You spend five years or so thinking that your (and Britain’s) palate and cooking is as global as it can get, and then you realise there’s a whole world left to explore.
So whilst Bill Granger’s Asian-Oz fusion is right up my street and delicious sounding (scallops with avocado, grapefruit, green apple plus fish sauce and lime salad; and brown rice sushi bowl with mirin dressed edamame salad) …
And Thomasina Miers’ Thai chicken BBQ with coconut rice will be absolutely stonking …
These aren’t new flavours any more.
The Sunday Times hosted recipes from Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer’s new Honey & Co. baking book. Food from the Middle East has been on our tongue since Claudia Roden, Diana Henry and Yotam Ottolenghi started packaging it nicely for us. But there’s a nuance to the Honey & Co. style, and their spice cakes with marzipan cream, chocolate tahini sandwich cookies and rose scented cheesecake on a coconut base are just a snippet of a pretty damn fantastic new book out from July (I’ve a sneak copy – it’s superb).
Then there’s Mauritius. Did this cuisine just sit under the ‘generic Indian’ banner until recently? Or was it unknown/ignored? In Saturday’s ‘Cook’, Henry Dimbleby and Jane Baxter set out a pretty compelling plan for a Mauritian feast: prawn and mussel rougaille, split peas and a white fish and tomato salad. OK so this might be a white Middle England interpretation of the theme, but hats off for taking inspiration and running with it. Worth noting that this series of easy group meals has been cracking so far.
Next, something completely different. As the Observer Food Monthly pointed out, we really know diddly squat about African food. The guys from The Groundnut Supper Club may well bring a little of that massive continent to the fore over the next few years; six recipes from their new cookbook is a decent start. Jollof sauce with chicken intrigued. Chicory with date and mustard tahini dressing, and mango kohlrabi salad seem as though they’e European ingredients dressed to African taste … but they’re still a fresh take on things. I’m keen for more.
How about Axerbaijan? Is that on your bucket list or ‘tick, yep, done that’ chart? Me neither. But cook of the moment, Olia Hercules, made a strong case through two dishes rooted in that country in the Guardian’s ‘Cook’ supplement: a white fish stuffed with pomegranate and pomegranate molasses and a ‘why haven’t we always done this?’ sumac sherbert lemonade.
For the mid summer
There were plenty of recipes to suit the Midsummer weekend.
Peas and baby greens are so right now. Which means it was no surprise to see Mark Hix’s mid June Indy column focusing on things like pea and salmon broth, a spelt and bean risotto, and a pea shoot falafel salad. I imagine his summer vegetable casserole – with morels and a white wine, stock, and butter reduction sauce – is awesome.
Diana Henry’s Sunday Telegraph ‘Stella’ magazine recipes were all pea focused. Pea, lime and lemongrass soup sounds zesty and enlivening, and braised leeks with peas, feta and dill is one of those dishes that ought to be a side … but you’ll wolf it down before the main hits the table.
It was great to see Rosie Birkett featured in Saturday’s Telegraph. I’ve mentioned her excellent A Lot on Her Plate book before. Well, three recipes from that were featured this weekend, and all of them would go good guns right now: smoked trout with griddled lemon and cucumber; a perfect cherry pie; and a parsley, bacon and broad bean risotto.
On the subject of relatively new writers, it appears The Sunday Times has picked up a new columnist. Anna Jones is often mentioned as a ‘former Jamie Oliver Fifteen Apprentice’. But, really, she should now just be labeled ‘the author of the absolutely outstanding A Modern Way to Eat’. Her vegetarian ideas really are worth seeking out. I love the novel but clearly delicious recipe for asparagus fritters served with a preserved lemon herb dressing. Not long until the British ‘gras season finishes, so make this while you can.
As Nigel Slater noted in the Observer magazine, it’s apricot season and the ones on Britain’s shelves seem unusually decent at the moment. I really liked the idea of his crumble tart (crumble base, baked; apricots; crumble topping; bake again). And, damn, his duck breast, apricot and radish dish looks mighty fine.
On that note, Rowley Leigh’s FT recipe this week was for an apricot tarte fine (sorry). I’m particularly interested in the (optional) suggestion that you pound the apricot kernals and add them to the almond paste spread between puff pastry and apricot.
Nothing formally titled ‘Cool’ was ever thus. Indeed, that label probably did a disservice to the ideas in the Saturday Times‘ ‘Cool BBQ guide’, which was based on a number of decent recipes from a cook called Ross Dobson. Tom Yum lime leaf prawns; ‘Cuban’ sweetcorn (mayo, lime and manchego); and a tangy grilled sweet potato salad (dressed with chilli, gherkins, cider vinegar and mint) would all sit well on my Weber.
For everything else
I can’t fit everything into two headings, so in this weekend’s miscellany:
Yotam Ottolenghi’s Guardian column was on the subject of garlic. Nice bit of learning in the short intro (fairly sure his intro word count has been reduced recently). And recipes for a tasty looking garlic broth and two lipsmacking side dishes: charred peppers and garlic sauce and a beetroot, ancho chilli and confit tomato baked rice.
Cocktail recipes rarely feature here unless they’re part of a cook’s column. But Giles Looker’s umeshu sake sour is seriously tempting. (Also in the Guardian)
A special mention and thanks to Bee Wilson, who signed out of The Sunday Telegraph ‘Kitchen Thinker’ after twelve years. She’s a proper food writer and the column will be missed. I’ll add a link when it’s up.
From the internet
On the matter of summer and BBQ, how did I not know about www.amazingribs.com before?
It had to be a Honey & Co. recipe. I plumped for what might appear the least glamourous of the recipes featured in The Sunday Times: the fig and orange loaf. Some battling was required as I had to swap candied orange for candied peaches and realised half way through that some halfwit had ‘borrowed’ my loaf tin (#firstworldproblems), but perseverance and a useful cast iron casserole dish were rewarded with a quite brilliant spiced fruit cake come bread thing. SO good.
Weekend Menu, 20 and 21 June 2015
Asparagus fritters, preserved lemon herb dressing
Anna Jones, The Sunday Times
Prawn and mussel rougaille
Watercress and tomato fish salad
Jane Baxter, the Guardian ‘Cook’
Apricot tarte fine
Rowley Leigh, The Financial Times
Olia Hercules, The Guardian ‘Cook’
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