We’ve just been talking about recipes. Every newspaper and magazine has them, of course, and I daresay most of them are destined never to be made. Tonight, I did cook one though, a sweetcorn, egg and tomato curry from yesterday’s Guardian, and it was good, though the sauce was far too much for four – we’ll add some fish and have it again tomorrow, but I halved the corn and the eggs, kept the same quantities for the sauce, didn’t do the recommended rice and it was still more than ample to serve us twice.
Today, however, in LT’s paper, there was a “dip” for globe artichokes. Well, to start with, it’s past artichoke season. My theory is that, when a vegetable comes into season, a cook starts to think of new ways to use it and, by the time the recipe has been devised, tested, written up and printed, it’s the tail end of the season. It happens every year with asparagus, new spring veg, even pomegranates and other imported stuff. But yet, on the other hand, the testing is often a lot less than perfect. And sometimes, the recipe is so up itself that it’s almost impossible to make. Like this artichoke dip. A globe artichoke is a perfect thing with a very distinctive, delicate flavour. Melted butter is perfect with it and vinaigrette is also traditional. I can see Hollandaise sauce. A few herbs, I wouldn’t bother, but okay.
This recipe suggests putting all the artichokes in a dish and everyone taking out leaves to put in the dip. I’m close to losing my temper already. This starts by making mayonnaise with egg yolk, lemon juice and two sorts of dijon mustard. Then add both capers and cornichons – why? – as well as shallot and six different fresh herbs, salt and soured cream. The herbs include coriander, dill, tarragon and sage, which would truly fight each other. The writer boasts of how her children love this dish. Show off.
If anyone makes this, please let me know. I won’t and, if I were to consider it, I’d cut out more than half of the ingredients.
The other thing with recipes is, how long they take to cook. A friend put a link to a tomato curry sauce on Facebook the other week and, since we’ve bucketfuls of tomatoes this year, I made it. She commented that it took a lot longer than it said to simmer down and so it did, and it wasn’t nearly as tomatoey as the picture. I added more tomatoes to the leftovers the next day and it still didn’t look like the picture, though it tasted very good. I’ve made a tomato relish several times this year – we have at least a dozen jars of it – but the half hour it suggests to cook it is ludicrous.
While I’m on the subject, most Indian recipes have too much water and salt. And the Nigel Slater recipe for squash we cooked yesterday was okay, but we could immediately think of several improvements when we try it again. Does anyone actually test the recipes before they’re published?