Monthly Archives: April 2009

What tasty treats are baking in Savvy Cook’s kitchen this week?

Only the very best....

Only the very best....

Let’s start as we mean to go on.

With two very different treats, but both delicious in their own way.

Apricot & multi-seed bars (£ 1.65 each)

“Deliciously nutty and chewy bars made with jumbo oats, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower and linseeds”.

Nutrition per bar:

242 kcals, 14g fat, 7g saturated fat, 0.2g salt, 16g carbohydrates

Lady Grey fruitloaf (£ 9.50, serves 10 – 12)

“A diary-free, deliciously fragrant, low fat version of an English classic made with tea-soaked vinefruits and wholemeal flour”.

Nutrition per slice, based on 12 portions:

208kcals, 1.5g fat, 0.4g saturated fat, 33.1g carbohydrates, 0.3g salt

Both cakes keep really well in an airtight container. In fact the Lady Grey tealoaf improves with age (if you can exercise enough self-control that is).

To place your order please e-mail Savvy Cook at info@savvycook.co.uk by midday on Tuesday 5 May.

We will contact you to confirm your order and to arrange delivery on Friday 8 May. What could be easier – or more delicious?

We look forward to hearing from you.

Monique

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Cheek to Cheek

After all this cake talk I felt the need to write about something savoury to compensate.

In response to the credit crisis butchers and supermarkets have begun stocking cheaper cuts of meat such as oxtail, liver, oxcheeks, breast of lamb etc.

I am not sure that, with the erosion of cooking skills, many people feel brave enough to tackling these? Waitrose helpfully provide recipes on their meat service counter, but apart from the odd recipe for 5-hour shoulder of lamb, I have not come across many suggestions.

Anyway,  although we eat Savvy meals most of the time for convenience as well as quality control, last week I decided to take the bull by the horns so to speak and bought two ox cheeks.

Now I know this is completely irrational, but I felt a mixture of sadness (for the animal these cheeks were once a part of) and revulsion when I unwrapped what turned out to be large globes of very dark and dense meat.

What would it be like to sink my teeth into the flesh? I felt distinctly Hanibal Lecter-ish.

A couple of hours of very gentle braising with fresh root ginger, chilli and garlic later, I was left with two really tender pieces of meat in a thick gravy which I finished with some grated coconut.

What did the cheeks taste like?

Very rich and very much like I expected a cheek to taste. The texture was soft and a little bit gelatinous.

Not sure I would eat the meat again on its own with, in this case, boiled basmati rice and a green veg, but I think it would make a deliciously rich sauce for pasta or gnochi, a bit like a long-simmered ragu.

So, do give ox cheeks a try! I think they would work well in any slow braised dishes where you otherwise you would use  more expensive feather or leg steak.

What may be worth a try also, assuming last weekend’s lovely warm and sunny weather was not a one-off, is to pair the meat cold/at room temperature with an emerald green, mustardy salsa verde, some plain boiled new potatoes and a few salad leaves.

I feel much better now I have got this off my chest – watch this space for what’s baking later this week!

Monique

This is how the cookie crumbles….

Following on from yesterday’s message, here is how the new Savvy Cook cake service works:

1. Get cake!

Every Thursday, Savvy Cook decides what is baking that week….You can find out what tempting treats we have in store for you right here in Savvy Cook’s blog: www.savvycook.wordpress.com .

Usually, there will be two different cakes on offer, perhaps a loaf cake which serves 10 – 12 and individal muffins, cookies or other small things, one of which will be a healthier option.

2. Hello cupcake….

Orders must be received, via e-mail at info@savvycook.co.uk, by Tuesday noon latest for delivery on the following Thursday or Friday.

3. Deliverance

Delivery is free for existing Savvy Cook clients if the cake order is delivered along with your delicious, healthily balanced savvy meals.

Delivery is also free for the lovely people of SE19, SE21, SE22, SE24 and SE27 who spend £ 15 or more.

