How delightful to cook in the summer with all those delicious fresh ingredients!
A single ripe tomato bursting with Mediterranean flavour, discovered with a fur of mould at the bottom of the fruit bowl … soft fruits off of the vine, bounteous with sunshine and that special Tesco blandness … the barbecue, with its irresistible chargrilled flavour, simmering away disappointingly under an umbrella… It’s an alluring combination that most
publishers cooks find hard to resist.
So as the rain pounds down outside, and the lightning dances a jolly jig on the Pennine foothills all around, here are some culinary highlights from Felucca’s pokey galley.
Forever Summer: the “new Nigella” cradles some onions. Seductively.
Broad bean and feta salad, with mint, chilli and lemon dressing: Broad beans are an excellent crop. When in glut, one can easily return from the bean patch with several carrier bags full each day. However, regardless of the quantity of pods picked, it is a universal rule that they will nevertheless yield only a piddly little half-bowlful of actual beans.
There’s nothing like summer produce from a roadside stall: spanking fresh veg, paid for by a few coins in a tin box. Some enterprising folk have even set up small stalls by locks, to win the trade of passing boaters. We were lucky enough to see one such entrepreneur refreshing his stall very early one morning. He topped up the rustic wicker boxes with eggs and beautiful ripe veg, harvested just moments earlier out of a plastic wrapper from a Tesco bag he carried with him.
Asparagus spears, with butter, sea salt and black pepper: surely at their best when plucked from the ground at first light, scrubbed briskly of any soil, flown 6,000 miles from Peru in a refrigerated aeroplane, and eaten straightaway.
Grilled chicken from the barbecue, with a Greek salad from Nigella’s Forever Summer. This is indeed a delicious meal, and the salad a triumph. An unexpectedly rewarding feature of the recipe was the epic trek round six supermarkets in a gritty South Yorkshire town trying unsuccessfully to find a bulb of fennel.
Manchego, grapes, and sourdough bread. Ideal for a pleasing picnic. When planning a picnic, don’t forget to bring some suitable glasswear, ideally something top-heavy that is easily knocked over, dispatching its contents across your shorts.
Fillet of sea bass with chilli and ginger; sticky rice; broad bean, chilli and mangetout salad. Sticky rice is a staple of Asian cookery, and brings a lip-smacking new option for those bored with the same old carbs. Just remember to put a tea towel around the smoke alarm for when a moment’s inattention causes the rice to burn into a thick black layer on the bottom of your favourite saucepan.
BBQ spare ribs (a la John Torode) and corn on the cob. Bloody lovely. It is important to get the right equipment when barbecuing, and not to skimp on your grill. You wouldn’t want your guests to be disappointed by an uneven flavour or by uncooked food. So we spurned cheap models and in this instance, considered it worth splashing out: investing ten pounds on this sophisticated design from bijou home design boutique Asda.
Spaghetti alla vongole: fry a small, finely chopped onion and some chilli, add white wine, steam clams for three mins, add pasta and chopped parsley. An absolute cracker, and superior even to other spaghetti dishes when it comes to getting it down your front.
A summery Yorkshire lunch on the hoof: black pudding pork pie (with mustard), custard tart, strawberries. Note the food photography of the highest calibre, both in the arrangement of the fare, and the shooting itself.
“Incredible, edible Tod.” The small West Yorkshire town of Todmorden prides itself in an innovative scheme whereby communal vegetable patches along the towpath and in the town square provide produce free to both locals and scrounging narrowboaters.
Here, Emily cuts chives from a tub full of herbs in Todmorden town centre; we also harvested rosemary and fennel…
Indeed, the mayoress herself knocked on Felucca’s window, and begged us to help eat the glut of free food the town’s exciting experiment is producing. I was therefore surprised to be unceremoniously clobbered to the ground by the butcher, when leaving his shop with six rashers of smoked back and two steaks.
Steaks, baked toms and hasselback spuds. Bon appetit, readers!