Weekend number three of 2015, and it seems the diets and detoxes have largely been forgotten; this batch of recipe columns went big on baking and comfort.
‘Cook’ marked Ruby Tandoh’s first year of recipes with a handy pull out. I’m a fan of Ruby’s column. She writes well and her recipes strike the right balance between modern twist and respect for the classics. I’m not sure the paper’s ‘best of’ selection is online, but you can check her back catalogue through this link. Saturday’s recipes were rhubarb focused – a crumble and a clafoutis.
Another rising star (baking, rising, get it?…) promoted by the folks at the Grauniad is Claire Ptak. She had 6 recipes in Sunday’s OFM including strawberry, ginger and poppyseed scones, pistachio, hazelnut and raspberry friands, and chewy ginger biscuits.
It’s also worth noting a new feature in the OFM: cartoon strip style recipes by Len Deighton. In the first ‘recipe strip’, all the key info for making a soufflé was neatly set in a small amount of space. Very clever, though is it really true you can whisk the egg whites up to 4 hours before cooking? Would require remarkably stable bubbles.
Over in the Independent on Sunday, Bill Granger proposed a set of ‘adult’ cakes. I liked the look of his butterscotch brownie cake with caramelised oranges, and a rhubarb and ginger pavlova, which had coconut yoghurt in the cream.
The comfort cooking began on Saturday with Yotam Ottolenghi. I thought his three winter broths read brilliantly. Turkey meatballs and kale in lemon broth (using dried Iranian limes), a Yemeni oxtail broth garnished with zhoug, and then a spicy freekeh and butter bean soup. Anyone try them? I’m very tempted by the oxtail.
I’m not sure there are many things more comforting than a meaty pasta dish. Mark Hix gave us four of those in Saturday’s Indy: a rabbit lasagna; Schinkennudeln, which is kind of like a cross between mac n cheese and carbonara; gnocchi with pheasant and chestnut ragu; and pappardelle with lambs’ kidneys and hedgerow garlic.
That said, Stevie Parle’s breakfast ideas in The Telegraph would get a cold weekend off to a pretty cosy start: easy potato cakes to go with poached egg and bacon; smoked haddock and sweet onion frittata; ginger bread pancakes; chickpea and potato stuffed flatbread.
Parle’s Telegraph group compadre, Diana Henry, did everyone a public service on Sunday by publishing Brad McDonald’s honey butter drenched cornbread recipe. Such a good dish. Coffee brined pork chops looked ace too. Ditto 10 hour pork shoulder with tomato chipotle sauce.
In Saturday’s Times, Donna Hay had a bunch of comfort dishes: choc and caramel fondant pud; lamb shank and pasta; a dumpling thing; white bean cannelloni; cheese soufflé. Caprice Group recipes in the same paper were also on the comfort theme, but they were less interesting: a fish pie; Milanese; sticky toffee pudding; scallops with chilli and garlic; and iced berries with white choc.
SO praise be for The Times’ ‘Only Four’ things to do with pesto – stick it on chicken, salmon, mushrooms or cauliflower cheese. OMG. Revelatory stuff. This column just keeps on giving.
Rowley Leigh, on the other hand, set down a rather fine looking pork cheek vindaloo recipe in the FT Weekend. I take back what I said about pasta – when I’m really in need of a food cuddle, I look first to a good cuzzla. (NB, the FT article on eating brains is a cool read too – albeit a little annoying given I was about to pitch them an article on the same topic).
An OFM selection of one pot dishes to feed four people for under a tenner was pretty good. Not least because it featured a bunch of chefs I’d like to see more from – Stephen Harris, Sam Harris, Nieves Barragán Mohacho, for example.
Finally for you comfort eaters, Nigel Slater provided a couple of ‘savoury fruit dishes’ in the Observer magazine: apple shallot and cheesy tarts; and a red cabbage, pear and chipolata thingy (through which blackcurrent jelly is stirred. Ace.)
Something a little lighter
For those of you yearning for something a bit lighter or zestier, I suggest you head to the ‘Ten Best’ orange recipes in ‘Cook’. I’m not sure which of these recipes I’d start with. Perhaps Paul Ainsworth’s duck and orange broth or maybe Nathan Outlaw’s raw brill with orange and tarragon. However, I’d definitely finish with Sarah Randell’s marmalade and crème fraiche filled chocolate fondant. Brilliant.
Henry Dimbleby wrote a little about winter salads. Can’t go wrong with one based on roast cauliflower and radicchio.
Meera Sodha made a very promising start to her three week ‘Cook’ residency. I quite fancy her Gujarati style peanut stuffed baby aubergines, pomegranate and mint raita and a few chapatis right now, actually.
Jamie suggested a mackerel dish in The Sunday Times magazine, that’ll be light and zingy and go get ‘em, rather than soporific. Pretty much just pan fried fish, but finished with honey, sesame, lime, herbs, chilli and ginger.
A few pages later, Gizzi Erskine featured ‘fast day’ ideas from Elly Curshen – i.e. stuff you can eat if you’re on the 5:2 diet and are on one of your fewer than 500 calorie days. The thing to note about these three recipes (purple sprouting, capers, eggs; lemon sole with celeriac and colcannon; and an excellent pickled, roasted and puréed cauliflower and monkfish dish), and what makes them excellent diet or fasting fodder, is that they’re actually just totally, well, normal. No magic or miracle promises. Just decent food made from scratch. It’ll never catch on …
I stumbled across Uyen Luu’s Food Tube video for making Vietnamese summer rolls. She rules at these, so unsurprisingly it’s very helpful.
Didn’t have much time for cooking this weekend, but I did bung slice some oranges and sprinkle them with a tiny bit of sugar, cinnamon and mint a la Tom Hunt in the ten best orange feature. This action provided confirmation that: cinnamon and mint do indeed go well with oranges; oranges are pretty amazing right now, so there’s very little benefit in cooking them anyway; and oranges love my Disco Plate™.
Weekend Menu, 17 and 18 January 2015
Raw brill with rapeseed oil, orange and tarragon
Nathan Outlaw, The Guardian ‘Cook’
Gnocchi with pheasant and chestnut ragu
Mark Hix, The Independent (Saturday)
Chocolate fondant with bitter marmalade and crème fraiche centre
Sarah Randell, The Guardian ‘Cook’
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