Lazy days of summer

One of the best memories I have of summer as a child was taking afternoon tea down to the wheat fields to join my father during combining. He would take a half hour off from the dusty work of harvesting the year's corn (no air conditioned cabs in those days - just a handkerchief over the nose and mouth) and join mum and me on the picnic rug to feast on crab and cucumber sandwiches (remember Shipman's crab paste?) Victoria sponge or coffee and walnut cake and Tizer (a nuclear-orange coloured fizzy drink from the 70's and 80's). After the meal it was time for a quick game of cricket - the straw bale as a temporary wicket, before mum and I left dad to work until well after dusk, before the next day's rain came to dampen everyones spirits.

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Maybe the food has changed a bit since then, as have the combines, but I still love the whole event - cook ahead, pack up the baskets and find a lovely spot in dappled sunshine to enjoy a an alfresco meal with friends or family. This story was a commissioned feature for Food & Travel magazine last summer.

So armed with a selection of your favourite picnic dishes, head off to your favourite tree and settle down for a long afternoon of food, laughter and games - anyone for croquet?

Radishes with smoked or black salt and nasturtium butter

If nasturtiums are unavailable you could easily use your favourite soft herb such as chives, basil, tarragon or parsley - chop finely and stir through the butter. You can buy smoked salt from specialist suppliers, either online or from fine food stores.

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Serves: 8

20 nasturtium flowers, plus extra to serve

100g unsalted butter, softened

1-2 teaspoon smoked sea salt *

a pinch freshly ground pepper

1 bunch radishes

black pepper

a few nasturtium leaves, to serve

Make sure the nasturtium flowers are bug and dirt free brushing them gently with a small paint brush. Chop roughly and place in a  small food processor with the butter, salt and a little pepper. Blend until smooth and the butter is a speckled orange colour. Place in a jar and seal. Store in the fridge until required.

Wash the radishes and trim and discard any large leaves. Serve with the nasturtium butter and some extra smoked sea salt.

*smoked sea salt is available online or from larger supermarkets

Carpaccio of beetroot cured salmon with horseradish dressing

Ask your fishmonger for the tail end of the fish making slicing far easier and make sure the skin is left on. You will need to start this 3 days ahead.

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Serves: 10

2 x 500g fillets salmon

100g sea salt flakes

100g unrefined sugar

zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon vodka

1 small raw beetroot, peeled and finely grated (about 150g)

2 teaspoons ground black pepper


250g crème fraiche

2 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish or creamed horseradish sauce

2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

Rye bread or soda bread, to serve

Place a fillet of fish, skin side down in a plastic container. Mix the salt, sugar, lemon zest, vodka, grated beetroot and the pepper together. Spread over the salmon then place the other fillet skin-side up over the top, so the fillets sit flesh to flesh together.

Wrap with cling film and using a small board weighed down with a heavy weight (such as a pestle and mortar) and place in the fridge. After 12 hours pour away the liquid that has pooled in the base and turn the fish over. Return to the fridge and replace the weight. After a further 24 hours, pour away any more liquid and this time scrape off the beetroot.

Sandwich the fillets together, wrap and place back in the fridge, again weighted down, for a final 24 hours. 

Before serving, combine the crème fraiche, horseradish, tarragon and a little salt and pepper in a bowl. Very thinly slice the salmon with the knife slanting across the fish down towards the tail. Serve on slices of rye bread with some of the sauce and a few tarragon sprigs.

Summer garlic and onion flatbread with goat cheese

If you can find whole bulbs of fresh garlic use these as they have a lovely mellow flavour as well as looking delightful. Alternatively, simply use large garlic cloves, thinly sliced.

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Serves: 8

1 head young garlic (or 12 whole cloves)

1 bunch spring onions, trimmed

1/2 bunch chives, with flowers if possible

125g goat cheese log

2 teaspoons black sesame seeds

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon clear honey

salt and pepper

bread dough

350g bread flour

a pinch salt

7g dried yeast

250-260ml warm water

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Make up bread dough. Sift the flour into the bowl of a food mixer with dough hooked attached. Add the salt and yeast and stir through. Then gradually work in the water and oil with the machine on low until the mixture comes together. Increase to medium and knead for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth.  

