At Brixton farmers’ market yesterday, rootling around in the sunshine for something other than cabbage and kale, I spotted, much like a pointer, bunches of the first early English asparagus. I had, I have to admit, been a little sceptical when they announced on Saturday Kitchen that the first asparagus was available; what with the long winter and the tiny problem of a volcanic cloud of ash blighting our skies, I hadn’t expected to be living off much more than greens and turnips for another couple of weeks, but hey, what do I know.
At £3.50 a bunch – not cheap, but hello it’s not cabbage – you have to be determined to make the most of it. I had, for reasons now unfathomable in hindsight given the weekend weather reports, defrosted a sirloin of beef for roasting for Sunday dinner; with the asparagus to bear in mind the whole had to become instantly spring-like. I roasted the joint of beef rare – you do have to bear leftovers in mind and who in their right mind can bear overcooked cold beef?, roasted some par-boiled Pink Fir Apple potatoes in rosemary and garlic and olive oil, briefly boiled some purple sprouting and tossed it in butter and melted anchovies and put together a tomato salad, dressed in nothing but olive oil and salt with some sorrel from the garden and wild garlic snipped up and scattered on top. The asparagus I did our favourite way and roasted it in the oven with a little oil and salt and then shaved a tiny bit of Parmesan over.
With the leftover beef, I had planned to make, to quote Nigel Slater, a ‘knife-sharp, groovy’ green sauce, but I came across the following from Rose Prince this morning and I shall make this dressing to drizzle over the beef, some leftover potatoes cubed and sauté ed until crisp like croutons, pea shoots, fennel, tomatoes and sorrel for this evening.
A winter sauce: (quantities don’t have to be exact but it needs to be consistency of double cream)
Mix together a couple of tbsp mayonnaise, 2-3 tbsp chicken stock to thin, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and a good dollop of mustard to taste and season.