Wednesday, 14 June 2017

June - Glorious, Flaming June!



We’ve made it!  The dark and the cold have all given way to glorious summer, and very soon the summer solstice will remind us that it’s a temporary gift as the sun crosses the equator again!

We practically live outside now, and thanks to the fantastic Man-Aga (our gas barbecue), the oven gets a good clean and can be retired until the autumn.  From now on, all cooking takes place on the hob or on the Barbie.  My summer world revolves around beach visits, picnics, afternoons in the garden and evenings sitting outside with a cheeky glass of Pimms and my book while my faithful companion monitors the bird and squirrel population.  Housework is relegated to a quick morning flick and vac or a rainy day pastime!

Pesto Stuffed Chicken
As the heat starts building our dog-walking routine has a radical make-over, we take our longest walk in the morning while the day is still relatively cool, lunchtime walks are little more than a walk over to the lake while I sit and soak up the rays and she potters around checking on the ducks.

This is the best time of year food-wise.  Beautiful baby new potatoes, peas in the pod, broad   If winter eating is all about comfort food, summer eating must surely be all about lightness, fresh flavours and clean-tasting dishes.  I love this time of year best of all – as I write this, the sunlight is streaming in through the patio door and Holly is lying with her nose on the doorstep, lapping up the rays!
beans, kidney beans, fresh salads, glorious strawberries, apricots and nectarines.

Griddled Asparagus Salad
One of my favourite summer dishes is Pesto stuffed chicken.  Made with the lovely fresh basil that I often grow in the garden, this is a real flavour-packed treat.  I usually make my own pesto, the shop-bought stuff rarely compares to the real deal.  Delia’s recipe is the one I always turn to and is an absolute doddle to make.  This is a lovely assemble-ahead dish if you’re cooking for company.  You can butterfly, stuff and wrap the chickens the day before and leave them in the fridge.  Pop them into a shallow casserole or tin though as they tend to ooze basil oil everywhere!

Another one of my lunchtime favourites is griddled asparagus over salami or parma ham on a bed of lettuce.  Topped with a softly poached egg this is an absolute treat – especially if you scatter an avalanche of parmesan cheese over the top!  Sometimes you need a blow out!

Trifle
Puddings in summer are really nothing more than a little Greek yoghurt drizzled with honey – something Holly always enjoys too!  A light fruit salad or a fruit compote is a nice treat too.  I just pop an assortment of fresh fruit into an ovenproof dish, sprinkle with a tiny bit of sugar and stew it in the oven until it all collapses, add berries at the last minute to collapse in the heat of the dish.  A trifle is a nice treat too,
so many happy occasions are marked with the arrival of a trifle in my family – my Dad used to love it!