Sunday, 29 January 2012

Try something New in 2012 - BBQ!

The weather is cool and crisp, perfect for barbeques, so fire up those BBQs and grills and grill up some deliciously succulent platefuls of meat and vegetables. For those who do not have a grill or BBQ, no worries! An oven or a grill pan works just as well!

Try BBQing or grilling meats and vegetables. Not only is it quick, but uses high heat so that the foods you are cooking retain most of their nutrients while caramelising the flavours of the ingredients on its surfaces, making it truly succulent. Grilled food is delicious, infused with a rich distinctive smoky flavour and grilling on a high flame helps meats and vegetables hold their nutritional goodness in more than many other ways of cooking. And done right it could also be calorie-friendly.

The key element in a successful barbeque is the marinade, it is the agent that protects the food from the direct heat and also seals in all the flavours added to the marinade and the juices of the meat or veggie being cooked. It is also important since cooking of meats (particularly red meat and chicken) at very high temperatures until surface charring occurs can cause cancer causing substances to form. Marinades minimise this risk by as much as 98%. 

But it can sometimes be difficult to get the marinade right, which could lead to disappointment.   Rather than spending time making your own marinade why don’t you try something new? Pick from our range of BBQ sauces to add extra flavour to your grilled dishes. For truly authentic flavour, the Jack Daniels Full Flavour Smokey Barbecue Sauce is rich and oaky with a warm hickory favour. Enjoy as a dipping sauce with wedges, brush over chicken wings or use as a marinade for a hickory scented steak. For those looking for something a little different, we recommend the Kraft BBQ Hot sauce, which has a spicy kick to it and is ideal for food lovers. If you like your meats a little sweet, try the Kraft BBQ Honey Mustard sauce, for a sweet subtly pungent flavour.

Grilling offers endless opportunities to create a world of satisfying and delicious meals. A nice crisp Salad and good bread and spreads on the side and a chilled beer is all you need to have a perfect meal!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Why don't you Stir-fry?

This week we continue our delicious exploration of new sauces with Stir fries! Stir-frying is an Asian method of cooking thinly sliced meat and vegetables so that the inherent textures and flavors of the ingredients are retained. Typically involving a quick sauté over high heat, sometimes concluding with a brief steaming in a flavored sauce in a wok. Ensure you have everything you need ready before you begin. Stir-frying needs to be fast, it won’t allow for time to chop vegetables while cooking.  Vegetables and meats should be approximately the same size (bite sized is best) since everything must be small enough to cook through equally and without burning. When your wok is really hot add oil. When the oil is hot, add the aromatics that will flavour it, such as ginger and garlic and stir-fry for a few seconds until their aroma is released. Then add your other ingredients staggering their addition according to the length of their cooking time. Ideally start with any meats, stir-fry until almost done, then remove set aside. (Add back at the end, so the meat cooks fully but does not dry out.) Then add harder vegetables like baby corn and carrots; stir-fry for about 2 minutes, then add vegetables like beans, onions and others. Broccoli florets, peppers and greens which require a minimum of cooking time can be added at the end and briefly cooked or just steamed. At this point if you think the vegetables need just a little more cooking time then just continue to stir fry but if you think they are more raw than cooked, cover and steam until done.
The sauce would ideally go in when the ingredients are two-thirds cooked. You can make your own stir-fry sauce or use our ready range of stir –fry sauces from Blue Dragon.
Serve the Stir-fry immediately on a bed of steamed rice and enjoy.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Try Something New in 2012 - Sauces

Bored with the daily dining dilemma of what to cook? Tired of family fussing about what you cook? Or simply looking for something new to excite your palate? Well try sauces! A new sauce can transform your dinner into something new and delicious! Sauces are liquid preparations served with food, usually savoury dishes, to add moistness and flavour and visual appeal to a dish. But a sauce can turn a simple dish such as a curry, stir-fry, vegetables and meats into something extraordinary.
Our shelves are brimming with a selection of sauces from around the world. Travel the world with different sauces everyday; an exotic Tagine one night, a hearty BBQ on another, a spicy stir-fry for an interesting lunch....
You no longer have to go out to eat well. Gourmet meals are to hand right in your home with fresh good quality ingredients handpicked and speedily cooked by you. Delicious and quick!
Our Al Fez range of Tagine sauces are perfectly balanced to give your dish a Moroccan flavour. Stir up a quick tagine with the Sundried Tomato & Cinnamon or Honey & Almond Tagine Sauce, served on a bed of couscous for dinner that will also make a good tiffin option the next day. Use Blue Dragon stir fry sauces and shots for quick weekday stir-fry options with steamed rice or noodles. We recommend the Spicy Satay Shot, Chilli Coconut Shot and Teriyaki Stir Fry Sachets. For a more hearty meal, fire up your grill and use our range of BBQ sauces to marinate and baste meats as they cook.
Add variety to your daily meals with a simple twist of a bottle or by simply opening a sachet.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Dress it up!