Oil a large bowl, shape the dough into a ball and place in the bowl. Cover the bowl with cling film and leaved to rise for about 1 hour until doubled in volume.

Meanwhile, prepare the topping. Trim the top and the roots form the whole garlic and slice thinly lengthways through the whole bulb and stem (or sice the garlic cloves thinly). Cut the spring onions in half lengthways.

Blanch the garlic slices in boiling water for 2 mins. Drain and refresh under cold water and dry well. Repeat with the onions and chives for 1 minute and then 10 seconds respectively. Drain, refresh and dry well.

Preheat the oven to 200c/400f/gas mark 6. Divide dough in half and shape each roughly into a 20x30cm rectangle. Top each one with the half the goat cheese and arrange the blanched garlic, spring onions, chives and flowers over the top. Scatter with sesame seeds and drizzle with the oil and honey. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer to a large baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and lightly risen. Cool on a wire tray.

Country-style pork and rabbit terrine with pickled plum relish

Terrines make perfect picnic food, they can be made several days ahead and stored in the fridge as the flavour will continue to improve. This recipe calls for rabbit and I recommend buying the saddle or back loin of the rabbit where there is more meat and it is easier to get off the bone – alternatively you could use chicken breast fillets if you prefer.

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Serves: 12

350g smoked streaky bacon rashers, rind removed

500g skinless pork belly, diced

500g rabbit meat, diced

1 small onion, minced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

75ml dry cider

2 tablespoons brandy

75g whole shelled pistachio nuts

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

8 juniper berries, crushed

salt and pepper

pickled plum relish

500g plums

1 piece stem ginger, plus 1 tablespoon syrup from jar

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

75g brown sugar

1/2-1 teaspoon salt

Make the terrine. Take the bacon slices and using the back of your knife pull along the length of the bacon so it stretches it, doubling the length. Use this to line a 1 litre capacity loaf tin, allowing the bacon to overhang the edges. If there is any bacon left, chop finely.

Put the pork belly, rabbit and chopped bacon into a food processor and process briefly until coarsely minced. Transfer to a large bowl and mix in all the remaining ingredients until evenly combined. Cover and set aside for 1 hour for the flavours to infuse.       

Pre-heat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas Mark 2. Spoon the pork mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Cover the terrine with the overhanging bacon slices and cover the tin with foil. Place in a roasting tin and pour in enough boiling water to come half the way up the sides of the tin. Transfer to the oven and cook for 1 hour. Remove the foil and cook for a further 30 minutes until a skewer, inserted into the center, comes out hot.

Remove the terrine from the oven carefully so as not to spill any meat juices and leave to cool completely. Place a piece of waxed paper over the terrine and top with a heavy weight, refrigerate overnight.

For the pickled plums. Cut the plums in half and discard stones. Place in a saucepan with all the remaining ingredients, bring to the boil slowly to dissolve the sugar and then simmer for 20-25 minutes until softened. Let cool completely and store in a jar.

To un-mould the terrine remove the waxed paper and turn out onto a board. Serve in slices with the plum relish and some crusty bread.

Frisée, French bean and pear salad with aged Manchego

It is best to transfer all the ingredients for the salad whole and separately so you can assemble it at the last moment, keeping it fresh. The dressing however can be mixed ahead and stored in a jar.


Serves: 8

250g French beans, trimmed

50g pine nuts

1 large pear

1 frisée lettuce, separated

75g aged Manchego, crumbled

salad dressing

1 small shallot, very finely chopped

1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

11/2 teaspoons caster sugar

1-11/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

4 tablespoons fruity extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

Blanch the beans in lightly salted boiling water for 2 minutes. Refresh under cold water, drain and dry thoroughly. Dry fry the pine nuts in a small frying pan over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes until golden. Let cool.

Make the dressing. Place all the ingredients together in a sealable jar. Add lid, shake well and remember to shake again before dressing the salad.

To serve, quarter and core the pear and then cut into slices. Place in a large bowl with the beans, pine nuts, lettuce and crumbled cheese. Add some dressing and toss before serving.

Lemony goat cheese tartlets with blueberries and lavender

The lovely crumbly biscuit bases here, are made using Speculoos biscuits. These are rich Dutch/Belgian butter biscuit flavoured with spice (often served alongside coffee) and are available from specialist food stores or online. You can use ginger nuts as an alternative.

