Summer has finally arrived in the UK!
Perfect timing too- start of the holidays and the Olympics.
Nobody wants to be indoors- every outside table at cafes and pubs is taken, barbecues are lit and garden furniture sheds its plastic shrouds ready for garden parties and lunches al fresco. Everybody smiles at their neighbours- and invitations to meet for a drink or come for lunch begin to flow thick and fast.
We went to lunch yesterday with some friends who have a beautiful old cottage in deepest Sussex. The house and gardens are well worth some pictures :
This admirable couple not only have a prize winning flower garden - but they grow all their own vegetables, raise chickens for eggs and make all their own jams and chutneys. Everything at the lunch was homegrown and made too: the mackerel for the pate starter had been home smoked in their smokery and the lavender and eggs for the dessert were all from the garden:
When I make a smoked mackerel pate, I blitz 2 smoked mackerel fillets with 1\2 tub cream cheese, 2 finely chopped spring onions and the juice of half a lemon together. Season well with ground pepper ( you can add soft green peppercorns to the blender if you like a peppery taste) and serve with melba toast and (as here) with a horseradish creme fraiche sauce (3 tsp horseradish sauce -or a scant tsp grated fresh horseradish mixed into 1/2 pot creme fraiche).
For dessert we had lavender ice cream with shortbread:
To make this- add dried edible lavender flowers (or edible lavender essential oil) to your custard mix
( freshly made with eggs or cheated, as mine usually is, with a bought custard or creme anglaise), chill really well and then churn in your ice cream maker. My hostess recommended putting the custard mixture in the freezer until almost frozen before churning to get a really smooth ice cream with no ice crystals.
To make the shortbread - use the 3-2-1 ratio of flour (or flour/cornflour mix), butter and caster sugar.You can do this simply in the food processor - or rub in by hand as in the recipe I show below from my school cookery notebook from 1969! Glad to see I got a tick for it!
Enjoy the sun wherever you are!