Recipe swap: share your leek recipes

Share your leek recipes with us for a chance to have them printed in Cook

Share your leek recipes with us by emailing [email protected], uploading them to or by posting them on Instagram @guardian_cook #RRS #leeks by noon on Wednesday 18 January. Selected recipes will appear in Cook and online on 28 January.

You can send us your leek recipes by clicking on the ‘Contribute’ button on this article. You can also use the Guardian app and search for ‘GuardianWitness assignments.’

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from Food & drink | The Guardian

How to cook the perfect mulligatawny

It’s a relic of the Raj and sits ignored on many Indian restaurant menus, yet the soup is one of the great gastronomic hybrids. So what’s the best way to get east to meet west?

Mulligatawny is a cornerstone of the classic British Indian restaurant repertoire, always there, yet never ordered. Like kedgeree and mango chutney, it is part of the culinary legacy of the Raj – an Indian dish adapted to suit colonial tastes, in this case a thin, spicy Madrassi broth known as molo tunny, or “pepper water”, intended to be served with rice. Unfamiliar with this soup thing their masters seemed to require with every meal, Indian cooks served the nearest thing to it that they knew, bulking it out with meat and vegetables to suit the extravagant tastes of the British.

According to Lizzie Collingham’s excellent Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors, “mulligatawny soup was one of the earliest dishes to emerge from the new hybrid cuisine which the British developed in India, combining British concepts of how food should be presented … and Indian recipes”. Madhur Jaffrey describes it as “a classic of the mixed-race, Anglo-Indian community in India” and “an essential part of my childhood”, while Colonel Arthur Robert Kenney-Herbert, author of the 1878 recipe collection, Culinary Jottings for Madras, recommends it as a “really excellent, and at times, most invigorating soup”. Mulligatawny doesn’t deserve to be hidden away at the top of the menu, outshone by samosas and seekh kebabs. Made with care, this unapologetically old-fashioned, gently spiced fusion classic is, as Jaffrey puts it, “really a curry, a meal in itself”.

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from Food & drink | The Guardian

Who killed the curry house? | Bee Wilson

Why has Britain turned its back on its favourite food – and shut out the people needed to cook it?

No one in Oli Khan’s family had ever lived in Scotland, or anywhere near it. But when, aged 23, Khan first set eyes on Linlithgow, a modest West Lothian town near Falkirk, he saw a prize greater than home. He saw opportunity. This chilly Scottish town – whose name means “lake in the damp hollow” – was the perfect place, Khan decided, to set up a curry house: it had a decent sized population, around 9,000 people, but no Indian restaurant. With help from his brother-in-law, who was in the restaurant trade in Birmingham, he opened his curry house in 1995 and named it Kismet – destiny.

Khan’s father, who arrived in Britain from Bangladesh as a waiter in 1962, had taught him that there was good money to be made in selling curry to the British, if you could adapt it to their taste for predictable sauces on a sliding scale of heat (mild korma, medium Madras, fiery vindaloo). For thousands of Bangladeshi immigrants in the 60s and 70s, working in Britain as OCs (“onion cutters”) and DCs (“dish cleaners”) was a way out of an even more precarious existence back home.

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from Food & drink | The Guardian

10 Reasons to Get Excited About Teff

10 Reasons to Get Excited About TeffAnyone who has eaten at an Ethiopian restaurant has probably eaten teff. Flour made from the iron-rich grain is, traditionally, a key ingredient in injera, the spongy, slightly sour, fermented flatbread that is the basis of Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine. In fact, it’s the national dish of Ethiopia and Eritria.

But recently, teff is stepping into the spotlight here in the United States, elbowing quinoa out of the way, and taking its bows as the new hot super-grain.

Here are 10 reasons why everyone’s suddenly all excited about teff:

1. Teff is gluten-free, so it’s a good alternative for people who avoid gluten but are tiring of quinoa.

2. Teff is a very small grain — no bigger than a poppy seed — but it’s packed with protein and other nutrients. It contains calcium, magnesium, dietary fiber, iron, thiamine, vitamin K and zinc, among other vitamins and minerals.

3. It has a flavor that is often described as “mild” and “nutty,” making it a pleasant companion to a host of stronger, spicier foods.

4. Teff flour can be used in a variety of baked goods, which makes it a great choice for gluten-free brownies, cookies, breads, piecrusts, pancakes, muffins, cakes and waffles.

