Meanderings

Mediterranean Food Prep With Nina Parker

[Mediterranean Food Prep With Nina Parker]

Issue #72
A Capri-Inspired Evening at S&B School...

Because winter can sometimes feel relentless, we've decided to find a few ways to bring some sunshine and warmth to Clarendon Cross.

On Thursday 9th February at School, chef and author Nina Parker will be hosting a workshop on recipes from her latest cookbook, Nina: Capri 

In the hope of evoking ideas of brilliant sunshine, bright Amalfi Coast blues and fragrant lemon zest, we've teamed up with Nina for the evening as she creates some of her favourite recipes inspired by the Mediterranean. Drawing on simple, beautiful ingredients presented effortlessly, Nina: Capri reminds us why it's important to bask in the sun once in a while. Or at least, learn to make the dishes that remind you of doing just that.

True to form we couldn't help but ask Nina a few questions about her inspirations, grand plans and of course, favourite places to eat when she's not creating in the kitchen. 

We hope you take a scroll through and get just as excited about Feb 9th as the team at S&B. For more information on booking this workshop, click here. We look forward to seeing you!

Love,
S&B


[Interview with Nina Parker]

Q.
If you could pack your bags tomorrow where is the first place you’d want to go adventuring and why?

A.
I would definitely say California as its where I would love to do my next book. I think there is so much choice in terms of food cultures, restaurants and locations. It's still a dream at the moment, but if I went I would 100% combine it with a holiday at the same time.


Q.
What’s your earliest or fondest memory of food/cooking?

A.
I have so many! Being 4 years old making biscuits with my two friends, being with my Polish grandmother at a restaurant eating prawns and mayonnaise, also eating my 6th Nutella crepe with my mum on pancake day. They all make me pretty happy thinking about them. It's these memories I think slowly shaped what I'm doing now.


Q.
How did you decide to become a chef?

A.
I didn't really make an executive decision it just sort of happened to me. After university I knew I wanted to work in food in some way and I got a job in the kitchen at L'Anima in Liverpool Street. It was there that I fell in love with their style of food and I loved how creative it was. The quality of the produce and colourful plates of food were all so inspiring. I also enjoyed the camaraderie of the chefs in the kitchen. It was an exciting but tough world and I wanted to be a part of it.


Q.
 
What’s the ingredient you can’t imagine life without?


A.  
Oh wow! Tricky, but I guess I would say lemon. I use it so much in seasoning it's a joke! It's just one of those excellent flavours that you can throw into salads, zest on fish, add into cakes and squeeze over pastas. If I have to create a gluten-free or dairy-free menu then lemon is something I use all the time for a boost of flavour and it works to bring out other tastes at the same time. Delicious! 


Q.
We love recommendations - What are your favourite places to eat at when you're in Capri?

A.
You are spoilt for choice, but if I have to narrow it down I would go for Il Riccio which is situated on a cliff edge in Anacapri. It has the most stunning interiors - white and light blue tiles in the kitchen and large white sails with bright blue tables in the restaurant. They have an awesome seafood menu with some delicious pasta dishes and an unbelievable thing called a Dessert Room. You can go and pick a plate full of insane-looking cakes fo
r €20. That kind of says it all!
 
[L] Nina exploring Capri
[R] Her famous Lemon Crab with Toasted Pine Nuts & Fennel Seeds

Q.
Who is on your dream dinner party list and what would you serve?

A.
I would love to cook for Roger Federer mainly because I would like to meet him, also I would ask Greyson Perry who would shake things up between courses. Maybe James Franco and Jonah Hill for laughs. And lastly, I would have Nigella because she would add a lil' summin extra with all of her wonderful food chat. And of course I'd have a bunch of my friends. I would serve something easy because I would not want to miss that line-up. Perhaps a crab linguine ending in a dark chocolate torte with homemade vanilla ice cream.


Q.
What is your sounding board for new cookbook ideas or recipes?

A.
I try and work with the seasons as much as possible which always leads me down an interesting path. Depending on where I am, I can get inspired by a new restaurant or a farmer's market with interesting ingredients. These experiences help me form new ideas. 


Q.
Your first cookbook focuses on Southern French cuisine from San Tropez, we are big fans of the region, what is your favourite thing to cook from there?

A.
I can never get enough of ratatouille. It's simple, classic and improves with age. There is nothing better than preparing this dish in the summer when the aubergine and tomatoes are to perfection. I love the smell of it simmering on the stove with the unmistakable aroma of courgettes combining with the richness of the tomato sauce. This dish is soulful,  pure summer. 
 