Last week we talked about Salads and their construction. It’s a wonderful time of year to be savouring salads and Salads are only complete when served with a dressing. Dressings come in two general categories: creamy or vinaigrette. Creamy dressings are based on something heavy like sour cream, cream, cheese or some combination of all these ingredients, flavoured with herbs and spices. Popular options include the Ranch and Thousand Island Dressings. Thinner dressings include the Olive oil, French dressing and the Vinaigrette. Vinaigrettes are based on oil and vinegar and accented with herbs and spices.

The formula for a Vinaigrette is = ACIDIC INGREDIENT + OIL + SALT + FLAVOURING + OPTIONAL SWEETENER. To make your dressing start by blending your oil with pinches of any other flavourings thoroughly combine, then drizzle in acidic ingredient blending with a whisk all the time either with a wire whisk or in a blender. Once you have this formula in place, you can use it to get really creative. 

 ACIDIC INGREDIENT – the souring agent, you can use acidic fruit juices like lemon or orange, cranberry or even natural vinegars like red wine, white wine, champagne, apple cider, rice wine or balsamic vinegars.
OIL – is the element that carries flavour, which is why it is very important in dressings. A little goes a long way. Experiment with extra-virgin olive oils, exotic nut and seed oils and even flavoured oils. 

SALT - You wouldn’t think so but salt can be varied as well. Try sea salt, rock salt or salty condiments in place of salt like Soy sauce and Thai fish sauce or even anchovies and salty cheeses. 

FLAVOURINGS – The most obvious one is pepper of course but you can also use other spices in combination or instead of pepper. Other options include fresh and dried herbs, garlic, ginger and citrus zest.

OPTIONAL SWEETENER - The optional sweet ingredient is something I like to add to balance the other flavours, try honey, sugar, sweet fruit juices, syrups.
Salads Dressings can be delicious but also full of calories! Dress for Less with Nature’s Basket range of low fat dressings.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Try Something New - Constructing a Salad

                                                                                                                                                             The most common resolution made at the beginning of the New year is to lose weight. But this resolution soon wavers if the healthy food we eat is not tasty as well. Well to help you you’re your resolution this year we are kick starting our "Try Something New " festival with innovative new salad ideas. Using the wonderfully exotic variations on just about anything that goes into a salad bowl, from unique leafy greens and vegetables, mind boggling fruit, unusual nuts and a plethora of cheeses and meats from around the world we leave no excuse for NOT eating that salad AND having fun making it. And once you have your salad together we have a variety of options to dress them using the range of fabulous dressings from around the world. Everything from a simple vinaigrette to an indulgent creamy Italian dressing to Fat Free Options on classic well loved dressings...  Who says healthy can't be tasty?

To make a good Salad you have to understand the construction of a good salad.
Construction of a salad
Step 1 – Making a simple Green salad which can be the foundation of a more elaborate one.
Ingredients -
200g assorted lettuce leaves, washed and torn to bite-size pieces
1 tbsp quality EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive oil) or other oil
½ tbsp vinegar (white wine, red wine or balsamic) or 1 tsp lemon juice,
freshly ground pepper.
1 box of Trikaya premixed Salad
2 tbsp ready vinaigrette such as the Goldyna Red Wine Vinegar Dressing

Method - Place salad leaves in a bowl. Pour dressing over and toss to gently coat the lettuce leaves. Begin with a tablespoon of dressing and increase if required. Serve.
Step 2 – Building a Green Salad into a Garden Salad
2 parts assorted leafy greens OR 2 boxes Trikaya premixed salad
2 parts as many different diced vegetables as you wish. Pick from common vegetables like tomato, cucumber, onion, spring onion, carrot and radish, blanched beans and cauliflower or more exotic options like sweet peppers, mushrooms, olives, capers, broccoli, zucchini (steamed) and sweetcorn
A dressing of your choice
Place everything in a large bowl and toss gently till well coated.
Step 3 – Building your Garden Salad into a full meal!
Make your garden salad into a complete meal by adding carbohydrates and protein. To make meal of salad you can add a combination the following to your garden salad. 
3 servings of grain choose any 3 from below list;
1 slice bread (toasted/baked croutons or crostini)
1 cups ready-to-eat cereal (oats, muesli)
1/2 cup cooked cereal, (Cous Cous, Quinoa, Bulghur)
1/2 cup cooked rice or pasta,
2 corn taco shells broken up or 8 nachos chips
3 cups air-popped corn or other seeds like amaranths,
1 medium boiled potato

1-2 servings fruit, choose from;
1 medium piece of fruit or a melon wedge,
½ grapefruit,
½ cup berries or grapes,
¼ cup dried fruit such as red raisins, cranberries, dried papaya, pineapple or tropical fruit

1 serving dairy choose from; 
1 cup yogurt
2 ounces cheese like a feta, mozzarella cheese, cheddar, Parmiggiano Regiano or even Gorgonzola
½ cup paneer

1-2 servings protein, choose from;
1/3 cup cooked lean meat, poultry (turkey ham, turkey loaf, salamis) or fish like Prawns, Basa fish fillets or Smoked Salmon
1/2 cup cooked beans like cooked chickpeas, canned beans  
1 egg
2 tablespoons peanut or sesame butter, 
1/3 cup nuts such as almonds, peanuts or more exotic pecans, hazelnuts or pine nuts.
1/2 cup tofu

* Recipe Specially designed for Natures Basket by Celebrity Gastronome Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal