One of the unavoidable facts of being on holiday with the whole family reunited is that they all eat SO MUCH!!! How do we forget so fast?! The fridge is full one minute and empty again the next, and if we don’t want to become slaves to the kitchen then the answer is to eat fresh produce that everyone enjoys, can be found at the local markets and is relatively easy to prepare.
Summer food has to be easy. Of course tomatoes, figs, peaches and melons are on our table each day, but yesterday I made two dishes that just say ‘summer’ to me and I think are typically French.
FIrst of all a ‘Tarte aux Mirabelles’. Mirabelle is a tiny, sweet yellow plum that has just come into season, and is sold at all the local markets.
There’s nothing clever about making a french fruit tart. Simply make your favourite pastry (I made a sweet pastry yesterday), or alternatively purchase a brand that you trust.
Cut the plums in half and remove the stones then carefully lay them over the pre-baked tart base that you have sprinkled lightly with sugar to help absorb the plum juice. Bake in a hot oven for about 15 minutes and then let the tart rest for 10 minutes before serving warm. As you can see from the photo below, the pastry is not picture perfect, but at the speed at which it disappeared, I think it must have tasted OK!
A very quick and delicious salad that we love is fresh green beans, lightly cooked in boiling water and refreshed in cold water to stop them becoming soggy. We dress them with olive oil, some shredded basil leaves and small black Niçois olives.
A dish we only ever eat in the south of France is deep fried courgette flowers. They are very simple to prepare, I just make a batter with plain flour, a good pinch of salt and enough beer to make a batter that is the consistency of olive oil.
For large quantities it’s worth having two frying pans heating the oil (I use sunflower oil) and dip each flower into the batter before lowering it carefully into the hot oil. Each flower takes a few minutes to fry on each side and can be laid to drain on absorbent paper before transferring to a serving platter.
And finally, a dish you may not be familiar with. Mediterranean sardines baked in the oven. The mediterranean sardines are smaller than the Atlantic variety, slightly less strong in flavour, and extremely easy to fillet.
Without traumatising you with too many gory details, you don’t need a knife or any other tool to fillet sardines. Simply pinch and pull off their heads (ouch!), then run your thumb up their belly and in one fell swoop remove their guts and backbone. You finish with a neat pair of open fillets, ready to be laid out in straight lines on your baking dish, that has already been drizzled with a little olive oil .
Once the dish is covered with a layer of sardine fillets, sprinkle with breadcrumbs, a drop more olive oil and pop into a hot oven for about twelve minutes. I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t love this dish, eaten warm with a salad of tomatoes . YUM!
Hope you’re having a great summer too, and of course I’d love to hear about your favourite summer turn-to meals.