Lucy Boyd, head gardener at Petersham Nurseries near Richmond (just outside London), has written a cookbook. Kitchen Memories ($20.61 from Amazon) combines her garden experience with childhood memories, inspired by the cooking style of her mother, the legendary British chef Rose Gray.
For Lucy Boyd’s reciped for Pan-Fried Squid, Tomatoes, Parsley, Lemon, and Creme Fraiche, see ingredients and step-by-step instructions below:
Above: Lucy Boyd is a gardener-cook, or more properly a cook-gardener, having trained as a chef (at her mother’s restaurant The River Café) and taking up gardening later. Her background and her whole life is about food.
I remember eating rocket and parmesan at the River Café in the 1980s and being amazed by this novel combination. Food culture was non-existent in the UK before a handful of restaurants including the River Café taught people how to eat. Lucy grew up in this food vanguard and it is to her credit that she grows what she eats. Photograph by Keiko Oikawa.
Above: Before commercial success, Rose Gray and her children went to live in Italy. The family went for walks by their home near Lucca in the Tuscan hills: “We were looking for supper,” says Lucy. They’d come back with porcini, dandelions, wet walnuts. “It’s important to look at what you have and decide what goes with what,” says Lucy about the beginning of her food education.
The markets in Italy had vast learning potential. You wouldn’t just buy tomatoes for instance, without first considering size, sweetness, seed ratio, thickness of skin. The tomato is a key ingredient in Lucy’s book. Photograph by Laura Edwards.
Above: Tomato plants at Petersham. On arriving back in the UK, the family had to adjust to the very impoverished selection of fresh produce available. Lucy was used to cooking with vegetables and fruit which were easy to grow in Italy but impossible to find in the UK. At Petersham, there is a strong collaboration between the garden with its wealth of varieties and the Michelin-starred café. Photograph by Keiko Oikawa.
Above: Store cupboard ingredients are as important as fresh. You should always have enough to make Arrabiata sauce (tinned tomatoes, olive oil, garlic dried chilli and basil if you have some).
One essential which comes up time and again is the anchovy, as a flavoring or on its own. “Salted anchovies on toast with tomatoes is a favorite breakfast in my family,” says Lucy. Photograph by Laura Edwards.
Above: Herbs are not an optional extra. Shown here, dill grown at Petersham Nurseries. Photograph by Keiko Oikawa.
Above:Photograph by Laura Edwards.
Lucy Boyd’s Pan-Fried Squid, Tomatoes, Parsley, Lemon, and Creme Fraiche
- 6 medium-sized very fresh squid (the white flesh should not have tones of pink)
- 2 thick-skinned unwaxed lemons
- 25 g roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 100 g creme fraiche or sour cream
- 400 g tomatoes; a mixture is good
- Olive oil
- 1 handful rocket, tough stalks removed
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt and black pepper
- Prepare the squid or ask a fishmonger, cutting on the diagonal into 3-4 pieces.
- Grate 1 teaspoon of lemon zest and combine with the parsley.
- Put the creme fraiche in a bowl and season with a small pinch of salt to taste and black pepper
- Cut the tomatoes into regular shapes according to their size.
- Season the squid with salt and pepper.
- Heat a frying pan until smoking hot, then add half a tablespoon of olive oil. Cook the squid (including tentacles) in batches on each side until the flesh is opaque (30-40 seconds). Place in a colander.
- Wipe pan, then add tomatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil and cook over a medium to high heat until they start to yield their juices.
- Add rocket and a dollop of creme fraiche and serve the whole thing piping hot. Scatter lightly with the parsley and lemon zest. To help bring out the flavors, dribble over a little extra virgin olive oil and lemon.
Above: The café at Petersham. Photograph by Stephanie Wolff.
Above: Lucy’s nursery beds at Petersham; flowers are not forgotten. Photograph by Stephanie Wolff.
Above: Kitchen Memories is $20.61 from Amazon.
Not all of the recipes here are complicated, but they are a little different. “If you’re on your own and you want a quick meal,” Lucy advises, “put a quail in the oven.” Eat with greens: whatever is in season and simply cooked.
For more about Petersham Nurseries, see Shopper’s Diary: Petersham Nurseries in England.