Waitrose & Partners Weekend Issue 584

13 J ANUARY 202 2 19 DIANA HENRY Every. Night. Of. The. Week. Lucy Tweed Lucy is a blogger whose online record of themeals she prepares in her Bondi kitchen has been newly released as her debut cookbook. As its title suggests, the book’s recipes are grouped according the day of the week on which they’remost often served. “Monday is a wonder of potential and good intentions, but by Thursday we are taking stock of the remaining food in the fridge and any burns we’ve collected along the way,” writes Lucy, by way of explanation. “This momentumof the weekly cycle is actually a remedy in itself.” So it is that Monday’s recipes include produce-packed dishes such as her supergreens pie, in which readymade pu pastry encases a chard, kale, spinach and ricotta filling, while later days include increasingly comfortingmeals, such as Wednesday’s cauli cornmac ’n’ cheese and Friday’s coconut and chilli chicken wings. By the time the weekend arrives, Lucy can revel inmore time-consuming treats, such as a Saturday feast of pulled pork tacos with pickled pineapple, or a Sunday brunch of bacon and egg-topped pizza. Low Tox Life Food Alexx Stuart LowTox Food is the online education hub started by selfstyled ‘gentle activist’ Alexx in 2010. Her new book, subtitled HowTo Shop, Cook, Swap, Save and Eat for aHappy Planet, gathers together many of her learnings in the 12 years since. So, it’s a scholarly work, but thoughtful and constructive rather than preachy. The first half is devoted to an analysis of the issues we face, from foodmiles and farming practices to soil management and food packaging, along with practical advice on everything from shopping to composting food waste. When we do get to the recipes, they’re produce-led, often plant based and, above all, flexible. There’s a series of ‘adaptable’ recipes, with basic templates for soups, stews, stir fries, fritters, pies andmore, which can be varied according to what you have to hand. Then there’s a collection of feasts –mains, sides and desserts that build towards a grand spread. Feast themes range from sustainable and Native American-inspired to a vegetarian spread that includes a Mauritian pumpkin gratin and roast Brussels sprouts with tahini and fresh herbs. Books New Australian titles ” No time to make marmalade right now? Seville oranges freeze well, so they can be ready when you are “ TIM STEVENS Partner & buyer, fresh produce 20g pack Cooks’ Ingredients Sage Meal maths Butternut, Stilton & sage risotto 350g Cooks’ Ingredients Sweet Potato & Butternut Squash 225g arborio risotto rice 100g Long Clawson Stilton Reserve about 10 sage leaves and finely chop the rest. Fry the squash with 1 tbsp oil and the chopped sage for 4-5minutes, or until starting to colour. Stir in the rice until coated in oil. Gradually add 1.2L hot vegetable stock, a ladle at a time between each addition, stirring well until the liquid is absorbed. Continue like this for 20-25minutes, stirring throughout, until the rice is creamy and just tender. Meanwhile, fry the reserved sage leaves in 1-2 tbsp hot olive oil in a small frying pan over a mediumheat for 2-3minutes, or until crispy. Set aside on kitchen paper. Stir most of Serves 2 Ready in 40 minutes the Stilton into the risotto, season, then ladle into bowls. Crumble over the remaining cheese, then top with the crispy sage and some cracked black pepper. Serve immediately. How discovering – and enjoying – bitterness is a cook’s best friend I spend a lot of my life thinking about contrast and layering. Harmonious, deeply flavoured dishes, such as a French beef braise, are built in layers, starting with the browning of themeat. As other ingredients are added, the dish comes together through slow cooking, each component flavouring and enriching the others. Dishes which depend on strong contrasts – the use of hot, sour, salty and sweet flavours in Vietnamese cooking, for example – are, for me, irresistible. As soon as my tongue registers one of those flavours I want its counterpart. I could practically drink dressings whichmix chilli, lime, fish sauce and sugar. But there are some tastes we don’t love, unless we learn to. We have an innate dislike of bitterness. This protects us. Many poisonous foods are bitter, so our reaction is to spit themout. Food writer JenniferMcLagan, in her book, Bitter, says we usually come to like bitter flavours through drinks. Remember, as a teenager, trying to drink black co ee to look cool, or having a lick of your parent’s Guinness as a child? Jennifer suggests we often overcome our dislike of bitterness through alcohol. Bitterness becomes associated with pleasure. It takes practice to acquire a love of bitterness but it’s more common in some cultures than others. Northern Italians kick o the evening with a negroni, a cocktail in which bitter Campari dominates. Italian kids can try amouthful of Stappi Red, an Italian non-alcoholic bitter soda that looks and tastes like Campari. If they grow up tasting their parents’ bitter soda they’ll bemore likely to enjoy Italian bitter leaves such as radicchio and Treviso. As a child, the only bitter food I liked was grapefruit, and that was because of the contrast between its flesh and the grilled sugar topping (a popular starter in restaurants in the 70s). I remember themeal that turnedme onto bitterness, though. I was 20 and in Paris. Some radicchio came as part of a goat’s cheese salad. The bitterness worked wonderfully with the rich creaminess of the cheese. I still love bitter leaves – chicory, dandelion and frisée lettuce (also known as curly endive) – and for years I made green salad with only frisée, using the pale green central leaves. But I most often use bitter leaves to balance sweet ingredients – roast pumpkin, onions griddled with a touch of balsamic, dressings made with plumped-up raisins. Other foods capable of making you slightly recoil are radishes, olives, green tea, cranberries, citrus peel, angostura bitters, cocoa and the skin on walnuts.You’re not required to like any of these, but an awareness of bitterness gives the cook another element to play with – try to imagine chicory braised in stock and served with the nutty sweetness of Jerusalem artichoke purée. Now, when radicchio, chicory and kale are in season, is a good time to experiment with bitterness. ‘We have an innate dislike of bitterness. Many poisonous foods are bitter, so our reaction is to spit them out’ DianaHenry is The Sunday Telegraph’s food writer. @dianahenryfood