the Irish Food Awards 2018; and of course, now securing many stockists throughout Ireland. Of course, in this day and age we don’t have to be local to the Emerald Isle to get our hands on a jar, as we can simply go to here and click on their shop to order - 125g will cost you £3.95, and the 225g jar costs £5.95. If ever there was a condiment which no self-respecting larder should be without, then surely this is it.

 

Love Cocoa - Chocolate Bars

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We're all chocolate lovers at The Amazing Blog, and for those of you who join us in the pursuit for delicious new treats, Love Cocoa will be a fitting choice. The problem with most chocolate brands is that they contain irritating allergens and poorly-sourced ingredients. This is where Love Cocoa differs, they are gluten and soy-free and are founded on the basis of creating ethical products.

Love Cocoa is a British brand launched in 2016 by its creator James Cadbury, who has an unsurpassed chocolate heritage. His great-great-great grandfather John Cadbury, the Quaker philanthropist, started the iconic Cadbury's chocolate brand in 1831. As such, Love Cocoa strives to not only recreate luscious chocolate classics but also aims to remain an ethically driven company. Working with British producers, Love Cocoa's products are free from refined sugars, gluten, soy, and palm oil. Producing both dark and milk chocolate, there is something for everyone. Their dark chocolate is single-origin, organic, fairly-traded from Ecuador.  Their milk chocolate is single-origin, organic, and fairly-traded from the Dominican Republic with a swirling of milk. Delicious!

We tried Love Cocoa’s Sea Salt 70% Organic Dark Chocolate bar for £3.85 and loved the burst of flavour the sea salt flakes brought into the mix from Maldon Sea Salt. Love Cocoa recommends that you pair this bar with a medium-bodied red wine to bring out its notes of fruit. Next, we broke off a piece of the Gin & Tonic 70% Organic Dark Chocolate bar at £3.85. We didn’t know what to expect from this flavour and were very pleasantly surprised by the subtle hint of juniper berries, lemon and lime. Love Cocoa have taken their inspiration of flavours from one of favourite drinks and transformed it into a delicious treat... All we needed was a crisp G&T in hand.

Moving on from the dark chocolates, we nibbled on two milk chocolate bars, the first being the Crushed Coffee 37% Milk Chocolate bar for £3.85. Why not combine your mid-morning coffee with your after dinner treat? The result is a crunchy square of heaven. Love Cocoa recommends that it is paired with a smooth stout, sweet rosé, or an energising espresso. Finally, we made room for the Honeycomb & Honey 37% Milk chocolate bar at £3.85, and it was so worth it. This sticky, sweet treat is studded with glorious crunchy pieces of honeycomb all source from Barnes & Webb, a team of beekeepers who install and maintain urban beehives around London.

So put on the kettle and let these chocolates melt in your mouth! All Love Cocoa chocolates can be purchased separately or in sets here. Prices vary, there is free shipping on orders over £20.