Summer is in full swing now. Lots of very hot, sunny days and being a summer person this is definitely my time of year. However, Shandy, our labrador, does not agree with me – he finds it just too hot. Even choosing the woods to take him for a walk, where the umbrella of the trees definitely cuts out the blazing heat of the sun, only gives a little respite. For him it’s indoors lying in a cool spot with the air conditioner turned on!
There is invariably something to see on our walks and we were surprised by a young deer with its mother wandering through the trees. They are so elegant and much larger than the muntjac deer we were used to seeing in Oxfordshire.
All that aside, the time I choose to be in the kitchen is less during the summer months and the following recipe is one from my summer collection. There was some lovely wild cod at the fish counter which is very rarely available, so I just had to buy some. It was thick and the flesh was, oh so white. I used it for this recipe. We really enjoyed it and hope you will want to try it too.
A very tasty way to serve cod that is super quick to prepare and cook.
Sun-dried tomato and butter are spread on the cod before topping with the cheese and plum tomato slices. It is then simply grilled/broiled and served with the buttery sauce, peas, green salad and crusty bread. A complete meal in no time.
You will also need a heat-resistant dish that is large enough to lay the 4 pieces of cod in a single layer.
Preheat the grill/broiler. You don’t want the heat too hot or the dish too close to the source of the heat.
Now lay the fish in a single layer in the dish. Spread the tomato paste over the fish and then dot with the butter. Next place two pieces of cheese over each piece of fish and top with the sliced tomatoes.
Grill/broil until the fish is cooked through. This should take about 10–15 minutes depending on the heat of your grill/broiler.
Increase the heat to high for a further two minutes until the tomatoes are just starting to brown.
Meanwhile, cook the peas. This will take just 2 minutes in a microwave.
Serve the fish with all the buttery juices and the peas spooned round the fish. Season.
Put the potatoes in a large pan of cold salted water, bring to the boil, and cook for 20 minutes, until tender.
Add the eggs during the last 10 minutes (saves on another pan!). Once the eggs are ready, remove from the pan and run them under cold water. (This will prevent a dark rim forming round the yolk while they are cooling.)
Drain and mash the potatoes with 28g (1 oz) (⅛ cup, or ¼ stick) of the butter and a little milk, until creamy. Set aside.
Next, melt the rest of the butter in a pan and, once foaming, tip the pan and quickly add the flour. Stir to form a smooth paste and cook over a low heat for 2 minutes. Warm the milk (a microwave makes this quick) and gradually stir into the roux until smooth. Stir in the wine. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and gently cook for 5–10 minutes until the sauce is very thick, stirring constantly. (The sauce needs to be very thick because once the fish is added and cooks in the sauce, its juices will thin it.) Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper and a good grating of nutmeg.
Now cut the fish into bite-sized chunks and mix into the sauce with the spinach. Spoon into the ovenproof dish.
Peel the eggs, carefully cut into quarters and scatter them evenly over the top of the fish.
Cover with the mashed potato and sprinkle with the cheese.
Cover the dish with foil and cook in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil then cook for a further 10–15 minutes until the top is golden and the sauce is bubbling around the edges.
An individual chicken pie for each member of the family. Succulent chicken pieces cooked in creamy sauce with sweetcorn and peas, and a light pastry topping, is guaranteed to fill the hungriest tummies. And you can personalize them!
You will also need four 300ml (10 fl oz) ovenproof basins
Put the chicken in a pan with the carrot, onion, bay leaf, parsley stalks, and peppercorns. Cover with cold water and bring to just under the boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for 15–20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through, skimming the surface regularly.
Meanwhile, sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Rub in the butter and lard until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the water over the flour and use a palette knife to bring the flour and water together. When it starts to bind, remove from the bowl and then lightly knead by hand. Wrap in cling film/wrap and place in the fridge to rest for 20 minutes.
When the chicken has cooked, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon. Strain off and reserve 400ml (14 fl oz) (1¾ cups) of the poaching stock, discarding the rest along with the herbs and vegetables.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6).
Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat. Add the flour and mix to form a smooth paste. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and gradually stir in the reserved stock until it is thoroughly blended and smooth. Then return to a medium heat and stir until it starts to thicken. Simmer for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Now pour in the cream and simmer for a further 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until there is a smooth, thick sauce.
Strip the chicken meat off the bones, if joints were used. Cut the chicken meat into small chunks and stir into the sauce along with the peas, sweetcorn and parsley. Season well.
Now, roll out the pastry thinly. Using the top of one of the ovenproof basins as a guide, cut out four circles of pastry 2cm (¾ inch) larger than the diameter of the basin.
Divide the chicken mixture between the four dishes. Dampen the pastry edges with water and cover the tops of the basins, pressing the edges of the pastry against the rim of the basins. Brush the tops with beaten egg.
Any trimmings can be used to decorate the pies. A personal touch would be to put names on the top. Making the letters does take time but makes it special. Place any decorations on the pastry top and brush these with remaining beaten egg.
Place the four basins on a baking sheet and then pop in the oven for 30 minutes until the pastry is golden.
Marinading time: at least 30 minutes, overnight if possible
Cooking time: 10 minutes hob, 30 minutes oven
450g (1 lb) pork fillet/tenderloin
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp maple syrup
4 tsp wholegrain mustard
2 garlic cloves, crushed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Vegetables to serve
roasted, diced potatoes and carrots
For the mustard pork
Mix together the maple syrup, mustard, garlic, oil, and seasoning. Pour into a shallow dish. Add the pork and turn to coat in the marinade. Cover the dish and refrigerate for at at least 30 minutes, overnight if possible.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6).
Remove the pork from the fridge to bring it up to room temperature.
Meanwhile, parboil a few potatoes and carrots for 7 minutes. Drain and leave until cool enough to handle. Then dice and toss in a little olive oil. Tip into a small roasting tin/pan and roast for about 30 minutes until browning and crisp.
Transfer the pork to a second small roasting tin/pan and pour over the marinade. Cover with foil and roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue cooking for a further 10 minutes, or until the pork is cooked through and the juices run clear when tested with a skewer.
Slice the pork and pour over the sticky pan juices. Serve with the roasted vegetables and accompany with peas.
700g (1 lb 8 oz) cod or haddock, skinned and cubed
170g (6 oz) cooked tiger prawns/shrimp
knob of butter
3 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
Serve with sugar snap peas/mange tout or peas
For this recipe, you'll need a 1.2 litre/2 pint shallow ovenproof dish
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6)
Peel the sweet potato and cut into even sized pieces. Simmer in lightly salted water until just tender, about 15 minutes. Then drain and set aside.
Cut the florets from the head of broccoli into small pieces. You will need 170g (6 oz) of the florets (1½ cups).
Next, pour the milk in a pan and add the flour and butter. Whisk continuously over a moderate heat until the sauce begins to boil and has thickened. Remove from the heat, season. and stir in 115g (4 oz) (1 cup) of the grated cheese. Beat until the cheese has melted.
Spoon a thin layer of the sauce over the base of the ovenproof dish. Layer the cubes of fish over the sauce and scatter over the prawns/shrimp and broccoli florets. Then pour over the remaining sauce.
Mash the sweet potato with the butter and stir in the parsley. Season well. Spoon on top of the fish and then sprinkle over the remaining cheese.
Bake in the oven for 30–35 minutes until the top is golden and the sauce is bubbling.
Serve with the sugar snap peas/mange tout or peas.
1 x 400g tin (½ x 796ml/28 fl oz can) chopped tomatoes/diced tomatoes
1.8 litres (3 pints) good chicken stock (7½ cups)
85g (3 oz) spaghetti
400g tin (540ml/19 fl oz can) cannellini beans/white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
140g (5 oz) frozen peas (1 cup)
fresh basil to garnish
Peel the vegetables and dice into small pieces, about 0.5cm (¼ inch). Heat the oil in a large pan, add the vegetables and stir to coat with the oil. Cook, uncovered, over a medium–low heat until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Then stir in the tomatoes and stock, and bring up to a simmer. Break the spaghetti into small pieces and add to the pan. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Finally, add the beans and peas, and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
Serve garnished with basil leaves and accompany with crusty bread or rolls.