Apple and Cinnamon Crumble Cake

It is apple season and I am overwhelmed with apples at the moment after inheriting a huge tree in my new garden. It left me craving apple cake but I have to admit that I did not have a famous, family recipe handed down for generations  but I was determined it should be perfect. So, where to start?  No cookbooks of mine sprang to mind, so I scoured the internet and as I have found before, this is a dangerous pastime. There are literally thousands of recipes to choose from and no real guarantee that any of them are any good or even going to work. In the past I have stuck to safe bets such as Jamie Oliver, BBC Good Food or allrecipes.co.uk. Large corporations, such as Jamie Oliver have testing kitchens which try out all the recipes, so they tend to be more likely to work. Other websites such as allrecipes have ratings so you can try and get an idea on the feedback. So after sifting through at least half a dozen recipes I decided on one by Nigella Lawson which had been tested and had good ratings. I am very disappointed to say it really was not very good. More of a pudding than a cake, it just was not special at all. I was quite irritated to say the least. I had made it and photographed it for this blog, which had taken quite some time and now I was at a bit of a quandary as to whether I should just write it up anyway, and say it was OK or start again. The cake sat there uneaten. It was the kind of cake which was just not worth sacrificing your waistline for. I wanted a cake that made you say “to hell with the calories, this is too good.” I decided I just had to try harder. Back to the drawing board.  I thought about what I really wanted from an apple cake. Apply, crumbly, not too sweet and a hint of Cinnamon. I wanted a cake that it didn’t matter exactly how many apples you used or what type of apple they were, it would still deliver on texture and taste. I finally found a recipe and I am proud to say that it is nothing short of perfect. Irresistibly good and every bit worth the calories.

Apple Crumble Cake 2

Apple and cinnamon crumble cake

For the crumble topping:
125g plain flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
50g slightly salted butter, cold, cubed
125g demerara or light brown sugar
50g roasted chopped hazelnuts or almonds

For the cake:
250g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
125g slightly salted butter, softened
150g golden caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
100ml milk
2 large organic free range Eggs
6 Cox or Braiburn apples or 4 Bramleys
Juice 1 lemon

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. Grease and line a 22cm round cake tin with baking parchment. For the crumble topping, place the flour, cinnamon and cold butter into a large bowl or and rub together with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and nuts then transfer to the fridge. (Alternatively put the whole lot in a food processor and pulse until you have breadcrumbs)

2. For the cake, sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and set aside. Using a mixer or electric handheld whisk, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla until pale and fluffy. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs. Gradually beat a little flour into the butter mixture, followed by a little of the milk and eggs, alternating until they’re all mixed in. Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared tin and level with the back of a spoon. (This can all be done in a food processor too.)

3. Peel, core and halve the apples, then slice thinly and toss in the lemon juice. Arrange on top of the cake mixture then sprinkle the chilled crumble over the top.

4. Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. You can see when it is done as the cake rises in the middle and the apples begin to poke out. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Great with vanilla ice-cream, whipped cream or clotted cream.

Apple Crumble Cake

Courgette, Lemon & Poppy Seed Cake

Finally this week, a challenge to deal with the glut of courgettes in my fridge. I have done several other recipes over the last few weeks, but the kids always complain about courgette. The solution was obvious. A delicious Courgette, Lemon & Poppy Seed Cake which I often make at my Riverford Lunches. It is a big cake and there is always some left to leave behind for the host to say thank you.

I think you have to be quite careful with these cake recipes including vegetables, to make sure that the vegetable is really adding something to the cake and not just there for conversation sake alone. I have worked quite hard at perfecting my carrot cake, my beetroot brownie and my parsnip and maple syrup cake so I hope you find this one no exception. Anyway, it fooled the kids. My daughter suspiciously asked me what the green bits were, so I told her they were pistachio nuts.

