Posts Tagged “summer”

Tomato and Sorrel Salad The bounty of summer is here. On my daily walks around the network of cycle paths near my house, there is a glut of various edible delights. Nettles and elderflowers are particularly abundant at the moment, and there are heaps of bramble bushes that are flowering. I can't wait until they start bearing fruit in a couple of months time. Last week I went a little further afield to a favourite local wood where I reliably find girolle mushrooms every year. I was a bit too optimistic, as there were not yet any girolles to be found, but I did find sorrel, both the woodland and common variety. Sorrel has a delicate citrus flavour, and is typically served with fish. In the restaurant I used to work in, we only ever used wood sorrel, its tiny and pretty clover-shaped leaves being perfect as a finishing touch for many different dishes. Common sorrel is, although not as pretty to look at, just as nice and citrusy and the leaves can grow to be much larger than its woodland relative. This makes it a better candidate for being a main player in a dish rather than just a passive decoration. The lemony-ness of sorrel goes quite well with tomatoes, to make an excellent summer salad. This is the easiest recipe ever. I randomly cut the tomatoes, seasoned with sea salt, then made a really simple herb dressing with the sorrel and some oil (using neutral-flavoured sunflower oil instead of olive oil so as not to overpower the delicate flavour of the sorrel), and drizzled it over the tomatoes, finishing with some whole sorrel (both varieties) as decoration. --- * 2 large handfuls ripe tomatoes, mixed varieties * 2 handfuls common sorrel, washed * 1 small handful wood sorrel, washed * 1 tablespoon sunflower oil, or vegetable oil * sea salt * extra virgin olive oil 1. Randomly cut the tomatoes and season them with sea salt. Place on the plates while you work on the dressing. 2. Set a few small spears of common sorrel aside for garnish, then roughly chop the rest and place in a food processor (or pestle and mortar) with a pinch of sea salt and the sunflower oil. Blend (or smash) until you have a smooth paste. Loosen slighty with a splash of water, then drizzle over the tomatoes. Garnish with the leaves of the wood sorrel and the reserved leaves of common sorrel. Finish with a few drops of olive oil.

Ricotta and Herb Dumplings A while ago I decided to try my hand at cheesemaking - as a devoted lover of cheese I think it was inevitable that I would try to make my own sooner or later. The obvious starting point for any amateur cheesemaker is ricotta. It's the simplest of cheeses - simply add something acidic, such as lemon juice, to some milk to split it into its constituent parts, and drain. Season the resulting drained curds with some sea salt and you're done; it's that easy. The nice thing about ricotta is that it's typically made with either lemon juice or vinegar, rather than rennet like most other cheeses, so you don't need any specialist ingredients. This dish was inspired by a recipe for a Corsican/Italian dish called _strozapretti_, which consists of rustic ricotta dumplings loaded with chopped fresh herbs and chard. It's like ravioli but with just the stuffing, and no pasta surrounding it. Traditionally the dumplings would be fairly rough and imperfect in shape, but I have shaped mine nicely into rounds. I've also baked them in the oven until golden, which is fantastic if you grate parmesan on top first. Baked in a rich tomato sauce, it's pretty irresistible! The ricotta for this recipe should be quite firm, which is easy to achieve if you make your own. Click [here]( for my own ricotta recipe. Alternatively, you can use shop-bought ricotta and drain it overnight in a fine sieve. --- * 200g firm ricotta * 80g baby spinach * 1 small bunch of mint, leaves picked * 1 small bunch of basil, leaves picked * 25g parmesan, finely grated * ½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil * 3 tbsp plain flour * 1 egg * 2 tins of chopped plum tomatoes * 1 small onion, finely chopped * 1 clove garlic, finely chopped or grated * 1 sprig of thyme * sea salt and cracked black pepper * vegetable oil, for frying * olive oil, for frying 1. Place a saute pan over a medium heat and add a little vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, add the spinach along with a small pinch of salt. Saute until the spinach is wilted, then drain in a sieve. 2. Reserve a selection of the nicest, smallest basil leaves for garnish at the end. Finely chop the mint and roughly chop the remainder of the basil, then place in a bowl. Add the ricotta, flour and egg to the bowl also. 3. When the spinach is cool enough to handle, with clean hands squeeze as much liquid out of the spinach as possible, then roughly chop and add to the bowl with the ricotta along with a generous pinch of black pepper, and sea salt to taste. 4. Line a large tray with greaseproof paper, then divide the ricotta mix into equal portions. Shape each portion into an approximate ball shape and set on the tray. The balls will be quite sticky but don't worry, we're going to re-shape them before cooking. Place the balls in the fridge to cool for 3 hours. 5. Meanwhile, make your tomato sauce; heat a medium pot or saute pan over a medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, once it's hot, add the onion and garlic and a couple of pinches of salt and cracked black pepper. Sweat gently for 10 minutes until soft, then add the tomatoes and thyme. Turn the heat to low, and simmer gently for 20-30 minutes. It should have turned darker and richer. Remove from the heat and discard the sprig of thyme. 6. Get a large pan of water boiling on the stove and season it generously with salt. Remove the balls from the fridge and, with floured hands shape them into nice round dumpling shapes. With the water at a rolling boil, cook the dumplings 3 or 4 at a time. The water should barely stop boiling when you add each batch. After they float to the surface cook for a further 30 seconds then remove and drain in a colander. 7. Heat the oven to 180C. In a casserole dish or oven-proof bowl, pour in the tomato sauce and add the dumplings. Scatter over the parmesan then place in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the dumplings are lightly browned. 8. Garnish with the reserved basil leaves and serve.