Roasted Courgette Soup with Lemon and Mint

It’s hard to bemoan the summer harvest when you have lovingly cared for your soil, seedlings, shoots, plants and finally the fruits, but given that I only planted 1 courgette plant this year, I am still struggling to use all my courgettes! I have of course travelled the well trodden path of shredding, spiralling, grating, frying, pickling et all, but just when I had got to the end of my courgette recipe tether, I remembered a truly wonderful soup I enjoyed a year or so back in a small cafe in Beckles, Suffolk in the UK. It was of course the recipe of today’s blog.

Today’s freshly picked courgettes and mint, sadly the lemons were shop bought. If straight from the garden, wash well and then pat dry.

Firstly, trim courgettes and cut approximately into 2 cm chunks. Take 1 lemon, chop roughly into abut 12 pieces. Add to a paper lined roasting tin with some, salt, pepper and a good slug of olive oil. Stir well. Then into the oven.

Meanwhile, peel, trim and finely chop some garlic cloves and an onion or too, depending on the size.

You’ll also need to finely grate the zest of a second lemon. Remember if they are waxed, give them a good wash and dry before using.

While the courgettes are roasting you can start frying the remaining ingredients in a large saucepan. Use olive oil and add some salt and pepper to the pan. I like a small pinch of chilli flakes here, but this is optional.

Once the onion has softened you want to measure your chicken stock. I always make my own stock, but you can use stock cubes. I measure the amount I need, then make sure I have a little but more, just in case I need to thin the soup down.

At this stage the courgettes should be nicely browned. Have a peak in the oven and remove them or continue to cook for a while longer, if necessary. You can see in the pic, that both the courgettes and the lemons have charred edges.

Using tongs, pick out and discard the lemons, squeezing any juice back into the pan. Scrape all the courgettes and pan juices into the waiting saucepan, then add enough stock to just cover the courgettes. Bring the pan to a simmer and cook.

While the stock comes to the boil, roughly chop a good handful of the picked mint leaves and squeeze the lemon juice.

And now for my secret ingredient – well obviously not so secret now! I like to add a good slug (about 2 teaspoons) of runny honey. The sweetness is the perfect balance for the sourness of the lemons. Add, taste, then add more if needed.

Once the soup has simmered for a few minutes you can add the remaining ingredients. The soup is now ready to blend – I like to blend it as is, check I am happy with the texture and if necessary, I will add a little more stock and heat through.

RECIPE

Roasted Courgette Soup with Lemon and Mint

Now we are ready to eat. I thorough recommend drizzling another good slug of olive oil over each serve – don’t forget to the bread to mop the bowl clean. Enjoy

Serves: 4

4 large courgettes, roughly chopped

2 lemons

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1-11/4 litres chicken or vegetable stock

A large handful roughly chopped mint leaves

2 teaspoons honey

Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 220c. Cut the courgette into 2 cm chunks and place in a roasting tin lined with baking paper. Cut 1 lemon into similar size chunks and add to the pan with half the oil, salt and pepper. Stir well and roast for 30-35 minutes, stirring halfway through,  or until the courgettes are browned and softened. Discard the chunks of lemon.

Finely grate the zest of the remaining lemon and squeeze the juice into a separate bowl. 

Heat the remaining oil in a saucepan and fry the onion, grated lemon zest, garlic and a little salt and pepper for 5 minutes until soft. Add the roasted courgettes and any pan juices and pour in the stock. 

Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the lemon juice, mint leaves and honey. Process with a stick blender or in a liquidiser until really smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve hot, or if preferred allow to cool, chill and serve cold. 


It’s picnic time…… yay!

It’s not just teddy bears that love eating outside, we all do. It is about fresh air, the smells, the sounds, the sights of the countryside that make us feel better, make us want to head for the hills (or back garden).

For me it also brings back childhood memories of harvesting, hay bales and after school picnics with mum and dad in the fields (funny how your memory tricks you into believing that every summer was hot and sunny…….. I suspect the truth is that many such afternoons were out on hold until the rain cleared!

It doesn’t matter if you only have access to a small piece of outside space, you can pretty much picnic anywhere, it is literally just about being outside where food seems to taste that much better. So if you get the chance, cook some of these great picnic dishes, pack up a few baskets or boxes and head out and make hay whilst the sun shines.

Marinated goat cheese with garden vegetables

Perfect for an alfresco summer spread, this marinated goat’s cheese goes well with lots of crusty bread and young veggies and crisp salad leaves. You need to make these up to 3-4 days ahead to allow the time for the flavours to penetrate the cheese. Keep in a cool dark place.

Serves: 6-8

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

400 ml extra-virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, halved

2 small red chillies, bruised

2 sprigs fresh rosemary, bruised

2 bay leaves, bruised

400 g fresh goat cheese (without rind; fridge cold)

selection of fresh summer vegetables, lettuce and bread rolls, to serve

Put the fennel and coriander seeds in a heavy-based pan, then heat gently until fragrant and beginning to pop. Add the oil, garlic, chillies, rosemary and bay, then warm gently to infuse. Leave to cool. Remove the garlic and rosemary.

