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Peach and burrata salad

I know. I know. I feel a bit sheepish coming back, but I really really would like to explain where I’ve been. And also make my comeback along with a killer summer peach and burrata salad that you are going to want to make. Juicy ripe peaches, soft creamy cheese, crunchy buttered almonds, clean fresh mint and tangy pomegranate molasses to marry the seasonal medley together.  A gorgeous starting point or accompaniment for any seasonal gathering.

Ok. Let’s get to the point. Why was my last post back in November? Um, because I’m making a tiny human and the last 14 or so weeks have been all about sleeping, eating more citrus fruit that is necessary and copious amounts of tomatoes sprinkled with sea salt and olive oil, and generally just getting through the day. It does seem so unfair that pregnancy make you feel like half the person you once were. Sick, tired, cranky, constantly hungry. But as I write this, a small person is growing inside of me, apparently currently the size of a peach (you see what I did there).

Not only have I been feeling exhausted though. If I’m very honest, which is easy on paper, I’m scared. I am just so scared. I know the absolute joy that comes with bringing a child into the world now, and I also know the anguish that comes with bringing a very tiny premature baby into the world, so I’d just like this time to be a smooth ride. A lazy, uninteresting, routine journey to 40 weeks. With a big party at the 30 week mark as I enter unknown territory.

To instil some positivity, which I know can only come from inside myself, I have made a pregnancy vision board, full of beautiful round bellies and cherub like newborns. I bought some new onesies. Unisex ones. And no we’re not finding out this time around. Every night I now read Thea a book all about how she’s going to become a big sister. And you know, I feel a little more carefree.

So with my new outlook (and hopefully second trimester renewed energy) comes new vigour to return to this space and share some beautiful recipes with you, starting with this rather special peach and burrata salad, as well as share this crazy, miraculous and wonderful journey.

Peach and burrata salad

For 2. 1 ball of burrata will serve 2 people so you can adjust this recipe according to how many people you are feeding

  • 1 ball burrata
  • 2 ripe yellow peaches
  • handful fresh mint leaves, roughly sliced
  • small handful of whole almonds
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • pomegranate molasses

This peach and burrata salad is the kind of dish that needs to be made at the last-minute, but don’t let that deter you as it’s extremely simple and quick to prepare.

Begin by toasting the almonds in a pan with a teaspoonful of butter and then roughly chop them.

Depending on how rustic you’d like the salad to look, tear or cut the peaches into  walnut size chunks. Now take the ball of burrata and gently tear it and scatter it over the peach pieces.

Over the cheese and the fruit, sprinkle the mint leaves, the almonds, a frugal dousing of pomegranate molasses and enjoy.

Enjoy this peach and burrata salad recipe? Then you might like this marinated mozzarella salad

Mozzarella salad with celery and walnuts

Buffalo mozzarella has to be one of my all time favourite things to eat. Fresh, clean, silky and light, sublime in the company of ripe tomatoes and basil leaves. The classic caprese salad (although there’s some clever variations on the caprese here). But what can you pair this beautiful cheese with to make a mozzarella salad in winter, when tomatoes are sad representations of their summer counterparts. Celery, walnuts, garlic and chilli. That’s what. And unlike the caprese, this mozzarella salad can be made ahead of time, which when entertaining can be a very useful thing.

Inviting friends around to share a meal is one of my favourite weekend activities. And recipes that can be prepared in advance are essential on such occasions, allowing for more time to relax and socialise, and less time in the kitchen. That’s why this mozzarella salad is so good. The cheese can bathe in its delicious marinade for a day or so before you plan to serve it, leisurly taking on the flavours of garlic and chilli. Likewise, the walnuts can be toasted and chopped and the celery sliced, hours beforehand, so all that needs to be done prior to sitting down to eat, is to simply assemble the salad.

I realise that cooking in this pre prepared way may not be in alignment with everyone’s personalities and that some people are more inclined to leave things until the last moment. Take my Scottish friend (she knows who she is) for example, who at university would stay up writing until 8am to meet a nine o’ clock assessment deadline. The very thought of this still makes me feel on edge. Last minute is just not something I’m good at. And although in the world of food there are a lot of things that need to be done at the last minute, like dressing delicate salad leaves and serving a soufflé, a great many tasks can be done early on.

