6 British soups to slurp down this Winter

This week we’re inspired by British eats, whether they be hearty, sweet or homely, there’s a little place in all of us yearning to be filled by British cuisine.   

Inspired by Great British Chefs, we’ve scoured the archives and found 6 British-inspired soups to slurp down this Winter. 

 

1. Ahh! Sweet pea soup, hearty, sweet and delicious all in one go. This one is full of peas (duh), bacon, leeks, chives and cream.

2. From Great British Chefs, Monica Shaw has put together a delicious roasted tomato soup with cheddar dumplings – perfect for that Saturday night by the fire.

3. Straight from Alice’s Kitchen to your dinner plate, Alice Hart’s roast carrot and fennel soup is deliciously creamy with that hint of liquorice flavour.

4. From the Snixy Kitchen to your humble abode, take stock in this Jerusalem artichoke soup with caramelised shallots and roasted enoki mushrooms.

5. Keeping the truffle theme alive, delve into this roasted cauliflower and truffle soup, a perfect balance of naughty and healthy.

6. An oldie but a goodie, tomato, basil and bacon soup. 

Looking for something sweet? Check out our 5 British desserts that will make you feel like Royalty

5 British desserts that will make you feel like Royalty

Synonymous with comfort, British cuisine has the ability to make you feel stuffed and satisfied – and mid winter happens to be the perfect time to put our preaching into practice.

Sifting through our collection of sticky sweet tarts, pies and puddings, we have compiled our top 5 favourite British puds that we believe make you feel like royalty. Just for the record, we’re pretty sure the Royals consume their desserts under blankets on the couch too... 

5. Spotted Dick 

Yes yes. Once we finished having a laugh at the name we decided to give it a whirl - and the iconic boiled British pud didn’t disappoint. With some of the earliest recipes dating back to 1847, this long standing favourite has many a theory of where its name originated come from, the most plausible being the evolution of “pudding” to “puddink” to “puddick” and then just “dick”. Quite recently, several hospitals across Britain attempted to rename the pudding to “spotted Richard”... but the attempted political correctness never really caught on and the humorously named British dessert lives on strong.   

Made with pastry dough of suet and raisins or dried fruit which is then either steamed or boiled, spotted dick is never really complete unless accompanied by custard. Find the classic spotted dick recipe here and laugh all the way to the kitchen.

If you’re Irish, you may also know this as being a variant of ‘spotted dog’ ... but let’s face it – nobody thinks that’s fun to say. 

4. Orange Marmalade Bread & Butter Pudding

 

Originally known as ‘whitepot’ (which we believe is a much less appealing name), bread and butter pudding is the fail proof go-to for an easy winter dessert; chunks of buttered bread, raisins and a creamy milk/egg mixture infused with winter’s signature aroma (aka, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg). Dating back to 1845, this no fuss pud is an ever popular English favourite, limited only by the size of your baking dish.

Whatever recipe you choose, it’s essential that the assembled pudding is left about an hour before cooking for the bread to be able to sit and soak up the cinnamon custard-y goodness.  If the thought of white bread is too ... white bread for you, experiment with fancier flavours like sliced brioche or panettone. We’re adding a little extravagance to our English dessert by going with a recipe for orange marmalade bread and butter pudding. 

3. Eton Mess 

 

Fact: Eton mess was NOT created when a meringue dessert was accidentally crushed by a dog while travelling to a picnic – but the myth would make for a pretty interesting origin story. Traditionally created and served at England’s famous Eton College, this mouth watering mash up of broken meringue, berries and cream is so easy to make – and consume. For added ease, use pre made meringues, which will leave you more time to keep spooning this brilliant British dessert into your mouth.  Head over and start mashing your meringue and making a mess here. 

2. Banoffee Pie 

 

Crunchy. Sticky. Creamy. The famous banana toffee hybrid ticks all the right boxes for deliciousness and in our books, is a dessert fit for a Queen. Invented by Nigel Mackenzie and Ian Dowding (who, by the way is pedantic about the original version, detesting the use of “that horrible cream in aerosols”) in 1972, the original banoffee pie veers from the use of a buttery biscuity base, using shortcrust pastry and a topping of coffee flavoured cream, delighting patrons of ‘The Hungry Monk’ as a staple dessert item on the menu until its closing in 2012.

We went against the warnings of banoffee inventor Ian Dowding and cheated with this one, using a biscuit base for our banoffee pie recipe – and just for the record, cheating tastes delicious. 