Courgette and Poppyseed cake 1

Courgette, Lemon & Poppy Seed Cake

30g Poppyseeds
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
80ml milk
250g unsalted butter
280g light soft brown sugar
4 large eggs, separated
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
200g self-raising flour
80g ground almonds
250g courgettes, topped, tailed and coarsely grated
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
For the Frosting
220g icing sugar
25g unsalted butter
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
2-3 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
A 23cms springform cake tin, buttered and base-lined

Preheat the oven to 170-180 degrees C. Put the poppyseeds and lemon zest in a small bowl. Heat the milk until hot, stir in the poppyseeds and lemon zest and let it cool. Cream together the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy. Bear in the egg yolks, one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract, flour and ground almonds. Fold in the courgettes and the poppyseed mixture. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar until stiff. Fold into the courgette mixture. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 50-60 minutes until firm to the touch. Cool the cake in the tin for 10 minutes and then turn out on to a wire rack. When completely cool, sift the icing sugar into a bowl, make a well in the centre and add the still hot melted butter. Start to mix adding lemon juice to make a spreadable frosting. Add lemon zest and then spread over the cake. Leave to set before serving.

Courgette and Poppyseed cake 2

Sweetcorn Chowder with Red Spring Onions & Smoked Paprika

When I was a kid, sweetcorn was my absolute favourite, I loved in on the cob, I loved it straight out of a tin and crab and sweetcorn soup was always my first choice at a Chinese restaurant.

Then, many years later I went and worked in San Francisco for a few months at a restaurant called Chez Panisse. My favourite place to hang out during my rare time off was Fisherman’s Wharf, with its fantastic array of restaurants and shacks selling Clam Chowder served up in a hollowed out baby loaf of San Franciscan sour dough bread. Yum!

My version here uses sweetcorn instead and I have added a touch of smokiness with just a hint of smoked paprika but it is super delicious with a little smoked bacon or smoked haddock as well.

It really is one of the ultimate comfort dishes, more a meal than just a starter and in keeping with my quick and easy theme this week – super simple! I would love to bake a loaf of sourdough to serve it in, but that is not so quick and easy!

 

Sweet corn Chowder

Sweetcorn Chowder with Red Spring Onions & Smoked Paprika
Serves 2
2 stalk celery
1 medium onion
Olive oil
Fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried oregano
500 ml semi-skimmed milk
250g waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into little cubes
3 spring onions
2 heads of sweetcorn, removed from the cob
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chop your celery and onion. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Add the celery, onion, and herbs and fry until the vegetables start to brown. Add the sweetcorn and season with salt and pepper and continue to cook for a few minutes more. Pour in the milk, add the potato and bring to a boil, stirring the whole time so the soup doesn’t stick to the pot. Cook until the potatoes are tender, but not mushy – this will take around 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, trim the ends off the spring onions and slice them thinly. When the potatoes are tender, check the seasoning and sprinkle with spring onions and smoked paprika and then serve.

Red Spring Onions

Chorizo & Vegetable Paella

Finally moved in to my new house and my new kitchen is twice the size, so I can’t wait to get cooking. Finding the time however, with a long list of jobs to be done, is another thing – boxes to be unpacked, pictures to be hung, curtains put up and internet set up. I wander from room to room and the list grows, no one can find any of their possessions so the house rings out with cries of “Where is my swimming costume, rugby boots or Ballet shoes” and even simple everyday tasks seem to take twice as long.

Still, everybody still needs feeding and hopefully some warm, nourishing food will calm the fraying nerves. I opted for a Small veg box (less roots) with red spring onions, sweet potatoes, french beans, savoy cabbage, red pepper and sweetcorn and set about cooking some quick and easy meals to feed the whole family.

First up a Chorizo and Vegetable Paella which is a really adaptable recipe and can be vegetarian too if you leave out the chorizo but I have to say, I prefer mine with at least some meat or fish. It is lovely to throw in some mussels or prawns or some chicken, whatever takes your fancy but it is a great use up of vegetables too – onions, peppers, any beans, I used French but you could use runner beans, sugar snap peas or course the classic peas.

In my time-saving, quick and easy mentality that I am trying to adopt at present, I chose ready diced Iberico Chorizo which saved me loads of time. And I am not going to even pretend that I made chicken stock – for the time being stock cubes will do!

