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I made a light dough with flour, egg whites and ice water, and used it to fry the asparagus and squid until crispy. Every little bit rustled like leaves on our plates and we were each dipping, almost too hot to eat, in a mayonnaise that we had greened with finely chopped herbs and wasabi.

It wasn’t dinner, or even lunch; it was cooking for fun – something I hadn’t done in months. Two of us, sitting at arm’s length from the stove, tossing vegetables breaded in hot oil with chopsticks. You could hardly call the coating “batter” – it was so thin and light – but it held our catch of spring vegetables and fish perfectly.

Cooking for fun also extended to a bit of pastry: puff pastry windmills that we had spread with a green dough of chopped spinach and miso paste. Eaten a few minutes after coming out of the oven, these little pastries were quite addicting and I would have liked to have done more.

There was no real reason to bake, except to spend the afternoon doing what I love: hands in the flour, the music on, a kitchen full of smells of pastry.

Vegetable and seafood tempura

I find it best to cook the tempura for no more than two. While it’s fun to lift a few crispy packages of squid and asparagus from the bubbling oil, a larger batch is unlikely to make it to the crisp and hot table. Logistics are not in favor of the cook. A kitchen thermometer is a must here, unless you are an experienced fryer or have an electric version. Neither has a place in my kitchen. For 2 people

For the dough:
plain flour 90g
corn flour 20g
frozen water 175 ml
egg white 1

carrots 2 medium
asparagus 250g
radish or mouli 250g
squid 250g, cleaned and prepared

For the mayonnaise:
parsley 10g
capers 2 teaspoons
Pickles 20g
Mayonnaise 6 tbsp
wasabi paste ½ – 1 teaspoon

Make the dough: put the flour and cornstarch in a medium-sized bowl, add ice water and lightly beat. It is not necessary to beat the lumps. Cover and set aside an hour.

Prepare the mayonnaise: remove the leaves from the parsley, finely chop them, then add them to a bowl with the capers. Finely chop the pickles, then add them to the parsley with the mayonnaise and wasabi paste. Put aside.

Rub then finely slice the carrots. Each slice should be thinner than a £ 1 coin. Now do the same with the radishes. If you are using the larger mold, finely cut it into large pieces.

Cut the asparagus by removing the hard pieces at the end of the stems, then cut them into small pieces.

When the dough has rested, beat the egg white until thick and fluffy – stopping before it is firm enough to form peaks – and fold it into the dough. Pat the squid dry on paper towels.

Heat the oil in a deep saucepan – it should be deep enough for the oil to bubble after the vegetables are added. The heat should be 180 ° C.

Add the vegetables and calamari, a few at a time to the batter, then lower them into the hot oil. Let everything fry until tender – the dough should barely color.

Remove from the hot oil, drain briefly then serve with the wasabi mayonnaise.

Miso and spinach pastries

“Rather addictive”: pastries with miso and spinach. Photography: Jonathan Lovekin / The Observer

The process of rolling a puff pastry spread with a tasty dough is of course inspired by Danish pastry. Originally from butter, sugar and raisins, I previously adapted the filling to a paste of green olive and feta and now with a mixture of cooked spinach, spring onions and miso. The majority of them were eaten hot, right on the hob with beer bottles from the fridge, although a few turned into a lunchbox the next day, tucked away among the cream cheese sandwiches. and watercress. Makes 12

spinach 250g
spring onions 6, thin
white miso paste 4 tbsp
puff pastry 300 grams
Egg beaten for brushing

Wash the spinach and discard the thicker stems. Without shaking them to dry them, put the leaves in a large saucepan over high heat and cover tightly with a lid. Let the leaves cook for a few minutes in their own steam, then turn them over with kitchen tongs, put the lid back on and cook for another minute or so, until the leaves have softened. Drain in the colander, then wring out. Roughly chop the leaves, then put them in a mixing bowl.

Thinly slice the spring onions, then add them to the spinach. Add the miso paste, a little salt and a grind of black pepper. Set the oven to 200C / thermostat 6.

On a lightly floured board, roll out the dough into a 32cm x 22cm rectangle. Turn the dough over so the short edge is facing you. Spread the spinach miso mixture over the dough, leaving a thin border of bare dough around the edges.

Brush the edges of the dough with beaten egg. With the short side facing you, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Brush the outside of the roll with beaten egg. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the roll of dough into 12 equal slices then place them flat on the baking paper, leaving space for them to swell a little during cooking.

Bake the pastries for 25 minutes, until golden brown and slightly puffed. Remove them from the baking sheet and serve lukewarm.

Follow Nigel on Twitter @NigelSlater

The Guardian and Observer aim to publish sustainable fish recipes classified as sustainable by the Marine Conservation Society Guide to good fish


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