” I like my animals whole and my veggies unpeeled” — April Bloomfield

Just a note:  I’m away from home, on a borrowed computer and using an old suitcase camera.

If I could have chosen which of Gourmet Live’s 50 Women Game-Changers in Food I’d be, at first glance I’m sure I would have chosen Elizabeth David or M.F.K. Fisher — two of my favorite all-time food writers.  But, no, I adore Ina Garten and I surely might have picked her.  Of course, there’s the omnipresent Julia.  Who wouldn’t have wanted to be that particular ice-breaker?  But as we’ve gone through the list, I’m impressed over and over again with the sweet love for life all these women have. I adore them all in some way.  The oh-so-interesting ideas they entertain.  The passion for the exactly right thing to eat at exactly the right time.  The attention to detail.  The waiting for the perfect pairing.  Not wasting a thing.   Wanting to end hunger.  The years spent with a head cocked sideways off a body leaning floorward to check a pan of cookies.  The eyes squinting from too many small-print cookbooks.

 The Spotted Pig in NYC


Because those of us in love with food are unusual people.  We are quite surely not “the girl next door,” despite our lust for making dinner.  We are maybe one little cut off the totem pole from the average female bear.  To begin with, we mostly don’t care if we don’t earn any big bucks, though we surely wish we had more than we do.  We’re more interested in having our arms firmly around the perfectly-browned loaf or our tongues guaging a finely seasoned vinaigrette.  We care more about who’s at the table and how we show our love by making their favorite roast chicken at dinner time. Or showing up at the picnic with someone’s best-loved rhubarb pie.  We’re a bit addicted, though, and probably do want to win the prize at the fair… or at the competition.  Somewhat obsessed.  Overly focused.  We are, to coin a phrase, highly seasoned women.  As my mother-in-law might say, “WHAT are you making NOW???”  As if I were crazed.  Which I might be.  Which is something all of us food-lovers have in common.

The Spotted Pig, two views of entrance

And so comes April Bloomfield — one of these marvelous she-cooks, whose name didn’t ring a bell, but whose restaurant my family visited a few months back. (It just happens I’ll eat at The Spotted Pig, April’s New York eatery,  myself this Saturday– or hope to before or after attending a Broadway show with same fam.  I may re-do the blog once I have a few more personal pics.  See above) And it also just happens that as I write, the young and famous Ms. Bloomfield has just published her first book,  A Girl and her PigBut really–the more I read about her, the more fascinated I became with her up-front no-frills, Birmingham, England language  (keeping up with any line cook I’ve ever worked with or met) and cooking–The more I understood how she earned her place on the list.  Because she fits the bill.  She’s got the obvious dedication, the love of extremes, the fascination with the product, the craze for the itsiest part of the process.  The willingness to put everything else aside.  Well, mostly, anyway.

In A Girl and Her Pig, April Bloomfield takes home cooks on an intimate tour of the food that has made her a star. Thoughtful, voice-driven recipes go behind the scenes of Bloomfield’s lauded restaurants—The Spotted Pig, The Breslin, and The John Dory—and into her own home kitchen, where her attention to detail and reverence for honest ingredients result in unforgettable dishes that reflect her love for the tactile pleasures of cooking and eating. Bloomfield’s innovative yet refreshingly straightforward recipes, which pair her English roots with a deeply Italian influence, offer an unfailingly modern and fresh sensibility and showcase her bold flavors, sensitive handling of seasonal produce, and nose-to-tail ethos. A cookbook as delightful and lacking in pretention as Bloomfield herself, A Girl and Her Pig combines exquisite food with charming narratives on Bloomfield’s journey from working-class England to the apex of the culinary world, along with loving portraits of the people who have guided her along the way.  courtesy amazon.com

Without much more ado,  I think it best to share an April Bloomfield recipe–one which, from the background reading I’ve done, might come from the restaurant Breslin as it’s a lamb burger topped with feta..  Try this simple ha! meal yourself and see if April doesn’t win your heart.  I–actually the love of my life– made a few last night for a bunch of burger-loving neighbors and there were simply only raves.  The obvious clue is this:  it’s all about the meat.  All about the meat being exactly what it should be.  The best it can be.  No mucking it around in some fancy-schmancy tartar sauce-like slop to mar or obscure the taste of what it is, which is meat.  Just the facts, ma’am.

No condiments.  No mustard.  No mayo.  Just the stuff on the recipe.  Trust April.
lamb burger
makes 4 burgers 
 
2# ground lamb shoulder
1 small red onion
6 oz goats milk feta
4 ciabatta or sour dough rolls
 
Combine ground lamb shoulder in a bowl.  Mix thoroughly for three minutes using your hands.  Divide into four balls.  Form into patties and allow to rest in the fridge for a minimum of two hours.
 
Meanwhile heat pan or grill to medium heat.  Season lamb burgers with salt and place gently on cooking surface.  Cook for five minutes on each side and allow to rest for two minutes.  Feel free to toast the buns.  Top off with sliced feta and red onions.
 
See?  No mustard.   Not even much in the way of onions.  Lots of meat and lots of great bun.  Maybe toasted.

Wine?  Oh, honey.  Do yourself a favor and grab a nice, big juicy Syrah.  California Syrah or Australian Shiraz.

Sides? I like a bit of a fresh homemade pickle with this…some cucumbers sliced thinly and mixed up with a good dose of white vinegar, a bit of salt, sugar, pepper and a good pinch of crushed red pepper.  If you’re hungrier, or have a crowd, make a hearty orzo salad with lots of blanched fresh vegetables, parsley, basil, and maybe some more feta.  Lemon juice and olive oil for a dressing.  OR  If it’s summer, just slice up a big platter of great tomatoes and be done with it.

April Bloomfield is the executive chef and co-owner of The Spotted Pig, Breslin, and The John Dory Oyster Bar in NYC. A native of England, Bloomfield began her career at London’s Kensington Place, then moved on to the city’s Bibendum and River Cafe (where Jamie Oliver got his start), before landing a spot at Alice Waters’s Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California. She opened The Spotted Pig with Ken Friedman in 2004. courtesy Food & Wine.

 

Follow April Bloomfield on twitter

Want to read more great 50 Women Game-Changer recipes? Check out the great blogs below:

Val – More Than Burnt Toast, Taryn – Have Kitchen Will Feed, Susan – The Spice Garden
Heather – girlichef, Miranda – Mangoes and Chutney, Amrita -: http://beetleskitchen.com.

Linda A – There and Back Again, Nancy – Picadillo, Mireya – My Healthy Eating Habits
Veronica – My Catholic Kitchen, Annie – Most Lovely Things, Jeanette – Healthy Living
Claudia – Journey of an Italian Cook, Alyce – More Time at the Table
Kathy – Bakeaway with Me, Martha – Simple Nourished Living, Jill – Saucy Cooks
Sara – Everything in the Kitchen Sink

All photographs unless otherwise noted copyright Alyce Morgan, 2012