Tag Archives: summer

Absolutely Fabulous Pavlova

The 68th of 100 recipes chosen from the blog to go into my cookbook, this is a happening event this Easter weekend together with a couple of other naughties – very excited!

One of my favourite summer desserts, Pavlova is just divine: sweet, ripe fruit on top of whipped double cream, all gracing wonderful meringue: crisp on the outside and deliciously light, soft and slightly chewy on the inside. The combination is just heavenly and the joy of this recipe is that it is ridiculously easy to make – I’d never made meringue before finding this recipe but it has always been a success – in every way – and a firm favourite on our summer menus.

Serves 6 – 8

What you need…

3 egg whites

Pinch of salt

250g caster sugar, plus 3 – 4 teaspoons for the cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon malt vinegar

300ml double cream

1 x 300g punnet of ripe summer strawberries or a combination of your favourite summer fruit – I often combine strawberries, raspberries and blueberries

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 140°c / 275°f / gas 1.

Line a baking tray with Bake O Glide/parchment paper and draw a 23cm circle on it (as guidance for later).

Using an handheld electric whisk, beat the egg whites and salt together until very stiff. Then, gradually whisk in the 250g caster sugar until it forms stiff peaks – this takes 3 – 4 minutes. Fold in the vanilla extract and vinegar.

Plop the meringue mixture onto your baking tray, gently spreading it to fit the drawn circle. Pop it into the oven and leave for 1 hour until firm. Then – and this is key – switch the oven off but leave your meringue in for a further 30 minutes with the door closed.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely. Discard the lining paper and put your meringue onto a pretty serving plate.

Whisk the cream and 3 – 4 teaspoons of sugar together (the amount of sugar depends on your personal taste) until stiff and then pile on top of the meringue. Arrange the fruit on top, stand back, admire your handy work and then serve – just divine – this is one of those desserts that is so light and delicious, I just keep coming back for one more spoonful….time and time again. Enjoy!

Tips…

Don’t waste the egg yolks – they can be frozen for another use.

If I’m feeding a crowd, I’ll double up on these ingredients and made a great big Pavlova and then use the remaining 6 egg yolks to make a large tiramisu – a thoroughly naughty conclusion to any meal!

Inspired by…

Lisa Faulkner

How easy…

Very, very easy and simply delicious!

Asian-Inspired Salad with Asparagus and Crayfish

The 58th of 100 recipes chosen from the blog to go into my cookbook, this is the most scrumptious of salads: zingingly fabulous!

Salad days are here – yippppeee and lordy, lordy, lordy, this salad is spectacular: it’s zingy and fresh and its fabulous tastes and textures demand your attention. Eat it by itself or serve with fish: terikayi tuna is ideal but also, try this salad on the side of a lovely roasted salmon fillet – maybe with a wedge of lime on the side. I’ve changed the original recipe by adding a few extra ingredients, most notably the crayfish tails (they were on offer) but equally you could add prawns, smoked salmon or even hot, seared scallops. Anyway, it’s just lovely! I’ve never understood why people think salad is boring – this one will knock your socks off – give it a go!

Serves 2 (this is based on the quantities used to make up the marinade – if you’re creating salad for more people, just increase the quantities accordingly).

What you need…

for the salad

A selection of salad leaves: handfuls each of red chicory, rocket, spinach and baby gem work well but really, it’s whatever takes your fancy and is in the fridge

5cm chunk of cucumber, peeled and chopped

3 medium tomatoes, chopped

A handful of mint leaves, torn

A handful of coriander, chopped

250g asparagus, trimmed

125g crayfish tails or prawns (optional)

for the salad dressing

1 lime, juice only

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 dessertspoon fresh ginger, grated

1 tablespoon palm sugar

2 tablespoons fish sauce

3 tablespoons soy sauce (or Tamari if you would prefer gluten-free)

1 red bird eye chilli, finely chopped

1 tablespoon mint leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon coriander leaves, chopped

Tip…

If you’re not too sure about the kick of the chilli, use just half, rather than a whole one

What to do…

Pop the asparagus into boiling, water and cook for 2 minutes until al dente. Drain, refresh with cold water and drain again. Set aside to cool.