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Serves: 6

175g speculoos or gingernuts, crushed

75g butter, melted

225g fresh goat curd

100ml clear honey

grated zest and juice 1 lemon

300ml double cream

200g blueberries

4 teaspoons caster sugar

a few edible lavender flowers (optional)

Place the biscuits in a food processor and blend until finely ground. Melt the butter in a small pan, stir into the biscuit crumbs and stir until evenly combined. Spoon the mixture into the 6 x 10cm tartlet tins, pressing over the base and up the sides of each one. Transfer to the fridge and leave to set for 15 minutes.

Beat the goat cheese, honey and lemon juice together until creamy and smooth gradually whisk in the cream until smooth and light. Leave to chill until required.

Meanwhile, heat the blueberries, sugar and 1 teaspoon of lavender petals over a low heat until the blueberries begin to burst. Using a slotted spoon remove the blueberries and place in a bowl. Increase the heat and reduce the juices for 2-3 minutes until syrupy. Pour over the blueberries and leave to go cold.

Just before transporting to the picnic, divide the filling between the tart cases and loosen a little from the tins. Just before serving spoon over the blueberry mixture and serve with a few extra lavender flowers.

Recipes: Louise Pickford

Photographs: Ian Wallace

© Food & Travel magazine

Feature first published 2015

Perfect summer salads

It's hot outside and all I really want to eat is salad, so I thought I'd share some of my favourites. These are all quick and easy to prepare and use only a few ingredients pared together with a simple dressing that compliments rather than distracts from the overall flavour.

Fig and prosciutto salad

Serves: 4

2 heads whitlof or chicory

4 slices prosciutto ham

4 fresh figs, quartered

50 g walnuts, toasted

50 g Pecorino cheese, thinly shaved


4 tbsp walnut oil

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp verjuice

1 tbsp chopped fresh chives

1 tsp Dijon mustard

salt and pepper

Trim the whitlof or chicory, cut in half and then diagonally into thick slices. Place in a bowl with the ham, figs and walnuts and scatter over the cheese.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together, drizzle over the salad, toss well and serve.

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Thai Smoked Trout Salad

Serves: 4

A simple salad, ideal as a starter with lovely fresh flavours of Thai cooking.

250 g hot smoked trout fillets

1 cucumber, thinly sliced

150 g cherry tomatoes, halved

4 spring onions, sliced

2 small red chillies, sliced

2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

4 tbsp roasted salted cashew nuts


2 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp Thai fish sauce

1 tbsp lime juice

1 tsp grated root ginger

2 tbsp sunflower oil

1 tsp sesame oil

Start by making the dressing. Warm together the sugar, vinegar, fish sauce, lime juice and ginger until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool and then stir in the two oils.

Flake the smoked trout and place in a large bowl with the cucumber, tomatoes, onions, chilli and coriander. Pour over the dressing, toss well and serve garnished with the cashews.

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Prawn, fennel and rocket salad

Serves 4

500 g fennel, trimmed

120 ml good quality extra virgin olive oil

grated zest and juice 1/2 lemon

1 garlic clove, crushed

a pinch of sugar

500 g large peeled prawns

125 g rocket leaves

salt and pepper

Using a mandolin very thinly slice the fennel and place in a large bowl.

Combine the oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt and pepper, pour over the fennel and stir well until the fennel is evenly coated.

Add the prawns and rocket to the fennel, stir well and serve.

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Thai beef salad

Serves 4

1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns, crushed

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp sea salt

500 g piece beef fillet

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 carrots, pared into ribbons

2 Lebanese cucumbers, pared into ribbons

4 spring onions, shredded

1/2 bunch each Thai basil, mint and coriander leaves


15 g palm sugar

1 tbsp fish sauce

2 tbsp water

2 tbsp lime juice

2 small red chillies, chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

Combine the Sichuan pepper, coriander and salt on a plate. Rub the beef fillet with oil and then coat with the spice mixture. Cook the beef on a ridged grill pan for 10 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Set aside to go cold.

Meanwhile, make the dressing. Heat the palm sugar, fish sauce and water together until the sugar is dissolved. Cool and stir in the remaining ingredients.

