ArchiveAugust 2018

Purslane

Do you know about purslane? I’m crazy about it. For those who are not familiar, it’s a little succulent that spreads like wildfire and is considered by many gardeners to be just a weed. But if it has been romping around your greenhouse or tunnel since June, don’t just moan, harvest and eat it instead. It’s super tasty, will still be in season until September and there are a million things you can do with it.

Its juicy leaves are delicious raw in salads, or lightly tossed as a vegetable or ‘side’. Purslane also pickles well and can be used in ferments or added to a soup or stew. For the purpose of identification you may want to know that the Latin name is Portulaca Oleracea. A hugely nutritious and highly esteemed vegetable, from Iran to the Cacuses as well as in the Eastern Mediterranean, Mexico and India. Purslane is a powerhouse of nutrition, lots of Omega three fatty acids, minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants. It has notable amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium as well as vitamins A B C and E in fact it has six times more Vitamin E than spinach and seven times more beta carotene than carrots. Those who have difficulty snoozing may like to know that purslane has high levels of melatonin, a hormone that helps to regulate sleep…

In his ground breaking book ‘In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, Michal Pollan called purslane one of the two most nutritious plants on the planet (the other being Lambs quarters).

Interestingly both of these plants are considered by many to be a nuisance in the garden. Purslane has pinkish stems; its leaves are crunchy and slightly mucilaginous with a flavour reminiscent of lemon and freshly ground pepper.

In urban areas it even grows up through cracks in the footpaths or at the base of walls.

Purslane has been grown since ancient times and thrives in hot climates so no doubt it will be considered to be even more important in the future.

Meanwhile seek it out and enjoy it often in as many ways as possible, here are a few ideas to get you started….
 

 

Jacob Kennedy’s Tomato and Purslane Salad

 

Serves 4 as a starter or side

 

500 g (18oz) delicious tomatoes

½ small red onion

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar (optional)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

100 g (3½ oz) picked purslane leaves and tips

 

Quarter the tomatoes and slice the red onion very thinly across the grain. Macerate these with the vinegar, oil and plenty of salt and pepper for 5 minutes, then toss in the leaves and have a crust of bread on hand to mop the bowl afterwards.

 

 

Rory O’ Connell’s Purslane, Avocado and Cucumber Salad

 

The contrast of textures and flavours in this simple salad is really delicious.  The crisp cucumbers complement the creamy avocado and the juiciness of the succulent purslane. Rory sometimes adds a few green grapes for an extra touch of sweetness.

 

 

Serves 6-8

 

3-4 handfuls of purslane

2 avocados

1 cucumber

flaky sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

 

 

Dressing

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon Forum Chardonnay wine vinegar

flaky sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

 

 

Top, tail and halve the cucumber.  Unless it’s very fresh scoop out the seeds, a melon baller or ‘pointy’ teaspoon is good for this.   Cut into 1cm diagonal slices and transfer to a wide bowl.

Halve the avocado, remove the stone, peel and cut into haphazard dice, about 7mm.  Add to the cucumber.   Season with flaky sea salt and add some freshly cracked pepper.  Add the sprigs of purslane.  Drizzle with dressing.  Toss gently.  Taste and correct the seasoning.  Arrange on individual plates and serve as soon as possible.

 

Purslane Soup from Naomi Duguid

 

Springtime in Kurdistan means “paipina”, a thick soup of lentils (nisik in Kurdish) Purslane is a wild green with small, thick, succulent leaves and reddish stems. It’s often treated as a weed in North America, but it’s a much-valued vegetable from Iran to the Caucasus, as well as in the eastern Mediterranean region, where it’s used raw in salads. Some farmers are starting to cultivate it in North America, so it should soon become easier to find.

 

Serves 8

 

225g (8oz) brown lentils, rinsed and picked over

55g (2oz) finely chopped onion

100g (3½oz) Arborio or other short-grain rice, washed and drained

1.5 to 1.8 litres (2½ to 3 pints) water or unsalted light chicken or vegetable broth, or as needed

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon turmeric

2 to 3 teaspoons sea salt, to taste

285g (10½ oz) finely chopped purslane leaves and stems

freshly ground black pepper

 

Accompaniments

Flatbreads

Fresh goat’s- or sheep’s-milk cheese

A generous Herb Plate: tarragon, chervil, mint, lovage, and scallion greens (use two or more)

 

 

Place the lentils, onion, and rice in a large pot, add 7 cups of water or broth, and bring to a vigorous boil. Skim off any foam, cover, reduce the heat to maintain a low boil, and cook until the lentils are tender, 35 to 45 minutes; add more water or broth if needed.

 

Stir in the tomato paste, cumin, turmeric, and 2 teaspoons salt, then add the purslane and stir thoroughly. Cook until the purslane is very soft and flavours have blended, about 30 minutes; add more liquid if the soup gets too thick. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Ladle into individual bowls and sprinkle with black pepper. Put out the flatbreads, cheese, and herb plate, and invite your guests to sprinkle a little cheese onto their soup.

 

 

Summer Purslane with Tahini and Sesame seeds

 

Serves 2

 

Dressing:

½ or 1 small garlic clove

2 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon local honey

2 tablespoons of tahini

Water as needed…

350g (12oz) fresh purslane

 

To serve:

sesame seeds

 

Peel and grate the garlic on a micro-plane, put into a bowl with the freshly squeezed lemon juice and honey. Stir to dissolve.

 

Bring a saucepan of water to a fast rolling boil. Drop the sprigs of purslane into the pan and cook for just 30 seconds. Drain and refresh under cold water. Drain again and dry gently.

Lay on a serving plate.

Put the tahini into a bowl. Stir in the lemon mixture. It will thicken at first but go on stirring and add a little water if necessary. It should be a thick pouring consistency.

Drizzle a little tahini dressing over the purslane. Sprinkle with a sesame seeds, (optional).

Serve as a side or as an accompaniment to grilled meats or aubergines.

 

Note: Roast Hazelnut dressing or tomato and chilli jam is also delicious drizzled over purslane.

