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.

Seedlip

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 While ‘Dig for Victory’ is a little outdated, you can bring this trend firmly into 2017 with your own hydroponic unit.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:


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.

Jackfruit

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

Some things…

A little list of things I am really into right now… There’s nothing better than a personal recommendation, and these are my January picks.

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The Doughnut Hatch: On Kingsland Road in the heart of Shoreditch there’s a window that serves just two things: doughnuts and filter coffee. From 9am until they sell out, there’s two daily choices of flavours which could be anything from salted caramel to lemon curd to cherry, Oreo or pistachio.

Ozone cafe, Old Street: good coffee, tick. Smashed avo and radish bruschetta, double tick. Baked eggs and beans, seconds please. This massive cafe and coffee roasters is kiwi run – possibly why it consistently blows all newcomers out of the water.

Walking/canal life:  One of the most pleasurable things about living in Hoxton is the proximity to Regent’s Canal. I love nothing more than putting on my shoes ad taking Duchess out for a stroll up or down the canal. There’s always something to see – from terrapins to cute narrowboats – and at the moment it’s particularly lovely in the evenings as all the boats start a wood-burning fire. It smells amazing, and the air is so crisp… Winter perfection.

COYO: Coconut yoghurt is amazing. I’m like a year late on this but as someone who can’t eat dairy/abide by soy alternatives this is AMAZING. My favourite is made by the Coconut Collaborative, who have very funny packaging to boot.

Kent hairbrushes: I have just spent a wild amount of money for me on a hairbrush. I’m trying to upgrade the things I use or touch daily – to make sure they‘re of quality, and that I invest enough so they last longer.  Boar bristle brushes spread the natural oils your scalp produces from root to tip, resulting in healthier, shinier hair. They’re particularly awesome for people like me with baby-fine locks.

Shoes for life: In a similar vein I’m trying to invest in shoes of a higher quality, rather than just buying some Primark sneakers every eight weeks. Brands such as Loake (UK) feature a Goodyear welted leather sole. This is a method  of shoe construction from Northamptonshire that allows shoes to be repaired over and over again, perfect for boots subjected to daily abuse from gritty London pavements.

Sadly I don’t own a pair of Loake boots (yet! The Anne brogue boots will be mine, oh yes.) but their commitment to customer service has already won me over. The store manager in Piccadilly has ordered in various sizes from the warehouse for me, texted me updates, and  has generally just been lovely.

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:

chanterelles

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

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
Ci
ty Works Depot, Cnr Wellesley & Nelson Sts,
Auckland,
1010, NZ

Best ugly bagels

Daily photo

Photo

Baby steps back into blogging again… With a daily photo and a story. This Sunday past it was Thom’s 30-something-th birthday, so we had friends around on a dreary Sunday afternoon for a roast. For someone who doesn’t eat meat, apparently I cook a mean chicken. I say its all in the basting – and the fact I hardly want to look at the damn thing long enough to open the oven door and prod it. Chicken, couscous, homemade bread, roasted veg, gravy, and a spiced-coriander yoghurt for me. Et voila.

Little & Friday

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Upturned swappa crates, bone handled knives, flaky mushroom & mozzarella galettes, strong coffee and a fire-engine red hippo. Little and Friday is a breath of fresh air in the form of a cafe for Auckland’s sleepy Belmont neighbourhood.

Little & Friday tart

I ended up here with Mon when we were on an op-shopping mission – it turns out it’s a mere eight houses away from where I grew up on Eversleigh Road. I would have never expected to find such a cool place nearby, but times/me, they are a changing. If you can, get your hands on the Little & Friday cookbook – it’s sumptuous and inspiring.

Empty cup
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Bon appetit

flute

“Even though I was on a budget, I could afford to go to the fresh food market and get baguette and cheese.
That kind of food is not really accessible to you in London. I really love that in Paris,
there is no division [in food] by social class.”

– Rachael Khoo, in an interview with the Guardian

A week-ish ago three glorious days in Paris. And certainly the theme of this trip was food, food, food. From watching Thom and his Dad tackle a plateau de fruits de mer, to another trip to Le Refuges des Fondus, and market trawling – we ate well and often. Every neighbourhood has its own little market, and there’s no stigma in buying just one or two pieces of fruit, or a bouchon de sancerre to snack on (it’s a tiny cheese named for a wine cork). Makes me hungry just thinking of it.