Bright Ideas

Liz Nicholls


As winter rolls into spring, hunger strikes as our animal instinct is to fuel up. Our stomachs hanker for warm and comforting, yet nourishing food. Recipes from Katie Kingsley.

Blood orange margaritas

Refreshingly delicious, even sans alcohol. Prepare a jug of this to accompany your premier barbecue of the year and, even if the sun isn’t shining, your guests will bask in its nectarous harvest.

Chill glasses while you prepare the drink. Juice enough blood oranges to yield 300ml of juice, add 100ml of fresh lime juice and mix. Pour a small amount of honey on to a side plate and use a pestle and mortar to grind together 1 tbsp of salt flakes with 1 tbsp of demerara sugar to a course powder. Zest half a blood orange and add to the salt and sugar, using your fingers to rub to release the oils from the zest. Pour the juice, (two parts tequila and one part Cointreau or Triple Sec) into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake for 20 seconds. Take your chilled glasses and dip first in the honey then the salt and sugar mix before carefully pouring the cocktail into the glasses. Enjoy chilled or with crushed ice.

– Tip – Use a dash of orange bitters, sugar syrup or jalapeno sugar syrup depending on your personal tastes.

Ricotta and spinach gnudi

Lighter than you might expect and “nude” because the mix is a popular ravioli filling without the pasta jackets. I like to make these as a starter at this time of year when spinach emerges as one of our first spring crops. Feel free to adopt nettle tops if you can forage them! Place about 300g of spinach into a pan and pour over boiling water to wilt.

Transfer to a colander and when cool enough to handle, squeeze out as much liquid as possible and chop finely. Place 200g into a bowl then pour over 30g of melted butter and mix. Place 200g of ricotta into a large bowl, sieve over 100g of plain flour, add three egg yolks, 150g of grated Parmesan and half a grated nutmeg. Add the buttery spinach and combine but try not to over-mix. Check the seasoning, adding salt or pepper if needed, then refrigerate for at least an hour. Lightly flour a chopping board and bring a pan of salted water to a boil then use two spoons and the palms of your hands to help you create small balls (somewhere in between gnocchi and a golf ball) placing on the floured surface as you go. Cook in batches taking care not to overcrowd the pan and boil gently for five or six minutes and they have risen to the surface. Drain on kitchen paper and dress the little gnudi in a simple sage butter for all-round scrumptiousness; toss in melted butter and fresh sage until the sage turns crisp and serve with Parmesan.

Poached fish with creamy saffron leeks

If you want to see your future husband, sleep with a leek under your pillow but, if you want to reap the benefits of not only its mystical powers but hugely nutritional benefits, then this recipe is a great way of utilising this fine vegetable at its best. Try to choose a fish that is sustainable; shellfish such as mussels or scallops would also work well with this sauce.

Finely chop a shallot and sauté in a knob of butter for a few minutes before placing your fish fillets on top. Pour over 100ml of fish stock and 100ml of white wine then place a tight-fitting lid on the pan and bring to a boil. Once at a rolling boil, reduce heat and simmer for a minute or two. Remove lid and carefully transfer the fish on to a plate covered with foil so it continues to steam and keeps warm. Pour your poaching liquor into a measuring jug and pour 150ml back into the pan with a pinch of saffron threads, simmer for a few minutes before adding a small squeeze of lemon juice, a knob of butter, three finely sliced leeks and continuing to cook for three minutes, adding more poaching liquor if the pan gets a little dry. Add about 150ml of double cream and season to taste then stir through a handful of basil, cut into thin ribbons. Transfer your fish on to heated plates and spoon over the creamy leeks, serving immediately.

Winter Fuel

Liz Nicholls


As the chill of winter bites, hunger strikes as our animal instinct is to fuel up. Our stomachs hanker for warm and comforting, yet nourishing food. Recipes from Katie Kingsley.

Saucy lamb shanks

This is a great alternative to a Sunday roast and guaranteed to satisfy at a dinner party. There is enough sauce for six lamb shanks, if you wanted to serve more people. I think these are delicious on a bed of risotto Milanese. Ultimate comfort food!

