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.
I don't buy into the smallest is best approach when it comes to choosing vegetables; clearly there is an optimum size for different vegetables. For me, the carrot picked from the ground to be consumed as soon as possible in its raw state needs to be as thick as my little finger, but for this method for cooking carrots, the carrots need to be at least as fat and as long as your thumb. These small carrots can be cooked whole. Larger ones, which need to be sliced, also work perfectly here. There are several variations to the master recipe, and I think this method for cooking carrots can open your eyes as to how good carrots can be.
Crème Anglaise is one the classic dessert sauces. It is flourless, thin custard. The classic version is flavoured with vanilla but many variations exist. Lemon, orange, chocolate and coffee are some of the many other flavours that might be introduced. If possible use a vanilla pod or bean, but natural vanilla extract can also be used. The vanilla pod will give a superior flavour and the sauce will be flecked with the tiny vanilla seeds whose appearance in the sauce adds visual interest. Best quality eggs make an enormous difference to the colour and flavour of the sauce.
A leg of lamb can be roasted like this at any time of the year, but is best with spring lamb which in this part of the world appears at Easter time. Spring lamb for the table, coming from lambs born around Christmas, is sweet, mild and subtle, hence the absence of flavourings here other than sea salt and freshly ground pepper. The skin on spring lamb when roasted gets particularly crisp and delicious, so do not be tempted to trim any off before roasting the meat. Strongly flavoured herbs and spices will overpower the delicate flavour of the early or new season lamb so I wait until at bit later in the season before introducing those.
A dazzling combination of flavours.
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.
A great treat.
The time is worth it.
When it comes to steak, the T-bone satisfies most people. You get some sirloin, fillet and crisp fatty bits as well, and all cooked on the bone for extra flavour. One T-bone is enough for two people, and if you ask your butcher to cut the T-bone twice as thick as normal, you have a handsome piece of meat which will be sufficient to feed four people. This is a most convenient way to grill beef for several people as you have one piece of meat, rather than four individual steaks. The two sauces suggested here are classic and expected, but what might seem unusual is that they are served together. They combine beautifully to give a freshness and vibrancy of taste that works brilliantly with the rich beef. Both sauces are an essential part of your repertoire, and you will use them with lots of other dishes.