The last (and best) of the summer recipes
These three recipes from chef Jess Murphy are the backbone of an easy afternoon, with minimal cooking and maximum flavour
Clam broth with summer veg
The days are getting shorter, and autumn’s cool breeze will soon be felt. But it’s not too late to enjoy a few more golden moments. The end days of summer are the best part, in the kitchen anyway. When everything is at its best and there is so much to choose from, it’s difficult not to gild the lily. Tomatoes and peaches are in season now, and it’s hard to bite into a sugary, dripping peach without feeling as though summer is still in full swing.
I love a caprese salad, and anything with mozzarella for that matter. It is fresh, easy to prepare and tastes like summer. We have tried it with tomatoes, melon, strawberries, figs and more. My very favourite has to be peaches; the flavours go so well together. It took me years to get over my fear of peaches; their velvety skins used to send shivers down my spine. I didn’t know until recently that there was a word for this condition: haptodysphoria, the odd sensation felt by certain people when handling peaches or other fuzzy surfaces. Peaches are beautiful, fuzzy and fleeting. Their delicate skin makes their season short, as they don’t lend themselves to travel or to being handled a lot, so feast on them while they are here in all their downy glory.
Fresh mozzarella cheese is a semi-soft Italian cheese made from the milk of cows or water buffalo, but burrata cheese takes things one step further: this is mozzarella that’s formed into a pouch and then filled with soft, stringy curd and cream. Burrata literally translates as “buttered”, which is a sneak peek into its flavour. The real magic happens when burrata is sliced open and the creamy insides spill out. It makes a nice topping on a salad and is wonderful served with crusty bread. Look for burrata in Italian markets, cheese shops and in the cheese section of speciality grocers.
These three recipes are the backbone of an easy afternoon, with minimal cooking and maximum flavour. All recipes serve four. But remember the words of Orson Welles: “My doctor told me I had to stop throwing intimate dinners for four unless there are three other people.”
SEA ROAD CAPRESE SALAD
2 peaches, white
2 heirloom tomatoes
1 yellow courgette, in ribbons (optional)
1-2 courgette flowers (optional)
Handful of torn mint
2tbs olive oil
Slice the peaches and tomatoes and arrange on a plate. Open up the burrata and sprinkle all over the fruits. Disperse the other veg if using and torn mint over and drizzle with olive oil. Serve it as a starter, with prosciutto on the side if you like.
CLAM BROTH WITH SUMMER VEG
2tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic
Heirloom tomatoes, chopped
60ml dry white wine
500ml chicken stock
1 litre water
1kg clams (vongole)
2 or 3 small bok choy, halved or quartered lengthways
2 handfuls of freshly podded peas
30g sea lettuce
Coriander leaves to serve
Heat a large sauce pan over a high heat.
Add the oil, garlic and tomatoes and cook for three to four minutes or until the tomatoes have softened. Pour in the wine, stock and water and brink to the boil. Add the clams, cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook for five to six minutes or until the clams have opened. Throw away any unopened clams. Remove from the heat and stir in the veg and sea lettuce. Cover with the lid and allow the greens to wilt and soften in the broth. Top with the coriander and serve with crusty bread and good butter.
SABLÉ BRETON WITH VANILLA CREAM AND FIGS
Brittany is a charming region of France, famous for two great local products: butter and sea salt. No wonder that the recipe for the Breton shortbread (“Sablé Breton” in French), is characterised by a remarkable amount of butter and a perfectly balanced salty aftertaste. This is a recipe for all seasons. We have smothered our tart in figs, but feel free to use what you like: summer berries, stone fruit, whatever floats your boat.
4 egg yolks
140g granulated sugar
160g diced, unsalted butter (room temperature)
210g plain flour
6g baking powder
2 pinches unrefined sea salt
300g cream cheese
75g icing sugar
1 drop of vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
Whisk the egg yolks and the sugar together in a bowl. Add the diced soft butter. Whisk vigorously until you obtain a smooth mixture, then incorporate the salt. Add the flour, sifted with the baking powder. Stir quickly with a spatula until you obtain a smooth texture. Press the pastry into a tart tin and leave to chill in the fridge for half an hour. Bake at 180 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Leave to cool in the tin.
Put the cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla in a mixer with the whisk attachment, mix at medium speed until it firms up. Pile on to the cooled pastry base and arrange the figs on top.