Carta da musica, leaves, things and truffled pecorino by Jeremy Fox

146 Carta da Musica

When I worked at Mumbo Jumbo in Atlanta, Georgia, we used to purchase ready-made Sardinian flatbread (also called carta da musica). On its own it’s not that tasty, but brushed with olive oil and toasted, it turns into something great. Whenever we had a VIP in the restaurant we would send it out topped with herbs and truffles—and the like—and I always dreamed that one day, if I had a pizza oven, I would start making these myself. When I opened Ubuntu I got to do just that, and as a result, this was probably my favorite dish on the menu. It is basically a vehicle for everything great that we happened to have on hand. Just for fun, and despite Ubuntu being a vegetarian restaurant, we always served it on a pig-shaped wooden board.

NOTE For the “leaves and things,” I like to use pea tendrils, nasturtiums, calendula, young beet (beetroot) greens, fava (broad bean) leaves, parsley, shaved carrots, and shaved radishes. But really whatever is seasonal, fresh, and sounds good to you will work great.

Once the carta da musica is dried out in the oven, it will keep for a very long time—so that step can be done very far in advance.

makes 8
carta da musica
1/2 teaspoon active dry (fast-action) yeast
1 3/4 cups (220 g) durum wheat flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
extra-virgin olive oil for greasing the bowl
all-purpose (plain) flour, for dusting

to serve
assorted leaves, herbs, and shaved vegetables (see Note)
1 pound (455 g) boschetto al tartufo cheese (or aged pecorino or parmigiano-reggiano)
extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoons chili flakes
kosher salt
lemon wedges
flaky sea salt

Fill a 1-cup (240 ml) measuring cup (measuring jug) with 2⁄3 cup (160 ml) warm (105° to 115°F/40° to 46°C) water, sprinkle in the yeast, and stir it to blend. Let stand for about 10 minutes to activate the yeast.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour and kosher salt and mix on low speed to blend.

With the mixer running, pour in the yeast/water mixture, increase the speed to
medium, and beat the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 4 minutes. The dough will be slightly sticky to the touch.

Lightly coat a medium bowl with the olive oil. With your hands lightly oiled as well,
shape the dough into a ball and place in the bowl. Turn the dough ball over so that it is coated all over with the olive oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (clingfilm) and let the dough proof in a warm area for around 2 hours—the dough will rise very slightly, but will not double in volume.

Once the dough is proofed, place a pizza stone on a rack positioned in the center of the oven and begin preheating the oven and stone to 500°F (260°C/Gas 10). Give the stone at least 1 hour to preheat so that the carta will cook evenly and consistently. (Although a pizza stone has much better heat retention and will create a superior product, you can also use an 18 x 13-inch/46 x 33 cm baking sheet. Stick it in the oven upside down; this gives you a flat surface with no lip, making it easier to lay down and remove the dough.)

While the oven and pizza stone are preheating, roll out the dough. Sprinkle some flour over a work surface. Divide the dough into quarters. Working with one piece at a time while keeping the others covered, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to an 8-inch (20 cm) round, about 1⁄16 inch (1.5 mm) thick. The round doesn’t need to be perfect, but it does need to be of consistent thickness and of an appropriate size to fit on your stone. But most important, it needs to be totally flat. If the rolled-out dough has any tears or crimps, it will not inflate, and thus won’t cook properly.

Rest the rolled-out dough on a floured baking sheet or work surface for 30 to 45 minutes.

Dust flour over a pizza peel or an upside-down 8-inch (20 cm) tart pan—you’re going to use this to slide your dough rounds onto the stone, so the flour helps keep the dough from sticking to the peel. Transfer the dough round to the pizza peel or tart pan and give the peel a light shake to ensure that the dough can move around.

Open the oven door and bring the peel in flat, over to the far edge of the pizza stone.
Tilt it up slightly—but don’t let it bunch up—and jostle the peel gently until the edge of
the dough round hits the far end of the stone. The dough will immediately catch on the stone, so you should be able to pull the peel back at a flat angle, leaving the dough on the pizza stone with no wrinkles or crimps (that last part is, again, important to it cooking properly). Immediately close the oven door to maintain temperature.

