You are on page 1of 21

Copyright 2009 by Nigel Slater

Photographs copyright 2009 by Jonathan Lovekin

All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Ten Speed Press,
an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division
of Random House, Inc., New York.
Ten Speed Press and the Ten Speed Press colophon are
registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.
Originally published in hardcover in Great Britain by
Fourth Estate, a division of HarperCollins Publishers,
London, in 2009
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
is on file with the publisher.
ISBN 978-1-60774-037-7
Printed in China
Interior design by BLOK
Cover design by Colleen Cain
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
First U.S. Edition

Tender US_1.indb 4

12/7/10 4:00 PM


A pilaf of asparagus, fava beans, and mint


Asparagus is something you feel the need to gorge on, rather than Wnding
the odd bit lurking almost apologetically in a salad or main course. The
exceptions are a risottofor which you will Wnd a recipe in Appetite
and a simple rice pilaf. The gentle Xavor of asparagus doesnt take well to
spices, but a little cinnamon or cardamom used in a buttery pilaf oVers a
mild, though warmly seasoned base for when we have only a small number
of spears at our disposal.
enough for 2
fava beans, shelled a couple of handfuls
thin asparagus spears 12
white basmati rice 2/3 cup (120g)
butter 4 tablespoons (50g)
bay leaves 3
green cardamom pods 6, very lightly crushed
black peppercorns 6
a cinnamon stick
cloves 2 or 3, but no more
cumin seeds a small pinch
thyme a couple of sprigs
green onions 4 thin ones
parsley 3 or 4 sprigs
to accompany the pilaf
chopped mint 2 tablespoons
olive oil 2 tablespoons
yogurt 3/4 cup (200g)
Cook the fava beans in deep, lightly salted boiling water for four minutes,
until almost tender, then drain. Trim the asparagus and cut it into short
lengths. Boil or steam for three minutes, then drain.Wash the rice three
times in cold water, moving the grains around with your Wngers. Cover with
warm water, add a teaspoon of salt, and set aside for a good hour.
Melt the butter in a saucepan, then add the bay leaves, cardamom pods,
peppercorns, cinnamon stick, cloves, cumin seeds, and sprigs of thyme. Stir
them in the butter for a minute or two, until the fragrance wafts up. Drain
the rice and add it to the warmed spices. Cover with about 1 /4 inch (1cm) of
water and bring to a boil. Season with salt, cover, and decrease the heat to
simmer. Finely slice the green onions. Chop the parsley.
After Wve minutes, remove the lid and gently fold in the asparagus,
fava beans, green onions, and parsley. Replace the lid and continue
cooking for Wve or six minutes, until the rice is tender but has some bite

Tender US_1.indb 32

12/7/10 4:02 PM

Tender US_1.indb 33

12/7/10 4:02 PM


to it. All the water should have been absorbed. Leave, with the lid on but
the heat oV, for two or three minutes. Remove the lid, add a tablespoon
of butter if you wish, check the seasoning, and XuV gently with a fork.
Serve with the yogurt sauce below.


To accompany the pilaf

Stir 2 tablespoons of chopped mint, a little salt, and 2 tablespoons of olive
oil into 3/4 cup (200g) thick, but not strained, yogurt. You could add a
small clove of crushed garlic too. Spoon over the pilaf at the table.

Warm asparagus, melted cheese

I have used Taleggio, Camembert, and English Tunworth from Hampshire
as an impromptu sauce for warm asparagus with great success. A very
soft blue would work as well.
enough for 2
thick, juicy asparagus spears 24
a little olive oil or melted butter
soft, ripe cheeses such as St. Marcellin or any of the above 2
Bring a deep pan of lightly salted water to a boil. Trim any woody ends
from the asparagus and lower the spears gently into the water as soon as it
is boiling. Cook for four or Wve minutes, until tender enough to bend. Lift
the spears out with a slotted spoon and lower them into a shallow baking
dish. Brush them lightly with olive oil or melted butter.
Preheat the broiler. Slice the cheese thicklysmaller whole cheeses
can simply be sliced in half horizontallyand lay them over the top of
the spears. Place under a hot broiler for four or Wve minutes till the cheese
melts. Eat immediately, while the cheese is still runny.

