There is a certain sort of Anglophile that I can't help but make fun of. Those who have spent precious little time either in England or in the company of the English, for instance, as they have little concept that certain imperfections accompany those beguiling pubs and charming accents. Or those who feel that being American is somehow shameful and believe that the English are a more respectable people, and thus simply cannot bring themselves to shower anything but praise over the island and its inhabitants.
But that said there is a lot that I adore about England and I love many of its inhabitants (my dearly beloved most of all). Despite the invariably dodgy plumbing that the country is plagued with, the English do music festivals like no one else can, their members clubs are, as a rule, much more enjoyable than those in New York (prime example: Soho House here and there) and I find there is something a bit magical about their cookbooks.
I like that they tend towards weights rather than measures, and although the food is not hugely exotic, I do find that it is just different enough from American food to be exciting. So I was thrilled with the Amazon.uk gift certificate that I received from Paul's parents at Christmas, as it meant I had an excellent excuse to add to my burgeoning collection of "cookery books".
I've now got three new additions
...and so far they've brought me no end of joy.
When I first cracked open Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Everday I felt a bit as if I had somehow come home. Although the great Mr. F-W usually writes more intense cookbooks covering subjects like nose to tail butchering/cooking/eating and the like, this one is considerably more whimsical.
I felt as if I was reading the musings of a kindred spirit.
I adore rhubarb compote, just as he does...
and homemade yogurt...
and pan con tomate...
and Scottish oakcakes!
I was momentarily lulled into thinking that we create food of similar caliber. Until, of course, I came across this gorgeous and creative "thrifty" fish soup (thrifty gets me every time).
I adore all manners of bouillabaisse and cioppino so was completely taken with it.
And these "bacon" chops.
Unusual, easy and tasty from the looks of it.
And this neck of lamb stew is incredibly intriguing...
I do believe that neck is about to come the new "hip" cut of meat, I feel as though I'm starting to see it all over the place!
It was all too much, I needed a break so headed for Nigel Slater's Tender V. 1. Now I already adore this man's work...the Kitchen Diaries is just to die for. And this tale of man and his urban vegetable patch was too alluring to resist.
His backyard is so envy-worthy...difficult to image that this exists in London, no?
This seems like something out of the Hamptons...
Mr. Slater picks all sorts of luscious crunchy bits from his little patch of heaven and makes the most divine sorts of things with them. And none of it oppressively healthy, although none of it offensively artery clogging either.
One of my favorite things in life is deeply charred spring fresh eggplant...
and here it is elevated with a pungent greek yogurt sauce.
I adore fava beans (during the short time they are in season, there is nothing more disappointing than an off season fava) but do occasionally become bored with my repertoire. Now I shall be adding serrano ham to the mix on Mr. Slater's recommendation.
And of course I'm always up for a good stew, especially when pork sausage is involved...
and he has not neglected the morning baked goods either...
...pumpkin scones are making me long for fall!
But as we are currently in the depths of winter with nothing but potatoes at the farmer's market, I could not bear to read any more of all of the fresh recipes with fresh vegetables...I am months away from such bounty!
So I moved on to Ottolenghi, a cookbook which describes the dishes of these charming London food shops (and perhaps restaurant? I admit I don't know). The food is fragrant and light with a vaguely middle eastern bent, and all of the dishes seem to be something I could whip up in no time and still be thrilled with.
I could make this simple lentil and rice dish on a Sunday afternoon to take for lunch during the week...
...and this recipe is an excellent excuse to continue my tahini fascination.
I am not always so taken with the idea of making a dessert, but these beautiful confections had me at first glance.