Cooking Seasonally with A Dorset Kitchen
Patty Lowe shares two recipes from her seasonal cookbook, 'A Dorset Kitchen'.
Patty Lowe’s passion for using seasonal ingredients grew from a place of necessity. “Our house was in the middle of the Dorset countryside – you couldn’t just pop to the shops”, she explains. “So, we started growing our own produce to make life easier!” Since those early days, Patty has become a keen gardener and is deeply interested in the mysteries of the physical world, spending much of her time reading and watching documentaries. “I’m fascinated by how plants communicate and respond positively or negatively to different vibrations”, she says. “They are just like humans in a way: if you cook something in a bad mood or a rush, it won’t taste as good as if you relax and prepare it with love.”
Patty is the author of A Dorset Kitchen: Recipes from a Kitchen Garden, a recipe book published in memory of her son Archie, who died at 21 years old after a rotational fall from a horse in September 2020. An enthusiastic food lover, Archie would often help his mum in the garden and the kitchen, “sampling everything, of course”.
- Archie aged 7
- Archie aged 21
While Patty has long been a keen cook, it was a neighbour who first inspired her to formalise her recipes. “We both loved cooking and we challenged ourselves to create a recipe of the week at each others’ houses.” While these weekly cookathons came to an end, they had sparked an idea which crystallised when her children moved away from home. “They would phone me up in the supermarket asking me what was in season or what ingredients they needed to make a certain dish. We decided to upload family favourite recipes to a website to make it easy for everyone to access – and then the project grew from there.”
A Dorset Kitchen is a true family affair. “My daughter Gertie and I would cook the dishes, Archie would photograph them and his twin brother Jamie would do the lighting”, says Patty. The book is filled with Archie’s food photography, as well as beautiful images of him, his friends and siblings, and his beloved animals. “He wanted the food to look genuinely delicious and not overstyled – something that would make your mouth water.”
As well as plenty of meat and fish dishes, the book has a whole section dedicated to vegetarian recipes, inspired by Archie’s love of animals and “refusal to eat any of God’s creatures”, says Patty with a laugh.
“Don’t be afraid to swap out ingredients in your favourite recipes for whatever is local or in season.”
A Dorset Kitchen is not what you might expect from an English country cookbook. Thai and Malaysian flavours sit alongside twists on family classics like burgers and lasagne. Each of the 100+ recipes is based on tried-and-tested dishes Patty has created for and with friends and family, using homegrown vegetables, fruit and herbs whenever possible. “I cooked every single day for 16 years and I’ve tried to distil some of that experience into the book”, she explains. “I learnt what people actually want to eat, whether you’re hosting a party or making a midweek meal for hungry kids. And I always try to minimise the amount of washing up!”.
Does she have any top tips for people wanting to cook more seasonally?
“Don’t be afraid to swap out ingredients in your favourite recipes for whatever is local or in season. For example, a recipe that calls for spring greens could easily be exchanged for chard or kale in winter. Consider the role something plays in a dish: is it adding texture? Sweetness? Acidity? Then use that to help you find a seasonal alternative.”
“Archie wanted the food to look genuinely delicious and not overstyled – something that would make your mouth water.”
All proceeds from the cookbook are being donated to two charities: the Air Ambulance and a new bursary set up to support other young riders like Archie.
As a celebration of Archie’s life, Patty hopes that the book will inspire families to spend valuable time together.
“Smell is such a powerful memory trigger”, she says. “The scent of fresh strawberries could take you back to eating ice cream on holiday in Italy or a tomato sauce bubbling on the stove could transport you to your grandmother’s kitchen. I hope people use the cookbook to make their own family memories.”
A Dorset Kitchen cookbook is available to purchase at adorsetkitchen.com. Try it out below with two delicious summer recipes.
Sea Bass with Lemon & Tomato
- Two tablespoons of olive oil.
- 4-8 sea bass fillets
- 1-2 teaspoons of a mixture of cardamom, cumin, turmeric and paprika
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed
- 2cm fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 green chilli, finely sliced
- 1 tin of tomatoes, puréed, plus a little extra tomato purée
- 8-10 baby tomatoes
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced
- Handful of fresh basil, coriander, parsley and dill, chopped
Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and fry the onions gently for 10 minutes.
Gently score the fish skin and rub the spices all over the fish to lightly coat it, then put aside to marinade.
Add the garlic, chilli and ginger to the onions and fry for a further few minutes until fragrant.
Add the puréed tomatoes to the pan and simmer for a further 15 minutes.
Heat the rest of the olive oil in another frying pan and add the whole baby tomatoes. Fry until the skin starts to soften,
Add the thin lemon slices to the baby tomatoes and continue to fry for 4-5 minutes.
Stir the lemon and baby tomatoes into the puréed tomato mixture. Then add the herbs.
Fry the sea bass in the now empty frying pan, skin-side down, for 3-4 minute until the skin starts to crisp. Then turn over and gently fry the other side for another minute or so.
Place a large spoonful of the lemony tomatoes onto each plate and top with seabass.
Serve with Moroccan-style roast potatoes (method below) and a fresh salad.
Moroccan-style Roast Potatoes
- 1kg red or waxy potatoes, cut into chunks
- 1 tablespoon of semolina
- 1 teaspoon of za’atar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Handful of rosemary, finely chopped
- 1 large garlic bulb, segmented
- Olive oil
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Boil the potatoes for 5 minutes, then drain them through a colander and toss them in olive oil.
Mix the za’atar, salt, semolina, garlic segments and rosemary together. Roll the potatoes in the mixture.
Add a dollop of olive oil to a baking tray and heat for a few minutes in the oven.
Remove the baking tray and add the coated potatoes. Cook for 30 minutes (or until cooked through and crispy), shaking them occasionally.