Thursday, May 11, 2017

Gather Cook Feast - Jessica Seaton and Anna Colquhoun

I've had one of those exhaustingly productive days off where I've done almost every job on my list along with a few unexpected ones along the way, rounding off with finally dealing with the rhubarb that's been menacing me since Sunday. It's jam now. I'll be wiped out for work tomorrow.

Whilst making the jam (at least inbetween wondering why something that starts off a beautiful combination of pink and green ends up a sludgy brown, and why rhubarb jam is always sweeter than I want it to be) I remembered this book. The poor thing has been kicking around the sitting room for weeks waiting for me to write about it (I probably won't cook from it before it finds a home in the kitchen, but probably wouldn't write about it once it's left the to do pile by my favourite chair).

The cover proudly mentions that these are recipes from land and water by the co-founder of Toast. Which I had to look up (clothes). I guess it's a selling point but it's one that's mostly lost on me. The book sold itself once I'd looked inside it anyway. 

The recipe that first caught my imagination is for Juniper roast venison with pine jelly. Described as a breath of moorland on a plate, there's something wonderfully romantic about this dish and I'd order it like a flash in a restaurant. The process of making the pine jelly (sourcing the pine needles from my city centre flat won't be easy) means I won't be making this anytime soon, but that doesn't matter. It's even more perfect because 3 types of pine are suggested, the author has tried 2 and describes the difference. That really is food for the imagination.

Recipes for pickled damsons, malted ice cream, braised rabbit with lemon and olives, and sloe whisky or brandy (instead of the more usual gin) where what determined me to take this one home though. I also fell for the beautiful photography, despite lavish illustrations of landscapes normally being a turn off in a cookbook. I'm guessing it works for me here because of things like the juniper and pine venison, and a suggestion for gilded gingerbread with Caerphilly cheese. The gilding is optional and suggested only for very special occasions, and again I'm a little carried away by the romance and opulence of this image.

The gingerbread is something I will make, and though I almost certainly won't gild it, having tried to wrestle with gold leaf before I'm impressed that there are instructions for application (my own experience hasn't been altogether happy in this endeavour). 

I can't say this book has given me as much to think about as Gill Meller's 'Gather' (which really does feel like an important book) though it's exploring similar ideas, but it does have a lot of things I want to eat in it. 


  1. Rhubarb & Ginger (similarly marrow/courgette & ginger) is a great jam combination as the spicy ginger cuts through the sweet stickiness (fresh, powdered, crystallised or glace ginger - or even a combination - are all good).

    Different varieties of rhubarb cook down to different colours & textures. The best varieties give a more red coloured, firmer pulp whilst the rest just give greeny-grey sludge. Of course most taste fine, but for jam & smart desserts you need a supply of the better looking rhubarb varieties. You need to make friends with an allotment holder/Allotment Association - believe me many people with an allotment (they exist in urban areas too) would love to give you their surplus produce to use (a pity you don't live in my part of the country!!).

  2. I think this was temperly early (lost the label but almost certain it's what I planted) the flavour is good, and it's prolific, but in jam not the best colour. Rhubarb and ginger was the plan until I realised to late that I didn't have any ginger left, the rhubarb and orange recipe I followed is definitely sweeter than I personally like, though it might be good with a sharp yoghurt. I could certainly do with allotment friends who grow currents, and other interesting soft fruit, rather than courgettes, tomatoes, or other easy to source vegetables. I should try and find a good rhubarb chutney recipe as well.

  3. If you ever find some Caerphilly cheese to eat with your gingerbread, please let me know where you got it from. It seems to be a rare species nowadays.

  4. Waitrose sell it, at least my local branch does, and good deli's should either have it or be able to get it for you (though you'd need to be able to trust how they keep their cheese). I think Neal's Yard dairy does mail order as well