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Rub rapeseed oil into four lamb shanks and season well. Heat a pan to a medium-hot heat and brown the shanks all over (about two minutes on each side) then set aside. Add more oil to the pan if it is a little dry and then add your sofrito (two celery stalks, two carrots and a large onion) all chopped fine with four minced garlic cloves. After about five minutes and as the vegetables begin to brown, add 5 tbsp of tomato paste, cooking out for a few minutes before then adding 400ml of red wine, 200ml of white wine, 3 tbsp of white wine vinegar, leaves from a sprig of fresh thyme, two bay leaves, 2 tsp of black peppercorns, 2 tsp of juniper berries, five chopped anchovy fillets then bring to a boil and cook for five minutes to burn off some of the alcohol before adding 500ml of chicken stock.

Add your shanks to the pot returning to a boil before securing the lid and placing in the heated oven for one hour (or simmering on the hob). Remove the lid and continue to cook the lamb at a gentle simmer for three hours or until very tender, turning every half hour. The meat should be falling off the bone. Carefully remove the shanks and pour your braising liquid through a sieve, discarding the solids. If you want to thicken the sauce, simmer this down for longer then serve your shanks on a bed of risotto Milanese and pour over your sauce.

Smoked haddock and corn chowder

An excellent mid-week supper, really simple to put together, wholesome and nutritious, it ticks all the boxes! This can also be adapted to keep it seasonal, peas, asparagus, spinach or diced tomatoes are great additions, frozen sweetcorn is respectable instead of fresh and tarragon or dill can be used instead of or in addition to the thyme.

Melt a generous knob of butter in a deep pan, (I use a casserole) then add four finely sliced leeks. Sprinkle over your chosen herb (thyme leaves, chopped tarragon or dill) and cover with a circular piece of baking paper big enough to tuck down around the sides of the leeks. Put the lid on your pan, cooking the leeks for 10 minutes then lift off the lid and paper, add sweetcorn from two cobs and 250g of halved new potatoes, place the paper back on top, tuck around the edges again, replace lid and cook for a further 10 minutes.

While this cooks, poach a 300g piece of smoked haddock in whole milk (enough to cover the haddock in a small pan) with two bay leaves and a sprinkle of peppercorns for about 8 minutes. When cooked, empty the pan contents over a sieve, reserving the milk. Discard the pepper and bay leaves then remove any skin and break up the fish with your hands into chunks taking care to remove any bones. Remove the lid from your vegetables then add the haddock and milk bringing to a simmer then finish with a handful of freshly chopped parsley. Serve in bowls with crusty bread.

Rhubarb pudding

This dessert is not overly sweet, the sharpness of the rhubarb follows both recipes well as it cuts through the richness. I like to serve this with ice cream or thick cream. Make sure you bake the pudding in a shallow dish that fits into a roasting dish as you will need to bake it in a bain marie.

Preheat oven to 170°C. Trim and cut rhubarb stalks into 4cm pieces (you need about 600g) then lay them in an ovenproof dish. Scatter over 50g of caster sugar and 3 tbsp of water then bake for 20 minutes until the rhubarb is tender but intact. Butter a shallow two-litre baking-dish then carefully remove the cooled rhubarb with a slotted spoon and place in the dish. Separate three large eggs and beat the yolks with 175g of caster sugar until pale and light. Add the zest of two lemons and juice from 1 then fold in 75g of self-raising flour and 150ml each of single cream and milk. Beat the egg whites with 1/2 tsp of cream of tartar until stiff and glossy then fold into the batter with a large metal spoon. Pour the batter over the rhubarb and set the baking dish into a larger dish (such as a roasting tin) then pour in boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of your baking dish. Bake for an hour until puffed and golden, sift icing sugar on top and serve warm.

Sinless Sensations

Liz Nicholls


With all the good intentions that emanate with the New Year, our tastes turn to fresh flavours, writes Katie Kingsley.