Put all your salad dressing ingredients into a screw-topped jar, tighten the lid and shake vigorously until mixed thoroughly together.

When you’re ready to eat, take a large pretty bowl, chuck in your cucumber, tomatoes, all your salad leaves, herbs, asparagus and crayfish tails . Tip over the dressing and mix together. That’s it! Serve and enjoy this absolutely wonderful salad with a lovely crisp dry white wine.  And relax….

Inspired by…

Watching James Martin and Mary Berry, separately, and then doing my own thing.

How easy…

Well, it’s salad so it’s not hard is it?!

 

 Glorious Marsala-Baked Summer Peaches with Mascarpone Cream

The 49th of 100 recipes chosen from the blog to go into my cookbook, this is the most wonderful pudding to celebrate the joys of an English summer!

Utterly delicious is my description. John’s is a little more vibrant: peaches with dogs’ bollox cream! Why? I have no idea but it’s stuck in this house, so when the British Summertime rolls around, there is an inevitable request for this dish – using John’s language – and we all know what he’s talking about! Anyway, the point is that this lovely pudding is proper summertime glorious, spectacularly easy and can be made in advance. The light and fresh ‘cream’ contrasts perfectly with the rich Marsala sauce in which the peaches sit so prettily; and the whole thing simply exudes ‘summer’. Like I said, utterly delicious! (It also keeps in the fridge very well, so can be indulged in over a number of days if there are only two of you enjoying it!)

Serves 6

What you need…

1 x shallow baking dish

6 firm ripe peaches

40g caster sugar

275ml Marsala wine

2 x cinnamon sticks

1 vanilla pod, halved lengthways

1 rounded teaspoon arrowroot

for the cream

4 rounded tablespoons mascarpone

4 rounded tablespoons fromage frais

A few drops of vanilla extract

1 dessertspoon caster sugar

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 180°c / 350°f / gas 4.

First of all, you need to relieve the peaches of their skins and there’s a really easy way to do it. Halve the peaches and remove their stones. Pop two halves into a heatproof bowl and pour over boiling water. Don your marigolds and after 30 seconds, remove one of the halves from the water and just slip off it’s skin – it will come straight off – dead easy. Do the same to the second half. Then, repeat the process with the remaining peach halves, two at a time, using freshly boiled water for each set of two halves (it won’t work so well if the water has cooled slightly). That done, the rest is a delight to do!

Place the peach halves into your baking dish, rounded side down. In a jug, mix together the Marsala and sugar and then pour over the peaches. Wodge in the cinnamon sticks and vanilla pod halves and pop in the oven for 35 minutes.

Remove from the oven and, using a ladle, transfer the Marsala ‘sauce’ to a small saucepan, discarding the vanilla pod halves and cinnamon sticks. Mix the arrowroot with a little cold water and then add it to the saucepan, whisking it in over a gentle heat until the sauce has slightly thickened.

Pour the sauce back over the peaches and set aside to cool. Cover with cling film and pop in the fridge over night to allow the flavours to fully develop.

To make the ‘cream’, use an electric handheld whisk to beat together all of the ingredients and serve in a pretty bowl or jug.

Ideally, enjoy this lovely little dessert on a balmy summer’s evening with friends.

Inspired by…

Delia Smith

How easy…

Very easy: a simply delicious dish, all round. And, you prepare it the day before you want it, which is always a bonus in my book!

 

 

Coconut Panna Cotta with Caramelised Pineapple

This fabulous dessert bursts with exotic flavours and shouts tropical paradise! Cool, refreshing and rich coconut partying alongside warm, caramelised pineapple – a lovely duo that is equally gorgeous separately!

Serves 4

What you need…

4 dariole moulds, greased with vegetable oil

2½ gelatine leaves

100ml whole/coconut milk

65g caster sugar

450g Rachel’s coconut yogurt

8 wedges fresh pineapple

3 limes: zest of all, juice of 2

A splash of dark rum, optional

What to do…

Soak the gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes.

