Here are two interesting facts. Britain exports millions of eggs each year. Britain also imports millions of eggs each year.
This is but one example of the inherent illogicality of a globally-focused food industry.
Within days of the discovery that eggs in the Netherlands had been contaminated with the pesticide fipronil, seventeen countries including the UK confirmed that they had imported eggs that were affected. Each of those countries produces eggs, and each imports as well as exports eggs.
Most of the eggs imported to the UK are in liquid form, and that is why the contaminated eggs scare led to supermarkets clearing their shelves of a wide range of products including sandwiches, salads, sandwich fillers and snack pots.
The fipronil scandal is now subject to a criminal investigation, but early reports suggest that the pesticide, used to kill lice, ticks and mites but banned from food use, was accidentally or deliberately mixed into a product used to clean chicken sheds.
In due course we will no doubt learn the full story, but this latest scandal is reminiscent of the 2013 horsemeat scandal, where “beef” products such as burgers and lasagnes for sale in the UK were found to contain horsemeat.
In both cases, the food products concerned went through a number of processes and travelled between different traders and countries before reaching the consumer.
Both cases also reinforce the message that the closer you are to source of the food you eat the more likely it is that you can trust it, whether it is food you have grown or raised yourself or which has come from a reliable local organic source.
On to this week’s egg-free recipe.
A seasonal treat right now is the English cobnut, a once popular cultivated variety of hazelnut. They are still cultivated in some regions of the UK, particularly Kent in the south east of England, but can often be found growing wild. They have a milder and slightly sweeter taste than hazelnuts, so if you are unable to source them you can use the same quantity of hazelnuts in their place.
In this recipe they make for a rich, indulgent but exceptionally good vegan dessert.
vegan cobnut and chocolate pavé
200 g freshly shelled cobnut kernels
50 g organic dates, pitted
5 g organic unsweetened cocoa powder
30 g extra virgin coconut oil, melted
pinch sea salt
300 g dairy free dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into small pieces
320 ml organic coconut cream (in liquid form)
60 ml organic maple syrup
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 140°C (275°F, gas mark 1). Place the cobnut kernels on a baking tray and roast in the pre-heated oven for one hour, or until they have become firmer and are giving off a pleasant toasted aroma. Remove from the oven, tip onto a cold plate and leave to cool.
2. For the base, place half the roast cobnuts into a food processor along with the coconut oil, sea salt and cocoa powder and blend until the dates and cobnuts have broken down and the mixture has come together like a loose dough. Use coconut oil to lightly grease a 15 cm square tin with a detachable base. Press the cobnut and date dough firmly into the base.
3. Place the remaining cobnuts into a food processor and blitz until it turns into a paste. Pour the coconut cream into a saucepan and add the cobnut paste, maple syrup and vanilla extract. Stir to combine and place over a very low heat. Gradually add the broken chocolate pieces and whisk into the mixture until combined and the chocolate has melted. Set to one side for 10 minutes to cool. Whisk again and carefully pour over the base. Leave to cool to room temperature then refrigerate until ready to serve. Slide the pave out of the tin (if it sticks, quickly run a blowtorch along the sides)
4. Using a clean, sharp knife, carefully slice the pavé into oblong individual portions. Serve with whipped coconut cream or a scoop of my cobnut and cacao nib ice cream.