5. As a whole grain, teff is versatile enough to be served as a side dish or a main dish, steamed, boiled or baked, prepared in porridge or polenta — or even in a vegan stuffing on Thanksgiving.

6. While teff is mostly grown in Ethiopia and Eritrea (more than 90 percent of the teff in the world is grown there), it’s adaptable to different climates and also grown in places like the state of Idaho.

7. Farmers in Ethiopia have grown teff for thousands of years, and about 6.5 million small farmers still grow it today. It is used in the injera bread eaten at almost every meal at the country.

8. Fearing export of the whole grain would affect domestic supply and pricing, the Ethiopian government banned the export of raw teff in 2006. In 2015, thanks to investments and improvements in farming techniques and equipment, which boosted yields by 40 percent, the government eased some export restrictions.

9. Teff is now catching on around the world and is being used in packaged goods like mixes, pastas and snack bars. Sales of teff in the U.S. climbed 58 percent in 2014, the New York Times recently reported, citing data from the market research firm Packaged Facts.

10. Home cooks can use it to make their own injera, gluten-free brownies and a host of other foods.

Photo: iStock

from Food Network Feed

Where to pick a pack of fresh peppercorns? | Brief letters

Getting the measure of GDP | Finding rare ingredients | Nepotism in politics | Gabriel Jesus headline | Bees’ knees | Er, so, well

Re Aditya Chakrabortty’s article (One blunt heckler has shown just how much our economists are failing us, 10 January), GDP is a crazy measure for prosperity: a country’s GDP equals the aggregate income of its inhabitants. Therefore car accidents make us richer, because the income of repairers goes up. War contributes significantly to global GDP, as arms manufacturers make a mint and destroyed cities need rebuilding. And London’s highly paid financial specialists make a “healthy” contribution to UK GDP.
Wiebina Heesterman

• Your recipe for green peppercorn and lemongrass coconut broth (Cook, 7 January) really appealed, but in a tour of four supermarkets I could not find any green peppercorns. Thank goodness for the oriental supermarket in our town. Could recipe writers give advice on where to find these speciality ingredients?
Julie Walsh
Leamington Spa, Warwickshire

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from Food & drink | The Guardian

3 of a Kind: Montanara Pizza

Montanara Starita from Don Antonio's

By Natalie B. Compton

3 of a Kind checks out three places across the country to try something cool, new and delicious.

While America certainly has an infatuation with deep-fried culinary inventions, sometimes less is more when it comes to frying, as demonstrated by one Italian delicacy that’s spreading across the United States. Created in Naples, Italy, the Montanara is a lightly fried pizza that is chewy, smoky and deeply satisfying. This next-level pie starts with a base of fried dough that’s slathered with tomato sauce, topped with smoked buffalo mozzarella and then finished in a wood oven to ensure that all of the flavors meld together beautifully. Here are three spots to get your fill of the fried masterpiece.

Don Antonio by Starita, New York
Often cited as the godfather of the Montanara, third-generation Italian pizzaiolo Antonio Starita has long served the fried creation at his famed Pizzeria Starita in Naples. But these days, American denizens need only travel as far as New York for a mouthful of the popular Montanara Starita. It’s the signature pizza at Starita’s Manhattan restaurant, which he opened with another Italian native, Roberto Caporuscio, in 2012. Caporuscio, who studied under Starita in Naples, has served as the U.S. president of the Association of Neapolitan Pizzaiuoli (APN) and is nothing short of a master of the craft. Despite the star power behind the Montanara Starita, the dish definitely took some New York pizza traditionalists by surprise when it first debuted. “I think that people were shocked,” Caporuscio said of the Montanara’s early days. But things have changed. “For years now, it’s a number one seller with the Margherita,” says Caporuscio, who showed Guy Fieri and Geoffrey Zakarian how to make Neapolitan pizza on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. There’s also a gluten-free version of the Montanara Starita available that is far from just a passable alternative; it’s craveworthy in its own right.


Montanara Pizza from Racca's Pizzeria Napoletana
Racca’s Pizzeria Napoletana, Denver
The culinary mind behind Racca’s Pizzeria Napoletana, Mark Dym, received schooling in the craft from Caporuscio himself. “Roberto [Caporuscio] was my mentor,” Dym says. “I was in Naples and I tasted the Montanara by Don Antonio’s and it was just amazing. The rest was history,” recounts Dym, who remained in the city to learn the ropes of the Neapolitan specialty. Today, Dym’s restaurant holds a certification by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, which speaks for the quality of the pies coming out of the stone oven. But Dym does caution that the smoke-forward Montanara appeals to a specific palate. “It’s a big pizza, it’s got a lot of flavor. You gotta like smoky,” Dym notes. Fortunately, we do.


