Angela Clutton reflects on the latest gathering of the Cookbook Club which this month focused on Rowley Leigh’s No Place Like Home
February’s Borough Market Cookbook Club was a voyage of discovery for almost all the members who came along. The chosen book, Rowley Leigh’s No Place Like Home, was one few were familiar with before delving into it for this. I’d both expected that and was pleased by it. How great that the Cookbook Club can sometimes open people up to books (or even cooks) they didn’t know before.
Another reason for choosing this cookbook is how Rowley puts seasonal produce at the heart of home cooking. It’s a philosophy I share absolutely and chimes with so much of what the Borough Market’s traders are about too.
Here’s a full run-down of dishes the members and I shared at The Cookhouse. All were especially remarkable for how terrific they looked. I hope it gives you a sense of the breadth of recipes in No Place Like Home, and a flavour of the event.
—Tian of tomatoes and aubergines, a puff-pastry tart with such lovely earthy flavours.
—Shrimp paste, the leftovers of which I was very pleased to take home and enjoy on toast to accompany a drink before dinner.
—Prawn biryani, which its cook recommends cooking longer than the recipe says and had such a deeply spiced aroma to it.
—Cream of fennel soup with tapenade croutons—so good served cold. There’s no stock in this, so it relies on using top-notch ingredients for the flavour.
—Breast of veal with pork, spinach and garlic stuffing, a work of absolute beauty whose cook recommended bringing the cooking time down.
—Piedmontese peppers, which provided the flavours and colours of a really good Mediterranean holiday.
—Potato and cep cake, whose top slices were crispy in a way that so often makes for the best of potato dishes.
(By now things were getting a bit steamy up in The Cookhouse. We opened the windows and the sounds of the buzzy Saturday afternoon market drifted through…)
—Cabbage cake with mozzarella and dried ceps, which made cooked cabbage look as good as cabbages fresh out of the ground.
—Venison stew with baby onions, chestnuts and chocolate, whose cook’s extensive endeavours were well-rewarded with tender meat packed with flavour.
—Imam bayildi and spiced spinach, which proved that kale is a great substitute for spinach.
—Red onions with sage and lemon, fabulously vibrant in colour and flavour. A useful year-round side dish, from picnics to Christmas hams.
—Griddled scallops with pea puree and mint vinaigrette is Rowley’s ‘signature dish’ and disappeared in seconds from me putting the plate down.
—Purple sprouting broccoli with anchovies and olive oil, which gave me an excuse to buy the most gorgeous salted anchovies from Gastronomica and keep gushing about them.
(You have to admire the collective Cookbook Club stamina as we moved onto desserts…)
—Rhubarb fool, a beautiful and much-needed palate refresher. Its cook told us about her love for her parents’ forced rhubarb crop and distress at them uprooting it!
—Tarte tatin, which tested my nerve when turning it out in front of everyone. I really didn’t want to ruin at the very end what someone had worked so hard on. Happily, all was well on the turning-out (and tucking-in).
—Lemon tart, which cut as we’d all dream a tart we’ve made would.
—Biscotti, made more interesting with fennel seeds, and which Rowley also suggests breaking up into vin santo ice-cream. I like the sound of that very much.
If you feel inspired to pick up the book and give some of these a go too, please write to me at the Cookbook Club email address and let me know what you think.
11th March: Moro: The Cookbook by Samantha Clark & Samuel Clark
23rd May: The A to Z of Eating: A Flavour Map for the Adventurous Cook by Felicity Cloake
27th June: Kitchen Diaries: Volumes I to III by Nigel Slater