lifeâ€Ś love food
lifeâ€Ś love food
hen we were dreaming up the idea of our new magazine we easily thought of what we wanted it to be about but agonised for ages
over a name. But the moment Saffron was suggested, we loved it because it seemed to represent all that we valued in cooking - the flavour and the look of food of course, but also where it comes from, the care that goes into its cultivation and harvesting, the joy of eating it and, not least, what it does to you. The Saffron crocus is a delicate flower that breaks all the rules by blooming in autumn. Once common enough to give its name to the town of Saffron Walden, it fell out of fashion for a long period, but now, excitingly, it is again being grown here. The intense flavour comes from the thread-like stamens that must be painstakingly picked by hand. Its golden colour not only lends a glow to the other ingredients, but underpins their taste with its own hint of spicy earthiness, and as a bonus it adds such useful vitamins as folic acid, riboflavin and niacin. Beautiful, delicious, vibrant and good, our impossible mission is simply to live up to our namesake. And so we aim to make Saffron different, lively and lovely to look at. We hope that it will become an important ingredient in your cooking. On our side, we promise to care for it well, to let it break rules, and to feature on its pages all that makes food unique as a source of pleasure, fulfilment and health. And we would love it, if on your side, you would taste it and tell us what you think of Saffron. Welcome to our first issue
life… love food
magazine IS THE BRAINCHILD OF…
Food photographer, half Swedish, I’ve
Lucky me – I’ve always worked with, and
More than anything, I am an ideas man.
been art director of Good Housekeeping,
loved food, a Leith’s diploma course led
My skills are varied and various. Designer,
Country Living and innumerable cookery
to work on Good Housekeeping, Woman
typographer, photographer, house builder,
books. For 20 years I’ve been a full time
& Home, BBC Good Food (and launch
pig keeper, baker, pizza oven expert, and
food photographer with clients including
editor of Vegetarian Good Food), The M&S
party giver. I share my time between my
major food magazines, celebrity chefs and
Magazine also as editor, and consultant
farm in Kent and Sweden, where I develop
editor on Waitrose publications.
OUR FRIENDS AND CONTRIBUTORS
JOHN DOIG Wine expert Charcutier Journalist Foodie Traveller Pig man
CASEY LAZONIK Nutritionist Photographer
GLORIA NICHOL Journalist Photographer Smallholder Cook
ANDRO LINKLATER Writer Historian Traveller Journalist
©Saffron Magazine Ltd 2013. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be used or reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. Saffron Magazine Ltd (Company number 08284511) is registered in England and Wales. The registered office of Saffron Magazine Ltd is at Hunts Hill Farm, Moons Green, Tenterden, Kent TN30 7PR. All information contained in this magazine is for information only and is, as far as we are aware, correct at the time of going to press. Saffron cannot accept any responsibility for errors or inaccuracies in such information. Readers are advised to contact manufacturers and retailers
ALEX MATSON Cheese expert Journalist Foodie Traveller
SHEILA HUME Poultry expert Smallholder Pig keeper
Annalisa Photographer Traveller Barista Party girl!
directly with regard to the price of products/services referred to in this magazine. If you submit unsolicited material to us, you automatically grant Saffron a licence to publish your submission in whole or in part in all editions of the magazine, including licensed editions worldwide and in any physical or digital format throughout the world. Any material you submit is sent at your risk and, although every care is taken, neither Saffron or its employees, agents or subcontractors shall be liable for loss or damage.
THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS
CAN ROcA: IT’s a family affair
The case for sustainable fishing
Spain’s very special restaurant
SING A SONG OF SOUPS
A new look at an old villain
Alchemy and art
THE SECRETS OF CHARCUTERIE
Farming against the odds
How one man learned the trade
IN PRAISE OF RHUBARB
It yields its sweet secrets
Saffron treats goodies to remind you of us
LIVE LIFE â€“ LOVE FOOD
the battle of hastings Local skipper Jimmy Adams has a worrying story to tell as the Hastings fishing fleet fights for its survival words: andro linklater
Recipes & images: bill mason
o food repays freshness more rewardingly than a herring straight from the cold sea. Cooked while its black eyes still gleam and the silver
skin is stretched smooth, the salt-sweet flesh has a succulence to rival its swankier sea-bass and turbot cousins. But to catch that pleasure at its top, you almost need to see the fishing-boat come in, or at least to know a fishmonger who has watched the herring landed. Nowhere are you more likely to find one or other of those ideal scenarios than at Hastings on the south coast of England. The reason is immediately obvious. On one side lie the fleet of fishing-boats pulled up on the shingle, and on the other, barely a hundred yards away, you can see where their catch is on sale, in a range of seafood shops, including a fisherman’s cooperative and the incomparable Rockanore Fish Shop. For Jimmy Adams, skipper of the 30 foot Four Brothers, it should be the perfect set-up; a market close at hand, and beyond the town a network of fish shops throughout the south-east of England, eager for fresh fish all kinds, from Dover sole to mackerel. “The demand is there, no mistake” he admitted, when I went out on the boat with him last summer, “and the fish are there if you know where to look for them.” But his careworn expression suggested there was more to successful fishing than matching supply to demand. To launch the boat, a rusty yellow bulldozer crunched across the heavy shingle and with surprising delicacy nudged the Four Brothers down the
beach and into the water. Hemmed in by one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes in the English Channel, the fishing grounds of the Hastings fleet run along the south coast. The boats are rarely more than ten miles from shore, but treacherous sandbanks including the notorious Goodwin Sands and the swirling currents that, in high winds, churn the Channel to a boiling green froth, are enough to swamp a vessel of much more than 30 feet. Jimmy, a fisherman all his life, not only knows these waters intimately, he hardly needs the echo-sounder to visualise the shape of the sea-floor and the movements of the fish through its mountains and canyons. Even on a scorching summer’s day, when plaice and sole search out the chilliest depths, he was able to locate fish. But as the boat made a broad circular sweep and his crew paid out the green net behind, Jimmy described the threat to boats of his size greater than any storm. “We’re under 10 metres in length – that puts us and all the inshore boats, in a separate category from the big, offshore boats” he explained. “When it comes to dividing up the UK’s quota of fish, the government allocates more than 95 per cent of the total to the big boats. That leaves us with barely enough fish to survive on. With cod, we’ve been restricted to as little as three pounds a day.” What is happening to Jimmy, and 22 other boats in the Hastings fleet, (not to mention some 400 others like them around the shores of Britain), is a scandal. These small boats represent more than three-quarters of the total UK fishing fleet, and employ almost two-thirds of the country’s fishermen. And as conservation bodies like Greenpeace point out, their type of fishing, close to shore, using small nets, is sustainable, inflicting minimal damage to fish stocks and the environment, unlike the offshore trawlers whose five mile long nets scoop up tons of fish killing underage or unwanted specimens, and whose heavy bottom-scraping beams destroy the coldwater coral reefs that provide a marine habitat for sea creatures of all kinds. The “Manifesto for Fair Fisheries”, issued in 2012 by Greenpeace and the New Under Ten Metre Fishing Association [Nutfa], representing the small boats’ interests, called for the quota to be redistributed “in a way which
rewards sustainable fishing methods and protects coastal communities.” Ideally conservationists would like the small boats to have about 20 per cent of the catch. But that’s not going to happen. A tiny increase of three per cent proposed by the government last year has been challenged by the giant Association of Fish Producer Organisations, dominated by largescale fishing interests, and seems likely to be reduced or eliminated. After that day’s fishing, there were plaice, sole and turbot in the net that Jimmy’s crew winched on board, enough to pay wages and fuel, but not enough to dispel the dark cloud hanging over this way of fishing. Back on shore, Paul Joy, a co-founder of Nutfa, and himself a fisherman, put the matter in a wider context. “Hastings grew up around the fishing, it’s our heritage” he pointed out. “We’ve been fishing like this for centuries and so we know it works longterm. But the way things are, we have one or two boats going out of business every year simply because the economics just don’t work any longer. At this rate, in a few years there’ll be no fishing fleet in Hastings.” An entire way of life is at risk, and the threat to the small boats stretches far beyond the brightly painted vessels drawn up on the shingle. Along the
south coast, a range of boat builders and chandleries, seafood shops and restaurants, the very businesses that give a neighbourhood its character, will suffer. And, although it is hardly the most important consequence, food-lovers will be gradually deprived of one of the finest meals that nature can offer.
