Fruitful Pursuits

Liz Nicholls

Recipes

As August arrives, Katie Kingsley serves up three dishes which make the most of the flavours and textures of the height of summer.

Plum and almond loaf

A simple, pretty little number. Great when you don’t have much time on your hands but still fancy something a bit special (and plums are at their best this time of year).

Heat oven to 160°C and grease and line a 900g/2lb loaf tin with baking paper. Take a large bowl and add 150g of self raising flour, 150g of golden caster sugar, 100g of ground almonds, 175g of softened unsalted butter, three eggs, ½ tsp of almond extract and pinch of salt. Use an electric mixer to beat together well, for about five minutes until very light and fluffy. Stone and slice three ripe plums then stir through the mix before spooning into your tin and baking for 1 hour 15 to 1 hour 30 minutes, when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Let cake cool in tin before removing onto a wire rack. Warm three tbsp of plum jam in a small pan and brush over the top of the loaf. Stone and slice two more ripe plums and lay atop the cake then brush liberally with more jam and sprinkle with toasted flaked almonds.

Harissa and sweet pepper chicken with spiked couscous

Save this one for a cooler day; it’s great mid-week but also special enough for Friday night. Just double everything to serve four, and the kids will love this, too!

Heat two tablespoons of oil in a wide-bottomed pan and sauté a chopped onion before adding three sliced red peppers, six halved boneless, skinless chicken thighs and three or four minced garlic cloves. Once the chicken has browned, mix together two teaspoon of harissa paste with 150ml of water and add to the chicken mix. Once simmering, cover and cook for about 30 minutes. Carefully remove the chicken and blend the sauce with a hand blender, or in a food processor, until smooth. Return the chicken to the sauce and cook for a further 10-15 minutes until the sauce has thickened. I like to add a knob of butter and check seasoning at this point while I prepare the couscous. Cook the couscous, according to packet instructions then fluff up, adding lemon juice to taste. Fry a tin of drained chickpeas in a little oil until golden then add ½ tsp each of ground cinnamon and ground cumin until fragrant. Add the spiced chickpeas to your couscous and scatter with toasted flaked almonds and fresh parsley, serving alongside the harissa chicken.

End of summer tomato fritters

These I believe are a speciality in Santorini (known there as keftedes) where sweet ripe tomatoes are a plenty. They are a great way to showcase beautiful tomatoes where maybe you are lucky enough to grow them and find yourself in abundance, but if not try to use the best quality you can find as it really will make a difference. Just as good simply dipped into tzatziki for a snack as they are sandwiched between toasted sourdough and an oozy poached egg for breakfast. Roughly chop 1kg of good quality ripe tomatoes and drain away the juice over a sieve then transfer the flesh to a large bowl. Grate two brown onions and 1 small courgette then squeeze out the moisture before adding to the bowl with 200g of plain flour, a bunch of finely chopped basil, 1 tbsp of olive oil and season generously.

Mix everything together until well combined and heat rapeseed oil in a saucepan to very hot. You will know when the oil is ready by dropping in a pea-sized dollop of mixture, it should sink but then rise to the surface bubbling. Use two tablespoons to carefully dollop bite-sized spoonfuls of the mixture into the oil being careful not to overcrowd the pan (I did about three at once). If your mixture breaks up, add more flour and mix again well before frying more. The fritters will take two or three minutes to cook through, if still raw, inside then turn down the oil and cook for longer, you should have a crisp shell and perfectly cooked centre. Drain on kitchen paper before serving with an extra sprinkle of salt.

Sumptuous Summertime

Liz Nicholls

Recipes

As August arrives, Katie Kingsley serves up three dishes which make the most of the flavours and textures of the height of summer.

Crispy baked artichokes

(Each artichoke yields four pieces)

A real treat; all the effort goes into the preparation of the artichoke so the cooking method is extremely straightforward. Put out a plate of these beauties with aperitif straight from the oven with some lemon butter or homemade aioli for dipping and your evening will be off with a blast!

Heat your oven to 200°C. Fill a large bowl with cold water and squeeze in the juice from half a lemon. Remove the outer leaves of the globe artichokes until you get to the pale yellowish leaves and rub with the other half of the lemon to stop browning. Use a small sharp knife to pare down where the bottom leaves meet the top of the stem and then use a vegetable peeler to peel around the stem, snap off the woody ends. Rub all cut sides with lemon. Quarter your artichokes through the centre and remove the fibrous ‘fluffy’ chokes and wiry purple leaves. Add to the citric water whilst you finish off the preparation. Bring a pan of salted water to a boil then add your artichokes with the lemon halves and boil for 10-15 minutes then drain, discard lemon and cool. Drizzle olive oil onto a baking tray then add your artichokes and drizzle with more oil and sprinkle with course salt. Bake for 20 minutes on each side or until nicely crisp and browned. Serve with lemon wedges, more salt if needed and a scattering of chopped parsley.

Salmon and cucumber summer spread

Delicious dolloped on caraway crackers or spread on to a toasted bagel. A lighter, fresh tasting snack for balmy summer evenings or perhaps as a lighter dinner after a beefy barbecue.