1. Queen of Puddings 

Rich, elegant and quintessentially British (just like the Queen herself), this retro British milk pudding layers together baked milk soaked breadcrumbs, jam and fluffy meringue, resulting in a right royal feast. Perfect eaten hot on a chilly night, Queen of Puddings looks just as good as it tastes and makes for a bold statement for your next winter dinner party. If you’re looking to cheat a little or perhaps clean out the sweets tin, replace the breadcrumbs with left over or slightly stale cake. We’re sticking to the classic Queen of puddings recipe, but this regal retro dessert can be made with a modern flourish with fresh flavour combinations like rhubarb and ginger, peach and lavender or chocolate and orange for a dash of decadence.

By Brittany George. 

Posh Eggs

“They can perform so much culinary magic.  Their neutral rich flavour provides an ideal background for a huge array of ingredients, both savoury and sweet.”

What a fantastic way to start your day…. brunch, lunch, supper or dessert, with this super tasty, versatile little package, bundled with gooey yellow goodness that are often overlooked and underappreciated. That’s right I’m talking eggs, Posh Eggs. 

 

Bursting with over 70 strong eggcellent ideas, Posh Eggs’ is offering up new ways to cook your eggs, from the humble morning breakfast all the way to your evening night cap.  Need to impress your guests at any time of the day? Then delight them with inspiration from this bright and colourful easy to follow cookbook, where anyone can pick it up and create an eggxra special dish.

For the best culinary experiences, it’s recommended to purchase fresh free range eggs wherever possible and be rewarded with pert sunny yellow yolks and strong gelatinous whites for a delicious taste.  The two parts can be used together or separately to create a multitude of wonders, the yolk can be combined to make a mayonnaise, custard or hollandaise and the white can be whipped to fluffy perfection to make a pillowy meringue, or soufflé. 

 

Twice-baked Crab Souffles, p.158.  

If looking for a super easy breakfast on the go, then I suggest the breakfast cups, it’s a full English breakfast baked into a muffin, pure genius or perhaps the Mexican rostada – the Posh Eggs’ take on the Mexican tostada.  Perch a perfectly fried egg on top of your potato rosti that’s packed with onion, paprika, coriander and egg and finish with avocado, lime and sriracha sauce for some fiery sweetness.

Cure any lunch time blues and serve a hearty dish of smoked haddock scotch eggs, or delve into a snack of egg-fried rice cakes. You’ll have party guests wondering how you do it after serving up a delicate dish of twice-baked crab soufflés by simply reheating and serving at a later date or perhaps finish your evening with a salted caramel chocolate soufflé, taking only 30 minutes to create this mouth-watering fluffy and sticky creation. 

“From providing reassuringly humble treats to something very, very posh, without the mighty egg, our culinary lives would be infinitely poorer.” 

Now you really can have your eggs and eat them to.  

By Kirsten Kruck. 

In-Depth Study: A True Mediterranean Table

By Veronica Lavenia, author of The Vegetarian Italian Kitchen.   

The following is an in-depth explanation of the Mediterranean Diet as well as a few points that argue the many stereotypes of "true Italian cuisine."     

The invention of the Mediterranean Diet (of which the Italian cuisine is part) is due to the American scientist Ancel Keys. In 1951, in Rome, he took part, as president, at the first conference on the state of nutrition in the world. Here, he discovered that in Naples heart disease did not constitute a health problem.   

Amazed by this discovery, Keys organized a research period in Naples on food consumption that would provide comparative data to those collected by him in the United States, in relation to the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It took a few months to determine that the diet in Naples, was low in fat and that only those that had access to more ingredients (those with a fattier content), than staples, suffered from heart attacks  

Veronica Lavenia. 

In 1958, Keys developed the "Seven Countries Study", a comparative research of the diets of 14 samples of subjects, aged between 40 and 59 years, for a total of 12,000 cases in seven countries on three continents (Finland, Japan, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, United States and Yugoslavia). The data collected left no doubt: between the populations of the Mediterranean basin, which subsisted mainly of pasta, fish, vegetables and used exclusively olive oil as a condiment, the mortality rate from ischemic heart disease was much lower than that observed among populations such as Finland, where the daily diet included a lot of saturated fats (butter, lard, milk, red meat). The publication of results that demonstrated the existence of a relationship between high rates of coronary heart disease and consumption of saturated fat in seven countries, made him famous worldwide.  

A love for Italy inspired him to move to the south of the country. In Cilento, he built a house where he lived with his wife for over 40 years, alternating stays between Italy and the United States (where he died at age 101). In his Italian home, testing each recipe, Keys wrote ‘How to Eat Well and Stay Well, the Mediterranean Way’, the book that has made him the father of the Mediterranean Diet. It was also thanks to his studies and to those declared Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.  

