Home Cooked Truths: Check your herbs and spices!

Gavin WrenFood Education, The World of Food

Home cooked truths check your spices
I’ve got some bad news for you, and I’m going to give it to you straight. You know those old jars of dried herbs and spices in your cupboard? They DO NOT keep for ever. Using old jars that have sat at the back of your cupboard for years might be ruining your enjoyment of any dishes that you use them in. What’s hiding in the cupboard? If you’re anything like me, you’ll have a cupboard full of little jars of spices bought over the last 10 years or more. You buy a small jar or bag for a specific recipe, then don’t use it again for years. The big problem is that whilst these jars sit in your cupboard, or in your spice rack, they are slowly degrading, which means they ultimately become flavourless and hold about as much culinary value as sawdust. Actually, that’s unfair on sawdust, as…

Book Review – Edouard de Pomiane; Cooking in Ten Minutes

Gavin WrenCookbook Reviews, The World of Food

Edouard de Pomiane cooking in ten minutes
Ahead of the game Edouard de Pomiane was a man ahead of his time. Born in 1875 in Paris, making him almost precisely 100 years the senior to modern chefs like Jamie Oliver, he was a scientist, lecturuer, broadcaster and writer who recognised the underlying simplicity and joy that can be found in cooking and eating. In his day, there was a commonly held belief that life had developed a rushed and frenetic pace, that people no longer had time to sit back and appreciate life. Combined with the perception that French food preparation was some kind of mystical art, one that had to be undertaken by a trained professional, de Pomiane realised that someone needed to break cooking down into easily manageable periods and simplify the processes to suit their modern lifestyles. And so we have this book, which was first published in 1930 under the name ‘La Cuisine

Free oven temperature conversion guide PDF

Gavin WrenFood Education, The World of Food

Free oven temperature conversion guide
Today I’m writing about an extremely serious subject, oven temperature conversion. I hope you’re sitting comfortably because this is a seriously hot topic. Badum-tish.
Converting oven temperatures accurately
OK, I promise, no more awful jokes. Sometimes, we need all the help we can get when it comes to cooking a new recipe. Like when you’ve worked and fretted for hours before cutting into a cake, only to find the base is STILL soggy despite an extra 30 minutes in the oven. Or those roasted vegetables that simply WON’T BROWN LIKE IN THE PHOTO. And we’ve all had something, errr, how do I put it, ‘caramelise’ a bit more than intended. Some of these situations are completely avoidable. And I want to help you with these problems through the simple process of accurate oven temperature conversions, because the internet is full of incorrect information, and you might have been using that…

Guardian readers’ recipe swap winner!

Gavin WrenFood Blogging, The World of Food

Guardian Cook readers' recipe swap asparagus
I feel utterly charmed and enthused at one of my recipes being named reader’s recipe of the week in The Guardian’s cook supplement, which comes with the paper on a Saturday. After seeing the brief of ‘asparagus’ I decided to come up with something simple, which wouldn’t detract from that seasonal superstar of an ingredient. And it proved worthwhile as my recipe, Asparagus with preserved lemon was named as winner in the 9th May edition, also available online at The Guardian website And it’s with great honour that I accept this award, so I’ve got a few people I’d like to thank who I couldn’t have done it without. Firstly, Yildiz Supermarket in Archway for the asparagus, thanks for sticking with me through all of this. Phoenicia in Kentish Town for the preserved lemons and for always being there for me, especially when I’ve needed an unusual ingredient (usually for…

Homemade yoghurt recipe with cow’s or goat’s milk

Gavin WrenBasic Ingredients, Food Techniques, Recipes, The World of Food, Vegetarian

Homemade yoghurt with cow's or goat's milk
Blogging rituals. Over the last few weeks, I’ve had a bit more time to work on my blog and have discovered that I’m a reclusive blogging creature of routine and ritual. I can’t write unless I’m at my desk, and it’s the morning. Take today as an example. Woke at 6.15am, showered, then started writing on the laptop in the bedroom. I managed to write a depressing rant about the ‘dark side of the blog’. It wasn’t enjoyable to write and doubtfully entertaining to read (and we never will, because I’ve deleted it). I had breakfast, made a coffee, moved to my desk and then, suddenly, a peace and clarity fell upon me. I had found a little space in my world where something positive can happen. And as for afternoons, they are utterly useless, full of distraction and anxiety. After lunch, I might as well just stick my feet…

How to make vegetable stock

Gavin WrenBasic Ingredients, Food Techniques, Recipes, The World of Food, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

How to make vegetable stock
Vegetables boiled in water. Yep, that’s all it is, easy peasy. Making your own vegetable stock at home is one of the fundamental kitchen processes that you just have to do now and again. It’s so easy, it doesn’t use up much time and it’s basically impossible to overcook. And if you have left over vegetables, peering over the edge of the compost, it’s a super efficient use of them before they go. Now, although there are some traditional staples used to make vegetable stock, such as carrots and onions, you can actually use whatever you want. Just remember that the vegetables you use will have an effect on the flavour, colour and clarity of your final broth. So beetroot and potato will give you a red, cloudy stock, whereas onion and carrot gives you a relatively clear stock. However, the basic principle remains the same, whatever you use, you…