Sunday, June 23, 2013

Loukoumades & A Honey Masterclass

Apart from Tigger who doesn't like honey! But did you know that even though it's popular, Britain comes rather low down on the list based on consumption per capita...maybe because we tend to only eat it on toast or drizzled over yoghurt.
 
On Wednesday evening I attended a honey masterclass at the home of the Culinary Anthropologist, Anna. The evening was run in conjunction with bee keeper and author Elizabeth Gowing. Elizabeth works and keeps her bees in Kosovo and has written several books on her experiences. It was a very informative evening as there are so many ways in which honey can be used in both sweet and savoury cooking. For example, we enjoyed a delicious Ragstone Goat's Cheese drizzled in honey which could become a serious addiction!
 
Some of the honeys we sampled included:
  • Dandelion honey
  • Propolis honey - propolis being a sealant the bees produce to plug any unwanted gaps in their hive.
  • Vintage honey from 1991!
  • Urban honey from Regent's Park - urban beekeeping and honey production is becoming increasingly popular. You may remember that Rachel Khoo visited a Parisian urban honey producer in her last series. 
We crammed a lot in to three hours, as well as trying the different honeys we also sampled honey drinks and made several honey based recipes. My favourite were the Loukoumades which are fried Greek doughnuts soaked in honey which you can see in the photo above. Another great recipe was the honey ice cream as it's a no churn recipe and it tasted delicious. Here's what we made and sampled:
  1. Mead and Sbiten
  2. A tasting of honeys
  3. Goat's cheese with honey
  4. Green beans with garlic and honey
  5. Fried aubergines with honey and mint
  6. Ethiopian spiced honey bread
  7. Loukoumades
  8. Honey ice cream with Polish Miodula
So what interesting facts about honey did I find out:
  1. For a honey to be monofloral i.e. a single flower honey such as acacia honey or lavender honey it only has to contain 51% of the nectar from that plant type.
  2. If you put a magnet next to a beehive then the bees will start to build cylindrical honeycomb rather than hexagonal!
  3. Alexander the Great was embalmed in honey.
  4. Top tip: you can reverse the crystallisation process of honey by putting the jar or bottle into a bowl of hot water for a few minutes. So no need to throw it away.
  5. The world's most expensive honey is Sidr honey which is a Yemeni honey that is only harvested twice per year.
  6. China is the biggest exporter of honey.
  7. It is claimed that eating a spoonful of local honey a day is a cure for hayfever. Read more about the theory here.
You can find out more about Elizabeth and her books on her website. At the end of the evening I also purchased The Little Book of Honey which is written by Elizabeth and features a guide to different types of honey as well as lots of yummy honey recipes including some of those we tried on the evening.

Anna has very kindly allowed me to share her Loukoumades recipe with you here. This is a great recipe as it's so quick and easy to make and everyone will love it. You can make Loukoumades with store cupboard ingredients too so they're perfect to rustle up when you're in need of something sweet! You can see the ingredients in the picture below but I wouldn't recommend using skimmed milk and try and find a good quality honey...unlike mine in the picture!

Ingredients

120ml (170g) runny honey
zest of a large lemon and juice of half of it
220g plain flour
2 level tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
20g butter, in small pieces
4 tbsp (60ml) hot water from the kettle)
4 tbsp. (60ml) milk
Sunflower oil for deep-frying
cinnamon or icing sugar to sprinkle (optional)


1. Stir together the honey, zest and lemon juice to make a syrup.
2. Pour oil into a saucepan to fill it by one third and start heating gently. Keep an eye on it!
3. Measure flour into a bowl and mix in salt and baking powder.
4. Put batter into a small jug or bowl and measure in hot water from kettle. Stir to melt the butter. Now add the milk.
5. Make a well in the flour and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir to combine then tip onto the work surface and knead briefly just to bring it together into a dough. If the dough doesn't come together or seems a bit dry, add a splash more milk.

6. Now check that the oil is hot enough - a small piece of dough should sizzle gently without any delay. Or if you want to you could use a thermometer and the oil should be about 170-180 degrees but this isn't strictly necessary.
7. Squeeze off little balls of dough the size of fat cherries, and carefully add them to the oil.

8. Fry in batches until puffed and golden brown all over.










9. Remove them with a strainer or slotted spoon.

10. Place on kitchen paper to absorb excess oil.












11. Finally, place them directly in the syrup, which they will absorb. Serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon or icing sugar.









For an even easier version, do not make the syrup in advance, but rather simply drizzle the fried balls with honey and then zest a lemon over the top.

* Recipe from Anna Colquhoun - The Culinary Anthropologist You can find more recipes on Anna's website and I'd highly recommend her courses.
 

6 comments:

  1. Sounds like great fun and these look delicious! :)

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  2. I love hearing about the courses you go on, it's always so interesting! Love the fact about how the magnet changes the honeycomb shape - how strange.

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  3. what a brilliant, beautiful post... I ate some three day old Lincolnshire honey last week and it was divine!... love these loukoumades!

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  4. Gorgeous! They look delicious. Great post, sounds like you had a really good day and very interesting honey facts!

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  5. What an interesting post - I adore honey and will have a go at making these. Thank you for sharing the recipe!

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  6. Such cute little balls! I love them!

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