Paella Cooking

Chorizo & Vegetable Paella
Serves 3
Olive oil, preferably Spanish
1 onion, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped
120g chorizo, ready diced
2 red pepper, cut in half, deseeded and cut into thin slices widthways
2 cube chicken stock
2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
1 pinch of Saffron
200 g paella rice
100 g French beans, cut into 1” pieces
15 g fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 lemon

Put a glug of oil into a large heavy bottomed shallow casserole or paella pan on a medium heat, add the onion and fry for around 10 minutes, stirring regularly until completely soft. Add the chorizo and fry to release the oil. Next add the garlic and red peppers and fry for a further 5 minutes. Meanwhile dissolve the stock cubes in 1 litre of boiling water and add the saffron. Next add your rice to the peppers with a good pinch of salt and the smoked paprika. Pour in ¾ of the stock (you will probably need all of it, but just in case.) Let it bubble away gently, stirring from time to time to avoid sticking. Top up with more stock if it becomes dry and the rice is still raw. While the paella is cooking, boil the beans for a few minutes until cooked and then refresh. After 30 minutes, check the rice is tender and cook a little longer if needed. Season to perfection, stir in the beans and then chop the parsley leaves, scatter them over the paella, and serve with lemon wedges on the side for squeezing over.

Red Pepper

Pasta e Faggioli

When I saw the fresh Borlotti beans on Riverford’s website, I just had to have some. I had difficulty with growing mine this year on the allotment. Too cold, too wet, whatever! It was it was a great disappointment, especially after a bumper harvest last year. Never mind, Riverford sent me a huge, lovely bag full. They are so much nicer fresh than dried or tinned. All fat and plump and creamy inside. I decided to use them for two recipes this week. The first is a classic Pasta e Faggioli which literally means Pasta and Beans – it always sounds so much better in another language. This is a real peasant dish with inexpensive, rustic ingredients but a double helping of carbohydrate to keep you fuller, longer.

Borlotti Beans in a pan

How to cook Fresh Borlotti Beans
store
Keep in their paper bag in the fridge until you are ready to cook them. They should keep for at least a week.

prep
Split open the pods to get to the beans inside. No need to soak before cooking.

boil simply
Put the shelled beans in a pan with just enough cold water to cover. Add a clove or two of peeled garlic as sprig of rosemary (tightly tied in string or an elastic band so that the flavour escapes but not the leaves) and maybe a fresh red chilli. Boil for 20-30 mins until soft. Add a little more water if needed. Just before the end of the cooking time, add a good glug of olive oil. mush up the garlic cloves and season well.

Pasta e Fagioli in a bowl

Pasta e Faggioli
There is no need to add the bacon if you are vegetarian or the parmesan.
Extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
150g smoked bacon, thinly diced
2 medium onions, finely diced
2 medium carrots, finely diced
2 medium ribs celery, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp tomato puree
Chicken stock or good quality chicken stock cubes
1 cup of cooked Borlotti beans
1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary, very finely chopped
3/4 cup dried pasta, such as macaroni or ditalini
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the pancetta and cook until crispy and the fat has rendered, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, carrot, celery and rosemary and increase the heat to medium; cook, stirring frequently, until the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. Add the tomato puree and cook for a minute more. Add a litre of chicken stock and bring to the boil. Season well with salt and pepper. Add the dried pasta to the pot and stir to incorporate. Turn the heat up to a gentle boil and cook until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite, anywhere from 8-12 minutes depending on the type of pasta you used. Add the cooked beans and check seasoning. Drizzle each portion with a touch of extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with more cheese, if desired. I think the flavour gets better if you leave the soup for a while but it will keep drinking up the stock so you may need to let it down a bit again.

Borlotti beans in shell

Mexican Tostadas

Finally this week, I have been focused on Mexico. I think it just must just be the sort of vegetables that are in season right now – cherry tomatoes, chillies. sweetcorn, avocadoes and chard all lend themselves handsomely to Mexican flavours and as sweet potatoes appear back in the boxes, I am sure I will be making a whole lot more. Mexican food may at first seem complicated but the essence of it is a selection of fillings which pretty much always comprise of a few staple ingredients – meat or vegetables with chilli (a huge assortment), black beans, re-fried beans, avocados, lime, sweetcorn, cheese, sour cream, queso fresco, salsa of some sort and coriander. These can be put together in any combination of your choice. Then there is the choice of vessel.
I decided to make Tostadas which are little, fried corn tortillas. You can do this quite simply yourself by buying ready made all corn tortillas but if you wished you can make your own. There is a recipe in Thomasina Mier’s book Mexican Food At Home but beware – it does require the purchase of Masa Harina flour, unless you already have some in the store cupboard.
If you didn’t fancy Tosdadas, which just happen to be my particular favourite when we occasionally visit to Wahaca, the following recipes would make equally tasty fillings for a Burrito, Taco or a Quesadilla, maybe with a little extra cheese.