A tart of asparagus and tarragon

I retain a soft spot for canned asparagus. Not as something to eat with
my Wngers (it is considerably softer than fresh asparagus, and rather too
giving), but as something with which to Xavor a quiche. The canned stuV
seems to permeate the custard more eVecively than the fresh. This may
belong to the law that makes canned apricots better in a frangipane tart
than fresh ones, or simply be misplaced nostalgia. I once made a living
from making asparagus quiche, its something very dear to my heart. Still,
fresh is good too.

Tender US_1.indb 34

12/7/10 4:02 PM


Make the icing. Sift the confecioners sugar into a bowl and add
enough lemon juice or orange blossom water to achieve a consistency where
the icing will run over the top of the cake and drizzle slowly down the sides
(about three teaspoonfuls), stirring to remove any lumps. Drizzle it over the
cake and scatter with poppy seeds. Rest for a bit to set before eating.


An extremely moist chocolate-beet cake

with crme frache and poppy seeds
I have lost count of the number of appreciative emails and blog mentions
about the brownies and the chocolate almond cake in The Kitchen Diaries.
They are received gratefully. It is true that I am rarely happier than when
making chocolate cake. I especially like baking those that manage to be
cakelike on the outside and almost molten within. Keeping a cakes heart on
the verge of oozing is down partly to timing and partly to the ingredients
ground almonds and very good-quality chocolate will help enormously.
But there are other ways to moisten a cake, such as introducing grated
carrots or, in this case, crushed beets.
The beets are subtle here, some might say elusive, but using them is
a lot cheaper than ground almonds, and they blend perfecly with dark
chocolate. This is a seducive cake, deeply moist and tempting. The serving
suggestion of crme frache is not just a nod to the sour cream so close to
beets Eastern European heart, it is an important part of the cake.
enough for 8 as a dessert
beets 8 ounces (250g)
Wne dark chocolate (70 percent cocoa solids) 7 ounces (200g)
hot espresso 4 tablespoons
butter 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (200g)
all-purpose Xour 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (135g)
baking powder a heaping teaspoon
good-quality cocoa powder 3 tablespoons
eggs 5
superfine sugar scant 1 cup (190g)
crme frache and poppy seeds, to serve
Lightly butter an 8-inch (20cm) springform cake pan and line the bottom
with a round of parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).
Cook the beets, whole and unpeeled, in boiling unsalted water.
Depending on their size, they will be tender when pierced with the tip of a
knife within thirty to forty minutes. Young ones may take slightly less. Drain
them, let them cool under running water, then peel them, slice oV their stem
and root, and process in a blender or food processor until a coarse pure.

Tender US_1.indb 54

12/7/10 4:03 PM

Tender US_1.indb 56

12/7/10 4:03 PM

Tender US_1.indb 57


Melt the chocolate, broken into small pieces, in a small bowl set over a
pot of simmering water. Dont stir.
When the chocolate looks almost melted, pour the hot espresso over
it and stir once. Cut the butter into small piecesthe smaller the better
and add to the melted chocolate. Push the butter down under the surface
of the chocolate with a spoon (as best you can) and let soften.
Sift together the Xour, baking powder, and cocoa. Separate the eggs,
putting the whites in a large mixing bowl. Stir the yolks together.
Now, working quickly but gently, remove the bowl of chocolate from
the heat and stir until the butter has melted into the chocolate. Let sit for a
few minutes, then stir in the egg yolks. Do this quickly, mixing Wrmly and
evenly so the eggs blend into the mixture. Fold in the beets. Whisk the
egg whites until stiV, then fold in the sugar. Firmly but gently, fold the
beaten egg whites and sugar into the chocolate mixture. A large metal
spoon is what you want here; work in a deep, Wgure-eight movement but
take care not to overmix. Lastly, fold in the Xour and cocoa.
Transfer quickly to the prepared cake pan and put in the oven,
decreasing the heat immediately to 325F (160C). Bake for forty minutes.
The rim of the cake will feel spongy, the inner part should still wobble
a little when the pan is gently shaken.
Set the cake aside to cool (it will sink a tad in the center), loosening
it around the edges with a thin icing spatula after half an hour or so. It is
not a good idea to remove the cake from its pan until it is completely cold.
Serve in thick slices, with crme frache and poppy seeds.