The dough should puff up and fill with air in 2 to 3 minutes. The carta da musica is done when it is puffy, hollow, and dry to the touch. Remove it from the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes. Repeat the process with the remaining dough rounds.

After an initial 5-minute rest, use scissors to cut around the outer seam of the carta (like a pita), carefully peeling back the top layer from the bottom to remove the two layers into separate round sheets. The layers toward the center may want to stick a bit, so use extra care when peeling it apart. You should wind up with two disks of even thickness.

As the breads are baked and separated, stack the sheets cut-side down. Once the last piece of dough is baked, reduce the oven to its lowest setting, ideally below 200°F (95°C). Remove the pizza stone.

Once your oven has cooled down, place the cut rounds, cut-side down, directly on the oven racks in single layers (you can use multiple oven racks) and let the bread dry out until completely crispy, at least 2 hours.

Once dry, the breads can be stored indefinitely in an airtight container. Just continue to store them cut-side down, as the cut-side is not as pretty or even, and will be kept face down when you assemble the finished dish.

to serve
Preheat the oven to 500°F (260°C/Gas 10).

Prepare the leaves, herbs, and vegetables. These can be as rustic or precise as you like, but the real goal is to have things that will be delicious to eat raw, on top of crispy bread.

Place the carta da musica cut-side-down on an 18 x 13-inch (46 x 33 cm) rimmed baking sheet (tray)—it is rimmed to keep the olive oil from leaking onto the oven floor and burning.

Meanwhile, using a vegetable peeler, peel around the perimeter of the wheel of
Boschetto al Tartufo—the goal is to have as long of a peel as possible. Brush the bread disks evenly and generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with the rosemary, chili flakes, and kosher salt to taste. Bake the carta until they are golden brown and crisp, about 2 minutes.

As the disks come out of the oven, pour off any excess oil that has not been absorbed and immediately drape the cheese over the surface so it starts to melt from the residual heat. Place the carta da musica on a plate and dress it with the prepared herbs, greens, flowers, and vegetables. Finish it with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and flaky sea salt.

Eat this immediately—and with your hands. Basically, just have fun.

Cook more from this book
Lima bean and sorrel cacio e pepe
Carrot juice cavatelli, tops salsa and spiced pulp crumble

Read the review

Buy this book
On Vegetables: Modern Recipes for the Home Kitchen

£29.95, Phaidon

Carrot juice cavatelli, tops salsa and spiced pulp crumble by Jeremy Fox

102 Carrot Juice Cavatelli

This dish accomplishes two things: First, it’s the purest example of using every single part of a vegetable in one single dish. And second—and what I was really trying to accomplish—the cavatelli look like that bright orange Kraft macaroni and cheese from a box. If you are making this dish from the ground up, it is pretty exciting, as you can use the tops of your carrots to make the salsa, the juice to make the cavatelli, and the pulp (from juicing) to make the crumble. Note Start cooking the day before you intend to serve this. The carrot pulp and cavatelli dough will need overnight to dehydrate and rest, respectively.

serves 4
carrot juice cavatelli
41/4 cups (530 g) “00” flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the cooking water
1 cup (240 ml) fresh carrot juice (from orange carrots), pulp reserved to serve
3/4 cup (180 ml) Carrot Purée (see below)
4 tablespoons Salsa Verde using the leaves of young carrot tops (see below)
4 tablespoons Carrot Crumble (see below)
aged gouda cheese

Make the carrot juice cavatelli:
In a food processor, blend together the flour and salt. With the machine running, slowly add the carrot juice (you may not need all of it), until the dough comes together. Be careful not to overwork the dough in the food processor: The dough may well look crumbly, but if you press it together with your fingers it should very easily combine into dough. You are looking for a texture similar to Play-Doh: elastic, pliable, and not sticking to your fingers when you touch it. If the dough is too dry, add more juice; too wet, add more flour.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it with the heels of your hands for about 1 minute, until you have a smooth dough.