Preparing food this way takes the stress out of cooking, yet still allows you to present a beautiful spread. It also leaves room for unforeseen events, like discovering you’ve forgotten to buy a crucial ingredient, that one of your guests hates cheese or that your toddler has just drawn all over the walls with a wax crayon that you missed when packing up her toys.


Mozzarella salad with celery and walnuts

Adapted from a recipe by Carol Field

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 20 grinds of black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • 6 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • bunch chives, snipped
  • 200g walnut pieces, toasted and roughly chopped

Begin by placing the sliced garlic and chilli flakes in a small pan with the oil. Heat over a low heat for 10 minutes to allow the oil to take on the flavours of the garlic and chilli.

Cut the balls of mozzarella in half and then slice each half into 4-5 semi circle slices. Put the slices into container that will hold them and the garlic marinade.

When the oil is completely cool, pour it over the mozzarella slices along with the salt and pepper and delicately stir the cheese so that it’s completely coated with all the other ingredients. Leave in the fridge for the flavours to mingle for at least 2 hours but ideally overnight.

About 30 minutes before you want to assemble the mozzarella salad, remove the cheese from the fridge so that it can come to room temperature, then simply drain the mozzarella of its marinade and arrange it on a platter. Scatter first the celery, then chives and then the walnuts over the top and tuck in.

Like preparing things ahead of time? Then you might like this kale salad

A Balinese coconut salad

Incense. Birdsong. Smiling faces. Car horns. Cow bells. Lush rice paddies. Soaring kites. Bright Hindu offerings. Theses are the things that have flooded my senses over the last seven days in Bali. In our peaceful oasis, we have dipped in and out of the pool, watched films, talked, napped and eaten. Eaten beautiful Indonesian food cooked for us by Ketut and Tomah, the two ladies who looked after us and our villa. A dish that we asked them to make for us every night, after we fell in love with it on our first evening, is a Balinese coconut salad.

We had booked to go to Bali earlier in the year, excited that we could make a beautiful, tropical villa our home for a week. We knew that we would be able to enjoy the luxury of having beautiful Balinese dinners cooked for us while Thea was close by, soundly asleep in the bedroom, after a day spent swimming and being made a fuss of by all the locals. The date to leave came around in a rush and with multiple bikinis and minimal clothes packed, we headed to the airport full of anticipation. Anticipation for a calm baby on a long flight as well as for the opportunity to relax and unwind. Walking through the faded pink doors to our villa some hours later, we were greeted by beaming faces. Hello. Welcome. The pool was glistening and the villa, glorious. Fresh, comfortable and inviting.

On our first night we ordered in pizza and drank Bintang. A wonderful way to start a holiday with complete carefree abandon. We took in our new surroundings, watched the gheckos on the ceiling, enjoyed the warmth of the tropical evening and contemplated our holiday. On our second night though, we were spoilt by local cooking. Snapper cooked with Balinese spices in a banana leaf. A flavour explosion of turmeric, ginger, garlic and chilli enclosed in a little green parcel. Satay chicken. Always a favourite, with smoky charred chicken and sweet, salty, crunchy peanut sauce. And a Balinese coconut salad. Green beans, bean sprouts, grated fresh coconut, garlic and chilli. It was superb. So simple. Six ingredients. But a completely different and totally delicious taste and texture sensation. Chewy sweet coconut, fresh crunchy beans, salty garlic and a subtle heat from the chillis. We both fell in love with it. So much so we ordered it the next night. And the next. And the next.

That’s the thing about being on holidays. Places become linked with the particular foods enjoyed there. I could probably tell you my most favourite dishes from all the countries that I have visited. Mostly because, when I find something I love to eat in a certain place, as was the case with this Balinese coconut salad, I have it again and again. Spanakopita in Crete, which I used to buy from the bakery every morning. Raclette in the French Alps. Croquettes in Barcelona. Shawarma in Egypt. The list goes on. And try as I might to recreate all these dishes at home, they are never quite the same. But that’s half the fun. Re living the memories of holidays by trying to capture the tastes and flavours of foreign destinations.

