This cobnut salad with figs and peaches, and garnished with blackberries and chives is a typical recipe from Sally Clarke’s 30 ingredients. Its vibrant colours and the late summer flavours epitomises her philosophy, ‘is to keep it simple, keep it seasonal, and make something which reflects the weather and the occasion.’ Sometimes, maybe rarely, you buy a cook book and you just want to cook your way all the way through it. With Sally Clarke’s 30 ingredients, this is exactly what happened.
The 3o ingredients in the book are varied and have been carefully chosen to provide seasonal ingredients that can be cooked through different times of year. They are arranged in alphabetical order and my favourites include aubergine, fennel, figs, leek, Seville oranges, quince and sage. On first glance, it might seems to be a vegetarian book but it definitely isn’t. A lot of the recipes include fish or meat or alternatively, they could be served alongside. I have added crumbled cheese to some of the salads or served salami or cold chicken to make a more substantial meal.
Sally Clarke had planned to bring out a book with chapters on 25 ingredients to celebrate the 25th anniversary of her restaurant, Clarke’s in Kensington which opened in 1984. But time slipped and by the time the book was published it was 30 years since it started so now there are 30 ingredients.’ She makes the point that is the purchasing of the ingredients that is important. She quotes Alice Waters who said “an apple needs no label or ‘list of ingredients’. It is what it is, pure simple and uncomplicated.” She has followed this ever since she opened Clarke’s when she was one of the first chefs in London to have a no-choice fixed menu for dinner.
It’s elegant and simple but meticulous food. There are no foams, or ferments or smears or smudges here. There is Sally Clarke’s characteristic attention to detail with each element on the plate considered and bringing something to the final look and taste of the dish. For example, in her pesto recipe, the basil leaves are cut by hand as she feels that keeps the colour brighter and the pine nuts are left whole.
I am not natural bread baker but I experimented with the potato pizza with taleggio, basil and red onion and the pitta breads and the spiced flatbreads and they all worked well as the instructions are details and clear and everything has been checked and tested as is made clear in her long list of thank you at the send of the book where Sally Clarke acknowledges her team.
It’s a stunningly produced book, and a pleasure to hold and use with the luxurious heavy binding, thick creamy paper, and a pale green ribbon to mark your place. So much thought has gone into the design and there are the most beautiful photos by the esteemed Tessa Traeger.
The meticulous attention to detail in the book’s production is a indicator of why this was my favourite book of 2015. All the recipes work, look wonderful and taste even better. It well demonstrates Sally Clarke’s philosophy that we should take care, spend time and feed ourselves well.