Tag Archives: summer

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!

Strawberry and Limoncello-Infused Mascarpone Tartlets

Oooooh so naughty and so easy and quick to rustle up. Crispy, crunchy, buttery filo pastry encasing Limoncello-infused mascarpone cream and topped with the season’s ripest, juiciest and sweetest English strawberries – just gorgeous!!! A word of warning though: it is impossible to eat them elegantly…but that’s part of the fun!

Makes 8

What you need…

1 x muffin tin

50g butter, melted

4 x rectangular sheets of filo pastry, each cut into 8 squares

30g icing sugar, sifted, plus extra for decoration

A large pinch ground cinnamon

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon caster sugar

150g mascarpone

Grated zest of ½ lemon

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon Limoncello liqueur

300g strawberries, hulled and sliced

What to do…

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

Brush 8 holes of the muffin tin with a little of the melted butter (not too much as the bottom of your tarts would be soggy and we can’t have that!)

Take 1 filo pastry square, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with icing sugar and then a little cinnamon. Do the same to another 3 squares, laying them on top of one another at a slightly different angle to create a rough star shape. Gently press the pastry into a muffin hole to create a cup. Repeat the whole process another 7 times to end up with 8 filo ‘cups’.

Pop them in the oven and cook for 8 minutes, until golden and crispy. Remove and cool for 10 minutes in their mould and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool down completely. If the bottoms are a bit too buttery, sit them on a double piece of kitchen paper on top of the cooling rack to absorb some of the butter (speaking from experience here!)

Whilst your little filo cups are in the oven, you can whip up the mascarpone cream. In a bowl, use an electric handheld whisk to beat together the egg yolk and caster sugar until pale. Add the mascarpone, lemon zest, vanilla extract and Limoncello and whisk until quite stiff. Have a little taste and adjust the sugar and Limoncello to taste!

Choose a pretty plate on which to serve this naughty little filo cups and divide the mascarpone cream evenly between them. Top with sliced strawberries and sprinkle with icing sugar. Devour immediately! Have serviettes on hand – you will need them! Enjoy this fabulous take on our traditional strawberries and cream. Hello summer!

Tip…

If you have one, use an icing sugar shaker for sweetening the filo pastry squares and decorating at the end.

Inspired by…

Gino D’Acampo

How easy…

Rather too easy – I can see these being rustled up on a regular basis!

 

 

 

 

Peach, Pancetta and Mozzarella Salad

An unusual, eclectic selection of flavours thrown together to create a simply fabulous salad that shouts ‘summer’ and ‘sunshine’! Perfect for an al fresco lunch with a crisp bottle of white – utterly delightful!

Serves 2

What you need…

A large handful of rocket

3 red chicory, leaves pulled apart

20g butter

3 ripe peaches, quartered

3 rosemary sprigs

90g pancetta slices

150g mozzarella, roughly torn

Handful of green olives (optional – I didn’t like them and left them on the side)

for the dressing

½ shallot, finely sliced

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon caster sugar

1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard

Small handful fresh dill, chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

First, make the dressing (which can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days). Into a jug, tip the shallot, vinegar, sugar, mustard and dill and use a balloon whisk to beat together. Slowly whisk in the oil, season with salt and pepper. Check the flavour and adjust the seasoning if need be and then tip the whole lot into a screw-topped jar and pop in the fridge until needed.

To the salad: in a mixing bowl, chuck the rocket and chicory. Set aside.

In a large frying pan, melt the butter over a moderate heat. When it starts to foam, add the peaches and rosemary and sauté for about 6 minutes or until the peaches start to colour and soften. Season with salt and transfer to the mixing bowl.

Add the pancetta to the frying pan and cook for around 7 minutes until crisp. Remove from the pan and add to the mixing bowl with the mozzarella. Tip in the dressing and toss the whole lot together before decanting onto a pretty serving plate.

Serve this quite fabulous, unusual salad with warm, fresh bread – delicious!

Inspired by…

Delicious Magazine

How easy…

A little sautéing and that’s about it!

Marsala-Baked Summer Peaches with Mascarpone Cream

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 delicious and easy: the light and fresh ‘cream’ contrasts perfectly with the rich Marsala sauce in which the peaches sit so prettily; and the whole things 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!

 

 

Chilled Lemon Grass and Coriander Vichyssoise

 

This is an absolutely delightful chilled soup: perfect for a starter at a summer lunch or supper party when the weather is hot. It’s light and refreshing, fragrant and elegant; and the combination of the coriander with lemon grass produce a really lovely but delicate Thai flavour. There’s no coconut milk in it, which I was surprised about, but the inclusion of new potatoes provide the necessary substance without the cloyiness that you sometimes experience with coconut milk. Really delicious – give it a go!