12/7/10 4:03 PM

It was a simple soup, ten minutes hands-on work and barely half an hour on
the stove. An onion, coarsely chopped, softened in a little olive oil in a deep
and heavy pan. An equal amount of carrots and yellow tomatoes (I used
1 pound [450g] of each to make enough for four), chopped and stirred into
the soft, translucent onion. About 4 cups (a liter) of water (I could have used
stock), and some salt, pepper, and a couple of bay leaves. It simmered for
half an hour, then I pured it to a thick, pulpy broth in the blender. We
ended up with four big bowls of coarse-textured soup, as bright and cheerful
as a pitcher of June flowers, a few chives stirred in at the table. As we licked
our spoons, someone mentioned it would have been good to have it chilled.
But by that time it was too late to try.

Tender US_1.indb 125


A soup the color of marigolds


12/7/10 4:06 PM

Tender US_1.indb 126

12/7/10 4:06 PM

Tender US_1.indb 132

12/7/10 4:06 PM

Young carrots, no thicker than a finger and often not much longer, appear
in the shops in late spring, their bushy leaves intac. Often, they have a justpicked air about them, their tiny side roots, as fine as hair, still fresh and crisp.
At this stage they lack the fiber needed to grate well, and boiling does them
few favors. They roast sweetly, especially when tucked under the roast. The
savory meat juices form a glossy coat that turns the carrot into a delecable
little morsel.
I have used a leg of lamb here but in fac any cut would worka shoulder
or loin, for instance. The spice rub also works for chicken.
enough for 4 to 6
leg of lamb 3 pounds (1.5kg)
garlic 4 cloves
cumin seeds 3 large pinches
mint leaves a large handful
juice of 2 lemons
olive oil
finger carrots 12
baby beets 4
white wine or stock a large glass


Roast lamb with mint, cumin, and roast carrots


Put the lamb in a roasting pan. Peel the garlic and put it into a food processor
with the cumin seeds, mint leaves, and lemon juice. Add a generous grinding
of salt and some black pepper. Process to a coarse paste, adding enough olive
oil to make a spreadable slush, thick enough to cling to the lamb.
Massage the roast well with the spice paste, spreading it over the skin
and into the cut sides of the flesh. Set aside in a cool place (preferably not the
fridge) for an hour, basting occasionally with any of the paste that has run off.
Preheat the oven to 400F (200C). Scrub the carrots and beets. If they
are small, you can probably get away with a rinse. Either way, be careful with
their skins, which are tender at this point in their life. Put the meat in the
oven and roast for forty-five minutes to an hour, tucking the vegetables in
around it after twenty minutes. The cooking time for the lamb will depend
on how you like it done; forty-five minutes should give you a roast that is still
pink and juicy inside. Remove from the oven and rest the meat for a good ten
to fifteen minutes before carving and serving with the mint barnaise below.
If you want to make a gravy, transfer the meat and carrots to a warm
place, put the roasting pan over medium heat, then pour in a large glass of
wine or stock, or even water, and bring it to a boil. Stir with a wooden spoon,
scraping away at the pan to dissolve any stuck-on meat juices. Let the gravy
bubble a little, check it for seasoning (it may need salt and pepper), then keep
it warm while you carve the lamb.

Tender US_1.indb 133

12/7/10 4:06 PM

Tender US_2.indb 364

12/7/10 4:17 PM

A salad of beans, peas, and pecorino


Among the charcoal and garlic of midsummers more robust cooking,

a quiet salad of palest green can come as a breath of calm. Last June, as
thousands joined hands around Stonehenge in celebration of the summer
solstice, I put together a salad of cool notes: mint, fava beans, and young
peasa bowl of appropriate gentility and quiet harmony.