Wrap the dough tightly with plastic wrap (clingfilm) and let it rest overnight in the refrigerator.

Place the carrot pulp on a dehydrator tray and dehydrate at 135°F (57°C) overnight.

About 1 hour before you plan to make the cavatelli, let the dough come to room temperature—this will make it much easier to work with. Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Lightly flour a work surface. Working with one piece at a time—and keeping the rest of the dough covered—roll the dough into a long, thin rope, about 1/8 inch (3 mm) in diameter. Cut the rope crosswise into 1/4-inch (6 mm) pieces.

Using a cavatelli board, or the tines of a fork, gently but confidently roll the dough pieces against it. The cavatelli may not come out perfect right away, but soon the motion will find its way into your muscle memory.

Once the cavatelli are shaped, lay them in a single layer (not touching) on a baking sheet lined with a tea towel. Repeat this process until all of the dough has been turned into cavatelli. These are best cooked when fresh, so if you are going to be cooking them the same day, you can just leave them out. Otherwise, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season your water with salt so it tastes like the sea. I think it’s important to taste the pasta water to make sure it is seasoned properly. Once seasoned and boiling, add the cavatelli and cook until they float to the surface, about 3 minutes. If you’re not sure whether they are done, the best test is just to eat one.

To serve
While the pasta water heats up, gently warm the carrot purée in a small pan over low heat and keep covered (and warm) until serving.

Using a sieve, scoop the cavatelli out of the pasta water and into a wide bowl. Immediately dress them with the carrot top salsa verde and toss to combine. Ladle in some of the starchy, seasoned pasta water, a little at a time, to open up the flavors and create a very light sauce that will coat the cavatelli. Don’t add too much water or it will make for a thin, diluted sauce.

Place dollops of the carrot purée on 4 warmed plates. Spoon the cavatelli on top and sprinkle the carrot crumble over the pasta and the plate. I like being able to drag the cavatelli through more of the crumble as I’m eating it. Shave ribbons of Gouda over the top and serve immediately.

Carrot Purée
When raw ingredients are salted, it helps extract the water from them. By breaking down the carrots first, it increases the surface area and expedites the process even more. As a result, it’s possible to make a carrot purée with no extra water added, highlighting the pure flavor of carrot and nothing else. Serve as a side dish, or as a component of a larger dish, such as the Carrot Juice Cavatelli, Tops Salsa & Spiced Pulp Crumble.

Peel the carrots (the peels can be reserved for Vegetable Stock, page 312) and then cut the carrots into rough 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes. These do not have to be perfect, as they will all eventually be puréed.

In a bowl, toss the carrots with 2 tablespoons of the grapeseed oil and the salt and set aside for about 10 minutes. Transfer the carrots to a food processor and blend until broken up.

Transfer the mixture to a saucepot or large sauté pan. Set the pan over medium-low heat, cover, and cook, undisturbed, for 40 to 45 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when you can smear it with a spoon. (If you take it off the heat too early, you will find the texture of the purée to be somewhat grainy after you purée it.) Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend on low speed, then gradually increase to high speed while slowly drizzling in the remaining 4 tablespoons grapeseed oil. Blend the purée to the consistency of mayonnaise. Season to taste with salt; it should have a pure carrot flavor. Store in an airtight container refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Carrot crumble
Another dehydrated pulp (like beet soil), carrot crumble can basically function as a carrot-based breadcrumb. It is especially delicious sprinkled over dishes like the Carrot Juice Cavatelli, Tops Salsa & Spiced Pulp Crumble (page 103), but also works well sprinkled over any carrot preparation.

makes about 3/4 cup (100 g)
2 cups (480 g) carrot pulp (from 3 pounds/1.3 kg orange carrots that have been juiced)
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
11/2 teaspoons Fox Spice (page 263)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Spread the pulp evenly on a dehydrator tray and dehydrate at 125°F to 135°F (52° to 57°C) for at least 8 hours, or until completely dry. You should get about 3/4 cup (53 g) of dehydrated pulp.

