Italian inspired Christmas nibbles – Puréed Fava Bean Crostini

Everything we do is inspired by food and discovering new flavours. So when we discovered, (as in unearthed her for ourselves) Gabriella, an English/Italian blogger who likes to Mangia Bene (eat good) we were very happy. Not only does she make gelato, but she also takes lovely pictures. So when we asked her if she would write us a guest blog with a festive ‘make your own’ feel, she sent us her recipe and beautiful pictures of a traditional Italian canape. Over to Gabriella…

“The festive season is upon us and we all know what that means – Christmas parties and gatherings where food and drink have the leading role. These little Pugliese inspired appetizers help bring a little bit of sunshine to our wintery party table. The Fava bean is a variety of broad bean, Vicia faba. The purée is widely eaten in Puglia and usually served with bitter chicory leaves.

In this recipe I’ve used it as a topping for crostini, a great canapé for a get together where the drinks are flowing. A nice shaving of pecorino cheese on the top for vegetarians and a slice of Parma ham for the meat eaters will finish of these small bites perfectly.
Fava Bean Crostini with parma ham recipe from Gabriella

For the puree

  • 125g Split Fava Beans
  • ½ stick of celery
  • ½ small onion
  • ½ carrot
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

For the Crostini

  • 2 Small Ciabatta rolls
  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • Olive oil
  • 2 slices of Parma ham
  • 15g Pecorino

Makes 24 crostini

  1. Wash the beans and put them in a saucepan with a dash of olive oil on a low heat
  2. Add the roughly chopped carrot, onion and celery. Cover with 300ml of water, turn up the heat and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 30 minutes, until the water has evaporated and the beans have softened
  3. Add 200ml of water and allow to simmer for a further 15 minutes
  4. While the beans are cooking you can prepare the crostini
  5. Slice the ciabatta into bite size pieces and brush some olive oil onto them
  6. Toast them in the oven at 200°C/Gas Mark 6 for ten minutes until crisp
  7. Peel the garlic cloves and then rub them over the pieces of bread to give it a garlic flavour. Set aside to cool
  8. Once the beans are done remove the vegetables and bay leaf
  9. Blend with a stick blender until smooth – it should have the consistency of purée
  10. Season with a glug of olive oil and salt and pepper
  11. Top the crostini with a teaspoon of purée and then a slice of either pecorino or Parma ham.”

To read more from Gabriella visit her Mangia Bene blog or follow her on Twitter @mangiabeneblog

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unearthed® chorizo in the 5 Star “Haute” Dog

You may have read our Taste of London Winter blog recently. Our latest post is a little thank you/guest blog from Tum Kazunga, Head of Corporate Partnerships, from Action Against Hunger.

“Once again, Action Against Hunger donned our chef aprons and headed off to Taste of London to cook up a storm at our 5 Star restaurant pop up! This time, we were at Taste of London Winter, the wintry version of the popular summer show held every November, launching a new version of our popular 5 Star Haute Dog Stand.

At the last Taste festival we had 5 amazing hot dog toppings designed by 5 amazing chefs – this time we knew we had to go one better.

Hold your horses we hear you say, what’s better than 5 delicious hot dog toppings prepared by some of the best chefs in the UK?Jose Pizarro and his 5star haute dog with unearthed chorizo

Good question, but what about 5 completely different hot dogs, designed by 5 incredibly talented chefs?

So, up to the plate stepped our great friends, Jose Pizzaro (right), Jason Atherton, DJ BBQ, Valentine Warner and Alfred Prasad who each developed a unique, and, obviously, mega-delicious hot dog for us to sell.

But there was one other extra ingredient that we loved, and that was the unearthed® chorizo that they donated to us to add to Jose Pizzaro’s Spanish take on the humble hot dog which included diced Spanish chorizo (from unearthed®)with Manchego and caramelised onions (absolutely delicious!).

All this support helped us raise an amazing £8,700 just from the hot dog stand, so thank you to all our chef supporters and thank you to unearthed®!

In fact, I’m really pleased to report that, aside from generously donating kilos of chorizo, unearthed® also joined us at Taste of London Winter to help celebrate the amazing fact that they have raised over £315,000 pounds for us since 2010 by donating 1p from the sale of each of their products.

On a serious note, it’s amazing that we have the support of great chefs and companies like unearthed® who believe in what we do and support us year in and year out because make no mistake, that support is helping us save thousands of lives, every year.

