Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Nettle & Quince Christmas baking page

2 December 2018

It’s the first Sunday of Advent, the time to pause, light a candle, and start baking!

I have created a Nettle & Quince Christmas baking page, where all the Stollen, cookies, and confections can be found.

You can access it by clicking HERE.

A direct link is also always available on the homepage on the right just below ‘Pages.’

Food news | October

30 October 2018

Possibly the biggest news among the food besotted this month was the release on Netflix of Samin Nosrat’s four-part series Salt Fat Acid Heat, and it has become something of phenomenon in our house as well. We began watching casually one rainy Sunday, initially just a taste, to bridge a moment until the last family members gathered to see a film. Mesmerized, we were still hooked two and a half episodes later, when we finally did pause to watch the aforementioned film. We’ve since seen all the episodes and now, every time I cook, Balthasar checks that I’ve considered and included each of the four cardinal components for the perfect dish.

Equally momentous, the legendary Tokyo Tsukiji fish market has closed in order to relocate to a new modern, sanitised facility. Historic, legendary for its tuna auctions, the market was known as possibly the biggest and certainly the best marketplace for seafoood in the world, and had in recent years become a popular tourist destination. Its relocation is mourned and decried by many. In a happy coincidental twist, Tsukiji features briefly in Nosrat’s second episode Salt, set in Japan.

To afford the larger picture and keep historic change in perspective, the NY Times also recently published an article about the changes currently affecting Rungis, the world’s biggest food market, which in 1969 famously and controversially replaced the ‘Belly of Paris‘  — Le Halles in central Paris.

And as we approach the season of vanillekipferl, this thought-provoking insight into the socio-economic implications of vanilla production.

For those of us often irritated but perpetually fascinated by the definitiveness of stars, awards, and ratings, this month saw the publication of the Observer Food Monthly Awards as well as the new Michelin Guide for Great Britain and Ireland.

Finally, when there is barely enough time to read — let alone watch tv — but endless hours walking, this is the best food podcast I have encountered. I came to it by way of Diana Henry’s conversation with Olia Hercules, and every other episode I’ve since listened to has been remarkable.


Tsukiji market in Tokyo closes for relocation
Changes at Rungis food market in France
The socio-economic impact of vanilla production
Observer Food Monthly Awards 2018
Michelin Guide GB and Ireland 2019

Prince Street podcast

Salt Fat Acid Heat

Notes from the kitchen | Salmon with boiled potatoes and a chard and fava bean stew

3 July 2018

Tonight for dinner I’m looking into my freezer. We are nearing the holidays and it’s time to clean house. I see a dozen chicken sausages and have lentils in mind, but in a crate near the fridge some new potatoes have caught my eye. Immediately my thoughts wander towards the frozen salmon, and I imagine those potatoes boiled until soft and tossed with loads of butter and a handful of torn basil. Suddenly I am raiding the fridge — a bouquet of chard; the fava beans which I received as substitution for a kilo of peas last weekend, accepted, and, predictably, haven’t yet known to use. A quick chard and fava stew.

Prep time 30 min —
Take the salmon out of the freezer.
Peel the potatoes, cut into similar sized pieces, and place in a large bowl of cold water until ready to boil.
Trim off the ends and coarsely chop the chard. Wash and spin dry.
Pod the fava beans, then blanch them in an inch of lightly salted boiling water for about 1 minutes. Drain and immediately cover with cold water. It is now easy to remove the  outer skin. Poke a small incision into the side and squeeze out the bean.


Cooking time 35 minutes —
To cook the potatoes, place them in a pot, submerged with cold salted water (as salty as seawater), and bring to a boil. Let them boil for about 20 to 25 minutes until an inserted knife encounters no resistance at the center. Drain the water, throw a large pat of butter over the potatoes, and immediately close the lid over the pot. Prepare the basil leaves to be added just before serving.

Once the potatoes are cooked and steaming in their pot, start cooking the rest.

In a cast-iron skillet, heat a generous drizzle of olive oil, throw in the chard, season with salt and the squeezed juice of one lemon. Toss the chard a few times as it ‘melts’ (it will reduce drammatically!) so the leaves underneath don’t burn. Once the chard is cooked (this takes just a few minutes!), add the peeled fava beans. They need only be warmed through with the residual heat from the skillet. Remove the chard and favas and place in a bowl, covered to stay warm.

Turn the heat up under the skillet, add another generous drizzle of olive oil, and once the pan is very hot, place the salmon fillets skin side down. You will be able to see the salmon cooking from the bottom up: after 3 to 5 minutes, once the heat has reached through to about one third, flip the fillets over, leave for 30 seconds and turn off the heat. The salmon will continue to cook just enough while the rest of the food is plated. It should be rare in the middle.

A very decent weeknight family meal, which we then ate in front of the tv watching England beat Columbia in an historic penalty shootout.

Notes from the kitchen | Weekend dispatches

17 June 2018

World Cup fever is burning high in the house and our life has plunged deep down the four-matches-a-day group-stage viewing tunnel. Lunches are grabbed haphazardly at half-time, we must just remember to feed the toddler. Pedestrian activities such as sitting around a table for a meal will have to wait until July.

Unprepared, though I should have been. Distracted, by the sudden abundance ushered in by the season. There is a glut of fruit and vegetables languishing in the kitchen.

So let the mind wander between games, drifting casually between the kitchen and the tv, and perchance an idea will materialize. The opportunity to finally make Marcella Hazan’s famous genius tomato sauce for the first time (!) because I have a weird relationship to tomatoes. An outsized deference. I rarely buy them before mid-July, and then usually the heirloom kind, whose only true calling is to be eaten in a salad. But things have changed, thanks to decent early summer tomatoes from the Isle of Wight. And I am overindulging. I have that aforementioned kilo and a half shrivelling in my kitchen. It is the right moment, in my life, and before Croatia / Nigeria.

Most will already know this technique, but for anyone who’d like a reminder:

Marcella Hazan’s genius tomato sauce recipe
1 kilo fresh tomatoes (or canned)
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
5 Tbsps butter

‘Blanch’ tomatoes for one minute in boiling water to help with peeling. Once cool enough to handle, peel and chop the tomatoes.

In a saucepan, toss the chopped tomatoes with the onion halves, the butter, and a generous sprinkling of salt. Cook at a low but steady simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until ‘the fat floats free from the tomato.’ Basta. Genius.


And jam.

Strawberries, the other near victims of a disrupted weekend. But here my gluttonous lack of restraint paid off, because I had gooseberries on hand for my favorite early summer pairing. The recipe is already here.

Disassembled fool

8 June 2018

The best companion for these almond macaroons is rhubarb compote and a spoonful of cream. In winter, apple sauce. But today I have strawberries, and that’s good too.

It is often the case that I don’t plan for dessert. Then, as the day ambles on and friends start to arrive I begin to panic. Clearly ‘live and learn’ doesn’t apply to my chronic lack of dessert preparedness.

Last week’s almond macaroons have solved my problem. With summer berries or a fruit compote, like a sort of unassembled almond Eton mess, in an instant I have a pretty acceptable ‘I completely forgot about dessert’ dessert. No one need know. (Though I always tell.)

Disassembled fool

Almond macaroons — find the recipe here
Depending on the season: rhubarb compote, strawberries, mixed berries, apple sauce …
Good cream or thick yogurt

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