Friday, 9 December 2011

BEST 10 Gourmet Brighton Shops

Has been already 9 months since I started with The KitchenVoyage blog and is around 3 years  since  starting to  take homemade cooking seriously at my kitchen leaving behind an unhealthy past of ready and pre-ready supermarket meals. Since then I needed to stroll around Brighton and Hove to find the best products for my kitchen. Here is my top 10.

1.       Infinity Foods

Infinity Food Supermarket 
Infinity Food bread shelves

Infinity Foods is a Brighton institution since decades in the Brighton North Laines.  A whole vegetarian supermarket with an eco-friendly approach and plenty of local products. Here you can find almost anything in a normal supermarket with  very competitive prices, such as vegetables, fruit, cookies, pasta, wines and even toilet products and shampoo. Also in the bakery you can have a delicious takeaway slice of vegetarian pizza.

Follow all our Nutrition news and take a look at our Sea-salt guide

2.      Grocer & Grain

Grocer and Grain
Vegetables and Ecover products

Grocer & Grain is a smart shop located very close to the Brighton train station that makes it very handy for grabbing some healthy snacks before your journey or grab a last moment gift. They offer plenty of organic products including local cheeses and hams, homemade cakes or pies,  Ecover products and my favourite organic yellow tea brand and always vegetables and flower are excellently displayed.


Taj street display
3.      Taj another Brighton-based independent retailer with a good reputation that fils its shelves with mostly middle east and Asian delicatessen, tropical fruits and vegetables. Their street display in the busy Western road always catches your eyes. They have the best juicy pomegranates and pineapples that you can find in the city. Also look for the attractive offers of Greek olive oil.

Try make Gazpacho with fresh red organic tomatoes from Taj

4.      Steamer

If you need appliances for your kitchen Steamer is your place, the kitchenware specialist in Brighton are in Ship Street. From Kitchenaid appliances, pans, LSA glasses and everything that you need for baking and cooking. The products aren’t cheap but the quality is superb.

5.      The Brighton Sausage Company

Sausages display (above). BSco (Left)

Also in the Brighton North Laines The Brighton Sausage Company offer to you a range of gourmet sausages like the already traditional flavour with leek and apple to more exotic like curry or jalapeños, flavours. They also have chicken and game sausages, eggs, and even Mexican chorizo. Their own make sausages use local meat from farms around.

Try: Three English Sausages clever recipes

6.      La Cave à Fromage

Cheese display at La Cave a Fromage (above). La Cave a Fromage in North Road (left)

La Cave à Fromage is one of the best cheese shops speaking in selection and quality terms that you can find in the whole of England. This cheese lovers paradise offers of course a wide selection of the best French cheese but also the best that UK can offer. And it wasn´t a surprise to find the world wide famous Cabrales cheese from Spain. The low point is the lack of labelling and the service is a bit slow, another French touch if you want it.

Try: Chicory salad with Mimolette Cheese

7.      Canham & Son

Canham & Sons at Curch Road, Hove

It’s a shame the Butchers shops are in decline in almost whole of Europe; in Brighton they are living a revival when you can find several options. My local Butcher are Canham & Son they have superb quality meat from the best cattle that grass in the Southdown’s Natural park area, beautiful pieces of Scottish meat and always plenty of seasonal turkey, pheasants and another birds. I know that the customer service is excellent but the butchers don’t like to much be asked for weird Argentinian cuts like I used to do sometimes.

Try: Steak with Fig salad
    Ten Green Bottles

Wines shelves and bar area

Wines shelves at Ten Green Bottles

Plenty of places to get your booze in Brighton but no one like Ten Green Bottles; they personally are picking the best of the new European wines. For me was a very nice surprise to find the Urabain red wines from Navarra. Navarra is a not too well known area for such wines but they make excellent beverages. And if you want to discover why the Rheinhessen withe German wine are getting every year more popular here you will find some good bottles. The shop also has a wine bar where you can try before to buy, the food isn´t great.