Serves 4

What you need…

2 handfuls fresh coriander

4 lemon grass stems

4 spring onions

50g butter

2 medium onions, chopped

275g new potatoes, chunked

150ml milk

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

First of all, you need to make a stock. In a large saucepan, pour 850ml water. Pick the leaves from the coriander and chuck the stalks into the water, saving the leaves for later. Likewise, with the spring onions and lemon grass: trim the ends, remove the outer skin, chucking those bits that you would normally discard into the water as well. Pop a lid on the pan, and bring the water to boil before reducing the heat to gently simmer the ‘stock’ for 30 minutes – it is this process that provides the soup with real depth of flavour.

Meanwhile, chop up your lemon grass and spring onions.

Strain the stock into a jug, discarding the trimmings. Wipe out your saucepan and then add the butter, melting it over a low heat. Add the lemon grass, onions and potatoes, pop the lid back on the pan and gently ‘sweat’ the vegetables over a low heat for 10 minutes. Then, add the stock, milk and three quarters of the coriander leaves (retaining the rest for the garnish). Season with sea salt and black pepper, pop the lid back on, turn the heat up so that the soup just starts to boil and then reduce the heat again and let the soup simmer gently for 25 minutes.

Leave the soup to cool and then chuck the lot into your food processor/blender and whizz until smooth. If you want a really smooth, silky soup, strain it through a sieve into a jug. If not, just tip it from the processor into the jug. Cover with cling film and keep in the fridge until you’re ready to enjoy this lovely soup.

Pour into bowls and sprinkle over the remaining coriander leaves and chopped spring onions: delightfully delicious!

Inspired by…

Delia Smith

How easy…

An absolute sinch – takes some time but you can walk away to do other things whilst it’s gathering its flavours. Also, you can make it the day before and keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to garnish and serve: no hassle!

Roasted Chicken Breasts with Broad Beans and Herbs

 

I spotted this recipe and thought that it looked like a good, easy and quick mid-week family supper dish. Reading through the ingredients though I did have doubts as to whether it would be that interesting. We were all really, genuinely pleasantly surprised. The dish is lovely, light, fresh and very summery. Our plates were quickly cleared and the recipe pronounced as a definite for regular repetition. Give it a go – really great!

 Serves 4

 What you need…

 4 large, plump chicken breasts

500g new potatoes

200g skinned broad beans (I use frozen)

Splash rapeseed oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped

300ml chicken stock

Juice of ½ lemon

Handful of basil

Handful of rocket

Large dollop of mascarpone

 What to do…

Preheat your oven to 200°c / 400°f / gas 6.

Lightly oil a baking tin, chuck in the chicken breasts and season. Pop them in the oven and roast for 25 minutes or until cooked but still juicy.

Meanwhile, in salted water boil the potatoes (halve any large ones so that they are all roughly the same size) for 15 minutes or until tender, adding the broad beans 3 minutes before the end (longer if cooking from frozen – maybe 7-8 minutes).

In a frying pan over a moderate heat, warm the oil and then sauté the garlic for 2 minutes. Add in the chicken stock and simmer for 5 minutes before adding in the potatoes and beans. Stir in the lemon juice, herbs and mascarpone.

Slice the chicken and serve on top of the beautifully saucy vegetables! Nothing else required – just perfect as it is!

 Tips…

If you want to improve on the presentation, use skin-on chicken breasts so that you have the lovely golden cooked crispy skin (my chicken breasts were retrieved from the freezer and just happened to be skinned).

I used basil and rocket in this recipe because that’s what I had, but the addition of parsley and more particularly, tarragon would be lovely.

 Inspired by…

Delicious (online)

 How easy…

Very, very easy.

Prawn, Strawberry and Mint Salad

 

Most unlikely bedfellows, prawns and strawberries snuggle up together happily in this vibrant salad that truly celebrates British summer time. A joy to eat on it’s own or as a side to barbecued fish: light, refreshing and simply yummy! Give it a go with beautifully ripe strawberries – you’ll be converted, I promise!

Serves 4 as a side salad

What you need…

350g jumbo king prawns, cooked

200g British strawberries, hulled and halved

A handful fresh mint leaves, torn

Handfuls of your favourite salad leaves. I use rocket, little gem and basil

for the dressing

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 dessertspoon white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon runny honey

A squeeze of lemon juice

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

In a screw top jar, chuck in the dressing ingredients, pop on the lid and shake like mad. Set aside.

Clean the salad leaves and tear if necessary.

Tip the salad leaves, strawberries, mint and prawns into a pretty salad bowl.

When you are ready to serve, shake the dressing again, pour over the salad and toss so that all the ingredients are evenly mixed together. Serve on it’s own or with barbecued fish and a lovely cold glass of white wine: totally delicious! Summer on a plate, right there!

Inspired by…

Don’t know – I think I made this one up.

How easy…

It’s salad so it’s not hard!