When I first moved to London I lived just a couple of streets from Borough market, so barely a weekend would go by without me passing through for one thing or another. I still love to go there, content to drift along with the tides of people surging through the place. Whilst there has been a proliferation of excellent markets across London, Borough remains the grande dame, unbeatable for quality and variety, even if the prices can be a little ambitious. My favourite place in all of London is probably the pavement opposite Monmouth coffee, sitting on the kerb with a cup of steaming coffee, listening to the rumble and creak of trains passing overhead, watching the world go by.
I’m not one to pick favourites, but if I had to, broad beans would definitely be on my list. Their delicate, fresh green flavour is the epitome of summer to me. They have a wonderful affinity with the fresh lemon zest, fragrant basil and rich creamy buffalo mozzarella in this recipe.
Preparing broad beans is a labour of love. I always, always double-pod mine. For both flavour and aesthetic reasons, I like the bright green inner bean to be completely disrobed. Broad beans lead such a cosseted life, enveloped in the thick, soft wadding that forms their pod; the vegetable equivalent of a cashmere blanket. The beans inside have a tough white skin which also needs to be removed. I have read many times that if you catch the beans when they are young enough, this white skin is edible, but I’ve never found it to be anything other than slightly bitter and so I remove it as a matter of course. Read more
I cannot resist the abundance of fruit that appears during the brief summer months. My shopping basket is crammed with punnets of nectarines, apricots, raspberries, strawberries, cherries; mostly destined to be devoured by the handful, loitering by the open fridge door.
I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with apricots. I’ve always found dried apricots to be a total abomination, their flavour resembling that of shrivelled up cold teabags. And fresh apricots can seldom be caught at that perfect point of ripeness. I am often seduced by a blushing, fresh fruit only to discover that the pretty soft skin is disguising a dry and woolly interior. For me, the magic only truly happens when you cook an apricot. Suddenly they are gloriously transformed into everything you always hoped they would be – fragrant and juicy, with sweet, tender honey flavoured flesh.
Almonds are the perfect partner to so many summer fruits and apricots are no exception. The two combine beautifully in this nutty, moist tart; lovely after dinner with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or stashed in a cake tin for those mid-afternoon munchies. Read more