A few months ago I bought Diana Henry’s A Change of Appetite on a whim; I saw a tweet from Leite’s Culinaria about this white bean purée piled high with beautiful purple radicchio and red onions and it looked good enough that I went straight onto Amazon and bought the cookbook. I have not been disappointed.
I know there haven’t been many recipe posts in the last few months, but I promise the time hasn’t been misspent! I’ve recently started a supper club in Folkestone which is super exciting for me and has taken up quite a bit of time. But I will definitely try to share recipes more frequently because, at the end of the day, that’s what this blog is all about!
So this salad is just, like, incredible. Believe me, I needed convincing too because melon is at the top of my ‘don’t like’ list. Melon and cucumber are the two foods that I have not grown to like as I’ve reached adulthood. But somehow, in some magical, mysterious way, the honey dew in this recipe works. Maybe it’s the punchy cilantro or the fiery kick of jalapeño drawing the attention away from the paltry, watery sweetness of the melon. Or maybe it’s the tartness of the unripe green tomatoes that just seems to create such a harmonious bowl of food.
Yes, this takes 6 hours. Yes, you will need arm extensions to read the ingredients list. Yes, there are a few steps involved. BUT, I promise this will be the best shoulder of lamb you have ever had. Confit sounds indulgent, and maybe it is a bit, but what it should really say to you is: low, slow, and meltingly tender. No matter what it is you’re confiting, it will be caressed for hours in a luxurious and moisturizing layer of, well, fat. But it will emerge with ignorable fattiness and with an incredible silkiness that can only come from this method of cooking.
There are some recipes that we just naturally leave to the experts. You know, those dishes you order every time you go out for a certain type of cuisine, but you would never attempt to make at home? Hot and sour soup was one of those for me. I just always assumed it was full of exotic ingredients and made with time honored techniques, nothing I could even think about making in my own western kitchen. Boy, was I wrong!
Mackerel gets a bad rap. Mackerel, herring, sardines, they’re all cheap and bit on the fishy side even when fresh, so they’re not at the top of most people’s list. We’re all given the impression from celebrity chefs that mackerel is a less popular, more sustainable fish than, say, cod or sea bass and is therefore a better choice for the dinner table. The differences between mackerel and sea bass are pretty obvious, not least the price, but back in 2013 there was a scare when mackerel all of a sudden sunk into the danger zone. Just after all of us started getting on the band wagon, we were suddenly supposed to cut back on this oily, omega-3 filled fish and all its inherent goodness before we lose it forever. Now it’s confusingly listed as 2-4 on the sustainable scale depending on how and where it’s caught. Good grief.
The literal translation of Minestra Maritata is ‘Wedding Soup’. Gennaro Contaldo says it’s because of the way the meat and the vegetables marry so well together. I say that he can say what he likes, and often does!, but you could call this ‘Spit In My Eye Soup’ and it wouldn’t be any less delicious. This is a good example of cucina povera, which Contaldo and Carluccio were going on and on and on about in the two series of The Greedy Italians – and I can see why! It’s simple and cheap, but also healthy and completely fall-off-your-chair delicious.
Light and fresh, crispy and vibrant, vegetable tempura is the perfect supper for a week night or a special weekend treat accompanied by spring onion pancakes (I use this recipe) or teriyaki tofu. The key to crispy, light tempura batter is ice cold sparkling water and mixing the batter at the very last moment before frying.
There is something summery about squid, even in a stew. It conjures up memories of crispy calamari, sunshine and cold beer. So the mixture of bright but chilly spring days and this subtly summery stew just seems to make sense.
After my trip to California, I came back to England craving vegetables. Usually I would have been so packed full of vegetables after a trip home that I would come back here craving junk, but this was such a whistle-stop tour that there was very little eating at home and when we did it was what was quick and satisfying − cheese, bread and wine. So I came back wanting vegetables of all colors, all at once and right now! These tacos were the perfect antidote to a week of gout-inducing luxury.