Party paupers

Twenty Quid Cuisine by Silvena Rowe
All dishes serve four.

Sorrel Omelette

Now that you have mastered the art of picking and cooking nettles, here is another wild-growing, edible leaf to go roaming in the countryside for - Sorrel. This a perennial herb, almost as common as nettles and similar in appearance to spinach, only the leaves are larger. Its taste is slightly lemony and it can be used raw in salads or cooked in soups and sauces. When picking look for shiny and firm leaves. Best time to pick is now, later on in summer sorrel flowers and leaves become tougher.

Half of a carrier bag of sorrel leaves

8 eggs

Salt and pepper
2 tbsp milk or cream (optional)
Butter for cooking

Discard the sorrel stalks and wash thoroughly. Chop the leaves roughly and sauté in a little butter for a few minutes until leaves are soft. The sorrel becomes very dark green when cooked. Set aside and keep warm.

To make the omelettes, beat the eggs and season well, add milk or cream. Heat up some butter in a scrupulously clean pan, non-stick. Pour a quarter of the egg mixture and using a fork, draw the edges to the centre as soon as they begin to set. When the omelette is cooked, place some sorrel in the middle and fold it in three. Repeat the same with the rest until you have four omelettes.
Cost: Eight eggs

Cumin-and-cardamom-scented spring lamb fillet with English peas

Try and get the best spring lamb for this recipe. You can find it at farmers' markets or order from your local butcher. Flavours are reminiscent of the Mediterranean. English peas are just popping their delicate heads.

400g lamb tenderloin

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp Ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp salt

Olive oil

200g-shelled English peas

Mint leaves

To prepare the lamb, combine the cinnamon, pepper, cumin, cardamom, coriander and salt in a bowl. Season the lamb loin with the spice rub and place in the fridge for about four hours.

To cook the lamb, sauté it in some olive oil on medium heat for about eight minutes each side, or longer if you like it well done. Reserve any cooking juices. Keep lamb in a warm place, until ready to serve.

Gently bring to boil a small saucepan of water and place the shelled peas in for just three-four minutes. Drain and keep warm. In another small pan, melt some butter and sauté the mint leaves until just wilted and add the drained peas. Sauté for further three minutes and add the meat juices. To serve, place some peas and cooking juice in the centre of each plate. Cut the loin into 16 slices, season to taste and arrange on top of peas. Decorate with mint leaves.

Cost: £15.80

Orange Israeli Couscous Pudding

This is a wonderful alternative to rice pudding! Israeli couscous is available in delicatessens and better supermarkets. It is a larger, pearl-like grain of the couscous than the kind commonly sold. When berries are in season you can substitute orange segments with raspberries or strawberries.

150g Israeli couscous

Juice of two large oranges

Orange segments of two oranges

250 ml water
250 ml Double cream

125g sugar

Bring the couscous, orange juice, water and sugar to simmer. Cook for 25 minutes until couscous is soft. Add more water if it evaporates.

When couscous is tender add the cream and cook for further five minutes.

Just before serving, add the orange segments and serve while hot. Serve with additional whipped cream if desired.
Cost: £2.80.

Ten Quid Tipples by Malcolm Gluck

Goodness, it's all go with Silvena. I was scurrying out for nettles some weeks back; I am now invited to plunder the fields for sorrel. I did plant a sorrel patch in a garden I briefly owned 24 years ago but it grew so magnificently my neighbour asked me to cut it back as it was obscuring her view of the Thames. I discovered two things from this: that I didn't like living in Putney, and that sorrel is very difficult to pair with wine as it is deliciously bitter, disarmingly acid, and charmingly sour (as certain old wine writers care to think of themselves).

Sorrel omelette, however, has had these characteristics softened, and therefore I am able to recommend Asda's Chilean Sauvignon Blanc 2002 (16 points, £2.96). It will work splendidly with this dish as the melon fruit with undercutting citrus will harmonise perfectly with the omelette.

For the lamb, with its seemingly innocent seasonality, we also have to tread carefully. It is not as innocent as it appears, for it contains a complex trap (like BK2 in chess) to snare the unwary: that spicing of cumin, coriander and cardamom and its minty peas. Now my preference here, money no object, would be a robust, spicy red like Tesco's Finest Reserve Australian Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 (16 points, £4.99) for it offers us tar, mint, herbs, berries and tannins all hugger-mugger, thick and rich as successful thieves. If a single bottle will do the four of you, then go for it, but cheaper is Carinena Gran Tempranillo 2002 (15.5 points, £2.99, Sainsbury's) from Spain which has spice, texture, rich baked plums and berries with a gripping edge to its tannic finish.

For the pudding, alas, the kitty has insufficient left. However, if you're loaded go for Sainsbury's own-label Rich Cream Sherry (l6.5 points, £3.99). Its creme brulee and honey fruitiness will be marvellous with the couscous.

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