My family love this soup, it’s a great way of giving everyone a healthy dose of vegetables. A lovely warming supper for chilly nights and sore throats, too!

Heat 2tbsp olive oil and knob of butter in a frying pan. Cook 150g smoked, cubed pancetta until golden then add two finely diced onions. Add three minced garlic cloves for the last few minutes of cooking the onions, when they are starting to brown. Finely chop three carrots, two celery stalks and two skinned tomatoes then add to the pan, sweat the vegetables for about 30 minutes with the lid on the pan, stirring occasionally then add 1.5 litres of chicken stock and 2tbsp of tomato puree, simmer for another 30 minutes with the lid on. Finely chop two leeks and a quarter of a green cabbage and add to the soup with 100g of small pasta shapes and continue cooking uncovered for 10 minutes or until the pasta is cooked. Finally check the seasoning, stir through a handful each of torn basil and chopped parsley and serve with plenty of grated parmesan.

Salmon en papillote

This is a simple, fresh dish to add to your weekly repertoire that’s real healthy fast food and no washing up. I like to serve this with steamed Chinese vegetables and rice or noodles.

« Tip – I like to add half a lemon to my rice when cooking then squeeze it to taste and stir it through the rice when cooked.

Heat oven to 180°C. Place your salmon fillets in the middle of parchment paper measuring about 30 x 40cm. Finely slice a few handfuls of mange touts diagonally then place atop the fillets. Slice a two-inch piece of peeled root ginger into very fine matchsticks and lay over the mange touts then finely slice four spring onions and lay over the ginger. Carefully pour 1 tbsp of soy sauce and 1 tsp of mirin over each fillet then use an egg white to brush around the edge of the paper and carefully fold to enclose so the salmon has room to steam in the airtight parcels. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

Pear tarte tatin

If your resolution is to cook more and save money on expensive cake then this one’s for you. This can’t look anything but magnificent, in fact the more rustic the better and it takes only 10 minutes to put together. Pears, apples or pineapples all work beautifully in this tart.

Heat oven to 200°C. Add 150g of golden caster sugar, 50g of unsalted butter and a small pinch of salt to a cast iron skillet with a squeeze of lemon juice and cook for about five minutes over a medium heat until it turns a deep golden. Leave to one side as you prepare your fruit. Peel three or four firm pears, halve and core then place each half cut side-down and slice along vertically four times, leaving it connected at the top. Fan the pears out and place in the caramel then cut a circular piece of puff pastry just bigger than the size of your skillet and place over the pears, tucking around the edges. Cook for 20–25 minutes until puffed and golden. Invert on to a plate carefully while still warm. If you have excessive juices, you can always reduce them in a pan and pour back over the tart.

Comfort & Joy

Liz Nicholls


December is crazy-busy for one and all so Katie Kingsley created recipes that sparkle without imprisoning us in the kitchen, away from the well-deserved merriment!

Maple Roasted Brussels sprouts with honeyed chorizo

We are not a sprout family but this recipe has converted us. Leave out the sprouts if you must and just try the honeyed chorizo as a tapas with a drink… it will definitely be on our table this Christmas, jewels of deliciousness!

Heat oven to 200°C. Halve about 1kg of Brussels sprouts then toss in 3tbsp of rapeseed oil, 1 tbsp of maple syrup and season. Bake for 40 minutes in a pre-heated oven, turning halfway through cooking until crisp and golden. In the meantime, chop or break up (for tapas, double or triple the quantity) 100g of chorizo and toss with a drizzle of runny honey, 1tsp of paprika, 1tsp of fennel seeds and sauté for a few minutes until golden. Place 40g of pecans on an oven tray and bake for about five minutes (careful as they burn quickly) then roughly chop and add to the cooked Brussels with the chorizo.

Christmas “Pot Luck” pie

Named so because it is made up of leftover meat, potatoes and veg, so who knows what lurks beneath the puff… only the lunch guests from the day before! A penny-wise, practical pie and a hearty alternative to bubble and squeak after bountiful prosecco consumption.

