Sunday, June 05, 2011

Goodies from the International Supermarket: Mulberry Syrup

Wow, no posts for three months, and then two come along at once! ;)

Living in Leicester is a privilege. It is one of the most multicultural cities in the UK - indeed, it may now have become Britain's first minority majority city (a title fought over with Birmingham). One of the happy results of this melting pot of cultures is access to a vast and diverse range of food stuffs.

A good place to shop for exciting ingredients is Narborough Road, in the West End of the city: a long stretch of Asian, Polish, Lithuanian, Turkish and African supermarkets, restaurants and hardware shops, with a few 'traditionally English' pubs and bars thrown into the mix, a couple of charity shops, a Wilkinsons and a great secondhand bookshop called Tin Drum. I spent the weekend cat-sitting that side of the city and took the opportunity to visit the 'International Supermarket' (does what it says on the tin), where you can buy Eastern European, Turkish, Lebanese and Syrian tins and packets and cartons and boxes. Bliss.

I'm planning to devote a few posts to each of the ingredients/foodstuffs I purchased, starting today with Mulberry Syrup.

A friend of mine who follows a low GI diet, alerted me to the existence of these jarred fruit syrups - grape (a candida no-no), carob and mulberry - which I believe are Eurasian (for want of a better word) and Middle Eastern in origin. Mine is Turkish (with a German label). It contains nowt but concentrated fruit syrup, dark and viscous and delicious-looking. I haven't yet tasted it; I don't want to open the jar until I know what to do with it.

I have found a 'recipe' for Sharab el Toot: a refreshing summer drink from the Lebanon. I'm sure xylitol or agave would replace the sugar content quite adequately. Quite possibly the mulberry syrup au natural would be perfectly sweet enough for my adjusted palate. I really don't know; I've never tried mulberries! There's also this: a milk and mulberry pudding, which sounds equally interesting. Again, I would substitute the sugar for agave or xylitol, use semi-skimmed goats milk and pick up some rose or orange blossom water on my next trip to Narborough Road!

So, candida diet hive-mind? What would *you* make with it?

Candida Can be Fun! A Book Report

Wow - doesn't time fly? No updates generally means nothing of any import to report, which is kind of true. Though I am aware that I had promised to give some feedback on the recipes in Rebecca Richardson's Candida Can be Fun!.

Overall I am very impressed. As I said in my last post, the simple fact that Rebecca is British makes it so much easier (for me) to source the ingredients and work out cooking instructions. Yes, North America, we *are* separated by a common language. You wouldn't believe how much time I have spent in the past trying to decipher recipes! A down-to-earth, realistic book with simple and genuinely tasty (and adaptable) recipes has been sorely lacking; an oversight which has been admirably resolved here by Rebecca. I have tried several of her recipes to date, and nothing has put me off trying further ones in the future. For instance:

Beef Mulligatawny Soup on p. 43 is absolutely delicious; really quite special. Though, when it came to it, I rather wished I had not tried to blend it with my handheld. This needs a good whizz in a 'proper' goblet liquidiser. In the future I will use all the same ingredients to make a casserole instead, which will be just as good.

Hungarian Aubergine with Polenta (p. 73) was really tasty. Invest in some good quality paprika for a lovely, full-bodied smoky flavour. I wasn't so thrilled by polenta though - not to my taste. When I make this again, I shall substitute rice.

I've made Sesame Seed Parsnips (p.103) several times. A good, simple recipe that helped me work my way through the enormous quantities of these not-so-favoured-by-me root veg that showed up in my weekly veg box earlier in the year.

Tabbouleh (p. 121) made with quinoa instead of bulgar wheat was fantastic and even better the next day after the ingredients had marinated together in the fridge overnight. Ate it in various combinations with other ingredients over the following three days and didn't get bored.

Courgette and Butternut Squash Pasta on p. 62, has been my only disappointment to date. It's the sort of recipe which really needs cheese - something 'young' and tangy like feta. I was also rather unimpressed with the texture of cold corn pasta (I'd made a big batch for packed lunches). If I make this recipe again I will substitute wholewheat pasta twists. Roasted butter squash is, however, one of the most delicious things ever. So, even if you don't make this recipe, try adding it to salads. Well worth the (minimal) effort.

So, all in all, Candida Can be Fun! gets the thumbs up from me. Well worth the £20 cover price.

Buy it from Amazon here.

- or direct from Rebecca here.

In other news, would we all agree that The Cardboard Diet needs a make-over? Wordpress is beaconing...