Ah heatwaves… When it gets hot outside our first reaction is to fire up the Barbie, dust off the Pimms and stock up on salads. And then, 24 hours later, down comes the rain, the Pimms goes back on the top shelf and we’re all back hunkered round our hot warming cuppa soups before we know it.
But not this time. This hot spell is looking like it could last all week – touch wood. Of course this is great news, although after just one weekend we’re kind of already all iceberg lettuce-d out. Which is why we’ve decided to tap food writer/caterer Sophie Wright for some summery after-work supper ideas. Sophie is one of the cool young female cooks currently shaking up British kitchens called the YBF’s (Young British Foodies), a feature which appears in this week’s issue of Grazia. She has written two cookbooks called Home at 7 Dinner at 8 and Cook on A Shoestring and she has picked her three favourite summer recipes for us here:
Sophie says: ‘You could always just make breadcrumbs with your stale bread, but why not try his fresh and vibrant Italian salad instead? A baguette, ciabatta, focaccia or country loaf all work well for this recipe, so you should be able to use up one you have to hand.’
Preparation 15 minutes, plus marinating
about 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small stale loaf of bread
1 small cucumber, deseeded and cut into 1cm pieces
2 red peppers, deseeded and cut into 1cm pieces
1/2 red onion, finely diced
4plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
11/2 tablespoons small capers in vinegar, drained
20 fresh basil leaves salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the dressing:
2 garlic cloves, crushed
5 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar (white wine or balsamic will also work)
1. Heat a large frying pan and add the olive oil. Roughly tear the bread into 1–2cm pieces and fry in the olive oil for about 10 minutes or until it is golden brown. Add a little more oil if you need to.
2. Remove the golden brown croutons from the pan, put them in a large bowl and mix in all the chopped vegetables and capers. Tear in the basil. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Combine the dressing ingredients and pour over the salad.
4. Leave to marinate for as long as possible – at least 20 minutes, but overnight is best (if marinating overnight, cover well and put in the fridge). Serve at room temperature either as a starter or alongside some grilled fish.
Taken from Cook on a Shoestring by Sophie Wright, published by Kyle Books, priced £15.99.
Lamb Chops with Smashed White Bean Champ
Sophie says: ‘This is a dinner that should become part of your weekly menu – it’s cheap, uses storecupboard basics, involves hardly any preparation time and tastes great. You can usually get lamb chops for a reasonable price; a tin of butter beans is a very important storecupboard ingredient and therefore should always be available. My style of cooking tends to draw on a few main ingredients – in this case that would be the lamb and the beans – and then I like to jazz things up a bit by adding fresh herbs or a few spices to make a normal evening meal come to life. This dish is no exception.’
12 lamb chops or cutlets (with or without the bone)
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, peeled and grated
2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves only, finely chopped
juice of 1 lemon
2 x 400g tins butter beans, drained
6 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
1. Preheat the grill to the highest setting. Place the lamb chops or cutlets in a bowl with the 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, all the vinegar and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Rub in the marinade well before placing the lamb under the grill and cooking for 5 minutes on each side.
2. While the lamb is cooking, melt the butter in a saucepan and add the garlic and rosemary. When the butter starts to bubble and go slightly nut brown in colour, squeeze in the lemon juice and add the beans and spring onions. Stir well until heated through.
3. Turn off the heat and mash the beans with a potato masher. You don’t need a fine paste, lumps are good. Pour in about 3 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil or enough to get the consistency as you like it. It will be quite firm.
4. Once the lamb chops are cooked, allow them to rest and pour any juices into the bean mash. Taste the mash for seasoning and serve with the lamb.
Chilli and Ginger Mojito
Sophie says: ‘This is a mojito that is guaranteed to give a little kick. You don’t want to make it so spicy that it blows your head off, you just want a little twinge at the back of your throat that tells you you’ve just had chilli. The ginger freshens the drink up really nicely and goes so well with the classic minty rum-based cocktail.’
Makes 8 cocktails
3 large red chillies, deseeded and cut into fine strips
10cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into fine strips
10 brown sugar cubes
6 limes, cut into eighths
2 large handfuls of mint leaves
8 tablespoons gomme (sugar syrup)
500ml golden spiced rum
400ml apple juice (optional)
1. Put the chilli and ginger in a bowl with the sugar, lime and mint. Using the end of a rolling pin, crush all the ingredients together well. (You can also do this with a pestle and mortar.) Leave this covered in the fridge until the party starts.
2. When your guests arrive, spoon out a tablespoon of the mint and lime mixture into each glass and add the crushed ice. Add 1 tablespoon of gomme to each cocktail and mix this around before topping up with golden rum. I usually add a splash of apple juice to sweeten it up a bit (and make it a bit less lethal).
Taken from Home at 7 Dinner at 8 by Sophie Wright, published by Kyle Books, priced £14.99.