For all these reasons, but most of all because we believe that food is always more than what appears on the plate, Saffron has signed up to the policy of the Manifesto for Fair Fisheries and will be campaigning to see that its demands are put into action. It is our core belief that to eat well we should know where our food comes from and what it is doing to us. Every mouthful connects us to the world around us. ď‚– http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/media/reports/manifesto-fair-fisheries
Provenรงal roast cod CONTENTS
ProvenĂ§al roast cod P r ep : 5 m in u tes | C oo k : 4 5 - 5 0 m in u tes | S e r v in g s : 4 - 6 | S k i l l : E a s y
The vibrant mix of the roasted vegetables set against the startling white of the cod make this a sensational dish. 1.5kg cod fillet
sea salt and pepper
2 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
500g ripe tomatoes
1 2 3
Preheat the oven to 200Â°C Gas Mark 6. Remove the skin from the cod fillets and check for stray bones. Skin the shallots and leave whole. Peel the garlic and chop finely. Quarter the courgettes lengthwise and chop into 2 cm chunks.
Place the vegetables in a roasting dish and season. Sprinkle over with
Roast in the oven for 20 minutes.
Roast for a further 20-30 minutes until the fish is opaque and cooked. ď‚–
half the olive oil.
Cut the tomatoes into quarters and add to to the roasting dish. Lay the cod fillets on top, season and sprinkle on the remaining oil.
Cockles with spaghetti CONTENTS
Cockles with spaghetti P r ep : 5 m in u tes | C oo k : 1 0 m in u tes | S e r v in g s : 4 | S k i l l : E a s y
We often forage for cockles on sandy beaches on the south coast. Be careful - some beaches, such as Camber in Kent are controlled by byelaws and permits are required. 400g spaghetti
1 tbsp chopped parsley
50ml white wine
100g olive oil
1 red chilli
2 cloves garlic
sea salt and pepper
Cook the spaghetti according to the instructions on the packet.
Scrub the cockles and discard any that stay open even after you have given them a sharp tap. Put the oil in a heavy saucepan. Crush the garlic and heat gently in the oil to flavour it. Turn up the heat, add most of the parsley and the
cockles and stir. Add the wine and close with a well-fitting lid.
The cockles will open in about 5 minutes. Discard any that have not opened. Add the spaghetti and combine. Thinly slice the chilli and
sprinkle over the top with the parsley and salt and pepper.
Dover sole P r ep : 5 m in u tes | C oo k : a b o u t 1 7 m in u tes | S e r v in g s : 2 | S k i l l : E a s y
Ask your fishmonger to skin the Dover sole on both sides. 1 Dover sole (approx 500 - 600g)
1 tbsp chopped parsley
sea salt and pepper
juice of ½ lemon
Coat the fish in flour and shake off the excess. Heat the grill. Butter a roasting dish and lay the fish in it. Add salt and pepper and put some butter on the fish.
Put under the grill for 7 minutes then turn to oven mode at 200°C.
In a saucepan, heat the butter to foaming point and when it starts to
Place the roasting dish lower in the oven for another 10 minutes.
brown, take it off the heat. Add the parsley to the pan with the lemon
juice and pour over the fish.
LIVE LIFE â€“ LOVE FOOD
FABULOUS Fat Fat has come to mean bad in dietary terms in the last 50 years, and lard positively repels. Lard and dripping used to be valued and savoured, discover why they should be again words: Casey Lazonick
images: MARIE-LOUISE AVERY
ow-fat diets first became popular more than fifty years ago. In that time, rates of obesity have grown until the UK now faces an epidemic.
According to the Department of Health, 30,000 people die annually from obesity-related illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure. In the UK, 61 percent of the adult population, and 31 percent of children, are now classified as either overweight or obese. Many researchers would say that the cause of the increase in obesity is simply that people ingest more calories than they burn. But this argument implies that people are either taking in a lot more calories than they used to, or burning a lot less, or both. Which one is it? The answer is not simple, because the question ignores some fundamental facts about the nature of the food that we eat. To start with, is a calorie really just a calorie? For example, does a calorie of protein generate the same amount of energy, when metabolised in a living organism, as a calorie of fat or carbohydrate? The theory that every calorie is the same has nurtured the mind-set that it is not what we eat that is important, but how many calories we consume. However, our bodies are complex organisms, and the different foods that we put into them affect us in different ways. Researchers such as Gary Taubes, a science journalist, and Dr. David Ludwig of Boston Childrenâ€™s Hospital argue that there are good calories and bad calories. High carbohydrate foods such as white bread, white rice, pastries, sugared sodas and other highly processed foods will quickly turn to fat unless burned up. These foods will not satisfy the body since they do not contain the components of what the body needs. In contrast, carbohydrates such as whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables and foods that are rich in healthy fats will provide necessary nutrients and burn slowly in the body so that one feels fuller for longer. As a result, people eating these will snack less in between meals. The plethora of information on offer makes it difficult for most people to be clear about which fats are healthy. Their confusion is understandable. For example, the conventional wisdom is that processed vegetable oils and low-fat products will keep us slim and heart-healthy. This is simply not
true - what matters is the kind of fats that are eaten. You only have to look at the two-thirds of the people in the UK who are overweight or obese to understand something has gone wrong. Try posing these simple questions to the average person: which is better for you, low-fat cookies or full-fat cookies? Vegetable oil, soybean oil or lard? Most likely the answer will be the low-fat cookies and vegetable oil. This is where the problem lies. How did this happen? How did we get brainwashed into thinking that eating fat meant that we would become fat? And that eating processed vegetable oil is better for us than eating animal fats?