 

Kemp Minifie’s Purslane and Avocado Tacos with Pico de Gallo  

Purslane has long been considered a weed, but it is increasingly showing up for sale in bunches at farmers markets. Meanwhile, Mexicans have known about its healthful properties for hundreds of years and they eat it both raw and cooked. In Mexico it’s called verdolagas. Cooking mellows its tang and shrinks it, which means you can eat more of it! Paired with avocado and a tomato relish, this is a super-healthy vegetarian snack or main dish.

 

For Pico de Gallo:

600ml (1 pint) grape tomatoes, quartered

50g (2oz) chopped white onion

1 tablespoon lime juice, or to taste

2 teaspoons minced fresh Serrano chilli, or to taste

(1oz) chopped coriander

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

 

For Tacos:

2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

450g (1 lb) purslane, including tender upper stems, chopped

8 fresh corn tortillas

2 avocados

(3oz) crumbled cotija cheese or to taste

 

coriander sprigs and lime wedges for serving

 

12-inch heavy skillet

 

 

Makes 8 tacos (4 servings)

 

Make Pico de Gallo:

Combine tomatoes, onion, lime juice, chilli, and coriander in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Let it stand while assembling the tacos.

 

Cook garlic in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring, until pale golden. Add purslane with salt to taste and cook, stirring, until wilted and tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a sieve set over a bowl and let it drain.

 

Have a folded kitchen towel ready for the tortillas. Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat until hot, then heat a tortilla, keeping the others covered, flipping it occasionally with tongs, until it puffs slightly and gets brown in spots, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer tortilla, as toasted, to towel, enclosing it, and repeat with remaining tortillas. Keep them warm in towel.

 

Quarter avocados lengthwise and remove pit, then peel. Cut each section into thin slices (lengthwise or crosswise, it doesn’t matter) and season with salt.

 

Assemble tacos by spooning some purslane into a folded taco and topping it with avocado slices, cotija cheese, coriander sprigs, and pico de gallo. Serve with lime wedges.

 

 

 

Summer Purslane, Tomato, Cucumber and Sumac Salad

A little sliced red onion is also delicious added to this salad. Omit the sumac if difficult to source.

 

 

Serves 2-4

2 generous fistfuls of purslane sprigs

½ – 1 cucumber, seeded and diced 1.7cm (2/3  inch)

4 ripe tomatoes roughly chopped in a similar size

flaky sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

½ – 1 fresh chilli seeded and chopped

2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon local honey

1 – 2 tablespoons sumac

 

Wash the purslane spring and drain. Put in a wide bowl with the cucumber and tomato dice. Season with flaky sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.

 

 

Put the chili into a bowl with lemon, extra virgin olive oil and honey.

Whisk with a fork

 

Drizzle over the salad. Toss gently and taste. Sprinkle with sumac and serve.

 

Note: You can imagine how a few slices of avocado are also a yummy addition.

 

 

 

Pickled Purslane

 

Use this tasty pickle in salads or with goat cheese; pan grilled fish, lamb chops or even a burger.

 

Makes 4 x 7oz jars

 

250g (9oz) purslane

200g (7oz) cider white wine vinegar

10g (1/2oz) pure salt

1 teaspoon sugar or a dessertspoon honey

2 cloves of garlic peeled and thinly sliced

1 organic lemon,

600ml (1 pint) water approx.

 

4 sterilised glass jars and lids (160°C/310°F/Mark 3, for ten minutes in the oven)

 

 

Wash the purslane under cold water. Drain.

 

Put the vinegar, salt, sugar or honey and sliced garlic into a stainless steel saucepan

Bring to the boil for a minute or two; add the juice of the lemon.

 

Meanwhile bring a saucepan of water to the boil, add the purslane in batches for just 30 seconds. Drain, but save the liquid. Add the purslane to the hot pickle. Spoon into the hot jars, divide the liquid pickle evenly between the jars and top each one up with the purslane blanching water if necessary.

 

Cover and seal the jar immediately with a sterilised lid. Cool and store in a dark place. Use in two days or within 2 months.

 

 

 

 

KAUKASIS by Olia Hercules

 

 

For some time now I’ve become more and more intrigued by the food of the Caucasus  – Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia…..

I haven’t managed to get there yet, but it’s high on my list of places to visit just as soon as I can. My interest has been sparked by Olia Hercules, a beautiful, enchanting young cook who was born in Ukraine and came to London via Cyprus. She writes evocatively about the food of her homeland and the surrounding countries, rich beautiful peasant food, the sort of food I love to eat.

In this part of the world, where the home cooks have learned the skills from their parents, grandparents and great grandparents, they value every morsel of food and know how to use every scrap of seasonal produce deliciously. Foraging, pickling, fermenting and preserving is an innate part of their food culture. I long to taste some of the dishes Olia described so evocatively in her books – the result of many research trips to the Caucuses where she visited peoples’ farms and went into their kitchens to learn from traditional  home cooks. No fluffs or foams or skid marks going on here but beautiful real food, sometimes utterly traditional and other recipes where Olia has created a delicious twist on the original.  I met her recently at the Oxford Food Symposium where she cooked a delicious dinner Wild East Feast.

I’ve invited her to do a guest chef appearance here at The Ballymaloe Cookery School. I’ll keep you posted as soon as we finalise the date. I’m also hoping that she will do a Pop-Up dinner at Ballymaloe House in the Autumn and perhaps an East Cork Slow Food Event – all to be confirmed – you can see I’m smitten by this young cook whom the Observer Food Magazine named Rising Star of the Year in 2015 when her first cookbook Mamushka was published. Several of the recipes that follow come from her second book Kaukasis published by Octopus Books. I’ve especially picked delicious Summery recipes to use the bounty of fruit and vegetables that nature is providing for us at present.

 

Olia Hercules’s Tomato and Raspberry Salad

This salad came about when Ének, a first-generation Hungarian who had settled in Georgia, picked out some extremely good tomatoes at a market in Tbilisi. Inspired by Hungarian-rooted chefs from Bar Tarrine in San Francisco who do a version of this salad with sour cherries, she made one with raspberries, toasty unrefined sunflower oil and some green coriander seeds and flower heads. I know tomatoes and raspberries sound like a combination that should just be left alone, but it actually really works if you use excellent tomatoes, although not with hard, flavourless supermarket tomatoes. The tomatoes need to be ripe, sweet, flavoursome and juicy fruit so that they almost equal the raspberries in texture and juiciness. Strong, savoury, soft herbs also go very well here. Try marjoram or oregano mixed with mint or coriander leaves, dill or tarragon —you are going for intensity here. And make sure you season it really well with good flaky sea salt.