Transfer the pulp to a mortar and pestle and grind until you have the rustic texture of a fine breadcrumb. (A food processor will turn your breadcrumbs into more of a uniform powder.) Transfer to a bowl and add the sugar, spice, and salt and stir together.Store in an airtight container indefinitely at room temperature. Stir in the olive oil until combined.

Salsa verde
I like this salsa on everything—be it fish, a grilled piece of meat, or roasted vegetables. Thanks to the brine, this salsa is similar to chimichurri, and like with Pesto (page 270), you can swap the carrot tops for whatever herbaceous greens you have on hand: celery leaves, parsley leaves and stems, and so on. Additionally, this is a great way to use pickle brine, but if you don’t have any, feel free to use the juice of the lemons you’ve zested.

makes 3/4 cup (180 ml)
1/2 cup (25 grams) chopped carrot tops
1/2 cup (120 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, germ removed, finely chopped
2 tablespoons pickled vegetable brine or lemon juice
finely grated zest of 2 lemons

In a bowl, combine the carrot tops, olive oil, garlic, pickle brine (withhold this ingredient if not using the salsa right away), and lemon zest and whisk thoroughly until combined. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. If storing to use later, don’t add the brine (or lemon juice) until right before serving. The sauce may separate a bit, so just give it a quick whisk again before using.

Cook more from this book
Lima bean and sorrel cacio e pepe
Carta da musica, leaves, things and truffled pecorino

Read the review

Buy this book
On Vegetables: Modern Recipes for the Home Kitchen

£29.95, Phaidon 

 

On Vegetables by Jeremy Fox

On Vegetables by Jeremy Fox

What’s the USP? As the title suggests, it’s a book all about how to cook vegetables written by a leading American chef.

Jeremy who?  UK readers may not be familiar with the name, but American chef Jeremy Fox made quite a splash in the States back in 2007 with Ubuntu restaurant in Napa, California.  The San Francisco Chronicle said the restaurant was ‘truly extraordinary.’ and that Fox was ‘taking vegetable-based cuisine to a new level’. Food and Wine magazine named him ‘Best New Chef’, the New York Times called the restaurant the second best in America and Michelin awarded a star.  Fox is currently head chef and part owner of Rustic Canyon in Santa Monica where he continues to champion vegetables, (as well as serving up carnivorous delights like bone-in pork chop, babaganoush, beylik roasted tomato, fennel and olives).

What does it look like? Fox’s food somehow manages to be both elegant and minimal and homely and comforting at the same time. The pared-back food styling features beautiful crockery often shot against plain white backgrounds, letting the dishes speak for themselves, and what they say loud and clear is ‘Eat Me’.

Is it good bedtime reading? Fox tells his personal story – an award-winning chef wracked with anxiety and depression – with unbridled candour. There are engaging profiles of some of his favourite producers and he writes with great wit and insight about some of the key ingredients in his cooking, (no mean feat, believe me). On asparagus, he says, ‘getting it shipped in from the opposite hemisphere means it’s going to taste of jet fumes. You ever notice how funky your clothes smell after you get off a plane? Well imagine what air travel does to a porous plant that’s going to wind up inside your mouth’. The recipe introductions are peppered with little jokes, mostly of the Dad variety, making the book a fun read.

Will I have trouble finding ingredients? If you live in California, no. Just pop down to your local farmer’s market and pick up some of that abundant, beautiful, fragrant and ripe produce. In the UK, if you pop down to your local farmer’s market you’re more likely to find cling wrapped meat and bad versions of street food. Although there’s nothing particularly obscure in the book, the recipes really are a celebration of the finest, freshest produce, something you simply won’t find at the supermarket. Befriending someone with an allotment would be your best bet.

What’s the faff factor? The food appears simple enough on the plate, the ingredients lists look short enough but start reading the recipes and you realise that often there are a number of other recipes elsewhere in the book that go to make up the completed dish. But this is food from the former head chef of three Michelin-starred Manresa restaurant, so what did you expect?

