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.
Pour the pasta sauce into a large pan and add the cooked chicken. Gently simmer for 15 minutes to heat through.
Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the pasta along with a little olive oil (this will avoid the pasta sticking together while cooking). Cook for the time as directed on the packet, then drain.
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan and add the sliced courgettes/zucchinis. Toss to coat with the oil and sauté for about 5 minutes over a medium heat, tossing frequently, until they are cooked through and beginning to colour.
Now add the drained pasta to the chicken and stir through. Then add the courgettes/zucchinis and stir to coat with the sauce.
675g (1½ lb) stewing steak, cut into 2.5cm (1 inch cubes)
3 tbsp seasoned flour
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
1 green pepper, deseeded and chopped
2 tbsp oil
2 tsp paprika
3 tbsp tomato purée/paste
salt and freshly ground black pepper
55g (2 oz) flour (⅓ cup + 1 tbsp)
600ml (20 fl oz) beef stock (2½ cups)
2 large tomatoes, skinned and quartered
150ml (5 fl oz) beer (⅔ cup)
*In Canada these little bags of bouquet garni aren’t available so I make my own. A simple bouquet garni consists of a sprig each of parsley and thyme, a bay leaf, 2 cloves, and a few peppercorns, tied together in muslin to form a sack.
You will also need a deep sided large sauté pan. A stove-top to oven pan is ideal, otherwise you will also need a large casserole dish.
Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) (gas 3)
Tip 3 tablespoons flour into a plastic storage bag and season. Shake bag to mix. Add the meat to the bag and shake again to coat the meat with the flour. Set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the pan over a medium-low heat and gently cook the onions and pepper for 5 minutes to soften, stirring occasionally. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and keep warm.
Add the remaining oil to the pan and increase the heat to medium. Add the beef cubes and lightly brown on all sides, about 5 minutes.
Reduce the heat to low and stir through the paprika. Cook for a further minute.
Stir in the tomato purée/paste, seasoning, flour, and a little grated nutmeg. Cook for a further 2 minutes.
Gradually add the stock, stirring until well blended. Increase the heat to medium and cook the sauce until it is smooth and thick.
Remove from the heat. Return the onions and peppers to the pan. Then stir through the tomatoes and add the bouquet garni.
Cover and cook the goulash in the oven for 1¾ hours.
Stir in the beer and return the pan to the oven, covered, and cook for a further 10 minutes.
700g (1½ lb) potatoes, peeled and sliced (4½ medium)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 x 400g tin whole tomatoes (½ x 28 fl oz can)
good beef stock
225g (8 oz) peas (optional) (1½ cups)
You will need a lidded casserole dish for this recipe
Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) (gas 3)
Place the flour in a medium plastic food storage bag and add salt and pepper. Shake the bag to mix. Cut the steak into 2.5cm (1 inch) cubes and add to the bag. Shake again so the flour coats the steak. Remove the steak from the bag but reserve any remaining flour.
Layer steak, onions, carrots and potatoes in the casserole dish, sprinkling each layer with a pinch of nutmeg and some seasoning as you go.
Sprinkle the remaining flour from the bag over the meat and vegetables and then add the tomatoes.
Finally pour over enough stock to come just over halfway up the ingredients.
Cover and cook for 2½ hours.
Peas can be added 15 minutes before the end of cooking.
This is a thick tomato soup made with plum tomatoes and chopped basil leaves to give it an Italian flavour. The bowls of soup are sprinkled with mozzarella cheese and garnished with extra basil leaves. Just serve with lovely, fresh crusty bread.
With local tomatoes now in abundance, this is an ideal time to make a pot of summer tomato soup. This recipe produces a thin, flavoursome soup with just a hint of basil. Just right for a light lunch with some crusty bread.
2 Romano peppers /long red peppers or shepherd peppers
For the salad dressing
115g (4 oz) Mary Berry’s Special Mustard Dressing/Walden Farms Honey Dijon Dressing (⅓ cup)
1½ tsp clear/runny honey
1 small orange, juice only
A green salad and crusty rolls
Preheat the barbecue or grill/broiler.
Slice each chicken fillet in half to make 2 thinner fillets.
Stir together the garlic, tomato paste, olive oil, oregano and seasoning. Spread over both sides of the chicken.
Halve the peppers lengthways, de-seed and then cut into thin strips.
Whisk together the dressing with the honey and orange juice. and stir through the salad.
