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Summer 2014

There is so much choice of fresh fruits and vegetables to cook during these plentiful summer months. Soft fruits to eat straight from the punnet and dipped in creamy mascarpone cheese or, when there are just too many, made into intensely flavoursome jams and compotes. There is no limit to the variety of salads you can make - don't just think lettuce, try strawberries with feta cheese and sweet balsamic dressing or mix peas and beans in with different salad leaves and dress with a lemony olive oil dressing and sprinkle with borage flowers or marigold petals for extra plate appeal! Make the most of all there is on offer. Happy Cooking. E.L.
Raspberry and White Nectarine Jam

A very generous villager kindly gave me a punnet of home grown raspberries last summer and this jam, from the Syke Gyngell book, How I Cook was by far the best jam I made that year. Because the jam has a relatively low sugar to fruit content and can therefore go mouldy quicker than more sugary jams, it is best to store the jam in the fridge after opening.

Makes approx. 1.8kg

1 kg ripe nectarines
1 kg raspberries
1.6 kg caster sugar
juice of 3 lemons


Prepare clean jars and place in a very low oven to warm. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Fill a bowl or sink with cold water. Using a sharp knife, cut a little shallow cross in the base of each nectarine. Plunge the nectarines into the boiling water for a minute only, then lift out using a slotted spoon and plunge into the cold water. When the fruit is cool enough to handle, peel away the skins, halve the nectarines and remove their stones. Cut each half into 4 slices.

Place the nectarines in a preserving pan with the raspberries, sugar and lemon juice. Slowly bring to a very gentle simmer, stirring carefully to dissolve the sugar but not break up the fruit. Tip into a large ceramic or glass bowl, cover with cling film & leave in a cool place for at least 6 hours or overnight if possible.

Return the fruit mixture to the preserving pan and bring to the boil, stirring gently as you do not want to break up the pieces of nectarine too much - it is nice if they are visible in the finished jam. Cook rapidly for 10 minutes or until setting point is reached.

Spoon the jam into the warmed jars, cover with waxed paper discs and seal. When the jars are cool enough to handle, hide the jam from your family and friends.

The jam is best used within 6 months and should be stored in the refrigerator after opening.




Pea, Mint and Green Lentil Salad (Serves 6)

Lentils and peas are a great combination and although delicious on its own, this salad also goes well with barbecued food, poached fish or roast chicken. Dress the lentils while they are still warm so that they can absorb all the delicious flavours in the dressing. If you don't have sherry or raspberry vinegar a good balsamic will work well. If using mint from the garden, try and pick the younger, more tender leaves.

350g green lentils
2 bay leaves
350g shelled peas or frozen peas, lightly cooked until tender
a bunch of spring onions, finely sliced
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
a large handful of mint leaves, shredded
100g feta cheese
For the dressing:
100ml olive oil
2 tblsps sherry vinegar
2 tblsps raspberry vinegar
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp sea salt
black pepper


Mix together all the ingredients for the dressing and set aside. Put the lentils and the bay leaves in a large pan and cover with plenty of cold water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and cook for 12 -15 minutes, or until the lentils are tender but still have a little bite. Drain the lentils, allowing any residual water to drip away, then tip into a large serving bowl and pour over the dressing while the lentils are still warm. Gently stir in the cooked peas.

When the lentils and peas have cooled, stir through the sliced onions, chilli and mint. Check the seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed. Crumble over the Feta cheese and store in a cool place until ready to serve.