If it is true that the Mediterranean diet is for everyone, due to the easy availability of its simple seasonal ingredients, it is equally true that only the high quality of the same makes the difference. The real Mediterranean table includes seasonal food; meat (in limited quantities) and fish from organic farms raised, without stress or antibiotics; desserts (to eat rarely) prepared with unrefined flours and sugars, with no artificial aromas. Lunch at home is a tradition of the Italian and Mediterranean lifestyle. No matter if you go back home to eat a salad or a more substantial dish. The key is to return home, leave the worry or stress of work out the door long enough to put together a lunch based on what you have in the pantry. No matter how great your cooking skills are, because it counts to have control over what you eat. 

Sharing meals with the family is an act of love and it is the way to communicate that passion for life which is the essence of being Italian. The pot mumbling on the fire, while cooking the soup is one of those reassuring habits to which Italians do not give up on cold days. The scent of tomato sauce which roams the streets and lanes of the Southern Italian cities in summer, from the early hours of the morning, is a hymn to joy, waiting for the pranzo (lunch).  

One way to know if it’s true Italian at the table is by debunking the many stereotypes about the Italian Mediterranean cuisine. A tourist takes notes of these only when visiting Italy, eating in a restaurant or at an Italian home. 

Here are ten stereotypes that do not belong to the Italian Mediterranean culinary culture: 

1. Finish the meal with a cappuccino.

  - Only coffee can finish a meal, while the cappuccino is drunk at breakfast. 

2. Put ketchup on pasta or pizza.

- The tomato sauce is only strictly fresh (when tomatoes are in season) or, in winter, one of the preserves. 

3. Eat pasta and rice as side dishes. 

- They are main courses.

4. Add the olive oil when you boil water for cooking the pasta. 

- True Italian pasta, made with durum wheat, or with the old fine Italian grains, does not stick to the pot. 

5. "Fettuccine Alfredo" is not a national dish, it is a delicious recipe that, in Italy, you will find in Rome, only at the eponymous restaurant "Alfredo". 

6. Spaghetti Bolognese.

- Pasta with meatballs and Pepperoni Pizza are not Italian dishes and you will not find them in the real Italian restaurants. 

7. Canned macaroni cheese is anything but Italian food. 

8. Pizza is not a container where one puts everything. On the contrary, it is the beauty of simplicity and, as such, requires only few top notch ingredients. 

9. A Sandwich is not a Panino (plural for Panini).   

10. The true Mediterranean diet, of which the Italian cuisine, is representative, does not make you fat. On the contrary it is an elixir of life, as Key stated with his studies, more than 60 years ago.

A Great Red for a Lamb Shank Casserole

By David Ellis from vintnews

Back in 1896 when John Riddoch and William Salter made Katnook Estate’s first wines in a woolshed on their property in Coonawarra, their Shiraz was looked upon somewhat more propitiously than their inaugural Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Today, however, it’s the other way around with the company’s Founder’s Block Cabernet Sauvignon now its biggest seller, and with Shiraz playing a somewhat lesser role. Which to us is all a bit mystifying as their Shiraz is a cracker drop from fruit grown on some of the best of Coonawarra’s fabled terra rossa soils, plus even more encouragingly it sells for just $20 a bottle. 

Their just-released Katnook Founder’s Block Shiraz 2015 is another pearler example, being all about generous raspberry and plum fruit flavours, varietal pepper and spice overtones, and noticeable but not overwhelming oak. 

With that $20 price tag it’s great buying for this time of year with a hearty slow-cooked lamb shank casserole… and can perhaps still be summed-up as we recently saw it written about in an historic 120 year old copy of the Border Watch newspaper from 1890, as “most desired and saleable to meet the most fastidious palate.” 

One to note: Pipers Brook Vineyard on Tasmania’s north-east coast sits right in the heartland of Australia’s coolest and southern-most wine region, an area whose often teeth-chattering morning’s and cool maritime climate prove ideal for making the island State’s great Pinot Gris wines. 

A now-available 2015 is a great example of Pinot Gris from such cool climate regions, with lovely rich and savoury suggestions of pears and honey, tropical fruits and sweet ginger and cinnamon spiciness. There’s subtle oak too that adds complexity and palate weight, and will help promote the wine’s ageing potential.  

Pay $34 and enjoy with a whole array of Asian and Mediterranean dishes, grilled seafood or oven-roasted turkey; for availability check out www.pipersbrook.com

Tempranillo Enjoying a Sales Boom

By David Ellis from vintnews

Among the fastest growing wines in terms of new plantings in Australia is Tempranillo, an easy-drinking medium-bodied and fruity red that was first planted here in the early 1900s, waned, and was resurrected again with more serious intent around the 1980s. 

