Recipe: Cafe@All Saints - March Recipes

PUBLISHED: 15:09 07 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:49 20 February 2013

March Recipes

March Recipes

View Cafe@All Saints March Recipes

A visit to a greengrocer

I love shopping for food. And there is almost nothing I like better than a trip to a really excellent greengrocer. My parents, who had an antique porcelain shop, would constantly interrupt family holidays when they spotted the most unpromising looking junk shops - and I'm just as bad when it comes to food shops. The sight of shelves of beautiful and perky fruit and veg makes me want to buy many more than five a day.

I was in Hay-on-Wye a few days ago wondering what to cook for this month's Herefordshire Life recipes (having been reminded by Hilary that pancake day was in February not March!) when I passed by the wonderful Castle Greengrocers. The open door and the sight of Yorkshire rhubarb beckoned me in. This small but excellent shop was set up by media vegetable man Charlie Hicks a few years ago and has now been taken over by Stuart Pritchard, who also clearly knows his onions (and his celeriac and banana shallots....). Charlie still supplies much of the imported produce, but Stuart is keen to feature plenty of local stuff as well, including, remarkably, some limes grown in Hay!

Within five minutes I had two shopping bags full of vibrant produce and this menu was beginning to take shape in my head. And I can already see at least a couple of these recipes appearing on the All Saints menu in the next few weeks.

You could eat all these dishes together for a delicious spring feast, in which case I would serve them in the order they are presented here, giving fairly dainty portions of each one. Alternatively they are each delicious on their own, or as an accompaniment to a main course.

Purple sprouting broccoli with anchovy hollandaise

Like asparagus, purple sprouting is delicious with hollandaise. But the more pronounced cabbagey flavour of purple sprouting works well with stronger flavours also - hence the little bits of anchovy I've added.

Serves 4 as a starter

125 g unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
1 dsp cold water
Juice and zest of 1 lime
4 fillets of good quality anchovies cut into little bits
Salt and pepper

750g purple sprouting broccoli, cut into florets with long thin stems attached - discard any woody bits of stem

1. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. When the hollandaise is nearly ready (see below) add the broccoli and boil for 3-4 minutes. Drain immediately.

2. Melt the butter in a small pan and add the chopped anchovies. Take off the heat but keep warm.

3. Put the egg yolks in a steel pan and add a dessertspoonful of cold water. Whisk constantly and vigorously, moving the pan on and off a low heat. The eggs go through different stages. First, the mixture begins to lighten and become frothy. Then the eggs will begin to lose a bit of air and become creamy and pale. The yolks are ready to receive the butter when they are thick enough to retain the distinct marks of the whisk. Now remove the pan from the heat and put on a stable surface (perhaps with a damp cloth underneath to add stability).

4. Continue whisking the egg yolks and begin to pour in the warm clear butter, slowly at first and then quicker as the sauce gradually becomes thick and oozy. Add a touch of the milky residue from the bottom of the pan to loosen the sauce a little. Then add the lime juice and zest, half at a time in case the full amount is too 'limey' for your taste. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. This is best served at once. (You can keep the sauce warm for a bit but any attempt to re-warm it risks the sauce splitting.) Divide the drained cooked purple-sprouting between warmed plates and put a big blob of hollandaise on the side.

Anya potatoes, beetroot and rocket, hot smoked salmon, lemon and dill crme frache

Anya potatoes are a bit like Pink Fir Apples but less knobbly. They are waxy with a pronounced potato flavour and they keep their shape well. If you can't get either of these, other waxy salad potatoes such as Rattes or Charlottes would be fine.

The hot smoked salmon I used came from the Black Mountains Smokery, where we buy all our smoked fish for All Saints. Their stuff is consistently excellent and this hot smoked salmon (not served hot, but made with hot smoke so that it is opaque and more cooked-tasting than normal smoked salmon) is excellent in all sorts of salads and rice dishes.

I'm a great fan of roasted beetroot, but it does seem crazy to turn the oven on for a couple of hours to roast/bake it if you're not cooking other things as well. So, it's also very good and very much quicker and environmentally friendlier cooked in the microwave - although without some of the caramel flavour of the roast version. It takes about 10 minutes to do 350g beetroot in our microwave.

Serves 4 for a good-sized starter or a dainty lunch

350g beetroot, either roasted or microwaved until tender (see above)
50ml olive oil
juice of half a blood orange (an ordinary orange is also OK)
700g Anya potatoes, halved diagonally
150g hot smoked salmon
40g rocket (half a typical supermarket packet)

125g crme frache
1 bunch dill - 25g
1 tsp runny honey
juice of half a lemon

1. Peel the cooked beetroot and toss in the blood orange juice and half the olive oil.

2. Put the crme frache, dill, honey and lemon juice in a blender and whiz.

3. Boil the potatoes until tender, then drain and toss with the remainder of the olive oil and some salt and pepper. Mix the potatoes with the beetroot and rocket. Divide this between plates and top with the salmon and a good dribble of the dill dressing.

Chicory, smoked ham and sweet potato gratin

Chicory and ham in a cheese sauce is a classic of the 60s and 70s and this updated version is astonishingly tasty. If you think you don't like cooked chicory, or you've never tried it, this will convert you. Garnish each plate with some fresh watercress.

Serves 4

500g sweet potatoes (2 medium ones) peeled and quartered lengthways
4 medium slices of smoked ham (preferably Tudge's), about 160g
2 good heads chicory, sliced in half lengthways
250ml double cream
100g good quality Cheddar, grated

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C.

2. Toss the sweet potatoes in a little olive oil and salt and spread on a baking sheet. Put in the oven and bake until the flesh of the sweet potatoes is quite tender and they are beginning to brown in patches.

3. Butter a baking dish and pour a thin layer of cream on the bottom.

4. Wrap each chicory half in ham and arrange in the dish and then arrange the bits of roast sweet potato around them. Pour the cream over and season with some black pepper (the ham and cheese probably mean you won't want salt) and then sprinkle the cheese on top.

5. Put the dish in the oven (still at 180C) and cook for 15-25 minutes until bubbling and irresistibly golden.

Blood orange, rhubarb and almond tart with blood orange and rhubarb garnish

This is full of the tart flavours of March - perfectly balanced with some luscious Herefordshire crme frache.

If you have some pastry trimmings left over make a few little jam tarts. I made the ones in these pictures with some Bonne Maman apricot jam and some plum jam from a school fete. Put the jam on un-cooked tartlet cases, bake until bubbly and then leave to cool. They were delicious - and not all of them were eaten by our children.

500g rhubarb chopped in 1 cm pieces
75g caster sugar

1 blind-baked sweet pastry case (23cm diameter)

2 eggs
150g caster sugar
1 blood orange and 1 lemon - juice and zest of both
60g butter, melted
45g ground almonds

2 blood oranges, peeled with a knife and carefully segmented, removing all the pith

1. Pre-heat the oven to 140C.

2. Mix the rhubarb and sugar and spread on a non-stick baking sheet. Put in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes until the rhubarb is tender and has lost a little of its juice.

3. Turn the oven up to 180C.

4. Beat the eggs and sugar in a blender and whiz until pale and creamy. Add the juice/zest and whiz again. Then gradually add the melted butter and finally the ground almonds.

5. Take about 2/3 of the rhubarb and arrange on the tart shell. Pour the filling over and bake until just set - about 20 minutes.

6. Allow to cool. Meanwhile, mix the remainder of the rhubarb with the segmented blood orange.

7. Serve each slice of tart with a spoonful of compote and a good blob of crme frache.

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