 
To make the Tostasas
All corn tortillas
Vegetable oil
Lay the corn tortillas flat stacking them neatly on top of each other and using a pastry cutter, about 8 cms, cut three stacks of rounds. If you trim up what you are left with, you should have perfect shape for Tortilla chips. Heat about 200ml of oil in a shallow frying pan until it is sizzling hot (you can test it with a piece of off-cut tortilla – the oil should really sizzle when it goes in) and fry them in the hot oil until crispy and golden. Drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle with salt. Fry the Tortilla chips the same way and serve with the salsa or avocado dip.

Chard and sweetcorn

Swiss Chard and Smoky Pan-Toasted Sweetcorn
Kernels from 2 ears sweet corn
1 tsp smoked paprika
Pinch of smoked chipotle chilli
Extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
1 handful red, yellow or green chard
Pinch of smoked chipotle chilli
Sea salt
Cut the sweetcorn from the cobs. Do this by first removing the husks and then top and tail each cob to give it a secure base and cut each one in half. (As in photo)

Removing corn kernals

Stand each piece upright and using a sharp knife cut downwards releasing the individual kernals. Heat a large heavy frying pan over medium-high heat until very hot. Add a little oil and the corn kernels and cook, shaking the pan and stirring, until the kernels brown, about 5 minutes. Be careful because the corn can pop. Season with salt and add the chilli and smoked paprika. Shake well and remove corn from the heat.

Steamed Chard

If the chard has a large stalks (this is not usually the case early in the season) separate the chard stalks from the leaves and chop both leaves and stalks roughly, keeping them separate. Add the stalks to a pan of boiling salted water and cook for 2 minutes and then add the leaves as well and blanch briefly. Remove and spread out on a dry tea towel to cool. When cool use the tea towel to squeeze out as much water as possible. Cut the garlic into very thin slithers. Heat a little more olive oil in a saucepan and fry the garlic until just turning light golden brown. Add the Chard and season with salt and mix well. Fry briefly and remove from the heat. Add the corn and stir through and check the seasoning. I like these topped with sour cream.

Cherry Tomato and Black Beans Salsa

Cherry Tomato, Black Bean and Coriander Salsa
8 ripe cherry tomatoes
½ tin of black beans (drained)
2 spring onions
1 lime
Small bunch of coriander
1 – 2 small fresh red chilli
Sea salt
A glug of extra virgin olive oil

Cut your tomatoes into quarters and chuck them in a bowl. Finely shred the spring onions and add them. Squeeze the juice from the lime and add ½ to the tomatoes with a good pinch of salt and a glug of olive oil. Roughly chop the coriander and add that two. Remove the seeds from the chilli and finely chop. Add ½ to begin with. Stir in the beans well and check seasoning. It should have a good kick, so if it is too mild add more chilli. Add move lime or olive oil to taste. Top with creamed avocado.

Creamed Avocado
This is simply Guacamole without all the ingredients. Since the same ingredients are in the salsa, there is no need to add them twice. I especially omit the chilli as the salsa should have more than enough. The avocado topping is there to cool your mouth down.

1 avocado (perfectly ripe)
Juice of ½ a lime
Tbsp. of sour cream
Handful of coriander, washed, drained and finely chopped
Sea salt.

Mash up the avocado until completely smooth. Add the lime, sour cream and finely chopped coriander. Add salt to taste.

Beetroot Tostadas

Beetroot, Cumin Seed, Sour Cream and Coriander with Feta
This one is not strictly Mexican. In fact I have no idea if they have beetroot in Mexico. However I just felt that these Mexican flavours go so well with beetroot, I had to try it and I was really pleased with the results.
Most Mexican recipes call for queso fresco, which literally means fresh cheese. It is hard to find in England unless you make your own but feta cheese is a good substitute.