Use your hands to roll the cheese into 18 small balls and put in the jar or container. Pour the oil over the top and store in a cool place (see headnote). Serve the goat’s cheese balls with summer veg/salads and bread, all drizzled with a little of the infused oil.

Tear and share feta and herb bread

A gorgeous cheesy bread, flecked with feta and fresh herbs, is something great to share with friends for an alfresco feast in the garden. It goes really well with the goat’s cheese balls too.

Serves: 6

500g unbleached white bread flour

7 g sachet fast-acting dried yeast

2 tsp sea salt, plus extra for top

1 tsp sugar

4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

large handful fresh parlsey, chopped

handful fresh chives, chopped

1 egg, lightly beaten

Put the flour in a large mixing bowl and stir in the dried yeast, salt and sugar. Make a well in the middle and gradually work in 3 tbsp of the oil and enough of the warm water to form a soft dough. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise in a draught-free place for an hour or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile, mix the feta, parmesan and herbs in a bowl with the rest of the oil, then cover and chill.

Gently knead the dough once or twice (this is called knocking back) and roll out on a lightly floured surface to make a 25cm x 35cm rectangle. Sprinkle evenly with the cheese and herb mixture.

Roll the dough up from one long side to make a log shape. Cut into
7 thick slices, each around 5cm wide. Arrange 6 slices, cut-side up, in a circle on the prepared baking sheet, roughly 3cm apart, then put the last one in the middle and cover loosely with cling film. Leave to rise (prove), loosely covered with cling film, for 30-40 minutes.

Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/ gas 4. Brush the top with the beaten egg. Bake for 40-50 minutes until risen, golden and cooked through. Cover the top with foil if it starts to brown too quickly. When ready, transfer the tin to a wire rack for 5 minutes to cool. Remove the loaf from the tin and wrap the bread in a clean tea towel as it cools.

Persian chicken with spiced yogurt

Chicken marinated in cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, cumin, honey and lemon, before roasting, is a gorgeous summery recipe that’s a doddle to make.

Serves: 6

6 chicken legs

1 tsp ground cinnamon

6 cardamom pods, seeds removed and ground

1 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp ground cumin

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp clear honey

grated zest and juice 1 lemon

150ml Greek yogurt

a handful fresh picked parsley leaves

Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6. Line a large roasting tin with non-stick baking paper. Divide the chicken legs into drumsticks and thighs by cutting through the joint with a sharp knife. Put in a large mixing bowl.

In a small mixing bowl, mix the spices with the olive oil, honey, lemon zest and juice and some salt and pepper. Pour over the chicken and toss well to coat all over.Put the chicken in the prepared roasting tin and roast for 45 minutes until golden and tender, turning Put the chicken in the prepared roasting tin and roast for 45 minutes until golden and tender, turning

Put the chicken in the prepared roasting tin and roast for 45 minutes until golden and tender, turning over halfway through and basting the chicken with pan juices.

Put the chicken on a board (or platter if serving straightaway) to cool. Put 2 tablespoons of the pan juices in a bowl with the yogurt, then mix well and season to taste. To serve, drizzle the yogurt over the chicken and scatter with parsley.

Pearl barley and aubergine salad with pomegranates

A make-ahead salad recipe, with pearl barley and aubergine, that’s great for a packed lunch or picnic on a summery day.

200 g pearl barley

2-3 tbs olive oil

1-2 aubergines (about 500g) thickly sliced

250 g cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

80 g pomegranate seeds

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp pomegranate molasses

2 tbsp each fresh mint, parsley and coriander, roughly chopped

handful of rocket leaves

Cook the pearl barley according to the packet instructions (about 40 minutes). Drain, refresh under cold water to cool and drain well. Put in a mixing bowl.

Heat a griddle or frying pan over a high heat. Put the olive oil in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper, then brush all over the aubergine slices. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until charred and tender. Set aside until cool, then roughly chop. Add to the pearl barley with the tomatoes, red onion and half the pomegranate seeds.

Put the remaining pomegranate seeds in a small sieve. Using a wooden spoon, press out all the juice from the seeds into a small bowl. Discard the seeds in the sieve, then whisk in the extra-virgin olive oil, pomegranate molasses and a little salt and pepper to taste.

Just before serving, stir in the herbs and dressing, then serve scattered with the rocket leaves.

Roasted peppers with basil

A simple vegetarian starter recipe; red peppers are slow-cooked – with tomatoes, thyme and capers – until soft and sweet then served with fresh basil. One for the glorious summer months.

Serves: 6

3 large red peppers

2 garlic cloves, crushed

6 large cherry tomatoes, halved

3 thyme sprigs, leaves only

2 tbsp capers, drained and rinsed

3 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 bunch basil leaves

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

handful fresh basil leaves

salt and pepper

Heat the oven to 220°C/ 200°C fan/ gas 7 and line a roasting tin with non-stick baking paper. Cut each pepper in half lengthways through the stalk, then scoop out and discard the seeds and membrane. Put the peppers cut-side up in the prepared baking tray and divide the garlic, tomatoes, thyme leaves and capers between them. Drizzle with oil, then season with salt and pepper and roast for 30 minutes.

Add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar to each pepper and roast for a further 10-15 minutes until caramelised and tender. Cool and serve at room temperature, scattered with fresh basil.

