Charles Campion: Food & drink notes

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Indy Lifestyle Online

After thoughts

"Some of us could quite happily live off puddings"... From the very first line of the introduction, Annie Bell's latest book Gorgeous Desserts strikes a chord. Anyone who includes sections entitled " chocolate puds", trifles", "pies & crumbles" and "good old-fashioned" seems to have a pretty good grasp of the essentials. This book manages to be good-looking and practical and the recipes are easy to follow. Take, for example, the recipe for "a nemesis moment". This is a reference to the River Café pudding "Chocolate Nemesis" – a recipe that many domestic cooks failed to master; Bell's torte is simpler to make and seriously chocolatey. Also look out for the "all-white trifle" and the "marmalade bread and butter pudding". 'Gorgeous Desserts' by Annie Bell, published by Kyle Cathie, £14.99

Fins are looking up

Judging by the large number of restaurants, clubs and bars with a " retro-cool" fish finger sandwich on the menu, we all have a secret longing to re-visit the fish sticks and Tommy K of our childhood. There is no doubt that the fish finger is a very convenient way to eat fish, but until now fish fingers have been a cheap convenience food, which means nameless, greyish fish. The No Catch company is based in Shetland, where it successfully farms sustainably produced and certified organic cod. Its classy No Catch Cod Fish Fingers – billed as "the world's first organic sustainable cod fish fingers in a tasty organic crumb" – are very good indeed. At £3.99 for 6 fingers, the only drawback is the price but all in all it's worth it. Available from Sainsbury's & Tesco branches

Currying favour

It is hard to suppress a twinge of envy when those TV programmes about Indian cooks in faraway places feature capacious and elegant spice boxes – nests of tins with each compartment containing a different spice. Kitchen Guru provide spice kits for making all our favourite curries. Each card has six or seven plastic bubbles and in each bubble is just the right amount of one of the spices needed to make dishes such as korma, aloo gobi, rogan josh, Gujarati fish, jalfrezi – there are 18 different cards for 18 different dishes. Inside each pack is the recipe and on the back of the card there's a check list of the additional fresh ingredients required. Kitchen Guru packs, £1.99 each from good food shops, Waitrose or House of Fraser branches and www.kitchenguru.co.uk

All churned up

In a world where so many tables are graced with a plastic tub of "spread " there is something very reassuring about seeing a butter dish. For a start the butter can be kept outside the refrigerator and so stay spreadable without needing extra processing – it is most upsetting to be asked to pay a premium price for so-called "spreadable" butter. The Langrove Honey Collection comprises a handful of whimsical pieces: there's the butter dish shown here, a mug, a honey jar, a tea pot, milk jug and egg cups. They are designed by the Scottish artist Charlotte Cadzow, who is married to the gentleman behind Edinburgh Preserves. At present the Langrove Honey Collection is mainly sold through independent cook shops and garden centres such the Dobie's chain (for branches contact www.dobies.co.uk). The butter dish costs around £15

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