The story begins in the United States. In 1971 President Richard Nixon was looking ahead to re-election. The unpopularity of the Vietnam War was affecting his electoral support. Even worse, inflation was increasing the cost of food. Obsessed with getting re-elected, Nixon was open to schemes that could produce cheaper foods. He found a supporter in Earl Butz, an agriculture economist who, in 1971, was named Secretary of Agriculture. Butz pushed farmers into a new, industrial scale of production, mainly focusing on growing corn. Cattle in the U.S. began to be fattened by the increased corn production whilst the burgers they produced (and the chips they came with) were fried in highly processed corn and vegetable oils. From this corn extravaganza came a newfound product made in Japan called Glucose-Fructose Syrup (a.k.a. high fructose corn syrup), a thick gloopy substance that is intensely sweet and much cheaper than sugar. It provided products with a longer shelf life and gave baked goods a freshly baked sheen. Almost overnight a majority of food manufacturers started utilising corn as a main ingredient, making food prices cheaper and industrial-scale farmers wealthier. This shift occurred before obesity was even on the radar screen of health concerns. Rather the main health focus at the time was heart disease. A lot of research was done on how to decrease heart disease, with differing opinions. Perhaps the most influential findings came from a national campaign in the 1950s to change lifestyle and dietary habits in Finland, a country that had suffered a high rate of heart disease. Finnish mortality statistics during the 1960s and 1970s appeared to show that eliminating dairy fats dramatically reduced the incidence of heart problems in the general population. With Secretary of Agriculture, Butz, promoting a food-chain based on corn, the US government pushed the notion that, for the sake of healthy hearts, it was fat that had to be eliminated from diets, with an emphasis on animal fats. But as most food lovers know fat provides food with an immense amount of flavour. Remove fat and most food becomes quite bland. Now, however, food could be injected with Glucose-Fructose Syrup to add texture and flavour to low fat foods. And what a hit it was. Not only did
the use of this syrup reduce the cost of food. People also came to believe that these foods were heart healthy and would keep them slim. Sales of low-fat food rocketed. And that is how we got seduced into adopting lowfat diets. Yet these diets have led us to gain more and more weight whilst having very little positive impact on reducing heart disease. As quickly as the low-fat and vegetable-fat craze swept through America, it entered the UK. In 2005, OECD statistics revealed that almost one in three Americans were obese, double the level since the 1980s, but the really horrifying change had occurred in the UK. Here obesity rates had risen fourfold in less than a generation, and almost one in four women, and and one in five men were obese. The low-fat trend has created a diet that is high in unhealthy carbohydrates, processed foods and sugar. These are foods that donâ€™t provide satiety; they make us hungrier and we eat more. Believing that low-fat is better makes us susceptible to the ideology that a calorie is a calorie. All of a sudden we have a nation of people who have forgotten what real food is. We get caught up in a sea of preservatives and chemicals, whilst bad-mouthing natural fats. Here are some basics of what we need to know about fats. There are three different types of fats : saturated, unsaturated and trans fats. Unsaturated fats can be either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. And then there are the much lauded Omega-6 and Omega-3 fats. These are essential fatty acids that must be consumed, as the body does not produce them naturally. Omega-6 fats mainly come from grain-fed animals while Omega-3 comes from grass-fed animals, and from fish. Too much Omega-6 is not healthy, while Omega-3 provides an abundance of benefits. Although you may have heard that saturated and unsaturated fats are distinct from each other, the truth is that no fat is solely saturated or unsaturated, but instead a mixture of both. When any fat is heated it turns rancid, meaning the fat releases unhealthy free radicals in the body that lead to health problems and ageing. Saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids found in pork, beef and lamb
fats are less vulnerable to heat and turn rancid at a much slower pace than polyunsaturated fats from vegetable sources. Cold-pressed vegetable oils such as olive oil and sesame oil preserve their nutrients since they are not heated or processed. For dressings or dips, cold-pressed vegetable oils are healthy. If you are looking to cook with vegetable oils, the key is to keep it at a low heat. A good one to use is Avocado oil as it has the highest heating point of all vegetable oils, if you are looking for a cheaper option coconut oil can be safe cooked at a low heat. It is often assumed that all trans fats are unhealthy, when in reality it is the man-made trans fats that are unhealthy. There is a trans-fat called
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) which is found in butter or ruminants (animals that digest plant-based foods in two specific stages). CLA prevents cancer, weight gain and heart disease. Many countries have banned trans fats from the diet, forgetting about the CLAâ€™s. Another misconception is the hype about lowering cholesterol. Actually certain kinds of cholesterol, including the type that is found in animal fats (HDL), are good for us. Cholesterol is used in the brain, reparation of the body and vital organs. Low levels of cholesterol have been linked to infections, depression and certain diseases. But instead of animal fats and cold pressed vegetable oils, most of the manufactured foods we buy are made with processed vegetable oils. Fat provides satiety and simplifies cooking. Every cell in our body, including those in our brain, hormones, liver and immune system, is reliant on fat. Diets that are low in fat are linked to depression, weight gain, and illness. Animals are fed grains in order to make them fat, yet for some reason we think that a similar diet will make us slim. Although the low-fat craze has skyrocketed over the past 50 years, we are eating more fats now then ever before, and they are the wrong fats. We are consuming processed oils when we should be consuming animal fats and cold-pressed non-processed vegetable oils. And today it is becoming more obvious that what really had an impact on Finlandâ€™s rate of heart disease was the successful campaign to create a healthier lifestyle for the entire nation by encouraging people to take more exercise, give up smoking and cut back on binge drinking. You may do this already, but next time you go shopping try comparing a low-fat yogurt to the full-fat version. Check the calories, carbohydrate and the sugar levels. Youâ€™ll quickly notice that the low-fat option has almost double the amount of carbohydrates and sugar, but the same amount of calories. So all you are getting from the low-fat version is more sugar and unhealthy carbohydrates, but not saving any calories. And since there is a lack of fat, the low-fat yogurt will leave you feeling less well-fed and satisfied than the full-fat version would. All the different diet information can get very confusing at times, but the basic points to remember are always to eat in moderation, listen to your
body, avoid processed and chemically induced foods, eat locally butchered meats, dairy and eggs, and loads of vegetables and fruits. Also enjoy cold pressed vegetable oils, and most of all if you are not a vegetarian, cook with unprocessed animal fats. As the ancient Chinese proverb states “There is no feast that does not come to an end”. Hopefully that will be the case for processed vegetable oils, processed and chemically enhanced foods, and ultimately obesity.
Fats are built up of fatty acid chains. Each type of fat has a different chain length. The shorter the chain, the quicker it is to metabolize in the body.
Omega-6 and Omega-3 fats are essential. The body does not make them, so we need to eat them in our food. Although, watch out, too much Omega-6 is not healthy. But feel free to eat as much Omega-3 as you want!
Omega-3 fats are found in fatty fish such as salmon, grass fed animals, flax seeds and certain unprocessed oils.
No fat is only saturated or unsaturated, but instead is both. Whichever is of the highest percentage determines what we call it.
Although man made trans fats are extremely dangerous, natural trans fat can be healthy. For example Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is a animal based trans fat that prevents cancer, weight gain and heart disease.
Fat keeps you fuller for longer, leaving you satisfied and causing you to eat less.
Fat can easily go rancid, meaning they release free radicals that are very unhealthy. Especially vegetable fat. Make sure that if you are eating vegetable fat that it is unprocessed and cold pressed such as olive oil.
Animal fats that are unprocessed provide great health benefits and have higher heating levels. This means they go rancid at a very slow rate making them safe for cooking.
LIVE LIFE â€“ LOVE FOOD
LAMBING TIME In the Weald of Kent Jocelyn Gregory has spent her life farming sheep with all the tragedies and joys it brings. words: SHEILA HUME
images: bill mason
RECIPES: BILL MASON & MARIE-LOUISE AVERY
o misquote Lord Denning, “It’s lambing time in Kent”, and Jocelyn Gregory, sheep farmer, opera buff and fount of rural knowledge, is
getting ready. Her sheep, some still bearing the blue dye on their backs from the ram’s saddle after he tupped them will shortly be coming nearer to home. Gestation is five months so lambing starts here around Easter, by which time many other farmers around the country have finished. This early and late lambing means a good steady supply to the market. Jocelyn is small, wiry and with a girlish gait. You may see her, with her large work-worn hands on the wheel, driving along on her old tractor with her sheepdog, Bess, riding pillion. Farming 100 acres of grassland, coppice and shaw in bucolic Benenden, she has 250 breeding ewes which last spring produced 320 lambs. Her flock are pure-bred Kents with their beautiful aristocratic noses and strong wool but she crosses the majority of them with a Charolais ram, producing delicious meat, succulent and full of flavour. She abandoned the Texel cross, prized for its wool, as she found the ewes more difficult to lamb. When the lambs reach about four months, they go to Ashford market either to be sold as stores, or as fatstock. Store lambs are growing lambs not yet
ready for slaughter, which are bought by farmers with plenty of grass, to grow on and finish; fatstock are those lambs which are ready for the butcher. Whichever route the lambs and sheep take, they never have to travel for more than about 40 minutes from where they have been reared. Jocelyn knew from the off that she wanted to be a farmer, and left school at 15 to follow this life. She learnt sheep husbandry on Romney Marsh before going to a mixed arable/livestock farm in Oxfordshire. Despite her determination to farm sheep, she wanted to learn about all aspects of farming - as she put it, “ it all marries in”. It was unusual then for a woman to be a farmer; the few women who did go into the business tended towards dairying, enjoying the nursing of young calves (hence the term dairymaid). Returning to Kent, she worked with sheep in Hawkhurst before finally buying Lodge Farm and building her own house with the help of a farmer friend. Jocelyn is eternally pragmatic but the sheep are truly under her protectorate and for all that she accepts illness and death, a dog-worrying incident will affect her for weeks. She has some memorable sayings. “When you have
livestock, you have deadstock” and when one of her orphan lambs that our children helped care for was found dead she said, “That’s sock lambs for you, they’re always thinking of a way to die”. Just as she was shown the way by the Marsh farmer, so she herself has taught numerous local children, one now a farmer himself and another a vet. Farming is dependent both on nature and government ‘nurture’, and has become more complicated and bureaucratic since Jocelyn’s early Oxfordshire days. The market price for wool and meat has risen and fallen with events. To put this in context, lamb prices to the farmer last year were at a high of £4.40 per kg. This year the price has dropped to £3.20 on average. Plentiful and cheaper imports providing a glut are part of the reason for this. But this is not the time to think about lamb prices – there are all those pregnant ewes to drench, vaccinate and ‘clat’ (removing excess wool from beneath their tails). As Jocelyn would say, shepherding is more than the balance sheet.