 

Serves 4 as a side

4 large super-ripe tomatoes

10 firm yellow, green and red cherry tomatoes

8 raspberries

5 black olives, pitted and torn

3 tablespoons unrefined sunflower oil

a few coriander flower heads or 3 sprigs of marjoram, leaves picked

1 sprig of mint, leaves picked and large ones torn

4 sprigs of dill, chopped

1/4 mild onion, thinly sliced

sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

 

 

Cut the tomatoes into sections. Your tomatoes should be so ripe that you will end up with loads of juice on your chopping board. Don’t throw it away but add it to a bowl to use as part of the dressing.

 

Pop the tomatoes on to a serving plate and scatter over the raspberries and olives.

 

Whisk the unrefined sunflower oil into the reserved tomato juices and pour over the salad Season generously with some salt and pepper, and sprinkle over the herbs and onion. The juices remaining at the bottom of the salad are made for bread-mopping.

 

Tip:  If you can’t find the correct sunflower oil, try another nutty oil. Mix a little sesame oil with some avocado or rapeseed oil, or try walnut oil if you can find the good stuff.

From Kaukasis, the Cookbook by Olia Hercules published by Octopus Books

 

 

Olia Hercules’s Savoury Peach & Tarragon Salad

We are used to tarragon in creamy sauces in the West but mainly just with chicken, and it remains such an under-used herb, often declared as too strong and dominant. But Georgians love it and it finds its way into many, many dishes. We made this in Tbilisi in June, inspired by the gorgeous local produce. A savoury salad made only with fruit may seem unusual, but it works. Sour gooseberries or grapes combined with sweet peaches (or nectarines) along with savoury tarragon and salt makes a dream accompaniment to some grilled pork or iamb chops, or roasted meaty summer squashes.

 

 

Serves 2 as a side

 

2 peaches, stoned and sliced

50g (1¾ oz) gooseberries or grapes (or 4 tart plums, stoned and sliced)

1/2  small bunch of tarragon, leaves picked (or a few fennel fronds)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 small red chilli, deseeded and diced

1/2, teaspoon caster sugar or honey

1 small garlic clove, grated

sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

 

Arrange the peaches and gooseberries or grapes on a plate. Mix the tarragon leaves with the lemon juice, fresh chilli, sugar or honey, garlic, some salt and a generous pinch of pepper then pour the dressing over the fruit and serve.

 

Variation: Mix a handful of pumpkin seeds with ½ tablespoon of maple syrup, a pinch of chilli flakes and some salt, spread them out on to a lined baking sheet and roast in the oven at 180°C (350°F), Gas Mark 4 for 5 minutes. Remove from

The oven, leave to cool, then use as a savoury topping.

From Kaukasis, the Cookbook by Olia Hercules published by Octopus Books

 

 

Olia Hercules’s Courgettes & Garlic Matsorii

This dish is simplicity itself. It used to be made with mayonnaise throughout the ex-Soviet Union, but thank goodness that’s all over and we can now use traditional premium dairy. As with all simple recipes, this is particularly tasty if you can source great home-grown or good-quality courgettes and make your own matsoni. If your courgettes are not the greatest, try using a mixture of all the soft herbs you like best to give them a bit of a lift. But if you have amazing vegetables and your own homemade yogurt, use just a little dill and let them sing their sweet, gentle song. And I love borage for its subtle cucumber flavour overtones.

 

Serves 4 as a side

2 large courgettes

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

100 (3½ oz) Homemade Matsoni or good-quality natural yogurt

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tablespoon of your favourite mixture of soft herbs, roughly chopped

sea salt flakes

 

Slice the courgettes lengthways into 5mm (14 inch) strips.

Hear the oil in a large frying pan and fry the courgette slices on each side until deep golden. Remove and drain them on kitchen paper.

Mix the matsoni or yogurt with the garlic and add some salt, then taste – it should be really well seasoned, so add more salt if necessary. Drizzle the mixture over the courgettes and sprinkle over the herbs.

Variation

Try lightly coating the courgettes in flour before frying – it will give them a bit more body. Buckwheat flour adds a nice nuttiness to the flavour.

From Kaukasis, the Cookbook by Olia Hercules published by Octopus Books

 

 

 

 

Olia Hercules’s Herb Kükü OPTIONAL     

“I tried an Azerbaijani herby omelette called kükü I announced excitedly. “That dish was originally Iranian!” was Sabrina Ghayour’s response – there is no escaping her intensely Persian focus. While I agree with her that this dish definitely has Persian roots, it is also treasured in neighbouring Azerbaijan. I really love the name (it sounds so playful), love how herby it is (it’s mostly herbs held together by a little egg) and love the sprinkling of sumac on top. You can fry it in oil if you wish, but I do love soft herbs cooked in butter – there is so much satisfaction to be had from a combination of fresh, fragrant flavour, creamy dairy and eggs. Play around with the combination of soft herbs; there are endless variants to enjoy – I often use watercress, spring onion, sorrel, spinach or wild garlic. Serve with flatbreads, a simple tomato salad and some natural yogurt with chopped cucumber, chilli, salt and a tiny bit of garlic.

 

Serves 4

150g mixture of soft herbs, such as coriander, dill, purple or green basil, tarragon and chives

4 eggs

1 garlic clove, finely grated

3 spring onions, finely chopped

20g (3/4oz) Clarified Butter or ordinary butter and a drop of vegetable oil

½ teaspoon ground sumac

sea salt flakes

23cm (9 inch) diameter frying pan

 

Remove any tough stalks from your mixture of herbs, then finely chop the softer stalks together with the leaves.

Whisk the eggs with some salt and the garlic, then stir in all the chopped herbs and spring onions.

Heat the Clarified Butter in a 23cm (9 inch) diameter frying pan and add the herby eggs. Cook, without touching it, over a medium-low heat for about 5 minutes until the eggs are just set and the underside develops a golden crust.

Now comes the tricky bit. To flip the kükü, cover the pan with a big plate, turn it upside-down plate, then slide the kükü back into the pan. Continue cooking for 1 minute until other side is golden then remove from the heat and slide it on to a serving plate. Sprinkle the sumac on the top and serve.

