I I love these midsummer days in the kitchen. Cooking suddenly becomes easier and more relaxing; Lunches are often longer and dinners less urgent. I make food that can be eaten hot or warm, to fit the slow pace of life. No one will ask you to come to the negotiating table “now”.
Bowls of artichokes on the deli are great things to have in the fridge. (You can make your own if you have artichokes in the garden and all day to play with.) At our house they might find themselves dipped in tempura batter and then dunked in deep oil or browned on the grill; It’s sometimes mashed with lemon and shredded basil leaves to give an easy pasta sauce, or whisked into a puree to spread on thick, crunchy toast. This week, I grilled some prepared foods and ate them with waxy potatoes that I’ve baked in oil and the faintest hint of garlic.
I’m making the most of our short cherry season. One week in a pie covered in crackers, the next week cooked with elderberry and anise syrup. This was served to everyone with freshly baked orange soup – mini sugar-coated cookies to dip in claret-colored cherry juice.
This is a meal that can be eaten easily, just like cold eaten straight from the oven. Lunch set for those lazy summer days, a quiet and tender moment before the scorching heat of late summer.
Artichokes with olive oil and potatoes
I use yellow and waxy potatoes for this, but any small potatoes are OK. Reserve the peels and chop the potatoes into coins that absorb the olive oil and seasoning. If you don’t have fennel fronds, use whole sprigs of thyme instead. Serves 3-4
Potato 750 gm small and waxy
olive oil 6 tablespoons
fennel 10 g, stems and fronds
garlic 1 large clove
preserved artichoke 250 grams
Preheat oven to 200/gas mark 6. Wash potatoes, then cut into slices about 1 pound thick and put in a mixing bowl. Pour olive oil and season with salt and black pepper.
Cut the fennel stalks and place them with the fronds in the bowl. Peel and mash the garlic clove, add to the potatoes and mix well. I find this easiest using my hands, but a spoon will do. Place everything in a roasting pan or shallow baking dish.
Cut the lemon into thin slices and place them between the potatoes. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until potatoes are golden on top and soft enough to pierce easily with a skewer.
Get a hot griddle or tray. Strain the artichokes from the oil. If it is whole, cut it in half. Place artichokes, cut down, on a baking tray and let heat through and brown slightly on the cut edges. It will help if you press hard on each one.
Put the artichokes on top of the potatoes and put them on the table.
Elderflower cherry with orange candy
I like to dip shortbread in cherry syrup while eating. Serves 4
cherry 350 grams
star anise 3, the whole
granulated sugar 125 grams
Sheikflower Friendly 125 ml
Water 125 ml
Pull the stems of the cherry. Put the fruit in a stainless steel pot. Using a vegetable peeler, cut two thin slices of orange peel, chop off any white pulp that may have come with it and place the peel in the pan. Add star anise, sugar, elderberry, and water, and bring to a boil. My heart until the sugar dissolves. Add the cherries and simmer for 8-10 minutes until the fruit is tender.
Remove the cherries with a draining spoon and set them aside in a bowl, then turn off the heat and let the cooking juices boil for 4-5 minutes until they thicken and turn into a syrup. Pour over cherries and set aside. The fruits are kept in the refrigerator and placed in a jar for several days.
orange shortbread biscuit
Makes about 30 mini biscuits
butter 180 gm loosened
icing sugar 180 grams
pure flour 340 grams
corn flour 80 grams
Baking powder 2 teaspoons
yolk 1, big
Zest the orange 2 teaspoons finely grated
Orange juice 1-2 tablespoons
fine sugar to roll
Line baking sheet with parchment. Set oven to 160°C / gas mark 3.
Place the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until smooth with a wooden spoon, or in a food processor fitted with a flat paddle attachment, if you prefer.
Mix the flour, cornmeal and baking powder together. Stir the egg yolks with the butter and sugar, then mix the flour, orange zest and juice. Work gently and be careful not to over-mix.
Remove the dough from the bowl and knead it gently on a floured board. Do this briefly because overwork will harden the biscuits. You just want a smooth paste. Cut about 18-20 grams in weight and roll them into balls.
Put a little icing sugar in a small bowl and roll each ball in the sugar, then place it on the lined baking tray, giving it a little room to spread.
Bake the shortbread for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven. It will be barely colored and will be very brittle. Let cool for 5 minutes, then remove from tray with a palette knife and roll in more caster sugar. Offer them cherries.
The shortbread dough is kept in a metal tin for several days, although it is better to eat it on the day it is baked.
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