Honeyed shoulder of lamb CONTENTS
Honeyed shoulder of lamb P r ep : 3 m in u tes | C oo k T i m e : 2 5 − 3 0 m in u tes | S e r v in g s : 6 | S k i l l : E a s y
Often decried as a fatty joint, new season shoulder of spring lamb is the sweetest, most succulent meat of the year. Slow roasting leaves the meat falling off the bone – tear it apart and serve with pitta breads and cacik. 1 whole shoulder of lamb, about
sprig of rosemary
3 tbsp honey
freshly ground black pepper
juice of ½ lemon
1 cm fresh ginger
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 garlic cloves
Preheat the oven to 200°C, Gas Mark 6. Place the lamb on a rack in a roasting tin and sprinkle liberally with black pepper. Roast for
15 minutes before turning the oven down to 170°C, Gas Mark 3 and continue cooking for 30 minutes.
Very finely chop the ginger, garlic and rosemary leaves. Warm the honey and mix with the lemon juice, soy sauce and the chopped
ingredients. Baste the lamb with a little of this glaze every 20 minutes, turning each time, for 2½ hours.
Roast lambs’ kidneys
Roast lambs’ kidneys P r ep : 3 m in u tes | C oo k : 2 5 − 3 0 m in u tes | S e r v in g s : 2 | S k i l l : E a s y
I recently bought a lamb for the freezer from a neighbour who keeps just a few sheep a couple of fields away from us here in Kent. The kidneys were supplied in their suet and, as I had never cooked them complete before, I did a little research on what to do. I read lots and from everything I discovered, I came up with this very simple way of roasting them in a hot oven. As the heat began to work on the kidneys, the kitchen was filled with the most delectable fragrance, sweet and savoury in one - I can’t recommend them highly enough. Save the left over fat afterwards - it works particularly well to start the cooking of a lean meat such as venison, and gives a whole extra layer of flavour to a casserole. 4 whole lamb’s kidneys in their suet a good grinding of black pepper
a sprinkling of thyme leaves - fresh or dried
crushed Maldon sea salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 200°C Gas Mark 6. Put the kidneys into an oven-proof dish, allowing a bit of space around them. Sprinkle over the salt, pepper and thyme and put the
dish in the oven and roast for about 25 - 30 minutes. It takes this long for the fat to transform into a fragrant, golden protective coat around the kidney which inside remains tender and juicy, and so, full of flavour.
Mashed potatoes and steamed cabbage are the simple sort of accompaniments that work well with the fat - which is delicious -
LIVE LIFE â€“ LOVE FOOD
IN PRAISE OF Rhubarb Preserving queen, Gloria Nicol, is a lover of rhubarb. She grows it, lots of it, and conjures it into delicious preserves and drinks. She shares her secrets here. Words and Images: Gloria Nicol
t’s a vegetable, but we like to think of it as a fruit. The bright pink stems of forced rhubarb, with their contrasting neon-lime leaves, are Britain’s
earliest crop of the year. And I defy anyone, bar the most ardent colour blind rhubarb loather, to not feel instantly uplifted at the first glimpse on a greengrocer’s display. It’s as though it’s been sent to remind us, ‘don’t lose heart, spring is just around the corner’. Whilst most crops when deprived of light become a feebler version of themselves, rhubarb just gets even sweeter, more dazzling and altogether more refined. Though currently experiencing a renaissance, rhubarb’s popularity has seen peaks and troughs. In the early 1800s the discovery that blanching the stems made for a sweeter crop was instrumental in rhubarb making the leap from medicinal to culinary use. With sugar such a rare commodity, growing a sweeter version requiring less sweetening really helped its popularity, and during Yorkshire’s forced rhubarb boom years, from 1900 and 1939, the crop was cultivated by around 200 growers over an area of about 30 square miles. But with sugar rationing, generations forcefed the stewed improperly sweetened stuff reached the point of shouting ‘no more’. As is the way when popularity takes a nosedive, producers had to retrench. Since the slump in sales that followed the Second World War, rhubarb is now grown in a much-reduced manner within a 9-squaremile triangle, with the towns of Wakefield, Morely and Rothwell at each point. Less than 20 growers survived to see the current upturn in favour, as almost every chef in the land includes rhubarb in some form or another on their menu. Now protected under an EU directive, only rhubarb grown in Yorkshire can call itself Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb. Dutch rhubarb is often for sale as an alternative, and I have spied it from as far afield as New Zealand on supermarket shelves. But that is just rhubarb (note the lower case ‘r’)! Once the forced rhubarb season is over in May, it makes way for summer field rhubarb. People do get sniffy about preferring the forced kind over common-or-garden field grown rhubarb, but as I was brought up on the latter kind, I hold a particular affection for it. The sourness of field grown rhubarb is the clincher, you are either for it or against. Traditionally, the addition of a few leaves of the herb angelica was used to dumb down the sharpness.
I like to use rhubarb for my preserving, though now I have varieties planted in my preserving garden to give an almost year-round fresh supply, this form of storing is less of an imperative. I do keep a stock of rhubarb cordials and compotes handy though, so itâ€™s just a matter of popping open a jar when needed. If I have a lot of rhubarb I use a steam juicer to extract the juice. A steam juicer is a tall stacked and lidded pan in sections. Water goes in the base, the chopped rhubarb in the top and after around 45 minutes of cooking the middle section fills up with juice that can be tapped straight into sterilised bottles and sealed. Mixed with quince or orange juice and sweetened with sugar, it makes an exquisite cordial you are unlikely to find
to on sale anywhere. The juice can also be used to make a beautiful pink jelly that works as a savoury accompaniment or can be a dessert with the addition of rose water. Perfect companion flavours for rhubarb are orange for marmalade, lemon for jam and my favourite, ginger for ketchup. Served with oily fish such as mackerel is also a classic pairing. Cultivation Rhubarb is a greedy feeder, which repays in bucket-loads when well mulched with manure. Planted in the right spot rhubarb easily flourishes and the only times I have seen plants struggle is when planted in the vicinity of tree roots, albeit some way from a tree. They make big plants so give them plenty of space, allowing at least 1 metre square or more. A sunny sight in a fairly heavy soil is ideal but any site likely to become water logging should be avoided, as plant crowns are prone to rot. It takes a few years for a newly planted crown to come into its own, but once established it can stand for 5-10 years, so it is worth preparing the site well prior to planting with plenty of organic manure added at the time, as well as for mulching each subsequent winter. I must admit, I am partial to the sight of rhubarb gone to seed with its statuesque triffid-like flower stems, but whilst I enjoy the visual treat it isn’t helping the plant to thrive. Removing flowers as soon as they occur is the best way to stop the plants energy from becoming depleted. By placing an upturned dustbin (or choose a traditional terracotta rhubarb forcing pot if your kitchen garden style demands it) over a rhubarb crown mid-winter time, you can grow your own ‘blanched’ rhubarb, but do remember to give crowns a year or twos rest between forcing, so they have time to recover. I grow Timperley Early, because it is the earliest variety to appear in late winter; Livingstone, which has a long season, having had winter dormancy bred out of it; and Glaskin’s Perpetual, a good all-round variety, that’s easy to grow and has the best name!
