This Foodie Friday is a Foodie Freakshow 

The Times – Chef is Toshio Tanabe happy to dish the dirt on his staple ingredient – earth, Kyoko Onoki and Richard Lloyd Parry 

From snail porridge to black pudding Nutella, top chefs are always trying to find new ways of shocking our palates and our ears. Chef Toshio Tanabe has quite literally stumbled onto the newest shocking culinary ingredient. The new cuisine being served in Tanabe’s French-style restaurant in Tokyo is right beneath your feet: soil.

Other restaurants have previously created dishes containing faux soil made of organic ingredients to give the appearance and texture of soil, but not the taste. Tanabe says, “I know of no other chef who actually cooks soil.” The soil cuisine began by Tanabe experimenting with incompletely washed organic vegetables in salads. The soil used in his restaurant Ne Quittez Pas is provided by an agricultural soil supplier who has already been tested for safety. The process consists of baking the soil, boiling it in water, then passing it through three kinds of filters to remove sand, grit and particles. He then mixes the remains with gelatine to produce a smooth, creamy mud. A full soil menu is offered at his restaurant for £70 for those willing to dig into dirt.

 

Daily Mail – What’s the best posh new choc: wasabi, bacon or haggis?, India Sturgis 

As if chocolate wasn’t delicious enough on its own, confectionery companies are constantly adding unusual flavours to keep us interested. This has resulted in booming sales of upmarket chocolate, proving we like our treats with an extra kick of something different. But have chocolatiers taken it a flavour too far? New flavours include spicy wasabi chocolate for a tingling taste, bacon chocolate for those needing an excuse to have chocolate for breakfast, and even a bar of haggis chocolate. Luckily the chocolate bar isn’t stuffed with meat but is instead mixed with a smattering of Scottish haggis spices such as cloves, vanilla, nutmeg, allspice, salt and black pepper.

 

The Guardian – Restaurant: Bo London, London W1, Marina O’Loughlin

 Marina O’Loughlin braves the chilly granite cave of Bo London to try “Demon Chef” Alvin Leung’s latest creations. His “X-treme cuisine” has been brought from Hong Kong’s Michelin-starred Bo Innovation to London’s Mayfair. Leung’s most famous dish, Sex on the Beach, aims to give diners a happy ending to their experience. The dish consists of a pink condom fashioned from starches on biscuit crumb “sand” with a condensed milk sauce and gives proceeds to the Elton John AIDS charity.
Apparently the spherified molecular dumplings and tomato marshmallow aren’t the scariest experience to be hand in the restaurant. According to Miranda, the hardest and most terrifying thing to swallow in Bo London was the bill.

 

The Independent – It’s time to mug up on your microwave meals, Richard Ehrlich

Since the microwave became the newest trend in the global home cooking scene in the 1970s, few households have been without them. No longer the earth-shatteringly exciting new gadget they once were, the trusty microwave oven has become demoted to the role of leftover-warmer and depressingly tasteless meal for one blaster. Until this week, that is. Microwave-fan Richard Ehrlich has broken away from the ready meal brigade, taken a coffee mug out of the cupboard, and created a range of miniature microwave miracles. With savoury recipes including egg florentine, meat loaf and fish curry, will this microwave mug meal crusader defeat the defrosted diet cottage pie ready meal?  Or is the concept of microwaving prawns until they become fluorescent, and then eating them out of a scrabble mug, the most depressing thing to be achieved in a modern kitchen?

 

The GuardianHogget recipe, Rosie Syke’s

Never heard of hogget? Nor had we, but Rosie Syke’s Breast of hogget and pease pudding recipe just sounded too Shakespearean to be true. Here’s the weird and wonderful recipe for any intrepid eaters amongst you. Good luck! Oh and to satisfy your curiosity: it’s a young sheep, aged between 12 and 18 months.

A rolled breast of hogget

Serves 4
For the hogget
2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 leek, chopped, including all the green portion
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs thyme
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 hogget breast (about 2kg)
1.2 litres boiling water
1 heaped tbsp Dijon mustard
100g fresh white breadcrumbs
Small handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Splash of flavourless oil
Salt and black pepper

For the pease pudding
Splash of flavourless oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 leek, trimmed and finely chopped
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
500g green split peas, soaked overnight
1 bayleaf
A few mint leaves and stalks
1 tbsp cider vinegar
30g butter

1 Preheat oven to 160C/320F/gas mark 3.

2 Make a bed of the vegetables, bay leaf and thyme in a large roasting tin, scatter over the peppercorns and put the hogget on top. Pour over the water, cover tightly with foil, put into the oven, and leave to cook for 2½ hours.

3 Take out of the oven and leave covered until cool enough to handle. Lift the meat out and put on a tray in the fridge overnight.

4 Strain the vegetables out of the stock and discard them. Put the stock in a jug in the fridge overnight.

5 About 1½ hours before you want to eat, take the meat and stock out of the fridge. Skim any fat from the stock and keep it to cook the vegetables for the pease pudding. Lift any rib bones out.

6 Now make the pudding. Heat a heavy-based pan with a splash of oil and hogget fat. When it is hot, add the onion and cook gently for 5 minutes, then add the leek and celery and cook for another 5 minutes.

7 Separate the mint leaves from the stalks. Strain the split peas and add them, the bay leaf and stalks to the pan. Stir, then turn up the heat. Once it begins to sizzle, splash in the vinegar and stir until the liquid has evaporated.

8 Now add enough hogget stock to cover the peas, bring to the boil, skim any scum from the top and leave to simmer over a gentle heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally until the peas are soft. If they have absorbed all the stock but are not ready, add a little more liquid and keep simmering.

9 In the meantime, preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Put the lamb skin side up in an oven tray and paint with a layer of Dijon mustard.

10 Mix the crumbs with the parsley and some seasoning and press on to the mustard. Drizzle with a little oil and put in the oven. Cook for about half an hour until the crumbs are crisp.

11 When the peas are soft, taste for seasoning, lift out the bay leaf and mint stalks if you can, roughly chop the mint leaves and stir in along with the butter cut into small pieces. Any remaining stock can be used as a light gravy. Slice the meat and serve atop a pile of minty pease pudding.

 

Alessandra Brian and Charlie Mundy