Rachel Roddy's first book, Five Quarters, is—in a word—stunning. Not just a collection of delicious recipes, but the gorgeous stories and images that accompany them are every bit as delightful and engrossing. Having strayed from Italian cooking in recent years it was a wonderful way to get back into some simple home cooking that really focusses on making the most of beautiful ingredients. Having already enjoyed Kitty's exquisite vanilla ice cream scented with citrus in those indulgent ice cream sandwiches, it was then time for some simpler feasts. Rachel's delectable spring vegetable stew, her version of my favourite pasta—spaghetti alla puttanesca—and a simple vanilla panna cotta were all enjoyed and there remain plenty of bookmarks still to fill. As a side note, Kitty Travers (of the aforementioned ice cream) is an absolute gem. Her ice cream and sorbet recipes are still some of my most referred to, and a trip to London would not be complete without a sortie down to La Grotta Ices for a taste of whatever's in season. Please look her up if you've not yet had the pleasure.
Kitty's vanilla ice cream scented with citrus
Spring vegetable stew
Spaghetti alla puttanesca
Another classic that I love to pull out come summer is Casa Moro by Sam & Sam Clark. Again with a focus on clean, seasonal food this is a great one for when you're planning a shared feast, or if a simple supper is the order of the day. Making the most of a reasonable garden bounty I managed their spring cabbage with capers and a broad bean salad, enjoyed the Moroccan bread salad with grilled green peppers, and gave in to curiosity in trying their courgette and aubergine salad with charmoula. Having never before blanched aubergine it was a surprise crowd-pleaser, and really lovely alongside grilled fish or beneath an oozy poached egg.
Moroccan bread salad with grilled green peppers and tomatoes
Spring cabbage with capers, butter and paprika
Broad bean salad, and courgette & aubergine salad with charmoula
As a baker your attention is always drawn to recipes involving bread, and this one for kvas by Olia Hercules was no exception. A traditional Russian drink based on rye it is essentially fermented bread juice - and who wouldn't want to try drinking that?! After toasting some rye bread, steeping it with added caraway and coriander, and then finishing the fermentation with some added yeast, honey and raisins I've got to say it was surprisingly refreshing, and definitely big on those rye bread flavours. I'm keen to see how it would turn out using a sourdough culture, so this may be the beginnings of a 'stay tuned'.
Make bostock using croissant bread? Yep, I totally did.