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
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.
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