Category Archives: Cookery

Rhubarb Rhubarb: A Correspondence between a hopeless gardener and a hopeful cook by Mary Jane Patterson and Jo Thompson

Rhubarb Rhubarb Cover

Rhubarb Rhubarb: A Correspondence between a hopeless gardener and a hopeful cook by Mary Jane Patterson and Jo Thompson

Summary:

Rhubarb Rhubarb collects the witty, wide-ranging correspondence between Leiths-trained cook Mary Jane Paterson and award-winning gardener Jo Thompson. Two good friends who found themselves in a perfect world of cupcakes and centrepieces, they decided to demystify their own skills for one another: the results are sometimes self-deprecating, often funny, and always enlightening.

Jo would find herself one day panicking about what to cook for Easter lunch: a couple of emails with Mary Jane and the fear subsided, and sure enough, a delicious meal appeared on the table. Meanwhile, Jo helped Mary Jane combat her irrational fear of planting bulbs by showing how straightforward the process can be.

The book is full of sane, practical advice for the general reader: it provides uncomplicated, seasonal recipes that people can make in the midst of their busy lives, just as the gardening tips are interesting, quick and helpful for beginners. Mary Jane shares secrets and knowledge gathered over a lifetime of providing fabulous food for friends and family, while Jo’s expertise in beautiful planting enables the reader to have a go at simple schemes with delightful results.

My Review:

During these lock-down days I have been lucky to have been surrounded by so many books to read and review. One book that arrived just recently was Rhubarb Rhubarb: A Correspondence between a hopeless gardener and a hopeful cook (Unbound) by Mary Jane Patterson and Jo Thompson and it is just was warm and friendly book that is just perfect in these difficult days. I read Rhubarb Rhubarb in one sitting.

Mary Jane Patterson and Jo Thompson

Mary Jane Patterson is a Leiths-trained cook while Jo Thompson is a leading garden designer who has won gold medals at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Both are good friends and would swop emails. I think I would fall into the category of the hopeless let alone hopeful cook as I am a qualified gardener.

The book is so friendly and packed full of really good practical advice and many great recipes some of which I am now tempted to try. Throughout the book there are many photographs both garden and kitchen related with beautiful illustrations by Laura Jazwinski. For the gardener Jo Thompson offers many good ideas while Mary Jane Patterson supplies many good mouth-watering recipes to try.

The correspondence between the two is special as there is warmth there as well as dry humour. This is an ideal gift for anyone who loves gardening or cooking.

160 Pages.

Thank you to Unbound and to Anne Cater (Random Things Tours) for the review copy of Rhubarb Rhubarb by Mary Jane Patterson and Jo Thompson

Rhubarb Rhubarb by Mary Jane Patterson and Jo Thompson was published by Unbound and was published on 2nd April 2020 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop many of which are still offering mail order while bookshops remain closed. Many are offering free delivery.

Follow the Rhubarb Rhubarb Blog Tour

Rhubarb Rhubarb BT Poster

The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival The 70th Anniversary 4th – 13th October 2019

Festival-logo-1

The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival 2019

The 70th Anniversary

4th – 13th October 2019

9781784725389.jpg

Salt & Time: Recipes from a Russian Kitchen by Alissa Timoshkina

I am delighted as part of The Times and Sunday Times 70th Anniversary Cheltenham Literature to bring you a little taste of Russia. For my part on the celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the Cheltenham Literature Festival I am bringing to the Blog Tour a Russian recipe from Salt & Time: Recipes from a Russian Kitchen by Alissa Timoshkina. Alissa will be appearing at the Festival on Thursday 10th October. Details can be found below on how to purchase tickets. My grateful thanks to Charlotte Cooper at Midas PR for this guest post by Alissa Timoshkina.

df137a6a299e5eef7afd2f38fe58486af011104d-original-LST355989

I don’t know about you but I love to experiment with recipes from different parts of the world, but I have to admit I have not tried any from Russia.

Alissa has selected one of the recipes from her book to share with you a little taste of Russia. I hope this inspires you to have a look at the book (details below) and may be try some of these in your own kitchen.

