Life has become about a handing in my next book manuscript. It seems funny but I'm quite enjoying the pressure, knowing the clock is almost up, that the looming biro deadline in the diary is becoming ever closer.
My evenings have become about sitting in front of the screen and getting to know my recipes like old friends, refining and adjusting copy where needed. And then there are new ideas that arrive at the last possible moment and I scrabble around trying to include and perfect them. It might be telling but these latecomers sometimes end up being my favourites.
A couple of days ago I found some stunning looking clams in our local market. I bought them knowing they would be the catalyst to a recipe, but was unsure of the other ingredients. I developed the recipe later that day, over lunch, and knew it would make it into the final edit of the book. Clams, white wine, shallots, borlotti and tarragon; I think it’s a winner.
CLAMS WITH BORLOTTI & TARRAGON
PREP TIME – 20 MINUTES + OVERNIGHT SOAKING
COOK TIME – 1 HOUR
150g Dried Borlotti beans, soaked
2 tbsp. Olive Oil
3 Shallots, finely chopped
A small handful of parsley
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 dried chilli
1 kilo clams, rinsed
1 lemon, sliced
150ml white wine
200ml vegetable stock
A small handful of tarragon, finely chopped
1 Drain the beans from any soaking liquor and empty them into a big saucepan. Cover with cold, fresh water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a gently simmer and cook until the beans are tender - 50 minutes or so.
2 Meanwhile pour a generous glug of oil into the a heavy bottomed casserole pan. Add the shallots, garlic and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Tear the stalks from the parsley, roughly chop them and add to the pot. Crumble in the dried chilli and cook over a moderate heat, until fragrant and the shallots are tinged with gold, about 4 minutes. Increase your heat to high - pour in the wine and cook until almost evaporated before tipping in the beans, clams, sliced lemon and stock. The pot will be filled with fury and steam, give everything a good shake and put the lid on. After about 4 minutes, the clams will tentatively start to open their shells. Keep shuffling the pan until all of them have opened, removing any that have remained closed. Stir in the parsley and tarragon and serve in bowls with fresh bread.