If you live outside these postcodes but want to place an order, please get in touch via info@savvycook.co.uk ; we may already come to your area once or twice a week as part of our normal delivery round.

There is a £ 5 delivery charge for orders with a value of less than £ 15.

4. Dough

Payment must be received in full on or before delivery.

We are happiest when you pay cash, but will accept cheques. If you cannot be there in person to receive your order, please ensure that your cheque, made payable to “Savvy Cook UK LTd” , reaches us before delivery is due.

6. The special one

All cakes come beautifully wrapped in greaseproof paper tied with string; small items are packed in re-usable containers.

The nutritional content per portion, so you know exactly what you are eating, and the “eat-by-date” are displayed on the label.

Please get in touch if you have any special requests or dietary requirements and we will do our very best to accommodate these.

7. Gift vouchers

We sell Savvy Cook gift vouchers which can be re-deemed against our wonderful meals and now also our yummy, freshly baked cakes.

They make a really thoughtful present for lucky friends and loved ones who are short of time, moving house, celebrating the birth of a baby, convalescing …. you get the idea.

That was quite a few crumbs…..and all the boring stuff out of the way.

Let them eat cake!

Best,

Monique

Tough times call for tasty treats!

Cupcake illustration

Why deprive yourself of one of life’s small pleasures just when you need cheering up? In these chastened times, a little of what you fancy really can do you good.

This thought was the seed for Savvy Cook’s cake service. 

We have been baking cakes for a quite a while now: from fat-free fruit loaves packed with tea-soaked vine fruits, to banana + walnut muffins, oat cookies, seed bars and sticky ginger bread.

Part of the fun has been experimenting with different ingredients such as seeds, fruit sugar, date syrup and the huge range of flours  other than wheat such as gram (chickpea), barley and rice.

With tasty results, if the feedback from friends, family and Savvy Cook clients and suppliers is anything to go by; we even delivered some energy bars to a certain West London premiership football team who went on to win the game that night…..can’t say fairer than that!

I think it proved that people do like to indulge now and again; and that by using really good quality, natural ingredients and strong flavours that maximise taste, our cakes really tickle the taste buds.

Soapy, synthetic tasting, factory produced cakes simply won’t do  when you a fancy a sweet treat and they will have you reaching for the biscuit tin in no time! 

Anyway, to cut a long story short Savvy Cook is launching a cake service next week.

Every Friday I will write here what is baking next week.

The plan is to offer two different cakes every week, one of which will be a healthier option. You place your order by noon the following Wednesday latest and your deliciously satisfying, freshly baked cakes, beautifully wrapped are delivered to your office or home the following Friday.

It goes without saying that we are very discerning about what goes into products; our cakes are baked with the same loving care that goes into our Savvy meals.

So that means that we only use real butter, free-range eggs and Fairtrade sugar.

I will shortly explain the “rules” of the game, so to speak: the boring stuff about delivery, payment terms etc.

In the meantime, I have got some prettily pink rhubarb waiting to be turned into a rhubarb polenta cake…… (with thanks to the original domestic Goddess, Nigella Lawson, whose baking recipes are a rich source of inspiration and second to none!).

I know who will be the lucky recipients.

Till the next time,

Monique

Fast good?

Whilst I was in Holland to visit my relatives, I read an interesting article in “De Volkskrant” (Holland’s “Guardian” equivalent) about “greening” of the fast food sector.

The article had been written by the journalist Loethe Olthuis who turned out to have been a fellow student of mine many, many moons ago, at The Hague Institute of Hospitality Management.

After graduating, Loethe started writing about food, the environment and sustainability (her parents were both journalists, so a case of “de appel valt niet ver van de boom” = blood being thinner than water?).
This “greening”, or not as is the case – according to Loethe most of the large fast food operators only pay lip-service to sustainability – was also discussed in The Times last week in the article “Big Mac, hold the CO2”.

