Beautiful, charming simplicity. There’s a lot to be said for it. Some of the worlds greatest and most prolific inventions are also the most simple, like the spectacularly simple paperclip, coat hanger or hula hoop. Apple products are also noted for their simplicity of approach and elegance of operation, hence their incredible commercial success. But behind that simplicity is a lot of careful thought and work, as Albert Einstein said “Any fool can make something more complicated”, however simplicity is where the genius lies. This is a great concept to carry into the kitchen with you, especially if you’re trying to devise some recipes, so that you err on the side of simplicity. I’ve always had a tendency to add …come and read more!
Don’t make this recipe. Understand? Just don’t do it. It’s self harm, it’s painful, agonising and frustrating. Don’t get me wrong, it tastes fantastic and I’ve been looking forward to remaking it for the blog so I could eat it again. It’s really easy to put together, only a few ingredients and if you use pre-cooked beetroot and chestnuts then it really is an honest 10 minute make. But the real pain comes if you use fresh chestnuts, when it’s sweet chestnut season and the leaves are falling from the trees, creating burnt orange quilts under shaded woodland. Amongst the damp, soft ground you’ll find spiky balls that make hedgehogs seem like fluffy cuddle monsters. These contain those sweet, sweet …come and read more!
Some people have similarities to vegetables. I don’t mean that in a rude, insulting way, but in an genuinely characterful or aesthetic way. People can look like aubergines, eggs, asparagus, all sorts of things. My girlfriend seems to think I look like a sweetcorn and apparently I have an affinity with them as they (my sweetcorn family) all wave at me as we drive down country roads lined with fields of tall sweetcorn plants. I do admittedly have a certain understanding of sweetcorn, because when I was young, my Dad used to grow rows of them on his vegetable patch in our garden. As a youngster I learned how to tell when they’re ready to pick, waiting for the silky strands to darken …come and read more!
As I’ve had a bit more time on my hands this year I’ve been spending it doing the things I enjoy, one of which is burning aubergines. Rather than being some kind of sado-massochistic lachanophobic (fear of vegetables) passtime, it’s an activity that actually enhances this abundant fruit of summer. Not too long ago I shared my recipe for baba ghanoush, a dish whose success is dependent on your ability to carry out the utter incineration of an aubergine. If you think that ‘just a bit crispy’ is fine, you’re wrong, it needs to be burned beyond help, way past the point that you think it’s still edible. It seems that aubergines do something quite special when they get …come and read more!
Tapenade used to be one of those ‘things’ that I didn’t understand. It smells and tastes beautiful, and evokes romantic visions of lazy mediterranean lunches, but I never really knew what to do with it. Showing a stereotypical Britishness, I was confused because it’s not a chutney or a pickle, it’s not a jam and it’s not Marmite. I would see it on supermarket shelves and in delis, but leave it behind. I’d see it with some mustards whilst at lunch but wouldn’t know where it goes. Then eventually, my tapenade maturity arrived and I realised it goes with lots of things, and it’s an ingredient that makes simple pairings spectacular. There are loads of ways you can use it, my favourite uses …come and read more!
Today’s recipe is so simple, it’s hard to think of a reason not to try it. If you were already planning to cook some of the lovely fresh asparagus that’s in season at the moment, then this simple addition adds a cheery extra dimension yet almost no extra work. And if you can’t get preserved lemons, even though the ‘cooks selection’ at many supermarkets now stock, they’re incredibly easy to make, so you could have a go yourself. In fact, I can begin to feel a blog post coming on… Have you ever searched for recipes based on number of ingredients involved, working on the assumption that less = easier life? Well that’s what I wanted to do here. If this dish had …come and read more!
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