The weekend cook: make the most of summer fruits, before they’re gone for another year – Thomasina Miers’ recipes

The-weekend-cook-make-the-most-of-summer-fruits-before-they’re-gone-for-another-year-–-Thomasina-Miers’-recipes

We’ve spent this summer making the most of the season’s wonderful fruit – strawberries, apricots, nectarines, cherries, gooseberries – yet more fruit keeps arriving at the market. Most recently, that crop has included raspberries and loganberries from Scotland, which produces some of the best in the world: they’re a great addition to pillows of sweetened, whipped ricotta in my easy version of peach melba.

I have recently rediscovered the joys of raspberry vinegar, thanks mainly to Snaps & Rye, a fantastic Danish restaurant that’s almost on my doorstep in west London. A decade or so ago, I ignored this vinegar altogether, thinking it just another fussy food fad or, worse, a hanger-on from nouvelle cuisine. How wrong I was: it adds a delicious sweet-sharpness to salad dressings, and has an elusive, barely-there scent of raspberries that goes beautifully with the flavour of plums.

That combination is fantastic with slices of smoked duck, which you can buy in good delis;’ if you’re feeling more adventurous, the same dressing also works well with thin slices of fried duck or pigeon breast. It’s a lovely combination of flavours that would be the perfect dish for the balmy evenings of an Indian summer. Well, we can live in hope.

Wafer-thin, crunchy slivers of kohlrabi bring a lovely crispness to this refreshing salad; if you can’t get hold of kohlrabi, use radishes or celeriac instead. Serves four to six.

12 small semi-ripe round plums (or 8 Victoria plums)4 tsp olive oil1 tsp sugar½ tsp sea salt flakes½ -1 tsp chilli flakes (or to taste)1 kohlrabi100g bull’s blood salad leaves, lamb’s lettuce or baby spinach

200g smoked duckFor the dressing1 tsp caster sugar1 tbsp raspberry vinegar (or white balsamic)1 tbsp pomegranate molasses4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oilSalt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Stone and quarter the plums, then put them in an oven dish and toss with the oil, sugar, salt and chilli flakes. Roast for 15 minutes, until completely soft – the plums should taste quite sharp (there is sweetness in the dressing to compensate) and have a kick of heat; if you prefer them a little less tart, by all means add a touch of honey.

For the dressing, whisk the sugar and vinegar until the sugar has dissolved, then whisk in the pomegranate molasses and olive oil, and season to taste.

Peel the kohlrabi and cut half into wafer-thin slices (use a mandoline, if you have one); chop the other half into fine matchsticks. In a bowl, toss the kohlrabi with the salad leaves and dressing, then tear the smoked duck into the salad. Serve with the spicy plums on the side or tossed through the salad.

Serves six.

6 peaches 300g sugarJuice and zest of ½ lemon 1 vanilla pod, split 2 bay leaves

For the sweet ricotta 250g ricotta 1 tbsp icing sugar, sievedJuice and zest of ½ lemon

To serve6 amaretti biscuits, crushed250g raspberries

Put the ricotta in a sieve or a piece of muslin suspended over a bowl, and set aside for an hour or so, to drain out as much liquid as possible. Meanwhile, put 700ml of water into a wide saucepan and add the sugar, lemon juice, vanilla pod and bay. Bring to a boil, cook vigorously for five minutes, then turn down the heat so the syrup simmers gently.

Halve and stone the peaches (if the stones don’t want to come out, just leave them in until the peaches are cooked and soft, when they’ll be easier to remove). Poach the peaches in the hot syrup for three to four minutes on each side, depending on their ripeness: you want the fruit to be soft and tender throughout, but not falling apart (if in doubt, test with a sharp knife). Remove the peaches from the syrup and peel them (or leave the skin on for a more rustic look, especially if it doesn’t come away all that easily).

Vigorously beat the drained ricotta with a wooden spoon, then whip in the sugar, lemon juice and zest.

Serve two peach halves per plate, topping each with a dollop of sweet ricotta, a light sprinkling of crushed amaretti and a scattering of fresh raspberries.

The plum relish is delicious with cheese, game and ham – I especially like it with a whole rolled gammon for Sunday lunch – so make double the amount and store in a sterilised jar in the fridge: it will keep for a good couple of weeks. And since you’ve invested in a bottle of raspberry vinegar for the salad, you may as well experiment with it: as a pickling liquor, for example (it’s very good for pickled plums), or try adding its acidic, fruity sparkle to Middle Eastern dishes – over roast figs, in tabbouleh salads and on exotically spiced, marinated lamb steaks. And make sure you keep the syrup left over from poaching the peaches – freeze it in small portions, and use in ice-creams, sorbets and cocktails: it will lend them a delicate hint of peachiness. Amaretti add a delicious backnote to roast pumpkin and sage (they’re often crushed and added to stuffed pasta featuring those two ingredients); they also make a lovely, crunchy topping for a dark chocolate mousse.

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