 

VARIATION You can also add a handful of lightly toasted and crushed walnuts to the kuku. For a winter version of the dish, use thinly sliced Swiss chard or beetroot tops or sweet white cabbage instead of the herbs.

From Kaukasis, the Cookbook by Olia Hercules published by Octopus Books

 

 

Olia Hercules’s Tarragon & Cucumber Lemonade

Instead of cola and fizzy orange drinks, us ex-Soviet children grew up drinking a fizzy fluorescent green pop called “tarkhun”, meaning “tarragon”. It was poisonous-green, very sweet yet somehow delicious. Tarragon is extremely popular in Georgia – they do not shy away from its strong flavour. I do love the addition of cucumbers like they do in the Pheasant’s Tears restaurant in Signagi, a town in the Kakheti region of eastern Georgia,  which makes this summer drink even fresher.

Makes about 3 litres (51/4 pints)

500ml (18fl oz) water

200g (7oz) caster sugar

finely grated zest and juice of 4 (preferably Sicilian) lemons

2 bunches of tarragon

2 cucumbers, sliced

2 litres (31/2 pints) cold sparkling mineral water

 

Put the still water into a saucepan with the sugar and heat over a low heat, stirring often, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Leave to cool completely, then stir in the lemon zest and juice.

Blitz the tarragon (reserving a few sprigs) and half the cucumber in a blender or food processor (easier and less splashy than using a pestle and mortar, although you can do it that way). Strain the mixture through a fine sieve.

Mix the lemony cordial with the tarragon and cucumber juice and dilute it as you would with any cordial – topped up with sparkling or still water. This is not too bad with a dash of gin, too.

From Kaukasis, the Cookbook by Olia Hercules published by Octopus Books

 

 

Olia Hercules’s Buckwheat Ice Cream

1 really, really wanted to use Marina’s pine cones in a dessert of my own, as they are just so unusual, a chef’s dream. But because they are so tannic and taste so strongly of pine, only a tiny bit could be used. I also really wanted to make buckwheat ice cream, as when we were children, mum used to boil buckwheat in salted water and then dress it with melted butter and sugar. That flavour was haunting me, just like I imagine the cereal milk would for those who grew up eating sweet cereal. My friend Alissa and I threw a Kino Vino supper club during Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky Week in London, showing his 1975 film called Mirror, followed by a feast inspired by the movie. One of the last scenes depicted a buckwheat field bordering a malachite-hued pine forest. Bingo. The two came together. So this is my poetic nostalgic dessert, although don’t worry about trying to find pine cones, as I’ve suggested using fresh bay leaves instead here to add savouriness.

 

Serves 6-8

100g (3 ½ oz) raw buckwheat groats (or use ready-toasted)

10 fresh bay leaves, crushed

250m1 (9fl oz) milk

250g (9oz) double cream

generous pinch of salt

150g (5½ oz) caster sugar (optional)

4 egg yolks

100-150g (3½ -5½ oz) granulated sugar poached rhubarb, to serve

You will also need (ideally) an ice-cream machine and a large piece of muslin

 

 

If using raw buckwheat, heat a large, frying pan over a medium heat, toss in the buckwheat and toast, wiggling the pan about from time to time, until it becomes golden but not burnt. Taste it and check that it is crunchy and edible – it’s very important that you get this right. Leave the buckwheat to cool.

 

Wrap the crushed bay leaves and buckwheat in the muslin and tie securely. Add it to the milk and cream in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the salt and taste the mixture – you should be able to detect the salt ever so slightly. If you intend to serve the ice cream with something tart, add 150g (5½ oz) caster sugar.

When the milk mixture is almost boiling, turn the heat off and leave to infuse for an hour.

Beat the egg yolks and sugar together in a large heatproof bowl.

Remove the muslin and squeeze out all the flavour, then discard. Bring the milk mixture back up to almost boiling. Pour it on to the egg yolk mixture, stirring constantly, then pour back into the pan and cook over a low heat, stirring, for about 5 this mixture minutes or until slightly thickened.

Cover the surface of the custard with clingfilm to prevent a skin from forming and leave the custard to cool.

Churn the ice cream in an ice-cream machine according to the manufacturers instructions, then serve with some simple poached rhubarb.

Tip If you don’t have an ice-cream machine, create a semifreddo with the custard. Make the custard as instructed above and leave to cool, then fold  through  egg whites, whisked until firm peaks form. Freeze for 2 hours and serve slightly soft.

From Kaukasis, the Cookbook by Olia Hercules published by Octopus Books

 

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Edible flowers 

 

 

Corn flowers, primroses, forget-me-nots, day lilies, marigolds, roses, lavender, nasturtiums, dahlias, chrysanthemum…

I love to scatter flower petals over desserts, cakes and biscuits. Judiciously used they also add a little magic to starter plates and salads. Of course the flowers must be edible but a wide variety of blossoms are, as well as the flowers of broad beans, scarlet runners, sun chokes, peas and sea kale, but remember they will  eventually grow into the vegetables so pick sparingly.

 

The canary yellow zucchini and squash blossoms are also irresistible not just to tear into salads but also to dip into a tempura batter – stuffed or unstuffed.

 

Even the cheery little nasturtium flower with its peppery taste are both cute and delicious stuffed with a little herby cream cheese. We also chop the gaily coloured nasturtium blossom and add them into a lemony butter to serve with a piece of spanking fresh fish.

 

Fennell and dill flowers have a delicious liquoricey, aniseed flavour. They too add magic to fish dishes and broths but also to some pastas and of course salads.

Dahlia flowers are gorgeous sprinkled over salads, I particularly love them scattered over an heirloom tomato or potato salad.

 

Thyme flowers are various shades of blue and purple – we love to use them to garnish little pots of pate or to sprinkle over a bowl of silky onion and thyme leaf soup.

Sage and hyssop flowers are even more intensely blue and they two give a vibrant and perky flavour to salads and summer vegetable dishes.

The kombuchas and water kefirs that we serve at the school every day also include edible flowers which introduce the yeast of the area into the gut enhancing drink.

 

This freekeh salad makes a wonderful vehicle for a variety of edible flowers. Pomegranate molasses is now widely available and now has become a favourite ingredient for those of us who have developed a passion for Middle Eastern flavours.

