2017 food trends – avocados are out, okra is in

Food trends are obvious in hindsight. Last year, there was avocado everywhere, spiralizers spiralled out of control, and everything we ate was given a rainbow make-over. But predictions for the year ahead are always tricky, and after a turbulent 2016, who knows what will happen in 2017? However, I’m giving it my best shot with a few predicted food trends for this year.

Purple veg at New Covent Garden Market. Credit: Frantzesco Kangaris/PA Wire
Purple veg at New Covent Garden Market. Credit: Frantzesco Kangaris/PA Wire

Food waste is on the out, which is fantastic. Latest estimates claim that around 56% of food and drink waste is avoidable (WRAP), while more than 8 million people in the UK are struggling to put food on the table – so there’s appetite to do even better! Many supermarkets are looking for ways to use their foods which are discarded by consumers. ‘The Warehouse’ near Leeds (opened by the Real Junk Food Project in 2016), sells food which would have otherwise been thrown away, and operates on a pay-as-you-feel basis, meaning that it helps hundreds of struggling families. There is also ‘Too Good To Go’, an app which enables you to buy leftover food from restaurants and cafes for as little as £2. It’s already in London, Leeds and Brighton, and is set to take over the rest of the UK in 2017.

Less alcohol. Mocktails and fancy juices are becoming more popular to drink, with many people choosing non-alcoholic options when they’re out, and restaurants are responding to this new market with a wide variety of virgin drinks. Try the gorgeously designed and tasty Seedlip – the world’s first non-alcoholic botanical spirit. It’s not confined to restaurants or bars either; try making your own lemonade or limeade, a homemade cordial or growing yourself a ginger beer plant.


That brings me nicely onto the next prediction, for DIY foods. More people have their own pots of fresh herbs on their window sills, or a small patch of earth in the back garden for radishes and other easy vegetables. While ‘Dig for Victory’ is a little outdated, you can bring this trend firmly into 2017 with your own hydroponic unit. It also doesn’t have to stop with your own fresh foods; you can pickle vegetables, or make your own kimchi, sauerkraut, and jams.

Free-from foods will become even more popular in 2017. Previously, these have been only enjoyed by people with intolerances or allergies, but recently many people have started choosing to eat foods which are free from gluten, dairy or nuts. They’ve also never been more accessible, with supermarkets and even corner shops adding more and more variety to their free-from range. Keep an eye out for tiger-nut milk making a splash!

Vegetables. We’re set to see an increase in vegetables on our plates, changing the British staple of meat and two veg to just… veg? Veganism is still on the rise, with half a million people in the UK now a vegan. This means we’ll be seeing more vegan and vegetarian dishes, as restaurants open themselves up to the diversity of fruit and vegetables – from okra to tomatillos and loquats. Need some fresh inspiration? Check out New Covent Garden Market’s seasonal Market Report.

Finally, bowls. No, I’m not kidding. There’s already an entire restaurant in Berlin which is seemingly dedicated to serving breakfast in bowls. Some things already make a lot of sense in bowls; soup, for example. But bowls and comfort foods are a match made in heaven, plus bowls are far more Instagram-friendly than a boring, wide plate. It’s not just comfort food either. Healthy, well balanced meals seem more appetising in a bowl, and it’s an easy dieting tip as well; you can trick your brain into thinking there’s more food in a bowl than the same meal on a flat dish.

For even more gazing into the foodie crystal ball, read these expert articles:

For the love of tea

358th anniversary of tea

Cool design. What ho! This week Google celebrated the most loving, long-term relationship on earth, the one between Brits and their tea. “The first advert for tea in England appeared on this date [23 September] in a publication from 1658 describing it simply as a “China Drink.” A couple of years later, English Naval Administrator Samuel Pepys wrote about drinking tea in his diary entry from 1660.”

And on that note check out the Food Timeline, an incredible archive of food and their first recorded mentions in history. Endlessly fascinating – who knew pretzels first popped up in the 5th century?

