Nibbles #1 (Everything I read online this month)
Garden notes, Mexican spirits that are not tequila or mezcal, and what makes an authentic Spanish paella.
In our monthly Substack food writers catch up on Zoom this month we discussed how some hallmarks of the Substack experience mirrored blogging in the days before social media: surprisingly most of our readers (you guys) seem to come from within the community rather than outside of it, and most of this happens through sidebars and word of mouth. Sound familiar to anyone who is part of my generation of bloggers, circa 2009?
Anyway, this led me to reflect on the growth and changes my own blog has undergone over the years, and it has prompted me to move a feature over here that has been so popular over the years, but which I think you all will appreciate more: Weekly Love.
Originally a weekly, in recent years now a fortnightly roundup of everything brilliant or useful I’ve read online increasingly it is becoming bulked out by content from my fellow brilliant Substack writers, so I’ve moved it here. And re-named it Nibbles. Once a month, at the end of each month I’m going to send you the said same links (though by the end of July, they’ll be exclusive to here and no longer appearing on my site) along with a few notes about brilliant things I’ve been reading offline, recipes I’ve made that I must share etc. Think of it as a monthly package of (mostly food related) recommendations.
Now, if you’re reading this in your inbox this morning it means you’re a subscriber to my main ingredient list. If you’d like to keep on receiving monthly editions of Nibbles, you don’t need to do anything, but if you’d like to opt out and just receive my monthly ingredient features as well as the occasional essay, you can update your subscription settings here by simply unchecking Nibbles from your subscription.
If you’ve either arrived here from an edition of Weekly Love, or from elsewhere and you’d like to sign up to Nibbles only, you can also do so here by unchecking ingredient.
They also have some great tips for tomato plant care.
Emiko has some great tips for saving money on the food you buy and eat inspired by Italian Cucina povera.
Also, what living in Italy has taught her about our relationships with food.
Kiki takes a deep dive into what exactly makes an authentic Spanish paella.
She also has some important thoughts on living in different cultures.
Also, Jose Andres relates the story of how he developed a paella recipe that could be consumed in space. The food science element is fascinating.
A brilliant essay on how halal lamb is bringing localism back into British lamb and mutton slaughtering practices.
This is the actual difference between chicken stock and chicken broth, because we all blur the lines a little! (Further reading from the archives: I reflect on how complicated homemade stock (and the associated guilt) needs to be.)
In her brilliant newsletter Kitchen Projects, Nicola Lamb goes into the delicate intricacies of making authentic steamed buns. I’m in awe of the detail her posts manage to go to and I can’t wait to try out some of her bakes.
What I’ve been writing: For American eco-conscious website The Mindful Fork I’ve visited Longland Farm, a local duck and goose farm whose birds grace both the Christmas tables of the local community, and some of the top fine dining restaurants in the country to see if their high-quality, field-reared, low environmental impact birds might be the future of consuming reared birds in a more mindful way. Read it here.
What I’ve been cooking: At the start of the month we hosted a big family get together with a Mediterranean-Middle Eastern theme, loading the outdoor table up with grilled lamb chops, Yotam Ottolenghi’s Turkey and Courgette Burgers with Spring Onion and Cumin (an old family favourite), Sweet Potato Wedges with Almond Tahini, homemade flatbreads, Syrian Bulgur Wheat Salad, and my Mum’s Israeli Salad.
Pictured above is also a great charred red onion dish with a honey, mint, sage and walnut dressing we’ve made an awful lot in the past year from Honey & Co.’s Chasing Smoke: Cooking over fire around the Levant. Honestly, if you like to cook outdoors it is a brilliant book you really ought to have in your collection.
Otherwise, as I’ve been in the midst of a big ghost writing commission and we’ve been taking some time off work to restore parts of our old cottage, the only new recipes from me this month away from Substack (where paid subscribers have been treated to a trio of simple strawberry recipes) have been my Strawberry & Rosé Wine Jellies, that Syrian Bulgur Wheat Salad, and these picnic-friendly Curried Potato Pasties with Quick Coriander Chutney.
What I’ve been growing: I’m really unhappy with the progress of my sweet peas, corn and kale this year, and that I’ve still not managed to grow a lettuce what with all the slugs about, but I’m still plucking little red strawberries from all the plants, and yellow courgette is starting to sneak it’s way into my dishes (I don’t buy courgette out of season) whilst I wait for the tomatoes forming on my plants to turn!