Borsch

Borsch to Eastern Europe and Russia is like hummus to the Middle

East. We all eat it, we all love it, yet we simply can’t imagine that

any other country owns the rights to it. It has its origin in a hogweed

soup commonly consumed by the Slavs from the 15th–16th century

in territories occupied today by Poland, Ukraine and Russia. There

are so many variations of the soup, not only in each country but in

different regions within those countries, that borsch often becomes

synonymous with Eastern European soup. As much as I love a good

traditional borsch, and to me this means a passionately red beetroot

soup, cooked with a soffritto base as my Jewish–Ukrainian greatgrandma

would do, I sometimes struggle eating a plateful of chunky

discoloured vegetables that have given all their best to the broth.

So here I am taking a bit (okay, a lot) of creative licence, offering my

own take on the iconic dish, which consists of a rich red broth, raw

sauerkraut, roasted vegetables and baked red kidney beans. Lovers of

traditional borsch recipes look away – this one is pretty iconoclastic!

If you can make the broth 24 hours in advance, you will be

rewarded with an even better tasting soup, but a few hours of resting will also do the trick.

20180621_SaltAndTime_Day4_Borsch_040 copy.JPG

SERVES 4

unrefined sunflower oil,

for frying and roasting

1 large onion, finely diced

1 carrot, peeled and grated

6 raw red beetroots

2 red peppers

2 tablespoons tomato purée

2 litres cold water

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon black

peppercorns

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

4 garlic cloves, peeled

bunch of dill

small bunch of flat leaf parsley

2 garlic cloves, grated

500g Red Sauerkraut

with Garlic & Chilli

(see page 159)

2 tablespoons pomegranate

molasses

1 red onion

1 tablespoon brown sugar

400g can red kidney beans

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

4 tablespoons soured cream

salt

Heat up a tablespoon of sunflower oil in a large pan and fry the

onion and carrot for about 8 minutes until golden. Meanwhile, peel

and grate 2 of the beetroots and core, deseed and thinly slice 1 red

pepper. Add the vegetables to the pan together with the tomato

purée and a splash of water. Season with salt to taste and fry for a

further 5–8 minutes.

Top with the measured cold water, add the bay leaves along with

the peppercorns and all the seeds, whole garlic cloves and half the

bunches of dill and parsley. Season with a tablespoon of salt and

bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, add the grated garlic and half the

sauerkraut with its brine and simmer, covered, over a low heat for

40 minutes–1 hour.

Turn off the heat and let the borsch rest for another hour, while

you prepare the rest of the elements.

So far, so good, but here is where the recipe starts to deviate

from the norm quite a lot: to prepare the vegetables that will grace

the plate and also add extra flavour and texture to the soup, you will

need to do a bit of roasting.

Start by preheating the oven to 160°C fan/Gas Mark 4.

Peel the remaining 4 beetroots, cut into wedges and dress with oil, salt and

the pomegranate molasses. Peel the red onion, cut into wedges and season

with salt and the brown sugar to bring out their sweetness and promote

caramelization. Place on a roasting tray with the beetroot and roast together

for 30 minutes. Drain the kidney beans, then dress them with salt, oil and the

smoked paprika. Core and deseed the remaining red pepper, then cut into thin

strips and dress with salt and oil. Roast the beans and pepper together, as they

will need only 10–15 minutes.

When ready to serve, strain the broth through a sieve or a muslin cloth,

discarding the solids. All we need is that rich broth! Reheat again if necessary.

Next, create layers of texture and flavour in each bowl by adding a heaped

tablespoon of the remaining sauerkraut to each, as well as a handful of roasted

beetroot, onion, kidney beans and red pepper. Top each bowl with the hot broth

and add a dollop of soured cream and a generous sprinkle of the remaining dill

and parsley, chopped. The intensity of the flavours and textures of this dish is

beyond words, while the look of the bowl will seduce the eye without a doubt.

212 Pages.

Salt & Time: Recipes from a Russian Kitchen (Mitchell Beazley) by Alissa Timoshkina is on sale in your local bookshop or to order through Waterstones: Here or via Amazon: Here

Alissa Timoshkina will be appearing at the Cheltenham Literature Festival on Thursday 10th October between 12 and 2pm. Tickets are still available at £30.00 plus a booking fee that include a two course lunch and a glass of wine. For further details: Flavours of Russia

Tickets for the 70th Anniversary Cheltenham Literature Festival are now on sale. But be quick some of the events are selling out fast. Cheltenham Literature Festival

Follow the Cheltenham Literature Festival Blog Tour

CLF blog tour.png

%d bloggers like this: