back to blogging...
Lockdown can sometimes brings the best out of people. It gives you time to think and invent new products, although in a way you cannot re invent the wheel. But “innovation and a lust for the best flavour in anything which ultimately helps us maintain and endeavour to be at the top of our game!” Wise words from Martin Moyden, Mr Moydens Handmade Cheese. Recently, well the last 11 month or so I have had a little time on hand and been working on Sourdough breads and recipes, it gave me pleasure to work out the chemistry behind all the ways and means of just flour and water. The oldest way of making bread through fermentation. I am blessed to having the first step on the ladder. Being a Chef by heart, you never stop learning and trying new things. Knowing Martin Moyden almost from when he started making his fine international award winning Shropshire Cheeses, collaboration is always an avenue we both enjoy taking. In a split moment of time I thought about blue cheese bread, Using Martin's Wrekin Blue cheese, but I realised it had been done before. I always use natural ingredients in any of my food challenges, never been Mr MSK and certainly never will be, but making breads with Acia seeds, Matcha leaves, Beetroot, Pea flower powder etc gave me an Idea to make 'Black&Blue' Bread.
I feel blessed to be able to bring new products to live, regardless of lockdown and all that jazz, raise above it and just carry on.
I copied this post from Alison Maslen... I am disgusted of the governments despicable actions and the bad handling in the shadows of Covic, to push through new regulations and laws without proper scrutiny. WE NEED BEES!!
A pesticide believed to kill bees has been authorised for use in England despite an EU-wide ban two years ago and an explicit government pledge to keep the restrictions.
Following lobbying from the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and British Sugar, a product containing the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam was sanctioned for emergency use on sugar beet seeds this year because of the threat posed by a virus.
Conservationists have described the decision as regressive and called for safeguards to prevent the pollution of rivers with rainwater containing the chemical at a time when British insects are in serious decline.
The decision by 11 countries to allow emergency use of the product comes amid a growing awareness of the harmful role played by refined sugar in the development of long-term health problems.
Matt Shardlow, the chief executive of the invertebrate conservation group Buglife, said it was an “environmentally regressive” decision that would destroy wildflowers and add to an “onslaught” on insects.
“In addition, no action is proposed to prevent the pollution of rivers with insecticides applied to sugar beet,” he said. “Nothing has changed scientifically since the decision to ban neonics from use on sugar beet in 2018. They are still going to harm the environment.”
The EU agreed to a ban on all outdoor uses of thiamethoxam in 2018 to protect bees. When the UK pledged to back the ban, Michael Gove, then the environment secretary, said: “The weight of evidence now shows the risks neonicotinoids pose to our environment, particularly to the bees and other pollinators which play such a key part in our £100bn food industry, is greater than previously understood … We cannot afford to put our pollinator populations at risk.”
He also wrote in the Guardian: “Unless the evidence base changes again, the government will keep these restrictions in place after we have left the EU.”
The UK, however, has now joined EU countries including Belgium, Denmark and Spain in signing emergency authorisations for its use, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
A similar emergency application for England in 2018 was refused after government pesticide advisers said it would “cause unacceptable effects to bees in flowering crops and flowering plants in field margins”.
It added that it would harm “birds and mammals eating seedlings from treated seed and birds consuming pelleted seed” and risked “adversely impacting populations of aquatic insects”.
Scientists have observed significant declines in some British bee species since 2007, coinciding with the introduction of thiamethoxam, which was previously widely used. Studies suggest that it weakens bees’ immune systems, harms the development of baby bees’ brains and can leave them unable to fly. Another study has found honey samples being contaminated by neonicotinoids..”
If one thinks about truffles...they were used in kitchens and restaurants as a norm and everyday on the order list on different sections back in my London Savoy days. Knowing full well they were expensive but part of fine cuisine, presentation, flavours and giving any dish the waw factor. This is still the case in smaller restaurants, where passionate Chefs who give their life and love to every single dish, with incredible techniques where real foodies sampling their artistic flair and perfection. Sourcing local ingredients and working with growers and helping artisan producers has been in my life for as long as I can remember make the best out of the best. 20 years ago I arrived in Shropshire on my journey as a Chef. Back then only a handful of local producers were known but plenty of choice of growers. Now in every corner or hamlet of Shropshire there are passionate growers and producers working along side each other to make the finest artisan produce Britain can be proud of. I am working closely together with Rupert and Tracy from Bennet&Dunn organic rapeseed oil, develloping and making natural flavoured rapeseed oils using locally sourced ingredients. We discussed many times truffles, but only if they were local ones. Many moons later I happened to come across Mike Collison, from Shropshiretruffles, on instagram and contacted him immediately, set a date and today was just a fabulous experience. Mike and his 'truffle' dog Oscar took us, Rupert, Tracy and myself into the orchard and as simple as it sounds, Oscar was set to work and told to find truffles, of he went and we just followed him, he certainly had a good nose for truffles and within seconds the first truffles were dug out. Can you believe it, Shropshire truffles....for Mike and Oscar walking through the orchard , digging and picking up truffles is a daily routine, for us three just to experience this was an un-forgetful jaw dropping event to say the least, real Shropshire truffles. Needless to say this won’t be my last visit. Another chapter has begun.
So now we are in August, I know lots of catering establishments meant to be going all full on t.mz , prepping all weekend and then some kind of government 'person' announced yesterday that kids need to stop going to pubs and go to school soon. so shut the pubs, I am not to sure at all what kinda horse sh..t trade-off this is. Who in the right frame of mind comes up with this. It feels like there is an unknown to the public agenda running to cage us all, a little at the time so we get used to it. So wrong....
I do feel sorry for all the new hospitality students, who were looking forward to a career they dreamt of for years, just melting away in front of them. It will have a serious impact in our industry for years to come. I hope there will be more constructive guidelines coming out soon. we all need structure in our life and looking forward to what will be happening tomorrow...
Meanwhile, my new addiction of sour dough breads is more fulfilling then any 1 minute of BBC news. Using great organic flours from Pimhill Farm and Shipton mill, I do look forward making my daily fresh loaves. Healthy indeed and the fresh baked bread smell every day is mouth watering, even better then the smell of freshly ground coffee.
I promise next blog will bea little less politcs...🙂
So this lockdown....I have seen so many people all over the world making sourdough bread in this period so far, It is amazing how people come together, I am always on the lookout for new things and challenges. food is an endless journey of knowledge and learning. I have been speaking to people in Canada, Australia, Bahrain, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, Holland to name a few countries working together on new recipes, methods. Exchanging knowledge of the how the who the when and the what, a privilege for sure. From hobby bakers like myself to professionals all having the same ideology to make the best ever ...everyday...
Having been experimenting with starters (mother) using different flour and blended flour, and came to the conclusion, to make the best you got to use the best. Speaking to a baker friend in London, I got in touch with Shipton mill flour company, their website is fantastic, but you need to know what you are looking for as there is so much choice. Well impressed with their service, flour(s) been delivered within 24hours although their website stated it could be a few days as there is a 'pandemic' on the go.
I will be starting to use the flour this week and see what will be the new results/outcome of my sourdoughs. Exciting times. I am eager to implement the new breads/techniques when the lock down is all over.
Happy baking, and I hope this will carry on regardless this lockdown ar another one if it happens again, people are changing for the better in my eyes, more home cooking and baking.
See you all again soon 🙂