Posted 10th Nov 2015
Learn to make delicious, good for you, and sustainable food, including pickles, jams, compotes, relishes and chutneys thanks to the brilliant new Cornersmith book
Reflecting Alex’s affinity with English-style larder food, this is our most popular lunchtime dish at Cornersmith. We use our ploughman’s plate as an excuse to showcase the best of the season’s fresh produce alongside our favourite pickles and preserves. Feel free to do the same and use whatever you have or what looks good at the market.
8-10 radishes, cut in half if large
2 apples, halved, or a bunch of grapes
8 slices Cheddar
8 slices pasture-raised ham
1 tablespoon Cornersmith mustard or other grainy mustard
40g cultured butter
pickles, such as bread and butter cucumber, and/or chutney, such as pear, lemon and rosemary
8 slices sourdough bread
Arrange all the ingredients except the bread on a wooden platter. Serve with fresh or lightly toasted sourdough.
Meatballs, broad beans and yoghurt
Serves: 4-6 (makes 24 meatballs)
Meatballs are a hearty, wintry dish – but with a light tomato sauce, broad beans and yoghurt, they make a great springtime meal. You can substitute the lamb with pork or veal, or a mix of both.
1⁄4 teaspoon allspice berries
1⁄2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1⁄4 teaspoon coriander seeds
1⁄4 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
500g minced (ground) pasture-raised lamb
1 free-range egg
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon finely chopped preserved lemon rind
pinch of cayenne pepper
90g broad beans, blanched and double-peeled
130g natural yoghurt
A handful of herb leaves, such as mint, dill and coriander, torn, to serve
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
400ml bottled tomatoes or 1 x 400g tin tomatoes
1 bay leaf
2-3 sprigs of thyme
1 teaspoon finely chopped preserved lemon rind
200ml chicken stock
1 tablespoon dried currants
1. Using a spice grinder or pestle and mortar, grind the allspice, fennel seeds, coriander seeds and cumin seeds to a fine powder. Heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5-8 minutes or until soft. Add the ground spices and cook for another 2-3 minutes, then remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.
2. In a bowl, combine the cooled onion mixture with the lamb, egg, parsley and preserved lemon. Season with salt, pepper and the cayenne pepper. Use your hands to mix everything together well, then shape tablespoonfuls of the mixture into meatballs. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm them up.
3. For the tomato sauce, heat the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan or flameproof casserole over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and sweat until soft, about 3-5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, thyme and preserved lemon, season with salt and pepper and simmer for 5 minutes. Finally, add the vermouth, stock and currants and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, heat 1⁄2 teaspoon of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add some of the meatballs, being careful not to crowd the pan, and fry for a few minutes on each side until they are browned all over. Remove from the pan and set aside. Wipe out the pan and cook the rest of the meatballs the same way, using the remaining olive oil as needed. Transfer the meatballs to the sauce and cover with a circle of baking paper, pressing it onto the surface. Cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through. Add the broad beans for the last 5 minutes, just to heat through. Drizzle with yoghurt and scatter over the herbs, then serve.
Pickled fennel with chilli
Storage: up to 12 months
Makes: 2 x 500ml jars
Cornersmith’s all-time favourite winter pickle! We use this on sandwiches with salami, chilli and ricotta, tossed through salads – especially potato salad – or with barbecued fish.
Once you’ve finished eating the pickles, keep the jar of brine in the fridge. Whisked with some extra virgin olive oil, it makes a great salad dressing.
2 large fennel bulbs
1 brown onion, sliced
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1 teaspoon chilli flakes or chopped fresh red chilli
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
For the brine:
500ml white wine vinegar
110g caster sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1. First, sterilise your jars.
2. Cut the fennel into long thin strips – you can use all of it, including the core, stems and fronds. Mix the fennel and onion together in a bowl. Sprinkle over the spices and mix through with your hands.
3. Make a brine by putting the vinegar, sugar, salt and 250ml of water into a non-reactive saucepan over low heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then increase the heat and bring to the boil. Let it bubble for 2-3 minutes, then remove from the heat.
4. When the jars are cool enough to handle, use small tongs or clean hands to carefully pack the fennel mixture into the jars. The jars should be full but not over-packed – the brine needs to cover every strip of fennel, and if they are packed too tightly the brine won’t be able to get into every nook and cranny.
5. Carefully fill the jars with the hot brine until the fennel is completely covered. Remove any air bubbles by gently tapping each jar on the work surface and sliding a butter knife or chopstick around the inside to release any hidden air pockets. You may need to add more brine or fennel after doing this (the liquid should reach about 1 cm/1⁄2 in from the top of the jar). Wipe the rims of the jars with a paper towel and seal.
6. Heat for 15 minutes, then store in a cool, dark place for up to 12 months. Let the jars of pickled fennel mature for a few weeks before opening them, then keep in the fridge and use within 3 months.
Cornersmith: Recipes from the cafe and picklery by Alex Elliott-Howery and James Grant, published by Murdoch Books, is available to buy from all good book shops, RRP £20.