Cut the beef into thin slices and place in a large bowl with the carrots, cucumber, onions and herbs.  Add the dressing, toss well until evenly distributed and serve.

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Tuna tataki with sesame and ginger dressing

Serves: 4

200 g (8oz) tuna loin fillets

2 tsp sesame oil

75 g peeled edamame beans

a few micro herbs

Sesame, soy and ginger dressing

1 tbsp sunflower oil

1 tbsp cold water

4 tsp rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp soy sauce

11/2 tsp caster sugar

1 tsp grated root ginger

1 tsp sesame oil

salt and pepper 

Brush the tuna with sesame oil and season well with pepper and salt. Preheat a frying pan and cook tuna briefly on all sides for 30 seconds. Immediately rinse under cold water to stop the fish cooking further. Pat dry and set aside until required.

Blanch the edamame beans in lightly salted, boiling water for 1 minute. Drain, rinse under cold water and pat dry. Make the dressing. Stir the ingredients together in a bowl and season to taste.

Thinly sliced the tuna and arrange on plates with the edamame and micro herbs. Drizzle over the dressing and serve.

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Fatoush salad with grilled halloumi

Serves: 4

1 large green pepper, seeded and diced

1 Lebanese cucumber, diced

2 ripe tomatoes, diced

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

2 pitta breads

1/2 bunch each fresh parsley and coriander leaves

250 g halloumi, sliced


3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 small garlic clove, crushed

1/2 tsp caster sugar

salt and pepper

Mix together the pepper, cucumber, tomatoes, onion and herbs in a bowl. Char-grill the pitta on  preheated ridged grill pan until toasted. Cool slightly and tear into bite size pieces. Add to the salad.

Make the dressing. Stir the oil, lemon juice, garlic, sugar and salt and pepper together and pour over salad, stir well and transfer to plates.

Heat a frying pan until hot and brown the cheese slices for about 1 minute each side until golden and softened. Arrange over the salad and serve drizzled with a little more lemon juice.

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Fresh tuna Niçoise

Serves: 4

350 g new potatoes

125 g French beans, trimmed

2 eggs

500 g fresh tuna steak

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

4 ripe tomatoes, chopped

4 anchovies in oil, drained and chopped

2 tbsp small French capers, drained and washed

2 tbsp chopped fresh basil

1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

50 g Nicoise olives


4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

salt and pepper

Cook the potatoes in lightly salted boiling water for 7 minutes, add the beans and cook for a further 4-5 minutes, until tender. Drain and place in a large bowl.

Place the eggs in cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 7 minutes. Immediately plunge the eggs into cold water, peel and cut into quarters.

Rub the tuna steaks with oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook in a preheated frying pan for 1 minute each side. Rest for 2 minutes then cut into chunks.

Place the potatoes, beans, tuna, tomatoes, olives, capers and herbs in a bowl. Whisk the dressing ingredients together, add to the salad and stir well. Serve salad topped with the egg.

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All photographs © Ian Wallace

Nice buns

Like most things in life, burgers and sliders come in all shapes and sizes. They can be large, small, round, sausage shaped, wrapped in a tortilla or a flatbread. They can be made up of meat, fish or veggies, rice, lentils or pulses. What they do all have in common though is some sort of bread based food stuff in which we can encase them. This allows us to eat them hot, in our hands, without getting burnt or overly messy (a little mess when eating a burger, is in my opinion, a very good reason to eat one).

That aside they really can be flavoured with just about anything you like. Here are some of my favourite combinations all stuffed into some sort of bun.

Hawaiian teriyaki pork burger with pineapple

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Serves: 4

Hawaiian food takes its inspiration from many different cuisines including Japanese, Mexican and American and these flavours combine beautifully in this colourful burger.

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoon sake

1 tablespoon mirin

1 tsp caster sugar

15g butter

1 tablespoon fresh coriander leaves

500g pork mince

4 sesame seed burger rolls

50g salad leaves

Pineapple salsa

1 small pineapple

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon agave syrup

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Avocado mayonnaise

1 avocado, peeled and stoned

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 teaspoon wasabi paste

juice ½ lime

salt and pepper

Make the burgers. Place the soy sauce, sake, mirin, sugar and butter in a small saucepan and simmer gently for 2-3 minutes until reduced by half and sticky. Let cool. Combine the pork mince with 11/2 tablespoons of the soy mixture and work together to form a sticky mixture. Shape into 4 patties, cover and chill for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the pineapple. Peel the skin from the pineapple and cut into 5mm thick slices and using a small pastry cutter cut out the center core. Combine the oil, the agave syrup and a pinch salt and brush over the pineapple rings. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the rings for 2 minutes each side until golden brown. Transfer to a bowl and add the vinegar and cinnamon, stir well and set aside.

