The Farm Table: Seasonal Eating with Chef-Turned-Farmer Julius Roberts

by Editor

Professionally trained chef Julius Roberts left a busy and frantic London restaurant life to pursue his dream of living sustainably on a small farm in the English countryside. The Farm Table [A Cookbook] transports us to his farmstead, taking us through a calendar year with honest tales from farming life and stunning photography grounded in the natural world.

Broken into sections based on season, The Farm Table encourages cooking with seasonality in mind through delicious home-cooked recipes to inspire joy and confidence in the kitchen. Embrace the pace of a slower life, take inspiration from nature, and gather around the table to enjoy the journey with a sampling of Julian’s spring menu.

Asparagus & Ricotta Tart

Serves 4 to 6 

This zingy tart is more than the sum of its parts, impressive but secretly very simple. It looks beautiful, tastes delicious and couldn’t be easier to make–perfect as a light lunch with a sharp green salad and plate of prosciutto. Depending on what you have on hand you can really vary the herbs: wild garlic is fantastic, as are basil or dill. But in early spring, the first hardy herbs to come up in the garden are mint and chives, so I use them abundantly here.

If you don’t already, I’d highly recommend you grow herbs at home as, once they get going, they’ll be there forever. I make these flat tarts a lot, and I love that they require no blind baking or pastry fuss. You can make the pastry if you want, but usually I lean into the simplicity and go for a ready-made sheet.


  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1¾ oz crumbly goat cheese (or Parmesan if you prefer)
  • 1 unwaxed lemon
  • a bunch of fresh mint (about ½ cup), leaves picked and finely chopped
  • a bunch of fresh chives (about ½ cup), finely chopped
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry
  • 2 bunches of asparagus
  • olive oil
  • 1 egg


  1. Preheat your oven to 425°F/220°C.
  2. Place the ricotta in a bowl with the goat cheese and season well with salt and pepper. Grate in the zest of a whole lemon and the juice of half. Whisk together until smooth and creamy, then add most of the herbs (holding back a small handful for serving) and mix again. Have a taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
  3. Roll out the puff pastry on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. With a knife, score the pastry 1¼ to 1½ inches from the edge all the way around; this allows the edges to rise and puff up wonderfully. Just be careful not to cut all the way through.
  4. Snap the asparagus at the bottom to remove the woody ends–I save these over the course of a week, making the most of asparagus while it’s in season, and use them to make soup. Spread the ricotta over the pastry, taking care to stay within the scored border. Then top with the spears of asparagus, drizzle with olive oil and season well. Whisk the egg and brush the edges of the pastry so they go golden in the oven. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until crisp and puffed up. When out of the oven, sprinkle with the last of the herbs and squeeze over some lemon juice. Serve immediately while piping hot.

Potato Latkes, Smoked Trout, Horseradish and Watercress

Serves 5

If you have time on a slow Sunday morning, this is one of the best breakfasts you can make: crisp chewy latkes, with onion, garlic and rosemary, a properly fiery horseradish sauce and smoked fatty trout. The harmony of this dish is bliss–it’s a classic for a reason and a joy to eat. I must implore you to make your own horseradish sauce, it couldn’t be easier and the difference is monumental. If you ever need a favor, to apologize or express your love for someone, bring them a plate of this as breakfast in bed and consider yourself absolved.


for the latkes

  • 2¾ lbs Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 whole egg and 2 yolks
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • a small bunch of fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • olive oil, for frying

for serving

  • homemade horseradish sauce (see next page)
  • 2 bunches of watercress
  • a little lemon juice and olive oil, for dressing
  • generous amounts of quality smoked trout


  1. Start by making the horseradish sauce following the recipe on page 308. Now move on to the latkes. Peel the potatoes and peel the onion, then grate on the coarse side of a box grater into the center of a large clean tea towel. Twist and twist the tea towel over the sink, squeezing as much water from the potato and onion as possible. Transfer to a colander and season generously with salt. Leave for about 10 minutes so the salt has a chance to draw even more water out of the potato, then give it one last squeeze and transfer to a large bowl. Add the egg, yolks, garlic, rosemary and melted butter, season with pepper, and mix well until combined.
  2. Place a large nonstick skillet on medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add 3 or 4 dollops of the potato mixture, gently press into shape and fry in batches until they are wonderfully golden, roughly 10 minutes per side.
  3. Dress the watercress with a little lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt and serve with the crispy latkes, horseradish and thickly cut smoked trout.

