From a menu for a spring brunch: Ham, cheese and leek scones and Broad bean crostini. Photography: Gilbert McCarragher
From a menu for a spring brunch: Ham, cheese and leek scones and Broad bean crostini. Photography: Gilbert McCarragher

Catherine and John Pawson’s simple, serene brunch

In Home Farm Cooking the couple describe how they like to entertain family and friends at their place in the country

Catherine and John Pawson’s culinary lives mirror their professional work. The couple, who are authors of our new book, Home Farm Cooking, are both well-known for their restraint and good taste.

Yorkshire-born John is renowned for architectural work that focuses on ways of approaching fundamental problems of space, proportion, light, and materials. His many interiors have included private homes, art galleries, chapels, stores and museums around the world, including London’s Design Museum.

Catherine, meanwhile, studied at the Inchbald School of Design in London and worked at Colefax & Fowler, before embarking on a longterm partnership with fellow interiors specialist Juliet Byrne.

 

Catherine and John Pawson. Photography: Gilbert McCarragher
Catherine and John Pawson. Photography: Gilbert McCarragher

 

Though they are based in London, they also own a place in the country, called Home Farm, just on the edge of the Cotswolds. John finished developing this ancient farmhouse and its surrounding outbuildings in 2019, imbuing them with the kind of tasteful minimalism so closely associated with his work.

The couple maintain a lively social life in the capital, but Home Farm has enabled them to socialise in quite a different way. In the book, Catherine Pawson writes that “one of the many ways in which the place has changed my life is that I now cook and entertain regularly; it has presented me with an opportunity to extend my previously narrow culinary repertoire.”

Of course, she and John don’t present their family and friends with showy centrepieces, or flashy tasting courses. Instead, they serve them an array of simple, yet perfectly paired and executed dishes, such as this selection, which they recommend for a spring brunch.

Spring is, after all, a great time for the Pawsons. “At Home Farm, there are three family birthdays — including John’s — in the spring,” Catherine  explains.

The couple also like to mark Easter Sunday with lamb for lunch, followed by the annual Easter quiz. “ that fills the afternoon with celebratory cheers as teams race around the village, in search of chocolate eggs,” she explains.

However, dining with the Pawsons isn’t all about red letter days. “The truth is, that no particular occasion is required in order for a meal to feel celebratory at this time of year,” Catherine writes. “Few things give me greater joy than gathering familiar faces around a table laid with dishes that capture the bright, fresh flavours of spring.”

 

The barn dining room. Photography: Gilbert McCarragher
The barn dining room. Photography: Gilbert McCarragher

 

The menu for the spring brunch featured in our book includes ham, cheese and leek scones, a recipe the couple has drawn from The Violet Bakery Cookbook, by Californiana-born London-based baker, Claire Ptak.  “It’s the cookbook I rely on most often for baking, as her recipes are precise and simple,” writes Catherine. “When leeks are cooked slowly, their flavour becomes sweet and nuanced.”

There’s also broad-bean crostini, one of Catherine’s own creations,  which goes down well later in the year too. “These vibrantly coloured, bite-size toasts make the perfect accompaniment to summer drinks,” she writes.

The also favour asparagus, pea and herb frittata with fresh apple, fennel and feta salad, one of chef Prue Leith’s recipes (she also has a place in the Cotswolds) as well as raw tuna with a ginger dressing, a recipe given to them by the Notting Hill Fish Shop in London.

 

Home Farm Cooking
Home Farm Cooking

 

That’s a wide variety of influences, but the setting, aesthetics and simple, unfussy ambience is all the Pawsons’ own. To find out how to make all these recipes, as well as more about John and Catherine’s life at Home Farm, order a copy of Home Farm Cooking.