Although I am not sure that many fast food customers have concern for the environment at the top of their list of priorities, it is my opinion that the big companies such as MacDonald’s, KFC and Burger King nevertheless have a duty to use their size and buying power to influence the supply chain and to educate their customers.

 
DankU“, www.danku.com, is a Dutch fast food concept that uses only organic products; so far they have got two outlets, one in Antwerp and one in New York, so there must be scope to develop a fast food product that is fast and good.
One thing on their menu that particularly caught my eye was their “biologische kroket”, organic croquette. This is a typical Dutch snack, made of a (usually meat) ragout type filling encased in breadcrumbs and then deepfried, which can be delicious if it is well made. As students, we would often stop for a “broodje kroket” (croquette in a soft breadroll) at Dungelmans, a first class butcher in The Hague who still make their own kroketten, saussage rolls and pasties.

I have a Dutch friend in London, who shall remain nameless, who brings back boxes of frozen “kroketten” , or their bite size equivalents called “bitterballen” , which she serves as novel snacks with drinks.
Perhaps Danku will come to London next? I will let you know and don’t forget you heard about fast good here first!

Monique

Spring has sprung

Poor sausage!

Gosh, am I glad that we have left March behind!

It has not been a good month for me, with quite a lot of bad news on the health front. It started early in March, in fact on my birthday, when I received the news that one of my uncles was in intensive care with complex health problems. As if that was not upsetting enough, two days later I found out that another uncle had been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer.  My mother-in-law had a lump, which appeared in January and had been growing steadily, removed from her throat. Luckily, the lump turned out to be benign, but it was a anxious wait for the results nevertheless.

A week later one of our dogs had a freak accident during a walk in the woods, whereby he tore open his right front leg from paw to elbow severing an artery in the process. Things got a bit hairy because getting him to a vet was made very difficult by the fact that I could not get a mobile signal and was miles away from our car. Anyway, as I write our dog patient is on the mend and I cannot wait to get back to normal.

 
I have also been to Holland to spend time with my relatives which was tiring but very enjoyable at the same time; both uncles live in The Hague where I studied and lived for 4 years, so it was also a bit of a trip down memory lane.

 

I managed to sqeeuze in lunch with a dear friend whom I met years ago on holiday – our contact has been mainly via e-mail and telephone, but when we do meet up it is as if we only saw eachother last week. She brought me three semi-precious stones, each with their own special healing powers, which I have put on my desk. I will tell you more about the stones, and the phone buddy I received, some other time.

 
Because of all this ill-health around me, including my own minor but painful inconvenience of chilblains, I have been thinking quite a bit about foods with specific therapeutic properties that can help us to improve our health. One book I often turn to is by Michael van Straten who is  one of Britain’s leading practitioners of alternative medicine.

 
I always cook fresh food for our dogs (yes, they are the lucky recipients of amongst other things freshly poached chicken + its broth, braising steak with rosemary), but over the last couple of weeks I have made a special effort to make their meals as nutritious and appealing as possible, to encourage our dog patient to eat.

Convalescence is a time for regenerating the body’s healing powers and repairing a weakened immune system, so I have included plenty of  iron rich red meat, lambs liver, green vegetables, small amounts of raw garlic and brown rice in their diets.

 
In the case of my chilblains, which have been a feature of my winter life since I was a child, and which are due to poor circulation, I have started taking vitamin K and a cayenne pepper supplement as recommended by our local health food shop. I think my purple and swollen toes are getting a little better but it is too early to say if this is because of the supplements or down to the milder weather.

 
Any ideas on how I can prevent chilblains next winter – please let me know! I would be eternally grateful.

 
Whilst I am on the subject of health, Savvy Cook has been invited to take part in a ThinkTank later this month to discuss how we can make sure that everyone has equal access to good information about their health; sometimes, and particularly when you are not well and need to make decisions about your health, the information out there can be bewildering and sometimes conflicting.

How could this be improved and? Do write to me about your experiences and suggestions.

Till the next time,

Monique