This weekend’s recipes split neatly into a geographic theme (broadly speaking), a seasonal theme (kind of), and an, ummm, everything else theme.
An Eastern influence
This was Gizzi Erskine’s last appearance as The Sunday Times’ regular recipe contributor. She’s stepping back to concentrate on her numerous other projects, with Florence Knight of Polpetto fame taking the reins next week. It’s understandable, then, that for her final turn Gizzi thought Phuket …
… and gave readers three ace Thai recipes: tom yum goong (that spicy and sour soup); a minced pork with chilli and thai basil fry (it’ll be the basil, fish sauce and palm sugar that make this); and an intriguing yellow squid curry. I really like the look of the squid dish – just a quick cook of the squid, rather than slow braise, and loads of punchy flavours and spice. I shall try to give it a go soon.
Bill Granger decided it’s time to use up some of the rice in his cupboards, and suggested that if Indy on Sunday readers need to do the same, then they could do worse than Korean Bibimbap, chicken fried rice and Japanese rice and salmon buns (onigiri).
Mark Hix’s column in Saturday’s Independent was technically about practicing knife skills (i.e. slicing and dicing), but my eyes were most drawn to a kohlrabi and seaweed salad (more on that below) and a ‘Japanese dressing’ to go with things like lobster, shell fish or duck. Ginger, shallot, garlic, chives, soy, chilli, ketchup(!), balsamic vinegar(!!). Could be genius. Might not be Japanese.
It’s May. From now, on occasion, the weather will be nice. And some things taste particularly good when the sun shines. The following cooks and writers provided inspiration for those moments.
I really liked the idea of Thomasina Miers’ charred spring onion mayonnaise, which is to go with a warm chicken salad. The burnt allium invokes summer BBQ vibes, without having to tempt rain by lighting the coals. Good that it’s just a purée worked into a ready made mayo too – sometimes you just cannae be bothered to go from scratch.
In the same supplement (the Guardian magazine) Yotam Ottolenghi noted his reluctance to follow Brits outside at the first hint of sunshine. In the unlikely event he’s tempted to eat al fresco, he finds it’s necessary “to make sure [the food] is pretty exceptional.” No pressure on his barbie yielding mates then. On Yotam’s outside table: dressed side of salmon, koftas, and a great looking raw sprout salad.
Jamie Oliver’s red mullet, jeweled wild rice and tapenade should inspire a few Sunday Times readers.
Rowley Leigh’s chicken risotto in the FT reflected the time of the year in that it makes the most of nettles, which are good to eat right now. I’m not a huge fan of chook in a risotto, but I liked this note about the merits of stingers:
The late Jane Grigson had a couple of nettle recipes but drily remarked that they were “not as good as spinach”. She is right, of course, but slightly misses the point. Cod is not as good as turbot but I still enjoy cod.
The FT also featured a generous clutch of recipes from Skye Gyngell’s new book, ‘Spring’. The book is named after her restaurant, not the season, but the recipes fit nicely in this section in any event. Among the most tempting were: an octopus salad (potatoes, capers, cima di rapa); crab, with crème fraiche, lumpfish roe and rye crackers; and slow cooked courgettes with tarragon.
Nigel Slater’s Observer column focused on a roast leg of lamb. The suggestion to wilt spring leaves in the still warm meat juices of the roasting pan was a nice one. I also like the idea of leftover lamb on hot toast. Not least because that toast is to be spread with wasabi and crushed peas.
There’s no shame in admitting that the weather and late sunset moves you to salad mode. Perhaps this is why I enjoyed the story in Saturday’s Telegraph of a graphic designer who preferred to prepare fresh salads in the office, rather than resort to Pret – and has now turned that into a book. Mushroom, black quinoa and pesto, and shimp, saffron and barley combos stood out.
Heed Diana Henry’s words on bitterness and also the book Bitter, by Jennifer McLagan. The taste is worth persevering with and the tome is excellent. Recipes to help you phase you in, are a bitter chocolate tart, aperol and orange jellies, and salmon and grapefruit ceviche.
The newest of the Guardian ‘Cook’ supplement’s resident food writers is Jackson Boxer, who runs the restaurant at Brunswick House. I very much enjoyed his first column, and also that he was brave enough to simply propose a green salad and radishes dipped in butter. Homemade butter, that is.
Also in Cook: Ruby Tandoh’s baking column featured aubergine, mozzarella and thyme pasties and raspberry and lemon cheesecake slices / filo triangles; this week’s Dimbleby/Baxter feasting piece, which provided Egyptian style grilled pollock, to be served with a platter of rice, lentils and cauliflower, and a fennel and avocado salad; and Rachel Roddy in the cook once for four dishes slot again, this time with a bread recipe – the loaf is to be used in gnocchi, a soup, for anchovy crumbs to top spaghetti, and best of the lot (I think), a queen of puddings.
Finally, The Telegraph hosted a hefty set of Nutri Bullet smoothie recipes from the likes of Deliciously Ella, The Hemsleys and others. Do you know what? Whilst a few were obvious, they all sounded delicious (because fresh fruit and veg is). I liked, in particular, a mango, coconut and turmeric number. But I wish they didn’t come with spurious tags such as ‘detoxifying’, ‘fight off your cold’ and ‘make your skin glow’.
From the internet
This piece on the closure of Koya includes their recipe for pork belly cooked in soy, stout and honey. Tell you what – stick that in a bao (see John Whaite link above) and you’ll be able to get anyone to do anything.
On a similar theme, Mark Hix’s kohlrabi, sea weed and lemon salad was inspired by a lunch at Koya. I didn’t follow the ratios too closely. But it was indeed a decent little workout for my knife skills, and (more importantly), tasted super – kohlrabi, seaweed, lemon zest, rice wine vinegar and a splash of vegetable stock. Particularly good with some thick slices of home cured lime and chilli bacon. Boom.
Weekend Menu, 9 and 10 May 2015
Crab, creme fraiche, lumpfish roe and rye crackers
Skye Gyngell, The Financial Times
Thai yellow squid curry
Gizzi Erskine, The Sunday Times
Aperol and orange jellies
Diana Henry, The Sunday Telegraph Stella Magazine
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