How often will I cook from the book? If you’re willing to put the time in to build up larder ingredients like homemade ricotta, confit garlic and mushroom conserva and you can get your hands on some decent veg, then the food is so attractive and delicious sounding that you might just fall down a gastronomic rabbit hole with this book.

Killer recipes? There are many, but a random few include country fried morels with green garlic gravy; fennel confit, kumquat, feta, chilli and oregano;  pane frattau with fennel, strawberry sofrito, carta da musica and egg, and carrot juice cavaelli, tops salsa and spiced pulp crumble.

What will I love? The gorgeous images, the no-nonsense writing style, Fox’s original approach to cooking with vegetables and the endless inventiveness of the recipes.

What won’t I like? As Fox says himself, ‘If you’re looking for “10 Easy Weeknight Dinners for Vegetarians”, this book will not be of much use to you’.

Should I buy it? Its funny, moving, original and it will change the way you think about vegetables forever. Of course you should bloody well buy it.

Cuisine: Vegetarian
Suitable for: Professional chefs/Confident home cooks
Cookbook Review Rating: 5 Stars

Buy this book
On Vegetables: Modern Recipes for the Home Kitchen

£29.95, Phaidon

Cook from this book
Lima bean & sorrel cacio e pepe
Carta da musica, leaves, things and truffled pecorino
Carrot juice cavatelli, tops salsa and spiced pulp crumble

Roots by Tommy Banks

roots tommy banks

What’s the USP?  Fans of Kunta Kinte will be disappointed to learn that this is not another  update of Alex Haley’s famous slave saga. The title actually refers to the ‘root ingredients’ used fresh or preserved by acclaimed young chef Tommy Banks, who divides the year into three rather four seasons which he calls The Hunger Gap (January to May); Time of Abundance (June to September) and the Preserving Season (October to December) which reflects the way he cooks at his North Yorkshire restaurant The Black Swan at Oldstead.

Who’s the author? Tommy Banks has had something of a meteoric rise since taking over the kitchens of the family restaurant in 2013, aged just 24. He’s one of the youngest ever Michelin starred chefs in the UK and has become something of a TV personality, appearing on the Great British Menu where he cooked turbot with strawberries and cream (recipe included in the book) at the grand banquet at Wimbledon and was a featured chef on Masterchef the Professionals where he demonstrated his signature dishes including crapudine beetroot cooked slowly in beef fat with smoked cod’s roe and linseeds, also included in this, his debut book.

What does it look like? Bucolic. The North Yorkshire landscape looks stunning and there are plenty of shots of Banks posing in fields and on the family farm gathering his beloved ingredients. The food is colourful and attractive without being too tortured on the plate.

Is it good bedtime reading? The short autobiographical introduction is bolstered by chapter introductions and essays on favoured ingredients such as elderflower, summer berries and ‘hedgerow harvests’ making Roots more than simply a collection of recipes.

Will I have trouble finding ingredients? If you’re not a keen gardener then you might find it tricky to lay your hands on things like crapudine beetroot and courgette stalks, and you’ll need to follow Banks’s recipes for fermenting vegetables to make a number of dishes, plus you’ll need a good fishmonger if you’re planning on serving raw red mullet, and a decent butcher who can sell you sweetbreads and mince pork back fat for you, and you’ll need to get out picking elderflowers in June if you want to make elderflower drizzle cake, and…

What’s the faff factor? This is fundamentally a collection of restaurant dishes so expect to put in a fair amount of effort for your dinner.

How often will I cook from the book? This is more weekend project than mid-week supper cooking.

Killer recipes? See above, but also crab, elderflower and potato salad; scallops cured in rhubarb juice with Jerusalem artichoke, and potato skin and brassica broth with cheddar dumplings.

What will I love? All the recipes are rated either 1,2 or 3 for complexity which makes choosing what you want to cook from the book, depending on the time you have to hand easy. But this is more than just a collection of delicious sounding, interesting and characterful recipes, a real effort has been made to give a sense of Banks’s cooking ethos and life at The Black Swan.