 

Heritage Tomato Salad with Flowers, Za’atar and Freekeh

This is a pretty salad with lots of edible flowers from the garden and the tomatoes are particularly good. Freekeh is a Lebanese wheat. It’s picked while still under ripe and set on fire to remove the husk, which smokes and toasts the grain.

 

Serves 4

 

100g (3½ oz) freekeh or farro

sea salt

extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses

12 cherry tomatoes

2 teaspoons za’atar

lots of edible flowers, perhaps marigolds, cornflowers, violas, rocket flowers, or borage (remove furry calyx from behind the flower), chive or coriander or fennel blossom depending on what’s available in Summer.

 

Put the freekeh or farro into a saucepan with cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 4-6 minutes, depending on the freekeh (some are broken grains, others whole). It should be soft but still slightly chewy. Drain, season with salt and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and toss.  Taste and correct the seasoning.

 

In a little bowl, whisk the pomegranate molasses with 3 tablespoons  extra virgin olive oil to emulsify.

 

Cut the tomatoes into wedges. Season with salt and a little extra virgin olive oil. Lay the tomatoes on a plate, scatter with the freekeh, then sprinkle over the za’atar and edible flowers. Finish the plate by drizzling with the pomegranate molasses mixture.  Taste and add a few more sea salt flakes if necessary.

 

Note

Freekeh cooking times vary quite dramatically depending on the type and age of the freekeh.

Onion, Thyme Leaf  and Thyme Flower Soup

Sprinkle thyme flowers over the top to add a little “je ne sais quoi”

 

Serves 6 approximately

 

450g 1lb (1lb) chopped onions

225g (8oz) chopped potatoes

45g (1 1/2oz) butter

1-2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 litre (1 3/4 pints) homemade chicken stock or vegetable stock

150ml (5fl oz) cream or cream and milk mixed, approx.

 

Garnish

fresh thyme leaves and thyme or chive  flowers

a little whipped cream (optional)

 

Peel and chop the onions and potatoes into small dice, about one third inch.  Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. As soon as it foams, add the onions and potatoes, stir until they are well coated with butter. Add the thyme leaves, season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Place a paper lid on top of the vegetables directly to keep in the steam. Then cover the saucepan with a tight fitting lid and sweat on a low heat for 10 minutes approx. The potatoes and onions should be soft but not coloured. Add the chicken stock, bring it to the boil and simmer until the potatoes are cooked, 5-8 minutes approx. Liquidise the soup and add a little cream or creamy milk. Taste and correct the seasoning if necessary.

 

Serve in soup bowls or in a soup tureen garnished with a blob of whipped cream, sprinkle with thyme leaves and thyme or chive flowers.

 

 

Stuffed Nasturtium Flowers

Nasturtiums are the flower that keeps on giving – super easy to grow. This charming little bite, also good served with a little smoked mackerel alongside, a delicious little starter or a nibble to go with a glass of wine.

Children love helping to fill the flowers.

 

Serves

 

12 whole nasturtium flowers, freshly picked (+ 1 for tasting)

110g (4oz) fresh ricotta or goat cheese

2 teaspoons of chopped chives

1 teaspoon lemon thyme

1 teaspoon chervil, chopped

a little honey, optional

½ teaspoon sea salt and freshly ground pepper

 

Garnish

2 chive blossoms

12 pickled nasturtium capers

 

Mix the freshly chopped herbs gently with the cheese.  Taste, add a little honey and seasoning if necessary.

Open a flower, use a piping bag or teaspoon to fill the centre.  Almost cover with the petals.  (Taste to make sure the balance of flavours is good)

Tweak if necessary and continue to stuff the remainder of the flowers.

Cover a serving plate with nasturtium leaves, lay the flowers on top.

Garnish with a sprinkling of chive blossom and nasturtium capers.

 

Pan-grilled Fish with Vietnamese Cucumbers and Fennell Flowers

 

Pan-grilling is one of my favourite ways to cook fish, meat and vegetables.  Square or oblong cast-iron pan-grills can be bought in virtually all good kitchen shops and are a ‘must have’ as far as I am concerned.  In this recipe you can use almost any fish – mackerel, grey sea mullet, cod, sea bass, haddock – provided it is very fresh.

 

Serves 8-10

 

8 x 175g (6oz) of very fresh fish fillets

seasoned flour

small knob of butter (soft)

 

Accompaniment

Vietnamese Cucumbers (see below)

Fennell flowers

 

Heat the pan grill. Dry the fish fillets well. Just before cooking but not earlier dip the fish fillets in flour which has been well seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper. Pass the floured fillet between the palms of your hands to shake off the excess flour and then spread a little soft butter evenly over the entire surface of the flesh side, as though you were buttering a slice of bread rather meanly. When the grill is hot but not smoking, place the fish fillets butter side down on the grill; the fish should sizzle as soon as they touch the pan. Turn down the heat slightly and let them cook for 4 or 5 minutes (time depends on the thickness of the fish). Turnover and cook on the other side until crisp and golden. Serve on a hot plate with the Vietnamese cucumbers and fresh herbs on the side.

Sprinkle a few fennel flowers on top.

 

Tip

Be sure to wash and dry the grill-pan each time between batches.

 

 

Vietnamese Cucumbers

 

Serves 8-10

 

4 cucumbers

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fish Sauce (Nam pla)

2.5cm (1 inch) piece of ginger, peeled and cut into fine julienne

2 tablespoons palm sugar

1-2 Serrano or Jalapeno or fresh Thai chillies

juice of 2 or 3 limes

 

fistful of fresh mint sprigs

fistful basil sprigs

thinly sliced scallions or onion

 

Peel the cucumbers, cut them lengthwise in half, and remove the seeds with a spoon if they are large.  Slice the cucumbers into thickish half-moons and put them in a large bowl.  Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle lightly with fish sauce, then add the ginger and palm sugar.  Toss well, and let the cucumbers sit for 5 minutes or so.

 

Add a good spoonful of the chopped Serrano or Jalapeno chillies (seeds removed, if desired) or finely slivered Thai chillies.  Squeeze over the juice of 2 limes and toss again, then cover and refrigerate until ready to serving.

