Summer Spice

Summer Spice

Introducing some of our favourite herb and spice mixes for perfectly seasoning the summer season. 

At Maws we stock a truly comprehensive array of over 150 different dried herbs and spices cultivated and collected from every corner of the globe, not to mention classic blends, from Herbs du Provence to Garam Masala. 

As we mentioned in our previous blog, pre-making your favourite spice mixes is great way to save precious time in a commercial kitchen, and we’d like to share some more unusual blends from around the culinary world, all of which we’re convinced will become ‘go-to’ summertime staples whether you’re grilling or stewing, marinating or barbecuing. 

Ras el Hanout 

Burger Kings

Burger Kings

Our tasty toppings and scrumptious sides promise burger success on the barbecue 

 
As the mercury keeps rising we thought we’d take a moment in the shade to remind you of our extensive array of tasty toppings and scrumptious sides, all guaranteed to ensure burger success on the barbecue this summer.
 
The first decent English summer in years seems set for weeks to come, and if the St George’s Cross colour schemes of scorched flesh and strap-marks aren’t providing sufficient confirmation of the unprecedented warmth, there’s also a definite scent of wood-smoke in the air, as a host of pubs and restaurants take service al-fresco by firing up the barbecue.
The Cream of Teas

The Cream of Teas

A proper cream tea is one of summer’s indispensable indulgences, and Maws are pleased to provide every mouth-watering component; from crumbly scones, sticky fruit jam, and lashings of clotted cream to a perfectly brewed pot of tea. 

It’s hard to believe weren’t always a nation of tea-drinkers, but until Catherine of Braganza arrived from Portugal with a casket of tea to marry Charles II in 1662, and established a ‘tea court’ for her noble ladies, the ‘Chinese drink’ as Samuel Pepys described it two years earlier, had been virtually ignored in Britain since the first green variety had arrived from Japan via The Dutch East India Co. in 1610. 

Today we consume 60.2 billion cups annually (making us the third largest tea-drinking nation, just behind Turkey and The Irish Republic). Moreover, since being adopted by Lady Bedford in 1830 the English tradition of ‘Afternoon Tea’, to fill the peckish gap between lunch and supper, has become a cultural institution recognised around the world. And when it comes to proper, greedily indulgent afternoon tea, many of us would argue against the finger sandwiches and candy-coloured macaroons, preferring to cut straight to the main event of fruit scones, jam and cream. 

Fish for Complements

Fish for Complements

Versatile and delicious, John Ross Jr.’s traditional Scottish smoked salmon is the Christmas treat for one and all. 

When faced with the annual challenge of delivering special seasonal meals while the fussiest of kids and the pickiest of grandparents are all seated around the same dining tables – who hasn’t reached for the smoked salmon to create dishes guaranteed to please everyone? 

In commercial kitchens and domestic homes alike, smoked salmon has become the way to begin the day at the champagne breakfast, save the starter at Christmas Dinner, and ace the canapes at the evening drinks party. 

With this in mind, it’s fair to say that in recent years smoked salmon has become something of a victim of its own success. Over the decades, a delicacy that was once the preserve of the elite has become a supermarket staple, available for under a fiver yet sadly now devoid of its former luxury and glamour. 

Enter Polenta

Enter Polenta

Too often ignored in northern Europe, polenta is the perfect ingredient for tasty, inexpensive and filling winter meals.

Of the countless Italian-origin products that have become staples on British supermarket shelves over the past decades, polenta is undoubtedly both the most underused and misunderstood, and many who enthusiastically embrace pasta, pesto and pizza still view polenta with a outright suspicion. 

But once you’ve got your head around the different kinds of polenta – and the fact that you don’t just have to serve it as a pile of gluey mush - you might just fall in love with its versatility and pastoral charm. Still not convinced? Then read on…. 

