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penultimate

20 Jul

001

 

The extractor fan shakes the bottles of rum, kirsch, cognac in the cupboard nearby, creating a steady clink. The slabs of puff pastry are clammy, not their usual paper-smooth. One extra distraction and it bunches and sticks itself into artistic rumples.

On a roundabout way home, near the golden dome of Les Invalides, I can’t help noticing how empty the avenue seems: one lady in shades of beige to match the dusty air, one thirty-something sedately rolling by, feet firmly placed on a wide skateboard, head balding slightly behind his sunglasses. Two teenagers shrieking over an iphone.

The moment we finally get our long-awaited summer – the moment I wish I could stay here, stay still, to go to outdoor cinema, to lounge in the sandpit at Paris Plage on my canal, the canal de l’Ourcq – everyone begins to leave Paris.

002

At work, I have to tidy the walk-in before the shop closes for a month. At Christmas, the fridge was so full you couldn’t walk in, only lean over to reach a tub of mirror icing. Now there is just a crate of tomatoes, some cream, some 5-litre bottles of pasteurised eggs and a box of real ones, for brioche.

Around 11am, someone has to start to think about lunch. Whoever is hungriest. Muttering wistfully about Toyko ramen, they open the door of the small staff fridge and sigh at the leftovers. I love the sticky-sweet honey and soy marinades they use to eke out scraps of chicken or pork, served with sticky rice. I have to restrain my hands when they make spaghetti - there’s no cream in carbonara! the sauce does not sit prettily on a swirl of dry pasta - but the meal is always proffered with imagination and warmth. Today it is entirely to my taste. I put off the puff pastry to chop ten large tomatoes, as a finely diced shallot, the last one, waits in a puddle of basalmic vinegar.

Tomatoes. Bread. There is always extra bread, crackly baguettes that scratch the roof of your mouth. A baguette and a half: torn up roughly it is perfect for panzanella, with enough oomph to soak up all the saved tomato juices, the inordinately generous glug of olive oil, and the balsamic. It needs to sit for an hour or so to really meld – the tomatoes get their corners knocked off, the bread softened and full of flavour. So I add half a cucumber, some stolen chives from the person making asparagus quiche (basil would be better) and some plain black olives. More salt and more oil than you might think is wise, a good mix with bare hands and it can sit in the corner, while some eggs turn hardboiled and I finally face the puff pastry.

003

The flour has started to irritate my skin – now when I fling it with abandon my forearms go pink and scratchy. Tomorrow is my last day, before the holidays yes, but also of my contract. I am done: I can sleep until the sun pushes me out of bed and straight into the hammock in the garden, I can use my energy to run far and hard in the cool evenings, not worrying about aching legs. I can stop eating leftover cake for supper and think about real meals.

When we sit down to eat around the marble counter – a heap of tomato rubble, the now soggy panzanella, two eggs and a slice of prosciutto each – I am reminded of the south of France, our perpetual summer holidays. The tomatoes are infinitely better there, full of sunny flavour. There, there is my happy place: the green lake where I swim out to the buoy and bob for hours –  where I have been bobbing now over months of dull afternoons, waiting for this moment. But these more pallid, robust tomatoes will do, and with my colleagues laughter, confusion, translation into French, English, Japanese, even a phrase in Cantonese, it feels pretty happy as it is. The baker boy loves rolling out the loaves, doesn’t really like eating bread, would much prefer rice, but he nods approval at the panzanella, pours me half of a Belgian peach beer brought back from his travels.

004

Not yet ready to leave my weird corner of Japan in Paris, not ready to think about what I have learned and what I am still missing after nearly two years. I know that my check trousers are a little more snug than they were, but they still button up. My clogs are worn through at the crease, and there is an odd boat-shaped burn on my right arm currently knitting itself into scar tissue.

Tomorrow is my last day, and I am so ready for my summer projects: cartwheels and swimming pools, cooking for pleasure (a whipped cream layer cake has been hovering for more than month now), actually writing  things again, dinner around the table with my small family. I am done with the early mornings, for now, but I don’t want to leave these lunches with my work crowd. But it is 1.30pm, the beer is gone and the oven is on again for the peach tarts in puff pastry. The flour must be swept up, the counter wiped down and the lights turned off. I can go home.

pecheresse beer

wild garlic

5 Jun

wild garlic in cup

This piece was originally written for the new and shiny Gravity Serpent zine.

