Buttermilk drop cakes with lemon curd by Simon Stallard

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Topped with warm lemon curd and served straight from the stove, these drop cakes are a sure-fire way to draw everyone to the breakfast table. Serve with berries and crème fraîche.

Serves 4

320g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
a good pinch of sea salt
50g caster sugar
2 large eggs
290ml buttermilk
60g butter, plus extra for frying
crème fraîche and berries, to serve

FOR THE LEMON CURD
90g butter, cubed
140g caster sugar
a pinch of sea salt
120ml lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
3 large egg yolks
1 large egg

FOR THE MINT SUGAR
4 tbsp caster sugar
a good handful of mint leaves

First, make the lemon curd. Put the butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Add the sugar, salt and lemon juice. Stir until well combined and the butter has melted. Remove the bowl from the heat and set to one side.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and egg. Add this to the lemon and butter mixture and whisk to combine. Return the bowl to the simmering saucepan and heat for 10 minutes or until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and leave to cool a little.

To make the mint sugar, simply either blitz the sugar and mint leaves in a food processor or bash them together using a mortar and pestle. Leave to one side.

Preheat the oven to 110°C (90°C fan oven) gas mark ¼. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl and stir in the sugar. Add the eggs and buttermilk, and whisk everything together to make a smooth batter.

Put half the butter in a non-stick frying pan and melt it over a medium-low heat. Mix the melted butter into the batter.

Put the frying pan back over the heat and add tablespoonfuls of the mixture in small pools around the pan – you should be able to do 4–5 at a time. Cook for 1 minute on the first side, or until bubbles form on the surface. Flip them over and cook for 1 minute.

Remove from the pan and keep warm on a plate wrapped up in a tea towel in the oven while you cook the remaining batter in the same way, adding a little more of the remaining butter to the pan each time.

Serve the drop cakes warm with the lemon curd drizzled over, some crème fraîche and fresh berries and a sprinkle of the mint sugar.

The Hidden Hut by Simon Stallard (HarperCollins) £20, is out now

Cook more from this book 
Chicken and wild garlic soup
Fire-pit wild sea bass with verde sauce

Read the review

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The Hidden Hut
£20, HarperCollins

Broth to Bowl by Drew Smith

Broth to Bowl

What is it? Sixty-odd soup recipes based around six base broths and their variations.

Who wrote it? Drew Smith, a former Good Food Guide Editor and author of Oyster: A Gastronomic History with Recipes.

What does it look like? The clean, elegant layout makes it a pleasure to use and Tom Regester’s unfussy photography and simple food styling means soup has never looked so good.

Is it good bedtime reading? Apart from a short introductory chapter, this is primarily a recipe book for the kitchen rather than the nightstand.

Killer recipes? Quick tom yum; flaming oxtail broth; scampi, pea shoots and tofu in miso broth.

Will I have trouble finding ingredients? There is nothing really obscure here and you will probably find most things you need in your local Waitrose, although you will need to shop in the organic aisle for your veg (‘you don’t want to be making a consomme of pesticides’ warns Smith). Head to your nearest Asian supermarket for some of the ingredients used in the chapter on kombu and develop a good relationship with your neighbourhood butcher and fishmonger (if you are lucky enough to have them) for items like pig’s trotters, oysters and gurnard.

What’s the faff factor? Depends on which recipes you choose. If you cook from the ‘Meat’ chapter, you’ll need to spend 2 days preparing the basic beef bone broth before you’ll be able to tackle some of the actual soups. On the other hand, you can whip up gazpacho in a few minutes. On the whole though, Smith favours ‘cooking slowly’ so be prepared to stick around for a few hours to tend something gently bubbling away on the hob or in the oven.

How often will I cook from the book? If you follow Smith’s example, at least once a week, otherwise you’ll need to be in the mood for a bit of a kitchen project.

What will I love? Smith’s obvious passion for his subject comes through loud and clear; he really wants you to not just enjoy eating soup, but take great pleasure from making it. If you are in tune with the concept of mindfulness, you will lap up Broth to Bowl.

What won’t I like? At 160 pages, the book is a bit on the short side. You may wonder why Smith couldn’t come up with more variations on each of the broths. Some aspects of the recipes are glossed over. The introduction for vegetable tea says to ‘ vary the spices, vegetables and herbs with the seasons’ but gives no example substitutions. The method for basic beef bone broth says to ‘ ‘spread the meats and bones across the bottom of a large casserole’ but the ingredients list doesn’t include bones. Garnishes are dealt with in one page with no recipes and no suggestions of which soups in the book they could be served with.

Should I buy it? If you eat soup on a regular basis and are looking for inspiration of new things to put in your bowl, then, despite some shortcomings, this could be the book for you. You may also want to consider A Celebration of Soup: With Classic Recipes from Around the World (Cookery Library) by Lindsey Bareham.

Cuisine: Modern European
Suitable for: Beginners and confident home cooks
Cookbook Review Rating: 3 stars

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Broth to Bowl: Mastering the art of great soup from six simple broths
£20, Modern Books

This is Mine by Mark Dodson

This is Mine

You may know that Mark Dodson has held a Michelin star at The Mason’s Arms, his Devon pub, since 2006. You’ll probably also know that he’s a former head chef of The Waterside Inn. But you may not realise that he’s the only Brit ever to hold that position or that he spent a total of 18 years at the restaurant. And you almost certainly won’t have a clue that his favourite film director is Quentin Tarantino and that he has a huge collection of vinyl and gig ticket stubs.

You’ll discover all this and more reading his debut cookbook (the obscure title is explained by the cover strapline ‘I believe that every good chef has a cookery book in them…this is mine) which includes a glowing introduction by Michel Roux Snr (‘I look upon Mark as I look upon my son’) and a brief but illuminating biographical section.

Dodson describes his cooking style as ‘good honest food, featuring local ingredients wherever possible presented with style and taste’, neatly summing up the 70 recipes that are categorised into soups, starters, mains and desserts. In addition, there’s a section dedicated to game, a passion of Dodson’s with preparations ranging from classic roasted grouse with bread sauce and a crouton spread with farce au gratin (a sort of pate made from grouse and chicken livers) to wood pigeon with curried brussels sprouts.

Dodson has been cooking since the 70’s and his classical background is reflected in garnishes like turned and Parisienne-balled vegetables, fanned duck breasts and chicken cooked in a brick. There’s also a fair amount of 90’s-style stacking of food, but there’s a nod to modernism with dragged purees and pickled and smoked elements. Dodson also looks far beyond Britain and France for inspiration; smoked chicken comes with Thai-style salad and salmon is marinated in soy, mirin and yuzu.

The book won’t win any prizes for design with a dated and unimaginative layout and oddly lit photography that makes some dishes look washed out and unappetising. The editing could have been improved too with recipe introductions not delineated from the method and no instructions on how to prepare some ingredients in some recipes, making for a frustrating read at times. However, the book does offer an invaluable opportunity to tap into the wealth of knowledge accrued by one of the UK’s most respected and experienced chefs. This is Mine should also be yours.

This review was originally published in The Caterer magazine.

Cuisine: Modern European/French
Suitable for: Confident home cooks and chefs
Cookbook Review Rating: 3 stars

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This Is Mine
£25 A Way with Media