Last weekend, I received one of the coolest hostess gifts ever.
As a person who is most likely rushing out the door to a dinner gathering – desperately looking for a missing shoe, or wallet while barking instructions to teenagers to be sure to feed the cat (and/or themselves), my standard operating procedure is to grab a bottle of wine from the wine rack as I fly out the door. Sorry to shatter the illusion that I’m a really pulled-together gal.
It would therefore come as no surprise that I am a bit in awe of a guest who takes the time to arrive at my home for dinner with a perfectly wrapped, thoughtful gift. Imagine my delight when a dinner guest last week arrived with a copy of Nigel Slater’s latest cookbook – Notes from the Larder – with two Mast Brothers chocolate bars tucked on top, all tied up with an elegant deep purple ribbon.
Jackson and I ate the chocolate bars before I could photograph them. But I just have to show you this book:
Isn’t it gorgeous?
Please know that all hostess gifts of wine and flowers have always very much appreciated and thoroughly enjoyed over the years at House Morell. (But wow – right?)
The thing is, this book came as a welcome balm to my harried summer existence… It’s a thoughtful, serene collection of thoughts, ideas, stories, observations and recipes. This is the first of Nigel’s books I have added to my collection, and I suspect it won’t be the last. I adore his style. In the introduction, he notes: “I suppose each book feels like a chat with another cook… It is a simple premise. I make something to eat, and everyone, including myself, has a good time, so I decide to share the recipe. To pass on that idea, and with it, hopefully, a good time to others.”
What a lovely thought… and quite honestly, what I’d like to be doing by sharing my favorite recipes on this blog.
I’ve only just begun to explore Notes from the Larder, but a recipe for jam caught my eye almost immediately. Nigel writes: “I do make traditional long-life summer jams from time to time, but more fun, I think, are the ones for instant consumption… The advantage of these is that they contain less than half the sugar you need for a preserve that has to keep til winter.”
Nigel makes his jam with gooseberries and strawberries. He’s London-based you see. I am not, and don’t happen to have any gooseberries handy. Nor do I have any idea where I might find some. However, I happened to have a fridge full of too many blueberries and cherries.
Hmm… this might just be the perfect recipe for me today. I do like four-ingredient recipes. And things for instant consumption.
After finishing this breathtakingly simple jam, Nigel suggests you should: “Pour into a bowl and serve with scones (where it will drip down your fingers) or slices cut from sponge cake, or spoon over goat’s milk yogurt, or stir into a mess of whipped cream and crumbled meringue. Just don’t expect it to set or keep for very long.”
I’m sure that won’t be a problem at House Morell… I’m thinking it will be particularly lovely on toast. And vanilla ice cream. And pancakes…
So very nice to meet you Nigel. Oh, and Jen – thanks so much for introducing us! You’re welcome at our house any time.
(Originally Published July 2014)
A Warm Jam of Blueberries and Cherries
- 2 lbs blueberries
- 1 lb cherries, pitted And halved
- 1 1/4 cup organic sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Place the fruit into a large pot, crush it with a potato masher, then sprinkle the sugar and the lemon juice over the crushed fruit.
- Cook, stirring occasionally for 15 to 20 minutes, spooning off the pink froth as you go.
- The jam should be thick enough to fall slowly from the spoon, like syrup, but not thick enough to set.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.