Rockridge Montanara from A16 Rockridge
A16 Rockridge, Oakland
Chef Rocky Maselli is another pizza pro who headed straight to Italy to get the skinny on authentic Neapolitan pies. After completing his pizzaiolo training and receiving his certification by the esteemed Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana in Naples, Maselli returned to his native California to introduce the Bay Area masses to the Montanara. Currently available at the East Bay outpost of San Francisco’s beloved A16, the dish has been met with delight by many a local pizza connoisseur. While most of Maselli’s Neapolitan pies reflect the generous seasonal bounty of California, the Rockridge Montanara calls for a simpler combination of dough, smoked tomato sauce, burrata and basil. To ensure that heat doesn’t escape unnecessarily, pizza shears — literally a pair of scissors designed for pizza cutting — are provided to portion out slices, keeping the smoky Montanara warmer longer.

Find out where to slice into more sizzling pies with the help of Food Network’s 50 States, 50 Pizzas gallery.

Montanara Starita and Rockridge Montanara photography courtesy of Natalie B. Compton, Racca’s Pizzeria Napoletana photography courtesy of Racca’s Pizzeria Napoletana

from Food Network Feed

Why Should You Care About The Microbiome?

Lately, there’s been a lot of talk about the term microbiome, which refers to a collection of microorganisms or “good bacteria” that live inside your gut. The microbiome is a relatively new term in the nutrition world, and it’s rapidly becoming an increasingly important field of study among scientists. Millions of dollars are being poured into research to reach a better understanding of the microbiome and its role in disease. Here’s what you should know:


About the microbiome

The human body contains 10-100 trillion microbial cells, which consist of about 1000 different strains of bacteria that make up the microbiome. It exists in the skin and mouth, but the largest and most diverse part of the microbiome is found in the gut. Beginning at birth, a human’s microbiome is formed with the microorganisms from the mother’s birth canal and skin. Breast milk is also rich with good bacteria that populate the baby’s gut. By two years old, the adult microbiome is almost fully established, but it can change throughout the lifetime. An individual’s microbiome is not just a random collection of bacteria; each organism works together to create a thriving healthy environment inside the body.


Are all microbiomes the same?

Studies suggest that an individual’s microbiome is unique to them. However, your skin microbiome will be similar to other peoples’ skin microbiomes, and your gut microbiome will be similar to others’ gut microbiomes. The Human Microbiome Project, funded by the National Institute for Health, was established in 2008 to characterize the strains in the human microbiome and understand their role in human health and disease.


How can the microbiome affect your health?

While we often think of bacteria as potential pathogens, certain bacteria like E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Clostridium difficile are found in healthy individuals and only cause illness when the microbiome is disturbed or imbalanced. When that occurs, a variety of health complications may ensue. Preliminary research suggests that a stressed microbiome may be associated with gastrointestinal conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease or Crohn’s disease, autoimmune diseases like Celiac disease or asthma or even larger health complications, like obesity and Type 2 Diabetes.

Such imbalances may occur after taking an antibiotic, which disturbs the normal microbial gut community. Other risk factors include a poor diet, lack of sleep or excessive stress.


How can you create a healthier microbiome?

Eat a diet that is rich in ‘prebiotics,’ fiber found in fruits and vegetables, which induces the growth of healthy bacteria. Adding probiotics—aka live bacteria—to your diet can also help maintain a flourishing microbiome. Probiotics are naturally found in fermented foods like yogurt, cheese, and sauerkraut, and they are also available in supplemental form.

When choosing a probiotic supplement, look for one that has millions of live cultures from multiple strains. Because supplements are not regulated by the Food & Drug Administration, make sure you choose a trusted brand, like Renew Life’s Ultimate Flora with 50 Billion live cultures and 10 probiotic strains per capsule.

Natalie Rizzo, M.S., R.D., is a media dietitian, food and nutrition writer, spokesperson and blogger at Nutrition à la Natalie.

from Food Network Feed

Food Network Staffer Diary: I Attempted the Twinkie Diet for 48 Hours

Food Network Staffer Diary: I Attempted the Twinkie Diet for 48 HoursMaybe I was delusional, maybe I was naïve. But for some strange reason, I not only agreed to do the Twinkie diet, but I was the one to suggest it. I committed myself to 48 hours of living off only Twinkies. Those golden sponges filled with a mysterious cream that can survive nuclear bombs, hurricanes, droughts have found a special place in my heart over the years. And after two days, they have swiftly found a way onto my thighs too.

