Raspberry and strawberry Eton Mess

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To keep up with the British traditional foods motif, a mess. Whatever fruits you were using, it us all in all, a very summery dessert, perfect to serve to a crowd. If you buy the meringue, you will have it done in no time, without the need to get close to the stove, even.

Raspberry and strawberry Eton Mess (adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Everyday)

Ingredients

  • 250g strawberries
  • 35g caster sugar
  • 350mL double cream lightly whipped
  • 150g of meringue

Method

Halve the strawberries, thickly slicing any whoppers. Put in a large bowl with the raspberries and sugar. Roughly crush and squeeze some of the berries with your hands so the juices start to run. Cover and leave to macerate in the fridge for an hour or two.

To assemble the mess, break the meringues into rough pieces, then fold into the whipped cream. Now lightly fold in the chilled fruit, so everything is rippled together rather than thoroughly blended. Pile into glasses and serve. You can make it an hours or so in advance, but not more, or the meringue will go weepy in the cream.

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Barley, beetroot and feta salad

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It is the return of #beetrootgate…. It has been a while – maybe a bit too much. The recipe is from Mafalda Pinto Leite, who as of late has been working on a healthy recipes withe healthy ingredients and healthy cooking methods.  Sometimes, like this barley salad, with delicious results. A very good salad for the Summer, refreshing and comforting at the same time.

Barley, beetroot and feta salad (adapted from Mafalda Pinto Leite’s blog Dias com Mafalda)

Ingredients 

1 cup of barley
1/3 cups of toasted sun flower seeds
1 small beetroot
1 grated carrot
50g of grated feta cheese

Dressing
1 crushed garlic clove
2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons of lemon
1/3 cup of lemon
¼ cup of  torn basil leaves

Method

Cook the barley according to the instructions on the packet, until it is tender. Cool down with cold water and drain. Reserve.

For the dressing, put all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk. Alternatively, just put them all in closed bottle and shake.

To serve, put the barley in a salad bowl and mix with all the vegetables and cheese. Add the dressing, salt and pepper to taste and mix well.

 


Apricot, walnut and lavender cake

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It was love at first sight. And, timing couldn’t have been better. I was just looking for my annual super baking project when I bumped into this recipe.  It was so delicious, I will have to bake it again. And again… and again. Never mind the Modern Art Cakes – this the one I want I want for my birthday. Truth to be said, it is not particularly difficult dish.  But the flavours, oh!, the flavours….  It were layers upon layers of fresh, summery and nutty flavours, each mouthful different.

Apricot, walnut and lavender cake  (adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s column in The Guardian)

Ingredients

  • 185g unsalted butter, diced and at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp walnut oil
  • 220g caster sugar
  • 120g ground almonds
  • 4 medium eggs, beaten
  • 120g ground walnuts
  • 90g plain flour
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1½ tsp picked lavender flowers, fresh or dry
  • Salt
  • 600g (gross) apricots, halved and stones removed

For the icing

  • 50g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

 Method

Heat the oven to 170C/335F/gas mark 3. Put the butter, oil, sugar and almonds in the bowl of a mixer and beat on a medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs bit by bit, making sure each addition is well incorporated before beginning the next, then fold in the walnuts, flour, vanilla, lemon zest, a teaspoon of lavender flowers and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt.

Line the base and sides of a 23cm cake tin with greaseproof paper. Pour in the cake mix and use a palette knife to level it out. Arrange the apricot halves skin side down and slightly overlapping all over the top of the cake, taking them right to the edge.

Bake for 70-80 minutes – cover with foil if the top starts to brown too much; also, note that when you insert a skewer to test for doneness, it will come out a little sticky because of all the moisture in the apricots.

While the cake is baking, whisk together the icing sugar and lemon juice until you have a light, pourable icing (adjust the amount of sugar or juice slightly, to suit your tastes). As soon as the cake is cooked, remove from the oven and brush the icing all over the top. Sprinkle over the remaining lavender flowers and set aside to cool.


Asparagus, red pepper and creamy goat cheese wheat salad

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To keep up with the asparagus season, an impromptu picnic by the lake presented itself as an ideal excuse to make this salad… An almost empty cupboard forced me to do a few wild tweaks to the original recipe, though. The feta cheese was replaced by soft goat cheese. Less salty, indeed, but it made the salad creamier with occasional bursts of flavour.  The quinoa was first replaced by barley (really bad idea) and then by wheat (much more successful). All, in all, it was a perfect dish for the a perfect summer day by the lake…

Grilled asparagus, red pepper, creamy got cheese and wheat salad  (adapted from the The 10 best asparagus recipes’ column on The Guardian)

Ingredients

  • 250g wheat (Triticum turgidum)
  • 900g green asparagus
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, for drizzling
  • 200g roasted, marinated red bell peppers, drained and cut in to bite-size pieces
  • 200g soft goat cheese
  • 100g fresh coriander or flat-leaf parsley (reserve some leaves for garnishing)
  • Salt

For the dressing

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tsp roast cumin seeds, crushed with a mortar

Method

Rinse the wheat and prepare it according to the instructions in the packet.

To prepare the dressing, whisk together the olive oil, soy sauce and lemon juice. Gently crush the cumin seeds with a pestle and add to the dressing.

Rinse and pat the asparagus dry and place on a plate. Drizzle olive oil over the asparagus and roll them until well coated. Season with salt. Arrange the asparagus in a hot griddle pan and cook, turning as needed, until nicely marked on all sides without being burned (it takes about 8 minutes).

Meanwhile, combine the quinoa, dressing, roasted peppers, cheese and  parsley in a large mixing bowl. Add the grilled asparagus and gently combine. Serve at room temperature.