Recipe: Pulled ‘Pork’ with Jack-fruit

What’s large, green, and roughly the size of a child? If you’re a bit of a know-it-all like me, chances are you would have answered durian. But it’s not – the answer is jack-fruit. Hailed as drought and pest resistant super crop, the Guardian thinks we’ll soon be seeing a lot more of jack-fruit on both vegetarian and omnivore menus  alike.

Jackfruit on the tree

Having been a veggie for nearly ten years now, I have to admit I haven’t been very adventurous beyond the old cheese and pasta combination. Until recently. A large part of that has been living in wonderful London where interesting ingredients on the whole are much more widely available than in New Zealand (check out souschef.co.uk for a literal taster), and partly working on a few adventurous food brands such as Lurpak, which prided itself on being a go-to for creative cooks, and Magimix, which is an amazing set of whizzy kitchen appliances.

It was with a sense of trepidation I picked up some jack-fruit cans in my local Asian supermarket (Longdan Express, in Shoreditch). You can buy it fresh locally, I’ve heard Brixton Market has it, but I wasn’t fussed.


Pulled Jack-fruit – adapted from Club Mexicana’s recipe

  • 1 tsp chilies, finely chopped – I used Very Lazy chopped red chilies to save myself time/money on an ingredient I don’t use very often!
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped – again, I used Very Lazy chopped garlic. 1 tsp = 1 clove
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 0.25 tsp cayenne
  • 250ml tomato sauce
  • Juice of two limes
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tins of jack-fruit in brine (this is still quite an epic feast)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard

Fry the garlic & chilies in oil for a minute in a saucepan. Add all the spices, stir and cook until fragrant. Add tomato sauce, lime juice and brown sugar. Stir until all the sugar has melted. Partially cover and keep cooking on a low heat until sauce has thickened to the consistency of ketchup.

Drain and thoroughly rinse the tinned jack-fruit. It is quite creepy if you’re not used to meat as it feels rather fleshy! Use your hands to tear the strands of jack-fruit apart – it will certainly start to feel meat-like (kind of reminds me of tuna?)

The jack-fruit does have a harder core, much like a pineapple, so take a knife to these pieces if needed. Also, the seeds are large and a little slimy, you can flick these out with a knife if you so wish.

Heat oil in a fresh pan and add the pulled jack-fruit. Cook until “it gets a bit grey and loses some moisture.” Add the Dijon mustard and stir in.

Pro tip: Always use a wooden or plastic spoon when you’re handling mustard… Mustard has the power to corrode metal spoon, which can play with the flavours.

Pulled Jackfruit

Add about half the BBQ sauce (more if you want a very sticky dish) and stir in to coat. Cook until it’s almost starting to get a little crispy and sticking to the pan a little. If it’s sticking a lot, feel free to add a dash of water and keep it moving.

Serve as you would normally enjoy some hot pulled pork (or not!) – in tacos, in a sweet burrito wrap, stacked with guac, slathered in sour cream. Whatever takes your fancy. Sadly no pictures of my final creation, but here is the pulled jack-fruit; which very nearly tricked the omnivores I fed it to!

Pulled Jackfruit

Kitchen diction

Let’s play a game of kitchenary… and demystify some of the language of food.  Despite my love of food and great hoard of cookbooks, some terms still escape me. Especially when I’m sat looking at a menu for 3.5 seconds while a waiter huffs down at me – I go blank and feel kind of dumb.

But as they say, knowledge is power and I’m taking the power back! These a few of the mysteries I unravelled over a meal with friends at Beagle, Hoxton on Saturday night:


GIROLLES: Small and fragrant, these golden mushrooms are also known as chanterelles. They have an ‘almost fruity and quite peppery’ taste, and are wonderful enjoyed simply sautéed and on toast. You’ll find them fresh between June and October in Europe- so they’re at their best now.

