I spent a few days in North Wales last week and the beauty of the country took my breath away. The mountains meet the sea and all that, the rugged rocks and rolling hills; and just put me on a beach like the Black Rock Sands on a sunny day and I’ll even forget to eat.
I didn’t experience any culinary fireworks but I had a fantastic nasi goreng at Mei’s in Criccieth and some seriously good ice cream. So I’m thinking now, to say goodbye to a great summer, I’ll make the final tub of very vanilla ice cream to serve with sticky toffee pudding this coming weekend. You do the same, how about that?
But the summer is all but gone and it will soon be time for comfy, reassuring things like pies. If you’re serious about your pies, here’s a tip: make double the amount of pastry, off the recipe for fennel and taleggio pie for example, divide and freeze. Then it will be just the matter of putting together the filling which may well be said taleggio and fennel, or chicken and mushroom or something entirely different.
It’s time for beetroot, too. Herby beetroot salad in the raw, light and healthy version; and roasted beetroot casserole for a hearty meal, with perhaps a baked potato. For meat eaters the beetroot could be an accompaniment to the first game of the season. Wood pigeon breast fillet, pan fried, is fantastically good value and good flavour. Or go for partridge breast fillets, a bit more substantial, served with grilled peppers.
And finally, grapes. If you have a dehydrator or a drying function in your oven; or can simply set the fan oven to low, low, low, like 70-80C/176F, you can make your own raisins and I can promise you there are not many things more delicious than that. Mine usually don’t make it far off the dryer.
You can bake with grapes too, the Tuscan harvest bread for instance, schiacciata di uva; or a simple focaccia with grapes and blue cheese.
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