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Monday, 21 September 2015

Sweet Potato Mash with Crisp Sage Leaves, Ricotta and Pecan Nuts from Sally Clarke: 30 Ingredients

It's book review time and 30 Ingredients by Sally Clarke is a real treat, chef style food explained in clear and simple recipes for you to make at home.

About the book
30 Ingredients encapsulates Sally's innovative and uncomplicated approach to food  At its heart lies her simple concept of cooking with the freshest and best, produce the vision that has ensured Sally's success for the last thirty years.  Sally's philosophy is simple: fresh in-season ingredients used not only to suit every plate but also to please the eye. Sally has chosen a handful of recipes for each of her favourite 30 ingredients,

About the author
It is 30 years since Sally Clarke founded her now legendary Notting Hill restaurant Clarke's and become the pioneer of seasonal fine dining in British cuisine.  To celebrate this significant anniversary, the award-winning chef, restaurateur and author has now written and irresistible cookery book, 30 Ingredients.

The Ingredients and the Recipes
1. Apricot - this is one of my favourites too and I'll definitely be making Apricots baked with vanilla, cinnamon and lavender.
2. Asparagus - always popular in its season and Asparagus risotto with spelt, goat cheese and Prosecco is bound to prove popular too.
3. Aubergine - Sally prefers the paler aubergines/eggplants but the purple ones will do just as well in her Baba Ganoush and Caponata recipes.
4.. Basil - that tarts of summer in a herb features in a surprising Basil ice ream with sugared basil leaves, lemon and black pepper wafers.
5. Beetroot - another of my faves, that rich sweet earthy flavour will blend perfectly with the carrots in Baked beetroot and carrots with new season garlic.
6. Broad Bean - best picked fresh from the garden and a real star in the recipe for Cracked wheat salad with broad beans, courgettes and peas.
7. Cep - these flavourful fungi are served finely sliced with Parmesan, lemon. olive oil and parsley toasts a simple dish that I can almost taste.
8. Cherry - bursting with sweet juice, cherries go well with many flavours but just so well with chocolate that your mouth will be watering at Sally's Dark Chocolate souffle cake with Kirsch and cherries.
9. Chicory - not a vegetable I have cooked with but I do like the sound of a Chicory Tarte Tatin.
10. Clementine - my favourite of the easy peel oranges and as they start to come into the shops soon, I will be serving the Salad of clementines, feta, pine nuts and pomegranate dressing.
11. Cobnuts - I've tried cobnuts once, their availability tends to be localised to the south east of England, worth sourcing them to make the Cobnut salad with figs and peaches or, I guess, substituting the more common hazelnuts.
12. Fennel- Not everyone likes the aniseed overtones in a lovely Florence Fennel, I love it,  and Sea bass baked with potato and fennel sounds heavenly to me.
13. Fig - I'm beginning to think that Sally has been looking at my list of favourite foods!  Fig is certainly a favourite of mine and every recipe in this section sounds good to me, Figs with balsamic vinegar, chives blossoms and shaved Parmesan served with Spiced seeded flat bread sounds like a feast to me.
14. Landcress - this is a new one on me, and Sally does admit that it is not so easy to find, it is more peppery than watercress and she suggests that it is used with care. Crab Cakes with Landcress, Chilli, Creme Fraiche and Lime is bound to pack a punch, just what I like.
15. Leeks - a little more available, Sally uses leeks at every stage of their growth for different types of recipe. Smoked Haddock and Leek Pasties would be great as a starter or to eat on a picnic.
16. Lemon and Lime - two for the price of one here, so I'm going to give you two recipes too.  Lemon and Lime Icecream sounds delicious as does Lemon and brown sugar shortbread.
17. Olive - I would eat olives everyday if I could and I would love to eat the gutsy Black olive tapenade toasts with anchovies and capers, a taste explosion!
18. Blood Orange - also known as Ruby Oranges, always lovely and sweet, a Salad of Blood Oranges, Beetroot and Pomegranate would be well worth making and eating.
19. Pea - another star vegetable and one that I love in soup.  Sally's Chilled pea soup with mint, spring onion and yoghurt sounds like a real treat.
20. Peach - Cheers! Sally has whizzed up a White Peach Bellini for our delight.
21. Pine Nut - of course without pine nuts there would be no Pesto but Sally also brings us Sicilian-style ricotta and pin nut torta.
22. Potato - so versatile, the perfect ingredient and Sally shows us how to make perfect roast potatoes, the epitome of potato deliciousness.
23. Quince - I once managed to get some quince from a neighbour's tree but conditions for good quince do not seem to have returned.  If you can get hold of some then Sally's Quince and Rosemary Tarte Tatin sounds worth making.
24. Raspberry - nothing beats raspberries, that combination of sweet and sharp and bursting with deep pink juice.  Sally creates a Raspberry Jelly which also contains blackcurrants and strawberries creating a lovely red fruit jelly.
25.Rocket - Sally comments on the dramatic rise in popularity of rocket and extols it's peppery virtues, which are beautifully shown off in her recipe for Rocket wrapped in rare roasted beef, with mustard mayonnaise on toast.
26.Sage - the herb that just cries out for some pork!  Sally does not disappoint and her Pork, Onion and Sage Pie is on my list to make.
27. Squash and Pumpkin - those colourful gourds are so versatile, it's nearly the time of year when pumpkins are in abundance and a plate full of this rustic Spiced Pumpkin, Tomato and Chickpea Stew would go down a treat on a cooler day.
28.Strawberry- in season there is nothing quite like the taste of a strawberry and they herald the start of summer proper to me. Sally treats the strawberries simply but adds layers of flavour in her Strawberry Cannoli recipe, these are not tube shaped cannoli, more like little baskets to scoop up the ricotta and strawberries before popping in your mouth.
29. Sweetcorn - in this chapter Sally creates a Baked Sweetcorn and Polenta Pudding with Ricotta, maybe it's because we are heading towards autumn and winter that I find this so attractive, comfort food with a difference.
30. and finally Tomato - imagine that smell of ripe tomatoes straight off the vine, combined with sweet nectarines, feta and onions and decorated with nasturtium, marigold and rocket blossoms, that's one of the ways that Sally showcases tomatoes in Tomato Salad with Nectarines and Feta

