Saturday, June 28, 2014

A historical picnic

Last week I found myself at the London College of Fashion - not a venue I've visited before, but this opportunity was opened up to me by the wonderful London Festival of Architecture.

The event was a "panoramic picnic" with a view of London's rooftops, celebrating the launch of the college's roof terrace and also commemorating historical themes in architecture.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The last asparagus dish: with eggs and healthier "hollandaise"

So sadly, it's the end of the English asparagus season. The traditional last day of picking is the longest day of the year, which was yesterday. So you might still find it in shops and markets for the next day or two.

I made this kind of celebratory brunch as a farewell to English asparagus, and just because it tastes good. It's a bit more effort than I usually go to in the morning, but I decided it was worth it. Plus, I had some of the "hollandaise" left over for another meal.

There's no reason why you need to restrict this to a morning dish. You could swap the toast or muffins for a bed of couscous, or maybe some crushed new potatoes, and you'd have an elegant lunch or dinner.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Heat and fire: Griddled asparagus with roasted cherry tomatoes

One of the things that still fascinates me about food is the way that applying some heat can change the flavour so much. And different types of heat change the flavour in different ways.

I never get bored of steamed asparagus - and there's a lot to be said for this simple treatment that allows the vegetable to speak simply of itself. But griddled asparagus expresses itself just as eloquently, but with charred notes that bring an extra hit of umami, that sixth, intensely savoury taste. And because the asparagus hasn't been cooked in water, it keeps every bit of flavour. And then it's robust enough to marry with strong tastes like tomato, olives and goats' cheese.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A vegetarian barbecue

It looks like it's going to be a lovely weekend, and I thought some of you might be looking for a vegetarian dish for the barbecue.

Here's something to celebrate the sunshine and the fact that it's still the English asparagus season. And it's delicious enough to please carnivores and vegetarians alike.

If you don't have the weather or the opportunity to get the barbecue going, well, it works just as well if you cook the vegetables on a ridged griddle pan. Failing that, cooking them under the grill or in the oven will do.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Spring greens

Here's a super-healthy vegetable dish that only takes about ten minutes to make. It can be a vibrant, spring-like side dish; a topping for bruschetta; a mixture to stir into a risotto; or even a meal in its own right, topped with a poached egg and perhaps with some fresh bread on the side.

Frozen vegetables are the key to making this super-speedy, but feel free to use fresh broad beans and/or beans if you prefer.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Springtime on a plate: asparagus and peas with eggs and bulgur wheat

I can hardly believe it's the beginning of June and I haven't posted any asparagus recipes yet. I always try to make the most of the English asparagus season, which basically involves cooking it as often as possible for the seven or eight weeks that it's around. A lot of my favourite asparagus recipes are pasta-based, but sometimes it's nice to have something a bit different (and possibly providing more of my 5 - or 7? - a day).

This is a really interesting dish that works just as well hot for dinner or cold as a packed lunch the next day. I love the mix of different textures (the peas, the asparagus, the soft bulghur wheat and the crunch of the walnuts) and with the wholegrains, vegetables, egg and nuts, it feels nutritionally balanced too.

I know asparagus isn't the cheapest ingredient, but it's only around briefly - and you can pick up small bunches in a certain German supermarket for about £1.09. I've found good multi-buy offers at farmers' markets in the past, too.