Make the avocado mayonnaise. Dice the avocado flesh and place in a blender with the mayonnaise, wasabi and lime juice and puree until really smooth. Season to taste.

Heat a griddle pan over a medium heat. Brush the patties with a little oil and griddle for 5 minutes each side until charred and cooked through. Rest for 5 minutes.

To serve, cut the rolls in half and toast the cut sides. Fill with the burgers, lettuce, pineapple rings, avocado mayonnaise and the remaining teriyaki sauce mixture, warming it through again, if necessary.

Malaysian prawn sambal sliders

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Serves: 4

Malaysian sambals, or sauces are a blend of Asian and Indian flavours and it is the turmeric that gives this one its distinctive colour and flavour. With the charred limes and a hint of lime, these sambals are delicious.

16 large raw prawns

1 tablespoon sunflower oil

1 lime

2 teaspoons caster sugar

2 teaspoons sea salt

8 mini brioche rolls

50g Asian salad leaves

4 tablespoons mayonnaise

a few coriander leaves


2 large shallots, chopped

2 Thai red chillies, seeded and chopped

2 large garlic cloves, sliced

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 tablespoons peanut oil

2 tablespoons coconut cream

2 tablespoons caster sugar

1 tablespoon tamarind paste

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

1 large tomato, diced

salt and pepper

16 bamboo skewers

Soak the bamboo skewers for 20 minutes in cold water. Drain and pat dry.

Make the sambal. Place the shallots, chillies, garlic, turmeric and a pinch salt in a food processor with 1 tablespoon of water and blend until smooth. Heat the oil in a small wok or frying pan and gently fry the paste for 5 minutes over a very low heat until fragrant. Stir in the coconut cream, tamarind paste, soy sauce and sugar and cook, stirring, for 1 minute and then add the tomato. Simmer gently for 10 minutes until the sauce is thickened. Leave to cool.

Peel the prawns and pull out the intestinal tract. Wash and dry well. Place in a shallow dish and add the oil, lime zest, sugar and salt. Thread the prawns lengthways onto the bamboo skewers to keep them as flat as you can and marinate for 15 minutes.

Heat a griddle pan over a high heat and cook the prawns for 1-2 minutes each side until charred and cook through. Remove from the heat and dress with the lime juice. Rest for 3 minutes.

To serve, cut the rolls in half and toast the cut sides. Fill with the salad leaves, sambal, prawns, mayonnaise and coriander.

Super greens zucchini sliders whipped feta and kale crisps

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Makes: 8

Lovely vibrant green sliders served with crispy kale chips, perfect for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. You will need thick curly kale for the chips as it is more robust than baby kale leaves.

2 zucchini (about 500g)

1 lemon

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

8 small poppy seed rolls

Kale crisps

100g kale, trimmed

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons sesame seeds

Rocket pesto

2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds

60g rocket leaves

1 garlic clove, chopped

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Whipped feta

100g feta

25g creme fraiche

Trim the zucchini and cut lengthways into 3mm thick slices. Grate the lemon and squeeze the juice into a bowl. Add the oil and some salt and pepper. Place the zucchini slices in a shallow dish, pour over the dressing and stir well to coat. Leave to marinate for 30 minutes.

Make kale crisps. Preheat the oven to 150c/300f/gas mark 3 and line a large baking tray with baking paper. Shred the kale into bite size pieces, discarding the thick stalk and place in a bowl, combine with the oil and caress until the leaves are well coated. Scatter over the prepared tray and roast for 18-20 minutes until crisp. Season with salt and pepper and scatter with the sesame seeds.

Make pesto. Toast the pumpkin seeds in a small frying pan over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes until golden. Cool and place in a food processor with the rocket, garlic, oil and a little salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.

