Colors: Green Color
Colors: Green Color

Asparagus growers in the Vale of Evesham are preparing for bumper sales ahead of Saint George's Day on April 23. Not only does this date mark the official start of the short-lived asparagus season, but it is also the first official opportunity for Brits to gastronomically celebrate following the lifting of further lockdown restrictions.

The Vale of Evesham is known as the home of British asparagus and in pre-Covid years, the start of asparagus season was marked by two months of weird and wonderful celebrations throughout the county of Worcestershire. Whilst the usual fun and games are likely to be more subdued, pubs and restaurants are planning extra-special asparagus menus to tempt back their customers.

Asparafacts 2021

 ·         Hollywood stars swear by asparagus to keep in shape including Britney Spears (yes, really), Jessica Biel, Victoria Beckham and Matthew McConaughey.

·         After eating asparagus, your urine may develop the distinctive smell that according to French novelist Marcel Proust "transformed my humble chamber into a bower of aromatic perfume." Everyone makes asparagus pee but not everyone can smell it

·         It's better to buy larger asparagus, like Vale of Evesham, as they are more tender because they have proportionally less ‘woody' fibres. Choose asparagus with a firm and compact tip and supple stalks that don't break easily.

·         Asparagus is also one of the best anti-wrinkle foods. Scientific evidence shows that people who include asparagus in their diet have fewer wrinkles than people who do not eat asparagus

·         Three types of asparagus exist - green, white, and purple

·         Asparagus is a member of the lily family

·         It takes three years to grow asparagus from seed before it is ready to harvest

·         Asparagus can grow 10 inches in 24 hours.

·         On average, Vale of Evesham asparagus has a wider girth than other varieties - approximately half a centimetre thicker.

·         Despite a plethora of recipes available to the modern gastronome, blanched asparagus and melted butter is the No 1 serving choice for Brits

A Greek-inspired street food company will be launching brand new restaurant Kouzina at Selfridges Birmingham once lockdown restrictions on hospitality are lifted.

From Street Kitchen Brothers, a West Midlands-based Greek-Cypriot family run business, Kouzina will be the first eatery to serve authentic Greek food at the renowned iconic department store. Once Selfridges doors reopen, shoppers will be able to indulge in Greek Mezze cuisine – including the famous moussaka (as seen on The Hairy Bikers show) souvlaki, stifado, and a range of traditional sweet treats from the Greek Bakery such as baklava and kadaifi.

The restaurant will launch with a takeaway offer until government guidelines allow for indoor hospitality, when customers will be welcomed in for all-day dining. The restaurant will seat 50 covers. The company was founded by brothers Paul Polyviou and Chris Butcher, who are regulars at The NEC, Digbeth Dining Club, BBC Good Food Show, and Lichfield Food Festival, and are keen to get back into the kitchen and feed hungry shoppers in the city centre.

Paul Polyviou and Chris Butcher, owners of Street Kitchen Brothers, stated “We’re incredibly excited to be bringing Kouzina to the Selfridges store. Opening a restaurant in Birmingham is something that we have always aspired to do and this has provided us with the perfect opportunity to take our business to the next level. We are extremely passionate about food and we do everything with our customers in mind. We’re thrilled to finally bring a taste of Greece and Cyprus to the city with our street food and taverna favourites”

Selfridges Birmingham General Manager, Sam Watts, says: “I was first introduced to Street Kitchen Brothers, my local Greek takeaway, by a friend and was hooked immediately, making my way through all the dishes on the menu. I got to know founders Chris and Paul and as testament to my love for their food, have worked with them to launch Kouzina at Selfridges Birmingham.

“We’re excited to welcome customers back to store with the addition of Kouzina and its delicious authentic Greek meze, wraps and specials. With vegan and vegetarian dishes making up half of the menu, it aligns with our sustainability commitments to offer more planet-friendly food.” Throughout the Covid-19 lockdown, Street Kitchen Brothers were able to keep customers satisfied with their unique ‘Kouzina’ Cook at Home Range and takeaway service.

The online shop has proved to be a huge success for Street Kitchen Brothers, who wanted to recreate their Grandmother’s Greek feasts from their childhoods in Greece and Cyprus, where the dinner table would be filled with memorable dishes and shared by the whole family. Now these memorable dishes will be shared by family, friends and colleagues in Birmingham’s iconic department store.

Andrea Zagatti, the private chef behind a £250 ‘Billionaire’ sandwich, has announce the release of his latest culinary creation – The Tsar Egg. Inspired by enigmatic design of a Matryoshka doll, the culinary work of art is covered entirely in 24k gold and is being dubbed the UK’s most expensive Easter Egg.

“The Tsar Egg represents the ultimate expression of high-end culinary craftsmanship”, says Andrea, “Easter is the only time you should put all your eggs in one basket — or in one egg should I say — so why not do it in style!” The Tsar Egg is composed of 3 individual eggs, each decreasing in size, placed one inside another — much like a Matryoshka doll.

The heart (the smallest egg) is made up of bronze chocolate and crystallised violets, and in true Zagatti’s style, wrapped in edible rose gold. The medium sized egg consists of 35% milk chocolate with Difference Coffee Jamaica Blue Mountain beans and hazelnut crumble and is wrapped entirely in edible silver leaves.

The outer egg is produced using 85% dark chocolate with pistachio and gianduja cream layers. And the coating? You guessed it - The Tsar Egg is finally wrapped in 24k edible gold, with the entire structure constituting a 35cm luxury delight.

“I’ve always been fascinated with Russia and its enigmatic culture, so to be able to create something that speaks to Russian cultural opulence, while sparking my culinary creativity is exciting to me!” The Tsar Egg will be available to order on the April 2 and prices start at £1,000.

