Posts Tagged ‘summer’

Summer pudding has long been a favourite of mine and it was a staple in the dessert rotation when I was growing up. My parents were keen gardeners and Mum still grows lots of her own fruit and vegetables despite not having much time to devote to the garden. On a Sunday afternoon I would often be dispatched up the garden to pick raspberries, strawberries, tayberries and blackcurrants for one of Mum’s spectacular puddings. I always find it a sad farewell to summer when the berries come to an end. This year, inspired by a Valentine Warner recipe, I decided to extend the Summer pudding into Autumn and make the most of the wild blackberries and the remaining little bit of last year’s sloe gin. I toyed around with calling these Autumn puddings but I like it when the name of the recipes tells you a little about what’s inside, especially when there’s gin involved. (more…)


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Last week my mum and I went on a last-minute city break to Avignon where we indulged in sunshine, shopping and lots and lots of beautiful food. Since coming back I’ve been on a Provençal cooking kick having been overloaded with inspiration on our mini holiday. Just wandering around the wonderful indoor market is enough to make you want to sell up and move to France: the stalls were overflowing with all manner of heirloom tomatoes; tiny, round green and yellow courgettes; plump purple- and white-flecked aubergines; strings of garlic; fat bundles of fresh herbs and about 20 types of onion. The delis had big bowls of ratatouille to take home and reheat alongside stuffed tomatoes, rabbit stew, individual egg and vegetable flans and roasted meats. Hams and whole salamis hung above mountains of olives and the boulanger oppostie sold crunchy, fresh sourdough bread, fougasse studded with nuts and apple tart by the slice. Other displays contained jewel-like candied fruits, macarons and iced, almond-shaped Calissons from nearby Aix. (more…)

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It’s been a crazy few weeks around here with lots more work happening to the house (unfortunately not in the kitchen) and a big helping of overtime to help afford some of the new cabinets we need to order. Who knew that taking a week off work would actually entail more work than the office job? With all that’s been going on I’m afraid I’ve let my cooking go by the wayside reverting to simple, slightly boring dishes and whatever’s left in the freezer. So please forgive me for posting something I’ve had lurking around on my PC for a little while. It’s a lovely little recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s column in the Guardian which goes perfectly with barbequed meats or some simply baked fish, no fuss required. The only reason it’s been lurking so long is the frankly, pretty pathetic photos which do this salad no justice.


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Making fresh fruit drinks is one of the joys of summer; on a warm day nothing tastes quite as good as a cold glass of lemonade or, in this case, pink grapefruit-ade spiked with ginger syrup. Not only is it pretty and bang-on-trend coral pink but it has a delicate, refreshing flavour which is a lovely pick-me-up after a day spent outside in the sun. It’s also a fab alcohol-free drink to offer your designated-driver guests; it makes a refreshing (haha) change from Coke and J2O.


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I love cooking vegetables on the barbeque and, even though I’m an omnivore, I’m quite happy to stick to vegetarian options when we get the grill out. The tendency (for me at least) is to make the most of the occasion and overeat so vegetable based options seem the way to go since they are usually a bit lighter than a slab of meat. I also love throwing halloumi on the BBQ, it’s texture transforms from tough to soft and  pleasently chewy and it’s salty flavour goes so well with charred veggies. It’s worth tracking down good halloumi made with sheep or goat’s cheese which has a much better flavour and texture than the stuff made with cow’s milk but, should you stuggle to find any, the marinating step makes even the mass-produced cheese taste good.


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Tres leches cake is, so I hear, quite ubiquitous in Latin America and very popular in the US. It is also, apparently, quite the fashion in Albania. I’d love it to become more popular here in blighty since it’s pretty darn good cake. It is, essentially, a light-as-air sponge cake soaked in ‘three milks’: sticky, sweet condensed milk, evaporated milk and rich, fresh cream; and, if you like, a kick of rum. The sponge, being made of eggs whipped up to frothy peaks, is full of tiny bubbles which act as little pockets to hold the milks which means the cake is incredibly moist but not soggy. As you can probably imagine, for something soaked in condensed milk, this cake is quite sweet so it is just perfect topped with softly whipped cream and fresh summer berries which are tart enough to balance out the favours.

Tres leches cake makes a wonderful summer cake for a tea party or dinner; it’s so pretty decorated with a riot of red, pink and purple berries, simple and elegant at the same time. Once it’s been doused in milk, the cake goes in the fridge to chill so it’s cool and remarkably refreshing when served: not what your guest are expecting but a pleasant surprise. And that’s what I really love about tres leches – it’s not your everyday cake, it’s a bit of a surprise. Tell someone you’re serving them sponge cake soaked in milk and they’ll probably think you’re nuts (unless they’ve already been inducted into the tres leches club) but one bite in they’ll wonder how they’d gone so long without this cake in their lives.

Tres leches cake with berries

Adapted very slightly from Simon Rimmer on Saturday Kitchen

Serves 8

For the cake:

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 150g sugar
  • 200g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100ml milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the milk sauce:

  • 397ml condensed milk
  • 350ml evaporated milk
  • 200ml double cream
  • 3 tbsp rum

For the topping:

  • 150ml double cream
  • fresh berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, red currants, cherries)

First make the cake. Preheat your oven to 180°C and grease a 23cm square pan (but not one with a loose base! I used a pyrex dish).

In a spotlessly clean bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks, add 50g sugar and beat until stiff.

In another large bowl beat the yolks and remaining sugar until pale and fluffy. Sift over the flour and baking powder and fold in. Stir in the milk and vanilla.

Fold one-third of the egg whites into the yolk batter to loosen then gently fold in the rest of the whites. Pour into your prepared pan and bake for 30–40 minutes. The cake is ready when it’s golden and a skewer comes out clean.

While the cake is baking stir together the milk sauce ingredients.

As soon as the cake comes out the oven prick it all over with a fork and gradually pour over the majority of the sauce, about ¾. Allow to cool in the baking dish then chill.

Two hours before serving pour over the remaining sauce.

Just before serving turn the cake out and whip the 150ml cream to firm peaks. Spread the cream over the top of the cake and decorate with fresh berries.

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I like a fancy cake as much as the next person, probably more so. Crumbly tops, fruity fillings, chocolate, they all float my boat. But so do basic, unassuming cakes, ones that seem almost dull in their simplicity. In fact, the more simple the cake, the better it has to be; there are no whistles or bells or, you know, lashings of frosting, to hide behind. It doesn’t get much more easy than this one-step cake and, to my mind, it doesn’t get much better. (more…)

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