A great starter.
In this master recipe we are aiming to achieve a smooth and silky soup, packed full of flavour and nourishment and bright green in colour. By varying the green ingredient, you need never tire of this recipe. The choice of green vegetables that can be used here are many, but we have to choose one to get us going, so my choice is spinach. Choose strong, handsome and really fresh looking leaves and the results will be dazzlingly green.
This Middle Eastern chickpea purée or hummus is great served with toasted pitta bread, with super fresh and crisp vegetable crudites or as part of a selection of hors d'oeuvres. Hummus should be kept chilled if you are keeping it overnight and used up within 2 days of making.
This is a terrific cake and in its simplest form as listed here, it is perfect with a cup of tea. I don't see any reason, though, why you couldn't serve it as a dessert cake, still very slightly warm from the oven, with a bowl of sweet strawberries and softly whipped cream or Crème Anglaise. The cake is best on the day it is made, ideally before it gets completely cold, which is possible with this cake, as it is neither iced nor filled, just sliced and eaten. It is still excellent the next day and will happily keep for a few days after that stored in an airtight container.
For those among you who don't possess a deep-fry, but long for chips, these potatoes are perfect. The scrubbed potatoes are left unpeeled and cut into large wedge-shaped chips, with each wedge having some of the skin attached. The skin on each piece of potato is important as it prevents them from sticking to the roasting tray and, of course, also has a delicious crispy flavour. When buying potatoes, if possible, buy them unwashed as the soil will keep in the flavour and nutrients. Serve the potatoes with roast and grilled meat, poultry or fish. They are a great accompaniment to a warm salad, and you can ring the changes with the use of different herbs.
These cucumbers are immensely popular. Serve with cold meats, pates and terrines, smoked fish, sandwiches, spiced beef and with a sharp and mature cheddar cheese. The pickle keeps well in the fridge, though it does lose its bright green colour. I like to slice the cucumbers and onions really thinly for a more melting and tender result. There will be some of the pickling liquid left after the cucumbers are eaten. I like to save this and use it for sprinkling on thinly sliced onions for an instant pickle.
Many people believe that preparing and cooking beetroot is a long and wearisome process. Not the case here, where the beets are simply peeled in their raw state, grated and dressed and then ready to eat. I use an Irish goat's cheese such as St Tola or Ardsallagh in this salad. A few rocket leaves and/or mint leaves could also be added to this salad for a fresh green twist.
These thin, crisp and delicious biscuits have many different uses. The original recipe comes from Chez Panisse in Berkeley in California. I was lucky enough to spend a month in the kitchens there a few years ago. I tasted these biscuits there and have adjusted the recipe slightly to suit our measurements and ingredients in this part of the world. They can be served with tea and coffee. They are good with ice cream and sorbets. They are fine enough to be served as a petit four. I also serve them with a Blackberry and Apple Fool in the autumn and Mango Fool in winter. They are very handy as the slab of uncooked biscuit keeps in the freezer and you slice off thin sheets and cook them as needed.