Tag Archives: summer

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!

Chilled out Salmorejo Cordobés

Originating from Cordoba in Andalucia, southern Spain, this is almost more of a purée than a soup, including bread to add substance and richly flavoured with garlic and tomato. Served cold, it is thicker and creamier than gazpacho and is a lovely pink-orange colour. It’s refreshing and tasty, delivers ‘Mediterranean with a kick’ with every spoonful and is somehow luxurious. Garnished with Serrano ham and chopped boiled egg, it also has a bit more about than just a chilled out soup! If we ever have a boiling hot day, this makes for a delicious lunch dish or starter.

Serves 4

What you need…

240ml water

1 dessertspoon salt

75g stale baguette

5 large/plum tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 small onion, chopped

30ml sherry wine vinegar

1½ dessertspoons fresh lemon juice

1 garlic clove, chopped

180ml virgin olive oil

2 hard boiled eggs, chopped

4 slices Serrano ham, chopped

What to do…

Tip the water into a bowl with the salt, stir to mix together and then add the bread, soaking for 30 minutes.

Squeeze the excess water from the bread and set the bread aside.

Tip the tomatoes, onion, sherry wine vinegar, lemon juice and garlic into a blender and whizz until smooth. Add the bread and whizz again until smooth. With the machine still running, gradually add the olive oil – the soup will now turn its lovely pink-orange colour. Pop the finished soup into the fridge for at least 2 hours (it will keep for a day). Divide into four small bowls and garnish with the boiled eggs and ham – deliciously refreshing with more than a hint of the Med!

Salmorejo Cordobes Close up wInspired by…

bonappetit.com

How easy…

Just a bit of blending – one very chilled out soup!

Roasted Summer Vegetable Salad

A really lovely summer salad that combines garlic-roasted summer vegetables with garden-fresh salad leaves to create a barbecue accompaniment that has a definite Mediterranean feel to it, bringing sunshine into your meal even if the British weather isn’t delivering!

Serves 4 as a side dish

What you need…

1 each of red, yellow and green bell peppers, cored and sliced

2 courgettes, sliced

3 cloves garlic chopped

Splash of olive oil

250g asparagus, trimmed

4 medium tomatoes, quartered

A selection of your favourite salad leaves (I like basil, rocket, spinach, iceberg and chicory) cleaned and torn to bite-size

for the salad dressing

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 dessertspoon good quality balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

What to do…

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

Tip the peppers, courgettes and garlic into a deep ovenproof dish, slosh in the olive oil and stir it through the vegetables. Pop in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and give them a quick stir – some of the peppers will be just starting to take on a char-grilled look – perfect. Tip in the asparagus and mix them in before popping the dish back in the oven for a further 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, stir in the tomatoes and set aside until room temperature.

In the bottom of your salad bowl, tip the oil, balsamic and mustard. Mix together with a fork. Just before you are ready to eat, tip in your roasted vegetables mix and then scatter over the salad leaves. Toss the whole lot together and serve alongside barbecued fish and meats, maybe with some piping hot and slightly gooey mozzarella garlic bread (already blogged) or new potatoes as well. A feast indeed!

Inspired by…

A made-up recipe that we’ve been enjoying for years!

How easy…

So easy that it sort of does itself, allowing you to do the other prep for a great barbie.

 

 

Spice-Roasted Fruits with Honey and Orange Sauce

 

A lovely, lovely pud that is unbelievably easy, can be mostly prepared ahead and is very unusual. Given the combination of orange, cinnamon and star anise, there is more than a little nod towards Christmas in the aromas emanating from the oven as these lovely summer fruits bask in their sauce but there’s nothing wrong with that! Once cooked, the soft, warm fruit has a lovely sweet depth of flavour and the gentle spices give this dish a very welcome extra dimension. Something different for summer – give it a go!

Serves 6

What you need…

4 fresh bay leaves, torn

2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half

Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla pod

1 star anise

½ teaspoon black pepper

Zest and juice of 3 oranges

4 tablespoons clear honey

3 tablespoons light soft dark brown sugar

3 peaches, 3 nectarines, 6 plums all ripe, cut in half and stones removed

25g unsalted butter

Crème Fraîche, to serve

What to do…

The day before, take a large screw-top jar and tip in the bay leaves, cinnamon, vanilla pod seeds, star anise, pepper, orange zest and juice, honey and sugar. Screw on the lid, shake like mad and pop in the fridge.

Half an hour before serving, preheat your oven to 200°c / 400°f / gas 6.