1 large beetroot
1 tsp cumin seeds
1-2 tbsp sour cream
Large handful of coriander, washed, drained and finely chopped (save a few extra leaves for decorating.)
100g feta

Pre-heat oven to 180⁰C. Wash the beetroot and trim of the tops and tail. Wrap it well in tin foil and put in the oven. Cook for about 40 minutes to 1 hour. A skewer or knife should insert and pull out again without any effort. Allow to cool until you can handle. Slip off the skins with your hands. (You can wear disposable gloves if you have any.) Finely dice the beetroot and put in a bowl with the cumin seeds, sour cream and coriander. Season well with salt and taste. Serve with crumbled feta and a few extra coriander leaves.

Washed Chard

Smashed Broccoli

Broccoli is another vegetable which is sometime hard to think of something new to do with. It is not as versatile as cauliflower and although it does lend itself to grilling or barbequing, I don’t like it roast. It is a fine line between delicious and memories of school dinners. This recipe for Smashed Broccoli challenges those sensibilities by requiring you to cook the broccoli somewhat more than modern etiquette allows. It will not work unless you go a few minutes beyond your comfort zone. Don’t forget to use the stalks as well. Just trim off the tough outer layer and cut the pale green stem into even sized chunks. There are other recipes out there for smashed broccoli with all sorts of extra additions from yoghurt to chicken stock but take my word for it – it needs nothing more than lots of butter and salt. I cannot tell you how delicious it is, just give it a go.

Broccoli Florettes

There is no real recipe as such. Cut your broccoli into even sized pieces and cook in plenty of salted boiling water. Cook just a little bit longer than you are used to, until really soft, but still retaining its bright green colour. Drain well. Tip back into the saucepan and add plenty of really good butter and some sea salt to taste. Crush with a potato masher. You want to retain some texture.

Smashing Broccoli

Blackcurrant Jelly and Ice-cream

It’s blackcurrant season and for the first time ever, that I have noticed anyway, Riverford are supplying their own. These specimens are actually from my allotment where we have produced a bumper crop this year. Blackcurrants tend to need cooking (unless you are my son Daniel who eats them, along with the gooseberries by the fistful.)

Blackcurrants from the Allotment

With some fruit such as bananas or raspberries, they are so perfect as they are it seems a bit of a waste of time to start fiddling around with them. But blackberries need a bit of sugar and removing some of the pips certainly makes them more palatable to me. When I was a kid on holiday in the South of France, of all the vast selection of fantastic ice-creams and sorbets on offer, it was the Cassis sorbet that was my absolute favourite. The perfect balance of sweet and sour and bursting with the deepest flavour. But I recon I have found a recipe to beat it – Blackcurrant Jelly. When I tasted the results I was instantly transported back to being 11 years old, bright sunshine, relishing in the amazing intensity of flavour, like nothing I had tasted before. Of course all jelly needs ice-cream and a good quality vanilla is the perfect accompaniment. Save back a little of the syrup when making and add to a glass of Champagne (or Prosecco) for a Kir Royal.

Blackcurrant Jelly 1

Blackcurrant Jelly
400g Blackcurrants
350g sugar
300mls water
1 sheet of gelatine (25g each sheet) for every 100mls (about 6)

Tip the blackcurrant into a large pan with the sugar and water and bring gently to the boil. Simmer for a few minutes and mash with a potato masher to break up the fruit. Tip into a sieve and press with a spatula to remove all the juice. Tip into a measuring jug. You should have about 500 mls to 600 mls. For every complete 100mls use one sheet of gelatine. Soak the gelatine in cold water until really soft. Remove and squeeze out any excess water with your hands. Reheat a little of the blackcurrant puree in a saucepan. When hot add the gelatine. Stir until completely dissolved. Mix in any remaining puree and stir well. Pour into Dariole moulds or ramekins and put into the fridge to set. When set, quickly put the containers in a bowl of boiling water, making sure none comes into contact with the jelly itself. Turn upside down and release the jelly with your finger into a bowl. Serve with ice-cream.

Spring Risotto in Summer!

Having dealt with the Kohl Rabi, next I turned my attention to the peas and broad beans and “Risotto” immediately sprang to mind. This is a popular choice in my house as it is one of the few dishes that the whole family can agree upon as liking unanimously without an argument – which is always a relief.