Most of my memories are punctuated by something edible, one great meal or a transcendent piece of cake. That weekend in Cornwall will always be linked to wild garlic for me. It fixes the people in my mind more firmly, anchored by the scent of cliff paths and the taste of waxy new potatoes scattered with green.

My granny is lemons, always lemons: her fresh lemonade, her sticky lemon curd on soft white bread and that one time, stitched into family lore, when I had seven helpings of her lemon pudding. Now at the bakery when we have to squeeze hundreds of lemons for our special crème au citron, I think of her. When you zest enough, the little puffs of lemon oil given off form a thin mist that sparks green in the gas-fired hobs. And the smell conjures up my granny instantly.

At the moment, in her letters she is telling me lots of stories about her father, my great-grandfather, who was a psychiatrist as well as the author of several books on plants. According to her, “Wild Foods of Britain” was dashed off in the week before he was called up to be a naval doctor in WWII. It is a thin volume with simple line illustrations, matter of fact descriptions of each foraged herb, fungus or weed, and recipes with now-curious names like frumenty, kissel and caragheen mould. He is erudite with a dry wit. My favourite line so far comes under Pig Nut (Conopodium denudatum):

‘Caliban dug them with his fingernails but most people prefer to use a kitchen fork.’

I never met him, never could have, but through the stories and recipes he belongs to me somehow. He is a solid figure. Now I pay attention to all the food around us for the picking, though I couldn’t identify a pig nut to save my life. On holiday with my university friends in Cornwall, we picked the delicate white flowers whose stems, crushed between our fingers, were reminiscent of chives, a more subtle version of shop garlic. Finely sliced over boiled potatoes, with the bell-shaped flowers as a garnish, they made a perfect accompaniment to my most travelled recipe, mustard chicken. The one that I make to thank my hosts but also, in a selfish act of immortality, to have them remember me. It has made it as far as Australia and even onto a café menu, of its own accord. You need to allow a whole chicken leg and thigh, a big dollop of crème fraiche and a heaping teaspoon of mustard per person. It will certainly be more mustard than you think wise, but persevere. Massage it all into the chicken with salt and pepper, some cumin seeds if there are any lying around, and bake in a very hot oven. The mustard’s bite is tamed by the heat, leaving a crisp skin that is delightfully savoury, full of flavour.

We passed around bowls and plates, spun wine on the lazy Susan, laughing and talking over one another. I listened from the stove, mixing a last minute icing for the fresh banana cake. On just a short weekend in a seaside cottage, I didn’t have all the right bits and pieces, no whisk, no icing sugar. So just a packet of cream cheese, several tablespoons of raspberry jam and a squeeze of lemon juices. Light and sweet, flower-pink, rich but not cloying. The cake too was easy: two mashed ripe bananas, three eggs, some melted butter (about 50g), one small water glass of sugar, two of self-raising flour and a teaspoon of cinnamon. Mixed with a fork, poured into a greased tin and baked at about 180C for about 30 minutes, just enough time to run to the supermarket for chicken and wine and to pick some wild garlic from the path.

Now when I think of that meal, I can conjure all of the faces around the table. I hope they recreate and share the food too, or at least the memory of it. Sending a recipe off into the ether is almost as good as writing a book. It is a tangible piece of the past, the wild captured on our plates. It keeps that moment in the present; it keeps my friends close, and my great-grandfather as close as he will ever be.

Find information about the zine at gravityserpent.wordpress.com - or email gravityserpent@gmail.com to get your hands on a real paper copy.

endive, blue cheese and pear salad

20 Feb

pear and endive salad

My February kitchen has not been much to write home about. Though I resolved to try 10 new recipes from neglected cookbooks, I often end up eating leftover cake for supper (hurrah for being a grown-up) or a plain salad to balance out the cake (curses on adult responsability).

There was a whole mackerel roasted with lemon and a particularly nice dinner among girlfriends with beef, apricot and spinach meatballs simmered in tomato sauce – but that is all self-explanatory.

I can only offer this salad, in imitation of a wonderful Lyonnais bistro in St-Germain, whose address I will be not sharing (bribes notwithstanding) because it was too full and their seven-hour lamb was too delicious.