In a pan, bring the milk and 1 tablespoon of the caster sugar to simmer. Set aside to cool a little. Squeeze the water from the gelatine and dissolve the leaves in the milk and sugar. Cool slightly, stir in the yogurt and pour into your prepared moulds. Pop into the fridge and chill for at least 3 hours and up to 2 days. (Love the preparing ahead element of this).

Mix the pineapple with the remaining sugar and zest and juice of 2 limes. Cover and pop into the fridge until you are ready to serve, turning occasionally. (My plans changed when I made this and I left them in the fridge overnight to no ill effect).

Heat a non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Add the pineapple, wiping off the excess marinade. Cook for 3 minutes on each side, until caramelised, enjoying the delicious, heady aromas as you go. Add the reserved marinade and rum, if using, and bubble for a couple of minutes, turning the pineapple soft and sticky.

Invert the panna cottas onto serving plates, top with the remaining lime zest (I forgot this part!) and serve with the pineapple and juices – de-lic-ious!!!!

Tip…

To encourage the panna cotta out of it’s mould, just prod the tip of a knife down one side – it releases the ‘air lock’ and out plops the panna cotta.

Inspired by…

Waitrose.com

How easy…

Spectacularly and most of it can be done ahead so it’s ideal for dinner and supper get-togethers.

 

 

Gin and Tonic Ice Lollies

Perfect for a hot summer’s day, these lollies are a doddle to make, lovely and refreshing and you can really taste the gin. Have a feeling we might be taking this base recipe and experimenting with different local gin and alternative tonic combos…there are worse projects!

Makes 10

What you need…

450ml tonic water

75ml gin

Juice of 1 lime

100ml elderflower cordial

A few thin slices of cucumber and mint leaves

What to do…

Tip the tonic, gin, lime juice and cordial into a jug, give it a quick stir and pour into 10 ice lolly moulds. Drop in cucumber and mint, pop in the lolly sticks (and lids) and freeze overnight. That’s it – cheers!

Inspired by…

Good Housekeeping

How easy…

It couldn’t be any easier, could it?!

 

 

 

End-of-Summer Pudding

Delicious, fresh and totally yummy: this stupendously easy pud is jam-packed with fruit and the flavours of summer-turning-to-autumn. A delightful Chambord-infused juice completes the joy and a dollop of crème fraîche is the perfect accompaniment. Seconds please!

Serves 6

What you need…

1 x 700ml pudding basin

6-8 slices stale sourdough bread, crusts removed

600g mixed soft fruit (I used strawberries, raspberries and blackberries)

100g caster sugar

2 tablespoons Chambord (black raspberry liqueur)

What to do…

Remove the stalks and/or stones from the fruit and tip into a wide heavy-based pan. Add the sugar, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to low, cooking for a further 2 minutes or until the fruit is starting to soften and release juice.

Meanwhile, line the base and sides of your basin with bread to cover completely. Trim the bread if necessary so that the slices fit closely together. You should be left with 2 remaining slices, which will be used for the lid.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the fruit from its juices and pop the fruit into the basin. Measure out 4 tablespoons of the juice and tip it into a screw top jar. Set aside. Drizzle the remaining pan juice evenly over the fruit. Cover with the remaining bread (trim to fit). Wrap the whole basin in cling film and then put something heavy on the top (e.g. a small plate with a tin on the top).

Pop into the fridge chill and set overnight.

When you’re ready to serve, add the Chambord to the screw top jar, pop on the lid and shake like mad to mix together the liqueur with the sweetened fruit juice. Slide a palette knife around the inside edge of the basin, pop a serving plate on the top and then invert the lot – your gorgeous pudding will plop out delightfully onto the plate. Pour the Chambord-infused juice evenly over the pudding and serve this luscious pudding with a dollop of crème fraîche – just yummy!

End of Summer Pud p w

Inspired by…

Richard Bertinet, Delicious magazine

How easy…

Stupendously!