So, here are the rules: You can eat only Twinkies. You can drink water, coffee and tea. You must eat two Twinkies every three hours until you have maxed out on your daily calorie intake. That’s it.

I did some quick research and compared three calorie-counting calculators to find out just how many calories I should be consuming to lose weight. The calculators compute your height, weight, gender and fitness level, then magically spew a number — mine is 1,360 calories if I want to lose 2 pounds in one week. (This is the maximum healthy level of weight loss one should work toward.)

Now, let’s do some simple Twinkie math. 1 Twinkie has 130 calories. If I’m eating every three hours, I must eat two Twinkies every three hours (as I’m not awake 24 hours a day and thus cannot eat one every three hours to meet 1,300 calories). So this ends up being my strict schedule: Two Twinkies at 8 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. This gets me to 1,310 calories. If this is too much nonsense, here’s what to know: I had to eat 10 Twinkies per day.

Bored? Let’s get to the good stuff.

My roommate and I enter a grocery store and realize we have no idea what aisle Twinkies are in. My roommate says, “Probably down the questionable-food aisle,” and sure enough, there they were. In all its glorious cardboard, we found the golden Twinkie box. There were also banana-flavored Twinkies, and I thought, “Perfect for breakfast!” Then I immediately regretted picking them up.

The night before:
I ate my last meal, which was entirely vegetables, besides the feta cheese. I was hoping that if I ate enough veggies, it could sustain me for the next two days.

Day 1, 8 a.m.:
I decided to go with the banana-flavored Twinkies for breakfast, because fruit, right? I pour some coffee and soy milk to go with my breakfast, pretending that’s making this whole ordeal healthier. The banana-flavored Twinkie doesn’t taste as weird as I had expected. However, it does seem a little chewy, and that was throwing me off. I dunked it the soy milk and that made it better. Banana and coffee together, however, was a no.

11:15 a.m.:
My morning went by quickly, and I didn’t feel hungry once 11 a.m. hit. However, it had been three hours, so I must have two more Twinkies. This time I opt for the original flavor. I drank plenty of water between each bite to make sure I was staying full. No complaints so far besides the massive amount of sugar I knew was going into my bloodstream.

11:25 a.m.:
My stomach felt like a pit, and I had a slight headache coming on. My childhood dreams were not coming true.

12:47 p.m.:
I realized I had an extreme desire for water. I’m someone who’s usually extremely attentive to the amount of water I drink, but this seemed more than usual. I was chugging water and feeling better. However, I usually eat at 1 p.m., and today I c couldn’t stop staring at the clock. Waiting until 2 p.m. felt like forever.

2 p.m.:
Ah, finally. I needed some serious sustenance, and these two Twinkies were (kind od) what I needed. The whole drinking-water-between-each-bite thing seemed to be working. However, my hands felt a little shaky, and I thought my body was going into sugar overdose. My arms felt light.

I asked my coworkers if I could drink while doing this, hoping there would be a light within this high-fructose corn syrup tunnel. When they responded practically in unison, “You can’t drink on a diet,” my jaw naturally dropped to the floor. NO ONE TOLD ME I COULDN’T DRINK ON A DIET. Also, maybe this is why diets haven’t worked for me in the past. I sat at my desk dumbfounded and disappointed.

3:43 p.m.:
I was starting to long for chocolate — I’m no vanilla gal — and Googled “Twinkies and chocolate.” There had to be more out there! After a moment of searching, I saw that it is a thing. I had to leave the office and find some. The walk through Chelsea Market was almost too much to bear. How had I never noticed all of these beautiful, savory smells? I needed salt and meat and vegetables desperately.

4:57 p.m.:
I was starving just five minutes ago, but realizing that my next meal will be two meager Twinkies had taken away any hunger. I thought I’d be excited about the chocolate cream inside the Twinkie, but all I want is a big, greasy grilled cheese sandwich with tomato, bacon, aioli … (OK, clearly I was getting a little delusional).

Alas, it was time to eat. I was seriously dreading this.

6:15 p.m.:
I was craving a carrot. Was one carrot so bad? I didn’t think I could eat one more grain of sugar if I tried. It was time to work out, but I wasn’t sure I had the energy for it.

7:00 p.m.:
After my workout, I wasn’t feeling too bad, considering all I had eaten today were eight Twinkies. (I realize how that sounds.)