Endives can be jarring – too bitter, too teeth-squeakingly watery. But here, sliced as finely as coleslaw, they are the the star of the plate, crunchy but delicate, spotlit by a mustard dressing. Its subtle colours – cream, pale green. mottled blue – hide a wallop of flavour: bitter endive, sweet pear, sharp cheese. It is a wintery salad full of promise, for crunch and light and better things to come.

~~~

Pear, endive and blue cheese salad

serves 4 as a starter

4 large endives

2 crisp, slightly unripe conference pears

200g blue cheese

3 tbs olive oil

2 tbs lemon juice

1 tsp dijon mustard

1/2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

a pinch of pepper

Halve and core the pears. Slice them and the endives as thinly as possible. Shake the dressing ingredients in a jar, toss most of it with the salad, add more to taste. Crumble the blue cheese over the top.

chevre chaud au bacon (the perfect goat’s cheese salad)

27 Mar

I did it again. I ate my lunch before I could draw it for you nice people. But you have to have a life before a blog. And besides, the false spring has gone to my head.

These few balmy days when the trees are still stripped bare, the warm sunshine and the lone butterfly brave enough to venture out are lulling me into a syrupy stupor. I know that it will rain again in April, that I will have to leave my hideaway in the south of France for self-important Paris, but for the moment I have a diamond patio and a plate empty of anything but radish stalks, so blissful denial is the way forward.

What’s more, I have found the perfect salad, the perfect lunch. I already knew radishes and avocadoes and rocket and fennel were happy partners, but they are made bistrot-worthy by the simplest addition: a pat of soft goat’s cheese fried in bacon. Ours came from a local farmer, ready wrapped.

(I just asked my mother for a suitable simile for the size of the goat’s cheese crottins – which means poop, by the way, confirming my longheld prejudice that the French are obsessed with crap – and she suggested “larger than half a crown, slightly smaller than an Olympic medallion.” Neither of which I have ever seen or will see, in all probability. Thanks, Mum.)

So, take a tub of soft goat’s cheese and form a little fat pancake per person, as much as you can stomach. Wrap it all over in a thin streaky bacon like pancetta so it’s nicely sealed in and fry in a hot frying pan until crisp outside and just warm within. Serve on a bed of rocket and raddichio (bitter to cut the rich cheese flavour)with slivers of fennel, circles of radish and chunks of avocado, lightly dressed. Eat with lots of French bread and pale butter.

(Our favourite local just caught us finishing our lunch, barefoot, at 4pm.  He wished us a bon appetit, but refused a slice of apple tart on the grounds that his top dentures are being repaired at the moment. He is the picture of health for 87, always in the same black beret and wire rimmed sunglasses. The magic of the southern sunshine and the robust Gascon diet.)

ottolenghi inspired cauliflower with sultanas, hazelnuts and capers

2 Jan

On a dark dark night in the cold cold November air, five girls and one boy in a tuxedo met for dinner in London. They sat around a giant slab of a table, overlooking the bright lights of the kitchen. Cans of artichokes and bags of flour decorated the shelves, while the bathrooms were a circus hall of mirrors.

The menu listed burrata and pink grapefruit, twice cooked baby chicken, a finely sliced steak salad. Funnily enough, the most memorable flavours came from the vegetables: an oval dish of finely mashed potato laid with faintly spicy broccolini, the slender upcountry cousins of the basic broccoli.

And the cauliflower salad, the plain white and geometric green romaneso cauliflower, only just tender, sprinkled with sweet and salted, soft and crackly elements. Perhaps there were raisins, maybe capers. Definitely a drift of ricotta to smooth the sharp edges.It was glamourous, an epithet not often associated with dull wintery cauliflower.

That would be the genius of Ottolenghi, to spotlight the often sidelined greenery. NOPI isn’t vegetarian, but it could get away with it – people would still enthuse over the delicate/robust quality of the food, marvel that broccoli deserves a second helping.

The girls and the boy finished their balloon glasses of white wine, dove into the salted macadamia cheesecake – just light enough – and stumbled home. One girl fell asleep on the bus, dreaming spirals of cauliflower.

