Takeaway Secrets Exposed

When is a takeaway not a takeaway? The answer, apparently, is when it’s a delivery.

This semantic argument was used by Deliveroo in response to the investigations of Panorama’s recent broadcast, Takeaway Secrets Exposed  but it has some significant consequences.

The food you order from the likes of ‘Just Eat’ and ‘Deliveroo’ are known as ‘dark kitchens’: cramped boxes, usually plonked in city centres, in which cooks prepare meals ordered and sent out via food-delivery apps. The food that comes out of these containers is sold under the name of established restaurants; innocent customers might assume it somehow still comes from their high-street premises – but no: this is known as“virtual branding”, and all that sits behind a restaurant logo is a small space containing a minimum of essentials – a couple of ovens, a handful of chefs and couriers frantically delivering what they cook.

On the simplest level, you may not know where your food is actually coming from. On the more dangerous side, you may not be able to easily determine whether that food is safe to eat. Watch the programme: Takeaway Secrets Exposed

Tomato, Balsamic & Black Garlic Ketchup

I hate to throw away food and I will always try to find a way of using up something that may be past it’s best.  I don’t store tomatoes in the fridge (nor eggs for that matter) as there is nothing worse that eating cold tomatoes – the temperature of the fridge seriously affects the flavour.  Tomatoes stored at room temperature retain their sweetness and are much more pleasurable to eat.

That said, I had some cherry tomatoes that were quite soft and some were beginning to pucker. I decided they would be perfect to make a sauce or a ketchup.  My recipe is some way between the two – more ketchup, I think.

150 g overripe cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (the aged type that is thick and syrupy and also quite expensive!)
Pinch Sugar
Sprinkling of salt
1 teaspoon of Black Garlic Ketchup

Cut the tomatoes in half (this will help to break them down) and put in small pan with the oil, vinegar, salt and sugar.  Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and let simmer until it reaches a thick syrupy consistency.

Take off the heat and blitz with a hand blender until smooth.  If, by this stage you feel the consistency is not quite thick enough, you can return it to the pan and reduce it a little more.  Once you’re happy with the consistency, add the black garlic ketchup and store in a heat treated jar.

To find more of my recipes, please visit http://ritacooksfood.com

Planning a Drinks Party

With Christmas not so far away, you might be thinking of planning a drinks or cocktail party for friends, business colleagues or family? Cocktail parties are great for entertaining friends or business associates, or a combination of the two. They’re also great for open houses or receptions, both business and personal.

Drinks parties can be a simple affair, or something more complex. Some of the things to consider are:
– it is going to be a casual affair, or something more formal?
– how many guests are you planning to invite?
– the drinks: a wine only party, or cocktails served by a professional bartender? What about interesting non-alcoholic drinks for those abstaining? A hot or cold punch can also be a winner!
– what kind of food to offer your guests?

Traditionally, simple foods, such as hors d’oeuvres and other finger foods, allow guests to graze and eat sitting, or standing, with a drink already in the hand. Guests can help themselves from a buffet table, or waiting staff can mingle with attractively laid platters, offering tasty morsels, such as:

Aubergine & Tomato Canapes
Parmesan, Goat’s Cheese & Rocket
Parmesan & Poppy Seed Lollipops
Puff Pastry Pizza Bites
Smoked Salmon Blinis
Stilton & Toasted Walnut Balls
Tandoori Chicken Skewers
Tomato & Goat’s Cheese Doughballs
Courgette & Parmesan Crisps
Radishes with Whipped Goat’s Butter & Celery Salt
Fruitcake with Cheese & Apple
Crab, Lime & Chilli Toasts
Cheddar & Marmite Mini Rolls

For your perfect canape bites (freshly made either in your own home or delivered) and help with planning your party, contact me.

Enjoy Your Own Dinner Party!

Dinner parties are a great excuse to gather friends and family, drink wine, eat good food, laugh and be merry. They don’t have to be stressful – a stressed host is a bad host – so why not make your life easy?

Dinner PartyIt is all too common that hosts only get to spend minimal time chatting and relaxing with their guests, as most of their attention is demanded in the kitchen.  Think how lovely it would be to be able to greet all of your guests as they arrive, mingle and chat, and enjoy the atmosphere, whilst the food preparation is being left in good hands in your kitchen.

I can create delicious dinner party food, made from scratch, using fresh ingredients, to a menu you and I have created together beforehand.  With everything taken care of in the kitchen, you can relax at the table and take comfort in the knowledge that everything else, too, is being taken care of.

If you would like to have an informal, no obligation, chat then please contact me.

In the meantime, here are some sample dinner party menus that might inspire you!

Convenience Food – The Hidden Cost

Did you know that: ‘most of the meat, vegetables and fish in our convenience food has been transported and stored whilst frozen. Typically, it is kept at sub-zero temperatures for months, even years, but when it is thawed and cooked, it can be marketed as ‘fresh’.
(Excerpt taken from an article written by Joanna Blythman, 3 March 2015.)

Many ready meals are also packed with artificial preservatives and additives to give them flavour. Chemicals which extend the meal’s shelf life and synthetic vitamins and minerals, which are hard for your body to digest, are also found in many ready meals.

On a weekly, or fortnightly, basis, I can provide home-cooked, delicious meals, ready for the freezer, including instructions for re-heating, and even a copy of the recipe for your own use.

Here is an example of some of the dishes you can enjoy:

freezer fill 3

– Lasagne (meat or veg)
– Fish Pie
– Shepherd’s Pie
– Spiced Cottage Pie
– Chicken Tarragon with Cider
– Spanish Seafood Stew
– Pork & Chorizo Burgers
– Asian Chicken Burgers
– Beef Bourgignon
– Coq au Vin
– Asian Steamed Salmon

See the full menu here.  (Other dishes can be added on request.)

Family meals – stress free

Struggling with family dinners during hectic work weeks?

Family Meals

Who has time to cook? We have to battle rush-hour traffic, stop at the dry cleaners, pick up kids from football practice or music lessons, etc., go to the pharmacy, answer more work emails when we get home, and the list goes on and on.  How did life get so crazy?

Rather than pick up fast food on the way home or slam in a microwave meal, help is on hand. I can come to your home at an agreed time, or times, during the week, and have a delicious family meal waiting for you!

time juggling

Alternatively, I can prepare the meal in my own kitchen and deliver to your home to be reheated at a convenient time for all.

Menus and budget agreed in advance and I can either make use of existing ingredients in your fridge, or shop for you – saving even more time.

Make life easy – get in touch!