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Book review: A Girl and Her Greens

Book review: A Girl and Her Greens

A Girl and Her Greens

By April Bloomfield

Canongate, £25

April Bloomfield loves meat. Her name has become so synonymous with the concept of nose-to-tail eating, through her celebrated New York restaurants – the Spotted Pig, the Breslin, and the John Dory – and debut cookbook, A Girl and Her Pig, that it may come as a surprise to learn that her passion for produce is by no means limited to the animal-based kind.

The Birmingham-born chef, whose cooking celebrates the traditional English fare of her youth with unmistakeable Mediterranean influences picked up during her four years at London’s River Café, is as wild about flawless pea pods and peppery radishes as she is about lamb shoulders and suckling pigs. In her intro she describes the latter as like action films: lots of explosions and excitement – you like them but probably don’t want to watch them all the time.

Cynics might see her latest book as an attempt to ride the bandwagon for vegetable-centric cooking, popularised by the likes of Bruno Loubet at Grain Store in King’s Cross and Anna Hansen at the Modern Pantry in Clerkenwell. But Bloomfield laughs off this suggestion, declaring while she can’t think of beetroot, carrots and asparagus as cool, she does find them delicious. “That’s good enough for me,” she says.

The sense of excitement that Bloomfield feels for her greens jumps off every page, amid chapters on the “humble potato”, “satisfying salads” and “summer, lovely summer”. Indeed, her nose-to-tail eating philosophy extends to vegetables, with a chapter entitled “top to tail”, where you’ll find whole pot-roasted cauliflower with tomatoes and anchovies – a dish inspired by her River Café mentor Rose Gray, who cooked a whole head of cauliflower “as if it were a hunk of meat”.

This is not a vegetarian cookbook. In her “a little beast goes a long way” chapter, Bloomfield shows how ingredients like bone marrow and bacon can be used to enhance the flavour of veg like sweet potatoes and mushrooms.

The broad spectrum of dishes in A Girl and Her Greens will offer plenty of inspiration to chefs looking to develop their menus, be they vegetarian or side dishes, summer salads or hearty breakfast options.

Bloomfield’s flavoursome recipes give veg the chance to take centre stage and dazzle diners without making them feel like they’re missing out on meat.

If you like this, try these

  • A Girl and Her Pig by April Bloomfield
  • Mange Tout by Bruno Loubet
  • Vegetronic by Alexis Gauthier

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