summer food

Pistachio Meringues with Strawberry and Black Pepper Compote

Shake up the classic British pavlova by combining seasonal strawberries with black pepper, tangy creme fraiche and pistachio meringues; the combination of sweet, spicy and savoury balances beautifully and is a great dessert option for casual summer evenings.

Ingredients (makes 12):

  • 300g caster sugar
  • 6 egg whites
  • pinch salt
  • 125g chopped pistachios
  • 400g strawberries
  • 2tbsp caster sugar
  • splash water
  • cracked black pepper, to taste

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Line 2 trays with greaseproof paper (you can secure this down with a little meringue once it’s made).
  2. Put the sugar on a baking tray and heat for 10 minutes in the oven until hot to the touch (not melting), then set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 120c.
  3. Place the egg whites in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer) and whisk until you reach medium peak. Add one third of the hot sugar and increase the whisking speed until well incorporated. Add the remaining sugar in 2 additions, whisking well between each. You should eventually have a thick glossy meringue with no grains of sugar. Tip the chopped pistachios onto the meringue and fold in gently. Spoon the meringue into piles on the prepared trays and smooth into your desired shapes.
  4. Bake for 1-1/2 hours until the meringues can be peeled from the paper with ease. Once baked, turn the oven off and leave to cool with the door closed (to prevent cracking).
  5. Now make the strawberry compote; place the strawberries, sugar and water in a saucepan and heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar melts and the strawberries release some juices. Now just cook until your desired consistency is achieved (I like to keep the fruit whole where possible but you can break down the strawberries by cooking for longer if a smoother result is what you’re after).
  6. Cool the compote and serve up with a generous spoonful of creme fraiche (or lightly whipped chantilly cream) and a crisp but chewy pistachio meringue.

Enjoy!

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Summer Prawn and Quinoa Salad

This salad is fresh, healthy and really flavoursome- it would make a great addition to a BBQ spread but is also satisfying enough to have as a light summer dinner. Give it a try, and if you’re not so keen on prawns why not serve it with rare steak or grilled halloumi instead?!

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Ingredients (serves 4):

  • For the salad: 16 whole king prawns or 2 packs of uncooked peeled prepped prawns (your choice- I like using whole prawns for the visual impact and they are nicer to cook on the BBQ but either is fine) 400g red/white quinoa mix, 1 bunch mint, 1 bunch coriander, 1 red pepper, 1 ripe mango, 2 large double handfuls spinach, 200g feta, 1 red onion, 1 red chilli, 4 cloves garlic, 4 spring onions, 2 ripe avocados
  • For the dressing: 2tbsp white wine vinegar, juice 2 limes, juice 1 lemon, 1tbsp honey, a generous sprinkling sea salt, black pepper, 3tbsp olive oil

Method:

Finely chop the mint, coriander, red chilli and spring onions. Set aside.

Cook the quinoa according to the packet instructions (these can vary depending on where you buy it and the brand). Once cooked fork through then set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, set your oven to 200c and roast your red pepper and garlic cloves whole for 20 minutes- there is no need to chop them up at this stage.

Cut the mango into small pieces along with the avocado. Roughly chop the spinach into strips. Dice the red onion.

Once the red pepper and garlic are cooked, slice the pepper and squeeze the garlic pulp from the skins.

Combine the dressing ingredients and mix well.

Coat the prawns in the garlic, season and make sure your BBQ (or griddle pan) is piping hot. Cook until light char lines are achieved and the flesh has turned pink (there should be no translucent areas).

To assemble:

Mix the quinoa, herbs, chilli, roast pepper, mango, spinach, avocado, spring onions and red onion in a large bowl. Pour over the dressing and toss together. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Pile onto plates and top with the garlic prawns and a sprinkling of crumbled feta cheese.