Raspberry leather etc.

Tonight’s dinner was a fairly typical example of my style of cooking. Have an idea and run with it. Make it up as you go along, drag the laptop out to the kitchen half way through because you realise you need a recipe for one of the elements. Make tonnes of washing-up, put lots of bits of food into whatever receptacle first comes to hand and stack them on any available bit of work surface. Try and keep everything warm. Discover late on that you didn’t prepare an ingredient you intended to include and abruptly revise the dish. Once everything is ready (and everything else is sticky, oily or covered in flour) try and plate it in an inventive way without any prior thought or planning. Realise that you haven’t warmed the plates, sod it. Sit down to eat, moderately exhausted but pleased with what’s finally on the plate. Slap forehead and get up to fetch knives, forks and a couple of wine glasses. Presto!

I’d be the first to admit that it’s a bit crap. I’m fully capable of being more organised, but so often find I’ve decided to try something on a whim and yet we’re going out to see a film or something so there’s not really enough time. What was I saying about being organised?


So, inspired by our trip to Noma I made some raspberry leather. This part was really easy:

  1. Pass a whole punnet of raspberries through a sieve, squashing all the juice and flesh through but leaving the pips and other solids behind
  2. Next, add a little sugar and stir until dissolved, basically until the juice is sweet enough to bring out the proper flavour
  3. Now just pour it onto a greaseproof baking sheet, allowing it to spread itself out into a thin puddle
  4. If you fancy it a bit savoury, sprinkle a little ground black pepper and sea salt on
  5. Put it in a warm and dry place, perhaps near a radiator, and leave it for 24-48 hours until it is completely dry

You end up with a sheet of dark red translucent leather than you can peel off of the baking sheet in one piece and marvel at. I certainly did. The taste is deep and tangy, with some of the satisfying qualities of a good Shiraz. But what next?

I decided lamb chops would be good, with some kind of green sauce and some leafy stuff. The green sauce crystallised when we stumbled on wild garlic while walking along Wenlock Edge today, and then a little further on stumbled on a bank covered in wood sorrel. I never would have known if we hadn’t had it served for us at Noma. We also found enough wild primroses that I felt comfortable picking a few flowers to decorate. And so I present…

…lamb chop with parsnip puree, pea shoot, primrose and wood sorrel salad, discs of raspberry leather and a wild garlic and rosemary sauce, accompanied with Jersey royals. Just don’t ask me why I used a pastry cutter to cut out the raspberry leather.

The whole thing worked really well. The raspberry leather gave a deep tang to frisk up the lovely lamb (nice one, Ludlow Food Centre), the green sauce had a luscious springtime taste that was especially brilliant with the tiny Jersey royals, and wood sorrel leaves have a startlingly bright citric flavour. I’ve included the recipe for the sauce here, as it was so good:

Wild garlic and rosemary sauce (enough for 4)

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp plain flour
½ pint chicken stock
2 tbsp milk
1 small onion
2 small sprigs of rosemary
12 big wild garlic leaves
  1. Finely dice the onion and sweat it for 10 minutes in a knob of butter, season with salt and black pepper
  2. Add the rosemary (finely chopped) for a minute, then the wild garlic (roughly chopped) but only long enough for it to wilt. Perhaps 30 seconds. Turn the heat off
  3. Melt the butter in a small saucepan, then add the flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 2 minutes
  4. Now add the stock a bit at a time, whisking it into the roux and making sure no lumps form. Also add the milk, whisking it in again
  5. Add the onion and herbs to the sauce, check seasoning, loosen with a bit more stock if necessary, and put it all into a food processor to blitz it into a lovely green colour
  6. Great with lamb, new potatoes and anything else that makes you think of spring

I’ll definitely be using this sauce again before the end of wild garlic season. Or, indeed, switching in other herbs as I fancy. Likewise I’ll be making more fruit leather; it’ll be a fun talking point when we have friends over and it’s definitely an original way of serving one of your five-a-day.

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