Chocolate swirl meringues, berries and white chocolate sauce 

Try these decadent chocolate meringues for your summer picnic; they are easy to make ahead and assemble when you’re ready for them.

Serves: 4

40 g dark chocolate, chopped

4 medium free-range egg whites

225g caster sugar

1 tsp white wine vinegar

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

300 g mixed summer berries

For the sauce

250 ml single cream

2 medium free-range egg yolks

2 tsp cornflour

75 g white chocolate, chopped

Heat the oven to 150°C/130°C fan/gas 2. Line 2 baking trays with non-stick baking paper. Melt the dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally (don’t let the bowl touch the water). Set aside.

Put the egg whites in a large, clean mixing bowl and, using an electric hand-held mixer, whisk to stiff peaks. Gradually whisk in the sugar a tablespoon at a time until the mixture is thick and glossy. Beat in the vinegar and vanilla extract.

Drizzle the melted chocolate over the egg mixture and carefully stir once to swirl the chocolate through without combining it completely. Spoon the meringue mixture onto the prepared baking trays to make 12 meringue mounds.

Transfer the trays to the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 140°C/ 120°C fan/gas 1. Bake for 1 hour or until the meringues are set and pull away easily from the paper. Cool on a wire cooling rack.

Meanwhile make the sauce: heat the cream in a small pan until steaming (don’t boil). In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks, cornflour and sugar until smooth, then stir in the hot milk. Return to the pan and stir gently over a low heat until the mixture comes to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring continuously, then remove from the heat. Stir in the white chocolate until melted, then pour into a bowl, cover the surface with cling film and leave to cool completely. Once cool, keep in the fridge. Decant into an airtight container to pack.

Serve the meringues with the berries and a drizzle of the white chocolate sauce.

Images © Ian Wallace photographer

Recipes and styling © Louise Pickford

First published by Delicious UK 2018


Summertime salads

With the wondrous fresh bounty in our veggie plots, markets and shops, it seems a no brainer that we make the very most of summer ‘s fresh ingredients with some simply delicious main course salads – add a few slices of sushi grade salmon or a local soft goat cheese and summer never tasted do good.

Salmon sashimi salad with quinoa and miso dressing

Serves: 4

150g red or white quinoa

60g baby Asian salad leaves

12 radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced

100g podded Edamame beans

1 small avocado, peeled, stoned and cut into wedges

400g sashimi-grade salmon fillet*

2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

a handful of chives, snipped

chive flowers, optional

Dressing

80ml mirin

75ml sake

1 tablespoon caster sugar

2 tablespoons white miso paste

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Place the quinoa in a small saucepan with 300ml water. Bring to the boil and simmer gently, uncovered for 10-15 minutes until the grains are al dente and water absorbed. Set aside to cool in the pan.

Make the dressing. Place the mirin, sake and caster sugar in a small saucepan. Heat gently, stirring until it reaches the boil. Simmer for 1 minute, then set aside to go cold. Whisk in the remaining ingredients until evenly combined.

Transfer the quinoa to a bowl and stir through the salad leaves, radish slices and edamame beans. Add half the dressing, stir well. 

Season the salmon fillets and sprinkle with the sesame seeds, pressing lightly into the flesh. Drizzle with a little oil. Heat a dry frying pan until hot. Add the salmon and cook for 30 seconds each side until just charred on the outside. Cool for 10 minutes and then thinly slice.

Arrange the quinoa salad on plates with the seared salmon and avocado wedges. Scatter over the chives and chive flowers (if using) Drizzle with the remaining dressing to serve.

  • Sashimi grade salmon is available from some good quality fishmongers. Ask your supplier and explain what you are using the fish for as it needs to be super fresh. Also if it is designed specifically to made into sushi it will come as a long thin fillet, ideal for slicing.

BBQ’d Korean chicken Noodle salad 

Serves: 4

500g skinless chicken thighs fillets

200g dried green tea soba noodles

2 carrots, trimmed

1 cucumber, seeded

1 nashi pear

100g bean sprouts

2 little gem lettuce, cut into wedges

a handful coriander leaves

Marinade

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon caster sugar

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon crushed black pepper

Dressing

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons dark soy sauce

2 tablespoons sunflower oil

1 tablespoon clear honey

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 teaspoons gochujang*

a few micro herbs, to garnish, optional

Cut the chicken into 2cm pieces and place in bowl. Combine the marinade ingredients, pour over the chicken and stir well. Marinate for 2 hours.

Cook the noodles by plunging them into a pan of boiling water. Boil for 4 minutes until al dente. Drain, refresh under cold water and pat dry.

Cut the carrot and cucumber into long thin julienne. Peel, quarter and core the nashi pear and cut the flesh into thin batons. Combine the carrot, cucumber, nashi and bean sprouts. Set aside.

Make the dressing. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan. Transfer to a spice grinder and grind to a powder. Place in a bowl and stir in the remaining dressing ingredients. Set aside.

Preheat the griddle pan until hot. Thread the chicken pieces onto metal or bamboo skewers and griddle for 3-4 minutes each side until charred and tender. Rest for 5 minutes. 

