28/07/14 - July's Treatures

July's Treatures

Mon, 28/07/2014

Salads, seasonal vegetables & fruits

I was driving in Kent this weekend and dotted along the lanes and roads are little stools selling local produce from cucumbers, tomatoes, runner beans and broad beans, all seasonal from the green house and allotments. I stopped and bought my favourite of July’s treasures, some lovely Kent cherries.

I paid £5 for a truckload of about 1 kilogram. While eating quite a few on the way home, I made cherry pancakes, cherry compote, cherry ice cream and cherry steamed puddings over the weekend. There’s always a difference between the cherries I had as a kid and the ones that are in the supermarket, British cherries are smaller but more flavoursome than the north African varieties that are sold out of season, the good ones make there way to the cities at market level but are often overlooked for bigger and brighter varieties sold for a ridiculous price. Next time you here a loud market trader shouting about his lovely cherries, take the opportunity to grab some. Bang in season and just beautiful!

    

The greatest salad

I had one of the greatest salads the other evening quite by chance, I got home very late after an evening function and didn’t feel like cooking a great deal so I opted for a salad, I have had a glut of cucumbers in the green house over the last week so wondering what to do with all these cucumbers I decided to peel and soak in a little salt and lime juice, peel and dice and avocado. I grated some ginger and a little garlic, to add to some sesame oils, soy and sesame seeds for the dressing.

I had some dried wakami (seaweed) in the cupboard which takes seconds to rehydrate, I squeezed the excess liquid from the cucumber removing any bitterness from the skin and layered in to a salad with the dressing.

It was one of the best salads I have had in ages cleansing, nutritious and all from the fridge and larder. The lime and ginger really give it a zing and background flavours of sesame and the seaweed give it its depth. Try for yourselves. I had it on its own but with a nice piece of salmon or Piri Piri chicken this would make a great side dish.

Swap sugar fix for trail mix

While we enjoy an afternoon sugar fix, this week we are trialing some trail mix in the Café, toasted seeds and dried fruits, while not an instant fix to your afternoon energy levels these release a slow and nutritious energy over a few hours with lower calories and far less fat.

Cherry Tart Recipe

Here’s a great cherry dessert to try, it’s called a Clafoutis nowadays, my Gran called it cherry tart.

For the cherries

  • 450g/1lb ripe cherries, the best you can find, stones removed
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 3 tbsp kirsch (optional)
For the batter
  • 20g / ¾oz unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 heaped tbsp plain flour
  • 50g / 1¾fl oz whole milk
  • 75g / 2¼fl oz whipping cream
  • pinch sea salt
Preparation method
  1. Gently mix together the cherries, sugar and kirsch and leave to macerate for two hours. (The sugar will slowly permeate the cherries and intensify their flavour.)
  2. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Grease a baking dish with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Shake the sugar around the dish so that it is evenly coated, then tip out any excess.
  3. For the batter, heat the butter in a small pan until it turns a pale hazelnut colour – this is called a beurre noisette. Do not allow the butter to burn or it will become bitter and carcinogenic. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside in a warm place.
  4. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla until creamy.
  5. Add the flour, whisk until smooth, then slowly incorporate the milk, cream, salt and beurre noisette.
  6. Mix the macerated cherries and their juice into the batter and pour into the prepared baking dish.
  7. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is slightly domed and the blade of a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  8. To finish, sprinkle with caster sugar and serve warm.

Try it yourself!

Until next time,

Executive Head Chef, Simon