Rhubarb & carrot jam
Rhubarb & carrot jam M a k es a pp r o x 1 . 5 K g
Rhubarb combined with carrots makes a really delicious and colourful jam from the humblest of ingredients. It works well as a filling for a tart with the addition of 1-2 beaten eggs, then baked in the oven and would work as the fruit base for an ice cream too. 500g carrots, peeled, topped and tailed
800g sugar (use jam sugar with added pectin for a stronger set)
1 unwaxed lemon
60g stem ginger (approx 4 pieces)
500g rhubarb, washed and trimmed
150g candied peel (optional)
Finely grate the carrots and place in a pan with 500ml of water. Finely grate the zest from the lemon, squeeze out the juice and place to one
side. Chop the lemon halves, pith and all, into chunks and place them and any pips in a muslin bag tied closed with string or a knot and add them to the carrots. Bring to a simmer and cook with the lid on for 20 minutes, then remove from the heat.
Chop the rhubarb into 1cm sized cube pieces. If the sticks are thick I slice them lengthways once or sometimes twice before chopping into
equally sized small chunks. Place the rhubarb in a bowl, add the lemon zest and juice and pour the sugar over it. Cover and leave for an hour or two until the juice starts to run from the rhubarb.
Tip the contents of the rhubarb bowl into a preserving pan and add the cooked carrots, cooking liquid and muslin bundle. Add the finely
chopped stem ginger and candied peel cut into thin slivers. Heat slowly, stirring all the time until the sugar is completely dissolved, then turn up the heat bring to a rolling boil and cook until setting point is reached (this takes me around 25 minutes). (Test for a set on a cold plate or use a jam thermometer.) Discard the muslin bag. Pour into hot sterilised jars and seal. Leave your jars until cold and donâ€™t forget to label and date them.
Rhubarb & angelica cordial CONTENTS
Rhubarb & angelica cordial M a k es a pp r o x 1 . 7 l it r es
It is highly unlikely you will come across angelica for sale to use here but it is a beautiful lofty plant to grow in the garden so long as you have enough space. You can of course omit the angelica and make a simple rhubarb cordial instead. 100g angelica fresh leaves
450g caster sugar
Wash and drain the angelica and shake dry, then chop roughly and place in a dish in layers with half of the sugar sprinkled in between
and over top to cover. Leave for 24 hours until the sugar has turned to syrup. Put into a pan and heat gently, stirring to be sure all the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil then remove from the heat, pour back in the dish and leave overnight. Return to the pan, bring to a simmer and cook gently until the leaves begin to look transparent, which should only take 5 minutes or so. Pour through a sieve to leave a clear syrup. This method should extract as much of the angelica flavour as possible. Cut the macerating time down as required if you are in a hurry.
Wash and drain the rhubarb, removing leaves and trimming the ends. Cut thicker stalks in half down the middle then chop into 1cm sized
pieces. Place in a pan with the water, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 10 - 15 minutes until cooked through. Pour into a suspended jelly bag and leave overnight to drip through, catching the juice in a jug.
Place the rhubarb juice, angelica syrup and remaining sugar in a pan and heat gently, stirring all the time until the sugar is dissolved.
Bring to the boil then remove from the heat, pour into your hot sterilised bottles. Store in the fridge. I preserve my cordials by hot water processing them so they will keep for a year or more on the pantry shelf.
LIVE LIFE – LOVE FOOD
CAN ROCA: IT’s a family affair In north-east Spain, three Roca brothers really understand how to make truly great food that sits at the heart of family life. Mary Gwynn pays homage to their skill and vision. words: MARY GWYNN images: MARY GWYNN & Roisin Howard
Girona – Friday 7th December 2012 apologise here and now for gushing just a little bit. It seems only appropriate that nearly half a century of wonderful eating have brought me here to El Celler de Can Roca (cellercanroca) in Girona, reportedly the second best restaurant in the world, on a sunny Friday in December. Pilgrimage sounds too reverential for something surprisingly homely and comfortable but for such an experience, worship seems the only option.
Travels dish by dish Over the years, landmark meals have all added pieces to my culinary jigsaw. Foie gras with a perfect Sauternes jelly at Simply Nico; inspirational meals at Dartmouth’s Carved Angel over years of family visits; a lunch in Fulham when Gordon Ramsay was just the name of the talented chef at Aubergine; every meal eaten at The River Cafe; yet another birthday occasion at Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons. The most memorable have left me wanting to stop time to savour them, to set them in the mind to revisit again and again. All have in common that perfect combination of people and location with outstanding wine and food. Then there is Spain; since my first visit over thirty years ago, always the touchstone for my own cooking. So many meals eaten there are lodged in my memory bank – chiperones and chilled tumblers of manzanilla
in Sanlucar, an astonishing pork sandwich in Extremadura, tapas in San Sebastián; a memorable wedding with food on epic proportions over an entire winter weekend in Pamplona; linguada, croquetas and chuletas in Majorca. And somehow it seems all my Spanish roads led to that calm room in Girona – and so fitting to be taken there by my daughters – food and family as ever creating perfect harmony.
Family values Five years ago I ran a cookery week at home for eldest daughter Lucy and three friends. Off to university, none had cooked at all, and all feared they never would, or could. Preparing and cooking food seemed a complex and inaccessible challenge. It was a week that changed everything for them as they discovered that everyday cooking is easy – and most of all, enjoyable. And though I was not aware at the time, it made Roisin determined to work with food. Conveniently for me, her culinary ambitions had taken her to Spain for almost a year. And December found her working with a Girona-based company organising speciality food tours. Her boss helped book us our table at Roca, and, serendipitously, the date was for lunch on my birthday. And thanks to Roisin’s wonderfully meticulous planning, we had a wonderful 48-hour masterclass in Catalonian food and wine, all enjoyed to the full with a perfect sense of place. Tastes of Catalonia The local food the night before had set the scene – grilled meats, snails, butifarra and salt cod eaten in a small highly regarded family restaurant in Mas Pau. On the morning of the 7th, the beach at Calella de Palafrugell was a satisfying mixture of Eastbourne and Salcombe but with light and colour from Picasso etchings – trees in different greens, cold blue seas with sparkling highlights, whites, greys, blues. Of course now I realise why Catalonia is god’s country – it has mountains and sea in harmony. We slept with the backdrop of the snow-covered Pyrenees and walked by a fresh blue sea before lunch. And the December landscape of clear light on tree trunks and pale blue skies – trees, sunlight and wood running through our visit, viewed from the car by the motorway, seen from our hotel room, pine by the beach – was ideally represented in the restaurant itself. Our meal at Can Roca reflected that wonderful juxtaposition of terrains all in one region, as the four of us debated mountains versus beaches over lunch.
A doorway into a magical worldâ€Ś Our taxi drops the four of us off in an unassuming residential area on the outskirts of Girona at a simple entrance of lapped wood wall, with no hint of what is hidden behind. We walk through an attractive wood-panelled terrace, the first of a series of rooms, set with tables and chairs. A glass wall runs down one side. Through a wooden door to a smiling welcome, and then immediately on into a kitchen like a home â€“ a slate wall of chalked notes on influences and ideas to our left, on the right eldest Roca, Joan, glasses on the bridge of his nose, benign and watchful, looking over his kingdom as he sits at his
long desk surrounded by reference books and notebooks. He comes over to shake hands and nod and smile a welcome to these four English pilgrims. We walk on into a series of rooms opening onto each other – wood-fired oven, stainless steel surfaces workmanlike but not dominating, a brigade of attractive well-dressed chefs in a calm space. No obvious egos and all smiling and happy to welcome us there. The impression is of Willy Wonka style magic but it’s all somehow familiar and welcoming.