Today this native of Spain is grown in all major Australian regions by some 200 or more producers, with one to look for being the NSW Riverina’s Calabria Family Wines’ Cool Climate Series that’s made from fruit from the Hilltops area near Young. 

Full of varietal cherry and plum fruit flavours, a touch of leatheriness and with a mild clove spiciness, it’s an excellent example of just why Tempranillo has really taken off among drinkers in the past five years or so.

Winemaker Bill Calabria used only hand-harvested fruit for this drop that’s so well-priced at just $15. Enjoy it simply with tapas or other light snacks, or main courses of anything from chorizo sausages to roast chicken or rack of lamb (as it is in its home-country Spain,) or even think more-Mexican tacos, nachos or burritos. 

One to note: we’ve long had a fondness for Sauvignon Blanc, and while most think of it as a purely summer-drinking wine, there are plenty of reasons to put it on the table with winter-time meals too.

Or simply to enjoy it on its own. 

A full-of-flavour Sauv Blanc that’s currently on the shelves is Blossom Hill’s 2015 made from fruit sourced from across South Eastern Australia. All about crisp and zesty fresh citrus flavours, this one’s nicely accompanied by tropical and passionfruit aromas that make for a rewarding drop at just $13 a bottle. 

An ideal match is with Thai green curry, while you’ll also find it pairs well with Greek and Mexican dishes that have plenty of tomatoes, green onions, olives and feta. 

And even simply with fish and chips.

7 Recipes made better with Truffle

“Rich, earthy, mysterious and exotic with an overwhelming aroma, yet exuding a fine, subtle flavour like no other; a little goes a long way.  Passions ignite, dogs are trained and recipes are readied for the beginning of Australia’s truffle season, running from late May through to early September.” ~ Annabel Rainsford.

You read right, its truffle season again! Each year, wintry dishes are given that extra punch of flavour with the use of this fresh fungi that grows across the country in regions like Manjimup, Northern Tasmania and the Yarra Valley.

We’ve put together seven of our favourite recipes that hero the truffle. Whether enjoying a risotto, steak or fried egg, the use of truffle truly takes an ordinary dish to extraordinary. 

1.  Put together by our resident chef, Shawn Sheather, this forest mushroom and shaved truffle risotto truly showcases the flavour of the truffle, by enhancing the mushroom on the palate.

2.  Our favourite “pasta,” gnocchi has been paired with caramelised pumpkin, pine nuts, goat’s cheese and shaved truffles – a modest dish with many elements combined for a flavourful, but simple experience.

3.  Wagyu fillet, fondant potato and black truffles – you’ve never tasted steak this good.

4. Did you ever think you could snack on truffle at the movies? Well that’s exactly what you can do with this truffle popcorn recipe!

5. Simple, yet elegant. Goat’s cheese and truffle baked in pastry from Chef, Rodney Dunn. One of the many truffle focussed recipes in his latest book “The Truffle Cookbook.”

6. We bring this one out every year and that’s because nothing can get any better than truffle tagliatelle. 55 grams of fresh truffles, mixed with salt, virgin olive oil, forest mushrooms, vegetable stock and tagliatelle –let your taste buds sing!

7. Spruce up a breakfast favourite with shavings of truffle and creamy blue cheese. 

Want more? Head to our truffle recipe section

3 Amazing Desserts with TRUFFLE

We bet you didn’t know that truffles can be used to enhance not only savoury but SWEET dishes (and even dishes with a combination of both). Here are three of our favourites from the archives that are like nothing you’ve ever tasted before.

 

1. Baked ricotta dip with truffle honey – that’s right, ricotta, Parmesan, thyme, crushed pistachios and freshly baked bread drizzled in a deliciously sticky truffle honey.

2. Created by our resident Chef, Shawn Sheather, we bring you a dish that’s one of its kind, truffle infused fig and baby pear on toasted brioche with honey mascarpone. It may look intricate, but don’t worry, our method will have even a beginner shinning.

3.  Brought to you by Chef, Rodney Dunn, these truffle creams with maple syrup, poached apple and oat crunch are great breakfast, morning tea, afternoon tea and dessert! Maybe even have it for a sweet lunch! 

Book Review: The Truffle Cookbook

It is an honour and a privilege to delve into this mystical and elusive ingredient, steeped in an aura so over powering that it dissuades most people from ever tackling it in the kitchen.” ~~Rodney Dunn.

