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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Oxford asparagus, foraged wild garlic, herbs, new season peas, freshly made curds

Oxford asparagus, foraged wild garlic, herbs, new season peas, freshly made curds
-the starter for School Supper Society, this Saturday 10th May 2014 (

"I love this time of year"  as said by chefs all over the country, prob most notably on the television. Me? I love every part of the year for different reasons, but yeah I have to agree that after a few months focusing on roots vegetables and heart warming dishes, the arrival of some sunshine brings a different type of warmth to many a heart. Not only is it warmer, but the world seems like a lighter more inviting place, days are longer and life appears bountiful. Look out the window (if you're lucky enough to have one)  its green out there, chlorophyll is everywhere and that is the inspiration for this dish.

I'm not changing the world or breaking the mold with this one. There's no need, i'm very happy with the world as it presents itself to me and this time of year is when you should let that world speak.

So let it speak…..

New Season English Asparagus, which i'm hoping to pick myself from Oxford if time allows. Its amazing. If you can make it to a PYO in the next couple of months please do. You enter the field and you're like "where the fiddlesticks are the asparagus?" and then you see them. They are everywhere, shooting up in isolated little patches, aching to reach the sun. You can even smell them, which, to be honest, smells like the jimmy riddle apres an asparagus binge!!

An old picture of an asparagus dish in one of our very first pop ups!!

Treat them simple and eat them well. I like to snap the ends off and peel the stalks of their fibrous skin, though the younger ones won't need it. Boiling salted water, drop them in and literally a minute later squeeze one of the stalks and you'll feel it give, boom, that's it, get them out and into cold/iced water. Blanch and shock init. This technique will serve you well for many green vegetable and really locks in colour and nutrients. It also gives you a headstart when cooking for guests/friends/loved ones (all of the above, rolled into one?)

2 years ago, served from the back of a church, nice

If I was just eating asparagus then I'd foam some butter in a pan, pop in the asparagus, good sprinkle of Maldon, baste them in the foaming butter for a minute, squeeze of lemon, crack of black pepper, on the plate, simple. Now devour, maybe with a dip, maybe a poached egg, maybe on your own looking out of that window

I'm planning to serve the asparagus with wild garlic/ramsons, again another symbol of Spring which everyone shouts about, mainly because its so damn fresh, green and generally free!! I've found a few spots for both wild garlic and three corner garlic so all those coming on Saturday will have a bit of both. Really simple to prepare, treat it like spinach or blitz it with oil to combine or make into a pesto or salsa. f, f,f ,f ,f ,f fresh

The other components are there to add herb notes, flavour and a touch of citrus and then we are going to add home made curds to add a lactic/creamy component to the dish. This is a really simple process and the beginnings of cheese making. Basically……

Pour 2 litres whole organic milk into a clean non-reactive saucepan and add a pinch of salt. Heat the milk gently to body temp (38c), and remove from the heat. Stir in 2tsp rennet (or lemon juice/vinegar but not as effective!) until it's well combined, then leave for 15 minutes, for the milk to separate into curds at the top and whey at the bottom.

Line a colander with a large, double-layered piece of muslin or a clean blue dish cloth. Scoop up the curds in as large pieces as possible, and put into the muslin. Tie up the corners of the muslin and hang to drip above a bowl or sink for about three hours.

Ta da!!! You made Cheese!!!

And that's that. Put it all together or eat them separately its up to. This is the starter we are serving up alongside a plethera or musicians, artists and awesomeness this Saturday as School Supper Society, get involved

I do hope you have enjoyed this intro to the menu and a little delve into the mind of a chef/food obsessive/cook/eater/child

Enjoy ix