So thank you unearthed® for your support, it means a lot to us, but more importantly, it means everything to the children you help us reach.”

Have a Merry Christmas all!”

Tum Kazunga,
Action Against Hunger team

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Make your own Christmas star biscuits

There’s something pretty special about homemade Christmas gifts and we know that Lyndsey Haskell is a big fan of all things arty, crafy, bakey and gardeny. So when we asked her if she would write us a guest blog with a festive ‘make your own’ feel, she jumped at the chance to showcase some lovely festive biscuits she makes. Over to Lyndsey

“The true test of a great recipe is when you dig it out once a year for a special occasion and the results are perfect every time. Family Christmas recipes often fit into that description and these gingerbread biscuits are made following one recipe that has never let me down.
Salt and chocolate gingerbread stars
I have been making these biscuits year after year and they always fill my home with festive scents. They’re guaranteed to make you feel merry and bright and dipping them in chocolate with a sparkly sprinkle of salt will make them look and taste fabulous.

Salt and chocolate gingerbread stars

This recipe makes 2 batches of biscuits, each batch makes around 30 biscuits.

  • 175g butter
  • 175g soft dark brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp golden syrup
  • 700g self raising flour
  • 3 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • zest of an orange
  • 1 medium egg, beaten


  1. Melt the butter, syrup and sugar together in a pan. Leave to cool slightly.
  2. Mix the flour, spices and zest together in a bowl.
  3. Add the melted mixture to the flour mix and mix well with a spoon.
  4. Use your hands to continue mixing and kneading the dough for about 15 minutes. It should be just slightly too crumbly to roll out.
  5. Add the egg slowly, you may not need the whole thing. You just need to make the dough stick together. It usually takes about half an egg for the whole volume.
  6. Split into 2 batches. Wrap in clingfilm and place half in the fridge for 20 minutes. You can freeze the other half or keep it in the fridge for about a week if you don’t want to use it all at once.
  7. Preheat oven to 150°C, 350°F or gas mark 4.
  8. After 20 minutes in the fridge, knead a little bit more to soften then roll out to about the thickness of a £1 coin.
  9. Use star shaped biscuit cutters to cut your biscuit shapes.
  10. Place on baking paper on a baking tray and bake for 10-12 minutes.
  11. Leave to cool overnight.
  12. The next day, melt chocolate in the microwave or over a pan of simmering water. Dip each biscuit into the melted chocolate, leaving a little bit of gingerbread uncovered. Place each chocolate-dipped biscuit onto a sheet of baking paper and add a sprinkle of salt to each one. Leave to cool, then enjoy!”

Salt and chocolate gingerbread stars
When she’s not making delicious biscuits, Lyndsey is a keen gardener. She runs an online shop, What You Sow, the place for people who love to grow things. They provide inspiration for those with a passion for gardening.
Visit the shop or read her blog.

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A taste of Winter in London

Action Against Hunger at Taste of Winter LondonWe were invited by the wonderful Action Against Hunger to take a stand at Taste of London Winter. With thousands of food-lovers thronging the atmospheric passageways of Tobacco Dock it was an ideal opportunity to celebrate having raised £315,000 for the charity, so we decided to have a party! Action Against Hunger at Taste of Winter London

As with all good parties there was food (our chorizo of course), dressing up and Polaroids, while the music and drinks were provided by the event around us. We all thought of a career change when we realised that everyone smiles at you if you are a photographer!

The Polaroids proved a hit and there are a few early-days couples out there whose first ever couply photo features a jester hat and a pair of comedy sunglasses. Let’s hope they are looking back on our polaroid when they are 90 and we all take photo’s with our eyes or something.

What with the constant changing of Polaroid papers and charging of cameras, there was only time for a quick hunt around Taste, visiting our friends Gran Luchito and Mallow and Marsh and making friends with Oatly amongst others.

the unearthed taste of london party standSusie, Sarah and Carrie on the standDJ BBQ in front of his hot dogDJ BBQ's 5star hautedog (with chilli)Jose Pizarro (3rd left) with the Action Against Hunger chefsJose Pizarro's 5 star hautedog (with unearthed chorizo)Taste of Winter LondonBeginning to feel a bit like Christmasthe unearthed hamper prize we offeredWinner Matt posing for his picture
the unearthed taste of london party stand
Susie, Sarah and Carrie on the stand
DJ BBQ in front of his hot dog
DJ BBQ's 5star hautedog (with chilli)
Jose Pizarro (3rd left) with the Action Against Hunger chefs
Jose Pizarro's 5 star hautedog (with unearthed chorizo)
Taste of Winter London
Beginning to feel a bit like Christmas
the unearthed hamper prize we offered
Winner Matt posing for his picture