Heat oven to 200°C. Take a casserole or large saucepan and add 475g of diced chicken thighs (try to keep pieces largish), 200g of halved new potatoes, 200g of cooked ham (again, large chunks are better), three finely diced celery stalks, one leek sliced into 1cm rounds, three cloves garlic (minced), 200ml of chicken stock and 5tbsp of single cream. Bring to a boil then simmer with lid on for about 30 minutes. Drain the mix over a sieve, keeping the liquid for the roux (you will need about 350ml) which you can make up with more cream or milk, if needed. Make a roux by melting 45g of butter in a small-medium sized saucepan, add 50g of plain flour, 1 tbsp at a time, stirring continuously so the flour cooks and forms a ‘glob’ then add your reserved liquor about a third at a time, stirring continuously so you end up with a thick, smooth consistency. Add a grating of fresh nutmeg, a handful of chopped parsley and season to taste then combine it with the pie filling. Leave to cool. Beat an egg yolk with 1tbsp of milk in a small bowl and wet around the rim of your pie dish (about 25cm diameter) and unroll a sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry. Cut a few strips off the shorter end and place around the lip of your pie dish then ladle in your cool pie filling and place the rest of the pastry on top, pinching the edges and cutting off any over-hanging pastry. Brush the top with your egg wash then create designs, if you desire before brushing over these and making a 2cm slit in the middle. Bake in the hot oven for about 25 minutes, when the top should be crisp and golden.

Dutch Christmas log

Pastry and almond with a hint of festive orange, this recipe is very simple to knock-up and great with coffee between breakfast and lunch. Use a pre-made marzipan if you want to speed it up a notch, almost makeable in an ad break! Some good uses for leftover almond paste are to add to mince pies, crumble or stollen.

Heat oven to 200°C. In a large bowl, combine 400g of ground almonds, 200g of icing sugar, two egg whites, 1tsp of almond extract and the zest of an orange. Wrap in cling-film and leave in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. Unroll a sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry and when ready take out your almond paste from the fridge, roll into a long sausage shape along the long end of the pastry sheet leaving a one-inch border on one end and both sides. Whisk an egg yolk with 1 tbsp of milk and brush around the border then fold the two shorter sides over the ends of the sausage and roll so that the seam joins at the bottom. Transfer to a baking tray lined with parchment. Brush with the egg wash and bake for about 25 minutes, or until browned. Gently heat 2 tbsp of apricot jam and brush over the log then sprinkle with chopped toasted almonds and finish with a dusting of icing sugar.

Hearty Heaven

Liz Nicholls


Katie Kingsley serves up some wonderfully mellow autumn dishes –perfect for those cosy November evenings…


Hearty in every sense, generous to the stomach and the soul and just what we need this gusty time of year – a sturdy soup to keep us grounded. Very simple to prepare with ingredients to stave off the most stubborn of colds.

Add 2 tbsp of olive oil and a knob of butter to a casserole and heat then add two finely diced onions, cooking for about five minutes on a medium heat until softened. Add one finely diced carrot, one finely diced parsnip, two finely diced celery stalks and continue to sauté for another five minutes or so until softened. Add 2 tsp of grated ginger, two bay leaves and five minced garlic cloves and cook for a few minutes before adding six skinless, boneless chicken thighs, stirring to coat then 500ml of chicken stock, 250ml of boiling water, 150g of red split lentils and ½ a tsp of salt. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer for 35 minutes. In the meantime, add 100ml of hot milk to 50g of flaked almonds and let this stand for as long as possible before blitzing it up with a hand blender or food processor. Remove the chicken and shred using two forks, then return this to the soup with the almond milk, cooking for a further five minutes. Adjust seasoning and serve in bowls with chopped chives, mango chutney and lemon juice to taste.

Warm Salad of roast beetroot, blue cheese and pear with horseradish cream

This salad hits all the right notes as well as being easy on the eye. A sophisticated yet practical recipe, open to additions/exclusions depending on cupboard love. Serve with a nice loaf for happy and contented lunch guests.