Flour Power

Flour Power

A major emerging trend for restaurants in 2019 is offering artisan breads made in-house. Our ranges of speciality flour provide the perfect head start

It might be as old as farming itself, but bread and bread making has just had a whole page devoted to it in Facebook’s 2019 Topics & Trends Report. Bread, it appears, is back, although for many of us the simple pleasure of this carbohydrate-rich confection, never left. 

Nevertheless, Facebook credits the latest bread trend to a surge in food start-ups embracing baking, a rise in restaurants once again making bread in-house and, as the report states; ‘alternative flours seeing a rise in interest, as people have become more interested in spelt, rice flour, popular earlier this year, and even ancient grains, such as einkorn wheat.’ 

Get on the Gravy Train

Get on the Gravy Train

These professional quality gravies and stocks are perfect for warming up winter menus. 

As most professionals working within the catering industry will be glad to tell you, good gravy and stock is a cornerstone of the kitchen. From a thick, glossy gravy poured over a beautifully roasted joint to a clear reduced jus packed with condensed flavour, they’re the culinary staples that makes the simplest dishes sing. 

To be clear (and there’s no pun intended here), stock is the juice made by gently boiling down the left over carcass of meat, fish or shellfish, most often with the addition of some appropriate aromatics. A good stock should contain enough collagen from the slowly simmered bones have imbued it with some natural thickness and delicate gloss. A broth (commonly known as bullion in French cuisine) is similar to a stock but is cooked faster, and often uses vegetables rather than meat, or a combination of both. 

Orzo, its Pasta, but more so

Orzo, its Pasta, but more so

The ‘orzotto’ trend for using the little pasta ‘grains’ as an alternative to risotto rice continues, and inspirational recipes abound.

Amongst the some 350 different varieties of pasta available today, not to mention the myriad of grains being ‘rediscovered’ by chefs each year, orzo, one of the tiniest pastas in the Italian repertoire, is easy to overlook. This short-cut pasta is almost the exact shape and size of wild rice grains, so it’s not surprising that many people outside the culinary world mistake it for something else entirely. 

However, once discovered, most will agree that orzo falls into the ‘small but mighty’ category on pure versatility alone. It’s a great addition to hearty soups, perfect for pasta salads and provides a fantastic accompaniment to rich, braised and roasted meats, mingling with and soaking up all those flavourful juices. 

Current Affairs

Current Affairs

There’s always an extra demand for dried fruit at Easter, as they provide the key ingredients in chocolate-free treats such as traditional Simnel cake and hot-cross buns

With Easter eggs on the supermarket shelves from as early as late January these days, it’s easy to slip into a mind-set that tells you if it’s not made (or at the very least coated in it) it’s not a proper Easter treat. 

Worthwhile to remember then that, although the symbol of the egg (borrowed from even earlier, Pagan fertility festivals) has been used by the Christian church to symbolise resurrection and rebirth for several thousand years, chocolate Easter eggs were not conceived of and produced in Europe until the 19th century, with John Cadbury making the first hollow-moulded chocolate eggs in 1875. 

Hey Pesto

Hey Pesto

There’s so many ways to use this versatile ingredient and more than just the traditional variety to enjoy, whether is tossed through pasta, spread over grilled meat and vegetables, or simply slathered onto good toasted bread. 

Pesto, it’s yet another of those Italian culinary inspirations that goes way beyond the sum of it’s parts – a simple (yet brilliant) aromatic concoction of vivid green, the discussion of which can instigate almost religious fervour in its devotees. 

The most ardent of these are natives of Liguria, he northern Italian region where pesto was first conceived. The word itself comes from the verb pestare, which meaning to step on, or to pound – preferably in a traditional marble pestle and mortar. The Ligurians are rightly proud of their pesto, a sauce originally created by the peasants from the least expensive and most easily available ingredients. While the nobles of nearby Bolognia feasted on their rich, meaty ragus, the workers of Liguria stirred a few spoons of pesto through a dish of homemade pasta.