Rhubarb-almond-orange loaf cake with streusel

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Spring is not really spring without asparagus, strawberries, may bugs, sweet woodruff, peas, broad beans – ok, the list is endless. But what would spring be like without rhubarb and rhubarb cake? In my book a proper rhubarb cake is absolutely essential when the crisp air turns balmy and fragrant with all the sweet, fresh vernal scents while daylight returns. Just what I need when I have been working hard moving flower pots and planters about, scrubbing the terrace without ANY help – human or machine (I am not bitter, though) – and after the immediate danger of frost has waned, planting herbs and other delicate plants outside.

We are almost slipping over into early summer now, so while this cake comes a bit late to the party it is crammed with extra flavour that lives up to the challenge: almonds and oranges with a dash of ginger in a dazzling almond streusel topping. Continue reading

Sweet woodruff syrup – Waldmeistersirup & Maibowle

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It is near impossible imagining Germany in May without Waldmeister, sweet woodruff. The faint vanilla-sweet smelling herb infuses the traditional Maibowle (may wine punch), imparts its astounding fresh aroma onto vivid green coloured jelly, ice creams and green gummy bears. Waldmeister syrup mixes with sparkling water for a herby-sweet spring lemonade and flavours a refreshing Berliner Weisse (beer). But drizzle it onto a perfect ball (or two) of mascarpone ice cream, add the best strawberries and you might as well find yourself in paintings by Watteau or Boucher: Continue reading

Charred spring onions with romesco sauce

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You might have gathered my recent adoration for Spanish food and its regional cuisines. I never really had caught the bug and was hardly interested in the regional cuisines except for this gorgeous preparation for Swiss chard and tapas, of course. Then… I went to Spain a few weeks ago, had an epiphany, surrendered & repented my former erroneous ways and stuffed my suitcase full of glorious things from the market including a huge bag of Marcona almonds.

One of the dishes I ate was a simple but really flavourful starter (it’s all about the ingredients, I tell you): grilled asparagus drizzled with this aromatic, tangy & smoky romesco sauce which I immediately swore to recreate when back at home with anything from the barbecue. Thankfully the weather is in on the plan and provides us with a few days of near-summer experience and I am throwing everything I get my hands onto the fire. Sigh. Continue reading

Spring for spring pasta

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Just this morning showed again how rapidly fast nature starts to blossom and bloom and spring back into life. The surrounding fields are a carpet of furrowed rich brown earth, lush green wheat and bright yellow rapeseed while the apple trees are dressed in clouds of white blossom. Buttercups have appeared overnight, red poppies are dotting the green and whispy grasses sway on wonderful sunlit meadows. I’ve seen a pheasant this morning and the first butterfly of the season – I am overflowing with joy & gratitude & general happiness (while engaging a little sporting activity).

Overwhelming bliss caused by everything spring – or La Primavera if you speak Botticelli – is mirrored in this delightful pasta dish where indecisiveness and immoderation are a good thing. Continue reading

Duck eggs with almond dukkah

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Oh dear, holiday, Mum visiting & computer issues, time flies and this rather quick but exquisite dish took a while to get here… It would not be an exaggeration (or eggsaggeration) to say that I have gone a bit nuts about eggs this Easter, I’ve bought beautiful powdery-blue Aracauria eggs, extra-grand goose eggs, tiny spreckled quail eggs & off-white marble-shelled duck eggs which I’ve used in this appetite-whetting spring starter. Duck eggs with extra-buttery yolks get a dot of mayonnaise & a sprinkle of aromatic almond Dukkah, an Egyptian nut and spice mix that tastes fantastic when mopped up with a bread dipped in olive oil. Add green asparagus spears for a more substantial (& frankly the ultimate spring) starter – nothing else says ‘Spring has sprung’ except for a gambolling lamb. Continue reading

Green mango salad

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Can you believe it, until a few months ago I never had a proper green mango salad! A botched version once made from a fruit caught in limbo between unripe and tasteless was quite off-putting but let’s just forget the sad & sorry thing. This Thai classic is glorious, a revelation, it’s like a refreshing bath in a cold mountain pool or the ice-bucket challenge, it wakes all those slumbering taste buds and is an absolutely wonderful companion to seafood.  Continue reading

Raspberry tiramisu

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This was a wonderful “impromptu” dessert for a dinner with a menu more or less inspired by Venice. With spring already palpable I have a distinct longing for fresher, lighter dishes and a fruity, vernal pudding rather than a warm coffee-spiced one was what I wanted. With three punnets of raspberries filling the kitchen with their sweet, musky scent (Did you know that the galaxy is supposed to taste of raspberries and smell of rum?), this fruity transformation of the iconic Italian dessert (which I haven’t made in decades, what a shame, let’s revive the Tiramisu!) basically developed itself. Marsala in the silky Mascarpone cream adds a toasted woodsy note to complement the floral, sylvan fragrance of raspberries, which deliver the fruity punch. Continue reading