 Q.
Any places we should make sure to have on our list for eating out in San Tropez as well?

A.
In the old town there's a restaurant called La Mazagran that is set in the most stunning corner of the town and you can eat classic provencal dishes of aubergine avec tomates, moules avec frites and fresh fish with la sauce vierge. I would also recommend the famous beach restuarant, Le Club 55 which is filled with so many stories and serves up delicious food in a laid-back interior of driftwood canopies and light blue awnings. 


 Q.
What would be your top three picks from S&B for your table?

A.
I love the Carolina Bucci linen tablecloth which I think is great for any dinner party and I like the Astier de Villatte Villa Medici Candles as they are perfect to have in winter to warm you up. The Conical Glass Vases would also be on my wish list.


Q.
And finally, how do you spend your down time? 

A.
I love playing tennis, though it's difficult to find the time.


[Welcome to Capri] 
a few of Nina's recipes from her wonderful cookbook


[Fennel and Pear Salad with Pomegranate]

[Photo credit Paul Winch-Furness]

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 ripe but firm pear, cored and thinly sliced
1 chicory, cut lengthways into 6 wedges
seeds of 1/2 pomegranate
few sprigs of dill
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced

FOR THE DRESSING
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp honey
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Method

To make the dressing, mix all of the ingredients in a small bowl and taste to double check the seasoning. In a mixing bowl, add all of the salad ingredients and pour the dressing over and mix together. Divide the salad between 2 plates and serve.

 


[Dolce Vita Puttanesca]

[Photo credit Paul Winch-Furness]

Serves 2

Ingredients

7 anchovy fillets in extra virgin olive oil, chopped, plus 4 tablespoons of the anchovy oil
4 cloves garlic cloves, diced
1/2 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
80g black olives, half chopped
80g green olives, half chopped
2 tbsp capers
1/2 glass of dry white wine
400g tinned plum tomatoes
bunch of basil, roughly chopped
finely grated zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon
1 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
160g dried wholegrain spelt spaghetti
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Method

Heat the oil from the anchovies in a large pan over medium heat. When hot, add the garlic and chilli and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the anchovies, cherry tomatoes, olives, capers and white wine, and cook for 5–6 minutes. Add the tinned tomatoes, bring to the boil, then simmer for about 10 minutes. Taste to check the seasoning, adding in more chilli, the balsamic vinegar and some salt and pepper, if needed. Cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions. When the pasta is cooked, scoop out a ladleful of the cooking water, then drain the pasta. Add the reserved pasta water to the sauce to loosen it a little, stir in the basil, lemon zest and juice. Combine the pasta and sauce. Divide everything between 2 plates and serve immediately.

 


[Lemon Almond Cake]
[Photo credit Paul Winch-Furness]

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

200g so unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
200g unrefined caster sugar
200g ground almonds
100g fine polenta
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 free-range medium eggs, lightly beaten
finely grated zest of 3 1/2 unwaxed lemons
1 tsp orange blossom water
crème fraîche, for serving, unrefined icing sugar, for dusting

For the Syrup...

juice of 3 1/2 lemons
1–2 tbsp unrefined icing sugar
1 vanilla pod

 

 Method

Using a stand mixer or hand held electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy – this will take about 5 minutes on a fast speed. Mix the ground almonds, polenta and baking powder in a separate bowl. Still beating, slowly trickle a little of the eggs into the creamed butter. Add a tablespoon of the dry mixture and continue alternating between the 2 until everything is combined. Mix in the lemon zest, and orange blossom water and pour the batter into the prepared tin. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until the edges of the cake have begun to shrink away from the tin and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out almost clean. Remove and cool on a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before carefully removing from the tin to cool completely. Once cool, dust with icing sugar.

Meanwhile, make the syrup. Heat the lemon juice and icing sugar in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Slice the vanilla pod length ways, scrape the seeds out using the back of the knife and add them to
the pan. Simmer gently for about 5–10 minutes or until reduced to a syrup. To serve the cake add a dollop of crème fraîche and a good drizzle of the syrup over the cake.




 

[Tickets]

Click here for more information and to book tickets for Nina's Mediterranean Food Prep

Thursday 9th February 2017
7 - 8:30 pm
£70

S&B School
100 Portland Road
W11 4LQ
+44 (0) 207 221 4566



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