The spring foodie list: What to buy, cook, eat & drink this season

 

The ingredient: Iberico Pork

Pigs don't come more scrumptious than the black-footed Iberico breed: roaming the oak forests of western Spain, they enjoy a diet of wild acorns, resulting in a deep nuttiness. To now, cured Jamon Iberico has been best known in this country, but uncured Iberico pork is even better. Now on general sale thanks to supplier De Raza, the marbled meat is comparable to beef and should be served medium-rare.

A range of fresh cuts are available from Selfridges and Harrods

The chef: Ravinder Bhogal

The 32-year-old food writer and chef marked herself out as a star-in-the-making when she won a competition to find "Britain's New Fanny Craddock" on Gordon Ramsay's The F Word, and has since gone on to publish an award-winning cookbook and present Channel 4's Food: What Goes in Your Basket. Now, though, she faces the heat of the kitchen as she launches a much-anticipated monthly pop-up restaurant at The Dispensary pub in Aldgate, east London. Serving up a nine-course menu for the unprincely sum of £39, she will apparently incorporate far-flung influences from India to Italy and Kenya to Kazakhstan, with proposed dishes including pink gin- and peppercorn-cured tuna and spiced pig cheek with turnip croquettes.

The pop-up first appears at The Dispensary on 21 April; email 9@thedispensarylondon.co.uk for bookings

The restaurant: Market Cafe

While Hackney's Broadway Market is a mecca for foodies and hipsters alike, decent surrounding restaurants have remained surprisingly conspicuous by their absence. No more, however, with this funky riff on the Italian-run Formica cafés that livened up the capital in the 1950s and 1960s. A pet project for Hugo Warner, founder of the Benugo café chain, it's open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and matches a buzzy atmosphere and bric-a-brac retro décor with a supremely comforting menu of rustic Italian fare. We particularly recommend the unctuous hand-cut tagliatelle with meat sauce and a lip-smacking gingerbread ice-cream.

2 Broadway Market, London E8, 020 7249 9070, market-cafe.co.uk

The cocktail: Oskar Kinberg's Lovage & Grape Collins

Lovage is a fantastic herb that tastes like a combination of celery and parsley with a touch of saltiness. It also has peppery notes that really complement the gin and mean this cocktail has a slight savoury taste while retaining its freshness. If you can't get hold of lovage, you can use the leaves from either parsley or celery.

Ingredients

50ml/2fl oz Bombay Sapphire gin
20ml/1fl oz lemon juice
15ml/ fl oz gomme syrup
5 green grapes
A few lovage leaves
35ml/1 fl oz soda

Glass

Collins

Method

Put the grapes in a glass and crush them with the end of a rolling pin. Put them in a shaker with the rest of the ingredients, apart from the soda, then shake thoroughly and strain over ice. Garnish with a couple of lemon slices and a lovage sprig. Finally, top with soda.

Oskar Kinberg is an award-winning mixologist and bar manager/co-owner of Dabbous, London W1 (dabbous.co.uk)

The starter: Marcus Verberne's Pan-fried lamb's sweetbreads with smoked bacon and pea shoots

Serves 4

This dish uses vibrant flavours only available at this time of year so it is essential to make the most of them. If you can get your hands on some wild garlic, try using this instead of the pea shoots and mint: it arrives at the same time as the daffodils! And don't be turned off by the fact that sweetbreads are a gland – prepared properly, they are delicious with a luxurious creamy texture. But make sure you ask your butcher for "heart" sweetbreads as opposed to "throat". They are the more prized, due to being spherical in shape and plumper than the long, thin throat sweetbreads.

Ingredients

300g/10oz lamb's sweetbreads
leek (finely sliced)
small onion (diced)
carrot (diced)
A few sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
100g/3 oz plain flour
Sea salt and pepper
100g/3 oz smoked bacon lardons
20ml/¾fl oz vegetable oil
20g/¾oz butter
80g/3oz peas (frozen are fine)
100g/3 oz pea shoots
150ml/¼ pint good lamb or beef stock
3 mint leaves (chopped)
50ml/2fl oz cream

Method

Soak the sweetbreads in milk overnight to purge them of any excess blood. Then place them in a saucepan with the leek, onion, carrot, thyme and bay leaf and just cover with cold water. Season the water with salt and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and rest for 1 minute before straining. It is important not to overcook them or they will lose that creamy texture.

Once the sweetbreads have cooled enough to handle, peel the thin, clear membrane from the outside with a small knife. Season the sweetbreads with salt and pepper and roll them in the flour. Heat a frying pan on a medium-heat, then fry the sweetbreads and bacon lardons in the oil and butter until golden and crispy.