Make the whipped feta. Place the ingredients in a blender and puree until really smooth.

To serve, heat a griddle pan until hot and cook the zucchini slices for 2-3 minutes each side until charred and tender. Cut the rolls in half and toast the cut sides. Fill the rolls with the zucchini slices, whipped feta, pesto and some of the kale crisps. Serve with the remaining kale crisps on the side.

 Vietnamese sesame tofu banh mi burger with pickled vegetables

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Serves: 4

The tofu is marinated in a char sui sauce before being grilled and served in rolls with pickled vegetables, chillies, salad leaves and fresh herbs making this a delicious veggie alternative to the classic Vietnamese BBQ pork rolls, or ban mi.

300g firm tofu

80ml hoisin sauce

4 tablespoons honey

4 tablespoons dark soy sauce

2 tablespoons Shoaxing wine

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice

1 French baguette

50g salad leaves

2 tablespoons black and white sesame seeds

a few fresh coriander, mint and basil leaves

4 tablespoons mayonnaise

4 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce

Pickled vegetables

1 small carrot

½ cucumber

½ small red onion

50ml rice wine vinegar

50g caster sugar

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon salt

a few sesame seeds, to serve (optional)

Make the pickled vegetables. Thinly slice the carrot lengthways and then cut into long thin strips. Deseed and cut the cucumber into long thin strips. Thinly slice the onion and combine the vegetables in a bowl. Place the vinegar, sugar, water and salt in a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil and then pour over the vegetables. Stir well and set aside until cold. 

Cut the tofu into 8 thick slices and place in a bowl. Combine the hoisin sauce, honey, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, sesame oil and Chinese 5 spice. Pour over the tofu, turning to coat thoroughly and leave to marinate for 30 minutes.

Heat a heavy-based frying pan over a high heat and fry the marinated tofu slices in batches for 2 minutes each side until charred.

To serve, cut the baguette into 10cm lengths and then cut each one almost in half. Fill each one with the salad leaves, fresh herbs, fried tofu and pickles and drizzle over the mayonnaise and sweet chilli sauce. Top with the sesame seeds.

Chinese crispy duck sliders with hoisin sauce and spring onions

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Makes: 8

What could be more delicious than peking duck burgers! These are lovely especially with the brioche rolls as an alternative to Chinese steamed buns - although you could substitute with boa buns if you want.

2 x 450g duck leg confit, at room temperature

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons hoisin sauce, plus extra to serve

1 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice

50g plain flour

2 eggs, beaten

75g dried breadcrumbs

4 bunch spring onions

1 small cucumber (½ large)

8 oval or round brioche rolls

sunflower oil, for frying

Preheat oven to 190c/375f/gas mark 5 and line a tray with baking paper. Set 1 tablespoon of fat from the duck confit aside and reserve for later, discard the remaining fat. Place the legs in the prepared tin. Combine the honey, soy sauce, hoisin sauce in a bowl and add ¼ tsp salt. Brush all over the legs and roast for 15 minutes, brushing with the glaze in the pan halfway through until golden. Let cool.

Roughly tear the skin and flesh into small pieces and place in a food processor with the reserved fat and the Chinese 5 spice, a little salt and pepper and pulse briefly until the mixture just comes together.

Divide the duck mixture into 8 small patties and dip each one into the flour, then the beaten egg and finally the breadcrumbs, turning over until evenly coated with crumbs. Chill for 30 minutes.

Heat about 2 cm sunflower oil in a large frying pan and fry the patties in batches for 2 minutes each side until golden. Transfer to a clean baking tray and bake for a further 5 minutes until cooked through.

Meanwhile, cut the spring onions into 5cm lengths and then into thin strips. Deseed and cut the cucumber into similar size batons.

To serve, cut the brioche rolls in half and toast the cut sides, fill with the duck fritters, spring onions, cucumber and some extra hoisin sauce.

Sticky sweet chilli halloumi sliders with crispy onions

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Serves: 4

I didn’t think haloumi could get any better but adding a little sweet chilli jam is a knock out. You can temper the heat of the chilli sauce by using large mild chillies if preferred.

