June has been a busy month over at Susan Eats London, or perhaps it’s just that I have been busy. I have been doing lots of running around (a whirlwind trip to New York in the middle of the month, and then I’m going back again at the end of the week), and I’ve had a month of wonderful eating – generally thanks to the benevolent interventions of others. There was the gut-busting Indian luncheon prepared by the phenomenally talented Asma Khan, to which I scored an invitation after serendipitously meeting friend Nayan at the Marylebone Summer Fayre. There was the oh-so-British celebration of English asparagus courtesy of Friends Jess and Will, featuring asparagus three ways (although I ended up making the asparagus risotto and the roasted asparagus). And then there was beef. Correction: there is beef. A lot of beef.
On Sunday I took a day-long beef butchery course at The Butchery Ltd., in which, under the expert supervision of Nath the Butcher, I and two others butchered a whole side of beef. Nathan is committed to sourcing his meat directly from farmers who love the animals they raise, and espouses a truly whole-animal approach to butchery practiced by few other butchers. The result is that nothing, NOTHING is wasted, the animal is respected, AND I learned how to use a bone saw.
I also took home 11 KILOS of beef, and a sack of marrow bones. In the past three days I have eaten steak tartare, steak flash-fried, oven finished, and served with anchovy butter, steak with salsa verde, and steak simply griddled with salt and pepper, and I am starting to feel like if I indulge in any more beefy excess I will sprout horns and udders. After a night of sweaty protein-saturated dreams, I woke up this morning wondering whether there was such a thing as beef toxicity and fantasizing about vegetables.
I photographed and documented these two salads a little while ago, but hesitated about putting them on my blog. A “recipe” for salad? That doesn’t involve actual cooking? Well, yes, but they’re pretty, a little different from slap-lettuce-tomato-cucumber-in-a-bowl-with-oil-and-vinegar-call-it-a-day, and when I serve them to people I get lots of appreciative comments. And right now salad is what I’m craving. Both of these are citrus-based. Citrus gives a unique astringency and delicacy to salad dressings, which I prefer to vinegar.
Carrot Salad with Citrus-Ginger Dressing and Nigella Seeds
3-4 large sweet fresh carrots (about a pound, give or take a little), peeled and grated using a box grater or food processor
Juice of ½ orange
Juice of 1 small lime or ½ large lime
Four tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 heaping teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon nigella seeds, toasted in a pan until fragrant
Thoroughly combine orange and lime juices, olive oil, fresh ginger, coriander, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings. Toss with grated carrots and allow to sit for at least half an hour. Before serving, toss in nigella seeds. This salad stays bright and crunchy for days, and only improves as the carrots get saturated in the tasty dressing.
Makes about 6 servings.
Fennel, Endive, and Parsley Salad
1 large or two small fennel bulbs, cored, and finely sliced with a mandoline. You can do this with a knife, but you should aim for slices no more than 1-2 millimeters thick.
2 endives, cored and cut into ½ cm rings
A medium handful of parsley, leaves picked from stems
Zest of ½ large lemon (this salad is particularly nice if you use a zester to cut fine strips)
Juice of ½ large lemon
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
A few pinches of flake salt, like Maldon’s
Freshly ground pepper
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, toss, and adjust seasonings. Serve immediately.
Makes 4-6 servings.