- RECIPES BELOW:
- Prawns with green herb mayonnaise
- Peach and whisky glazed ham with peach relish
- Whole smoked mackerel with spiced beetroot and dill cream
- Tomato and goat’s cheese galette
- Jersey Royals and radish salad
- Fresh raspberry and elderflower lemonade
- Strawberries with cider and mint
Most keen cooks now cook ‘globally’, me as much as anyone. A Middle Eastern salad for lunch, some Korean chicken for supper; we’re always intrigued by new flavours, not because we are bored but because we are curious.
Recently, though, I was lucky enough to stay and teach in an Irish castle for a long weekend. The food was cooked by a team that had trained at Ballymaloe (the world-renowned cookery school in Co Cork).
Lunch was spreads of big hams, smoked fish, Irish cheeses, spring onion soup, brown soda bread; dinners were legs of lamb or whole salmon with waxy potatoes and spring veg. The only duff note, in fact, in four days of wonderful meals was a Middle Eastern supper. Looking out at green Irish fields, the dishes just felt wrong.
When we decided to produce this entertaining special, I thought a garden lunch of British dishes and ingredients was the way to go.
That doesn’t mean I’ve banished olive oil (ingredients from other countries do, over time, become part of the way we cook) but there isn’t a pomegranate or a splash of harissa in sight.
Prawns, ham, herbs, tomatoes, strawberries – these dishes offer the best summer food from here. And they’re guaranteed crowd-pleasers, every one.
Prawns with green herb mayonnaise
- 4 egg yolks, at room temperature
- 4 tsp Dijon mustard
- 100ml mild olive oil
- 300ml sunflower oil
- 1 tsp white-wine vinegar
- juice of ½ lemon, or to taste
- 100g baby spinach leaves
- 100g watercress (leaves only)
- 20g parsley leaves
- 15g chopped chives
- 6 sprigs of tarragon (leaves only)
- 1kg cooked cold-water prawns
- wedges of lemon, for squeezing
- Make the mayonnaise by mixing together the yolks and mustard in a bowl. Beat continuously while you start to add the oils very slowly, a drop at a time. Wait until each drop is amalgamated and the mix has thickened before adding the next.
- (As it develops more body, you can add the oils in slightly larger quantities.) Season and add the white-wine vinegar and lemon juice to taste.
- Wash the spinach, watercress and parsley and put into a pan with the water that’s left clinging to them. Cook over a medium heat for about 3 minutes, turning the leaves over, until wilted. Run cold water over them in a sieve to keep the green colour. Squeeze out excess moisture with your fists, chop, then put into the food processor with the other herbs and the mayonnaise. Whizz until smooth. Check the seasoning, adding more lemon if needed.
- Serve the prawns on a platter with wedges of lemon and the green mayonnaise on the side.
Peach and whisky glazed ham with peach relish
For the ham
- 2.5kg gammon joint, rolled and tied
- 1 litre cider
- 12 black peppercorns
- 1 onion, halved
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 sticks of celery, halved
- 2 carrots, halved
- handful of parsley stalks
For the glaze
- 1 peach, halved, stoned and flesh chopped
- 50g soft brown sugar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 5cm piece of cinnamon stick
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- 1 tbsp cider vinegar
- 35ml whisky
For the relish
- 650g peaches, halved, stoned and flesh chopped
- ½ onion, finely chopped
- 2cm square of ginger root, peeled and grated
- ½ stick cinnamon
- 100g soft light brown sugar
- 2 tbsp cider vinegar
- juice of ½ lemon
- 75ml whisky (or more, to taste)
- Put the gammon in a very large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then immediately take off the heat. Pour away the water and any scum.
- Add the cider to the pan, followed by enough water to cover the ham, then add the peppercorns, onion, bay leaves, celery, carrot and parsley stalks. Bring to the boil.
- Lower to a simmer, cover and cook gently for 1½-2 hours, or until the meat is tender (it should flake easily). Leave the meat in the liquid, in the fridge, until you want to bake it (ideally, get this stage done the day before you want to serve).
- For the glaze, put the peach, sugar and lemon juice in a small pan and simmer, stirring from time to time, for about 3 minutes, then add all the other ingredients (keep a little of the whisky back to add later). Cook on a low heat for another 8 minutes.
- Remove the cinnamon stick and add the rest of the whisky. Purée in a blender (you can also make this in advance and keep in the fridge).
- For the relish, put the chopped peaches into a heavy-bottomed pan with the other ingredients, reserving 25ml of the whisky. It will look as if you don’t have enough liquid, but the fruit will release juices as it cooks. Bring to the boil then turn down the heat. Stir to melt the sugar, then simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until completely soft. Taste for sweet-savoury balance and remove the cinnamon stick. Add the rest of the whisky to taste and leave to cool.
- Heat the oven to 210C/200C fan*/gas mark 6½.
- Lift the ham out on to a board. Using a small sharp knife, remove the string and the skin, leaving as much fat as possible. Score the fat in a criss-cross pattern, cutting through it but not into the meat. Put into a roasting tin, lined with a double layer of foil (to save on washing up). Spread over the glaze and bake for 40 minutes, or until glossy and golden.