9.      Thorne´s

Thorne`s Upper Gardner St.
Thorne`s products display

The last gourmet shop to arrive, if I need to make a list which is the best gourmet shop in Brighton then to be sure they will be on the top. Thorne´s seems like they pick the best of all the shops mentioned above. The butcher has high quality local meat, tasty sausages and excellent customer service. Bread and croissants are crunchy, delicate and tasty. Also a selection of local beers, ciders and organic apple juice, you really need to try it. Very seasonable vegetables and even organic fair-trade coffee from Guatemala. The shop design is superb and if you have not enough you can have a chef breakfast upstairs (also are open for lunch)

Try: How to prepare the perfect pan fried steak

10.  Brighton & Newhaven Fish Sales

Fish get very busy Friday and Saturday morning with Brightoners
When I moved to Hove every time that I tried an excellent fish dish in Brighton I discovered that the source was all the same: The Fish shop in hove lagoon. They provide  the whole city with the most fresh and local fish and seafood at very good prices. One mussels kilogram less than 3 pounds, local sea bream, red mullet, crabs, lobster, dover sole and a little fish deli with sauces, frozen fish and even pasta. The customer service is quick, efficient and very clean, and you can follow the catch of the day on Twitter!

Try: Sea Food Pasta using Fish products

*Please notice I am just a regular client but I don’t have any relationship with the owners


Thursday, 8 December 2011

Is sea salt better for you? NO

Sea Salt Cloth from Cornwall by Vidya Crawley
Salt is one of the most important ingredients in the kitchen almost since human civilisation begun. First we used like a preservative for meat and fish, for brine and lately to enhances the flavours of our meals.The Salt is a mineral that is composed primarily of sodium chloride a must in our body. It´s found in the nature under the earth ground or in the sea. In its natural state is colourless or a bit greyish and each salt grain is formed from millions of sea crystal.
One of the most popular methods to obtain sea salt is evaporating water from the seas. The evaporation process can be natural (natural evaporation of a lake given high temperature or strong winds) or in salt mines beside the sea. Once the evaporation process has finish the salt crystals are collected (manual or mechanical) and start a process of depuration for make it adaptable for human consumption.

Sea Salt in Britain and Europe
Flamingos at Cabo de Gata Natural Park by Landahlaust
The different kinds of salt are distinguished by the colour, the taste, the grain size, the compositions or solubility, but for British gourmets and foodies the most popular or best market are from Cornwall used for Rick Stein and Gordon Ramsay for example. Traditionally for chef around the world the Maldon international company from the Essex coast is a salt institution for its purity and strong salty flavour, especially for seasoning fish, meats and grill vegetables. Also the salty waters of the Anglesey Coast produce strong flavour crystals with a great texture and now part of the Heston Blumenthal range of flavoured gourmet sea salts.
Another world wide famous salt is the Guerande from Britannia (France) appreciate it for be rich in oligoelements and the grey colour and is easy to dissolve. And if I need to recommend one will be the Flower of Salt (Fleur de sel in France, Flor de Sal in Spain and Portugal) The European version of this salt are most of them extracted from Natural Parks, where human exploitation of the lagoon cleaning the excess of salt has helped to the local and migratory birds like flamingos can live or rest. The flower salts contain a natural pink micro-algae that through the contact with the flamingos in the water gave to them their famous pink colour. This salt is most recommending for salad or for adds to the food in the last step of cooking.

Benefits of Salt consumption and risk

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a daily intake of 6g a day.
Gourmet Salt, Sea salt or rock salt is no better for your health, like normal table salt, they have the same level of sodium chloride accounts almost a 100%

Photo by Krissen
1.Facilitate a correct digestion regulating the levels of bacteria in the digestive system.
2.To maintain the liquids and acidity levels in the body helping the absorption of potassium.
3.To provide the necessary amount of minerals like sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron and iodine.
4.To avoid nausea, cramps and, even, convulsions brought about by the lack of salt, if you sweat a lot the lack of salt can be a problem.
5.For flavour our food and dishes and make them tastier.