Gazpacho

Tomato and bread + summer = gazpacho. Nothing much to add to that, really. This was my first attempt this this year, and by to look of the weather forecast, probably the last. On this special occasion, I tried Ferran Adrià’s recipe, minus his secrete ingredient – mayonnaise. Don’t take me wrong – I believe him: it will probably make gazpacho much creamier, but, hélas, I still haven’t recovered from a bad mayonnaise I had more than a decade ago.
Gazpacho (adapted from Ferran Adrià’s The Family Meal)
Ingredients 
  • 3 bleached garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 onions peeled and chopped in big chunks
  • 60g cucumber peeled and chopped in big chunks
  • 75g red bell peppers seeded and sliced
  • 1Kg rip red tomatoes, chopped in big chunks
  • 30g of white rustic bread, without crust, torn into pieces
  • 120ml cup water
  • 6 tablespoons of olive oil, plus extra to serve
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar

Method

First, peel the garlic cloves and drop in small saucepan with cold water. Bring the water to a boil. When the water begins to boil, take out the garlic out of the water and put into a bowl of ice water to quickly cool it. Repeat twice, always starting with cold water.

Peel and cut the vegetables into large chunks and put them into a large bowl.  Add the tomatoes into large wedges and put in a bowl with the onions, cucumbers, and bell peppers. Add the bread, torn into pieces, then pour over the water. Process everything together using a hand-held blender, about 5 min until is well combined. Add the olive oil, sherry vinegar, salt and pepper and blend the soup until smooth and creamy. Chill in the fridge before serving (at least 2 hours). Serve the gazpacho with a plus an extra drizzle of olive oil. If you want, you can add cured ham, finely chopped egg, tuna, croutons, chopped pepper…..


Marinated mozzarella and tomato

If you had lived in Zurich for long enough, you will  have quickly learnt that if the sun is out, you have to leave home and in enjoy it while it is there. God only knows when you will be able to enjoy again walking down the street without having to resort to several layers of clothing. It could be next day, but it can also be in a week, in a month or next year (if ever!). This Summer, it was even more extreme than usual. After a few weeks of sheer desperation, we found ourselves enjoying each quasi-summer day like it was the last one. And, many times it seemed like that indeed it was, and that we all would be condemned to an existence plagued with cashmere cardigans, heavy scarfs and thick stockings….  So, in a nutshell – there was not really a lot of opportunities for cool dishes.  Except, maybe this one, from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty. An italian classic, converted into a ubiquitous dish:tomato-mozzarella-basil dictatorship. But, this one has a twist – roasted fennel seeds – which makes it outstanding. Not the usual watered stuff you get so often here in Zurich…

Marinated mozzarella and tomato (adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty)

Ingredients 

For the salad

  • 250g mozzarella (use buffalo mozzarella for best results)
  • 4 ripe tomatoes, cut in wedges

For the marinade

  • 1/2 tablespoon of crushed roasted fennel seeds
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 15 basil leafs shredded
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped oregano
  • olive oil to taste (or a mix 1:1 of olive oil and rapeseed oil)
  • 1 garlic clove crushed
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

For the marinade

First, put the fennel seeds in a small frying pan and heat until they start to pop. Drop them in a mortar and grind them until you have a chunky powder.

Combine all the marinade ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Drop in the shredded mozzarella (shred the cheese and the basil with your hands, for an extra touch of rusticity).

Set aside for a about 20min

For the salad

In a plate, put the marinated cheese and the tomatoes side by side. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil, if necessary and serve.


Baked peaches with thyme and ice cream

Peaches are long gone, but this dessert will be staying. I saw it on Scarlet Pippin, but the original recipe seems to be by Gordon Ramsay. And, then, I tweaked it a bit more…  hopefully, it will become a viral dish because it an ideal dessert for a Summer dinner.

Baked peaches

Ingredients 

  • 4 whole white peaches.
  • 50g icing sugar, 50g caster sugar (I just used 100 of sugarcane sugar)
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 25 unsalted butter, melted
  • 1-2 teaspoons Cointreau or Grand Mariner (I used prune Schnapps)
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves (stripped from stalk)

Method

Mix the icing and caster sugar together and roll fruits in them to coat. Sit peaches in a shallow ovenproof dish. Mix the vanilla seeds with the melted butter and trickle over the peaches.

Bake the peaches uncovered at 190 oC for 5 mins. Remove and spoon the caramelised liquid that has formed in the dish back over the peaches. Return to the oven to bake for 10 mins (spooning over the juices a few more times).

About 5 mins before the peaches are ready, spoon over the liqueur and sprinkle over the thyme. Remove when ready and allow to cool until warm.

Thyme ice-cream

Ingredients

  • 250ml of creamy milk
  • 250ml double cream
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme (OR two strands of saffron OR two sticks of cinnamon)
  • 6 free range egg yolks
  • 90g caster sugar

Methods

Heat the milk and cream in a large saucepan until the liquid starts to creep up the sides of the pan (i.e. boil). Then stir in the thyme sprigs, remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Put the yolks and the sugar in a large bowl and whisk until thick and creamy (ideally with an electric whisk).

Reheat the milk and cream mixture and, when the mixture rises up again, pour into the yolk mixture whilst slowly mixing. Whist until well blended. Strain back into the pan through a sieve (discard the thyme). On the lowest possible heat, stir until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon. Cool the custard, stirring occasionally to stop a skin forming. Churn in an electric ice-cream maker if you have such things, or otherwise take out of the freezer to stir regularly as it starts to freeze.