We love living deep in the Dorset countryside but every so often I yearn to kick of my shoes and paddle at the water’s edge breathing in the sea air and perhaps collect a few shells.
Packing a picnic with produce grown from our garden and sitting on the beach for a few hours is a true pleasure. So if we have the opportunity to snatch an August afternoon at Mudeford Quay or along the Jurassic coast, we grasp the moment with open arms and no hesitation.
We are now picking courgettes by the armful and always trying to find new and exciting ways to use this abundant vegetable. Before we escape to the shore we usually nip out to the vegetable patch to gather a few more and quickly turn them into fritters or a savoury roulade. Try finely grating a couple – you will need about 200g (8oz) and add a little salt and allow to stand for a few minutes. Then using your hands to squeeze the grated courgette as dry as you can. Mix this with two egg yolks and seasoning, then in a separate bowl, whisk three egg whites to soft peaks and gently fold this into the mixture. Spread evenly into a lined Swiss roll tin and bake at 180 C Gas Mark 4 for around 12 minutes or until set. Turn out on to clean parchment and when cold, spread with cream cheese and fresh herbs before rolling up. Wrap well and chill. Cut and serve in slices when you reach your destination.
The first of the tomatoes are also ripening, so now is the time to enjoy them just as they are, alongside a good cheese and some artisan bread. We are blessed with both cheese makers and craft bakeries in Dorset so take your pick. Later in the month when you are facing (hopefully!) a glut of tomatoes make a Gazpacho which is an ideal hamper standby. Roll up your sleeves and begin to stock your larder with chutney or homemade ketchup. Or cut them in half and arrange in an baking tray drizzled with a little oil and balsamic to be slow roasted. Enjoy their intense flavour beside a softly poached egg and buttered toast – perfect for Sunday brunch.
When you finally reach the seaside, like me you may just want to sit and stare at the waves and perhaps wander to the shoreline. But if you have an inquisitive nature and prefer to forage, I suggest you look out for Sea Buckthorn which grows in the sand dunes. Whilst tricky to harvest, these bright orange berries have become highly regarded as another ‘super food’. Rich in antioxidants, vitamin C and E, but protected by very sharp thorns and can burst on contact when you try to pick them. If you persevere their juice is ideal for making a delicious jelly or can be combined with citrus for marmalade.
Later in the month look out for ….
Sweet corn – Visit the pick your own and then try on the barbecue or griddle. Or if you are in need of a hug, make a large pot of chowder for the ultimate comfort food that is warming your heart and doing you good.
Squash – Will soon be making an appearance, they are great for simply roasting with a drizzle of your favourite oil, then serving with roughly chopped goat’s cheese and some air dried ham beside a handful of rocket. Or make a spelt ‘risotto’ with caramelised red onions and fresh thyme from the garden.