Angela Clutton reflects on the latest gathering of the Cookbook Club which this time centred on The Borough Market Cookbook by Ed Smith
Having the recently-published Borough Market Cookbook as the October pick for the Cookbook Club seemed like the obvious and absolutely right choice—until about half an hour before the first of our two events was due to start. Then the preparatory nervous energy reached its apex, as we were faced with the imminent prospect of the famously and fabulously honest Cookbook Club members.
It was with absolute joy (mingled with a tiny touch of relief) that the very first dish to come out set the tone for what was to follow: its cook had made the one-pot golden chicken and judion beans—and she loved it. We all loved it! We all loved it all. The recipes by Ed Smith were a total smash hit. And if any bit of you is reading this thinking “well, yeah, she has to say that”, I can only say that I know there are 30 or so Cookbook Club members also reading this who came along and are thinking, “oh man, yes, it was wonderful”.
Swede and stilton pie convinced its swede-loathing cook that it is a veg well-worth getting creative with. Chorizo and piquillo pepper tray bake was hearty with glorious flavour, deemed the perfect choice for upcoming Bonfire Night suppers—as was the venison and black bean chilli with whole baked squash. Autumn panzanella, a glorious kale twist on the summer classic, appeared at both events (as did a few dishes) and both times left its cook certain of doing it again.
A heat warning
Winter squash red curry comes with a small heat warning; it had some reaching for a cooling glass of delicious Borough Wines white and others diving in for seconds (or thirds…). Chicken, carrot and orange blossom salad proved just how fabulous poaching a chicken can be. Creamed corn with lime and chilli squid and cod, smoked haddock and romanesco bake are both now firmly in my repertoire for being the kinds of easy, relaxed meals that you cook when you want to feed people well, and maybe impress just a little bit too.
Desserts wowed: from Lincolnshire Poacher and apple pie, which was the cook’s first foray into pastry-making—and what a triumph it was—to fruit powder marshmallows, which were insanely good and rightly dubbed a “cuddle in a cube”. Special mention to both roasted plum pavlovas that came. They were beautiful, delicious, extravagant, pavlova’s sometimes over-sweetness perfectly tempered by roasting the plums with tarragon.
Two other important things to report on were members’ thoughts of the book: first, that it is a real celebration of the Market and evokes its spirit. Those who came to the events who are regular Market shoppers felt they recognised the place they love in Ed’s words and the beautiful pictures. Second—and crucially—while the book does focus on Market traders and their produce, members felt it is more widely a celebration of all food markets, and of cooking and eating with seasonality and sustainability at heart. For that is what Borough Market and The Borough Market Cookbook most certainly do.