Our cookery writer, Zoë Garner , suggests a summertime menu
What’s in season?
STRAWBERRIES are a typical summer treat and when in season the taste is really hard to beat. They do not ripen after picking and so the imported strawberries are often hard with an undeveloped flavour. Look for berries that are bright red in colour and unblemished. Make sure you have a good sniff too, the stronger the scent the better the quality.
Minted Pea on toast Nibblers
This recipe is a great summer canape but also works really well as a starter too.
75g roughly chopped pancetta
400g frozen peas
1tsp mint jelly, optional
small handful of mint leaves
100g creme fraiche
1 small baguette, sliced
extra virgin olive oil, to serve
1 Heat a large frying pan over a high heat and cook the pancetta until crisp, about 3-4min. Set aside. Wipe the pan clean and heat the butter. Add the peas and cook for a further 4min, adding the mint jelly for the 1min of cooking time.
2 Put the peas, mint leaves and creme fraiche into a bowl and whizz with a hand blender or in a food processor until smooth. Season to taste. Leave to cool.
3 Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan) mark 4. Arrange baguette slices on two baking sheets, brush both sides with oil and season. Bake for 15min, until golden, turn the slices halfway through cooking.
4 Spread the pea puree over the baguette slices, top with the pancetta and parmesan shavings. Drizzle over a little extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately.
Summer Chicken Stew
1tbsp olive oil
8 chicken thighs
2tbsp plain flour
2 red peppers, chopped into bite sized chunks
500g Jersey royal potatoes, halved
200ml white wine
300ml chicken stock
200g full fat soft cheese
200g each peas and sweetcorn
small handful freshly chopped basil
1 Heat the oil in a large pan. Dust the chicken with the flour and season. Fry over a high heat, until golden. Do this in batches if necessary. Set aside.
2 Add the peppers to the pan and cook for 2 mins. Return the chicken to the pan, pour in the white wine, simmer for 1min. Add the chicken stock and season well. Cover the pan and simmer for 30min, adding the potatoes after 10min, until the chicken is cooked and the potatoes are soft. Stir in the soft cheese, peas, sweetcorn and basil and simmer, uncovered, for a further 5min. Serve immediately with a little salad and crusty bread to mop up the sauce.
Prepare yourself and chop the basil ahead of time, pop into a small dish and cover with a piece of damp kitchen roll.
Iced Berries with White Hot Chocolate Sauce
400g mixed raspberries, blueberries, blackberries & strawberries
100g white chocolate, roughly chopped
200ml double cream
1/2tsp vanilla bean paste, optional
1 Put the berries onto a tray and freeze for 20min, so they are firmer but not completely frozen.
2 Put the chocolate and cream into a bowl, microwave on high for 1min, opening the door halfway through. If not soft enough, blitz for another 30secs. Add the vanilla and stir to combine.
3 Divide the berries between 4 bowls and pour over the white hot chocolate sauce, serve immediately.
Zoe’s Quick Kitchen Tips:
If your recipe calls for ginger, peel it using a teaspoon instead of a peeler. Scrape the spoon against the skin and it will come straight off. It’s easier and minimises waste.
No more shells
If you see a bit of egg shell in the bowl when cracking eggs, use an empty half of an egg shell to remove it. The shell cuts through the egg white, unlike a teaspoon.
If you have unwanted herbs left in the fridge, don’t let them go to waste, chop them up and pop into ice cube trays with a little water and freeze. The next time your recipe calls for freshly chopped herbs they’ll be ready and waiting.
Zoë is a trained chef of Leith’s, London, and as well as writing for RURAL magazine’s food pages,she has her own business www.zoes-kitchen.com. Her passion is baking and so she has created a range of pre prepared mixes for you to become the baking king or queen of your own kitchen. Her range includes cookie & brownie mixes, as well as personalised children’s party boxes, making baking a fun activity for the whole family!