july in my kitchen & making dukkah

In my kitchen this July……

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  …….I’ve been making lots of elderflower cordial. There have been several  batches (I put a few in the fridge then freeze the rest in plastic bottles so I have a year round supply. Lurking in the corner looking like one of Ruby’s dubious potions, I stir it when I remember then decant through muslin. So refreshing on these summery days diluted with fizzy water or in ice lollies. Lovely too in gin & tonic. And the borage is flowering at last for pretty ice cubes. The recipe I use for elderflower cordial  is here.

 

In my kitchen this month I’ve been slow-cooking lamb. Marinated in lots of garlic, rosemary and olive oil then cooked for hours in a really low oven. Perfect to put in the oven with hardly any preparation time, leave to cook while I picked Ruby up from school and spent a sunny hour or two at the playground. We returned, dug a few new potatoes from the garden, picked some greens and mint and had a really easy, totally delicious dinner. Savoured all the more as it was a gift from our farming neighbour who said it was a thank you for favours. All we remember doing is making some pigeon scarers out of sticks and old cds for his field of Swedes growing next door to us – and this was an evening’s entertainment for Ruby. So we were totally grateful for lovely generosity and several tasty dinners.

The lamb flaked off the bone tenderly and the leftovers were great the next day with the flatbread I made here (it freezes well), houmous, tsatsiki and salad. The salad was a sort of fattoush, with lots of parsley, mint and radish from the garden added to tomatoes (not home-grown yet) toasted flat bread and lots of lemon juice.

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It seems just right for the prolonged sunshine we’re very much enjoying at the moment and I enjoyed a similar salad with my friend Chava, who took the lovely pictures in this post. We had it with flat bread and dukkah, which was very tasty with lots of fresh mint.

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I base my Dukkah on the ever-inspiring Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s version in River Cottage Everyday. This time I used almonds instead of Hugh’s hazelnuts (I bet English cobnuts would be great in this later in the year though) and golden linseeds for the seeds (my own laziness urging me to use what I had in the cupboard rather than going shopping). Of Egyptian origin this blend of coarsely ground seeds and nuts, fragrant with mint, is also lovely on fish, with halloumi or just with olive oil and flatbread as a snack.

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Dukkah:

A handful of nuts of your choice

½ tablespoon cumin seeds

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

2 tablespoons seeds such as seame, linseed, even sunflower.

½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes

½ teaspoon sea salt

A handful of mint leaves, shredded

Toast the nuts dry in a frying pan (Hugh toasts them in the oven, which you can also try) until they are slightly coloured. Toast the cumin and coriander seeds until they just begin to release their appetising aroma. Bash them with a pestle and mortar until broken up coarsely.

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Toast the seeds until golden too. Add the nuts, seeds, chilli and salt to the spice mix and bash until the nuts are broken up into small pieces. Stir in the mint and prepare to dip.

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This can be kept for a few weeks in an airtight container, although I then add mint to half of it and use this portion first then add mint to the rest fresh when I’m about to use. It makes a nice gift, in fact I’ve made it with Ruby before for family Christmas presents as she’s quite partial to a bit of pestle and mortar activity.

In my kitchen I’ve also been enjoying having the glass doors open most of the time – how lovely to have the sunshine streaming in (Is this really an English summer?!!), and to savour a little breeze. And try not to notice the large patch of weeds that I STILL need to get round to clearing. I let them get too established while I enjoyed the prettiness of the pretty buttercups. Until I get round to finishing this pesky job, I try to keep my gaze firmly fixed on the lush flowers and veggies.

In my kitchen there are still daily bowls of strawberries and regular colanders of gooseberries.

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In my kitchen there’s lots of podding activity. Ruby’s purple podded peas and tender little broad beans.  As my daughter hasn’t been keen on peas lately it’s great seeing her enjoying the sweetness of freshly picked home-grown ones. Of course the pretty flowers and beautiful purple pods help.

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While I lazily pod broad beans for risotto, I think that this has to be one of my favourite months for food from the garden. Topping and tailing and podding are such relaxing things to do in the kitchen too – allowing my mind to drift into daydreams of my favourite broad bean pasta with lots of parsley and garlic….

I’d like to include this in Celia’s lovely Fig Jam and Lime Cordial In My Kitchen gathering for July.

 

 

Gooseberries and Elderflowers

Elderflower PickingIsn’t it one of those wonderfully tasty timings of nature that gooseberries and elderflowers happen to be around at the same time? They work so well together in puds and both are so evocative of English summer days. The hazy, lazy sort, when you’re enjoying the garden in dappled sunlight rather than wondering how to amuse children in the rain.

So far, I’ve picked gooseberries from the garden to use in a traditional crumble. I cook the gooseberries briefly with some sugar and a head of elderflower before removing the elderflower, adding the crumble and putting in the oven. And I add oats to the crumble topping (they add a brief, comfortingly healthy vibe before I remember all the butter and sugar). Continue reading

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