 

Just before serving add a fistful of roughly chopped mint and basil leaves.  Taste and adjust the seasoning with lime juice as well as salt and pepper.  Garnish with thinly sliced scallions or paper-thin slices of onion.

 

 

 

Honey and Lavender Ice-Cream

Honey and lavender is a particularly delicious marriage of flavours. We make this richly scented ice cream when the lavender flowers are in bloom in early Summer.  Lavender is at its most aromatic just before the flowers burst open.  Serve it totally alone on chilled plates and savour every mouthful.

 

Serves 8-10

 

250ml (9floz) milk

450ml (16floz) cream

40 sprigs of fresh lavender or less of dried (use the blossom end only)

6 organic egg yolks

175ml (6floz) pure Irish honey, we use our own apple blossom honey, although Provencal lavender honey would also be wonderful

Garnish

sprigs of lavender

 

Put the milk and cream into a heavy bottomed saucepan with the lavender sprigs, bring slowly to the boil and leave to infuse for 15-20 minutes. This will both flavour and perfume the cream deliciously.  Whisk the egg yolks, add a little of the lavender flavoured liquid and then mix the two together.  Cook over a low heat until the mixture barely thickens and lightly coats the back of a spoon (careful it doesn’t curdle).  Melt the honey gently, just to liquefy, whisk into the custard.  Strain out lavender heads.

 

Chill thoroughly and freeze, preferably in an ice-cream maker.

 

Serve garnished with sprigs of fresh or frozen lavender (see recipe)

Frosted Lavender

Frosted lavender sprigs are adorable and delicious to use for garnish.  Pick lavender in dry weather while the flowers are still closed.  Whisk a little egg white lightly, just enough to break it up, brush the entire lavender sprig with the egg white, sprinkle all over with sieved, dry castor sugar.  Lay on a sheet of silicone paper.  Allow to dry and crisp in a warm spot – hot press or near a radiator until dry and crisp.  Store in an airtight tin.

 

Honey Mousse with Lavender Jelly

JR Ryall, head pastry chef at Ballymaloe House, loves to make this dessert in June using the lavender from the walled garden at Ballymaloe, just before the flowers open.  Using only the best quality local Irish honey will make this feather light mousse truly unforgettable.

 

Serves 6

 

For the honey mousse:

 

1 egg

1 teaspoon gelatine

1½ tablespoons cold water

350ml (12 fl oz) whipping cream

75g (30z) best quality local Irish honey

1 tablespoon Grand Marnier, to taste

 

Whip the cream to soft peaks and keep in the fridge.  Sprinkle the gelatine over the cold water in a small bowl and allow to ‘sponge’.  Once fully rehydrated, melt the gelatine by placing the bowl over hot but not boiling water.  Add the honey and Grand Marnier to the melted gelatine and stir until the mixture is an even consistency and allow to return to room temperature.   Whisk the egg to a pale mousse, using an electric mixer, then gently fold the mousse into the whipped cream.   Now fold the cream mixture into the honey and gelatine in three stages.   Pour the mousse into its serving dish and chill until set.   Now prepare the lavender jelly.

 

For the Lavender Jelly

 

6 fresh lavender heads

225ml (8fl.oz) water

110g (4oz) sugar

1½ teaspoon gelatine

2½ tablespoon cold water

 

Put the sugar and the 225ml/8fl.oz water in a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring slowly to the boil. Once the syrup has boiled remove the saucepan from the heat and drop in the lavender heads.  Enjoy the wonderful lavender perfume as the syrup cools to room temperature.   Meanwhile sprinkle the gelatine over the 2½ tablespoon cold water in a small bowl and allow to ‘sponge’.   Once fully rehydrated, melt the gelatine by placing the bowl over hot but not boiling water.   Strain the cooled syrup through a sieve, add to the melted gelatine and mix well.   Arrange 6 lavender heads on top of the set mousse and carefully spoon over enough liquid jelly to cover the lavender and chill until the jelly is set.

 

 

 

 

 

“NO SHOWS”

Recipes
  1. Globe Artichokes with Melted Butter   Serves 6   In season:   Whole Globe artichokes are quite fiddly to eat. First you pull off each leaf separately and dip in the sauce. Eventually you are rewarded for your patience when you come to the heart! Don’t forget to scrape off the tickly ‘choke’; then cut the heart into manageable pieces, sprinkle with a little sea salt before you dip it into the remainder of your sauce.  Simply Delicious!   6 globe artichokes 1.1 litres (2pints) water 2 teaspoons salt 2 teaspoons approx. white wine vinegar   Melted Butter 175g (6oz) butter 1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed   Some restaurants do very complicated preparation but I merely trim the base just before cooking so the artichokes will sit steadily on the plate, rub the cut end with lemon juice or vinegar to prevent it from discolouring.   Have a large saucepan of boiling water ready, add 2 teaspoons of vinegar and 2 teaspoons of salt to every 2 pints of water, pop in the artichokes and bring the water back to the boil. Simmer steadily for about 25 minutes. After about 20 minutes you could try testing to see if they are done.  I do this by tugging off one of the larger leaves at the base, it should come away easily, if it doesn’t continue to cook for another 5 – 10 minutes. Remove and drain upside down on a plate.   While they are cooking simply melt the butter and add lemon juice to taste.   To Serve Put each warm artichoke onto a hot serving plate, serve the sauce or melted butter in a little bowl beside it.  Artichokes are eaten with your fingers, so you might like to provide a finger bowl. A spare plate to collect all the nibbled leaves will also be useful.   Bocconcini, Olive, Heriloom Cherry Tomatoes and Pesto on Skewers   Bocconcini are baby mozzarella – great fun for salads, finger food and some pasta dishes however they need a little bit of help from the flavour perspective.  Pesto is an obvious choice.   Makes 20   20 bocconcini Extra virgin olive oil Pesto (see Hot Tips)   20–40 basil leaves 20 Kalamata olives 20 heirloom cherry tomatoes   bamboo cocktail sticks or short satay sticks   Drain the bocconcini and pop them into a bowl, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and a generous tablespoon of homemade pesto. Toss to coat. Cover closely, leave to marinade for at least 5 minutes.

We need to talk about ‘no shows’. Some may not even understand the term used by restaurants when guests who have booked a table do not show up on the night or cancel at the last minute when it’s too late to refill the table.