250g halloumi

1 tablespoon olive oil

8 small wholemeal baps

50g rocket leaves

8 baby tomatoes, halved

Sweet chilli jam

6 large red chillies, seeded and chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 teaspoon grated root ginger

1 teaspoon salt

100ml rice wine vinegar

100ml granulated sugar

Onion rings

125g plain flour

30g cornflour

250ml sparkling water

1 onion, sliced

Sunflower oil, for deep frying

Heat the oven to 180c/350f/gas mark 4. Make the sweet chilli jam. Place the chillies, garlic, ginger and salt in a food processor, blend to a rough paste and transfer to a saucepan. Add the vinegar and sugar, bring to the boil and simmer gently, partially covered for 5-10 minutes until the mixture becomes a quite thick and sticky. Cool completely, bottle and store in the ‘fridge. Use as required.

Make onion rings. Sift the flours into a bowl, add the salt and then gradually whisk in the water to make a smooth batter. Let sit for 10 minutes. Fill a wok or old saucepan with 5cm sunflower oil and heat until a cube of bread, added to the pan crisps immediately. Whisk the batter again and dip the onion rings in a few at a time and deep fry for 2-3 minutes until crisp and golden. Keep warm in the oven while cooking the haloumi.

Cut the halloumi into 3 mm thick slice. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a high heat and fry the halloumi slices for 30 seconds each side until starting to brown. Brush with a little of the chilli jam and cook for a further 30 seconds each side until golden and sticky.

Cut the rolls in half and toast the cut sides. Fill with the haloumi, rocket, tomato halves and the crispy onions and serve with a little extra chilli jam.

Aubergine sliders with tahini sauce

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Serves: 4

Lovely rich flavours combine in this Middle Eastern-style burger with preserved lemon, pomegranate, tahini and ras al hanout - a classic spice mix.

100g semi-dried tomatoes, sliced

½ preserved lemon, flesh discarded and skin diced

4 tablespoons pine nuts (35g)

4 tablespoons pomegranate seeds (50g)

4 tablespoons parsley leaves

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons honey

1 large aubergine (about 450g)

1 teaspoon ras al hanout

8 small ciabatta rolls

50g salad leaves

salt and pepper

Tahini sauce

100g Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons tahini paste

1 small garlic clove, crushed

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Combine the semi-dried tomatoes, preserved lemon, pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, parsley, 2 tablespoons of the oil, the honey and some salt and pepper. In a bowl and set aside.

Cut the aubergine width-ways into 8 thick slices. Combine 2 tablespoons of the remaining oil with the ras al hanout and some salt and pepper and brush over the slices. Heat a griddle pan until hot and griddle the aubergine for 4-5 minutes each side until well charred and softened.

Meanwhile, beat together the yogurt, tahini, garlic and lemon juice and season to taste.

To serve, cut the rolls in half and toast the cut sides. Fill with the aubergine slices, tomato mixture, tahini yogurt and salad leaves.

Japanese salmon katsu sliders

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Serves: 4

Small salmon patties coated in breadcrumbs and serve with a katsu sauce make really tasty fish sliders. Add some wasabi for optional heat!

1 teaspoon sunflower oil

1 teaspoon sesame oil

2 shallots, finely chopped

1 teaspoon grated root ginger

400g skinless salmon fillets

2 teaspoons miso paste

50g panko crumbs

8 mixed mini rolls

50g salad leaves

3 tablespoons pickled ginger

a little wasabi paste (optional)

salt and pepper

Katsu sauce

4 tablespoons tomato ketchup

2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons oyster sauce

4 teaspoons caster sugar

sunflower oil, for cooking

Preheat the oven to 190c/375f/gas mark 5 and line a baking tray with baking paper. Heat the sunflower oil and sesame oil in frying pan and gently fry the shallots and ginger for 5 minutes until soft. Let cool. Combine 300g of the salmon with the shallot mixture, miso paste, a little salt and pepper and puree in a food processor until fairly smooth. Finely dice the remaining salmon and stir through the minced mixture. Shape the mixture into 8 small patties and chill for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the katsu sauce. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl stirring to dissolve the sugar. Set aside.

Place the panko crumbs in a shallow bowl and dip in the patties, pressing the crumbs over the surface to completely coat them.

Heat 2 cm of sunflower oil in a large frying pan and cook the patties for 1 minute each side over a medium heat. Transfer to the prepared tray and bake for 3 minutes until cooked through. Remove from the oven and rest for 5 minutes.

