Get your baking trays and stand mixers out – this weekend was a sweet one.
What better way to start this perusal of the papers, than a gentle slice or two of some National Trust café style lemon drizzle, courtesy of Rowley Leigh in the FT. We know he’s resolutely unbothered by fashion and trend, and that’s why I like reading him. Well, that and comments like “a cup of tea is really the best accompaniment — but a little glass of Madeira is very acceptable.”
Proper writing and cooking from The Sunday Telegraph’s Diana Henry too. The theme was sugar and spice and all things nice; which meant a bookmark worthy chocolate and spicy fig steamed pud with chocolate sauce, baked spiced apples, and a cheeky cinnamon spiced syrup to spoon over oranges, dates and pomegranates. The prose introducing these recipes was evocative, enticing and informative. “Spicing should be judicious. Sometimes – as with cardamom – the spice should have left only a faint trail, and you should almost have to hunt for its fragrance.” Tip of the hat to that.
Sir Nigel suggested we bake cakes for our loved one next Saturday. What I particularly like about this idea, is that it’s totally impractical to make a cake to feed just two. So really he saying Valentines is for gorging. Sounds good to me. Orange, lemon and apricot cakes (with buttercream in and all around) will be good, but chocolate hazelnut slice, topped with Nutella and popcorn is more my style.
Ruby Tandoh says cook brownies. Can’t think of anyone who’d argue with that. Salted milk chocolate is one option. Dark and white marbled brownies with a pinch of cardamom intrigue.
Also in the Guardian’s Cook supplement were ten recipes using pomegranate. Some sweet treats in there, obviously, though I liked the sound of Sabrina Ghayour’s chicken, walnut and pomegranate stew the most.
A lip smacking miscellany
The other food columns were a miscellany of themes and cuisines.
The Indy’s Mark Hix decided to signal to an end to dry January in style. I liked his ideas a lot: more sweet stuff in the shape of cider brandy babas; but also neck of pork slow cooked in sake (gorgeous); ox cheeks in beer; and raw scallops in tequila with green chilli, cucumber and lime (similar to a raw scallop and tequila recipe he published last May …).
On Sunday, his stablemate Bill Granger proposed a very agreeable supper menu for friends. Pop round his tonight, and he’ll cook you braised veal topside with porcini sauce with celeriac and chard gratin on the side. An espresso and pecan truffle tart finishes things nicely. All knowingly luxurious – and babez, you’re worth it.
You could easily ask Bill to swap the chard gratin with Thomasina’s celeriac in milk dish in Saturday’s Guardian magazine. Look into this one – it’ll be ace.
No sign of Stevie Parle in Saturday’s Telegraph. I have a feeling they’ve done a Grauniad style Hugh Fearnley-whatshisname sweep out the back door.
Instead, Ella Woodward made brown food: quinoa and squash ‘stew’; baked apple porridge; and turmeric laced hummus. I almost tried the porridge recipe, and I plan to give it a go – mostly because I have seriously doubt that baking oat slop for twenty minutes “makes the sweetest, creamiest bowl of porridge that oozes and bubbles enticingly as you take it out of the oven”. I fear, instead, soggy flapjack. My experience of porridge is that, like risotto, to get oozing creaminess requires a loving and constant tickle of the oats whilst cooking, so as to tease the starch out. Happy to stand corrected.
Top drawer dinner party ideas from The Sunday Times’ Gizzi Erskine. She’s right that you shouldn’t cook fussy things when friends come round. Homely, sharing dishes are where it’s at. Her lamb neck stew looks nifty (plenty of veg and herbs, a little pearl barley and a salsa verde to go with), though I’d probably plump for the slow cooked ox cheek tacos. Finger licking good.
In the same paper, Jamie Oliver cooked a burger.
Saturday’s Times provided quick and easy Thai cooking via Rosa’s Thai Café cookbook, and four quick pasta dishes. As an aside, I worry that The Times’ food is always rushed and functional. Take a chill pill fellas.
We’ll finish with two calmer columns (though, actually, probably no more time consuming than Murdoch’s lot).
Cook’s new resident is Brizzle’s ‘Eco Chef’, Tom Hunt. First up from him are vegetable dips: beetroot hummus (including beet top crisps); and a tempting cavolo nero and walnut jobby.
Which just leaves Yotam Ottolenghi, who wrestled (metaphorically) with Diana Henry and Mark Hix for the title of columnist of the week. Salmon fishcakes with garam masala, chilli and ginger will be a mid-week winner. Also great are quick cured salmon sandwiches, and Sauternes poached salmon with a green bean and barley salad.
Love that The New York Times published a recipe for ‘pasta sauce’ by Martin Scorcese’s Mum. Basically a ground veal, pork and beef ragu. Make this for your kids, and one day you’ll sit with paternal pride watching dark, violent and lengthy films showing Leonardo Dicaprio and Al Pacino shouting at people.
I plumped for Diana Henry’s orange, date, pomegranate and spiced syrup option. Vibrant and fresh fruit, paired and improved by a subtly sauce. I dropped in both cardamom and cinnamon and very much enjoyed the mix. This’ll do very nicely at a casual dinner party as the follow on from Gizzi’s pork neck stew or ox cheek tacos.
Weekend Menu, 8 and 9 February 2015
Raw scallop, green chilli, cucumber and tequila
Mark Hix, The Independent (Saturday)
Sauturnes poached salmon with green bean and barley salad
Yotam Ottolenghi, The Guardian
Espresso, pecan truffle tart
Bill Granger, The Independent on Sunday
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