We are fortunate that this is a rare occurrence at Ballymaloe House but this practice is rampant around the country and appears, as on restauranteur put it , to have become ‘a national sport’. I’m quite sure those who lightly book two or three restaurants on the same night and then decide after a few drinks where they’ll actually go don’t realise the devastating impact they are having on the restaurant industry where the margins are very tight and no shows can and do make the difference between profit and loss, survival or not.

The Restaurant Association of Ireland in support of its members earlier this year urged them to take non-refundable deposits which would be deducted from the final bill in an effort to raise awareness of the impact of ‘no shows’. This decision was made after an average of 15% to 20% of bookings over the Christmas period turned out to be ‘no shows’. This is not just an Irish phenomenon, restaurants in the US and UK are also experiencing similar challenges and are responding by charging non-refundable booking deposits.

This practice seems to enrage many Irish customers yet, where else can we expect to book something without paying – a theatre or concert ticket – no way…

The BBC Radio 4 Food Programme recently did an entire segment on the problem with several chefs, owners and restaurant critics discussing the impact. Interestingly, the problem seemed to be considerably less among the restaurants who answer the phone rather than take bookings on a ‘booking engine’ or ‘answering machine’. Not surprisingly personal contact, a friendly human voice and a little chat, creates a bond and somehow seems to make it more difficult for customers not to show up. Some restaurants don’t even have a telephone number any longer so you must book on line. At a time when costs are soaring, business rates are increasing dramatically, particularly in cities, investment and growth in the industry is slowing down and there are acute labour shortages, no shows, are the last straw for many hard pressed restaurateurs.

 

Some restaurants in cities have opted to have a no-booking policy, guests just show up, take their chance and must be prepared to queue, that at least eliminates the ‘no show’ problem, but only works in a densely populated area where there are enough customers who are prepared to queue and the food must be worth the wait….

In just one small seasonal restaurant in West Cork last Summer, there were over 60 ‘no shows’ during the month of August which eliminated the profit for the entire month. Sadly several were regulars who would have been quite affronted at the suggestion that they should pay a non-refundable booking deposit.   In our busy lives we often don’t realize the impact of our actions – but this is not OK….

Of course plans change for a variety of reasons, some totally unavoidable but at the very least, let’s pick up the phone and cancel at the earliest opportunity so the restaurant has the opportunity to refill the table. Few restaurants will hold a deposit in the case of unexpected death or a misfortunate accident.

 

So now for something more cheerful – some of the dishes we have been enjoying with the delicious fresh summer produce from the garden, glasshouses and local area.

www.cookingisfun.ie

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Hummus with Spiced Lamb, Pinenuts and Coriander

Serves 6-8 (depending on how it is served)

450g (1lb) lamb, shoulder or fillet

 

Marinade:

1 garlic clove, crushed

extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon sumac

½ teaspoon marjoram or oregano, coarsely chopped

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

A pinch of Aleppo pepper (pul biber) or cayenne pepper

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

 

Hummus 

170g (6oz) chickpeas, cooked, save the cooking liquid

freshly squeezed juice of 2-3 lemons, or to taste

2-3 large or small cloves garlic, crushed

150ml (5fl oz) tahini paste

1 teaspoon ground cumin

salt

 

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, for frying

30g Italian pine nuts

 

To garnish:

fresh coriander leaves, coarsely, chopped

1-2 teaspoons sumac

extra virgin olive oil

a few fresh pomegranate seeds (optional)

Chop the lamb fillet into 1cm-thick pieces.

Mix all the ingredients of the marinade in a bowl.

Add to the marinade and allow to soak up the flavours for 30 minutes to an hour.

 

Meanwhile make the hummus, drain the chickpeas, save the cooking liquid. Whizz up the remainder in a food processor with the freshly squeezed lemon juice and a little cooking water if necessary. Add the crushed garlic, tahini paste, cumin and salt to taste. Blend to a soft creamy paste. Taste and continue to add lemon juice and salt until you are happy with the flavour.

 

 

Toast the pine kernels over a gentle heat in a frying pan or under a grill tossing regularly. Set aside

 

Heat a little olive oil in a pan and fry the lamb for 3-4 minutes over a medium heat until it is just cooked through.

 

When you are ready to eat, transfer the hummus to individual serving bowls, use the back of a spoon to make a shallow well in each. Spoon the lamb over, finishing with a sprinkling of coriander, the toasted pine nuts and a pinch of sumac. Serve with pitta bread or any white crusty bread, we love to use the Alsham Bakery Syrian flat bread, made in Cork city.

 

Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle a few fresh pomegranate seeds over the top if you like.

Globe Artichokes with Melted Butter

 

Serves 6

 

In season:

 

Whole Globe artichokes are quite fiddly to eat. First you pull off each leaf separately and dip in the sauce. Eventually you are rewarded for your patience when you come to the heart! Don’t forget to scrape off the tickly ‘choke’; then cut the heart into manageable pieces, sprinkle with a little sea salt before you dip it into the remainder of your sauce.  Simply Delicious!

 

6 globe artichokes

1.1 litres (2pints) water

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons approx. white wine vinegar

 

Melted Butter

175g (6oz) butter

1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed

 

Some restaurants do very complicated preparation but I merely trim the base just before cooking so the artichokes will sit steadily on the plate, rub the cut end with lemon juice or vinegar to prevent it from discolouring.

 

Have a large saucepan of boiling water ready, add 2 teaspoons of vinegar and 2 teaspoons of salt to every 2 pints of water, pop in the artichokes and bring the water back to the boil. Simmer steadily for about 25 minutes. After about 20 minutes you could try testing to see if they are done.  I do this by tugging off one of the larger leaves at the base, it should come away easily, if it doesn’t continue to cook for another 5 – 10 minutes. Remove and drain upside down on a plate.

 

While they are cooking simply melt the butter and add lemon juice to taste.

 

To Serve

Put each warm artichoke onto a hot serving plate, serve the sauce or melted butter in a little bowl beside it.  Artichokes are eaten with your fingers, so you might like to provide a finger bowl. A spare plate to collect all the nibbled leaves will also be useful.

