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Caipirinha chicken, yogurt flatbreads, spicy pepper sauce, herb salad

caipririnha chicken, yogurt flatbreadsIt’s virtually impossible to ignore a certain sporting event going on in Brazil at the moment, it’s even invaded my kitchen!

I have fond food memories from my travels in Brazil. Plenty of balmy evenings were spent relaxed in a bar, enjoying the amazing array of snacks and small plates paraded around, tempting you to seize the opportunity before they pass by. Platters piled high with hot coxinhas – delicious gooey croquettes filled with chicken and cheese, pão de queijo, empadinhas, outsized skewers of grilled meats…all ready to be washed down with a cold caipirinha or two.

So back to the balmy-ish days of June in the UK, where a warm summer’s evening brings the inevitable scent of charcoal wafting on the breeze.  I find the lovely long light evenings of June just enchanting, when it is light and warm till nearly 10pm. If the temperature holds up, an evening sat outside in the garden till twilight is a rare treat.

So the combination of a long warm evening, the BBQ out and Brazil on my mind led me to dream up caipirinha chicken. I wouldn’t imagine for a second that this dish has even an inkling of Brazilian authenticity to it, but I liked it anyway. Read more

Prawn, feta and watermelon lettuce wraps

prawn, watermelon and feta wrapsA crisp, crunchy, refreshing light lunch for a hot summer’s day. This is a quick dish to assemble, so minimal risk of the sun disappearing behind a cloud whilst you are in the kitchen.

Sweet, fragrant watermelon is perfect combined with the tangy, salty flavour of feta cheese.  The addition of prawns and a chilli and lime dressing makes for a lunch bursting with flavour. And so pretty too!

I bought a pot of ready-prepared melon rather a whole fruit, although the cubes in the package were a little large for this, so I cut them down into about 1cm pieces. Mix together around 100g of watermelon cubes with about 25g feta, also cut into similar size pieces. Add around 100g ready cooked prawns. Finely slice 2 spring onions and add to the mixture. Spritz over the juice of half a lime, a whoosh of tabasco (or finely sliced red chilli if you have it) and a scant drizzle of light olive oil. A generous hand with some fresh chopped mint and coriander plus a little black pepper finishes it nicely.

prawn watermelon and feta wraps

Pile the mixture on top of little gem lettuce leaves.  Makes around 4 topped leaves which serves 1.

Shopping list: little gem lettuce, pot of watermelon chunks, small block of feta, coriander, mint, 100g prawns, lime, chilli, olive oil, spring onions.

Tomato and caramelised garlic tart

May just seemed to disappear this year, which is bit of a shame as it’s one of my favourite months, a month full of potential, the cusp of a new season. Just at the point when you can’t possibly face another root vegetable, suddenly, right on cue, bunches of English asparagus and punnets of early strawberries make their appearance, signifying the start summer, of long bright nights, barbecues in the garden and lazy sunny afternoons.

I spent most of May in California this year, which was a real foodie pleasure. I barely came across the stereotypical monstrous portions of beige food so frequently associated with eating in the US. Not to say that there wasn’t the occasional burger, but it seemed that everywhere I went the main emphasis was on farm-to-fork eating, organic and local. I was spoilt with amazing fresh seafood, juice bars, taquerias, farmers markets, delicious hot garlic fries, a handbag stuffed with peanut butter cups….not to mention a fulfilled ambition of eating at the seminal Chez Panisse.

So of all the back-to-reality post-holiday tasks I could choose, this weekend I decided to defrost the freezer! Lurking at the back, amongst the escapee fish fingers and suspect looking bags of egg white, was a packet of puff pastry, still tightly wrapped in clingfilm, which I decided to use up, rather than return to its frosty home. After a quick rummage in the fridge, I decided on this tomato and caramelised garlic tart, with added goat cheese for good measure.

My favourite part of any dish made with puff pastry is the inevitable stodgy, sticky layer that forms between the crisp, flaky top and the filling underneath. And so it is with this tart; sweet tomatoes and garlic ooze their juice into the pastry, forming a satisfyingly sticky layer of tomato soaked goo. Definitely the best bit.

Baking the tart upside down, like a french tarte tatin, makes the whole thing quick and simple, with minimal washing up. I have a nice, small 20 cm frying pan which is ovenproof, so I could cook it all in the one pan. If you don’t have an ovenproof pan of the right size and shape, no harm will come from transferring the tomato mixture into a baking tin for the oven. Read more