Marinated tomato pasta, Olia Hercules' new cookbook, and chasing the ultimate Victoria sponge.
Welcome to Nibbles where once a month I share everything brilliant I’ve been reading on the web as well as some general updates from my kitchen, my vegetable garden and other miscellaneous ‘you really need to know about’ updates.
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A Victoria Sponge is one of my go-to bakes for last minute guests, and I’ve always used my mother’s recipe (but if you happen to have access to duck eggs, I’ve got you covered too), but this deep dive into the science behind it has me wanting to try a few different techniques (but I’ll never give up the margarine!)
Whilst their content can verge on the click-baity side, The Kitchn’s guide to which (typically American varieties, albeit still useful) potato varieties to use for what is super helpful as a crib sheet.
Tomato growers like me bookmark and rejoice: this Green Tomato Crumb Cake recipe sounds excellent.
Also, I know it is hardly reinventing the wheel, but I’ve got this Creamy Tomato Pasta recipe bookmarked for when the glut starts:
I very much need this loose vermouth and soda aperitif cocktail recipe / method in my life.
We’re all feeling the pinch, but Anne has some fantastic tips for saving money on your next food shop.
Dianne Jacob interviews David Lebovitz about his move to Substack, and why the new web hosted newsletter platform may be the answer for those of us who started out as traditional bloggers. It’s very much part of the reason why I’ve moved my links roundups here to Substack!
Emiko Davies has written an interesting think piece about how most of the restaurants in Florence actually serve tourists, and asking if Florentine food is actually sustainable.
Now Erica has introduced me to the concept of ‘Le Grand Aioli’ I very much wish this was a dinner concept J would let me get away with. (Also, doesn’t this one look delectable?)
And finally, Ashley has written a beautiful essay on cooking whilst camping that is worth it for the words alone, but she’s also included a wonderful looking recipe for Grilled Oysters with Spicy Mignonette Butter at the end which even I, of the dedicated ‘cooking oysters is ruining oysters’ camp would like to try.
What I’ve been cooking: I’ve published a couple of dishes perfect for summer temperatures: I made a Marinated Tomato Pasta with Crunchy Garlic Breadcrumbs for my Macknade residency this month, which sits alongside my mother’s Jewish Potato Salad recipe and some glorious pan fried Mutton Chops with Homemade Fresh Mint Sauce on my blog.
What I’ve been growing: I’m gutted that it has turned out to be yet another bad year for us outdoor vegetable gardeners. The peas and cucumbers are now gone (though I really enjoyed them, and happily I still have a minor cucumber supply coming in from my parents vegetable garden), though there are still many yellow courgettes coming on my solitary plant, I’m worried the heat has stunted their growth, even though I made sure they had plenty of water and feed?
Anyway, I’m still optimistic, because there are plenty of good things to come - I enjoyed my first handful of my favourite orange ‘Sungold’ tomatoes from the plant in a Greek salad the other night (though I can’t wait for the big ones to be ready so I can make this salad), and my first attempt at growing borlotti beans to braise has yielded tiny pods on my overexcited plants!
On the flower front let us not talk about the dahlias. My hydrangeas are sadly on the way out after the heatwave, and whilst I’m getting enough to fill the odd little vase and milk bottle for the kitchen table my sweet peas (which I’d planted double of) are failing too - not helped by the fact my mother has been texting me photos of her bumper crop!
What I’ve been listening to: The Rolling Stones, live in Hyde Park. As in I went, rather than listened to a recording. It was even worth the Covid that followed. Need I say more?
What I’ve been reading: On the literature front, I’ve been binge reading the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch. The first book was a free review copy (if Bookstagram / historical, gothic and fantasy book recommendations are your thing you can find me @lilacandink) but I’ve been burning through these funny modern fantasy books about a rookie police officer who accidentally joins the secret unit of the Met tasked with policing the uncanny when he interviews a witness to a murder who is already dead. Honestly, if you like really funny thrillers and a bit of gentle fantasy, you’ll love these books.
Also another publisher-gifted read I’ve been enjoying - and cooking from - this month is Olia Hercules’ brilliant new book Home Food: Recipes to Comfort and Connect which is not only enjoyable to curl up with and read, but has so many brilliant things in it I want to eat - so far I recommend you grab a copy just for her Mum’s ciabatta recipe which is as delicious as it is foolproof, but also the lamb chops in a harissa marinade and the fantastic seeded crispbreads I’m already more than a little bit addicted to!
On a final note, typing this up this morning I was wondering if you would all mind if I turned the book recommendations in my newsletters into affiliate links, as in, if you click on one and buy something I get a little money back? I’m currently on the fence between doing it because every penny helps in these straightened times, and keeping this newsletter clear of them because under British rules I’ll have to put (ad) next to each one in the text which will look a little messy (it already does on my blog!)