8 p.m.:
It was about time for my last two Twinkies of the night, and quite frankly, I would eat anything besides something sugary right now. My mouth was craving salt, and I wasn’t sure I could get this itch to go away.

I dipped my chocolate-cream-filled Twinkies into soy milk, hoping it would do something different for me. I got through two bites of the first Twinkie and I was done. Now I see how people lose weight on this: They get so fed up with the blanket taste that they won’t even eat if their stomachs are crying for food.

8:45 p.m.:
OK, guys. I have to tell you something. I’m a loyal woman. I’ve never cheated on anything — ever. But the popcorn was STARING at me. I couldn’t resist it. My roommate came home to find me stuffing my mouth with a 100-calorie bag of popcorn with the look of desperation in my eyes. She forced me to tell you all, but I think we can all understand my plight. (Right?)

Day 2
After I forgave myself for the previous night’s indiscretion, I decided I must move forward and really commit.

8 a.m.:
I was going into Day 2 positive and ready to go. I had realized I could sleep in more than usual because I didn’t have to cook anything, which was a fun plus. Also, I was also not starving. I opted for two banana-flavored Twinkies, in the hopes of getting half a serving of fruit. (Shh, let me believe these dark, twisted lies.)

The true key was dipping these Twinkies into milk. For whatever reason, that took some of the ultra-sugar flavor away. Immediately after finishing my banana-flavored Twinkies I realized my stomach wasnot happy with me. The coating of oil in my mouth was also grossing me out more than usual.

10:37 a.m.:
I was seriously hungry. And I had a headache coming on. I felt like I was running down.

11 a.m.:
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I was so excited to eat my chocolate-cream-filled Twinkie. Was I going insane? Possibly. I stuck to chugging water between each bite and felt full again.

1:16 p.m.:
I was starting to stare at the clock again, thanks to classical conditioning and this being the normal time I eat lunch. I chugged my entire water bottle in the hopes of squelching my hunger.

2:12 p.m.:
Wow, an hour ago I was complaining, and now it was already time for another round of sugar. Where did the time go? It felt odd being on a strict eating schedule, but it did break up the workday nicely. I unwrapped a Twinkie, and the oil is coating my fingers. I started to imagine what it was doing to my body. I started saying aloud, “Nope. Nope. Nope.” These Twinkies did not want to go down. Between the artificial sweeteners, the hydrogenated oils stuck on my fingers and the overt sweetness, I was feeling so over this.

3:51 p.m.:
The entire office was trying some fun, funky ice creams right in front of me. How dare they. Meanwhile, I sat here chugging water, waiting for 5 p.m. so I could stuff another two Twinkies down my throat.

4:57 p.m.:
Let’s do this. I had either gone crazy for sugar, or I had realized I was four Twinkies away from finishing this diet. I thought the worst part about this whole thing, besides getting tired of flavors and the lack of variety, was the thin layer of grease stuck on my hands.

I took two Twinkies for my dinner and then tossed the rest onto our free table at Food Network. Good riddance, you golden sponges of death.

7:27 p.m.:
I was meeting my friends for drinks when I realized I had 30 more minutes before I was technically done with this diet. I decided to end it half an hour early and shoveld the last Twinkies down at the bar.

That’s right, folks. I just did the damn thing. I went 48 hours eating solely Twinkies and didn’t pass out, have an emotional breakdown or fall into a deep sugar coma. I did, however, end up with a terrible stomachache and headache. But in the grand scheme of diets, I have to say this wasn’t the absolute worst. Then again, should you ever do a diet that is described as “not the absolute worst”? Probably not. But you, being wiser than I am, already knew that.

Photo: iStock

from Food Network Feed

Weetabix with ham and eggs: ‘I nearly choked’

The back of some packets suggest a version of eggs benedict made with Weetabix instead of muffins. We put the idea to the test…

Brexit is going to bring change that some of us may find hard to swallow. The price of croissants may go up. It could be more difficult to get hold of proper Greek yoghurt, or German rye bread, and we may have to look further afield for breakfast inspiration – so perhaps Weetabix is to be applauded for getting ahead of the game with the American-inspired serving suggestion currently gracing some of its boxes.

“Benedict’s eggs” is an eggs benedict in which the traditional, and very American “English” muffin is replaced by, wait for it, one of its very British wholegrain breakfast biscuits. You could say it’s taking our country back, one baked good at a time.

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from Food & drink | The Guardian