Heat oven to 200°C. Remove the greens from about 10 small beetroots (a mixture of red and golden) then either peel or lightly scrub under a running tap. Halve or quarter them, depending on their size then drizzle over some olive oil, season generously and roast for about 25 minutes. Make a salad dressing by whisking together 3 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tsp of runny honey and lemon juice to taste then stir through 1 tbsp of finely chopped chives and toss through salad leaves to coat. Arrange the dressed salad leaves on the plates and add the roasted beetroot then dot with small chunks of blue cheese, fresh slices of sweet pear and a scattering of chopped walnuts, pistachios or toasted hazelnuts. Finish off by mixing fresh or jarred horseradish through crème fraiche (to taste) and dolloping over the salad.

« Tip: Add fresh thyme and honey to the beetroot before you roast it.
« Extra tip! Sauté the pear slices in butter then add brown sugar to caramelise.

Maple pecan pie

This is deep and delicious, gratifyingly simple to make and a worthwhile recipe to master. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve made this. I always manage to find a reason if I fancy a slice and it keeps well if you have no guests! I like to serve this with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Heat oven to 200°C. First prepare your pastry case: it needs to be 23cm wide and about 3.5cm deep. I make a sweet shortcrust or buy 500g pre-made pastry, roll it, line the tin, prick the base, blind bake then remove your baking beans and bake for longer to get a nice golden base. Make your filling by using an electric whisk to blend together 75g of softened butter with 100g of caster sugar. Add 175g of golden syrup, 175g of maple syrup, ½ tsp of vanilla extract, ¼ tsp of salt then blend again. Gradually add three beaten eggs while whisking then stir in 300g of pecan halves. Pour into your cooled pastry case and bake for 10 minutes then turn down your oven to 160°C and continue to bake for an extra 30-35 minutes. The pie should only wobble slightly in the centre, if the pastry is beginning to burn, lay a sheet of foil over the top while it cooks. Leave to cool in its tin then serve warm or at room temperature.

Warming Wizardry

Liz Nicholls


As we don our slippers and step snugly into October, Katie Kingsley brings us the hearty root vegetables and warming suppers we crave.

Pasta e fagioli

This is a very basic and inexpensive pasta dish, translating to ‘pasta and beans’. A good one to try, to perfect and to keep up your sleeve for whipping up as if by magic, straight from the pantry. This does not essentially need the pancetta but it is a nice touch and a worthwhile addition, if you do step out of the pantry.

Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a pan then cook 100g of pancetta (cubed or sliced) until golden and crisp, remove with a slotted spoon and leave to one side to garnish. Make a sofrito by finely chopping one onion, two carrots and two celery stalks then sauté in the pan with more oil if necessary. When soft and starting to brown, add three minced garlic cloves, cooking for a few minutes before adding 500g of fresh roughly chopped tomatoes (or one can) with 2 tsp of runny honey and season. Cook, covered, for about 20 minutes until the tomatoes have broken down then stir through 500ml of vegetable stock. Bring to a boil then add 200g of pastini (little pasta shapes), cover and simmer for 10-20 minutes or until the pasta is cooked and the sauce has thickened. Stir in a can of chickpeas for the last few minutes of cooking and serve with lots of grated parmesan and the crispy pancetta.

« Tip – Add dried herbs or sundried tomato paste for extra flavour.

Celeriac remoulade

I absolutely love making mayonnaise in this way, it is culinary wizardry. Despite this recipe never failing, it still feels like such a delicious accomplishment every time. This is great with smoked salmon or trout on a good rye bread or scallion pancakes as a refreshing starter or snack.

Measure and combine 75ml each of groundnut and olive oil. Place an egg yolk into a large bowl with 1 tbsp of Dijon mustard and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Take an electric whisk or use a food processor to add the oils in a very slow, steady stream until it is all incorporated and you have a thick mayonnaise. Add 1 tbsp of white wine vinegar and adjust seasoning to taste. Peel one celeriac and cut into matchsticks, dropping them into a bowl of water as you go with a good squeeze of lemon juice.
Take 2 small tart red apples and slice thinly, adding to the acidulated water with the celeriac then drain well, pat dry and combine with the mayonnaise. Add 1 tbsp of finely chopped dill, freshly grated or about 1 tbsp of hot horseradish from a jar and about 1 tsp of caster sugar, tasting as you go. Serve with smoked fish and lemon wedges.

