I requested a review copy of April Bloomfield’s A Girl and Her Greens: Hearty Meals from the Garden as I’ve been so curious about the foodie buzz surrounding her. Now I get why she’s such a star.
April Bloomfield, in her writing and recipes, straddles something exciting between home cooking and cheffy imagination and technique, and it all feels accessible and inspiring. Her approach is relaxed and easy as she looks around the world for culinary ideas and somehow simultaneously simplifies and elevates the foods. It’s a kind of magic! Yet she never presents herself as the final word.
She’s also packaged a little as the British girl gone to America, and as someone whose food story is the reverse (albeit without the glory), I love seeing what she’s doing with American flavours — the Sweet-Corn Ice-cream with Butterscotch being especially ingenious. I wouldn’t quite call this a vegetable book like my other vegetable books (Jane Grigson, Viana La Place) as I wouldn’t necessarily use it that way– it’s more for me an eat-less-meat book with an emphasis on fun recipes to help with ideas in a daily kind of way.
And I like the way she mixes raw and cooked in single dishes, for instance her Roasted and Raw Fennel Salad with Blood Orange.
And her Steamed Daikon and Raw Radish Salad with Kimchi and Sesame— The Kitchn has posted the recipe here. This is the delicious dish in the book that really got me feeling enthused about her cooking. It had just never occurred to me to puree a little kimchi into a dressing, for all my enthusiasm and passion. This time I used some old Brussel Sprout Kimchi I’d made after Christmas that was full of all those goodies for the micro-biome–and (I confess) maybe was losing appeal with age. And dressed a salad simpler than hers, just radishes and lettuce and rocket — though steamed swede would have been nice I reckon, or lots of shredded roots like carrots and turnips and kohlrabi– then sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds (I used black and white together). The strong, intense flavours of the old ferment were made so subtle, and with the freshness and crunch of the raw, then the slight nuttiness of the toasted seeds– well, you really must try this to understand. 🙂
One note: vegetarians and vegans beware, if you haven’t made your own kimchi, it might contain shrimp or fish. Just check.
Here’s my version of Kimchi Dressing simplified from April Bloomfield– it’s really a vinaigrette that accounts for the sour of the kimchi in it’s reduced use of vinegar/lemon.
- Puree a quarter cup of Kimchi, with some brine if it’s still there
- (I loosened mine with some bread kvass which was a good call, apple cider vinegar would be fine too.)
- Add two-three tablespoons of a neutral oil
- A teaspoon roasted sesame oil (too much is too intense, always with this oil!)
- If you wish, a little honey or fruit juice would not go amiss
“Taste and Tweek,” as Rachel Dethample says– for how loose or paste-like you might want, and how sour, or ferment-intense. This is your dressing, make it as you like, but note that the flavour seems to settle with time. Really really good. Such a great way to get more goodness of beneficial bacteria in your diet, complete with the prebiotic roughage of a salad. And Asian spiciness, on a plate or in a sandwich. A brilliant dressing. And oh my goodness, so amazing with avocado.
Thus now an April Bloomfield fan am I. Joined the legions. Will keep you posted on cooking from this wonderful book, which I heartily recommend to you.