Arrange the noodles in bowls and top with the salad, scatter over the micro herbs, if using. Drizzle over the dressing and serve with the skewers of chicken on the side. 

  • Gochujang is a red chilli spice paste with a sweet, spicy flavour. It is widely used in Korean cooking and is available from specialist food stores or online. 

Marinated buffalo mozzarella with orange and fennel with basil oil

Serves: 4

4 x 150g balls buffalo mozzarella

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2-4 oranges, depending on size

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 small head fennel, trimmed

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon honey

75g Niçoise olives, pitted

60g picked watercress leaves

Basil oil

60g basil leaves

150ml extra virgin olive oil

salt

a few edible flowers, such as primulas or nasturtiums, to garnish, optional 

Place the mozzarella balls in a bowl. Finely grate the zest and squeeze the juice of 1 orange into a bowl. Stir in the olive oil and season to taste. Lightly toast the fennel seeds and bash with a pestle and mortar. Add to the marinade and pour over the mozzarella. Set aside until required.

Make the basil oil. Wash the basil leaves in cold water. Then blanch the leaves in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and immediately refresh in iced water. Drain again and dry really well with paper towel. Place in a liquidizer with the oil and a little  salt and puree until really fine. Strain the oil through a fine sieve (reserve both the basil pulp and oil, separately).

Peel and cut the remaining oranges into then slices. Shave the fennel into fine slices using a mandolin (or sharp knife) reserving any fronds. Remove the mozzarella balls from the marinade and strain the juices into a bowl. Stir the lemon juice and honey into the marinade to use as the dressing.

Arrange the mozzarella on plates with the shaved fennel, orange slices, olives and watercress leaves. Drizzle over the marinade dressing, basil oil and some pepper. Serve scattered with fennel fronds and edible flowers, if using.

  • Tip: what to do with the basil pulp. There is still a good flavour in the basil pulp so add a little salt and pepper and toss through pasta. 

Carpaccio of courgette, melted goat cheese and lemon with warm honey 

Serves: 4

2 large courgettes

60g baby spinach leaves

a handful fresh basil leaves

1 lemon

21/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 sprigs fresh lemon thyme or savory, chopped

200g goat cheese

4 tablespoons clear honey 

4 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

25g Parmesan, shaved

Using a mandolin, very thinly shave the courgettes lengthways. Arrange the slices on 4 serving plates, overlapping them to fit, if necessary. Take the courgette trimmings (there will be side

pieces left) and grate then on a box grater. Arrange the grated courgette in the centre of each plate. Top with the spinach and basil leaves.

Grate the lemon zest and set aside. Squeeze the juice into a bowl and whisk in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, salt and pepper. Spoon about half of the dressing over the courgette carpaccio, set the rest of the dressing aside.

Preheat the grill to medium. Slice the goat cheese into rounds (if not bought as individual rounds) and arrange on a piece of oiled tin foil, on baking tray. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and scatter over the reserved grated lemon zest, chopped thyme or savory and some black pepper. Warm under the grill for 30 seconds or so until just starting to soften.

Meanwhile, warm the honey in a small saucepan until it just starts to bubble. Remove from the heat.

Carefully slide the warm cheese onto the courgettes and scatter over the spinach and basil leaves, pine nuts and shavings of Parmesan. Pour the remaining lemon dressing over the top and finally drizzle the salad with the heated honey. Serve.

Seared tuna salad with crisp flatbreads and aubergine salsa

Serves: 4

2 flat breads or flour tortilla

1/2 teaspoon baharat spice*

4 x 125g tuna steaks

100g Greek yogurt

2 teaspoons tahini paste

2 Lebanese cucumbers, sliced into wedges

50g rocket leaves

Aubergine salsa

1 medium aubergine, trimmed

1/4 red onion, finely diced

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1/2 small garlic clove, crushed

125g cherry tomatoes, quartered

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

grated zest and juice 1/2 lemon

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons honey 

1 teaspoon pomegranate molasse

sea salt and pepper

sunflower for deep frying

Roll the flatbreads up and cut into thin slices to form strips about 5mm thick. Heat about 5cm of sunflower oil in a deep frying pan until hot (check by frying ne strip of bread, it should sizzle as soon as it enters the oil). Fry the bread strips, in batches over a high heat for 1-2 minutes until crisp and golden. Drain on paper towel, transfer to a bowl and add the spice mix and sea salt. Toss and set aside.

Heat a ridged griddle pan until hot. Cut the aubergine lengthways into thin slices about 5mm thick. Brush the slices with oil and season with salt and pepper. Griddle for 4-5 minutes each side until charred and soft. Let cool and then dice the flesh.

Meanwhile, place the diced onion in a bowl, add the vinegar and let soak for 10 minutes. Drain.

Combine the diced aubergine, infused onion, garlic, cherry tomatoes, mint and lemon zest. Season and stir well. Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, honey, pomegranate molasses and season to taste. Stir about half through the salsa.

Preheat a griddle pan until hot. Season the tuna fillets and sear over a high heat for 30-60 seconds until cooked to your liking. Rest for 5 minutes. 

Beat the Greek yogurt and tahini together until smooth and season to taste.

Spread a little tahini on plates and top with the aubergine salsa, tuna fillets, rocket leaves and crisp flatbreads. Drizzle over the remaining dressing and serve..

