I’m writing this from a boat in the Solent. The sky is blue, the sea is flat and the sunburn is coming on nicely. It’s almost 10:30am, so G&T o’clock is round the corner and, amazingly (but not unpredictably) pretty much every recipe this weekend fits very nicely with the early summer vibe: picnics, alfresco eating, or just generally light and fresh. It’s all downhill from now until Christmas.
How to split those recipes up, then? I think we’ll go by paper.
On Saturday, The Times Magazine housed close to one million salad recipes from a book by Nicola Graimes. There are some decent combinations in there – all lively and bright and that. I’d probably pick the scallop and a Thai-ish green papaya salad to try first. There were also four different ways to dress grilled prawns.
The Weekend section dedicated a few pages to Angela Hartnett’s perfect picnic. Which like your usual spread includes a tomato and potato salad, but also a whole roast chicken, a courgette and cashew nut thing, cold caponata, and a pork belly number. Basically, her picnics live up to the stated aim of being a ‘moveable feast’.
A day later, in The Sunday Times Magazine, Florence Knight presented three things to do with home cured salmon. I liked her salmon, fennel, broad bean and pea salad best. In part because it came with a buttermilk and sour cream dressing.
That mag also filled a few pages with recipes from a new book by Christian Honor. He has a café in Muswell Hill which, whilst small, pumps out massive flavours. So seared beef fillet comes dressed with nigella seeds, fenugreek, kafir lime and curry leaves; there’s a roast pepper pimped round of cornmeal bread; and a whipped cream and berry cake, which requires no cooking, just chill time in a fridge.
Shivi Ramoutar’s ‘new’ Caribbean recipes graced the pages of Saturday’s Telegraph. A fried fish bap, peanut and pineapple slaw, and watermelon sherbet sorbet all seem like recipes that will add new world flava to your repertoire.
Which is great. Though on Sunday, Diana Henry reminded us that we don’t just have to look to exotic cuisines for inspiration.
I enjoyed the fact that she kept things relatively close to home, with a column based upon the food of Brittany and Normandy. An asparagus vinaigrette is a super smart play on the leek classic; mussels and white fish in cider and cream sauce will be heavenly; and strawberries in a red wine syrup sounds like an easy but strong finish. Super bon. Heck, I nearly suggested we headed past the Isle of Wight and straight to Saint-Malo for a Breton kir cider (what a sundowner that would be).
Yotam Ottolenghi gave us a number of different artichoke options in Saturday’s Guardian mag: stuff a big one; use warm hearts in a kind of green panzanella; or bake the baby ones and eat them whole with fennel and a lemon sauce. I really like the look of the latter, particularly because I’ve been wondering for some time what to do with the pretty little fellas that keep staring at me in my local greengrocers.
Thomasina Miers suggested one pea and one broad bean recipe. The peas get thrown into a squid, chilli and spaghetti party. Sweet … though broad beans, morcilla and mint on toast will really be ace.
Olia Hercules appeared in the Residency slot of the Cook supplement. Her book Mamushka will surely get a lot of traction over the next few weeks (months, years). She began her (three?) weeks on these pages well with an evocative intro, and a couple of unusual recipes: for fermented herbs and a ‘frikadelki’ soup – both pretty niche (and my kind of thing). A chocolate hazelnut cake was a more certain crowd pleaser. You know, set down a layer of chocolate sponge, spread with ganache, top with hazelnut meringue, spread with ganache, top with chocolate sponge … and repeat ad infinitum.
Also in Cook, Tom Hunt suggested four things to do with strawberries that have been macerated in grappa (before you ask, it’s not just “eat the strawberries, drink the grappa”).
And somewhere else in the same supplement, Ruby Tandoh was back with a couple of summer quiche ideas after a few weeks off. Nowt wrong with the salmon, ricotta and watercress, nor roasted cauli, gruyere and pancetta neither.
Sunday’s Observer matched good weather with ice cream. Lord Nigel’s first ice was fairly standard – rhubarb and custard – but the second should shake middle England up a bit … because it involves crumbly goat’s cheese, goat’s milk yoghurt, thyme leaves and honey. And you’re meant to serve it with air-dried ham. Eyebrows raised.
Rowley didn’t seem to get the summer memo (or more likely just chose to deviate. Roast pork belly and fennel recipe will still be perfectly decent Sunday lunch scran, though.
I suppose Mark Hix’s recipes weren’t that summery either. His column was on a chilli theme, and the recipes included duck livers, polenta and padron peppers, tabasco laced meatballs, and grilled tiger prawns with chilli and red onion chutney.
In contrast, I couldn’t seem to find anything online from the Independent on Sunday, so perhaps Bill Granger and co have taken the summer theme to the extreme, and gone on holiday.
Rocking the Internet
I really enjoyed Danny Kingston’s account of making elderflower champagne on his Food Urchin blog. Apparently the recipe is a tried and tested one – worth a pop?
No real chance to cook this weekend, but I have just sprinkled a few bunches of herbs and wrapped them in muslin, ready to ferment as per Olia Hercules’ instructions in Cook. Who knows what will become of them.
Weekend Menu, 6 and 7 June 2015
Danny Kingston, Food Urchin
Baked baby artichoke with fennel and lemon
Yotam Ottolenghi, the Guardian
Duck livers, polenta and padron peppers
Mark Hix, the Independent
Olia Hercules, the Guardian, Cook
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