Chilled Cucumber and Crayfish Soup

Delicate and delightfully refreshing, this velvety chilled soup is perfect for a summer lunch with friends. The light, subtle flavour of the cucumber is uplifted with lemon and chilli oils and the added luxury of crayfish tails makes this little number a surprisingly lovely addition to a sunshiny day! It can also be cooked a day in advance of eating – perfect for summertime relaxation with friends and a bottle of crisp white!

What you need…

2 x screw top jars with lids

500g hot water from the kettle

1 vegetable stockpot (I use Knorr)

4 tablespoons olive oil

Squeeze of lemon juice

1 teaspoon dried, crushed chillis

100g unsalted butter

1 onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 cucumbers, halved, deseeded and finely diced

1 tablespoon dill, finely chopped plus extra to garnish

1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

400ml full-fat natural, creamy yogurt

Sea salt and black pepper

240g crayfish tails (yum!)

What to do…

First make a vegetable stock by using a balloon whisk to help dissolve the stockpot into the hot water from the kettle. Set aside.

Next, into one jar pour 2 tablespoons olive oil and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Pop on the lid, shake like mad and set aside. Likewise, with the second jar, pour in two tablespoons of olive oil and tip in the chillis. Pop on the lid, shake and set aside.

To the main event: melt the butter in a large saucepan over a low heat, tip in the onion and garlic and cook gently for 6-8 minutes or until softened but not brown. Tip in the cucumber and again cook gently for another 5 minutes – the aroma is quite delightful!

Pour in the stock and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool for 15 minutes. Transfer to your blender, tip in the herbs and whizz until smooth. Set aside to cool completely and then gently stir in the yogurt. Season, taste and season again if necessary. Chill for anything between 2 hours and overnight.

When ready to serve, ladle the chilled soup into bowls, scatter in the crayfish tails, drizzle over the lemon and chilli-infused oils and garnish with a few sprigs of dill. Delightful!

Inspired by…

Waitrose.com

How easy…

Extremely and the fact that you can make it ahead is even better!

 

 

 

 

Almond, Strawberry and Rhubarb Cake

A deliciously moist little summer cake perfect for a lazy afternoon in the garden. The strawberries and rhubarb in combination with the hint of ground almonds create a wonderful little tryst of flavours. Served with crème fraiche or sweetened yogurt completes this summery treat and it would surely go well with a cold glass of fizz or pudding wine. Pull up a deck chair and relax!!!!

Serves 10 – 12

What you need…

1 x 20cm round spring form tin, liberally buttered and lined with baking parchment

175g unsalted butter, softened

175g golden caster sugar

2 large happy eggs, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

175g self-raising flour

A pinch of salt

50g ground almonds

4 tablespoons natural yogurt

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

100g rhubarb, chunkily sliced

150g strawberries, hulled and halved

2 tablespoons raspberry jam

1 tablespoon boiling water from the kettle

A sprinkling of flaked almonds

A sifting of icing sugar

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 180˚c / 350˚f / gas 4.

Tip the butter and sugar into your food processor and whizz until pale and creamy. Whilst still whizzing, gradually pour in the eggs and vanilla extract. Tip in the flour, salt and ground almonds and briefly whizz to fully incorporate.

Remove the mixing blade from the processor and pour in the yogurt, lemon zest and juice, using a balloon whisk to gently but thoroughly fold in until smooth. Spoon into the tin and level the surface with a spatula. Arrange the fruit on top, cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Then, remove the foil and pop back into the oven to bake for a further 15 minutes until cooked through and golden.

Cool for 15 minutes in the tin and then gently remove the tin sides and bottom as well as the baking parchment (I left the bottom piece on for fear of breaking the cake, just taking off the side bits) and cool on a wire rack.

Once cool, use a little balloon whisk to mix together the jam and hot water before drizzling it over the cake. Then sprinkle over the toasted almonds and sift over the icing sugar. This lovely, moist little summer cake is ready to be indulged in!

Serving suggestion…

Crème fraiche if you have it. I didn’t but mixed a little pre-made sugar syrup (a staple in our house, mainly for Maddie’s cocktails) with left over natural yogurt – bloody lovely!