Food fit for goddesses Then it’s back out and into the dining room, built around a triangle of birch trees enclosed in glass – bleached bark trunks with crisp ochre leaves covering the ground, and the winter sun raking in across the restaurant. Low ceilings, clear space around the tables, zen, calm, welcome – the atmosphere of every day eating but this is not every day. Clear glass, pale wood, dark suited staff – the colours are muted and natural throughout, the fireworks all come from the food. Other customers are a mix of families with babies having lunch, couples, a group celebrating a family event – all content to be there in what appears to be essentially the local restaurant. The only other time I’ve had a meal when, at the end, I felt I didn’t want to eat anything else ever again to spoil the memory, was the first time I went to the Manoir. On that occasion, I could have left after the canapés, bread, butter and wine and been totally satisfied. Here it’s the two earliest arrivals at the table – the first a globe of the world summed up in five canapés, with a quiz as to each origin adding to the sense of fun – that engender the same sense of complete satisfaction. Lapland, Peru, Morocco, Japan and Mexico – each mouthful is an explosive wonder, sparking memory. We start with Lapland – a frozen burst of horseradish and dill with perfectly acidic yogurt, then Morocco all almond and rose with my favourite Ras al hanout seasoning encased in light brique pastry. Peru is lime and fish – ceviche in a mouthful. Each one is entirely pleasing. (And we all guess the locations correctly!)
Picking the perfect olive Then a miniature olive tree roots us back here in Spain. The crispy candycoated olives we all stretch to pick are a perfect blend of sweet/sour/salt
and bitter – and an education in taste and texture. They finally make sense of my previous ambivalence about olives. So this is what they should taste like! The smiling waiter hands round a splendid bread basket – extraordinary red wine bread with a distinctive deep colour, apricot and walnut but best of all a black olive Chelsea bun style twist – flaky yet crisp texture suggests use of lard and recalls my favourite breakfast ensaimada in Mallorca. As the meal progresses more wonders continue to arrive without ceremony – each dish doing its own talking. As daughter Lucy comments with what feels like only a little hyperbole ‘If everyone ate this food there would be no war’ – and we all know just what she was trying to say. The food uses every tool on offer to the modern chef to create balance and pleasure; cold and hot, soft and resisting, smooth and crunchy, small but intense - but always real food rather than laboratory creations. It’s subtle, restrained but concentrated, which means you feel satisfied but not overwhelmed. And all served with that Spanish flair and lack of ceremony. So we feel cared for but not condescended to. The highlight is the signature sole dish served oh so simply with five sauces – fennel, bergamot, orange, pine nut and olive - that sum up the essence of Spain. It manages in one plate to say all there is to say about the country and ingredients. The wonderful wines that accompany each course deserve a feature all to themselves but for now what stands out are the stunning white Bourgougne, the Priorat, and the luminous desert wine, a spatlese. After a series of remarkable dishes the sweetie shop petit-four trolley is rolled up to our table, providing the only bright colours in the room. The waitress nods and smiles to us like a summer ice cream seller on the beach. Back into the kitchen to meet Jordi, like a smiling but self-effacing elf, we try to say thank you but language means we are restricted to smiles and nods. But we all understand why we are there together. The Rocas understand that essential truth – families that eat together stay together. Family and food – it’s all there is in life. We leave walking out into late sun not drunk or overfed but smiling and replete - serenity and satisfaction with a real sense of wonder. Thank you girls and Roisin. And Can Roca…..
LIVE LIFE – LOVE FOOD
sing a song of soup Broth, consommé, pottage, bouillon, hodgepodge, chowder - they are all soups, all ways of combining a few ingredients with liquid into a comforting digestible distillation of tastes. Each of these four recipes will suit a different occasion, but all deserve to be tasted.
RECIPES AND IMAGES: MARIE-LOUISE AVERY
Swedish pea soup with ham P r ep : 1 5 m in u tes | C oo k : a b o u t 2 h o u r s | S e r v in g s : 4 | S k i l l : E a s y
One of Sweden’s most ancient dishes, eaten since Viking times, ärtsoppa (pea soup) is made using dried yellow peas that flourish in the short Swedish growing season. A dish that could be made by all, even those who had only a single cooking pot to hang over the fire, it became particularly popular when Sweden adopted Catholicism, as a sustaining meal for Thursdays before the Friday fast (especially with the pork added). Even after Sweden’s conversion to Lutheranism in 1530, the Thursday tradition of ärtsoppa continued, and as time went on, the eating of pea soup became a ritual with very specific additions. As the Swedish East India Company rose to prominence in the 18th century, one of the ingredients they imported was arrack from Java and Indonesia. The sweet aromatic arrack-based Swedish liqueur, Punsch, was recognised as the perfect foil to the earthy pea soup, and a little cup, or
Swedish pea soup with ham CONTENTS
even several, of warmed Punsch became the classic accompaniment. The next development was the dessert and thin Swedish pancakes were added to the ceremony – served with preserves or fresh berries. Now on Thursdays all over Sweden, you still find this meal served, in hospitals, schools, restaurants and prisons - but perhaps not including the Punsch in all of those places! 500 gm whole dried yellow peas
250g piece of lean salt pork
(you can use split peas if you can’t
¼ tsp dried marjoram
find whole peas)
½ tsp dried thyme
2 onions, chopped finely
salt (if needed)
1 whole onion, peeled and stuck
to serve: Swedish smooth or grainy
with 2 whole cloves
mustard - preferably Slotts
Soak the peas in water overnight, or for at least 12 hours. Drain the peas, put them in a big saucepan with the chopped onions, the onion stuck with cloves and 1½ litres cold water. Bring to a boil,
then reduce heat to medium, add the piece of salt pork, cover, and let simmer for about 90 minutes. Skim off any pea skins that surface.
Rub the marjoram and thyme between your hands into the pan, stir, and leave to simmer for another 15 minutes. It shouldn’t be too thick
so add more water if necessary to keep the soup liquid. Season to taste cautiously as the salt pork may have seasoned the broth enough.
Remove the meat, let cool, then cut into smallish pieces. Remove the
Divide the pork among the soup bowls, then ladle the soup over it.
clove-stuck onion and discard.
Ideally choose bowls with rims, as it is traditional to serve ärtsoppa
with some Swedish mustard, which you can dip the tip of your spoon into with each mouthful of soup.
You can buy these special Swedish ingredients from the Scandinavian Kitchen at http://www.scandikitchen.co.uk
Chicken and spinach soup CONTENTS
Chicken and spinach soup P r ep : 1 5 m ins | C oo k : 3 0 m ins | S e r v in g s : 6 | S k i l l : E a s y
A sustaining and nourishing soup that makes a whole meal. The chicken is simmered in the liquid thus losing no goodness - but it is important to use carefully sourced free-range chicken for the best flavour and goodness. 3 free-range chicken thighs a little goose fat or lard
2.5l chicken stock - or use Marigold organic stock powder
2 carrots, diced
3 tbsp long-grain brown rice
3 sticks celery, finely sliced
3 tbsp brown lentils
1 large onion, finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp cumin seeds, crushed, Â˝ tsp dried thyme
to taste 225g fresh spinach, roughly chopped
Â˝ tsp smoked paprika about 100g chorizo sausage
In a large heavy pan, lightly brown the whole chicken thighs in the fat.
Add carrots, celery, and onion, with cumin, thyme, and smoked paprika. Continue to cook for about 10 minutes, stirring regularly, until
the vegetables have taken a little colour. Add the chorizo, chicken stock, rice and lentils.
Bring to the boil, lower the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rice and lentils are
Remove the chicken thighs and, discarding the skin and bones, tear the chicken flesh into smallish pieces. Return the meat to the pan, stir
in the spinach and cook briefly until wilted. Serve in warm bowls.