National charity Heart Research UK have launched their first charity cookbook, featuring 17 recipes from celebs, chefs and some of the web’s biggest food bloggers.

The e-book, which is available to download here for a suggested donation of £5, features a selection of well-balanced recipes from some of the best known faces in food and fitness, including Joe Wicks, The Hairy Bikers, Heart Research UK ambassador Sally Bee, Gennaro Contraldo, Michelin Star Chef Tom Kitchin, Masterchef winner Shelina Permaloo and many more.

Recipes range from light breakfasts and brunches, through to healthy snacks, show-stopping main meals and family favourites, and even a few desserts.

Dr Helen Flaherty, Head of Health Promotion and Education at Heart Research UK, said: “As someone who loves cooking and eating nutritionally balanced dishes, I know that healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring or expensive.

“We put together this cookbook to provide everyone, from families and first time cooks to the home-chef extraordinaire, a selection of recipes that are healthy, full of flavour and unpretentious.

“I often advise people on making dietary changes to reduce their risk of heart disease and manage their weight. A healthy, well-balanced diet contains plenty of fruit, vegetables and wholegrain foods and not too much fat, sugar or salt. By using this cookbook, we hope you will discover some delicious new recipes that will enable you to keep looking after your heart.”

The cookbook can be downloaded for a suggested donation of £5. All of the money raised will support Heart Research UK's life-saving work, funding pioneering research into the prevention, treatment and cure of heart disease.

When leading food delivery app Foodhub heard that donations to charitable causes have fallen substantially during the pandemic, bosses acted quickly to help out.

The ongoing restrictions during lockdown have forced people everywhere to tighten their purse strings over the last year, and as a result, there has been a worrying reduction in charitable donations. So Foodhub pledged to help raise vital funds for three national charities close to the company’s heart.

For every order placed via the Foodhub website/app for one month, 10p was donated to either the Trussell Trust, Make-A-Wish UK and the Macmillan Cancer Support, with Foodhub customers choosing which charity they’d like each order donation to go to. A staggering £55,000 was raised in total and distributed to the three national charities to mark the 12 month lockdown anniversary this week.

Foodhub spokesperson, Wil Chung, said: “This past year has been a tough time for everyone, especially charities, as fundraising events have been placed on hold and charities have really felt this with a big reduction in donations. So we wanted to help raise funds for these three amazing causes.

“Each of the charities chosen holds a special place in the heart of Foodhub employees, as everyone knows someone who has been affected by a terminal illness or by cancer. Food banks have also felt the pinch and have been really stretched with so many people relying on this service now more than ever, so it was vital we did what we could to help out.”

Jason Suckley, CEO of Make-A-Wish UK said: “The pandemic has dramatically affected our ability to fundraise, so we are hugely grateful to all our supporters, including Foodhub. The donation will help to grant more wishes to seriously ill children who desperately need that priceless, positive experience to cherish with their families. This generous contribution will help grant wishes of five children living with critical illnesses in the UK.” 

Executive Director of Fundraising, Marketing and Innovation at Macmillan Cancer Support, Claire Rowney, said: “We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of everyone at Foodhub and their supporters. During a global pandemic, these donations to Macmillan help ensure we are able to do whatever it takes to support people with cancer.

“Every penny raised will play a vital role in enabling us to continue to provide cancer care, fund essential services and offer the crucial support so many people with cancer rely on. Thanks to the donations of Foodhub and their customers, we’ll be able to ensure that no one faces cancer alone.”

Samantha Stapley, Chief Operations Officer at the Trussell Trust, said: “We’ve seen unprecedented numbers of people needing help from food banks as the impact of coronavirus has hit people’s incomes. This isn’t right. But thanks to the support of Foodhub, we have been able to remain agile to the fast-changing situation, ensuring food banks in our network are better equipped to provide the lifeline of emergency food to people in crisis today while we work towards a future where everyone can afford the essentials. Thank you so much.”

As the last few months have shown, a huge amount of food poverty still exists in the UK, and as lockdown restrictions continue – the Trussell Trust has to work harder than ever to support those struggling. Foodhub’s donation has helped support the network distribution of 1.2M emergency food parcels, with 2,600 parcels going to children every day between April 1 and September 30, 2020.

Recipes for ‘easy white bread’ have proven to be the most popular amongst Brits looking to hone in their baking skills during the pandemic, new data analysis reveals. 

A full-scale analysis of the UK’s bread baking habits has been conducted by SEO Agency Blueclaw, revealing the highest-rated and most popular recipes ahead of this year's Real Bread Week - beginning on 20th February.  The analysis looked at guides provided by the UK’s top recipe provider and found that other popular choices among amatuer bakers include naan bread and cheesy garlic bread. 

‘Easy’ bread recipes seemed to be most popular, as ‘bread in four easy steps’ ranked at the number four position - showing more new bakers are now looking for recipes than before. 

Surprisingly, the data also showed a nationwide shift towards vegan bread recipes, as these proved to be the most popular despite longer prep and cooking times - accounting for 35% of the site’s search volume compared to their non-vegan and vegetarian counterparts. As well as being higher rated and more popular, vegan recipes were also found to be a lot healthier than others with around a third less calories on average and just over 60% less fat.

This year’s Real Bread Week encourages Brits to support local, independent bakeries and to bake their own bread, with the aim being to focus on consuming fewer additives in 2021. In fact, this year the annual celebration could prove more prominent given that more Brits are turning their hands to baking during lockdown than ever before. 

During the first lockdown in March 2020, Google search trend data showed a massive spike in searches for ‘bread recipes’ which increased by 50%. With Brits now having nearly a year to perfect their baking skills in the boredom of lockdown, this year's Real Bread Week, beginning on 20th February, is expected to see bread recipes go through another rise in search volume.