  • Baharat spice is a Middle Eastern/North African spice mix traditional used to flavour meats. You can buy it online or from specialist food stores.

© Recipes Louise Pickford

© Photographs Ian Wallace

First published by Food & Travel magazine August 2018


Perfect popsicles – everyone’s favourite ice lolly

Sweltering temperatures in Europe and beyond have us all craving a little respite and what better way to cool down than with a thirst quenching ice lolly – oh the sheer joy of a popsicle! Today’s fruitier, healthier, innovative and wide ranging versions of frozen ice on sticks are a far cry from the fluorescent, mass-produced, overly sweet versions from our childhood. From artisanal producers to innovative chefs the 21st century popsicle has arrived. Here are a few of my favourites from my latest book The Popsicle Party, published by Ryland, Peters & Small and Cico Books.

Refreshing apple and cucumber pops

Makes: 6-8 popsicles

The name says it all really and so pretty. It’s also great for kids who think they don’t like cucumber. Give them one of these and see just how easy it can be!

4 apples

3 Lebanese cucumbers

Juice 2 limes

100g sugar

Quarter and core ½ an  apple and cut into wafer thins slices. Take 1/2 a cucumber and again cut into wafer thin slices. Reserve the slices.

Pass the remaining apples and cucumber through a juicer. Add the lime juice and sugar and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. 

Divide the apple and cucumber slices between the 6-8 moulds and top up with the apple and cucumber syrup. Either add the sticks at this stage or freeze until the mixture is firm enough to add the sticks. Return to the freezer for a further 4-6 hours until frozen. . 

To remove the popsicles from their moulds, dip into hot water for a second or two. Gently pull from the moulds. 

Lime, pomegranate and rosewater popsicles

Makes: 8 small (80ml)

Pretty in pink may well have been the name of a 70’s pop song, but it works equally well to describe this delicious and refreshing fruit popsicle. The rosewater is lovely with the flavour of the pomegranate and gives it that Middle Eastern allure.

4-5 pomegranates

Juice 2 limes

30 g caster sugar

2 teaspoons rosewater or orange flower water

fresh rose petals, dried rose petals and lime wedges, to garnish (optional) 

Cut the pomegranates in half over a bowl lined with a large sieve to catch all the juice. Setting 1/2 a pomegranate to one side, squeeze out as much of the juice as you can from the seeds pressing the seeds down with a metal spoon. 

Measure the juice, you need 500 ml for this recipe (chill the rest to drink).

Stir the lime juice, sugar and rosewater into the pomegranate juice and stir until the sugar is dissolved. 

Divide the reserved pomegranate seeds between 8 small popsicle moulds  and pour in the juice. Either add the sticks at this stage or freeze until the mixture is firm enough to add the sticks. Return to the freezer for a further 4-6 hours until frozen. 

To remove the popsicles from their moulds, dip into hot water for a second or two. Gently pull from the moulds. 

Banoffee salted caramel creams

Makes: 8

Not sure what there is to say about this other than make it, freeze it, eat it – oh so delicious.

4 tablespoons golden syrup 

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

2 bananas

300 ml double cream

25 g caster sugar

25 g blanched almonds

1 tablespoon cold water

a little sea salt

4 tablespoons butter caramel sauce

Place 3 tablespoons of the golden syrup and cocoa powder in a bowl and stir well the cocoa powder is dissolved and the syrup smooth. 

Place the bananas, cream and sugar into a blender and blend until completely smooth. Pour the banana cream into 8 popsicle moulds. Carefully drizzle in the chocolate syrup and using a skewer swirl through the cream to form a ripple effect.

Either add the sticks at this stage or freeze until the mixture is firm enough to add the sticks. Return to the freezer a further 4-6 hours until frozen. 

Meanwhile, line a small tray with foil. Place the almonds, water and the remaining golden syrup in a small frying pan. Heat gently until the syrup begins to boil. Increase the heat and cook for 3-4 minutes until the almonds are browned and glazed with the syrup. 

Transfer the nuts to the prepared tray and sprinkle with salt. Leave to cool. As soon as they are cold, chop roughly. 

When ready to serve, pop a small metal tray lined with baking paper into the freezer for 10 minutes to chill. To remove the popsicles from their moulds, dip into hot water for a second or two. Gently pull from the moulds. 

Place the popsicles on the prepared tray and immediately drizzle over the caramel sauce and top with the nuts.  Return to the freezer for 10 minutes to set.  

Tutti Frutti 

Makes: 8

Remember  ‘rockets’ that multi-coloured ice pop from your childhood? This homemade version looks great and tastes even better than the original.

250 g caster sugar

500 ml cold water

2 oranges

1 lemon

2 limes

125g raspberries

Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat gently, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Boil for 1 minute, then remove from the heat and cool completely. 

Squeeze the juice of the oranges, the lemon and limes into separate bowls.  Add enough of the sugar syrup to sweeten each fruit juice, ending up with approximately 150 ml of each juice (you will still have sugar syrup leftover).

Place the raspberries in a blender with 100 ml of the remaining sugar syrup. Blend until really smooth and then taste for sweetness, adjust accordingly.