It was only when I started to grow my own vegetables that it occurred to me that what I thought as Spring vegetables where not actually ready until early Summer. Although asparagus and broad beans are the  first, closely followed by peas, without poly-tunnels and greenhouses you would be lucky to have any to hand by the end of April! Risotto however is of course an Italian dish and clearly Spring in Italy is somewhat warmer and more reliable than our own!

There are so many varieties you can make but here are a few key points to making it always delicious.

• You do not have to stir constantly for 20 minutes but remember that in stirring you are banging the grains of rice together which is what releases the starch and makes your risotto creamy.
• Always use a good quality rice – Arborio or Carnaroli
• Fry the bacon until really crispy – no one wants gristly bits of bacon in their Risotto
• Use good quality stock – homemade is best but it is fine to use bought stock (Riverford make their own) or good stock cubes like Kallo Organic.
• Always use butter, not olive oil. Risotto traditionally comes from the North of Italy where butter is readily available. (There are exceptions such as Artichoke risotto which is a Southern Italian dish and uses olive oil instead.)
• Everyone is always worried about overcooking risotto and making it mushy but an undercooked, chalky risotto is even worse!
• Add enough stock – it should be creamy, not stodgy.
• Season during cooking so that the rice absorbs the salt and it does not just coat the outside.
• Always add hot stock during cooking.

Pea, Broad Bean and Bacon Risotto

Pea, Broad Bean and Bacon Risotto
This is based on a Risotto Primavera, which means Spring Risotto and any spring vegetables can be used. Remember that Spring in Italy is more like Summer in England!
Serves 4
200g shelled broad beans
200g shelled peas
250g /16 rashers smoked streaky bacon cut into lardons (optional)
1 large onions (chopped very small)
1.5 – 2  pints good quality chicken or vegetable stock, preferably homemade or stock cube
100g butter
300g Risotto rice
100 mls dry white wine
100g Parmesan, finely grated

Drop the broad beans into boiling water and cook for 3 minutes, then drain and cool under cold water. Peel off the skins. Pour the stock into a pan and bring to a simmer.

Heat 3/4 the butter in a heavy, wide pan and add the bacon and fry cook until crisp. Tip in the onions and cook very slowly for 10 minutes until soft and see-through, but not brown, stirring often. Add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon for a few minutes so it gets coated, but not coloured. Pour in the wine. Keep stirring for about a minute until the wine has evaporated. Now add 1-2 ladles of stock at a time stirring until all the liquid is absorbed, scraping the sides of the pan to catch any stray bits of rice. Continue to stir and add a ladleful of stock once the previous amount has been absorbed. The rice tells you when it needs more stock. Check for seasoning. Homemade stock has no salt – stock cubes are full of it, so season to taste but add early on so that the salt absorbs into the rice.

After about 15 minutes add the peas to the rice. Check seasoning. The rice should take another 5 minutes or so. Try the rice every few minutes – when done it should be softened, but with a bit of bite, almost chewy, and the risotto creamy – overcooking just makes it mushy but make sure your rice is not still chalky. Continue adding stock and stirring until done. Add the broad beans. Take the pan off the heat, add 3/4 of the parmesan and the rest of the butter. Put the lid on the pan and leave for 3 minutes to rest. Serve with the remaining Parmesan.

Broad beand shelled

Strawberries and Cream

I always know it is nearly time for Wimbledon Tennis when the first English Strawberries appear. That and the fact that it is Wimbledon Village Fair next week – come and Simon and I at the Riverford stall. We will be there all day! Anyway, I couldn’t help but add a punnet to my order this week along with some delicious Riverford double cream. Cream is also fabulous at this time of year because all of the lovely grass the cows get to eat and really there is no better combination.

If you wanted to try something new, how about Eton Mess. Just add some meringue to your strawberries and cream and make a quick strawberry coolie with a little sugar in the blender, mush it all up together and there you have it! If you have any puree left over, try it in a glass of Champagne, Cava or Prosecco for a fabulous summer cocktail. Another idea is to macerate your strawberries with a bottle of Boujolais and eat it chilled straight from the fridge. Or how about adding them to a Knickerbocker Glory. In fact, the possibilities are endless, but as I said, nothing beats just strawberries and cream.

Strawberries in a punnet