By Virginia Judson McNeil, Radnor Hunt Cookbook Committee chairman (Rowman & Littlefield 2018)
Beautifully bound and with glorious photography throughout, The Fox’s Kitchen redefines the fund-raising cookbook. Pictures of horses, dogs, foxes, and food along with vintage images abound. Included are 15 menus and 100-plus recipes, covering small gatherings, grand celebrations, and everything in between. The recipes are tried-and-true favorites shared by Radnor Hunt members and friends. Radnor Hunt was founded in 1883 by those who saw foxhunting as a worthy pursuit of country life. Gratefully, the foxhunt is now really a fox chase, as the fox is no longer hunted. Camaraderie, food, and drink reflect the social tradition of the hunt, and this ambitious cookbook is indeed a fitting tribute.
The menus are all assigned fun foxhunt-worthy titles: Bitches Brunch gives us irresistible Creole shrimp; Tailgate Party offers a hearty chicken cashew chili; Fox & Hound Fireside Meal brings silky sweet potato and chestnut soup; and Supper at the Pub delivers Scotch eggs and calypso turkey sliders: a nod to Jamaica replete with jerk seasoning and ginger.
The Fox’s Kitchen contains a bounty of year-round recipes to add to your everyday or entertaining repertoire: Spring Fling features the most delicious asparagus with hazelnuts and tarragon vinaigrette and a poppy seed almond cake with balsamic berries, both ideal for a warm-weather gathering. The berries, with fresh mint, balsamic vinegar, and honey, also would be perfect on yogurt or pancakes. Curried crab cakes and tortellini chicken alfredo were my favorites from the Cubbing Summer Supper. The recipes are charmingly peppered with “Charlie’s Tips,” worthy tidbits of helpful information.
Looking for a new cocktail for your summer soiree? Blackberry-rosemary rum cocktail; polo punch, an enticing lemonade, vodka, and Pimm’s concoction; Earl Grey gin and tonic; or a cucumber-ginger margarita are excellent potent potables.
The Fox’s Kitchen gives us a taste of country life. Lift your glass to the horses, hounds, fox, or your friends to celebrate the hunt or any day that ends in “y.” Tallyho!
Makes one 9x5 loaf
For the cake
Butter, for the pan
1½ cups cake flour, plus more for the pan
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon sea salt
2½ ounces almond paste, cup into small pieces
1½ cups granulated sugar
1/3 canola or vegetable oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
¼ teaspoon pure almond extract
½ cup whole milk
1/3 cups sliced almonds
For the berries
2 pints blueberries
2 pints strawberries
2 pints raspberries
½ bunch mint, shopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 9x5-inch pan with butter and dust it with flour, tapping out the excess.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the almond paste and stir.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, oil, eggs, poppy seeds, and almond extract until blended. Whisk in the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the almonds evenly over the top. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the top is deep brown and a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan and let cool completely.
5. To make the topping, in a medium bowl, combine the berries, mint, vinegar, and honey, and toss gently to combine. Let stand for 1 hour.
6. Dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar and cut into ½-inch slices. Top each slice with a spoonful of berries and serve.