Add a teaspoon of flour to the pan then pour in the stock; it should boil on contact. Add the peas, mint and cream and bring back to the boil. Adjust the seasoning if necessary and add the pea shoots just before serving.

Marcus Verberne is head cook at Roast, Borough Market, London SE1 (roast-restaurant.com)

The kitchenware: Waitrose Cooking & Dining ranges

Lest you thought Waitrose couldn't get any more wallet-tempting, it's only gone and launched its own kitchen and tableware. Where previously it sold items from sister store John Lewis, these exclusive collections include everything from vintage-look enamel milk jugs and pitchers to stylish, contemporary crockery. Our favourites, though? The supremely cutesy, on-trend pastel ice-cream bowls and the terracotta range of dishes designed for summer, al-fresco entertaining.

Stock will be rolled out nationwide through April; see waitrose.co.uk/homedirect.html for details

The bar: Sliderbar

Following artfully scuzzy burger joint Meatliquor and pared-back BBQ specialists Pitt Cue Co comes the latest addition to Soho's fine-fast-food scene: the first permanent residence for burger maestros Lucky Chip. Details remain sketchy at this point, but what we do know is it will open this month with a late licence and a menu of cocktails and dinky burgers, and will inevitably cause queues around multiple blocks.

Follow @sliderbar for updates

The cake: Outsider Tart's Baked Alaska Rhubarb Cake

For the cake

450g/14 oz all-purpose flour
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
240ml/8fl oz whole milk
2 tsp vanilla
225g/8oz unsalted butter, softened
450g/16oz granulated sugar
6 large eggs
Cinnamon sugar for sprinkling

For the frosting

375g/12oz granulated or caster sugar
6 large egg whites
A pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Butter two nine-inch round pans, line the bottoms with parchment and dust the sides with flour. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In a large measuring jug, combine the milk and vanilla. Set both aside. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 6 to 8 minutes until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to medium and add the eggs, two at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape the bowl to dislodge the gunge at the bottom and mix for 1 minute more. Divide about two-thirds of the batter between the prepared pans. Sprinkle all the rhubarb on to the batter and slightly press the rhubarb into it. Spread the remaining batter over the rhubarb. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon sugar. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes or until a knife emerges clean from the centre. Allow to cool in the pans.

Now make the frosting: combine all the ingredients in the stainless-steel bowl of an electric mixer. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water, making sure the bottom doesn't touch the water. Using a whisk, continuously stir the mixture over the heat until it gets frothy and becomes hot to the touch. This will take 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the bowl and place it on the mixer. Whisk the mixture on high speed for 10 minutes until it is thick, bright-white, smooth and glossy.

Once the two cakes are cool, take the first, place it on a stand and spread the meringue frosting over the top then place the second layer on top. Repeat frosting on the top of the cake then move to the side until you have the frosting all over your cake, using a rubber spatula or the back of a large spoon to make a smooth or swirly finish. With a kitchen blowtorch, gently toast the meringue for a "baked finish".

Outsider Tart is a boutique bake shop at 83 Chiswick High Road, London W4 (outsidertart.com). Its book 'Baked in America' is published by Ebury, priced £16.99

The cookbook: Mugaritz: A Natural Science of Cooking

Nestled in the hills behind San Sebastian in Spain and third in last year's world restaurant rankings, Mugaritz is known for its minimalist yet flamboyantly avant-garde approach to food. Here, chef Andoni Luis Aduriz expounds on his creative process, picking out 70 favourite recipes. With dishes such as Cone of Nails and Flowers, you might hesitate before whipping this out for your next dinner party, but the writing and pics mean it will be better deployed on the coffee-table than the kitchen shelf anyway.

Published by Phaidon, priced £35, on 1 May

The salad: Rosie Lovell's Warm Whole Roasted Beet Salad

Serves 3-4

4 large fresh beetroot, complete with tops
3 large carrots
2 tbsp olive oil
2 handfuls baby spinach leaves
100g/3 oz fresh ricotta
100g/3 oz hazelnuts
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Wash the beetroot and remove the tops, setting aside. Chop the beetroot into six pieces each and the carrots into eight. Place on a baking tray, pour over the oil and put in the oven for 1 hour until tender and golden. Meanwhile, roughly chop the beetroot tops and place in a big salad bowl with the spinach. Heat a dry frying pan and toss the nuts so they toast just a little. Remove to cool on a plate (or they will continue to toast, and burn).

When the vegetables are ready, pile on to the leaves with the oil. Crumble over the ricotta and the nuts, and dress with a little vinegar. Serve with crusty bread.

This recipe is extracted from 'Supper with Rosie' by Rosie Lovell (Kyle, £16.99), out on 3 May

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