Sorrel Day, 2014
The Man of Constant Sorrel

Ah, Sorrel Day rolls around again.
No, as you might think, it's nothing to do with the sadly neglected, but deliciously tart seasonal leafy vegetable - it's a memorial for the Battle of Mont Sorrel near Ypres during World War I. Way to die - you glorious bastards!
It just happens to be slap-bang in the middle of sorrel season - when you might be lucky enough to find sorrel for sale in your more earthy organic food stores or at the local farmers' market. You certainly won't find it many other places - it is now considered an un-fashionably challenging flavour for we Britons and is therefore never to be found in your local Fucking Supermarket™.
Which is a pity - it's a very easy vegetable to prepare; you can use it raw in salads (strip out thick stalks) or wilt it to make a silky sauce.
Like spinach, which it resembles, sorrel wilts down to nothing so you'll need to use more than you expected.
Unlike spinach it turns a slightly unpleasant cowpat brown when cooked so you may want to disguise the color.

Sorrel also has a distinctly tangy, acidic flavour not unlike rhubarb. And like rhubarb and gooseberries it gives my teeth little socks to wear.

My youngest ex-daughter Georgina cooked me a very tasty (and very tastefully presented) dinner last week Great job Georgina! in exchange for maths lessons, and she could have substituted some sorrel for the spinach in her Easy Cheesy Bake, but then it seems only yesterday we were struggling to persuade her to eat identifiable vegetables. So I'll settle for small miracles.
As I encourage her through the mysteries of algebra: Baby steps, Georgina, baby steps.

Potato Salad with Apple and Sorrel
salad veg
Just make this like you would a regular potato salad, but with apple and sorrel.
Or just the sorrel.
You can dress the salad with a vinaigrette or with a loosened mayonnaise as I have.

Serves 2

Wash the sorrel leaves, pull off their thick stalks, roll into cigars and slice into ¼" rolls. Mix up a quick vinaigrette with a little olive oil, lime juice and seasoning.
Boil the new potatoes in their skins until they don't resist peneration with a knife.
Meanwhile peel and core the apple, and cut into 1" pieces. Rub with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and fry over high heat, shaking often, until they are nicely coloured but still firm.
When the potatoes are cooked, scrub or peel them and cut into 1" pieces. Combine with the apple pieces whilst still warm and dress with the vinaigrette.
Fold in the sliced sorrel.

When the salad has cooled a little, loosen the mayonnaise with a little more lime juice and olive oil and stir into the salad to coat everything thoroughly, being careful not to completely disintegrate the potatoes.
Season if necessary, and serve cooled but not cold.
The apple/sorrel combination is really good.

Mackerel with Sorrel Sauce
fish starter main
This makes a super quick supper dish - it'll take you longer to fillet the fish than it will to cook it. Or at least, it did me!

The sorrel sauce, which beautifully complements the mackerel fillets, is simplicity itself to make - all you need to do is cook the sorrel in a little butter until it wilts. It naturally collapses into a rich silky sauce with no effort on your part.
You can enrich the sauce with cream or crème fraîche and thicken it with egg yolk.
Or you can do as I have here (not having any cream or eggs) and thicken it with flour, finishing with a little yoghurt.
Or you could serve it neat. Your call.

Serves 2

Wash the sorrel well, remove and discard the stalks and chop the leaves coarsely.

Season the mackerel fillets with a little salt and pepper. Put a heavy-bottomed frying pan over a medium heat and add a thin film of olive oil. When the oil is fairly hot, lay the fillets skin side down in the pan. When the flesh is almost completely white, flip over for just a minute to finish cooking - the whole process shouldn't take more than five minutes. Transfer to a warm plate while you make the sauce.

Splash a tablespoon or two of water into the pan in which you cooked the fish, then gradually whisk in the butter to make an emulsion. Scatter in the flour and stir for a few minutes to distribute and thicken, then throw in the sorrel, which will quickly wilt and turn a dull greeny-brown. Season. Leave to cool for 30 seconds then briefly stir through the yoghurt
You can serve the wilted sorrel sauce unvarnished, or if you prefer you could enrich it following Hugh's instructions:
Put the butter into the same pan in which you cooked the fish and melt over a medium heat. When the butter is frothing, throw in the sorrel, which will quickly wilt and turn a dull greeny-brown. Give it a swift stir, remove the pan from the heat, let it cool for 30 seconds, then beat in the egg yolk, which will thicken the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and enrich the sauce by stirring in the double cream.
Serve the mackerel with the warm sorrel sauce and some waxy new potatoes, a green salad, or this potato salad with apple and sorrel if you haven't had enough sorrel.
Good. Very good actually. Much like a rhubarb sauce the sorrel nicely complements the oily fish.
You can also serve it decorated with small fried cubes of apple, deglazed with white balsamic vinegar. That you might still have left over from your Carrot, Orange, Ginger and Red Lentil Soup.

Georgina's Easy Cheesy Bake
main veg
A good effort by Georgina at this interesting soufflé-like cheesy bread pudding, though she did skip the mustard powder. The whole tomatoes are a bit of an uncomfortable mouthful, though I don't quite know what you could do about that, other than making sure you use really small ones. Skinning them would seem like too much of a pain in the arse.
Right Georgina?

Serves 4

Preheat the oven to 190C/gas 5/fan 170C and butter a shallow 2-litre dish. Tip the spinach into a colander in the sink and pour a kettleful of boiling water over it. Leave it to wilt while you make the cheesy base. (Or microwave the spinach according to the packet instructions.)

Break the eggs into the bowl of a food processor, pour in the milk, add the mustard and 1 tsp salt. Tear in the bread, crusts and all, then whizz together until smooth. Tip the mixture into a large bowl and grate in three-quarters of the cheese.

Squeeze the spinach, to get rid of all the water, then stir it into the cheese mixture and tip into the dish. Grate over the remaining cheese, top with the tomato clusters and bake for 30-35 minutes until risen and golden. Cool and allow to settle a little before serving.
Good, and pretty straightforward. A useful dish for budding teenage cooks, and for using up stale bread.

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