Peel half a cucumber, slice through the centre and spoon out the seeds. Chop into matchstick-sized pieces and place in a colander with a sprinkle of salt so the water can drain away. Finely dice five cornichons and add to a bowl with 1tsp of Dijon mustard, 2tsp of rinsed capers, 100g of smoked salmon cut into thin strips, 50g of mayonnaise, 50g of sour cream and chopped dill, coursely ground black pepper and lemon juice to taste. Pat dry the cucumber with kitchen paper before adding to the mix and serve with thin slices of red onion on carb of choice.

Charred apricots with maple French toast and vanilla mascarpone

Biscuity bottom, buttery and nutty with bursts of sweet cherry…

Heat oven to 190˚C. Grease and line a nine-inch, square brownie tin. Make your crust by mixing together 100ml of melted unsalted butter with 70g of golden caster sugar, 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract, 130g of plain flour and a pinch of salt. Press your crust into the base of the tin and bake for 20 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and leave in tin to cool whilst you prepare the filling. Melt 115g of unsalted butter in a small saucepan and cook, stirring for about six minutes until it turns a nutty brown (careful not to burn). Pour into a bowl to cool. In a medium bowl whisk together 100g of golden caster sugar, 30g of plain flour, two large eggs, 1 tsp of almond extract and a pinch of salt then add your browned butter gradually while whisking until blended. Remove the stones from 450g of cherries and arrange in the bottom of your tin over the cooled crust. Pour over your filling carefully then cook for 30 minutes or until the top is puffed and golden and a tester comes out clean. Once cooled, slice and serve.

Soul Food

Liz Nicholls

Recipes

Katie Kingsley serves up some thoroughly wholesome yet joyful goodies to make the most of your summer!

Broccoli Grain Bowl

A great barbecue side or healthy packed lunch. The notion to chop broccoli into small pieces had never occurred to me but it works really well in this dish. The beauty of this recipe is that you can use any leftover veggies with any store cupboard grains. I like to serve this kind of side with pork loin or cubed chorizo but it also works well with fish or tofu.

Cook two packs (about 400g) of broccoli spears in salted boiling water for two minutes then drain and when cool enough to handle, chop into small pieces. Heat 4 tbsp of olive oil in a large pan and cook three finely sliced garlic cloves until turning golden with the zest of two lemons and a sprinkle of aleppo pepper or chilli flakes.

Add your broccoli for a few minutes then two cups of cooked grains such as quinoa, spelt, rice or chickpeas then warm through and season to taste. Add the juice of one or two lemons and serve in bowls topped with pecorino romano.

Dry Rub Oven Chicken with Herby Corn

This is so delicious; sweet, smoky, tender and juicy chicken with tasty crispy skin. I love the combination of the naturally sweet corn and fresh, citrus herb oil, it really hits all the notes. I don’t think you can beat sauté potatoes to complete the dish. Food to feed the soul.

First brine your chicken for at least one and up to six hours. Place about 12 pieces of skin-on, bone-in chicken legs and thighs into a solution of 4 cups of water and 1/3 cup each of fine salt, soft brown sugar and white vinegar. Heat oven to 150˚C. Make spice rub by combining together 6tbsp of soft dark brown sugar, 4 tbsp of smoked paprika, 1 tbsp of mild chilli powder, 1 tbsp of celery salt, 1 tbsp of fine sea salt, 1 tbsp of garlic granules, 2 tsp of course red pepper powder, 2 tsp of course black pepper and half a grated nutmeg.

Drain your chicken from the brine and pat dry with kitchen paper. Use a large bowl to rub the spice mix all over the chicken, be generous with the rub (I use it all). Take a large piece of foil, big enough to fold back on itself and into a parcel and place the seasoned chicken on it, skin facing up then fold the foil over creating a tightly sealed parcel. Place this on a rack in the oven and cook for two hours. Once cooked, carefully open the parcel, remove the chicken onto a baking tray and pour all the juices into a small saucepan, reducing with a drizzle of honey until it coats a spoon.

Place the chicken under a medium-high heated grill for about five minutes so the skin chars at the edges. Remove corn from four husks and sauté in a pan with a knob of butter. Take a bunch of basil and half a bunch of mint and add to the small bowl of a processor with the juice of 1 lemon, 1 handful of pecorino romano, 100ml of rapeseed oil then blend and season to taste. Mix through the corn and serve alongside the chicken with a drizzle of the reduction.

Cherry Slices

Biscuity bottom, buttery and nutty with bursts of sweet cherry…

Heat oven to 190˚C. Grease and line a nine-inch, square brownie tin. Make your crust by mixing together 100ml of melted unsalted butter with 70g of golden caster sugar, 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract, 130g of plain flour and a pinch of salt. Press your crust into the base of the tin and bake for 20 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and leave in tin to cool whilst you prepare the filling. Melt 115g of unsalted butter in a small saucepan and cook, stirring for about six minutes until it turns a nutty brown (careful not to burn). Pour into a bowl to cool.

In a medium bowl whisk together 100g of golden caster sugar, 30g of plain flour, two large eggs, 1 tsp of almond extract and a pinch of salt then add your browned butter gradually while whisking until blended. Remove the stones from 450g of cherries and arrange in the bottom of your tin over the cooled crust. Pour over your filling carefully then cook for 30 minutes or until the top is puffed and golden and a tester comes out clean. Once cooled, slice and serve.