‘Sometimes it snows in April’: braised beans with greens

I didn’t think I’d get a chance to share this post before next winter, what with the sun coming out and all thoughts of food turning to asparagus and barbecues. But, suddenly, it’s really cold again and these beans are just what you need when the spring sunshine has deceived you into thinking that you don’t need a scarf and gloves and you come home with no feeling in your head or fingers…

The recipe comes from one of my favourite books of last year, the River Cottage A to Zone of those rare books that is written for everyone, both the cookbook geeks like me and those who just like to cook now and again. I have learnt more about ingredients, whether the everyday such as bicarbonate of soda or unusual fish such as gurnard, from its recipes than from any other book in the last few years. And this is a really good example of the sort of easygoing dish that it excels at. Continue reading

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Palomar’s cured lemon paste

Palomar is a restaurant in central London that I discovered, along with an awful lot of other people, a couple of years ago. I ate there, for the first and only time, on my birthday after we found that our chosen, unbookable (aka irritating) place already had a queue half an hour before it opened. I refuse to queue for a restaurant so, hoping but unconvinced that we would get in, we headed south to another place high on the list: Palomar. By some happy coincidence, two spaces at the bar were free and we snuck in, sat down and were regaled for the next few hours by exceptionally entertaining waiters and the punchiest, brightest, most unusual combination of flavours this side of the Red Sea. Continue reading

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Weekend baking: Pierre Hermé’s chocolate shortbread

A little bit of Alsace for you here, via Pierre Hermé and the Guardian. A really simple, really chocolately biscuit that takes minutes to prep and minutes to bake (though you do need to chill the dough for a few hours).

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Fast, perfect noodles

January whizzed past at a rate of knots this year and barely anything I cooked registered as worth a blog post. Except these, which are possibly my favourite fast-food discovery for a while. Late-night food in my flat barely lifts above toast but, once again, Fuchsia Dunlop’s great book has given me reason to make a little more effort. Continue reading

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‘Forgotten’ lamb for the slowest weekend of the year

If ever there was a weekend for this recipe, it’s this one. The rush and post-prandial fug of Christmas may be lifting, but there’s still an indolence in the air, a desire not to start anything new, or too energetic just yet. I, for one, cherish this inbetween week, when the world slows and nothing much seems very important. I can barely be bothered to dress let alone cook. Which is why, and when, this ‘forgotten’ lamb is perfect. Continue reading

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The Autumn Collection: River Cottage potatoes dauphinoise with cepes

We had the first frosts this week. Well, the first ones in London. And, though it was wonderful to wake up to such bright, sharp cold, it made me realise how lucky we have been with the weather this autumn. Nothing but crisp, sunny days, barely a trace of rain, and plenty of leaves to crunch. Now, though, it might be time to buy some new gloves and to succumb to real comfort food. Soup and toast are no longer going to cut it.

For me, there is nothing more comforting than some kind of hot potato dish, whether mashed, roasted or baked. My personal favourite is dauphinoise potatoes because they always feel like a treat, yet they are one of the most straightforward shove-in-the-oven dishes about. You can eat them on their own, with some salad or with a roast, make them into a meal by adding some smoked mackerel or, for a vegetarian and very-low-on-shopping version, this one, using dried porcini, is a delight. Continue reading

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The Autumn Collection: Fern Verrow’s ruby chard curry

Fern Verrow, for those who don’t know (and I didn’t) is a biodynamic farm in the Black Mountains, in Herefordshire, run by Jane Scotter and Harry Astley. They farm and grow produce all year round, helped by two people for part of the year, and sell some of it in London, on Saturdays, here. Their book came to my attention via a somewhat circuitous route. First, I saw an Observer round-up of autumn recipes, which included one of its recipes then, a few days later, re-acquainting myself with the main Islington library, I noticed that they had a really well-stocked cookery section. And there was a brand-new copy of this book which, as far as I can tell, no one else had ever borrowed.

I hope, by writing this blog, that I can encourage you either to borrow this from your own local library or buy a copy because it is one of the most useful and beautiful books I have had the pleasure to use and, though not explicitly vegetarian, is exceptionally inspiring if you are. Continue reading

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