Displaying items by tag: summer
I'm going backwards here because I'm writing this in October. I've spent the morning sorting through 'photos on my phone, reminding myself of the busy days in June. The fun I had growing marigolds by the pot full, gardening with my grandson, finishing layers for a three tier wedding cake and perfecting my Jain, egg free cashew and orange cake for my daughters Indian wedding in July. And that is why I didn't write any blog posts.
I never need an excuse to light a fire outside and cook ‘al fresco’ and now it’s officially barbecue season that’s where I’ll be. The golden rule of cooking on a barbecue, or wood fire, is to cook over embers, not flames and to distinguish whether you are cooking something that requires searing rather than slow cooking. So, it’s always best to cook meats that require a fierce heat as soon as the flames have died down, and the embers are still glowing. Then grill ingredients such as fish, which require slower cooking, as the temperature of the fire drops. By mid-summer the herbs in my garden are at their best and plentiful so can be used liberally on barbecued food. Gutsy herbs indigenous/native of the Mediterranean and Middle East work very well in barbecues and include rosemary which adds an aromatic and resinous flavour working very well with fatty and rich meats such as lamb. I like to use the straight, small woody branches for my lamb, onion and rosemary skewers. Oregano and marjoram are both closely related and I still struggle to identify between the two growing in my garden. Oregano has a more pungent and domineering flavour whereas marjoram is slightly more delicate, also faintly savoury and lightly sweet scented. If using oregano then use a little more sparingly. It has a special affinity with tomato based dishes and sauces and works very well when put with lemon and garlic in a marinade. Coriander can be chopped and mixed into natural yoghurt with Indian spices to create a delicious marinade for both chicken and fish. The pungent, slightly citrus flavour marries well with lime zest and juice to make a herb butter which is delicious served on seafood cooked on a barbecue. Dill is often associated with Nordic or Russian cuisine and is used extensively in Persian cuisine. I love it with fish, particularly salmon which barbecues very well. Combined with sumac a Middle Eastern spice which adds tartness and astringency to food it makes a perfect marinade for salmon. Mint adds another dimension to whole grilled courgettes that have been allowed to cool a little and then drizzled with oil, salt and pepper and chopped mint. The same combination is also delicious on grilled halloumi cheese.
Here's a recipe for for our deliciously creamy ranch dip which is the perfect accompaniment to our southern fried chicken or for spooning onto a barbecued beef steak. It's good to serve as a dip with celery sticks, carrot batons and cucumber too. It's quick and easy to make and doesn't require exact measurements if you're in a hurry. Use any soft and creamy blue cheese for the dip with a more crumbly cheese to fold in for texture. You can thin it with a little milk if you fancy using it to dress a salad.
- Add all the ingredients except for the crumbly cheese into a bowl
- until as smooth as you fancy
- crumble more cheese in and leave chunky or blitz a little more
Vanilla, Orange and Mascarpone Cheesecake
Makes a 7in/18cm cheesecake to serve 8
For the base
- 50g/2oz butter
- 175g/7oz digestive biscuits
- Half a tablespoon honey
Melt the butter and honey over a very low heat.
Crush the digestive biscuits and stir into the melted butter until well mixed.
Press the rubble-like mixture in a loose bottomed 7in/18cm tin and place in the fridge to chill.
For the cheesecake topping
- 200g/8oz cream cheese
- 200g/8oz mascarpone
- 75g/3oz caster sugar
- Rind and juice of 1 orange
- 200ml/8floz double cream ( whipped into soft peaks)
- 1 vanilla pod or a drop of vanilla essence
Beat the cream cheese, mascarpone, sugar, orange rind and juice together in a bowl.
Fold in the whipped cream and the seeds scraped from the vanilla pod. Mix well.
Spread the cheesecake mixture onto the biscuit base and chill.
Serve with the Roasted Rhubarb and Orange compote.
This recipe can be easily adapted - if you add lime or lemon to the mixture instead of orange, and it can be served in summer with a raspberry coulis.
Roasted rhubarb and orange compote
- 700g/1.5lb rhubarb
- 150g/5oz caster sugar
- Juice and zest of one orange
Wash and chop the rhubarb into 2in/5cm lengths and place in an ovenproof dish with the sugar, orange zest and juice.
Bake in a preheated oven 375F/190C Gas 5 for about 25 minutes or until soft. Stir gently to release the juices, trying not to lose the shape of the rhubarb. Cool and serve.