Eating With The Seasons with Margie Nomura
by Margie Nomura
Margie is a professional chef and podcaster, hosting hit podcast 'Desert Island Dishes', which encapsulates life experiences through guests' favorite foods. She has amassed a following of over 360k foodies, and has recently launched her weekly newsletter 'Dinner Tonight', that focuses on quick, fuss free and delicious weeknight meals, that you can cook for dinner tonight.
Tell us a bit about yourself, where did your love of food and cooking come from?
I’ve always loved cooking, I was really lucky that I grew up in a family that loved food and prioritised sitting down for family meals together. This ritual taught me so much about food, not just about how to cook but the transformative nature of eating together - the conversations that are had over a delicious meal, how cooking is a way to bring people together, to nurture, to show love.
I’ve now worked as a chef for over a decade and I love it more than ever, which I know is very lucky. I trained as a lawyer after university and decided at the last minute to pursue a career in food and I’m so glad I did. I went to Ballymaloe in Ireland and then trained under Sally Clarke in her eponymous restaurant.
I’ve worked all over the world as a private chef and started my podcast as another way to explore food. On the surface it’s a podcast about food, but it’s also a podcast about people and the intricate stories behind the food.
In your hit podcast 'Desert Island Dishes', you ask guests to choose 7 dishes, including a dish from their childhood, the best they've ever eaten and their last meal. What have your guests taught you through their choices?
I’ve learnt so much! So many of the dishes my guests tell me about inspire me, whether it’s a new dish or a different method of cooking something that I’ve never heard before.
Also the realisation that their answers are about so much more than the actual dish. More often than not people choose the meals that have meant the most to them because of who cooked it for them, who they were with or what they were doing at the time.
Food is so woven into the fabric of our lives that every great occasion can be remembered by what food was eaten at a particular time and so the food takes on a greater importance and significance in our memory. That’s what is so special about the podcast - being let in on these personal moments and hearing about what really matters to them. It’s much more revealing than I initially thought.
Through social media, you’ve created a community of over 360k foodies. What do you feel the importance of this community is, and what's your favorite thing to teach and share with them?
It’s so exciting to see the audience and community grow. To have a community where everyone is passionate about food is really exciting. Through social media and the conversations I have with my followers, I think there’s a real desire to be cooking more but people have less and less time.
Having been a professional chef for a very long time now, there are things I cook for work that I just don't do at home. At home I want dishes that can be ready in less than 30 minutes whilst being delicious and easy.
I think there’s such a big need for this kind of weeknight inspiration so I’ve just launched a newsletter called Dinner Tonight with these easy weeknight dinner recipes and the reaction has been amazing! It feels really exciting to be writing recipes solely for people who choose to sign up to a newsletter that arrives in their inbox. It’s a serialised, seasonal and very personal cookbook I suppose and I’m really excited about it.
You're a big advocate of cooking seasonal produce - can you give us your insight into what the benefits are to enjoying food seasonally?
Beyond the broader reasons, at the very heart of it, is that by eating and cooking with ingredients that are in season and at their best, you are making your life easier. With great seasonal ingredients you have to do very little to them to make them taste delicious.
Take a perfectly ripe tomato, add a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil, toss it through with some mozzarella and torn basil leaves and it’s close to perfect. Try the same thing with watery, out of season tomatoes that taste woolly and you’re never going to achieve the same result.
Can you tell us what set of ingredients, in particular, you’ll be eating over late summer into early Autumn?
Late Summer I’m all about aubergines, tomatoes and courgettes. There are so many delicious things you can do with them. A simple tomato and aubergine pasta with burrata and toasted pine nuts is one of my favorite things. Courgettes are equally versatile - one of my all time favorite salads is very fine strips of courgette with shaved pecorino, olive oil, lemon and plenty of herbs - it’s heaven.
Apples and blackberries come into their own in the autumn and there’s nothing more comforting than a homemade crumble with thick pools of double cream poured over it. Just gorgeous. A crackle of fallen leaves, a warm fire and a crumble - that’s Autumn to me.
What’s your go-to dish at this time of year and why?
As much as I love Summer and the vibrant salads that come with it, I do love Autumn. Salads are still a great thing to make when it’s a little cooler, and I love tossing in warm roasted vegetables, a crumble of feta and some toasted nuts on the top for a more autumnal vibe.
Tell us a little about what's coming up for you later this year.
There are lots of brilliant guests lined up to come on the Desert Island Dishes podcast which I can’t wait to release and the launch of our new newsletter Dinner Tonight is really exciting - if anyone likes the idea of one delicious, easy weeknight recipe delivered to their inbox, they should sign up. We have more than 5,000 people signed up already and I’m so excited for the community we are building.
What's your favorite thing about Wolf & Badger?
I love the variety! It’s such a good one stop shop for everything you could need. Plates, glasses, tablecloths and beyond. I spend way too much time browsing and dreaming up dinner parties that I can throw with all the gorgeous products.
One of my all time favorite puddings and it’s also incredibly easy to make which is a stroke of luck. So quick and easy and a great one for when you have friends over as you make it well ahead of time so there’s no stress involved. I think it looks so pretty served in scooped out lemons but little glasses or pots work just as well of course.
600ml double cream
200g caster sugar
75ml lemon juice
Put the cream in a big saucepan with the sugar and heat gently until the sugar has just melted. Bring to a simmer and bubble for 1 minutes.
Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
Divide between little pots, bowls, or I love to serve them in scooped out lemons.
Leave to chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight for hassle free entertaining.
Courgette carpaccio with pecorino, lemon and plenty of herbs
You barely need a recipe for this one which is my favorite kind of cooking and all you need is a vegetable peeler to take something that can be quite ordinary like a courgette and transform it into something truly sensational. This salad is so unassuming but it’s a complete knockout. I first had it on holiday in Italy and have been making it for my private clients, friends and family ever since.
Serves 4 as a side salad
Take 3 courgettes and use a vegetable peeler to peel them into ribbons
Place in a bowl and add a very generous drizzle of good quality olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper. Add the juice of ½ lemon. Peel in about 20g pecorino.
Toss it all together. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Pile onto a large serving platter and top with some finely grated pecorino for good measure.
Spheres and spears of melon, parma ham and burrata
Another combination that really needs no recipe but it’s such a good salad. The key when you’re doing anything this simple is to make sure you use really great quality ingredients, as there’s no where to hide and it will make all the difference.
I like the way the melon looks with the combination of spheres and spears but of course either way you like to do it will be just fine.
To serve 2 as a starter
½ melon, cut up just as you please
6 slices of parma ham
1 ball of burrata
Drizzle of good quality olive oil
Salt and pepper
Simply arrange it on a plate, drizzle over the olive oil and add a sprinkle of salt to each element. Add a crack of black pepper and enjoy!
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