In the history of the Great British Bake Off a few contestants always stand out, even if they weren’t crowned the winner. Flora Shedden, the runner up to Nadiya Hussain in 2015, is most definitely one of those cooks. She was the youngest baker in that series, having just started her degree at St Andrews, and her cakes were always charming and witty and very pretty. So we were interested to see what her debut book would hold and we were not disappointed. Gatherings, as the name suggests, is about recipes for occasions from indulgent breakfasts to spring lunches to summer feasts and beyond.
It’s beautifully produced and shot and packed with exactly what we like to cook and eat – unfussy food that puts great ingredients centre-stage – including the beef with quinoa, lentils, radishes and parsley dressing below. The sort of things you want to serve on enormous platters for very relaxed lunches and suppers. There are still plenty of delicious bakes here too – the chestnut and pear frangipane for example and we love the classic-with-a-twist strawberry and hibiscus sponge which is sandwiched with a Pimms-laced jam. Here’s a taster of this lovely book.
BEEF WITH QUINOA, LENTILS,
RADISHES AND A PARSLEY DRESSING
This is one of the first recipes I thought of when I sat down to write this book. It very much embodies the style of eating and cooking I have adopted and wanted to share – a big platter of good, honest, fuss-free food, for relaxed and easy eating. Fillet of beef is an expensive cut, but this big salad doesn’t call for a huge amount of it. It does really add to the dish, but you can use less or omit it if you’re on a tight budget. Also, I have a flatmate who would eat this beef dish day in, day out and would recommend serving it with nothing else. Feel free to omit the other elements of the dish and simply whack a few slices of the beef in some good bread with plenty of mayo. If it’s good enough for Thomas…
2cm (¾ inch) fresh root ginger,
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon pink peppercorns
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
500g (1lb 2oz) fillet of beef
150g (5½oz) quinoa (a mix of red and
white, if you can get it)
150g (5½oz) Puy lentils
850ml (1½ pints) water
big bunch of flat leaf parsley, leaves
picked, stems and half the leaves
roughly chopped (reserve the whole
leaves to garnish)
100ml (3½fl oz) olive oil, plus extra
for the grains
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 avocado, peeled, stoned and
200g (7oz) radishes, finely sliced
4 spring onions, finely sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200ºC (400ºF), Gas Mark 6.
Use a pestle and mortar to bash the ginger, garlic, peppercorns and salt
together to form a paste. Add the oil and mix again.
Heat an ovenproof frying pan over a high heat until smoking hot. Rub
the beef thoroughly with all the ginger paste. Once the pan is hot, place
the beef in the pan and cook for 1 minute on all sides, ensuring the outside
is completely sealed. Transfer to the oven to roast for 15–17 minutes for
While the beef is cooking, weigh out the quinoa and lentils and water
into a deep saucepan and bring to the boil. Cook for roughly 20 minutes
or until the lentils are soft. The quinoa will be ready at the same time.
Drain, then mix in a little olive oil to prevent sticking. Season lightly.
When the beef is cooked, transfer it to a plate, cover the plate with
kitchen foil and leave the beef to rest for 15 minutes at least.
For the parsley dressing, put the chopped stems and leaves in a food
processor (or in a jug if using a stick blender). Add the oil, lemon juice,
vinegar and avocado. Blitz on a high speed until smooth and a vibrant
green in colour.
Toss the radishes and spring onions through the quinoa and lentils
with the reserved whole parsley leaves.
Finely slice the beef just before serving and lay the slices on a large
platter with the quinoa and lentils. Dollop small amounts of the parsley
dressing over the salad and serve the remainder on the side for people to