Latest Entries »

The feta and beetroot marriage is a classic, but I have also used goat’s cheeses, marinating them in thick slices with olive oil, lemon juice and thyme and crumbled dried chilli. You need a cheese that has plenty of fresh, quite acidic notes to balance the sweetness of the creamed beetroot.

 

Makes 4 toasts
beetroot 400g
feta 200g
oregano leaves 1 tbsp
red wine vinegar 1 tbsp
olive oil 4 tbsp
bread for toasting 4 thick slices
a clove of garlic

Put a deep pan of water on to boil. Trim the beetroots but do not peel them. Try not to break the skin (it will leak juice into the cooking water otherwise). Boil the beetroots, depending on their size, for about 40 minutes. They are done when a skewer can be inserted into them with very little pressure.

Crumble the feta into small pieces, roughly 1cm in size, then put them in a small bowl. Put the oregano leaves in with the feta, pour over the vinegar and the olive oil.

Remove the beetroots from the water, cool them just enough to allow you to handle them, then slide off the skins. They will come away easily with a little pressure from your thumbs.

Cut the beetroots into large pieces, drop them into the bowl of a food processor then process them to a thick purée. Season with salt and black pepper, remembering that the feta is quite salty.

Toast the bread, either on a hot griddle or in the toaster. Cut the clove of garlic in half and then rub the cut side of one of the pieces over the toasted bread. Spoon on some of the beetroot purée, then some of the marinated feta.

Of all of the pickles in my fridge, the only one I didn’t make myself is the jar of sauerkraut. I prefer bottled to canned. The texture is crisper, the flavour brighter.

Each summer I look forward to cooking courgettes, spring onions or halves of Little Gem lettuce on the grill, then turning them briefly in butter or olive oil which I have warmed and seasoned with lemon, crushed basil leaves or dill.

Introducing a tangle of sauerkraut to vegetables cooked this way is refreshing, giving the summer vegetables a welcome kick.

The key is not to add too much, just a tbsp or two of sharp, lively pickles to each batch of fresh vegetables. Serves 2.

pork steaks 2 x 200g

olive oil 2 tbsp 

lemons 2

courgettes 2, small

butter 30g

sauerkraut 4 tbsp

chopped dill 4 tbsp

Rub the pork all over with a little olive oil, black pepper and salt. Cover and set aside. Finely grate the zest from one of the lemons into a mixing bowl. Halve and squeeze the juice, then add to the zest. Using a vegetable peeler, take long, flat strips from the courgettes, and place in a bowl. Get the griddle pan or grill hot.

Unwrap the meat, place on the griddle and cook till golden, brushing the surface with a little oil from the dish as necessary. Season with salt and more pepper. Slice the remaining lemon in half and place it cut side down on the griddle.

Remove the pork from the griddle and let it rest. Place the courgette ribbons on the griddle and cook for 3 or 4 minutes, turning from time to time. Warm the butter in a pan, stir in the lemon zest and juice, and black pepper. Roughly chop the dill. When the courgettes are tender, lift them into the warmed, seasoned butter. Add the sauerkraut, 2 tbsp of its juice, the chopped dill and mix gently.

Serve the pork with the grilled lemons, courgettes and sauerkraut.

Cherry Polenta Cake Recipes

Serves 8-10.

butter 220g
caster sugar 220g
cherries 200g
ground almonds 180g
fine polenta 220g
baking powder 1 tsp
lemon 1
eggs 3, large
For the syrup:
cherries 400g
honey 3 tbsp
elderflower cordial 160ml

Set the oven at 180C/gas mark 4. Line the base of a 20cm cake tin with baking parchment.

cake

Dice the butter and put it in the bowl of a food mixer with the caster sugar and beat until light and creamy. Halve and stone the 200g of cherries.

Mix together the ground almonds, fine polenta and the baking powder. Grate the zest from the lemon and stir into the polenta. Squeeze the juice from the lemon into a small bowl. Break the eggs into a bowl and beat them lightly.

Add the beaten egg to the butter and sugar mixture, beating continuously, adding a little of the polenta mixture should it start to curdle. Fold in the remaining polenta mixture and the lemon juice.

Spoon half the batter into the lined cake tin, add the cherries, then the remaining batter and smooth the surface. Bake for 35 minutes, then lower the heat to 160C/gas mark 4 and bake for further 25 minutes until the cake is lightly firm to the touch.

While the cake bakes, make the syrup. Halve and stone the 400g of cherries. Warm the elderflower cordial and honey in a small pan, then add the cherries and let them simmer for 5-7 minutes until the fruit has given up some of its juice.

When the cake is ready, remove from the oven, then pierce all over with a skewer or knitting needle. Spoon some of the syrup from the cherries over the surface so it runs down through the holes into the crumb of the cake, then leave to cool.

Remove the cake from its tin; serve with the cherry compote and, if you like some cream or crème fraîche.

Even a couple of tablespoons of salted ricotta grated over a dish of warm vegetables can bring things to life.

Serves 2
broad beans 500g
small tomatoes 150g
parsley a few sprigs
pea shoots 25g
olive oil for dressing
salted ricotta 4 tbsp

Remove the beans from their pods. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, salt it lightly then add the beans and let them cook for 4 or 5 minutes.

Drain the beans and plunge them into iced water. Pop the larger beans from their skins, but leave the smaller beans be.

Slice each tomato into four then put them in a bowl. Remove the leaves from the parsley and chop enough for 2 heaped tablespoons. Add the parsley to the bowl, together with the drained, cooled and skinned broad beans.

Wash the pea shoots, then toss them with the tomatoes and beans. Dress with a little olive oil, gently turning the ingredients over till finely coated. Divide between plates then grate over the salted ricotta and serve.