- Leave to rest for 30 minutes, then carve and serve with the relish.
*Diana’s conversion may differ slightly from the standard
Whole smoked mackerel with spiced beetroot and dill cream
- 300g cooked beetroot, peeled
- 1 large tart apple, peeled and cored
- juice of ½ lemon (or more as needed)
- 1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 10g fresh horseradish, peeled and grated (or more as needed)
- good pinch of ground cayenne
- 350g crème fraîche
- ½ tbsp white-wine vinegar
- 10g fresh dill, chopped
- 3 whole smoked mackerel
- 1 bunch of watercress (ideally a bunch rather than bag of leaves)
- Grate the beetroot and apple coarsely, or cut into matchsticks. Toss with the lemon juice, white balsamic, oil, horseradish, cayenne, and some salt and pepper. Taste to see whether you want a little more heat or need more lemon or salt.
- Put the crème fraîche into a serving bowl and stir in the vinegar and dill.
- Serve the smoked mackerel on a platter with a big clump of fresh watercress, plus the bowl of the dill crème fraîche and the beetroot salad alongside.
Tomato and goat’s cheese galette
For the pastry
- 250g plain flour
- 150g butter
For the filling
- extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 800g tomatoes of different colours and sizes
- 2 goat’s cheese logs with rind
- 8 sprigs of thyme
- caster sugar (optional)
- To make the pastry, put the flour, butter and a good pinch of salt into a food processor and whizz until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add 2 tablespoons of water and whizz again. The mixture should come into a ball. Shape into a disc, cover with cling film and put in the fridge to chill for an hour.
- Heat the oven to 210C/200C fan*/gas mark 6½. Put a metal baking sheet inside to heat up.
- Heat a splash of oil in a frying pan and sauté the onions over a medium heat, stirring often for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat and continue to cook until soft and golden.
- Slice the tomatoes about 5mm thick. You only want the neat slices so discard the ends (you could use them in a tomato sauce).
- Roll out the pastry on a piece of baking parchment and cut into a circle measuring approximately 30cm across.
- Spread the cooked onions on top, leaving a border of about 2cm. Break up the goat’s cheese and scatter over, then lay the sliced tomatoes, overlapping a little, on top.
- Scatter over the thyme, removing the leaves from some sprigs and leaving others whole. Season and, if the tomatoes aren’t that sweet, sprinkle on pinches of caster sugar.
- Fold up the edge of the pastry a little with your fingers. Slide the tart – on the paper – on to the hot baking sheet and cook for 30 minutes. The pastry should be golden around the edges and the tomatoes should have caramelised slightly in patches. It’s best eaten lukewarm, after the flavours have further developed.
*Diana’s conversion may differ slightly from the standard
Jersey Royals and radish salad
- 2 tbsp capers, rinsed of brine or, if salted, soaked for 15 minutes and drained
- 1½ tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
- 3 shallots, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 900g small Jersey Royals
- 125g radishes of different colours
- 6 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped
- lemon juice (optional)
- Put the capers and parsley into a serving bowl and add the shallot, vinegar and oil. Season and set aside while you cook the potatoes.
- Wash and scrub the potatoes. Halve (unless they’re tiny) and boil until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and leave until cool enough to handle.
- Slice the potatoes if you want to, or leave them in halves. Add them to the bowl and toss with the dressing.
- Wash the radishes and remove the leaves and tails. Slice lengthways using a sharp knife or a mandolin. If the leaves are very fresh, add them, shredded, to the salad. Add the spring onions and radishes to the potatoes. Toss together gently. Check the seasoning – you might need a little lemon juice.
Fresh raspberry and elderflower lemonade
Elderflower cordial varies a lot in strength so you may need to add more depending on which brand you have. I use Bottlegreen. You can also make a cocktail with the raspberry purée (adding only 2-3 tablespoons of sugar to the raspberries, though), St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur and sparkling wine. Serve in champagne glasses.
- 400g raspberries
- 75g caster sugar
- 1 litre sparkling water
- 200ml elderflower cordial
- 2 tbsp lemon juice (or more, to taste)
- Sprinkle the raspberries with the sugar and leave to sit for about 20 minutes.
- Whizz in a food processor, then push through a nylon sieve.
- Put into a large jug and add the sparkling water (the water really fizzes up so make sure there’s enough room).
- Add the elderflower cordial, and the lemon juice to taste, then add some ice. You might think it tastes quite sweet at first but you’ll find the ice will mute the flavour.
Strawberries with cider and mint
- 1.2 kg strawberries
- 4 tbsp caster sugar
- 150-200ml medium or dry sparkling cider
- about 8 sprigs of mint (leaves only)
- Hull the strawberries. Leave small ones whole and halve the rest. Put into a broad, shallow serving bowl and sprinkle with the sugar. Leave for 15-30 minutes.
- Add the cider – there should be enough to just about cover the strawberries but not drown them.
- Tear the mint leaves over the top (leave small ones whole) and gently stir everything together.
- Serve straight away, before the strawberries get too soft.