We were excited recently to feed ourselves, which is surprising at this stage. Having to make all of your meals, day in and day out for the last two months should have made us extremely fatigued at the prospect.
What has kept us going, amidst a somewhat paired back version of life, is the relative abundance of amazing food that is still being produced in this country.
We are still blown away by how resourceful and enterprising small food businesses and producers have been to adapting to what is a gravely unsure time for the industry.
We would urge everyone to support small, local businesses wherever they can. The supermarkets are doing a great and necessary job, but they will weather this crisis. Small and local food businesses and producers need our support more than ever, we will miss them terribly should they disappear.
Two of the recipes included this week use a much underrated and not well utilised aspect of cooking; a good dressing. Dressings are not only for a leafy salad and can be utilised to lift all kinds of meals from being bland to something much more exciting. A good dressing can transform any dish and is especially good with eggs.
The two dressings we have used here are both sort of Swedish inspired, using the tangy, salty, sweet combination of cider vinegar, red onion & dill. If you are not a fan of dill, then use parsley, chives or whichever savoury herb you enjoy most.
This is one of those wonderful cakes which isn’t too fussy, over the top or extravagantly indulgent. It is, however, delicious, adaptable and useful. The olive oil gives it a wonderfully moist crumb without being dense or soggy.
It is flavoured generously with both the juice and zest of a lemon and an orange, but neither are overpowering and the addition of a little vanilla extract mellows the bright tang of the citrus fruits. We have made this cake three times now since adapting the recipe and it is currently our favourite cake to have in the kitchen. We enjoy it slice by slice with the endless cups of tea and coffee we go through, being home all day. We love it plain of course, but it also is the perfect base for decorating however you like.
In this attempt we made a quick pistachio icing and then covered it in salty whole pistachio kernels. The beauty of this simple cake is that it goes with just about any sweet topping you can think of.
320ml Extra virgin olive oil
300g soft brown sugar
4 large organic eggs
Pinch of sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest & juice of one lemon
Zest & juice of one orange
2 teaspoons of baking powder
350g of strong white flour/ ’00’ flour
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Coat a medium sized cake tin (24cm) or else a large loaf tin in a little olive oil. Line the bottom with greaseproof baking paper.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla extract until pale and fluffy. In a large jug whisk together the olive oil with the lemon juice, orange juice and milk as best you can.
Slowly pour this into the egg and sugar mixture, beating it in with a wooden spoon until well combined. Be very careful not to let it split or curdle.
In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the flour and baking powder. Mix the flour gently into the wet mixture in three stages, until you get a loose, sticky, cake batter.
Pour this into your cake or loaf tin and place in the hot oven for 45 minutes.
The cake is done done when a skewer comes out clean and the top feels springy. The colour should be light golden brown.
Cool on a wire rack.
We have been making this very green, very comforting egg dish a couple of mornings a week now. It is perfect when you wake up feeling hungry and in need of something a little bit more decadent but also something that doesn’t require any stress or effort.
Two organic eggs
1kg of spinach
1 medium onion, finely chopped
150ml single cream
100g greek yoghurt
Pinch of nutmeg
Black pepper & sea salt
1 small red chilli, deseeded, finely diced
1 small red onion, finely sliced
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Pinch of sea salt & black pepper
Small handful of parsely/dill/chives, chopped
To make the dressing, simply stir together all the ingredients in a small bowl until well combined, leave in the fridge while you make the rest of the dish, allowing the onion to soften in the vinegar in a medium sized pan. Wilt the spinach over a medium heat with a splash of water and a pinch of salt. When it has wilted down all the way, remove from the pan and squeeze as much water as you can out of it by pressing it in-between two kitchen towels. Leave to the side. In a medium shallow pan, cook the onion over a medium/high heat with a little oil and butter.
When the onion has softened, add back the spinach along with the cream.
Season lightly with salt, pepper and a little grated nutmeg. The cream will thicken nicely at which point make two wells in the mixture and crack the eggs in. Season the eggs and let them bubble away in the mixture until they are cooked to your liking.
Serve with the dressing spooned over, a few dollops of yoghurt and plenty of fresh herbs scattered on top.
This is a wonderfully crunchy, tangy salad for when you want something light but still punches with flavour. It is Swedish inspired and has all of the tart, salty flavours along with the wonderfully contrasting sweetness of dill and red onion that you would expect. The quality of the feta is important as you want something that can be crumbled without turning to mush, as some lower quality feta does. Feta should be firm and crumbly, you should be able to cut shavings off a block of feta.
3-4 large/medium carrots
Handful of dill, chopped
Handful of parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons of rapeseed
Sea salt & black pepper
200g good quality feta cheese
6 tablespoons of cider vinegar
1 teaspoon of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1 small red onion, finely sliced
Peel the carrots and then cut them into thin matchsticks, this will take a couple of minutes but it is worth it. If you do have one of those spiralisers, this would be a good excuse to dust it off and put it to use. Place the carrot matchsticks in a large bowl and season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the rapeseed oil and herbs and mix together until the carrot is well coated.
To make the dressing, place all the ingredients in a small pan over a medium high heat and bring to the boil, adding a little water if needed.
Remove from the heat once the sugar has dissolved and set aside to cool. Once cooled, pour over the carrot matchsticks and toss gently.
Serve in a nice salad bowl with the feta, shaved thinly and crumbled on top. Garnish liberally with dill and parsley.