~~~

(Thanks go to this pretty lady who recommended the restaurant in the first place.)

~~~

Cauliflower salad with sultanas, hazelnuts and capers

inspired by Ottolenghi, recreated haphazardly as far as we remember

Take one head of cauliflower (plain white or green romanesco, whatever you can find) and break into small florets. Chop the stalks as well, to roughly the size of the florets. Spread out over two baking sheets, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and lots of pepper. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 200C, or as long as it takes to turn brown at the edges, tender with some crunch.

In a small frying pan, heat a generous amount of olive oil and fry two tablespoons of capers until they start to burst into crisp flowers. (Test the olive oil with one caper first, it should sizzle when it hits the oil.)

Toast a handful of hazelnuts in the oven with the cauliflower, until they smell just right. Chop roughly.

In a large bowl, stir together the cauliflower, hazelnuts, capers and a handful of sultanas. Check the seasoning, add more salt and pepper if needed. Top with pomegranate seeds for a splash of colour, and serve with fresh ricotta if you have any lying around.

Best served straight from the oven for the crisp contrast of the blackened edges and tender middles of the cauliflower. Still good the next day, am reliably informed that leftovers are excellent with pasta.

three cheese stuffed mushrooms

1 Dec

According to the microbiology test we had at pastry school, Roquefort is a drug. A kind of pencillin, pencillin roqueforti, if I was paying attention. But it was a “colour in the correct answer” test, so…

In any case, cheese will never let you down. Three cheeses and you can retire happy. These little innocent mushrooms get packed with sauteed leeks, ricotta, roquefort and lemon zest then coated with crunchy parmesan and thyme. Baked until the insides are melty and the outsides brown, you can forget their humble vegetable origins and pretend like you’re eating pizza.

Make big portobello ones or cute little appetizer ones. Either way you’ll probably eat them all yourself – I don’t even want to say serves two, because that would be a lie. In fact, I made the fatal mistake of eating all my supper before I could draw it. Not the proper dedication required of a food blogger.

Mushrooms stuffed with leeks, ricotta and roquefort

(For the topping, use either bulghur wheat or chunky breadcrumbs, whatever you have lying around. The former will be a bit more substantial, suitable for supper rather than a snack.)

500g mushrooms (plain white ones or large portobello ones)

1 leek

some butter

50g ricotta

50g roquefort (or any other blue cheese)

a couple of dried porcini slices (optional)

zest of one lemon

50g fresh parmesan, grated

sprinkle of fresh thyme

either 70g dried bulghur wheat or 2 slices crusty bread

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 200C. Brush any dirt off the mushrooms (do not wash, they go soggy) and break off the stems. Place caps down on a baking sheet lined with baking foil and stick in the oven for 10 minutes until they lose some of their liquid. Drain and leave to dry on a sheet of paper towel.

Prepare either the bulgur wheat (according to packet instructions) or the breadcrumbs, crumbling the bread roughly and baking in the oven until golden-brown.

Meanwhile chop the mushroom stalks very finely and cook in butter until soft and fragrant. If you have some, break up the porcini slices and stir them in. Tip into a large bowl. Melt some more butter in the same pan to cook the leek. Clean the leek (slice down the centre almost to the base, fan the leaves apart and rinse in cold water) chop into 1cm slices and fry in a little butter. Cover and leave on a medium heat until soft but brown at the edges.

Mix the mushroom stalks, leek, roquefort, ricotta and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper. The mixture should be delicious enough to eat straight up with a spoon. In a separate bowl, mix breadcrumbs / bulghur wheat with the thyme and most of the parmesan.

Lightly salt and pepper the mushroom caps and heap with as much leek filling as possible. Top with the bulghur / breadcrumbs and finally sprinkle over the last of the parmesan.

Bake for about 20 minutes at 200c – depending on your oven. When it smells and looks cooked, it probably is. (Sorry, not very precise. Bad food-blogger.)

sucrée / salée : salade de pêches au basilic; tarte de pêches, jambon et mozzarella

3 Aug

Squeezing peaches feels somehow illicit. A tray of furry backsides waiting to be delicately palpated. Are they ripe yet?

The French word for a peach is very close to un péché, or a sin. And to fish, pêcher. (Can someone who likes etymology enlighten me before I make a bad pun?) (And if I do make a bad pun, does that mean I am finally French?)

In any case, no sin here. Maybe a little ambiguity. Two simple recipes that can’t decide if they are sweet or savoury. The peach and basil salad would be equally delicious with a wedge of gruyère as with some vanilla icecream. The tart combines the salty attack of Parma ham with the sweetness of roast peach, all covered with a subtle blanket of mozzarella.*

Use ripe, juicy peaches since they are the star of the show. And squeeze gently.

Peach and basil salad

at least 4 ripe peaches

several leaves of basil

a glug of olive oil

juice of half a lemon

salt and pepper

Cut the peaches into thick slices or chunks. Tear the basil into small shreds. (Tearing apparently releases the flavour better than cutting.) Toss with the olive oil and lemon then season with a little salt and pepper. Let it stand for a hour so that the flavous meld.

Note: Rosemary can also perfume this salad, except that the spines are less pleasant to eat.