Apple and Blackberry frangipane crumble

Everyone loves crumble and everyone has eaten good crumble but this is taking it to another level, good enough for any dinner party in my opinion.

Heat your oven to 180°C. Beat together 100g of softened butter with 150g of caster sugar then add 150g of ground almonds, two egg yolks and two or three tbsp of plain flour with a pinch of salt. Add ½ tsp of almond essence and beat until you have a smooth, stiff mixture. Spread into the base of a buttered 1 litre ovenproof dish and bake for 30 minutes or until set and golden. Cover it with foil for the last part of the baking if the mixture begins to get too dark. Peel, core and slice three cooking apples and toss together with 300g of fresh or frozen blackberries and the juice of half a lemon then bake in a dish for 30 minutes. In the meantime, make the crumble topping by combining together 100g of plain flour, 50g of ground almonds, 125g of chilled cubed butter and either rub together using your fingertips or pulse briefly in a food processor until you get course breadcrumbs, with some larger pieces. Stir through 35g of demerara sugar and 35g of caster sugar, sprinkle with water and roughly rake with a fork then refrigerate until you need it. When the fruit is cooked, turn up the oven to 200°C then use a slotted spoon to transfer it on top of the frangipane, with some of the juice then add your crumble topping and bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden.

« Tip – Add chopped hazelnuts, flaked almonds and porridge oats to your crumble topping for extra crunch.

Fruitful Pursuits

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.

Plum and almond loaf

A simple, pretty little number. Great when you don’t have much time on your hands but still fancy something a bit special (and plums are at their best this time of year).

Heat oven to 160°C and grease and line a 900g/2lb loaf tin with baking paper. Take a large bowl and add 150g of self raising flour, 150g of golden caster sugar, 100g of ground almonds, 175g of softened unsalted butter, three eggs, ½ tsp of almond extract and pinch of salt. Use an electric mixer to beat together well, for about five minutes until very light and fluffy. Stone and slice three ripe plums then stir through the mix before spooning into your tin and baking for 1 hour 15 to 1 hour 30 minutes, when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Let cake cool in tin before removing onto a wire rack. Warm three tbsp of plum jam in a small pan and brush over the top of the loaf. Stone and slice two more ripe plums and lay atop the cake then brush liberally with more jam and sprinkle with toasted flaked almonds.

Harissa and sweet pepper chicken with spiked couscous

Save this one for a cooler day; it’s great mid-week but also special enough for Friday night. Just double everything to serve four, and the kids will love this, too!

Heat two tablespoons of oil in a wide-bottomed pan and sauté a chopped onion before adding three sliced red peppers, six halved boneless, skinless chicken thighs and three or four minced garlic cloves. Once the chicken has browned, mix together two teaspoon of harissa paste with 150ml of water and add to the chicken mix. Once simmering, cover and cook for about 30 minutes. Carefully remove the chicken and blend the sauce with a hand blender, or in a food processor, until smooth. Return the chicken to the sauce and cook for a further 10-15 minutes until the sauce has thickened. I like to add a knob of butter and check seasoning at this point while I prepare the couscous. Cook the couscous, according to packet instructions then fluff up, adding lemon juice to taste. Fry a tin of drained chickpeas in a little oil until golden then add ½ tsp each of ground cinnamon and ground cumin until fragrant. Add the spiced chickpeas to your couscous and scatter with toasted flaked almonds and fresh parsley, serving alongside the harissa chicken.