Nettle soup P r ep : 1 5 m in u tes p l u s nett l e pic k in g ti m e | C oo k : 2 0 m in u tes | S e r v in g s : 4 | S k i l l : Medi u m
Spring is celebrated in Sweden with nässelsoppa (nettle soup) made with the soft tops of young nettles, and served with boiled eggs. I donned red rubber gloves to pick a bowlful of nettles from the shamefully abundant supply in our garden, painstakingly picking only the very top sprigs. 2l of the top sprigs of young nettles 25g butter
about 1 tsp cornflour
dash of white pepper and salt to
1.5l water or good veal or chicken stock. 25g chopped fresh chives
a few wild garlic leaves if you have
taste boiled eggs and crème fraiche to serve
First pick over your nettles carefully discarding any pieces of stem or leaves that look too large and may be fibrous.
Wash the nettle tops really well. I swirl them about in a large bowl of water allowing the dirt and bugs to sink to the bottom and then skim
them out into a salad spinner, spin well to drive out more dirt and then repeat the whole process. Gritty soup is not nice.
In a large pan soften the nettles in the butter until wilted, sprinkle on the cornflour, stir in the stock and simmer for about 10 minutes until
soft. Add the chives and wild garlic at the end of the simmering time.
Blend in a blender or with stick blender briefly, allowing some of the texture to remain, season with care, and serve with a halved boiled
egg in the each bowl – cut sides up. The eggs are much nicer if still just soft in the middle. Crème fraiche can be added at table. The soup shouldn’t be thick - it just needs this small amount of cornflour, which binds in the butter and gives it a slight opacity..
Saffron seafood soup CONTENTS
Saffron seafood soup P r ep : 5 m in u tes | C oo k : 1 5 m in u tes | S e r v in g s : 4 | S k i l l : E a s y
This is a soup I can make very quickly from ingredients I keep at home. Fish fillets, prawns, broad beans and peas are favourite things I always try to have in the freezer, and the fresh vegetables are my staples - I can barely cook anything without onions, celery and carrots, so always have them to hand. It makes a delicate and satisfying meal in a few minutes that can astonish and delight unexpected guests. 500g fish fillets (haddock, cod or
1 medium potato, peeled and finely diced
handful of baby frozen peas
250g peeled North Sea prawns,
handful of frozen broad beans
fresh or frozen
1.5l fish stock or Marigold organic
¼ tsp saffron threads
25g butter, preferably unsalted 1 medium onion, finely chopped
2-3 tblsp double cream
1 clove garlic, crushed
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 carrot, diced
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 celery stick, thinly sliced
Cut the fish into generous bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle the saffron threads into a little warm water and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the butter in a heavy pan. Gently sauté the onion, garlic, carrot, celery, and potato until soft and golden. Add the stock to
the vegetables with the saffron water and the peas and broad beans and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Add fish and prawns and simmer for five minutes until just cooked. Add the cream and stir in gently. Check for seasoning, add with salt
and pepper as necessary, and sprinkle with parsley.
LIVE LIFE – LOVE FOOD
The secrets of CHarcuterie NEW ZEALAND-BORN JOHN DOIG HAD SUCCESSFUL CAREERS AS AN AUTHOR, ADVERTISING COPY WRITER AND VINEYARD OWNER, BEFORE FINDING HIS TRUE CALLING AS A CHARCUTIER. TODAY HE SELLS HIS PRODUCE TO THE LIKES OF BOROUGH MARKET AND MARK HIX. HERE HE DESCRIBES HOW HE DEVELOPED AS AN ARTISAN BY TRIAL AND ERROR WITH INVALUABLE HELP FROM THE PALATES OF FARMER’S MARKET CUSTOMERS. words: JOHN DOIG
images: bill mason
t was in old butchery books that I learned the most. I loved Maynard Davies and his Manual of a Traditional Bacon Curer and a tiny, pocket-
sized 19th century professional Parisian guide to Le Charcuterie. Heller’s Secrets of Meat Curing and Sausage Making from 1929 was an American cracker that still serves as a guide and mentor. While many contemporary cookbooks offer recipes and techniques for curing sausages they are, for the most part, a consequence of too much research, science and testing and not nearly enough listening to the past. Nowadays charcuterie is a craft component of the delicatessen corner in the supermarket. In bygone days charcuterie was simply the art of preserving meat and making it interesting in the time before refrigerators. My own recipes were developed by trial and error and an understanding of a few of the principles involved. Not so much the chemistry, but more the process and a respect for the hygiene involved in managing a butchery. Salt and cure quantities have universal rules. But it’s the aromatics and the meat itself that distinguishes a fine length of saucisson from an ordinary supermarket brand. I spent my first six months in my factory making sausages and tasting them, making small changes until texture, heft, aroma and the entire taste experience seemed to me to be about right. I started using the meat reared at Moons Green and then, as we slowly closed the pig-raising operation, bought different cuts of meat from different farmers and butcheries. It didn’t take long to recognize that the quality and cut of the meat can make a mammoth difference in the taste of a sausage. But let me return to the early days. (18 months ago to be precise.) I’d always thought that the best market for a serious charcuterie product had to be restaurants, or more specifically chefs. In 2011 the Spanish invasion was spreading from London into the provinces, bearing tapas, Iberico hams, chorizo and albariño for a British restaurant culture hungry for new ideas. It seemed to me that making chorizo was critical, that this was all the charcuterie – apart from peperoni – that much of the UK was familiar with. My real interest, of course, was not focused on Spain but on France and Italy where I thought – and still think – that the best cured sausages are made. But I focused on making an acceptable chorizo. I used three kinds of Spanish paprika and Amontillado sherry from Tesco, made by Gonzalez, an outstanding drink in its own right. The result was an intense and complex
flavor for a cured sausage, something to savour, especially if it was aged for at least four weeks and allowed to dry out. But people wanted the soft, pliable and burgundy-coloured horseshoe-shaped beasts from Sainsbury’s (£3.00 for two, hurry while stocks last.) Innocuous, simple flavours, easy to cook with and not bad as snacks with a pint of bitter. At least that was the response I received from a couple of local food luminaries who ‘know the market’. It plunged me into self-doubt, deeply depressing and bad for a business about to kick its heels in the air and try and seduce the local brigades of young chefs. At this time I had not sold a single sausage. But then I was lucky enough to meet two people, one who was starting a British charcuterie stall at Borough Market in London and the other who had just started his own market in the South London district of Brockley. The first persuaded me to let HIM and his brother to take my products – when they were ready - to their Borough Market stall and the second persuaded me to erect my own tent and run a stall every Saturday at his new market. These two encounters proved to be the boost I needed and have provided a double anchor that has launched Moons Green Charcuterie upon the world. To give you a glimpse of what has happened to my small business and where it might go from here, let me take you to Brockley Market. It was started by Toby Allen, a laconic, 35-year-old, gentle Londoner, who saw an empty carpark in a young, affluent suburb and turned it into one of the best open food markets in the country in little over a year. Boasting just 30 stalls it has a waiting list of more than 200 itching for a chance to put up their tents and see if they can crack it in this foodie’s Mecca. Every Saturday 2,000 people visit Brockley Market to eat the best street food in London and to buy from farmers and artisans who produce bread, cheese, pork pies, fruit and vegetables, fish, game, milk and yes, charcuterie. I had no idea that I would look forward to getting up at 5.30 every Saturday morning in order to load up my ancient estate car with sausage and cured meats and head for ‘Sarf London’. But every Saturday you will find me – and often my 11-year-old daughter in her butcher’s apron – at Brockley Market.
