I bought the new cookbook by Alice Hart, sight unseen. The cover was my only glimpse into this fabulous book. Although that’s not totally true, I’ve cooked from Alice’s books before and I knew it would be great, I new I needed to have it (words from a cookbook addict for sure).
And I was right. The book is a beautiful and Alice should be very pleased with this one. Friends At My Table is a collection of recipes you can use individually or as a menu to share with friends. From Vietnamese inspired bridal showers, to Autumn picnics, glamping, and a beach cricket barbeque menu. There is alot of the outdoors in Alice’s books which reflects her love of traveling in her beloved campervan, Myrtle the Hurtle. It’s inspiring.
I was going to share the recipe for these delicious little blueberry, almond and vanilla choux buns with you but then I made the crisp ham and pumpkin salad. Alice describes the recipe as her favourite in the book, and I know why.
OK so the picture doesn’t do it justice. There are a few components to the dish before assembly but it’s simple and you will want to make it again and again. I reduced the serving size by a third to make two perfect portions. The recipe is not exactly the same as printed but pretty much. It is shared with you by the kind permission of Quadrille Publishing.
Crisp Ham Hock and Pumpkin Salad, chilli dressing and toasted pumpkin seeds.
1 small smoked ham hock
300g pumpkins, peeled and diced 5cm
1 tablespoon olive oil
35g pumpkin seeds
2 large handfuls of mixed salad leaves
a small handful of coriander
a small handful of thai basil leaves or more coriander
1 large ripe avocado, cut into segments
2 kaffir lime leaves (I thought I had some in the freezer but no, so I added lime zest when the juice is added)
3 tablespoons mild olive oil
1 shallot, very finely sliced
15g palm sugar or 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
1/2-1 long red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
thumbnail size piece of ginger cut into fine matchsticks
half a garlic clove finely chopped
1 lemon grass stalk, outside leaves peeled to the white inner and finely sliced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
juice of half a lime
half a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil
Preheat oven to 140°C fan. Put the hock into a small roasting tin, cover with foil and roast for 2 or so hours until the meat is falling off the bone. Let it cool enough to remove the skin and excess fat. Break into small pieces. This maybe done up to two days in advance. Return meat to room temperature cover with foil and heat in a low oven.
For the pumpkin heat the oven to 220°C fan. Toss the pumpkin in oil, season and roast in a lined baking tin for 30 mins or until tender and edges golden. This can also be done two days ahead and reheated in the same way as the hock.
Toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry frying pan, shaking them about until golden and fragrant. Set aside to cool.
To prepare the lime leaves, stack them on top of each other, cut out the stalk, roll tightly and slice as thinly as possible. Place 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a moderate frying pan, add shallots and cook gently for 10 minutes but not to colour. Add sugar and cook for two minutes. Then add the chilli, ginger, garlic, lemongrass and lime leaves. Keep the heat very low and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly before adding soy sauce, lime juice (and lime zest if using instead of lime leaves), remaining olive oil and sesame oil.
Combine salad leaves and herbs, scatter the pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, avocado and ham pieces over it, followed by the dressing and cracked black pepper to taste.
Very happily serves 2.