What won’t I like? Some readers may feel they’ve been-there-and-done-that with the pickling, fermenting and foraging aspect of the book.

Should I buy it? Roots is a substantial debut effort from one of the UK’s highest profile young chefs with his own take on field to fork cookery which makes it well worth investigating.

Cuisine: Modern British
Suitable for: Professional chefs/Confident home cooks
Cookbook Review Rating: 4 stars

Buy this book
Roots
£25, Orion Books

Peanut Butter Pudding, Peanut Caramel, Dark Chocolate Sorbet by Chantelle Nicholson

08.30.17_KB_Planted_D1_PBPudd_029.jpg

This is one of those desserts that ticks all the boxes for a luscious treat
– peanut butter, caramel and chocolate. You can make the puddings as well as the sorbet in advance and freeze until needed. The sorbet is also delicious on its own – it makes a little more than you need for 4 people.

Serves 4

For the peanut butter pudding
80g aquafaba
80g caster sugar
65g ground almonds
65g plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
20g peanut butter
20g olive oil
20g non-dairy butter, melted
20ml non-dairy milk

For the dark chocolate sorbet
125g caster sugar
90g cocoa powder
90g dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa
solids, broken into pieces
100g ice

For the peanut butter caramel
60g caster sugar
30g non-dairy butter
60ml non-dairy milk
1 tablespoon peanut butter
¼ teaspoon table salt

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas mark 4. Grease 4 ramekins,approximately 250ml in volume. Start by making the sorbet. Put the sugar and cocoa powder in a saucepan with 200ml of water. Whisk well, then place over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Continue whisking and cooking the mixture until it thickens,
about 5 minutes. Put the chocolate in a mixing bowl and pour the cocoa mix
through a fine sieve onto the chocolate. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, then whisk
together. Add the ice and whisk until the ice has melted and the mixture has cooled. Churn in an ice-cream maker following the manufacturer’s instructions, or transfer to the freezer and remove and whisk every hour to break up the ice crystals.

For the puddings, whisk the aquafaba in a stand mixer until stiff peaks form.
Gradually add the sugar and whisk until glossy and all sugar grains have dissolved.

In a separate bowl, combine the ground almonds, flour, baking powder and salt. In a third bowl, mix the peanut butter, olive oil, melted butter and milk together. Stir the peanut butter mix into the dry ingredients, then gently fold in the meringue. Divide between the ramekins and bake for 10 minutes.

When ready to serve, make the caramel. Put the sugar into a small, heavybased
saucepan or frying pan. Set over medium heat and leave the sugar to melt, swirling the pan occasionally for even caramelisation. Once the sugar has dissolved and reached a deep golden colour, add the butter and whisk to combine well. Bring the milk to the boil, then add to the caramel and whisk well. Lastly, whisk in the peanut butter and salt.

Drizzle the warm caramel sauce over the peanut puddings and serve with a big scoop of dark chocolate sorbet.

Cook more from this book
Seeded granola with chai spiced poached plums
Whole barbecued spiced cauliflower

Read the review

Buy this book 
Planted: A chef’s show-stopping vegan recipes
£25, Kyle Books

Recipes taken from Planted by Chantelle Nicholson. Published by Kyle Books. Photography by Nassima Rothacker

Seeded Granola and Chai-spiced Poached Plums by Chantelle Nicholson

08.30.17_KB_Planted_D3_Granola_007

Homemade granola is super simple and has a good shelf life when kept in an airtight container. Dark red plums are among my favourite fruits to poach, so I suggest doing a four times recipe and keeping a large container in the fridge – perfect for breakfast and pudding.

Serves 4

For the plums:
8 plums
50g caster sugar
2 English Breakfast tea bags
1 cinnamon stick
4 cardamom pods
2 star anise
4 cloves
1 bay leaf

For the granola:
150g rolled oats
60g coconut oil
40g sesame seeds
40g sunflower seeds
60g pumpkin seeds
60g dates, chopped
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons agave syrup
non-dairy yogurt, to serve

Preheat the oven to 170°C/fan 150°C/gas mark 3.