End of summer tomato fritters

These I believe are a speciality in Santorini (known there as keftedes) where sweet ripe tomatoes are a plenty. They are a great way to showcase beautiful tomatoes where maybe you are lucky enough to grow them and find yourself in abundance, but if not try to use the best quality you can find as it really will make a difference. Just as good simply dipped into tzatziki for a snack as they are sandwiched between toasted sourdough and an oozy poached egg for breakfast. Roughly chop 1kg of good quality ripe tomatoes and drain away the juice over a sieve then transfer the flesh to a large bowl. Grate two brown onions and 1 small courgette then squeeze out the moisture before adding to the bowl with 200g of plain flour, a bunch of finely chopped basil, 1 tbsp of olive oil and season generously.

Mix everything together until well combined and heat rapeseed oil in a saucepan to very hot. You will know when the oil is ready by dropping in a pea-sized dollop of mixture, it should sink but then rise to the surface bubbling. Use two tablespoons to carefully dollop bite-sized spoonfuls of the mixture into the oil being careful not to overcrowd the pan (I did about three at once). If your mixture breaks up, add more flour and mix again well before frying more. The fritters will take two or three minutes to cook through, if still raw, inside then turn down the oil and cook for longer, you should have a crisp shell and perfectly cooked centre. Drain on kitchen paper before serving with an extra sprinkle of salt.

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.

Soul Food

Liz Nicholls


Katie Kingsley serves up some thoroughly wholesome yet joyful goodies to make the most of your summer!

Broccoli Grain Bowl

A great barbecue side or healthy packed lunch. The notion to chop broccoli into small pieces had never occurred to me but it works really well in this dish. The beauty of this recipe is that you can use any leftover veggies with any store cupboard grains. I like to serve this kind of side with pork loin or cubed chorizo but it also works well with fish or tofu.

Cook two packs (about 400g) of broccoli spears in salted boiling water for two minutes then drain and when cool enough to handle, chop into small pieces. Heat 4 tbsp of olive oil in a large pan and cook three finely sliced garlic cloves until turning golden with the zest of two lemons and a sprinkle of aleppo pepper or chilli flakes.

Add your broccoli for a few minutes then two cups of cooked grains such as quinoa, spelt, rice or chickpeas then warm through and season to taste. Add the juice of one or two lemons and serve in bowls topped with pecorino romano.

Dry Rub Oven Chicken with Herby Corn

This is so delicious; sweet, smoky, tender and juicy chicken with tasty crispy skin. I love the combination of the naturally sweet corn and fresh, citrus herb oil, it really hits all the notes. I don’t think you can beat sauté potatoes to complete the dish. Food to feed the soul.

First brine your chicken for at least one and up to six hours. Place about 12 pieces of skin-on, bone-in chicken legs and thighs into a solution of 4 cups of water and 1/3 cup each of fine salt, soft brown sugar and white vinegar. Heat oven to 150˚C. Make spice rub by combining together 6tbsp of soft dark brown sugar, 4 tbsp of smoked paprika, 1 tbsp of mild chilli powder, 1 tbsp of celery salt, 1 tbsp of fine sea salt, 1 tbsp of garlic granules, 2 tsp of course red pepper powder, 2 tsp of course black pepper and half a grated nutmeg.

Drain your chicken from the brine and pat dry with kitchen paper. Use a large bowl to rub the spice mix all over the chicken, be generous with the rub (I use it all). Take a large piece of foil, big enough to fold back on itself and into a parcel and place the seasoned chicken on it, skin facing up then fold the foil over creating a tightly sealed parcel. Place this on a rack in the oven and cook for two hours. Once cooked, carefully open the parcel, remove the chicken onto a baking tray and pour all the juices into a small saucepan, reducing with a drizzle of honey until it coats a spoon.

Place the chicken under a medium-high heated grill for about five minutes so the skin chars at the edges. Remove corn from four husks and sauté in a pan with a knob of butter. Take a bunch of basil and half a bunch of mint and add to the small bowl of a processor with the juice of 1 lemon, 1 handful of pecorino romano, 100ml of rapeseed oil then blend and season to taste. Mix through the corn and serve alongside the chicken with a drizzle of the reduction.

Cherry Slices

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.