To serve, cut the rolls in half and toast the cut sides. Fill with burgers, salad leaves, pickled ginger, wasabi (if using) and katsu sauce.

© Recipes Louise Pickford

© Photographs Ian Wallace & Ryland, Peters & Small Publishers




















A Very Spanish Cook Club

Saturday's Spanish cook club was a great success, where we cooked up some really interesting dishes including this amazing looking Arroz Negro (black rice) .


This unctuous looking rice dish originally from Valencia and the Catalan region of Spain is made with cuttlefish and their black ink. Although made in a similar manner to paella, it isn't classified as such and tends to be wetter and more creamy than Spain's most famous rice dish. I for one prefer the texture as it quite closely resembles an Italian risotto (well to me anyway). 

The inky black colour can be off putting to some  - in fact one of my students remarked "I think it would taste even better if it was white" although it is this rather unusual colour that I find so attractive and enticing. 

Arroz Negro

Serves: 2

You can use either squid (calamari) or cuttlefish for this recipe and ask your fishmonger for the small packets of prepared squid ink. You will need 2 small packs or 1 heaped teaspoon. Double the quantities, as required, for more people – this recipe serves 2.

350 g prepared small squid or cuttlefish (you can use the pre-cleaned squid)

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, chopped

1 small red pepper, seeded and diced

1 large tomato, seeded and finely chopped

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoons saffron strands, ground (see page 00 - introduction)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

2 teaspoons squid ink

500 ml hot fish or chicken stock *

150 g Bomba, Calasperra or Arborio rice

salt and pepper

Roughly chop the prepared squid. Heat the oil in a 25 cm frying pan or shallow flameproof casserole and quickly stir-fry the squid for 2-3 minutes until lightly golden. Remove with a slotted spoon.

Add the garlic and pepper to the pan with a little salt and fry gently for 10 minutes until softened. Add the tomato, paprika, saffron and parsley and cook for a further 5 minutes until the mixture is quite dry.

Place the squid ink in a bowl and stir in a little of the hot stock. Add the rice to the casserole, stir well and then add the squid pieces and inky stock. Stir once and then simmer gently for 20 minutes until the rice is al dente and the stock is creamy and quite sticky. Serve at once.

* Tip: to make fish stock, place fish trimmings and prawn shells etc into a pan with some chopped celery, leek, parsley, thyme and a little salt and pepper. Add 1.5 litres of cold water and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain and reserve stock.

We also prepared a small selection of simple tapas, salted some cod and cooked it in a stew with chorizo and potatoes and finished the morning off with some fabulously light and fluffy churros served with a rich chocolate sauce spiked with Pedro Ximenez sherry.

Churros finished shot 2.jpg

Churros with Pedro Ximenez Chocolate Sauce

Serves: 6

250 ml water

120 g butter

180 g plain flour, twice sifted

pinch salt

3 medium eggs (size 3)

75 g caster sugar

2 tsp ground cinnamon

chocolate sauce with Pedro Ximenez

125 g dark chocolate

100 ml single cream

2 tbsp Pedro Ximenez sherry

vegetable oil for frying

Heat the water and butter in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until the butter melts. Tip in the flour and salt and beat well with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes away from the pan edges (this will be almost immediate). Leave to cool for 5 minutes.

Using an electric whisk beat the eggs into the dough one at a time until smooth and slightly glossy. Spoon the dough into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm star nozzle.

Heat vegetable oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan to a depth of 7 cm until it reaches 170c/330f on a sugar thermometer (or until a small amount of the dough sizzles as soon as it is dropped into the oil). Carefully pipe approximately 15 cm lengths of the dough straight into the hot oil, using a knife to cut the dough off at the nozzle. Fry 3 at a time for 3 minutes until crisp and golden, turning half way through using metal tongs. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen towel. Keep warm in a moderate oven while cooking the rest.

Combine the sugar and cinnamon on a plate and roll the churros in the mixture until coated.

Meanwhile, heat the chocolate and cream together in a small saucepan over a low heat, stirring, until the chocolate melts. Remove from the heat and stir in the sherry. Arrange the churros on a platter and serve with the chocolate sauce for dipping.