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Archive for the ‘Salad’ Category

 

It seems to me that the best recipes have a strong foundation of classic techniques and combinations that are then elevated by the inclusion of some special ingredient. Hazelnuts in a fennel salad, sea salt in caramel or pickled walnuts in a beef stew all make a fairly conventional dish into something much more delicious.

In the case of this Ottolenghi recipe the foundation is an instantly recognisable combination of pastry base, filled with roasted butternut squash, goat’s cheese, cream and eggs. So far, so quichey and I have never been the biggest fan of quiche.

In this quiche though, before the cream and eggs make an appearance, blanched garlic cloves coated in a thick balsamic, rosemary and thyme infused syrup take to the stage. I think I could easily eat these sweet, unctuous cloves straight from the pan, although I would feel very guilty afterwards and possibly a bit sick.

 

This is the best way I have ever had garlic, better even than when you roast a whole head of garlic with sausages and onions then squeeze out the resultant puree onto your plate. They look lovely in the tart too, bobbing up through the cream like ancient life buoys.

I served this tart with a beetroot salad that would be worth making for the way it looks alone. I used a recipe from the Sam & Sam Clark Moro East book, although from memory so I ended up forgetting to add mint and I blitzed everything in the food processor which gave me a much more vivid green pistachio and parsley sauce.

 

The inky slices of beetroot contrast beautifully with the pistachio and parsley. Essentially all you need to do is blitz pistachios, parsley, lemon juice and zest, olive oil and orange blossom water. I can’t remember the exact amounts as I was in the process of cooking a meal for 20 people and just trying not to freak out. I was very excited to make something that looked so pretty with so little effort.

The full and proper beetroot salad recipe is here, the second recipe from the bottom. Clearly the Guardian love this sort of food.

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I am a complete sucker for vintage jam pots and tins from Asian markets. I love anything that looks like it could be at home in Sophie Dahl’s pretend kitchen.

This tin of smoked paprika is a good example. I fell for its packaging and bought it despite not needing any paprika

When I saw Sophie Dahl pick up an identical red jar on her cookery programme a few months later I nearly wet myself. Anyone would think we’d both visited the same spice market in Marrakech. I can’t remember how she used this aromatic powder, I’m sure it enriches stews and the like.

Until recently I had barely used the stuff. When I read something about adding regular paprika to tomatoes I tried the smoked variety in a cherry tomato salad with lots of chopped spring onions with a balsamic dressing. I usually condemn the utterly excessive use of balsamic vinegar which borders on addiction in some of London’s more leafy enclaves, however I made an exception for this salad. Since trying this I haven’t had a tomato salad without paprika in weeks.

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