I like my cucumbers like I like my men. Bendy. So when a 'proper' (i.e. homegrown) cucumber crosses my threshold I like to do it justice, also, if it's proper, that probably means there are gazillions of the things about the place. Their season has just about ended now, so save some for posterity.
Prefer your cucumber to taste a bit like gherkin? No, me neither, however, this does, but man is it good. Perfect with anything on the rich oily side that you need to cut through, particularly excellent with the confit salmon dish, but also great with plain ole' smoked salmon. A fabulous christmas pickle, cos' it's great with goose, turkey and all that feastival type food. It's just as fabulous on it's own, perched on a butty, yay, butties.
'Confit' refers to a slow cook in oil, it sounds terribly unhealthy, however,
whilst I wouldn't recommend you eat confit every day, most of the oil is not actually ingested. You can confit most things, and I often do, see the confit tomatoes recipe for another example . Here I salted salmon steaks to give them a firmer, far more intense texture and flavour, before gently heating them in oil. This is a rich and deeply luxurious way of cooking this beautiful fish, resulting in firm flakes that would work well in a quiche or risotto. I tend to serve it simply, with potato salad, and my cucumber pickle.
Plums...they're lush, but their small window of perfectly ripened goodness prior to the sudden windfall of brown mush is short lived.
In a rash attempt to demonstrate his innate ability to grow things, BBF plucked these premature beauties and thrust them at me earlier this week. I tried one, and it was sweet, but very firm, with a raw, green aftertaste; perfect for jam.
These are Mirabelle, but providing you choose a variety that gets sweet and fairly juicy early on in its growth, you should be ok.
I cannot begin to tell you how delicious these tomatoes are, you can use any
tomatoes for either recipe, I favour anything flavoursome and local, and for additional aesthetic pleasure, use a mixture of red and yellow assorted tomatoes whenever I can get hold of them. Think of both recipes as a version of antipasto; combined they act as a topping for bruschetta, or the most amazing tart when added to a disk of flaky pastry and topped with parmesan and rocket.
You can heat these tomatoes to make a pasta sauce or pizza topping.
The yield for each recipe serves 6 people
Both of these recipes are adapted from chef Alain Ducasse writing for Bon Appetit Magazine in 2003
2.5lbs large plum tomatoes, quartered
lengthwise, seeds and membranes removed
4 large fresh thyme sprigs
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/2 cup olive oil
coarse sea salt
Preheat oven to 140 degrees. Oil large rimmed baking sheet. Arrange tomatoes on baking sheet.
Scatter thyme sprigs and garlic cloves over.
Drizzle with 1/2 cup olive oil, then sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Bake tomatoes 45 minutes. Turn
tomatoes over; continue to bake until tomatoes
shrink slightly but are still plump and moist, about 1 hour longer. Cool completely. Peel off skins.
You can make these a day ahead and store in the fridge, serve at room temperature.
These can be jarred in oil and stored in the fridge
for up to a week.
1 pound large plum tomatoes
2 large fresh thyme sprigs
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 1/2 cups olive oil
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add tomatoes; blanch 30 seconds. Drain. Cool tomatoes. Peel, quarter, and seed tomatoes. Cut away membranes.
Transfer tomatoes to glass jar or bowl. Add thyme, garlic cloves, and salt. Pour enough oil over tomatoes to cover. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours.
Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill. Bring to room
temperature before using.
Late summer gluts can be a curse, nothing, with maybe the exception of asparagus and pumpkin, sustains its appeal when you're innundated. Much as I love runner beans, it seems only right to make something a bit more of them now and again, than simply steaming or boiling them. This delicately spiced chutney is the perfect accompaniment to Indian food, especially tikkas and other dry curries. It also makes a great popadum pickle.
Yield: 1 x 1 Litre Kilner Jar (or 2 x 500ml jars if you're feeling generous and want to gift some)
Preparation time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 40 mins
See my note about Jar preparation here. The
pickle must be stored for 3 months before eating.
2 Medium Onions
2 Cloves Garlic
15 Cardamom Pods
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
1 tsp Nigella (Black Onion) Seeds
1 tsp Chilli Flakes, or chopped up dried chilli
120ml Vegetable or Groundnut oil
2 tbsp Caster Sugar
100ml White Wine Vinegar
1 kg Runner Beans (weight before prep)
Salt and Pepper
Wash, top and tail and chop your beans into 1.5cm chunks. Take the seeds out of your cardamom pods, discarding the
outer casing. Peel and finely chop your onions, and finely slice the peeled garlic. Put the oil into a large saucepan on a low heat. Add the onions and garlic give a stir for a minute, and then add the spices. Cook, stirring occasionally, without colouring, for about 5 minutes, until soft.
Add the sugar and vinegar, and season well. Simmer for a couple of minutes before adding the beans. Pour in boiled water from the kettle until almost covered. Bring to the boil and turn the heat
down to simmer gently for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool slightly before packing into a clean kilner jar. The chutney will be ready to eat in 3 months.
I find it really annoying that all my favourite chefs tell me you can't have a good coffee cake that doesn't involve the humiliation of having to buy instant coffee. I beg to differ, and after some experimentation, I reckon I've got it sussed.
Yield: 12 Cupcakes
110g/1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
110g/1/2 cup golden caster sugar
110g/1 cup self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
50g walnut halves, chopped
3 to 4 tbsp very strong espresso, freshly made
250g/1/2 cup icing sugar
3 tbsp unsalted butter, at melting point
2 to 3 tbsp fresh, very strong espresso
12 Walnut halves
Preheat oven to 170. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with muffin or cupcake cases. Put flour, sugar and baking powder into a large bowl and hand-whisk together (this saves sifting anything), stir in the chopped walnuts. In a jug or seperate bowl, beat your butter until pale, then beat in your eggs one at a time. Slowly beat in 3 tbsp cooled coffee and then fold the wet mixture into the flour mixture until fully mixed. The batter will be fairly runny at this point, if it seems too stiff add a little more coffee.
Spoon into prepared cases and bake for 20 minutes, or until firm. Place on a wire rack to cool.
For the icing, beat butter with icing sugar until well mixed, add coffee bit by bit until you have a smooth, thick icing, this will thicken slightly as it sets, but will remain a fudgy consistency on your cupcakes. Once your cakes are cool, dollop the icing mixture on and top each one with a walnut half.