English Summer Recipes from a hot weekend at Newmarket

Despite the glorious weather and subsequent low turnout, Ondine and I had a blast at Newmarket Racecourse at the weekend.   We love our Oakleigh Fair events, that take us round the counties.    Top hit recipes this weekend were definitely the Homemade Salad Cream  and th, the luscious Panzanella, and Ondine’s Seared Watercress with Harissa Dressing and Halloumi.   For that one you will have to whizz over to www.oakleighfairs.co.uk.   But if you want to try out some of the dishes I cooked up with her, here are the recipes:


Old-Fashioned Salad Cream with coarse grain mustard and tarragon

Serves 4-6

2 hard-boiled egg yolks

½ tablespoon coarse grain mustard

a good pinch of cayenne pepper

¼ tsp sugar

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

100ml single cream

Finely chopped leaves 1 large sprig tarragon


Mash the cooked egg yolks in a bowl, then work in the mustard, sugar, cayenne, vinegar and salt.  Gradually whisk in the cream.   Stir in the tarragon. Taste adjust seasoning, adding a splash more vinegar and/or salt if needed.



Seared Lettuce and New Potato Salad with Home Made
Tarragon Salad Cream


Serves 4

400-500 g new potatoes

A splash of white wine vinegar

a little sunflower oil

salt and pepper

2 little gem lettuces, quartered lengthways through their bases

Home-made salad cream (see above)


Boil the potatoes in their skins in salted water until tender.   Drain and halve or quarter depending on their size.   While still warm, dress with a little vinegar, oil, salt and pepper.   Leave to cool.

Shortly before serving, put a heavy griddle pan or frying pan on a high heat.   Brush the cut sides of the lettuce with oil.   Lay, cut side down, on the hot pan.   Turn onto the other cut side as soon as the first is patched with brown.   Brown the other side, then toss with the potatoes in a serving dish.   Drizzle over some of the salad cream and serve the remainder alongside.


Jane Grigson’s Sweetmeat Tart

Serves 8

300g shortcrust pastry

125g best quality candied peel, chopped

60g chopped, roasted and skinned hazelnuts

2 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

175g caster sugar

175g lightly salted butter, melted


Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160Fan/Gas 4.   Place a baking tray in the oven to heat up.   Line a 23cm tart tin with the pastry.  Scatter chopped peel and hazelnuts over the pastry.   Beat together the remaining ingredients and pour over the peel and nuts.   Bake for 35-40 minutes.

“The top should be crusted with rich golden all over – so keep an eye on it after 30 minutes in the oven.   At first the filling will rise with the baking but once the cake is removed from the oven and transferred to a plate, it will sink again as these egg mixtures usually do.   Do not worry if the centre part of the filling is a little liquid beneath the crust, as it makes a delicious sauce.   The consistency is a matter for individual taste.

Like most sweet tarts, this one is best eaten warm.   Serve cream with it.”

From English Food, by Jane Grigson.


Duck with Pomegranate and Chinese Five Spice Powder

Not so much a recipe, but a method….

Duck breasts

Chinese five spice



Sunflower oil

Pomegranate molasses

Pomegranate seeds

Rocket or watercress


Pat the duck breasts dry, and pierce the skin, here and there with the tines of a fork, or the tip of a knife, to encourage the fat to come out as it cooks.   Mix Chinese five spice powder with 2 parts sugar to 1 part salt.  Spread over the duck breasts and wrap snuggly in clingfilm.   Leave to marinate for several hours in the fridge.


Shortly before serving, preheat the oven to 220C/Fan 200/Gas 7.  Pre-heat a heavy base frying pan or griddle pan over a high heat.   Lay the duck breasts, skin side down in the pan.   Leave for a minute or two until the skin is beginning to brown.   Turn the duck over, skin side  upwards, and slide into the oven.   Cook for 7 minutes.   Take out, transfer the duck to a chopping board and leave to rest for 3-5 minutes.   If there is a lot of fat left in the pan, drain most of it out.


Put the pan back on the heat.   Add a generous slurp or two of water and bring up to the boil, stirring in the brown goo from the duck.   Add pomegranate molasses and leave to boil down until reduced to a few tablespoonfuls.  Taste ad add a little sugar if it is too sharp..


Meanwhile, spread rocket or watercress out on a serving plate.   Carve the duck into thin slices and scatter over the greenery.   Scrape any juices left on the board into the sauce, then spoon over the duck.   Finally, scatter with pomegranate seeds and serve.





Roast salmon with Gooseberry stuffing

Serve hot with a jug of melted butter to serve as a sauce, or cold with mayonnaise.

Serves 6-8

1.35-2kg tail piece of salmon, filleted

220g gooseberries, topped and tailed

sugar to taste

55g butter

55g breadcrumbs

1tbs chopped parsley

2 spring onions, finely chopped

a little melted butter

salt and pepper

Melt half the butter in a saucepan and add the gooseberries. Cover and cook over a low heat until the juices begin to run, then raise the heat slightly. Continue cooking until fruit is very tender. Mash coarsely and stir in the remaining butter,just enough sugar to take the edge off the sourness, and enough breadcrumbs to bind, parsley, spring onions and salt and pepper.

