Lots of food writers with a spring in their step this weekend.
Rolling with the season
Mark Hix threw Spring vegetables into pasta for Saturday’s Independent. I liked his green minestrone recipe and also the super-comfort-mid-week rigatoni with leeks cooked in vegetable stock. Has to be said, though, that they totally fluffed the opportunity to name the fourth monk’s beard based dish ‘spaghetti with agretti’. What a waste.
English asparagus is on, people. The Times showed us four garnishes, whilst over in the Observer, Nigel Slater noted that what sparrow ‘gras really loves is fat. He then suggested serving the green spears with a milky, lemony mash, and many glugs of olive oil, which sounds divine. I’m intrigued by the call in the small print for “any other waxy potato, such as a Charlotte”. A waxy (sticky, gloopy) mash? Typo? Overly proactive subbing? Genius? Who knows. In any event, a definite thumbs up for his second recipe: blood orange and grapefruit paired with grated celeriac coated in yoghurt. Capers, olive oil and nigella seeds ensure eaters know this is a side dish, not dessert.
Yotam Ottolenghi continued what appears to be the renaissance of the ridged or ‘hassleback’ spud. These were big in the 90s, if I recall (as with most things in popular recipe writing, either Delia or Josceline did it first), and seem to be making a comeback. Ottolenghi’s are cooked in stock and cream, so they’ll be sticky underneath, crunchy on top and packed with flavour. Nice. I also liked the idea of adding crisp baked skins to a salad, and mixing mash through with nduja and gruyere, then topping with egg.
There’s a cracking Spring chicken, leek and prosciutto gratin from Jane Baxter and Henry Dimbleby in their new Cook feasting column. The recipe includes both trimmings and timings.
Wild garlic is still carpeting many damp, woodland floors and therefore remains ubiquitous on many London menus. I think only the FT’s Rowley Leigh had it in his ingredient list this week, though: to go with a rather splendid looking (and very Rowley) wild rabbit and onion dish. A two bottle lunch plate, that.
Is smoked fish a Spring thing? Probably not exclusively. Yet the mackerel and trout recipes in Diana Henry’s Sunday Telegraph Stella magazine column felt light and perfect for right now. My favourite was a spelt, smoked mackerel and quick pickled red onions with a dill and buttermilk dressing.
Bill Granger’s sweet treats in the Independent on Sunday aren’t really on a strict Spring theme either. But roasted rhubarb and ricotta on rye bread, Marsala laced pasta fritters and very Antipodean chocolate dipped peanut hokey pokey (honeycomb) are light(ish) and quick, rather than winter comfort puds, so they’ll round the seasonal section off nicely.
A little spice
The Times and Sunday Times both filled their guest cooking slots with a touch of spice and heat.
On Sunday, Maunika Gowardhan provided three tempting Goan dishes. I loved the idea of baby aubergines stuffed with coconut, jaggery and tamarind. Serweeeeet. Jamie Oliver’s ST recipe had a kick too: a chilli squid, pancetta and shaved fennel salad.
Before them, on Saturday, Anjum Anand provided a clutch of Indian themed BBQ recipes. First of the year? Tandoori bream, marinated in yoghurt, gram flour, Kashmiri chilil, cumin, ginger paste, carom seeds and more gets my vote for the grill. Also, the chickpea seekh kebabs.
In fact, Times subscribers were unusually blessed this weekend, because Saturday’s paper also housed ten recipes from Diana Henry’s Bird in the Hand book. Ten! Where to begin? Probably the roast chicken with peaches, honey and lavender. Then maybe chook with Marsala, olives and oranges. Then bourbon and marmalade drumsticks. Or maybe the cheeky lemongrass, chilli, galangal and turmeric chap.
Cook replaced its ‘Ten Best’ column with a four for the price of one model. The idea being: cook shit loads of a staple, then make multiple things with it through the week. Makes sense. First up, Rachel Roddy said we should soak and cook a vat of cannellini beans, setting us up for treats like a tuna and parsley salad, and a strong looking dish of sausages served with sage flavoured creamy beans.
Check out Claire Thompson’s leftover spaghetti tortilla in the same supplement. I’ve a lot of love for that. Also, Ruby Tandoh’s sweet and savoury bites. Of which a cheddar topped apple pie really intrigues. Apple in the pie, cheddar in the pastry, then grated chedder on top.
The Telegraph published a set of recipes from a book by Detox Kitchen. Dal with roast fennel looks decent…
… they’re Elle Macpherson’s favourite delivery service, apparently.
From the web
I wonder whether this Food52 radish top soup with fennel seed roasted radishes is good? Creme fraiche and spuds in the soup. Also a drizzle of lemon oil.
Does the food in the photo look a bit cack? It didn’t taste that way. I fancied something simple on Sunday evening, and tomatoes in crème fraiche via Jenny Linford’s recipe in the Telegraph did the trick. I added a little chilli for interest. But otherwise as per instructions. Cheap, quick, wholesome, lively, fresh.
Weekend Menu, 25 and 26 April 2015
Baby aubergines stuffed with desiccated coconut and tamarind
Maunika Gowardhan, The Sunday Times
Rabbit, onions and ramson
Rowley Leigh, The Financial Times Weekend Magazine
Griddled asparagus with lemon mashed potatoes
Nigel Slater, the Observer
Chocolate dipped peanut hokey pokey
Bill Granger, The Independent on Sunday
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