SPOT­LIGHT ON Trend­ing in­gre­di­ents: but­ter­milk and dark chocolate

CUR­RENTLY CRE­AT­ING A BUZZ IN THE FOOD WORLD ARE TWO IN­DUL­GENT IN­GRE­DI­ENTS – ONE WHICH WILL ADD DEPTH TO YOUR COOK­ING, AND THE OTHER A TEN­DER LIGHT­NESS

Food - - Contents - RECIPES AND STYLING SO­PHIE GRAY PHO­TO­GRAPHS ME­LANIE JENK­INS

Dark chocolate is on a roll. Long viewed as the ul­ti­mate treat food, in re­cent years it has been widely lauded for its health ben­e­fits, cred­ited with ev­ery­thing from re­duc­ing choles­terol and im­prov­ing cir­cu­la­tion, to help­ing us lose weight. Per­haps be­cause of this, it is now in­creas­ingly used in a range of recipes – go­ing be­yond the dessert to be­come a ver­sa­tile in­gre­di­ent in a mul­ti­tude of savoury dishes. Or course, you have to en­sure it is loaded with co­coa – as op­posed to su­gar – but any chocolate with 70 per cent co­coa or more is rapidly be­com­ing a pantry es­sen­tial.

High­light the com­plex, al­most bit­ter, flavours of the co­coa by let­ting it be the star of your recipes. Used in bak­ing, it is in­tensely choco­latey with­out be­com­ing sickly. And while dark chocolate can ben­e­fit from a lit­tle sweet­ness, it can also be used to add depth and in­ten­sity to stews and casseroles.

But­ter up

Orig­i­nally, but­ter­milk was sim­ply the liq­uid left over af­ter but­ter was churned and sep­a­rated, how­ever in the 21st cen­tury it has come into its own. To­day, com­mer­cially made, ‘cul­tured’ but­ter­milk is cre­ated by adding a bac­te­ria cul­ture to milk, then leav­ing it to fer­ment. The lac­tic acid gives but­ter­milk a slight tang, which works fan­tas­ti­cally in both salad dress­ings and baked goods. It also has ten­deris­ing prop­er­ties, which makes it use­ful for mari­nades.

While but­ter­milk is widely avail­able in su­per­mar­kets, you can also make your own sub­sti­tute. Sim­ply acidu­late 1 cup of milk with a ta­ble­spoon or two of lemon juice or white wine vine­gar – and wait a few min­utes for curds to form.

Any chocolate with 70 per cent co­coa or more is rapidly be­com­ing a pantry es­sen­tial

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