In most of the developed countries daily salt intake has increased until  double of the recommendations.
The salt abuse in our diet will be reflected in our health in a medium long term

1.The abuse of salt produces blood pressure creating heart failure, one of the main death diseases in Europe and America.
2.Produce water retention and with that obesity and will make that our main vital organs like heart, livers and kidney work even more.
3.Can produce Brain ischemia, a more common deathly disease that causes insufficient blood flow to the brain.
4.Excess of salt in the diet is related with stomach cancer
5.Also can produce osteoporosis.

How to reduce you salt daily intake

Traffic Light Food Labelling is one of the news ideas from government to reduce
high  intakes of sugar, fat and Salt. Photo by Labour Party
1.Stop eating ready meals, take away or in restaurant, ¾ of your totally salt intake came for industrial food. Start to cook at home fresh ingredients, vegetables, meat or even fish have not high salt content for treat to health, just enough for make healthier your body.
2.Cook without salt and train your taste. Avoid add extra salt in the cooking process and just add some salt if you needed in your final dish. With a few weeks your taste will not need salt for start to taste the real flavour of your food. When you go to a restaurant ask to the kitchen to no add salt to your meal.
3.Start to cook with the big range of herbs available in the markets; they will give to your food all the flavour that you need.
4.Use sea salt or use salt with low quantities in sodium. Sea salt has a more intense flavour; in consequence you will need fewer quantities in your meals. Sea salt will be better only in the way you use less in your food.
5.Read the label of your food products and check the salt percentage. In UK most are well indicated but in some another countries you will need to check the sodium level and multiply for 2,5 for get the real quantity of salt in your product.

Top most salty foods

Ham and cheese sandwich have a high salt content
Even in UK one of the pioneering countries against the salt abuse, a single slice of bread can have an astonish 1g of salt

1.Breads, almost any kind but mainly avoid factory breads
2.Cheeses (matured) and another dairy products
3.Sausages and processed meats like hams and bacon
4.Snacks like chips, salted peanuts and also prepared olives and anchovies.
5.Soy sauces or jerk seasoning

And also watch out for those that don’t look like salty, Cereal Breakfast and Ketchup with an astonishing 2.2g of salt each 100g (yes go and take a look at your bottle)

Gourmet Salts

Heston Coriander & Rose Salt by Winkypedia
Despite the effort for the government to try to reduce at half the salt consumption in the population for reduce costs , obesity and fatal victim the supermarkets and another food industries with the some of the celebrities chef like main protagonist don´t stop to launch new salt brands promising that they are the testier and healthy alternative to the classic table salt (that last bit is just for a label from one salt packet) but you need to be very aware that gourmet salt are just more expensive and just as bad for you like another normal salt. Gourmet salt contain like another table salts between 97 to 100% sodium chloride having the same benefit or risk in your body. Read more at The Guardian


Download the WHO report about Strategies to monitor and evaluate population sodium consumption and sources of sodium in the diet
Download the Who report Less salt less risk

*Please for more information check with you Doctor
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Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Go Dutch with these easy Dutch cake recipes

Dutch Cheery Cake with a traditional lattice
I have a Dutch neighbour; we moved almost at the same time to our new block of flats in Brighton. Together we discovered that the English ways of the workers and buildeing contractors wasn´t so punctual or accurate as in Netherlands and I discovered that they were as clumsy as in Spain. Since then we are establishing ourselves as a private cooking club. He is from the south of the Netherlands, a land of windmills, castle´s and old folk traditions and he told us that in his town no celebration is complete without the following Dutch traditional cakes.

The recipes of the Limburgse vlaai, as the cakes are called in Dutch,  passed from one generation to another. The next recipes are the traditional ones as taught to him by his grandmother with all ingredients found in  British supermarkets. So this Christmas Go Dutch!

Recipes by Johan Bernards
First the dough which work for any of the fillings

You need:  250g plain flour -  7,5 g dried yeast or 15g fresh yeast -  25g butter (chopped and softened at room temperature) - 15g caster sugar -  ½ egg (whisked) -  A pinch of salt
Shallow tin cake of 30cm diameter and height 3cm approx.