enough for 4
shelled fava beans 1 /3 cups (g)
shelled peas 3 cups (4g)
ciabatta 4 small slices
a little olive oil
salad leaves 4 generous handfuls
mint leaves a good handful
pecorino sardo cheese 3 ounces (8g), in thin shavings
for the dressing
a lemon
olive oil (fruity and peppery) 4 tablespoons
balsamic vinegar a teaspoon
Bring a pan of water to a boil, then salt it lightly. Cook the beans in this,
drain them, then rinse in cold water. Put more water on and cook the peas.
Drain them and mix with the beans. Both peas and beans will need barely
more than a couple of minutes if they are small and sweet.
Make the dressing by dissolving a good pinch of salt in the juice of the
lemon, then using a fork to beat in the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a
grinding of black pepper (alternatively put all the ingredients in a screw-top
jar and shake).
Toast the slices of bread on both sides and tear them into short pieces.
Drizzle a little olive oil onto each one, then shake over a light dusting of
sea salt.
Toss the salad leaves and mint in the dressing, then add the peas, beans,
and pecorino shavings. Tuck in the toasted ciabatta and serve.

Tender US_2.indb 366

12/7/10 4:17 PM

Tender US_2.indb 365

12/7/10 4:17 PM


Potatoes, crme frache, and dill

Tender US_3.indb 434

Its the last week of June and the pink-mauve Xowers of the Charlotte
potatoes have started to fade. The stems are thick like old rhubarb, yet
almost transparent in the evening sun. Once the Xowers have gone, its okay
to lift them.
The tallest stalk doesnt disappoint. A good dozen potatoes are attached
to its Wne, creamy-white rootspale, golden eggs against crumbly black
soil. Not just hens either, there are diminutive spuds the size of quails eggs
and others more like ducks. It is said that they are best left to set for a day
before cooking. We dont, and they are rubbed clean with a thumb under
running water, then boiled in heavily salted water for Wfteen minutes,
eighteen for the ducks eggs.
Gently rub the potatoes clean, washing them well under running water.
Leave the skin be if it is young and thin. Peel it if not. Put the potatoes into
cold water and bring to a boil. Salt generously, then simmer until tender
when pierced with the tip of a knifea matter of anything from ten to
twenty-Wve minutes, depending on the variety of your potatoes. Drain and
return them to the stove, this time over gentle heat.
Put a large dollop of crme frache into the pan and a handful of
chopped dill fronds. Cover with a lid until the cream has melted. Fold the
potatoes gently over in the melted cream and herbs until they are lightly
coated, then eat with ham or oily Wsh.

12/7/10 4:24 PM

Tender US_3.indb 435

12/7/10 4:24 PM

Roast cherry tomatoes


Put your tomatoes in a shallow roasting tin and drizzle olive oil over them.
Grind over a little black pepper and add a few drops of balsamic vinegar.
Toss them around in the dressing, then roast at 00F (200C) for about
thirty minutes, until they are soft and oozing juices. Let them cool in their
dish, so as not to waste a drop of their juice.


Baked tomatoes with cheese and thyme

The Wrst time I made this, I discovered a wealth of delights: the way the
tomato holds the little cheese like an eggcup holds an egg; the point at
which the juice of the tomato and the melted cheese meet; and the subtle
diVerence in smell and Xavor depending on which cheese you use.
Two of these tomatoes are lunch for me if there is something else on
the tablea couscous salad, perhaps, or some bread and salami. Others
may want more.
enough for 2
large, ripe tomatoes
olive oil
thyme or 5 bushy sprigs
fresh goat cheeses or other cheeses 2 small
Preheat the oven to 50F (180C). Cut a thick slice from the top of each
tomato. Using a teaspoon, scoop out enough of the seeds and Xesh to make
room for half a goat cheese (dont add the cheese yet). Put them snugly in
an ovenproof baking dish, salt and pepper the inside, and add a teaspoon or
so of olive oil to each one. Pull the leaves from the thyme and sprinkle them
inside the tomatoes. Bake the tomatoes for twenty-Wve minutes, or until
they are soft and lightly colored. Slice the cheeses in half if they are small, or
in large pieces if they are larger than the diameter of the hollow. Whatever,
just make the cheese Wt into the tomatoes. Spoon a little oil from each
tomato over the cheese, or add fresh oil if it has escaped, then return to the
oven for ten minutes, until the cheese has melted.

Tender US_3.indb 558

12/7/10 4:26 PM

546-571_Tomatoes.indd 556

1/4/11 4:02 PM