Sumptuous Summertime

Liz Nicholls

As August arrives, Katie Kingsley serves up three dishes which make the most of the flavours and textures of the height of summer.

Crispy baked artichokes

(Each artichoke yields four pieces)

A real treat; all the effort goes into the preparation of the artichoke so the cooking method is extremely straightforward. Put out a plate of these beauties with aperitif straight from the oven with some lemon butter or homemade aioli for dipping and your evening will be off with a blast!

Heat your oven to 200°C. Fill a large bowl with cold water and squeeze in the juice from half a lemon. Remove the outer leaves of the globe artichokes until you get to the pale yellowish leaves and rub with the other half of the lemon to stop browning. Use a small sharp knife to pare down where the bottom leaves meet the top of the stem and then use a vegetable peeler to peel around the stem, snap off the woody ends. Rub all cut sides with lemon. Quarter your artichokes through the centre and remove the fibrous ‘fluffy’ chokes and wiry purple leaves. Add to the citric water whilst you finish off the preparation. Bring a pan of salted water to a boil then add your artichokes with the lemon halves and boil for 10-15 minutes then drain, discard lemon and cool. Drizzle olive oil onto a baking tray then add your artichokes and drizzle with more oil and sprinkle with course salt. Bake for 20 minutes on each side or until nicely crisp and browned. Serve with lemon wedges, more salt if needed and a scattering of chopped parsley.

Salmon and cucumber summer spread

Delicious dolloped on caraway crackers or spread on to a toasted bagel. A lighter, fresh tasting snack for balmy summer evenings or perhaps as a lighter dinner after a beefy barbecue.

Peel half a cucumber, slice through the centre and spoon out the seeds. Chop into matchstick-sized pieces and place in a colander with a sprinkle of salt so the water can drain away. Finely dice five cornichons and add to a bowl with 1tsp of Dijon mustard, 2tsp of rinsed capers, 100g of smoked salmon cut into thin strips, 50g of mayonnaise, 50g of sour cream and chopped dill, coursely ground black pepper and lemon juice to taste. Pat dry the cucumber with kitchen paper before adding to the mix and serve with thin slices of red onion on carb of choice.

Charred apricots with maple French toast and vanilla mascarpone

Biscuity bottom, buttery and nutty with bursts of sweet cherry…

Heat oven to 190˚C. Grease and line a nine-inch, square brownie tin. Make your crust by mixing together 100ml of melted unsalted butter with 70g of golden caster sugar, 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract, 130g of plain flour and a pinch of salt. Press your crust into the base of the tin and bake for 20 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and leave in tin to cool whilst you prepare the filling. Melt 115g of unsalted butter in a small saucepan and cook, stirring for about six minutes until it turns a nutty brown (careful not to burn). Pour into a bowl to cool. In a medium bowl whisk together 100g of golden caster sugar, 30g of plain flour, two large eggs, 1 tsp of almond extract and a pinch of salt then add your browned butter gradually while whisking until blended. Remove the stones from 450g of cherries and arrange in the bottom of your tin over the cooled crust. Pour over your filling carefully then cook for 30 minutes or until the top is puffed and golden and a tester comes out clean. Once cooled, slice and serve.