Pour a layer of the orange juice into each of 8 popsicle moulds. Transfer to the freezer and allow the mixture to freeze completely (about 1 hour).

Pour in an equal layer of lime juice. Either add the sticks at this stage or freeze until the mixture is firm enough to add the sticks. Freeze again until firm and repeat this process withy the remaining 2 juices. Return to the freezer for a further 4-6 hours until frozen. 

To remove the popsicles from their moulds, dip into hot water for a second or two. Gently pull from the moulds.

Buttermilk, raspberry and pistachio pops

Makes: 6 popsicles

Here yogurt and buttermilk are sweetened with agave syrup, a recent addition to the many different types of sweeteners and sugars, has a lower GI than many alternatives as it is largely a fructose based sugar. Now widely available from health food stores and supermarkets, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find – honey can be substituted. 

250 ml Greek yogurt

250 ml buttermilk

150 ml agave syrup

125 g fresh raspberries

25 g finely chopped, unsalted pistachio nuts 

Whisk the yogurt, buttermilk and agave syrup together until combined. 

Divide the raspberries between 6 moulds and top up with the buttermilk mixture. Either add the sticks at this stage or freeze until the mixture is firm enough to add the sticks. Return to the freezer for a further 4-6 hours until frozen.  

To remove the popsicles from their moulds, dip into hot water for a second or two. Gently pull from the moulds and dip the ends into the chopped pistachio nuts.

Cool watermelon, strawberry and lemon pops

Makes: 8-10 popsicles

All you need is a slug of vodka and you’d have the perfect frozen daiquiri! But, hey who needs alcohol when you can enjoy this healthier fruit version in the form of an ice pop.

300g strawberries, hulled and halved

3 tablespoons icing sugar, sieved

500 g watermelon

Juice 1 lemon

Combine the strawberries with the sugar and leave for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Discard the watermelon rind and dice the flesh.

Place the strawberries and all the juices, the watermelon and lemon juice in a blender and blend until smooth. Divide the juice between 8-10 small popsicle moulds.

Either add the sticks at this stage or freeze or leave until the mixture is firm enough to add the sticks. Return to the freezer for a further 4-6 hours until frozen. 

To remove the popsicles from their moulds, dip into hot water for a second or two. Gently pull from the moulds.

First published in The Popsicle Party by Louise Pickford, with photography by Ian Wallace

Published by Ryland, Peters & Small and Cico Books




Waiting for summer……………

Well after an initial burst of warm spring weather, it is yet again cool and wet, so in order to give myself a little taste of summer, I came across this lovely summer entertaining feature my husband, photographer Ian Wallace and I shot last summer for Food & Travel magazine in the UK.

As you can see from Ian’s stunning photos it was a lovely sunny day and the colours from the food, styling and flowers zing out at you. Rather than a formal sit down menu, the al fresco nature of the story led me to assemble sharing patters, ideal for a more relaxed ambience.

Scene setter for our summer menu

Seared tuna is one of my favourite ways of eating this meaty and some would say king of the ocean. Here it is served with a spiced chermoula salsa with a hint of chilli. Chermoula is a combination of herbs, spices and aromatics used as a marinade or sauce in many Arabic countries. The actual combination of ingredients varies widely from country to country and even region to region and this one is inspired by a version I had in a London restaurant many years ago. It is great with most types of meaty fish, chicken, and lamb or even drizzled over grilled vegetables.

Tuna chermoula 2 copy

Moroccan tuna with chemoula salsa

Beef and anchovy are happy sparing partners and here, beautifully moist slices of rare beef fillet is served with a creamy anchovy dressing. A contrasting texture comes in the form of the crispy pangrattato, Italian for fried bread crumbs. It is spiced up here with a little red onion, garlic and fresh thyme.

Beef with pangrattata copy

Thyme beef fillet with anchovy dressing and pangrattato

Alongside our main dishes are two pretty salad platters full of Mediterranean flavours – you can almost feel the warmth of the sun as you look at them. The orange, fennel, radish and olive crumb salad is my version of a dish I was served last summer by friends who love everything Spanish. They too had been inspired by this dish from Ibiza, one of the Spanish balearic Islands. I love the little sprinkles of blackness made by the olive crumbs.

To further complement our two main dishes is a platter of char-grilled asparagus topped with creamy burrata cheese – where balls of buffalo mozzarella are filled with a rich creamy centre that oozes pure yumminess when cut open. The dressing is made sweet with the inclusion of vincotta, a thick syrup made by the long, slow reduction of grape must, produced in the Emilia Romagna, Veneto, Lombardy, Apulia, and Marche regions of Italy. If is available from Itlian food stores or online. If you can’t find it, an aged or reduced balsamic vinegar is a good alternative.

Salad accomps copy

Ibiza salad with orange, fennel, radish and olive crumb & Asparagus, burrata and pistachio salad with vincota dressing 

I simply adore coconut, so any excuse really to use it in a recipe. It adds a wonderful moist texture to this simple cake made just that little bit more special with the passionfruit drizzle. You can sieve out the passionfruit seeds if you prefer, but I think they look great and I love the crunch they add.