~~~

Peach tart with prosciutto and mozzarella

(simplified from Victoria O’Neill’s soon-to-be published debut cookbook)

1 quantity puff or shortcrust pastry (bought or homemade)

1 packet of Parma ham / prosciutto crudo / air-dried ham

1 or 2 balls fresh mozzarella

at least 4 ripe peaches

fresh herbs (thyme is good)

salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C. Roll out the pastry into a large rectangle or circle. Grease a large baking tray or tart pan and gently lift the pastry onto it. Cover with a single layer of ham slices. Cut the peaches into thick wedges (6-8 per peach) and line them up in rows or circles on top of the ham. Tear the mozzarella into chunks and scatter over peaches. Finally sprinkle over some thyme (or other herbs) with salt and pepper.

Bake in the oven until the pastry is brown and the cheese bubbling. Leave it to cool a little, then cut into wedges and serve just warm.

*Please excuse the overblown mixed metaphor. It’s very hot today.

picnic food: panzanella

8 Jul

Picnics? Again? Can’t we just go to a restaurant?

This scandalous remark was tantamount to declaring the end of our friendship. Even my four year old students understand that summer means pique-nique. They are so happy about our virtual picnics that they try to eat the flashcards.

No cardboard cakes at my idea of a picnic. Nor just crisps and beer. A picnic is a delicate balance – you need some bread and cheese, of course, as well as a vegetable, some fruit and something luxurious. The most recent one was capped by wine-dark cherries dragged through the puddle of chocolate that had melted in the evening heat. Though it might sound sophisticated, we ended up spitting the pips into the Seine, competing for the furthest distance. Our picnic-adjacent neighbours gave us a disgusted look and moved. We returned home barefoot, grubby, happy to withstand the glares on the metro.