Balinese coconut salad

  • About a quarter piece of a whole coconut, not a fresh one, but an older one with a husky outer skin
  • 2 handfuls of green beans, finely sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 handfuls of bean sprouts
  • 2 French shallots, finely sliced lengthways
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely sliced lengthways
  • 1-2 small red chills depending on how much heat you like, sliced widthways into rings, seeds in
  • Fried onions to garnish (from a packet, easy to find in the Asian section of supermarkets)

Begin by cooking the piece of coconut, skin side down, over an open flame. A gas ring is great for this. Cook for about 5 minutes until the husk is charred and the flesh soft. Leave to cool.

Cook the green beans in salted boiling water until cooked, but still with a bit of bite. Add the bean sprouts and cook for a minute or two more. Strain the beans and bean sprouts and leave to cool.

Fry the shallots, garlic and chilli in a generous amount of oil. The ladies who cooked this salad for me used vegetable oil, but I think that peanut or coconut oil would both work nicely. Use a moderate heat so that the mixture doesn’t burn. You want the garlic and shallots to turn golden and start to colour around the edges. Remove from the heat and add to the beans, oil and all.

Now take the coconut and coarsely grate it into the bean and garlic mixture. Combine all the ingredients together thoroughly, transfer to a serving platter, garnish with fried onions and I dare you to tell me that you don’t love this Balinese coconut salad.

Enjoy this salad? You might like this smoky corn salad recipe.

 

An easy barbecued corn salad recipe.

Catering this sumer involved a lot of salads. Kilos of pumpkin and sweet potato, endless bunches of herbs, bags of almonds, pecans and pistachios and lots of corn. For one family in particular, I did a great deal of work. They love seafood and lamb and light, subtly flavoured salads, without too much oil or dairy. There are occasions where I struggle to think of new dishes that meet these requirements, being someone who adores cheese among peppery leaves and lashings of home made whole grain mayonnaise to dress a chive spiked potato salad. This easy barbecued corn salad that I made for them was a firm favourite though. Sweet, fresh and visually appealing, I’m happy to be able to share the recipe with you here.

Being an Ottolenghi recipe, it does involve chopping three bunches of herbs, but its’ a simple task that requires no weighing or mixing and could be considered therapeutic. If you think I’m crazy to suggest such a thing, I won’t tell anyone if you place all the leaves into the bowl of a food processor and let it do all the chopping for you. Just pulse them gently until they are coarsely chopped. Using the food processor could also be a good call, if like me you have a Miss one and a bit who very much likes cuddles and expects you to do all of your kitchen tasks with one arm.

Another salad that the same clients enjoyed again and again is a kale, almond and pecorino salad that I’ve written about before. They shared with me that they enjoy any not eaten for lunch, heated and mixed with rice. A revelation. I tried it this week as I had some left over from an event, not with rice, but some bolognese sauce that was in the freezer. Totally delicious! That’s the wonderful thing about food, its anecdotal quality and how recipes can be tweaked and changed through the casual sharing of information. I would never have thought of heating the kale salad, but the same may be true for you with this easy barbecued corn salad. You may be inspired to change it in some way and make it all your own.


 

Easy barbecued corn salad

Adapted from a recipe by Yottam Ottolenghi

  • 9 corn cobs, de husked
  • 4 green chillis
  • Bunch of spring onions
  • Bunches of mint and parsley, leaves picked
  • Bunch of coriander, roots chopped off

For the dressing

  • A jam jar with lid
  • 1 cup EV olive oil
  • Juice of 4 limes
  • Dash of maple syrup
  • Salt – a generous pinch

Grill the corn on the barbecue turning frequently until slightly charred and cooked through. Set aside to cool.

Pick the leaves from the mint and parsley and wash. Chop the roots for the coriander and also wash (you can use the stems in the salad). Coarsely chop all the herbs and put into to a large bowl. Chop the spring onions in to small rings and the green chilli in to fine dice. Add both to the bowl.

To make the dressing, shake all the ingredients together in a jam jar. This is a great method. Quick, clean and simple.

The corn will probably be cool enough to handle now. To cut the kernels from the cob, stand the cob upright on one end on a chopping board and simply slice the kernels off from top to bottom. Add to the herbs along with the dressing. Combine well and enjoy x

Enjoy this recipe? It would go really well with this Cajun salmon