Coconut and passionfruit cake 2 copy

Coconut cake with passionfruit syrup and raspberries

And if you don’t fancy cake, why not treat yourself to this delicious and decadent cocktail inspired, upside down cheesecake. It is a lovely end to this summer feast and the salty zing from the salted lime praline is lovely surprise.

margarita-cheesecake-2-copy.jpg

Margarita cheesecake pots with salted lime

Summer may still be a little ways off for us here in France, but at least I can dream of warmer evenings and delicious flavours to come.

RECIPES

Moroccan tuna with chemoula salsa

Serves: 6

6 x 180g tuna loin steaks

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds (optional)

1 bunch coriander

1 large red chili, chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

a pinch of saffron strands

juice ½ lemon

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle

salt and pepper

lemon wedges, to garnish

Trim the tuna steaks and brush with a little oil. Combine the paprika, cinnamon, fennel fronds if using, salt and pepper and press all over the tuna. Set aside.

Make the chermoula. Combine the coriander leaves and smaller stalks, chilli, garlic, saffron strands, lemon juice, oil and some salt and pepper in a mini food processor and blitz until smooth.

Sear the tuna on a hot barbecue or griddle pan for 1 minute each side and then rest for 2-3 minutes. Slice thickly and serve with the chermoula.

Thyme beef fillet with anchovy dressing and pangrattata

Serves: 6

1.25 kg beef fillet

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

salt and pepper

pangrattata

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large garlic clove, bashed

100g day old bread, made into rough crumbs

½ small red onion, chopped

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

25g pine nuts, toasted

2 tablespoons salted capers, rinsed

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

anchovy dressing

125g aioli

3 anchovy fillets, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon lemon juice

pepper

Preheat the oven to 190c/375f/gas mark 5. Rub the beef fillet with oil and then dust with the thyme, salt and pepper. Heat a frying pan over a high heat and sear the beef for about 4 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Transfer to a roasting tin and roast for 20 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile make the pangrattata. Heat the oil in a frying pan and gently fry the garlic for 3-4 minutes over a low heat until lightly golden. Discard garlic. Increase the heat, add the breadcrumbs to the pan and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes until evenly browned. Drain on kitchen paper. Combine the onion with the vinegar and set aside to soften for 15 mins. Drain and pat dry.

Make the dressing. Place the aioli, anchovies, lemon juice and a little pepper in a blender and puree until smooth. Cover and set aside.

To serve, place the breadcrumbs, onion, pine nuts, capers and parsley in a bowl and stir well. Cut the beef into thin slices (it should be lovely a pink in the middle) and top with some of the pangrattata, the anchovy dressing and a little extra drizzle of oil.

Asparagus, burrata and pistachio salad with vincotta dressing

Serves: 6

1 kg asparagus spears

2 teaspoons olive oil

200g ball buratta cheese

300g vine-ripened cherry tomatoes, halved

50g rocket leaves

25g pistachio nuts, chopped

15g Parmesan shavings

dressing

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon vincotto (or aged balsamic)

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

salt and pepper

Trim the asparagus stalks and place on a tray, add the oil and season with salt and pepper, stir well. Cook on a hot griddle pan for 3-4 minutes turning half way through until lightly charred. Transfer to a platter and let cool.

Make the dressing. Whisk the ingredients together in a bowl.

Tear the burrata into pieces and arrange over the asparagus with the tomatoes, rocket and pistachio nuts. Drizzle over the dressing and serve scattered with parmesan shavings.

Ibiza salad with orange, fennel, radish and olive crumb

Serves: 6

50g pitted black olives

300g baby new potatoes

1 small head fennel, trimmed (fronds reserved for the beef)

8 large radishes, trimmed

3 oranges

3 tablespoons fruity extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon whole grain mustard

a small fresh chervil

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 140c/220f/gas mark 1. Make the olive crumb. Place the olives on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake the olives for 1-1/2 hours until dried out. Leave to cool and then transfer to a chopping board. Chop finely until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

Meanwhile, cook the potatoes for 10-12 minutes until just tender, drain, refresh under cold water and drain again. Pat dry and let cool. Cut larger potatoes in half.

Finely slice the fennel. Thinly slice the radishes.

Peel and thinly slice the oranges over a bowl to catch the juices and arrange the slices on a platter. Taking all the peelings and ends of the oranges squeeze any juice into the bowl. Whisk in the oil, vinegar, honey, mustard and salt and pepper.

Top the orange slices with the potatoes, fennel and radish slices and scatter over the chervil leaves. Top with the olive crumbs and serve drizzled with the dressing.

Coconut cake with passionfruit syrup and raspberries

Serves: 8-10

180g butter, softened

250g caster sugar

6 eggs

225 g desiccated coconut

225 g self-raising flour

250g Greek yogurt or crème fraiche

300g raspberries

passionfruit drizzle

150g caster sugar

150ml water

100ml passionfruit pulp, about 6 large passionfruit

Preheat the oven to 160c/fan-forced 140c/325f/gas mark 3. Oil and line a 23cm loose-bottom cake tin. Cream the butter and half the sugar together until smooth and then beat in the remaining sugar and eggs, a little at a time until combined (don’t worry if the mixture appears curdled). Fold in the coconut and flour until smooth and spoon into the prepared tin.