So the food is not really the point. Just the underpinnings. Panzanella is low key – just plump tomatoes, stale bread and highlights of basil. But somehow the bread absorbs the tomato juice, the olive oil and a hint of onion and binds it all together. Pan-zan-ella. The word itself sounds like it should mean “bread salad wearing a pretty skirt”.

~~~

Panzanella

serves a crowd

1 kg ripe tomatoes

1 large baguette tradition, preferably a day old

1 red onion

1 bunch radishes

liberal amounts of olive oil

a splash of balsamic vinegar

several leaves of basil

salt

Cut the tomatoes into large chunks and dice the onions. Toss with oil and vinegar, violently enough to release the juice from the tomatoes. Add the bread ripped into crouton-sized pieces (the same as the tomatoes) the basil, torn up, and some salt. Toss it all together and taste, adjust seasoning if necessary.

Leave for about an hour so that the bread absorbs the dressing without becoming too soggy.

Eat straight from the bowl.

guest edition: thai chicken and mango salad

11 Jun

Mama used to say: never apologise for your cooking. (She also used to say: the cook gets to eat the mango stone.)*

Never admit to your mistakes. At least, don’t point them out. Maybe your guests won’t notice, maybe they are not perfectionists like you. So I didn’t mention that I had forgotten the garlic. Or toasted the cashews too enthusiastically. I didn’t mention the half-kilo of clingy glass noodles abandoned in the rubbish bin. I made more peanut noodle salad with our best spaghetti. (Mama used to say: don’t buy value pasta.) And no-one did notice.

No-one noticed because my chicken and mango salad was so damn spicy it seared away most of our tastebuds. I only used one chili, as warned by the chatty man in our Indian corner store. Even so, the boys picked through it manfully. “It’s not that hot.” They even had seconds; that’s friendship for you. The girl nearly died on the sofa, drank litres of water. (Like the time we thought we had given our Japanese exchange student a heart attack with our spicy curry.)

Such a shame, because it is a perfect summer salad otherwise. It follows the Thai principles of sweet, salty, spicy, sour and fishy. The latter sounds a bit odd, but it is the splash of nam pla (fish sauce) that gives it an extra savoury edge. Sweet mangoes, sharp lime juice, tender chicken. Green leaves and herbs. A crunch from the cashews. Ralph made us this, his signature dish, numerous times in the summer term at Regent Street. I clearly remember stabbing at a bowl of it while sitting on our trampoline. Every now and then some joker would bounce up and down a little. We had to hold onto our plates as if we were sailors being shipwrecked.

So make sure to take your greengrocer seriously when he warns you about the strong strong chilis. Prepare your salad ahead of time, nibble on the mango stones, then relax and drink a gin and tonic. Pretend that you are a student again, a student with only a very few deadlines but important discussions about webcomics and the meaning of life to solve over supper.

*Also not apologising for half-drawn illustration. Hungry guests arrived, I got distracted. You have to imagine the rich orange, crumpled green and flashes of hot red.


Ralph’s Thai Chicken and Mango Salad

(in his words, because they are funny words)

serves 3-4

3 chicken breasts, cut into strips

6 spring onions, sliced (I like to do it lengthways for shards of onion, rather than what my friend Giles used to call ‘roly-polies’ when he was much younger)

4 cloves garlic, sliced very thinly

2 mangos, sliced (apparently they’re meant to be underripe, but if they’re too underripe they’re too chewy and dry, so ripe ones will do)

4 chopped, seeded red chillis

a bunch of watercress

a very slightly smaller bunch of coriander, chopped

a considerably smaller bunch of mint leaves, chopped also

juice of 1-2 limes

1 tbsp nam pla (fish sauce)

1 tbsp caster sugar

1 tbsp groundnut oil (in addition to frying oil)

peanut and cashews

Fry the chicken, then saute the garlic and onions in the same pan.  Throw everything into the biggest bowl you’ve got and mix it up a bit.  Have more nuts around to add if you want them.  That’s it! 

(Ed. note: Try serving with peanut noodles for a more substantial dish: add several spoonfuls of peanut butter to this amazing dressing)

bittersweet salad (third simple pleasure)

14 May

I could make so many stupid comparisons about this salad and life in general. Life is indeed sometimes bitter. Sometimes sour.  (I prefer the crunchy times.) But really it reminds me of my third simple pleasure:

Be in nature.

Running along the edge of the river in Sesto Calende, I started thinking about the difference a little sunshine makes. Or anything natural. The village was rich in natural beauty – a long curving river with a proud swan’s nest, a green canopy of trees along the towpath. The locals were all out for an evening walk – la passeggiata - just watching the sun go down, checking up on the nine swan eggs. Though I like my new incarnation as a city girl, I always forget just how much I need some green leaves, sun on my face, a stretch of water.

The evening entertainment in Sesto was perhaps the most romantic picnic possible. We packed a tub of this salad, bread, ricotta and some slightly squashed carrot cake, clambered onto a dinghy and rowed out to a pirate boat, floating alone in the middle of a lake. Just one proud mast. Four hungry pirates armed with tealights and thick socks. At one point I watched in the candlelight as a single swan feather floated by on the black water. It was ridiculously poetic.

We stabbed at leaves of radicchio and crumbs of feta. Talked of seed bombs and guerrilla gardening. And of “Spiderman”, a tiny student of mine who refuses to learn the word rainbow. Finally the cold breeze and what looked like a real leech chased us back inside.

Despite the leeches, despite all the rainy days spent camping with Scouts, just being surrounded by green still does me a world of good. Epecially when the little Spidermen get too frustrating. When I have to keep confiscating the scissors or saying “sit down” as if I were dog training. Lunch in the scrubby park in the sun and a perfectly balanced salad like this one are all I need. Appropriately rainbow coloured – red, green, yellow and creamit mixes sharp flavours, crunchy textures and smooth salty cheese. Play around with the ingredients, but make sure to eat it outside.

Bittersweet salad

(inspired by Orangette’s A Homemade Life)

feeds 4 hungry pirates

bitter: 1 whole radicchio

sweet: 1 red pepper

tart: 1 braeburn (or other sharp apple)

crunchy: 1/2 bulb fennel or 2 sticks celery

creamy: 200g feta (or 1 avocado)

sour: lemon dressing (3 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 tsp mustard, 1/2 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp salt)

Tear the radicchio into bite-sized leaves. Slice the pepper, apple and fennel into long elegant strips. Toss all together. Cube the feta (or avocado) and sprinkle on top of the salad. In a small jar, shake all of the dressing ingedients together until smooth. Taste – add more lemon/salt/oil as needed. It should be quite sour. Just before you are ready to eat, tip the dressing over the salad and toss gently.


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