Read our latest recipe in Sherborne Times pages 52-53
By selecting produce in season, nature’s larder gently coaxes us to partner ingredients that blend together in a harmonious marriage of flavours. Gooseberries are all the better poached in elderflower-infused syrup or served with a fritter made from a cluster of flowers. But equally a sauce made from this sour fruit is a perfect foil when served beside a deliciously rich smoked mackerel.
As we approach early summer we can look forward to the longest days and shortest nights. Linger in the garden. Pick a strawberry warm from the sun and pop it straight into your mouth. I promise it will be the sweetest and juiciest you taste all year. Reminding us of childhood days spent running free in a beloved grandparents back garden. Crouching down and hiding in the fruit cage, bushes laden with jewelled goodies, ripe for the picking. Or reminisce of carefree afternoons spent at the local ‘pick your own farm’, returning with smudged faces and red-stained fingers and carrying traditional cardboard punnets full to the brim with summer berries perfect for jam-making, jellies and puddings.
In the herb garden the borage has come into flower, once picked ease its delicate blue flowers from their prickly stamens and use the petals to scatter over salads and desserts or freeze into ice cubes to serve with Pimms. The mint is now at its best and used daily when boiling potatoes or for a simple sauce served with roast lamb. Make a tisane by pouring freshly boiled water over a few sprigs of mint and allow to infuse before taking a quiet moment to enjoy. Replace basil and make a pistou of chopped mint and parsley ground together in a pestle and mortar with grated parmesan, crushed garlic and some olive oil to accompany a summer vegetable soup. Or marinate a handful of strawberries in a tablespoon of your favourite fruit vinegar for a few moments before arranging on a platter of salad leaves with a fresh young cheese cut into cubes and scattered with mint for an easy lunch.
8 oz /225g cooked or smoked mackerel
3 oz /85g approx. cream cheese, full or half fat or curd cheese
A little yoghurt or crème fraîche
Pepper and ground mace
Fresh chopped dill
Remove skin and bones carefully from fish if necessary.
Using a food processor whizz up cooked fish with cheese and seasonings.
Soften with a little crème fraîche or yoghurt.
Taste before adding any salt as most smoked fish is very salty.
Serve on its own with toast for lunch or to serve as canapés.
Later in the month look out for ….
Garlic – Traditionally harvested on the longest day so look out for ‘wet’ garlic after midsummer. Fresh bulbs tend to have a milder flavour and are great roasted.
Garden peas – If you do have the time to keep a vegetable patch (or know somebody that does) then you will appreciate the taste of a pea that has been just picked from the garden is the sweetest you will ever find. Their natural sugars start to convert into starch as soon as they are picked so I urge to grow a few peas in a pot by the backdoor, if only to experience the child-like pleasure of popping a pod open and discovering the raw treats inside.