Ready to pour in the yeast
Flat your dough with a rolling pin

1. Follow the dried yeast packet instructions to prepare the yeast. I dissolved 1 tsp of sugar in 75ml water (1 part boiling, 2 parts cold), then sprinkled this with 7,5g of yeast and whisked it thoroughly. The yeast should then be left in a warm place for about 15 min until it is covered with froth. Measures can vary depending of the brand. 
2. In a bowl add the flower and sugar. Add the butter in small pieces in a circle round the outer edge. Do the same with the egg. Make a hole in the middle (here we will add the yeast in a minute) Sprinkle the salt carefully on the outer edge of the bowl (Initially contact between yeast and salt should be avoided as the salt stops the yeast from being active).
3. Now poor slowly the dissolved dried yeast in the hole, while gradually with one hand starting to mix the flour with the yeast from the centre, slowly moving outwards adding all the ingredients. As the dough starts to form and thickens, continue the mixing with your hands. If the dough is to dry to workout add a splash of milk at room temperature.  If is too wet just incorporate more flour to the dough.
4. Once the dough has formed clean your sticky hands by rubbing flour in between them. Flour a clean work surface and transfer the dough on to here. Start to knead the dough, for about 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Work the dough well by folding it, punching it with your knuckles. Once smooth and elastic, set aside the dough covered with a clean (humid) kitchen towel or similar in a warm place until it has doubled in volume. (If you don’t have a warm place then just pre-heat your oven at 80ºC and turn off before putting in the dough).

Transfer the dough with a rolling pin
Cut any excess and ready to fill

5. Transfer the risen dough back to the work surface and knead slightly to a ball. With a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a flat circle, large enough to cover the baking tray, including edges.
6. Adding flour to the dough, carefully roll the dough around the rolling pin and then transfer it to the baking tray (don’t try and stretch/pull the dough!) . Use your hands to lift and drop the dough into the corners of the tray, and cut any excess by rolling the rolling pin over the edges. Use a fork to make tiny holes in the dough

Filling for a Custard Cake
Dutch Custard Cake
You need for the custard: 900ml milk - 75g caster sugar - 75g custard powder
You need for the crumbs: 200g flour -140g butter -140g caster sugar

Add the custard mixture to the milk
Pour in the custard filling

In bowl mix the custard powder, sugar and a little of the milk, whisk very well until smooth. Boil the rest of the milk. When the milk is boiling stir in the custard mixture and keep on whisking until it is a thick mixture. Let cool down, but stir occasionally to avoid the forming of a skin on top.

Making the butter crumbs
Spread the crumbs over the custard

In a bowl mix the flour and the sugar. Add 140g cold butter in chunks. With a knife cut the butter in small pieces. Now with your hands, take the mixture and pinch a little and push the mixture forwards out of your hands with your thumbs (Be careful not too melt the butter in the process). Continue this process until crumbs are formed.

Assemble the cake:  Put the custard filling into the baking tray on top of the dough. Top with the crumbles and cook in a pre-heated oven at 200ºC for about 20 minutes putting the cake in the middle of the oven. When you can see that the edges and top are golden brown, remove from the oven and let it cool down in a rack.

Cherry Cake or Gooseberry cake

You need: Some dough leftovers for making the lattice – 400x3 can of cherry cake filling or Gooseberry cake filling – 2tbsp of breadcrumbs – 1 egg (whisked) 1 tbsp. sugar

Pour in the Cherry filling
Traditional Dutch Lattice

1.       First spread the 2 tbsp. of breadcrumbs over the dough in the tin cake, in this way some of the filling will be absorb by the breadcrumbs.
2.       Again with a rolling pin make a flat disc of 25 cm with the leftover dough and then with a cutter or knife make the lattice 2 cm wide.
3.       Stir in the filling in the tin cake with the dough and spread evenly
4.       On top make a lattice like in the picture above.
5.       Brush with the whisked egg and sprinkle over some sugar over the lattice.
6.       Cook the cake in a pre-heated oven at 200ºC for about 20 minutes.