|The UK has produced many great icons of pop culture--everyone from food writer Elizabeth David to future monarchs Prince William and Kate Middleton. A new addition to this splendid tradition is British chef and cookbook author Skye Gyngell. I was first introduced to Skye's work with her precious cookbook "My Favorite Ingredients," and now a much anticipated follow-up, "A Year in my Kitchen". In this latest book, she takes all of those great ingredients she shared the first time around and creates a lovely assortment of seasonal recipes. These aren't your standard scaled-down versions of restaurant favorites, but in fact the type of meals that Skye loves to make at home for her family and friends.
Photo by Jason Lowe © 2011
Ms. Gyngell reminds you how to appreciate the simplicity of fresh ingredients, and the confidence to never be intimidated by them. Seasonal cooking can be a challenge for some, but learning from this pro will easily put any fears aside. In addition to basic recipes and techniques, the author walks you through the process of things like making infused oils, slow-roasting tomatoes, and even tea-smoking.
Spring is fast becoming my favorite season; and now that the warmer temperatures and sunny skies seem like they're going to stay for a bit, I am fueled with the inspiration I need to transform some of those early spring vegetables into a flavorful meal. Asparagus is usually the first true spring vegetable I find in New Jersey, and I'm always looking for a new way to serve it. This Spinach, Fennel, and Asparagus salad (see recipe below) with its bright green flavors simply screams spring.
Spinach, fennel, and asparagus saladReprinted with permission from A Year in My Kitchen by Skye Gyngell, copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.
- 5 ounces young, tender spinach leaves
- 1 fennel bulb
- 6 asparagus spears
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- scant 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp finely grated Parmesan
- juice of 1/2 lemon
Wash the spinach thoroughly in several charges of cold water. Place in a large pan with just the water clinging to the leaves after washing and cook over high heat until just wilted. This takes very little time-no longer than a minute-don't overcook it. Drain the spinach and set aside to cool.
To prepare the fennel, slice off the base and remove the fibrous outer leaves, then cut the bulb in half lengthwise. Place each half, cut side down, on a cutting board and cut lengthwise into fine shards, using a sharp knife-the slices should be almost paper-thin.
Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus and, using the same sharp knife, slice the spears finely lengthwise. (Shaved raw asparagus has an interesting texture and excellent taste.)
Squeeze out as much moisture from the cooled spinach as possible (but don't be so brutal that you bruise the leaves). Put the spinach into a large bowl and season with a little salt and pepper. Add the olive oil and toss through with your hands-the spinach will absorb the oil and take on a luxurious, glossy quality.
Add the fennel shards, asparagus, lemon zest, Parmesan, and lemon juice. Toss very gently with your fingertips-you want to create a feeling of space and air. Taste for seasoning, adding a little more salt if needed. Pile the salad onto plates and serve.
Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.