So there we are, 30 ingredients and, although I have only picked out one recipe per ingredient, there are at least two and sometimes three for each.

Who is it for?
I would say this is a book for people with a passion for food who want to make the most of every ingredient they use.  Although  the 30 ingredients are all vegetables, fruits, herbs and nuts , this is not a vegetarian cookbook, there are non-meat recipes, as well as those with meat, fish and poultry. It would make a beautiful gift for anyone who loves to cook.

The photographs are stunning, there is not a photo for every recipe, but the quality of the photos is very high.  The whole book is beautifully produced and could sit quite happily on that 'coffee table' to be picked up and oohed and aahed over. Each ingredient is given a page of text, which is easy to read and the recipes are clear and well written with a couple of paragraphs of 'story' where appropriate.

It's quite a big book, however it does stay open so you can read the recipes - hurrah! At £25 it's not cheap but I think this is justified by the quality of the production and the excellence of the recipes.

The Verdict
Add it to your wish list for birthday or Christmas, then you too can spend hours drooling over the exciting recipe ideas and the beautiful pictures.

Sweet Potato Mash with Crisp Sage Leaves, Ricotta and Pecan Nuts
Serves 6

1.5kg sweet potatoes
2tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp light olive oil
100g butter, plus a little extra for buttering the dish
1 bunch sage, small leaves picked, large leaves chopped finely
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed to a cream
50g pecans, medium-finely chopped
250g ricotta or fresh goat cheese

Peel the sweet potatoes and place in a large pan of boiling slated water, cover and simmer until tender to the centre. Drain in a colander and when cool enough to handle, cut roughly into smallish pieces.

Toast the cumin seeds in a small pan over a medium heat until they are fragrant - do not allow to burn. Crush using a pestle and mortar or in a spice grinder.

Meanwhile heat the olive oil and half the butter in a pan until foaming.  Fry the small sage leaves until crisp (though not too dark), remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.  Add the remaining butter to the pan and add the ground cumin, chopped chilli and chopped sage, and cook until fragrant (approximately one minute).  Remove from the heat, add the garlic and stir well.

Place the sweet potato in a large bowl and beat with a hand whisk or electric whisk until smooth (I put the sweet potato through the potato ricer). Little by little add almost all the seasoned butter ingredients until well amalgamated.  Add salt to taste.

Preheat the oven to 175C
Brush an oven-proof dish with butter and spoon the potato mash in, levelling the top a little. Drizzle over any remaining melted butter and bake for 8-10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and scatter the pecans with crumbled ricotta or goat cheese on the top, and continue to bake for a further 3-4 minutes or until piping hot.

Garnish with fried sage leaves and serve alongside a crisp green and bitter leaf salad or with roasted pork, turkey or chicken.

You really need to add lots of chopped sage for the flavour to come through, hard to judge 'a bunch' and I probably underplayed it, will be trying again with more sage.  Pecans and sweet potatoes is a marriage made in heaven though and the cumin and chilli add a nice spicy lift without overpowering the sweet potato. 

Sally Clarke: 30 Ingredients
Published by Frances Lincoln Limited Publishers
RRP Hardback £25

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At 21 September 2015 at 22:16 , Blogger Keep Calm and Fanny On said...

This looks great, I love crispy sage leaves!

At 22 September 2015 at 17:00 , Blogger Unknown said...

lovely book review and a gorgeous looking recipe. Love how smooth and soft it looks, proper comfort food and extra special with the sage leaves... nice work!

At 22 September 2015 at 19:08 , Blogger Janice said...

Thanks, it was tasty

At 22 September 2015 at 19:09 , Blogger Janice said...

Thanks Dom


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