Barbecue or grill/broil the chicken for 5 minutes on each side until they are cooked through.
After the first 5 minutes of cooking the chicken, add the pepper strips to the barbecue or grill/broiler and cook for about 5 minutes, turning them a couple of times. They should be just soft but not blackened.
Divide the peppers between 4 plates, top with 2 pieces of chicken and serve with the salad, and crusty rolls on the side.
Trim any excess fat from the steaks and put in a single layer in a baking dish.
Stir the rest of the ingredients in a bowl until well blended. Pour over the steaks. Turn the steaks over so they are covered with the marinade. Cover the dish and refrigerate overnight.
Drain the steaks and reserve the marinade. They can be BBQ’d or cooked in a little oil and butter in a frying pan/skillet.
Once they are cooked, transfer to a plate, cover and keep warm. Rest for 5 minutes for the juices to be absorbed back into the steak.
Meanwhile, pour the reserved marinade in a small pan, stir and bring to the boil. (If the steaks were cooked in a frying pan/skillet, use this.) Reduce the heat to low and cook for a further minute. A little water can be added if the sauce reduces too much.
To serve, pour the sauce over the steaks and accompany with baked potatoes and seasonal vegetables.
1 courgette/zucchini, halved lengthways then cut into 1cm/½ inch slices
2 × 400g/28 fl oz can chopped/diced tomatoes
20g fresh basil leaves, torn
1 tsp light brown soft sugar
salt and pepper
a large sauté pan
Preheat the grill/broiler for 10 minutes.
Place the peppers on a baking tray, skin side up, then grill/broil until the skin has blackened and blistered. Remove from the heat and place in a plastic food storage bag using tongs. Seal the bag and leave to become cool. (The steam that is released helps to lift the skin away from the flesh.)
Meanwhile, season the chicken. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the pan. Add the chicken and, over a medium heat, brown on both sides. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.
Add the other tablespoon of oil to the pan, reduce the heat to low, add the onions and cook until softened and coloured around the edges, 10 minutes.
Next, add the garlic and courgette slices, cover the pan and cook for a further 4–5 minutes, until the courgettes have started to soften.
While the vegetables are cooking, peel off the skins of the peppers and cut the flesh into thin strips.
Finally, add the tomatoes, half the basil, sugar and peppers to the pan and season. Bring the sauce to a simmer, then return the chicken breasts to the pan, pushing them down into the pan. Cook, uncovered, over a gentle heat, for 20 minutes, turning the chicken halfway through.
Serve with fettuccine and the remaining basil scattered on top.
Have been enjoying the lovely sunny weather. It has been quite hot this week and so we have been walking with Shandy, our labrador, through the woods that lie behind us. It is amazing how much the leaf canopy shields the heat.
The woods are so pretty at the moment. The trilliums have now finished but have been replaced with a number of other wild flowers – blues, purples and white, colour is everywhere. They make the woods look very pretty. I enjoy it because when we lived in England I planted up an English country garden and a lot of the plants in the woods are the same. The most common one, I guess, being the wild geranium.
Recipes we are using now take less time to prepare and cook and here is one of our favourite salmon dishes. Using the centre cut of the fillet makes it easier to slice into portions once it is cooked so I do tend to choose this cut.
A fish dish that is full of flavour and looks very colourful on the plate.
Salmon brushed with butter and lemon juice is then roasted and served sitting on a bed of buttery spinach with buttery tomatoes alongside. Slices of potato are roasted until crisp to complete the dish.
Cut the potatoes into even-sized pieces and place in a pan of boiling water. Simmer for 7 minutes. Drain and leave for a few minutes so they can be handled.
Thickly slice the potatoes and add to a large bowl. Season and then coat with the olive oil. Tip into the roasting tin/pan and roast for 30 minutes, turning a couple of times.
For the fish
Lightly oil the ovenproof dish. Lay the fish in the dish, brush with the melted butter and season, then squeeze the lemon juice over the top. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
For the tomatoes
Tip the tomatoes into a small pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat a little and let the juice bubble for 5 minutes to reduce. Gradually whisk in the cubes of butter over a low heat. Add the sugar and season to taste.
For the spinach
Melt the butter in a large pan and add the spinach leaves. Cook until just wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir through a dash of white wine vinegar, then tip into a colander and press out the liquid.
Divide the spinach between four serving plates and place a fish portion on top. Spoon the tomatoes around one side of the fish and the crispy potatoes on the other.