Here I conduct the market research that guides my choice of products, the flavours I introduce to sausages and muscle meats, and the prices I charge. Just as importantly this market offers a shop window to the many chefs who visit to see whatâ€™s going on in the world of modern street food and allows me to meet them and talk about Moons Green Charcuterie. Nowadays I make about a dozen different products on a consistent basis. All have survived the most rigorous evaluations by proven charcuterielovers at my Brockley research laboratory. It was here that I first offered a rosemary saucisson. (So obvious, why hasnâ€™t it been done before.) And
changed my noisette into ‘cobnut & red wine’ saucisson. Here I launched the Wild Fennel version (foraged by my friend Esther Sam in Winchelsea on the East Sussex Coast) of the classic Lyonnais Rosette, and saw a sausage made with wild mushrooms and British truffles earn an immediate fan club. But I also saw my fig and Palo Cortado concoction die slowly and attempts at smoked saucisson earn not much more than a polite yawn. I make and sell both pancetta and guanciale and keep recipes on hand for those with a hankering for Italian authenticity. But the one product that dominates all the others and sells out almost every week is the most simple and perhaps unlikely sausage of all. Meet my beer sticks. Each week we sell about 500 beer sticks at the market. A dozen regular market customers each buy £20 worth every week. They are the perfect match for a drink. A pint of beer, of course, But also a glass of wine, a cocktail even. My friend Sue Martin, who often tends the market stall with me, tells people that they’re called beer sticks because “they’re the same height as a pint glass”. (You have to hear it with her Irish lilt to best appreciate the charm of the idea.) Whatever depths the name emerged from it has nothing to do with ingredients. There’s no beer in these thin, reedy, porky sausages. Just smoked paprika, garlic, a little ground coriander. But there is a surprise. When I first made them I used some chillies I found online from Malawi. Their particular and peculiar characteristic is that their heat takes 15-seconds to reveal itself. I tell people that beer sticks are ‘a wee bit spicy’ and they taste them and look at me as if I’ve no idea. Then the chilli kicks in. Suddenly you need a drink. Our beer sticks are on the menu at Mark Hix restaurants and half a dozen other Michelin-starred places. Plus London pubs and others further afield who’ve heard about them from friends. We are looking at trying to build a production line that still allows us to hand-make them but speeds up the process. Because right now we can’t make enough. A nice problem to have.
LIVE LIFE – LOVE FOOD
SAFFRON TREATS We couldn’t end our first issue without leaving you a couple of recipes to remind you of us. Both of these recipes use saffron and are classic tea time treats using real ingredients. They symbolise some of the many good things we believe in and we hope you make them and enjoy them, and as you nibble, remember to look out for our next issue. RECIPES: MARY GWYNN
images: MARIE-LOUISE AVERY
Cornish saffron cake CONTENTS
Cornish saffron cake P r ep : 4 5 m in u tes p l u s p r o v in g ti m e | C oo k : 2 5 – 3 0 m in u tes | M a k es one 2 3 c m l o a f | S k i l l : Medi u m
Going back to traditional regional recipes provides us with a reassuring link into local history and the pleasures of eating with the seasons. Butter, yeast, expensive spices and fruit, and even clotted cream were used to make this leavened cake, as the housewife celebrated the end of Lent with all her best ingredients. Saffron was, and is, the most extravagant spice of all, and its lovely intense colour heralds the arrival of spring and new birth. If you’ve only eaten shop made or supermarket saffron breads, this recipe, based on Elizabeth David’s classic from her English Bread and Yeast Cookery, is a revelation with the almost soapy mineral flavour from the saffron balanced by the other spices. The rich buttery dough needs only a short knead but use fresh or granular yeast rather than the quick powder for the best texture, and an overnight slow proving creates a rather dense but soft crumb and really fine flavour. It’s best eaten warm from the oven but toasts well. Make and freeze for a perfect Easter treat spread with local raspberry jam or homemade bramble jelly and a dollop of clotted cream 175 - 200ml full fat milk
125g good butter, warmed till
½ tsp saffron threads
soft (you could use thick cream
15g yeast, fresh or dried
450g strong plain flour, sifted
50g each currants and sultanas
1 tsp salt
For the glaze:
1 tsp each of ground nutmeg,
1 tbsp sugar
cinnamon and mixed spice
2 tbsp milk
50g caster sugar
Try to work with everything warm – the kitchen, utensils and ingredients to give the yeast the best chance to work its magic. Warm
half the milk to almost boiling – I do this in the microwave. Place the saffron and yeast into two ramekins or small bowls. Pour a little of the hot milk over the saffron and leave to infuse for 5 minutes to release its eggy yellow colour. When the remaining milk is lukewarm, pour over the yeast and mix to a thin paste. Leave to stand for 10 minutes until frothy.
Sift the flour, salt and spices into a large warmed mixing bowl and stir in the sugar. Quickly rub in the soft butter then add the saffron and
the remaining milk. Bring together with your hands to form a soft dough, adding more milk if the dough is too dry. Add the dried fruit and knead thoroughly into the dough – you can do this in the bowl or on a very lightly floured surface if you prefer but don’t add too much extra flour as it will spoil the texture.
Return the dough to a clean warm bowl and cover with a tea towel or cling film. Leave to double in volume. This will take a coupIe of
hours in a regular temperatured room or I do this overnight in a very cool place or in the fridge. A long slow proving gives the best texture as the yeast works slowly. If it’s been in the fridge and the kitchen is cold in the morning I sit the bowl in a sink of warm water to bring it up to the right temperature.
Turn out the dough onto a floured work surface and knead lightly. Then roll out into a flat circle and push lightly into a buttered 23cm
round shallow tin (or you could make a loaf). Cover and leave in a warm place until doubled in size and reaching to the top of the tin. Bake at 200°C Gas mark 6 for 25 – 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The cake should sound hollow when knocked on the base.
While the cake is cooking warm the milk and sugar together for the glaze. Brush the cake with the glaze as soon as it comes out of the
oven and then leave in the tin for 15 minutes before turning out.
Saffron scones P r ep : 1 0 m in u tes | C oo k : 1 2 - 1 5 m in u tes | M a k es 1 0 scones | S k i l l : E a s y
If you haven’t got the time to make the cake recipe then try these scones as an alternative. I like my scones straight from the oven when the crumb is soft and yielding but they are still good a day later or warmed from the freezer. Serve the traditional way warmed and split with clotted cream and strawberry jam ¼ tsp saffron threads
cinnamon and mixed spice
25g caster sugar
450g plain flour, sifted
75g good butter, diced
pinch of salt
30g each currants and sultanas
2 tsp baking powder
1 large free-range egg,
1 tsp each ground nutmeg,
milk glaze (see previous recipe)
Preheat the oven to 225°C Gas mark 7. Place a baking sheet in the oven. Warm a little of the milk to nearly boiling and pour over the
saffron in a ramekin. Leave to stand for 5 minutes.
Unlike the yeast recipe scones work better if everything is cold, including your hands. Sift the flour, salt baking powder and spices into
a large mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar and quickly and lightly rub in the butter until the mixture looks like rough breadcrumbs. Stir in the dried fruit.
Whisk together the remaining milk and egg and pour over the dried ingredients. Bring together with the blade of a knife and then turn
out and knead lightly and quickly on a lightly floured surface to give a soft dough. Roll out to about 2.5cm thickness and cut out rounds with a floured 7.5 cm cutter. Reroll and cut any trimmings.
Place the scones on the hot baking sheet and brush the tops with the glaze. Bake for 12- 15 minutes until the tops are golden and
the bottoms sound hollow when knocked. Cool on wire racks and serve warm.
Saffron - final word The online magazine you have been reading is a free taster of Saffron Magazine. Issue 2, out in the summer of 2013 will be a sold as an app in the iTunes store, and as a printed version available from www.saffronmagazine.co.uk Advertisers will be welcome and you can find details on our website at http://saffronmagazine.co.uk/advertise-in-saffron/
We have planned articles on Barcelona, Farmersâ€™ Markets, Sugar, Wood fired pizzas, and lots more. Keep checking with www.saffronmagazine.co.uk for regular updates.
We welcome your feedback and suggestions.