Last week I had a sneak peak of spring while visiting Charlie in London UK. What a treat to see green grass, budding trees and flowering daffodils and tulips! The good news is that it will be here too in the blink of an eye.
We immediately set to work planning a little dinner party, starting with a visit to Charlie’s favourite butcher, The Ginger Pig. Charlie had been rubbing his hands together at the thought of some good thick steaks on his barbecue, and we found some beauties at this shop in Hackney. Next we stopped at a wonderful model of community building and good health: The Stepney City Farm. Set against the backdrop of 1000 year-old St. Dunstan’s Church, this quirky property operates a working farm with livestock, and has a number of raised garden beds or allotments that were being lovingly tended when we dropped by. These plots are adopted by families, organizations and even classrooms. Also on site are a café and facilities for crafts and education. Every Saturday there is a farmer’s market, and it was there we picked up some first-of-the-season rhubarb, some sprouting purple broccoli, and some potatoes, carrots and parsnips from the fall harvest. We also couldn’t resist picking up an assortment of desserts from a pair of French bakers, thinking they could benefit from a little pool of homemade rhubarb sauce.
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 small bunch fresh thyme, tied with twine
butter for greasing the gratin dish and for dotting on top, about ¼ cup in total
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Scrub the potatoes well, and place the thin slices into a large bowl filled with cold water.
In a small saucepan, whisk together the cream, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper. Dangle the thyme in the cream and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened and well infused with the flavours, about 5 minutes.
Coat the bottom and sides of a gratin dish with butter. Drain the potatoes and arrange the slices on the diagonal in rows, alternating the direction. Pour the cream evenly overtop, and dot with butter. Lay the thyme sprig on top, loosely cover with foil and bake for one hour. Remove cover and bake for a further 30 minutes. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.
John’s Bacon and Broccoli Salad
Tomatoes, deseeded, sliced finely;
Bacon, sliced and fried until crisp;
Chives, chopped roughly.
For the dressing:
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
Mix the dressing in a bowl, add to salad ingredients and mix well!
Perfect Steak… A Refresher
4 1”-thick rib eye steaks
For the marinade:
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a shallow glass dish, whisk together all the marinade ingredients. Add the steaks and coat well on both sides. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Let the steaks to come to room temperature for ½ hour before cooking.
Meanwhile, preheat the barbecue on MEDIUM HIGH for 10 minutes. Reduce the temperature to MEDIUM, brush the grids with vegetable oil, and lay the steaks on a 45° angle on the hot grill. Let cook for 2 minutes before flipping over on the same 45°. Cook another 2 minutes before flipping over to the opposite 45° angle. Cook for 2 minutes before flipping over to the same 45°. Cook for a final 2 minutes. This should produce a perfect medium rare steak.
Juice and zest of 1 orange
¼ cup maple syrup
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the rhubarb is tender and the sauce is beginning to thicken. Let cool. Spoon over ice cream or other desserts.