Tip the fruit into a roomy baking dish. Shake your sauce like mad again and then pour over the fruit. Dot over the butter and pop into the oven to bake for 10 minutes. Baste the fruits with a large spoon and bake again for a further 10 minutes. One more basting and then a further 5 minutes cooking. That’s it! Serve these rich and wonderful warm summer fruits with a gorgeous dollop of crème fraîche – very yummy indeed!

Spice-Roasted Fruits close w

Inspired by…

My friend, Heather told me she’d had it to conclude a lunch with a friend of hers called Lady Jas (!) It sounded so good that I googled it and printed it off the BBC Good Food website.

How easy…

You just need a jam jar, some fruit and a bit of time in the oven! My kinda pud!

Salmon and Watercress Quiche

This quiche, for my sins, will always be known in our house as ‘on the floor quiche’. My first ever attempt at making a quiche – this recipe – was one week ago when, on completion, I took it outside to photograph it in the gorgeous dappled sunlight, and promptly dropped it all over patio floor! Bad language and wine ensued. Anyway, one week later, I tried again and this time successfully!

Why the reluctance until now to even give it a go? When I was growing up, quiche got really bad PR. I have no idea where the expression, “real men don’t each quiche” came from but it’s always been in the back of my mind. I also had a clear (but totally inaccurate) perception that quiche was bland, heavy, boring and frankly, tasteless, so why would I want to make that?! Turns out, that concept couldn’t be further from the truth. This quiche is light, the pastry is crisp and the filling is nothing short of delightful. I would definitely urge you to throw away any preconceptions you have on the quiche front and give this one a go!

Serves 6

What you need…

1 x 30 x 20cm rectangular tart tin or 1 x 25cm flan tin, either way, spring-form and lightly buttered with bottom lined with Bake O Glide or parchment paper.

1 x large baking sheet

for the pastry

200g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

A pinch of salt

100g chilled butter, cut into cubes

1 egg yolk, beaten

3 tablespoons ice-cold water

for the filling

A little rapeseed oil

3 salmon fillets

Juice of ½ a lemon

A good knob of butter

1 medium onion, finely sliced

200g new potatoes, cut into small cubes and parboiled

50g watercress, leaves picked and tough stalks discarded

2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped

3 medium eggs, whisked

300ml double cream

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

Tip the flour, salt and butter into your food processor (fitted with the plastic blender) and whizz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and water and pulse until the mixture comes together to form a dough. Tip out onto cling film, wrap it up and pop it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Whilst your pastry is resting you can prepare the salmon and onions. Preheat your oven to 200°c / 400°f / gas 6 and pop in a baking sheet to warm up.

Grease a large piece of foil using the oil and place your salmon in the middle. Squeeze over the lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and scrunch the foil together to seal. Pop your salmon parcel onto the baking sheet in the oven and cook for 12 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.

Melt the butter in a frying pan over a moderate heat, add the onion and cook to soften for 8 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Returning to your pastry: on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about 3mm thick and line your tin with it. Trim off the rough edges, prick the base with a fork and pop back in the fridge for another 30 minutes (this will prevent shrinkage during the cooking process).

Take your pastry case out of the fridge, line with parchment paper and fill with baking beans. Pop it onto your hot baking sheet and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and return the case to the oven for a further 5 minutes – this will allow the pastry to dry out and prevent a soggy bottom!

Reduce the oven to 180°c / 350°f/ gas 4 and now it’s assembly time.

In a large jug, whisk together the cream and eggs. Season with salt and pepper and add the watercress and dill. Set aside for a mo.

In your pastry case, arrange onions so that they are evenly spread and top with the salmon and potatoes. Pour over the cream and egg mixture and pop into the oven on your hot baking sheet for 30 minutes or until the filling is just set and the top is turning golden brown.

Remove from oven and serve immediately, when it’s room temperature or cold – whichever is your preference – it’s just lovely! Great for a picnic or light lunch with salad.

Salmon & Watercress Quiche close up w

Inspired by…

Camilla Stephens, Higgidy

How easy…

Very easy, very relaxing. Just don’t drop it!

Frozen Raspberry and Orange Parfait in a Dark Chocolate Case

This is the most fantastic dessert for a boiling hot summer day – I know we don’t get many but you can make this and then whack it in the freezer until the glorious British weather delivers a freakily hot day! It’s refreshing, light but sweet; the ripeness of the raspberries married to fresh, sweet orange and then all encased in dark chocolate is just a wonderful combination.