GNUDI: This is a fun one to say. Partnered with the girolles in a sage butter sauce, gnudi are a close cousin of gnocchi. However, you’ll find these dumplings are simply made with flour and ricotta. This undoubtedly will be making an appearance in my kitchen soon, as they were utterly delectable.

PERROCHE: A soft white fresh goat cheese, with a subtle lemony taste. I had this with a light summer veg salad, including freshly podded peas – however it looks like broadbeans and artichokes are also exceptional partners.

VICHYSSOISE: If vichy means water in French, vichyssoise is the feminine. In cooking, this usually translates to a thick soup made of puréed leeks, onions, potatoes, cream, and chicken stock. At Beagle, they serve theirs with watercress and buttermilk, which sounds light and delicious – but I am yet to try it.

Lazy lemon curd pudding

Lemon curd

This very simple sponge pudding is perfect for using up bits and pieces from around the kitchen, and saves you the five minute walk to the store when you’ve got a sugar craving. Lemony? Check. Lazy? CHECK!

Lazy lemon curd pudding

50g melted butter
50g caster sugar
50g self raising flour (if you have plain flour, add half a tsp. of baking powder)
1  egg, beaten
2 Tbsp. milk
Tbsp. of lemon curd

In a medium bowl, melt the butter. Let it cool a tiny bit, then mix in the egg and milk gradually. Fold in the flour gently. Put 2 hearty tablespoons of lemon curd and a sprinkling of frozen berries in the bottom of microwave-safe bowl. Pour over the batter. Cover, and cook for 3 – 4 minutes on full power, or until the pudding appears set when gently jiggled, and the top is sticky (you might need to check it a couple of times). Serve hot.

Yield: Perfect for two greedy people, or three responsible and moderate individuals.

Best Ugly Bagels


Baby loves a beigel or even a bagel. Being in New Zealand, it was the latter – delicious hand rolled and wood fired rings of delicious dough from Best Ugly Bagels in the City Works Depot.

It was nice to have a change of taste – usually I’m enjoying Brick Lane’s finest – dense and chewy beigels, but Al Brown’s take uses a Montreal style recipe. Montreal bagels are smaller, sweeter cousins of New Yorkers, with a larger hole. At Best Ugly they’re served up with a variety of toppings, such as pastrami, Swiss cheese, Habanero mustard and pickles, or the TAB – tomato avocado and basil. There’s even a full breakfast bagel if you’re an early bird.

Overall, I loved this place and enjoyed being able to see the inner workings of the process, although the tannoy style announcement of order up is a bit naff – especially if there’s only two of you waiting. That’s okay though, just order a flat white, grab your food and peace out in the sunshine.

Best Ugly Bagel
ty Works Depot, Cnr Wellesley & Nelson Sts,
1010, NZ

Best ugly bagels

Oh my crumble: recipe

Pear & Blueberry Crumble

I’ve covered crumbles previously, with Leon’s lovely recipe, and with the weather changing from autumn into a definitively wintry vibe, I thought it was high time I baked one again.

It was Mark Bittman who said “There’s nothing you can do with an apple that you can’t do with a pear.”, and with a clutch of slightly elderly pears on hand, it was time to road test them in a crumble. Oats stop the topping being a total flour-fest (which I find to be rather lumpy sometimes) and give it a crunchier texture.

Pear & Blueberry Crumble

For the pear filling:
6-8 pears (of any variety) – or one tin of pears in juice
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
¼ cup of water – or simply the juice, if using tinned pears

Handful of frozen blueberries

For the crumble:
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup of rolled oats
1 cup of cubed, room temperature butter
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp ginger – optional

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Peel and core the pears, chopping the flesh into large chunks. Heat in a saucepan with brown sugar and a little water until you reach the desired consistency – softened but still solid. At the last-minute, stir in your frozen berries, and take your pan off the heat, and leave to one side.