Horseradish Sauce  

Homemade horseradish sauce is one of the greatest sides there is, I love the stuff. It’s leagues above the vinegary version you can buy in a jar. For me, roast beef is incomplete without this glorious condiment and it’s particularly incredible with smoked fish and earthy beets. It’s also unbelievably easy to make so you have no excuse not to. And if you ever have a cold, it clears out the sinuses wonderfully.


  • 1 fresh horseradish root
  • 1½ cups crème fraîche
  • ½ lemon
  • sea salt


  1. Get ready to cry. Peel the skin off the bottom half of your horseradish root and grate finely until you have 2¾ oz. You will wish you had goggles.
  2. Combine the horseradish with the crème fraîche, and add a little lemon juice and a generous pinch of sea salt. Mix well and taste to check your seasoning. It should be fiery and fantastic, but be careful with the lemon, you don’t need much.

Elderflower Panna Cotta with Roasted Strawberries & Black Pepper

Serves 6

I love the simplicity of panna cotta. When done right, light and not too sweet, it’s an elegant end to a meal. I’ve toned down the sugar and added some buttermilk, which lends a subtly acidic edge that cuts through the richness. I’ve used elderflower, but chamomile flowers (either wild or from a teabag), lemon verbena and rose all work wonderfully. If you can’t get your hands on any of these, you can’t go wrong with good old vanilla. Usefully, this recipe can be made the day before you want to eat it.

Two important points: first, don’t let the cream get too hot; you want it steaming but not bubbling to melt the sugar. Second, if you’re adding any of the soft fresh leaves or flowers mentioned above, add them toward the end with the buttermilk and gelatin so that they can slowly infuse and retain their freshness. Keep smelling and tasting the cream until you get the strength you want, then pass it through a sieve. But if you’re going with vanilla, spices or dried chamomile, I would add them to the cream from the start so that they release a good amount of flavor.


  • 1¼ cups quality heavy cream
  • ½ cup plus 2 tbsp whole milk
  • ⅔ cup superfine sugar
  • 3 sheets of gelatin
  • 6 tbsp plus 2 tsp buttermilk
  • 3–5 fresh heads of elderflower, picked in the morning sun (or 1 vanilla bean, halved and seeds scraped into the cream along with the pod to infuse)
  • 1¼ lbs strawberries, tops removed and cut in half lengthwise
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • a few drops of rose water


  1. Put the cream, milk and ⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon of the superfine sugar into a saucepan over low heat. Bring up to just before a simmer, whisking as you go, until the sugar melts, then turn the heat off.
  2. Put some cold water into a bowl, then drop in the gelatin sheets and leave for 3 minutes to soak. Lift out the gelatin, squeeze out all the water, add to the hot cream and whisk through. Add the buttermilk along with the elderflower heads, keeping a few flowers back for decoration. Stir again and leave the elderflowers to infuse–it should smell stunning.
  3. After 5 to 10 minutes, have a taste to check the strength of the infusion; if you are happy, pour the mixture through a sieve into a pitcher. Then pour into six ramekins or dariole molds, but don’t fill them up too high; it’s a rich pudding and you don’t need much–I only go half or three-quarters of the way up. Place a little circle of parchment paper or plastic wrap on top of each, gently pressing it into the cream. This stops a hard skin forming, which would ruin the silky texture. Place the ramekins in the fridge for at least 4 hours, until properly set.
  4. Half an hour or so before serving, make the roasted strawberries. Preheat your oven to 400°F/180°C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the strawberries over the sheet, scatter over the remaining 3 tablespoons/40g of sugar and give them a good toss so they’re coated evenly.
  5. Add some freshly cracked pepper, then roast for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and add literally just a few drops of rose water. Go carefully, as it’s incredibly strong and you’re just looking for a subtle undertone. Give the pan a shimmy to disperse it.
  6. To serve, dip each panna cotta mold into boiling water for just a few seconds, then place a plate on top and flip. If it doesn’t release because of the vacuum, it sometimes needs a bit of a shake–just hold the plate and mold tightly while you do so. Spoon over the warm strawberries with lots of their liquor and top with a few decorative elderflowers.

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