Serves 8 – 10

What you need…

1 x 20cm deep spring-form cake tin, lightly oiled

175g dark chocolate, broken into chunks

1 tablespoon water

15g unsalted butter

500g fresh raspberries

2 tablespoons clear, runny honey

150ml orange juice, freshly squeezed (makes all the difference)

175g caster sugar

2 egg whites

Pinch of salt

300ml whipping cream

Mint leaves and 3 or four extra raspberries, to garnish

What to do…

To make the chocolate case, tip your chocolate chunks and water into a heatproof bowl and put into a steamer over a pan of simmering water. Melt the chocolate and then stir in the butter. Spoon the chocolate into the base of the tin and spread it evenly up the sides of the tin – you can go all the way to the top and have thin coating of chocolate or just half way, as I did, to have a thicker chocolate case. Pop the case in the fridge.

To make the frozen parfait, use your food processor break down the raspberries into a pulp and then press them through a sieve into a jug to create a pip-free purée. Stir in the honey and set aside.

In a large bowl, use a handheld electric whisk to beat the egg whites and salt together to form soft peaks. Set aside. Rinse off your whisk and then in a smaller, separate bowl whisk the cream until it also forms soft peaks – no more. Set aside. Rinse off your whisk again.

Clean out the sieve and use it to strain the orange juice into a saucepan. Add the sugar and place over a low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat to high and boil fiercely, without stirring, for 3 minutes. Quickly tip the hot orange syrup into the egg whites, whisking the whole time and keep going until the mixture is thick and resembles an uncooked meringue.

Using a balloon whisk, lightly fold in the raspberry purée and when fully incorporated, gently do the same with cream.

Tip the lot into your chocolate case and whop into the freezer for at least 5 hours but preferably overnight.

To remove from the tin, either rub the sides with a hot cloth or – much more fun – go around the outside of the tin with a kitchen blow torch. I then take a steak mallet and gently bang the sides just to make sure that the case has loosened away from the tin. Open your tin mechanism and gently ease the sides away from the parfait. If you’re feeling brave, carefully insert a fish slice all around the bottom of the parfait to separate the chocolate base from the tin-base and then ease it onto a pretty serving plate. If you’re not feeling so brave, just lift the parfait, cake tin-base and all, onto the serving plate. Decorate with raspberries and mint, cut into slices and serve immediately – absolutely delightful: an English summer right there on a plate and a perfect antidote to a hot, sticky summer’s day (or evening) – yummy!

Tips…

The original recipe used white chocolate rather than dark but I elected to use the latter, believing that it would be a better foil for the raspberries. I’m also not that keen on white chocolate. However, if it is your thing, swap out the dark for the white!

If there isn’t a crowd of you when you first serve this, you can quickly cut the parfait into slices and then re-freeze those not required for another day.

Frozen Rasp Parfait slice w

Serving suggestion…

Whizz and then sieve raspberries to create a purée, then stir in some Chambord black raspberry liqueur to suit your taste. Just a little on the side of your frozen parfait is quite delicious!

Inspired by…

Josceline Dimbleby

How easy…

It’s not hard, but takes quite a bit of time and creates a fair old mess. That said, the dishwasher was quickly loaded and doing its business and l like the fact that this can be made waaaay in advance.

 

 

Fast and Fantastic Summer Strawberry Ice Cream

So, you know those hot days when it gets to mid afternoon and you fancy a little treat but frankly, it’s too early for wine….? Well, yesterday was one of those days and I think that perhaps this bank holiday weekend may serve up a couple of hot, sunny days. Anyway: wow, I tried the fastest, loveliest strawberry ice cream – it set me up for the rest of the day! We normally have a little double cream in the fridge (I know, you’re shocked) but also, I’ve started freezing strawberries if it looks like they’re going to go off before we finish them (I always buy too many – direct from the farm, they’re so tempting) so given these lovely set of circumstances, I can now have a fabulous strawberry ice cream within seconds and on a whim! Definitely give this one a go – there’ll be no going back to supermarket cartons, I promise.

Serves 2

What you need…

200g frozen strawberries, hulled (and halved if they are large)

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

150ml double cream

2 teaspoons sugar (optional and probably not necessary if your strawberries are ripe and sweet)

What to do…

Fit the cutting blade rather than the blending one into your food processor. Chuck in all the ingredients. Whizz. The frozen strawberries will break up and freeze the double cream. When you’re happy with the consistency – either still slightly lumpy with fruit or completely smooth – your choice, then serve! That’s it! Sit in the garden and marvel at the simplicity of this treat on a gorgeous English summer afternoon. Doesn’t get much better than that! Oooooh, the bad news is that it doesn’t really re-freeze, so…you need to eat the lot! Enjoy!

Inspired by…

James Martin

How easy…

There isn’t an adjective to describe quite how easy this is!