In another bowl, rub the butter together with flour, oats, sugar and cinnamon to make crumble. Cool hands are your best tool here – you want a rustic look, not fine breadcrumbs.

Put the filling mixture in an oven proof dish. Spoon the crumble mixture evenly on top, filling any gaps. Cook the crumble at 180C for about 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Serve warm, or at room temperature, with a helping of ice-cream or thick yoghurt (my housemates and I enjoyed it with passion-fruit flecked yoghurt, which was a winner).

Yield: 6 hearty servings

N.B. If you find yourself with too much crumble topping, put it in a Ziploc bag and freeze, you’ll be able to use it later, straight from frozen, for micro-crumbles (an earthenware cup of crumble for one!), or any other crumble emergencies you may face.

Wild foods: Blackberry pickle

Hackney wilds

I am a hunter-gatherer at heart. I love looking back on my wild, tangled childhood, when I spent hours combing the beach for seaweed, following my grandmother out to her whitebait spot, or following my Mum on a wild mushroom and freesia hunt. There’s something to be said for making something beautiful and tasty for free. However, I don’t really know that much about British flora and fauna. So when I spotted the opportunity to learn about foraging at the Tower Hamlets Cemetry Park, I leapt at the chance.

A group of seven of us learned about everything from Fat Hen, a spinach-like weed often found on cultivated land, to wild fennel, juniper berries – which take two years to ripen! There was also an opportunity to check out the very poisonous deadly nightshade in the flesh, and I was also ‘lucky’ enough to experience my very first nettle sting. No one in the group could believe I’d never met a nettle before!


One of the highlights of the day for me was the chance to indulge in a British classic, blackberry picking. Blackberries can be found in hedgerows (and surprisingly, urban Hoxton) from July to October. We got stuck into picking from a large thorny patch on the edge of a park, right by the railway. It’s a good idea to actually taste as you pick, as the flavour profile of berries can vary from plant to plant. It took a while to nip and pluck all the berries, leaving my arms looking  they’d been attacked by an army of kittens, but we enjoyed a decent haul. Terry also told us that you can buy thorn-less plants now – definitely an idea for the garden!

Box of berries

There you have it, 1.5kg of wild blackberries, ready to be turned into a tasty blackberry pickle, which we made back at HQ. Terry says he chose this recipe as it’s unusual to see a savoury take on a famous preserve:

From Rosamond Richardson’s book Hedgerow Cookery (pictured below)}


  • 500g sugar
  • 300ml vinegar
  • 1tsp allspice
  • 1tsp cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1kg blackberries


Dissolve the sugar in the vinegar over a gentle heat. Put the spices in a muslin bag, and put them in to simmer for several minutes. Add the blackberries and cook for between 10 and 15 minutes. Remove the spices, pack the blackberries into hot jars, and then boil the vinegar down until it turns syrupy. Cover the blackberries with the vinegar, and seal the jars.

These pickled blackberries are delicious with bread or served with crackers and a nice and squidgy cheese like brie (it works best with creamy flavours).

Hedgerow cookery

Empty jars

Red onion jam

When life gives you 5kg of onions on a chilly Sunday afternoon, what do you do? Make red onion jam, of course!

Take 8 red onions, peel and dice them. Put onion into a large, thick-bottomed pot (the thick bottom distributes heat more evenly – I use my £8 Le Crueset saucepan). Add two fistfuls of juicy golden sultanas, and a few slugs of balsamic vinegar. Add two cups of sugar, then pour 2/3 of a bottle of cheap red wine over the mixture. Season with rock salt and freshly cracked pepper, for luck.

Heat the pot on a high heat until the mixture is boiling, then turn down to a simmer. Then you wait. It might take up to two hours, but aside from the occasional stir, leave the mixture to reduce. The sultanas will be plump with wine; the onion will become a sticky sweet mess. You’ll have a thick, syrupy jam – which goes well with almost everything, but is particularly good slathered on a slab of blue cheese, and eaten between two pieces of toasted bread.