Hot on the heels of his first cook book The Agrarian Kitchen, founder and celebrated chef Rodney Dunn will captivate you and leave you with a need to cook more from his latest edition, The Truffle Cookbook.  Serving up a comprehensive and informative guide about the truffle industry abroad and within Australia, The Truffle Cookbook captivates with stunning, beautiful photography by Luke Burgess.  

Embark on a magical journey though cheese, entrée, mains and desserts with this cookbook, enabling all ranges of one’s culinary expertise; whether beginner, sous chef or first time truffle enthusiast, become lost in pages on truffle varieties, selection and storage of this delicate subterranean fungus.

At the beginning of a cold weekend morning, cosy up to the fire with a serving of warm poached apple, truffle cream and maple syrup topped with the crunch of oats, or simply bask in a warm dish of goat’s cheese and truffle baked filo pastry. The Truffle Cookbook encompasses the ease at which certain dishes represented can be, while still offering a perfect balance of complex and opposing flavours, which are sure to be a hit at your next gathering.

 Goat's Cheese and Truffle, baked in pastry, p.30.

As temperatures begin to drop around the end of May in Australia, so too does truffle season, with the Tasmanian Perigord Black Truffles coming into full bloom as they start ripening in the cooling soil. The Truffle Cookbook offers a complete range of delicate and hearty dishes to warm the soul and to tantalise the tastebuds, delve into a divinely steamed snapper ‘en papillote’ (French for baked in paper) with gently infused flavours of delicate ginger and truffles. 

After extensive research and first hand dealings with truffle distributors and retailers, Rodney has devised a checklist for first time truffle buyers to relieve any anxiety caused by handing over a considerable amount of coin: check for a strong aroma, they must be firm, dense and heavy, be clean of all dirt and when giving the truffle a small nick, make sure it is showing clearly, the white veins surrounded by a jet black interior.  

Storing truffles is also very important as they can quickly lose their aromas, so it’s best to store them in an airtight container with a paper towel to absorb the moisture, make sure the towel is replaced daily and take full advantage of the aromas by placing a couple of eggs into the container for a couple of days to scramble the eggs at a later date, delicious!

 “Whether it’s the alluring aroma and flavour, the incredibly short season or the folklore that maintains the appeal, I really hope I can encourage many more of you to fall under their spell. Just remember a little goes a long way.” ~~Rodney Dunn.

This truffle guide will have everyone toasting to your culinary abilities, whether you’re creating an intimate meal or hosting a long table dinner, your friends will be sure to ask you to divulge your secret weapon.

By Kirsten Kruck. 

Let's Talk Truffle

.... Let the truffle speak for itself.  ~ AGFG resident Chef, Shawn Sheather. 

Rich, earthy, mysterious and exotic with an overwhelming aroma, yet exuding a fine, subtle flavour like no other; a little goes a long way.  Passions ignite, dogs are trained and recipes are readied for the beginning of Australia’s truffle season, running from late May through to early September. 

Photo Credit: Truffle Kerfuffle, WA. 

Enthusiasts of the truffle enjoy fresh fungi from farms across the country in regions like Manjimup, Northern Tasmania, the Yarra Valley, the Otways and even Gippsland, giving Australia confidence to claim itself as the fourth largest truffle producer after France, Italy and Spain. Fruits of the fungus are becoming increasingly rare worldwide due to environmental and societal factors, namely the reduction of natural forests; however, the demand for truffles worldwide is increasing, putting pressure on the industry and a hefty price on produce. Here’s to hoping that predictions are accurate and we will soon surpass our European friends within the next decade to produce these sought-after delicacies in our own backyard. 

Best enjoyed fresh, truffles are at their finest within a week of being unearthed, and can be stored in absorbent paper in a dry sealed container or glass jar and a cool place for up to two weeks. For all other times of the year, experience the exotic and unique flavour of truffle infused oil, aioli, tapenade and butter or added to sea salt flakes, mustard, dukkah and even honey. 

Festivals such as a weekend celebration at Truffle Kerfuffle festival in Western Australia’s most predominant truffle growing region are held throughout winter to savour the taste of the third most expensive food in the world, prized for rarity and beguiling aroma. At the festival, you can experience the excitement of a hunt and uncover buried truffle treasure nestled among the roots of Oak and Hazel trees with the guidance of a gastronomic expert and a specially trained truffle sniffing dog alongside an entertaining assortment of other truffle inspired activities. 

Whether a long-time supporter and advocate of the truffle, or new to the scene this season, it’s a great time of year to join in the fun by either buying a ticket to a truffle festival, or by simply getting your hands on some - fresh and in season, or pre-prepared products – and head to our Recipe section of the website for kitchen inspiration. 

By Annabel Rainsford. 

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