Transfer to the oven and bake 45-50 minutes, covering loosely with foil if the cake begins to brown. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire tray and spike with holes.

Meanwhile, make the passionfruit drizzle. Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat gently to dissolve the sugar. Add the passionfruit pulp and bring to the boil, simmer gently for 8-10 minutes until reduced slightly and thickened. Spoon all but a few tablespoons over the cake and let infuse until cold.

Serve the cake in wedges with the yogurt, raspberries and remaining sauce.

Margarita cheesecake pots with salted lime

Makes: 8

200g white chocolate, melted

50g butter, melted

175g digestive biscuits, crushed

grated zest and juice 3 limes

100ml tequila

250g caster sugar

600g soft cheese

250ml cream

1 teaspoon sea salt

Finely grate 50g of the white chocolate into a shallow bowl. Take 8 martini or margarita glasses, dip the rims into cold water and then into the grated chocolate to coat the rims. Set aside for 5 minutes.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan and pour into a bowl. Add the digestives and stir well until evenly coated. Divide between the glasses pressing them down lightly using the end of a rolling pin. Chill until required.

Combine the lime juice, tequila and half the sugar in a small saucepan and heat gently, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil and then remove from the heat. Leave to cool completely.

Melt the remaining chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water (do not let the base of the bowl touch the water), stirring until the chocolate is melted. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Place the cheese in a food processor with the tequila lime mixture and blitz until smooth. Then stir in the melted chocolate and cream and blend again. Using a piping bag with a large lain nozzle divide the mixture between the glasses. Chill for at least 2 hours.

Make praline. Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Combine the remaining sugar with 2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan and heat very gently, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil and cook without stirring for a further 5-6 mins until the liquid turns golden brown. Pour the caramel onto the prepared tray and leave to go cold.

Roughly crumble the praline and place in a food processor with the lime zest and salt and blitz to make a slightly chunky crumb mixture. Spoon onto the set creams and serve at once.

Copyright Food & Travel, 2017

Recipes,  Louise Pickford

Photographs, Ian Wallace


Recipe of the week……………duck salad

Duck Salad

Sesame and soy duck fillets and green papaya salad

Serves: 4

Green papaya is a used extensively in Thai and South East Asian cooking where it is traditionally served as a refreshing salad. The slightly tart quality of the fruit absorbs the sweet salty dressing perfectly, a perfect foil to the richly flavoued duck.

4 x 200 g duck breast fillets

1 tbs soy sauce

1 tbs fish sauce

2 tsp caster sugar

1 tsp sesame oil

750 g green papaya, peeled, halved and  seeded

2 Lebanese cucumbers, thinly sliced

1/2 bunch each fresh Thai basil, coriander and mint

125 g grape cherry tomatoes, halved

4 tbs dry roasted peanuts, finely chopped

dressing

3 tbs fish sauce

3 tbs caster sugar

2 1/2 tbs fresh lime juice

2 small red chillies, thinly sliced and seeded if wished

sea salt

Thai crispy fried shallots, to garnish

Marinate the duck. Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Score the skin of each duck breast several times with a sharp knife, add to the marinade, cover with cling wrap and chill for 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 200c. Remove the duck from the marinade and rub dry with kitchen paper, sprinkle the skin with sea salt. Heat a heavy based ovenproof frying pan and sear the duck skin down form 1 minute until golden. Turn the duck breast oven, transfer to the oven and roast for 8-10 minutes until cooked through. Remove from the oven and rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, thinly slice the papaya and cut into long thin strips or julienne. Place in a bowl and add the cucumber, herbs and cherry tomatoes. Whisk together the fish sauce, sugar and lime juice until the sugar is dissolved and stir in the chillies.

Thinly slice the duck breast and add to the salad with the dressing. Toss well, divide between plates and serve scattered with the peanuts and the fried shallots.


Recipe of the week………..summer dessert!

Chocolate marbled meringues with summer berries and white chocolate sauce

Serves: 6

These gooey, marshmallow-like meringues look and taste amazing, topped with a scoop of ice cream and a tumble of summer fruits all drizzled with a white chocolate sauce.

4 eggs whites

250 g caster sugar

2 tsp organic cocoa powder

350 g mixed summer berries

6 scoops vanilla ice cream

white chocolate sauce

100 ml single cream

75 g white, chocolate, finely chopped

1 tbs Cointreau (optional)

Preheat the oven to 130c/250f/gas mark 1/2. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Place the egg whites in an electric mixer and whisk on high until stiff, then gradually whisk in the sugar a spoonful at a time, until the mixture is thick and really glossy, about 5 minutes.

Sift over the cocoa powder and carefully fold through the meringue mixture to just combine and leave the mixture with a marbled effect. Carefully spoon 6 large meringues onto the prepared tray and bake for 1 hour until set then cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the sauce, place the single cream in a saucepan and bring to the boil, remove from the heat, add the chocolate and stir until melted. Stir in the Cointreau if using.

Arrange the still warm meringues on serving plates and serve each with a scoop of ice cream and the summer berries all drizzled with the warm white chocolate sauce. Serve at once.

Tip: If you prefer allow the meringues to cool completely before serving, they are just as good. Meringues keep well, so make ahead of time and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.