MICHELE CRANSTON’S KITCHEN FAVOURITES
In her latest cookbook, A Simple Table, cook and food stylist Michelle Cranston shares more than 100 delicious recipes minus the culinary gymnastics. She takes five minutes with The Home to share more tips for a fresh and fabulous spread this season.
How does one ensure they’re not stuck in the kitchen this festive season when playing host?
I always do quite a bit of prep ahead of time and ensure that all the recipes are ones that I feel comfortable with and have done before. There’s nothing more stressful than a host that finds themselves halfway through a recipe and not sure what to do next or one that feels alone in carrying the food burden! Because of our summery Christmas I always do a frozen ice-cream dessert, summer pudding or pashka, all of which can be made a day or two earlier. I normally do a cured salmon which looks spectacular on the day but can be nibbled on for the next few days. And I normally bake the ham on Christmas eve so the oven is free for the turkey or whole fish on Christmas day. And I always ignore roast vegetables and keep the salads simple so I can enjoy champagne in the morning!
Tell us one easy styling tip we can try at home this weekend to make our food look as good as it tastes.
I like to serve food on platters, even mid-week meals, as I love that feeling of shared abundance. With the addition of fresh herbs, micro herbs or toasted nuts any salad or dish of roasted meats will look like a grand statement with a simple scattered garnish.
What are your favourite spring/summer ingredients to cook with and why?
That’s a hard one to answer as everything is so delicious at this time of the year. In spring, I’m excited by all the green vegetables and fresh herbs and start planning recipes around artichokes, zucchinis, cucumbers, asparagus and broadbeans. All those healthy greens are a great way to energise the body after all those wintery carbohydrates. In summer, it’s all the tomatoes, peaches, mangoes and cherries. Summer fruits are fantastic to combine with meats and bring a sweet fresh flavour to all those summer salads I love figs with ham and prosciutto, ripe peaches tossed in a peppery dressing and served with torn buffalo mozzarella or mangoes combined with chilli prawns and fresh coriander. Fresh cherries are such a delight as they really say summer holidays. They are wonderful in a salad of ham and rocket or cooked into cakes, sauces, syrupy spiced compotes or folded into an ice-cream terrine.
What’s your go-to mid-week meal?
I always have ripe tomatoes, pasta, parmesan and prosciutto in the kitchen and fresh herbs growing in the garden so my favourite mid-week meal is a quick pasta of chopped tomatoes marinated in lots of olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, tossed through warm pasta and topped with torn prosciutto, basil leaves and grated parmesan. It’s fresh flavoured, comforting and takes only as long as the pasta takes to cook!
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