FOODtips of the Day!

Every so often I come across some tips, cheats and helpful ideas that I feel are worth saving as you never know when you might need them.  Here are the latest:

Add a spoonful of custard powder to fruit pie pastry and the result will be a golden yellow pastry!

Slice an onion thinly and freeze in plastic bags. Using a rolling pin on the frozen slices in their bags breaks them into small pieces, just as if they had been finely diced!

Half a chicken stock cube, dissolved in hot milk gives a lovely flavour to mashed potatoes!


Great British Chef’s ‘Summertime’ App for iPad/iPhone


When I first heard of the Great British Chefs’ app (I was linked to them in Facebook) I took the plunge and bought it and I was completely blown away.  The app is classy, sleek, and totally full of fantastic and achievable recipes by masters of their craft such as Marcus Waring; Pascal Aussignac; Nuno Mendes; Daniel Clifford, Tom Aikens and many, many, more!  Next came along the Festive version of the app with even more recipes to die for.  Now, Great British Chefs’ (in conjunction with Ocado) have created their ‘Summertime’ app with the proceeds donated to ‘Action Against Hunger’.  

The quality is HD and the pictures are glorious.  21 chefs have each contributed 5 recipes and with 105 stunning photo’s – one for each recipe – the VFM of this app is amazing.  I couldn’t recommend this more highly than giving 10 out of 10 stars.  

You can download the app for your phone or pad here:


Seafood Salad Platter

This is one of the best seafood salad recipes I have tried.  The fragrant stock really makes this salad worth trying – and it really isn’t too much trouble to make!  Serve it up with a fresh warm baguette and a green salad on the side or a rice salad pepped up with thinly sliced raw green chillies, finely diced tomatoes and a good drizzle of lemon juice – superb. Serves 6 but you can halve the ingredients for 2-3 and of course, double it up for 12 – just make sure you have a platter large enough! 

There is a bit of a school of thought here as whether to use fish or chicken stock to use with fish – personally, I prefer chicken stock as I find that fish stock can overpower – but it is totally up to you.  If you can, use fresh stock which you can make yourself or now buy in the chiller cabinet at good supermarkets such as Waitrose; if you can’t then use a stock cube but don’t add any extra salt when seasoning. Oyster knives are pretty easy to find these days – Waitrose and Peter Jones/John Lewis sell them, as do many fishmongers now.  They cost around £5.

 It takes around 80 minutes to cook and chill.

 You need:

 450g fresh raw mussels
6 fresh raw oysters in shell
6 fresh squid tubes (body)
24 fresh raw tiger prawns with tails on
250 ml of fresh fish or chicken stock
75 ml of dry white wine (such as Soave)
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
1 small leek, trimmed and halved
1 stick of celery, cut into 4
3 tbsp (45ml) of olive oil
1 tbsp (15ml) of white wine vinegar
1 tbsp (15ml) of lemon juice
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp of freshly chopped, flat, leaf, parsley (+ a little extra to dress)
1 tbsp of freshly chopped tarragon
Some lemon quarters to garnish

 You will also need: a large platter, an oyster shucker (knife) or a good solid clean screwdriver, some ice for chilling.

 Do it:

Firstly, prepare the shellfish: wash and scrub the mussels in cold running water and remove any ‘beards’.  Open oysters with the shucker or screw driver and take out the oysters; clean the lower shells and set aside.  Cut each squid lengthwise in two then open flat and score the insides lightly in a diamond pattern (don’t cut all the way through). Shell the prawns, leaving the tails on and removing any black veins.

Next, bring your stock to the boil in a large saucepan. Add the wine, onion, leek and celery, season with salt and pepper (omit the salt if you are using a stock cube) and bring back to the boil. Pop in your shellfish then cover with a lid and boil for 2 minutes shaking the pan until the mussels have opened (you know the rule if a mussel doesn’t open throw it away!).

Once the mussels have opened pour the stock and shellfish gently into a bowl and then place that bowl in a larger one containing ice.  When almost cool, strain the stock into a pan and reduce to 150ml (which is ¼ of a pint).

While the stock is reducing, discard the onion, celery and leek from the shellfish. Remove one side of each mussel shell and discard.  Put the shellfish and stock (once reduced) in the fridge to cool.

When ready to serve whisk the oil, vinegar and garlic into the stock, check the seasoning and add more salt or pepper if necessary. Pour over the shellfish and tip in the herbs and mix this together with clean hands then arrange the shellfish on a platter, putting the oysters back in their half shells and arranging decoratively then pour over the remaining stock dressing and dress with the parsley and lemon quarters.