For lunch we feasted on ‘5star Haute Dogs’, concocted by a five-some of celebrated chefs (see DJ BBQ and Jose Pizarro in the pictures) and prepared by an amazing team of Action Against Hunger volunteers and at closing time we went on tasting sprees that were a classy equivalent of raiding your parents’ drinks cupboard! Toffee vodka seemed to be a team favourite and I felt only mildly traitorous to my Somerset upbringing by guzzling a Herefordshire cider or two.

Thanks to Taste and to Action Against Hunger for having us and thanks to everyone who has ever bought any unearthed® food. Here’s to lots more fun unearthed® events and the next £315,000 raised!

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Guest blog – a day out at the Waitrose Cookery School

Waitrose Cookery SchoolThis week we hear from Sue Mitchell (picture below left) – winner of an unearthed® competition about her visit to the Waitrose Cookery School

“Back in September 2013 I entered a San Daniele competition with unearthed® and Waitrose and won a pair of tickets for the Waitrose Cookery School. I decided to take along my daughter Lilley (pictured right below) as she is a keen cook as well.

I looked through all the courses available and you’re spoilt for choice, really, but the Summer Michelin Menu Course with matching wines looked really interesting. I thought it would be great to learn how to cook those special, intricate dishes that chefs in Michelin Starred restaurants design and present to their customers. Also, eating food in season is important to me. I was, therefore, looking forward to eating some great summer food.

Waitrose Cookery School

This was the menu which we cooked & the appropriate matching:

  • Gazpacho jelly, dressed crab and avocado.
    Wine: Avigue Solutre Rock Macon-Solutre 2012 (Burgundy). An elegant Burgundy with fruit and mineral notes.
  • Roast Scallops with gnocchi & truffle emulsion.
    Wine: Cave de Beblenheim Grafenreben Riesling 2009/10 (Alsace). A dry, but aromatic white wine, with citrus fruit and crisp finish.
  • Herb-crusted veal with polenta fries, olive purée and sauce vierge.
    Wine: Les Dauphins 2013 Cotes du Rhone-Villages. (Cotes du Rhone). A soft red wine, with abundant fruit and notes of chocolate, pepper and spice.
  • Orange cake, marmalade cream and Cointreu caviar.
  • Wine: Brown Brothers Special Late-Harvested Orange Muscat & Flora 2012 (Victoria, Australia). A sweet wine, with orange blossom & honey aromas & honeyed fruit on the palate.

The highlight of the day was sitting down to eat the wonderful dishes that we’d made, with the other people on the course, and drinking a glass of wine to complement the food!

I got some really good tips – the best one was that it’s best to sharpen your knives every time you use them, not just now and again. They will stay really sharp. The Cookery School did theirs first thing in the morning – we them doing it, when we arrived.

Something new I learnt was that a squeeze of lemon juice on cooked scallops, will stop them cooking further and toughening up! And I didn’t know that when making dishes with gelatine in, you will need to use extra seasoning.

A truly enjoyable day – thanks a lot unearthed®”

We also asked Sue about her foodie favourites

  • My most memorable meal was lunch with my family at one of the best restaurants in France, called ‘Le Vieux Logis’ at Tremolat in the Dordogne. Wonderful meal, in the most beautiful, outdoor setting. A real memory.
  • I would most like to eat at ‘Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee’ in Paris. The restaurant has just reopened at the newly-refurbished Plaza Athenee Hotel. His restaurant will now focus on fish, shellfish, cereals and vegetables (largely organically-grown), and presented in an exceptional way. There will be some meat on the menu, however.
  • Asking me about my favourite unearthed® product is a tough one! There are so many, that it’s difficult to choose just one. Our family really likes the delicious ham, Prosciutto Cotto (my daughter says that it is the most delicious ham she has ever tasted!). We also like the Garlic Prawns very much. We always have your range of olives on a regular basis (in fact, the fridge is never without one or the other). So many delicious things to eat –we’re spoilt for choice.”

  • If you’re interested in cooking classes at the Waitrose Cookery School visit the site to find out more

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