First prepare the plums. Cut each plum in half, remove the stone and set aside. Put the sugar in a large saucepan or deep frying pan with 250ml warm water. Bring to the boil, then add the tea bags, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, star anise, cloves and bay leaf. Simmer for 3 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to steep for 6 minutes. Lift out the tea bags and return the pan to the heat. Bring to a simmer, then add the plums, cut-side down. Cover with a lid and simmer gently for 5–7 minutes, until just soft. Remove from the heat, allow to cool slightly, then peel off the skins and transfer to a container and refrigerate.

For the granola, put all the ingredients except the agave into a deep roasting tray and cook for 8–12 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes, until golden. Drizzle over the agave and toast for a further 4 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Serve the granola with the plums and a spoonful of yogurt.

Cook more from this book 
Whole barbecued spiced cauliflower
Peanut butter pudding

Read the review 

Buy the book 
Planted: A chef’s show-stopping vegan recipes
£25, Kyle Books

Recipes taken from Planted by Chantelle Nicholson. Published by Kyle Books. Photography by Nassima Rothacker

The Hidden Hut by Simon Stallard

The Hidden Hut jacket

What’s the USP? Recipes from one of Cornwall’s best-loved beach restaurants, famous for its open-air feast nights.

Who’s the author? Simon Stallard is the chef and owner of The Hidden Hut, a casual beachside restaurant set in ‘an old wooden shed’ on a coastal path near Truro. Stallard worked around the globe from ‘New York to New Delhi’ before settling in Cornwall and opening the Hut in 2010.

What does it look like? The numerous scene-setting photographs mean that you can almost feel the sand between your toes and smell the salty tang of the sea. Reading the Hidden Hut will make you want to jump in the car and immediately head for the south Cornish coast. The colourfully rustic food looks very appealing, the sort of pleasingly unpretentious stuff you just want to get stuck into.

Is it good bedtime reading? Not so much, just a short introduction and a ‘How to cook over fire section’ (cooking over a wood fire in the open air is what Hidden Hut feast nights are all about and Stallard shares his expertise over a 10-page section of the book).

Will I have trouble finding ingredients? You will be at an advantage if you live by the coast and can get your hands on spider crabs, octopus and gurnard, but as long as you can get to a good fishmonger you’ll be fine.

What’s the faff factor? Dishes range from a straightforward mid-week meal of lamb cutlets with butter bean mash and fresh mint sauce to a special-occasion-only slow roasted goat in preserved lemons, but overall the food is about as far from overwrought, tweezered complex restaurant food as you can get.

How often will I cook from the book? With recipes for breakfast (smokey bacon pastries), lunch (chicken and wild garlic soup), picnics (green pea scotch eggs) and parties (seafood paella for 40) as well as lots of delicious dinner ideas, it’s difficult to say when you won’t be cooking from the book.

Killer recipes? Despite the crab on the cover, this is not just a seafood cookbook. In addition to dishes like red-hot mullet with sticky rice balls and cucumber salad and Summer sardines with saffron potatoes and oregano dressing, there’s plenty of meat and veg in the form of 12-hour lamb with smoky aubergine, and samphire frittata with warm lemony courgette salad.

What will I love? There’s a real feel-good factor about the book, open it at any page and you’ll be inspired to get in the kitchen and cook.

What won’t I like? If you want super serious, complex cheffy cooking, this is not the book for you.

Should I buy it? The Hidden Hut is the sort of book with recipes that will become perennial favourites that you’ll find yourself going back to time and time again. So that’s a yes.

Cuisine: Modern British
Suitable for: Confident home cooks
Cookbook Review Rating: 4 stars

Buy this book
The Hidden Hut
£20, HarperCollins

Cook from this book
Buttermilk drop cakes with lemon curd
Chicken and wild garlic soup
Fire-pit wild sea bass with verde sauce