 

Bocconcini, Olive, Heriloom Cherry Tomatoes and Pesto on Skewers

 

Bocconcini are baby mozzarella – great fun for salads, finger food and some pasta dishes however they need a little bit of help from the flavour perspective.  Pesto is an obvious choice.

 

Makes 20

 

20 bocconcini

Extra virgin olive oil

Pesto (see Hot Tips)

 

20–40 basil leaves

20 Kalamata olives

20 heirloom cherry tomatoes

 

bamboo cocktail sticks or short satay sticks

 

Drain the bocconcini and pop them into a bowl, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and a generous tablespoon of homemade pesto. Toss to coat. Cover closely, leave to marinade for at least 5 minutes.

Note; The pesto will discolour if the bocconcini are tossed too far ahead.

 

 

Buffalo Mozzarella with Caponata

Love this as a starter with some crusty sourdough.  We use the fresh tender Irish mozzarella made near Macroom in West Cork.

Serves 4

 

4 buffalo mozzarella

4-6 tablespoon Caponata, see below

6-8 leaves fresh basil

Extra virgin olive oil

Flaky sea salt

 

 

To serve:

 

Cut each of the mozzarella into quarters. Arrange four wedges on a large plate.   Spoon a generous tablespoon of caponata on top.   Drizzle extra virgin olive oil.   Sprinkle with a chiffonade of basil and a few flakes of sea salt.   Serve immediately with good crusty bread.

Caponata

 

Serves 4-6

 

1 large aubergine, dice in 1/2- 3/4inch (1cm-2cm) but not peeled

salt

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

5-6 stalks of celery, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

1 x 400g (14oz) tin chopped tomatoes

1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons caster sugar

4 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/2-1 teaspoon freshly ground coriander

1 teaspoon capers

12 black olives, pitted and roughly chopped

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat parsley, chopped

salt and pepper

 

Cut the aubergine into 1-2cm (1/2-3/4inch) dice. Sprinkle with salt. Leave to drain for 30 minutes approximately. Rinse and gently dry with a clean tea towel or kitchen paper.
Heat 4 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil in a wide sauté pan. Add the celery and cook slightly until browned. Transfer to a plate. Add the aubergine to the pan; add more oil if necessary, sauté until golden and tender, sauté. Leave to cool.

 

Add another tablespoon oil to the pan and sauté the onion until golden. Chop the tomatoes and add with the juice. Simmer for 15 minutes or so until thick. Add sugar, wine, vinegar and coriander. Cook for a further 10 minutes. Stir in the capers, olives, parsley, aubergine and celery. Season with salt and plenty of pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning, pour into a serving dish.

Serve warm or cool.

 

Carpaccio of wild salmon with fennel flowers and pollen

A rare and special treat enjoyed during the few weeks a year when we can get a precious wild salmon.

 

Serves 4

 

175g spanking fresh wild salmon

homemade mayonnaise

freshly squeezed lemon juice

extra virgin olive oil

fennel pollen

fennel flowers

fennel fronds

freshly cracked pepper

 

 

Chill the salmon for several hours or pop into the freezer for 30 minutes.

Chill the plates.

 

Just before serving:

Slice the salmon as thinly as possible.  Spread a very little homemade mayonnaise on the base of each chilled plate.   Lay a single layer of salmon on top.  Sprinkle with a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice and a tiny drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Sprinkle some fennel pollen over each plate.  Snip some fennel flowers and fronds on top and finally a little sprinkling of freshly cracked pepper.

Serve as soon as possible with Ballymaloe Brown Yeast Bread – sublime.

 

 

 

 

 

Loganberry Jellies with Fresh Mint Cream

 

Makes 9-10

Syrup

200g (7oz) sugar

225ml (8fl oz) water

4 sprigs fresh mint

1 dessertspoon Framboise

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

 

3 teaspoons gelatine

3 tablespoons water

 

450g (1lb) fresh loganberries

Mint Cream

15 mint leaves approximate

1 tablespoon lemon juice

150ml (5fl oz) cream

mint leaves and loganberries for garnish

 

9-10 round or oval moulds – 75ml (3fl oz) capacity

(2 1/2 x 1 1/4 inches/6.6 x 3cm)

 

Make a syrup by bringing sugar, water and mint leaves slowly to the boil. Simmer for a few minutes, allow to cool, add the Framboise and lemon juice.

 

Meanwhile brush the inside of the moulds with non-scented oil, I use light peanut or sunflower oil

 

Sponge the gelatine in the water, then place the bowl in a pan of simmering water until the gelatine completely dissolved.

 

Remove the mint leaves from the syrup, then pour the syrup onto the gelatine.  Add the loganberries and stir gently. Fill immediately into the lined moulds. Smooth them over the top so they won’t be wobbly when you unmould them onto a plate.  Put them into the fridge and leave to set for 3-4 hours.

 

 

Meanwhile make the Mint cream.

Crush the mint leaves in a pestle and mortar with the lemon juice, add the cream and stir, the lemon juice will thicken the cream.  If the cream becomes too thick, add a little water.

 

To Serve

Spread a little mint cream on a chilled a white plate, unmould a loganberry jelly and place in the centre. Place five mint leaves on the mint cream around the jelly. Decorate with a few perfect loganberries, repeat with the other jellies.  Serve chilled.

 

HOT TIPS

 

Preserve your gluts…

Basil Pesto Homemade Pesto takes minutes to make and tastes a million times better than most of what you buy.  The problem is getting enough basil, those of you grow your own will have plenty of basil this year.  If you have difficulty, use parsley, a mixture of parsley and mint or parsley and coriander – different but still delicious.

Serve with pasta, goat cheese, tomato and mozzerella.

4ozs (110g) fresh basil leaves

6 – 8fl oz (175 – 225ml) extra virgin olive oil

1oz (25g) fresh pine kernels (taste when you buy to make sure they are not rancid)

2 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

2oz (50g/) freshly grated Parmesan cheese (Parmigiana Reggiano is best)

salt to taste

 

Whizz the basil with the olive oil, pine kernels and garlic in a food processor or pound in a pestle and mortar.  Remove to a bowl and fold in the finely grated Parmesan cheese. Taste and season.

 

Pesto keeps for weeks, covered with a layer of olive oil in a jar in the fridge. It also freezes well but for best results don’t add the grated Parmesan until it has defrosted. Freeze in small jars for convenience.

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