Inspired by…

Woman and Home magazine

How easy…

Really quite effortless

Cherry and Almond Cloud Cake

What a fantastic showoff of a summer cake this is: light, sweet sponge layers together with millions of fresh, juicy ripe cherries snuggling in light cloud-like cream: totally OTT, totally audacious and totally gorgeous!!!!! Bake when the cherries are in season and plentiful – cheap from the local market.

Serves 12 -16 lucky people

What you need…

2x 20cm deep cake tins, liberally buttered and lined with baking parchment

8 happy eggs, separated

320g golden caster sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Grated zest of 1 lemon

320g ground almonds

50g plain flour

Pinch of salt

600ml double cream

150g Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons icing sugar, plus extra for decorating

750g cherries, stoned and halved

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 170˚c / 325˚f / gas 3.

Into your food processor, tip the egg yolks and 160g of the sugar. Whizz for 3-4 minutes, until pale and thickened. Add the vanilla essence and lemon zest and whizz to combine.

Tip the egg whites into a large mixing bowl and use an electric handheld whisk to beat until stiff peaks are formed. Add 3 tablespoons of the remaining sugar and whisk again until stiff and shiny. Tip in the rest of the sugar and whisk to incorporate. Rinse off your whisks – you’ll need them again in a bit.

Using a large metal spoon, mix a large spoonful of the egg whites into the yolk mixture to loosen. Then tip all of the yolk mixture into the whites and use a balloon whisk to gently fold together. Then, gently fold in the ground almonds, flour and salt.

Divide the cake mixture between your two prepared tins and pop in the oven to bake for 40 – 50 minutes, until the sponge comes away from the sides of the tin. Remove and leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes; then carefully invert the sponges onto a cooling rack, remove the baking parchment and cool completely.

Halve each sponge horizontally (I hate this bit – use a sharp serrated knife, take your time and keep checking that you’re cutting straight – it’ll be fine).

Using your electric handheld whisk, lightly whip together the cream, yogurt and icing sugar. Taste and add more sugar if you’d like it a bit sweeter.

Assembly time! Place one of cake base halves on a serving place and spread with ¼ cream. Scatter with ¼ cherries. Repeat with the other three sponge layers, ending with a cloud of cream and flourish of cherries. To serve, sprinkle with icing sugar and then indulge – prepare to get messy!

Serving suggestion…

Serve outside on a warm summer’s day in the dappled shade of a large tree; fizz chillin’ at your side, all with good friends and lots of laughter – perfect!

Inspired by…

Waitrose magazine but the cake was created for Suzy’s ‘21st’ birthday – I needed the excuse of a gathering to create such a large cake – even WE can’t eat that much cake!!!

How easy…

Very easy – takes a little time though. But it’s soooooooo worth it. x

Sunny Daze Cocktail

Saw this on last week’s Saturday Kitchen when Michel Roux and his team introduced it as ‘Alcoholic Pink Lemonade’. A rather uninspired name for what is the best cocktail I’ve had in a very long time: it tastes like summer in a glass and slips down very nicely – not too sweet and with a definite hint of naughtiness (it has a delightful little kick to it!) Make up a jugful and gently sip with friends beneath glorious sunshine (like today) – it really doesn’t get any better than this but I am rebranding it – Sunny Daze Cocktail it is!

Serves 4

What you need…

80ml gin

80ml Martini Rosso

80ml Grand Marnier

40ml Campari

80ml freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice

400ml cloudy lemonade

to serve

Ice

Strawberries, quartered

Mint sprigs

Grapefruit peel (peeled in long ribbons)

What to do…

Take one large jug and tip in all the cocktail ingredients. Give them a quick stir.

Fill 4 large round glasses with ice and arrange the ribbons of grapefruit peel. Pour in the cocktail mix and then pop in the strawberries and mint! Ta Dah! All done. Take outside to a garden bathed in sunshine. Sip, smile, sip again. Repeat! Cheers!

Inspired by….

Saturday Kitchen

How easy…

Just a roll of the ice!