Sandwich the two pieces of salmon together with gooseberry stuffing. Lay on a buttered baking dish and brush lightly with melted butter. Cover with foil. Bake at 180C/160Fan/gas  4 for 20-30 minutes until the salmon is just cooked through. Carefully pull the skin off the upper half. Serve hot or cold.





 Good quality, stale bread, torn into small pieces

lots of very ripe red tomatoes, roughly chopped

cucumber, diced

celery, diced or thinly sliced

red onion, finely chopped

a little sugar if needed

red wine vinegar

olive oil

lots of basil leaves, roughly torn up

salt and pepper


Put the bread into the bottom of a big bowl.  Sprinkle with water to soften.  Add the tomatoes, cucumber, celery ,plenty of basil and a little red onion.   Season with vinegar, generous amounts of oil, salt and pepper.   Mix well, then taste and adjust seasonings, adding a little sugar if necessary   Set aside for an hour or longer, then toss again and correct seasonings for the last time.  Tip into your serving bowl, scatter with a few more fresh basil leaves, and serve.



Serves 4-6

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Sophie Grigson’s Middle Eastern Baking Classics – The Bakewell Baking Festival

Grilled Nectarines With Pomegranate Molasses And Thyme
Serves 4

4 nectarines, sliced thickly
3 sprigs thyme
100g caster sugar
1.5 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

Pre-heat the grill thoroughly.

Lay the thyme sprigs on the base of a heat-proof dish or small roasting tin.  Scatter the nectarines on top, then dredge with sugar.

Grill until the sugar is beginning to bubble, then stir.   Replace under the grill, and leave until the nectarines are slightly blackened at the edges.   Stir again and leave to cool.


150g clotted cream
1/2 teaspoon rosewater
½ teaspoon orange flower water
½ teaspoon caster sugar

Mix all the ingredients.

Claudia Roden’s Orange and Almond Cake
From Claudia Roden’s New Book of Middle Eastern Food
Serves 12

Serve this cake on its own or topped with grilled nectarines and ashtar.

oranges 2 large
eggs 6
caster sugar 250g
baking powder 1 tsp
ground almonds 250g

Wash and boil the oranges whole for 1½ hours or until they are very soft.

When cool enough to handle, cut them open, remove the pips, and puree the oranges, including the peel, in a food processor.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar. Add the baking powder and almonds and mix well. Then mix thoroughly with the orange puree and pour into a buttered and floured cake tin – preferably non stick and with a removable base.

Bake at 190C/gas mark 5 for an hour. Let it cool before turning out.

NB I usually use a 20-22 cm cake tin.

Lebanese Spinach & Sumac Pastries/ Spinach Fatayer
Makes 14-15

250g plain flour
½ package quick yeast
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
150 ml water

1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
200g fresh spinach leaves
1 tablespoon sumac
juice of ½ lemon
salt and pepper

More extra virgin olive oil for the baking trays

To make the pastry mix the flour, yeast and salt. Make a well in the centre and spoon in the olive oil. Mix it into the flour, then add enough water to make a soft, slightly sticky dough. Knead vigorously for 10 minutes, dusting with flour as needed, until smooth and plump. Return to the bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place until almost doubled in bulk – about 1 hour.

Chop the spinach leaves, then mix with the onion and 1 tablespoon salt. Knead and squeeze the mixture. Within seconds, water will start oozing out. Keep going for a minute or two, until the spinach has shrunk radically, and looks just as if it has been cooked. Tip into a fine sieve, squeeze to get rid of as much of the water as possible, then leave to drain.  Just before making up the pastries, mix in sumac and lemon juice.

Preheat the oven to 225C/Gas Mark 7. Oil a couple of baking trays generously.   Oil your hands, too. Break off walnut sized pieces of dough.   Roll into a nice ball, then press out to form a thin circle.   Place a scant teaspoon of the filling in the centre of each circle. Fold the edges together on three sides, like a tri-cornered hat, pinching the edges really firmly together.

Place on a greased baking tray and bake for 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Eat warm or cold.

Serves 12

Sfouf…brilliant sounding name, great cake.   It comes from the Lebanon, where it is the kind of thing that your granny might bake. A mere half teaspoon of turmeric gives the crumb a golden glow, as well as a unique mild aroma.   Even more unexpected is the tahini, used to grease the baking in.   It gives the both base and sides a crispness and subtle sesame scent.

2 tablespoons tahini
300g semolina
250g plain flour
300g caster sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon turmeric
180g butter, melted and cooled until tepid
300ml milk
1 tablespoon pine nuts

Pre-heat the oven to 200C/Gas Mark 6.  Use the tahini to grease a 25 x 30 cm cake tin, smearing it thickly over base and sides.

Mix semolina, flour, sugar, baking powder and turmeric.  Make a well in the centre and add the butter and half the milk.   Beat the mixture, adding the remaining milk gradually.   Scrape into the cake tin and smooth down lightly.   Scatter pine nuts over the surface.   Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the cake springs back when pressed gently, and the sides pull away from the tin.   Plunge a skewer into the centre – if it comes out clean, then the cake is cooked.   Cool for 5 minutes in the tin, then finish cooling on a wire rack.

Cut into squares or diamonds to serve.


For the filling:
400g ground almonds
100g icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
160g unsalted butter, melted
3 egg yolks, beaten
2 tablespoons orange-flower water
finely grated zest 1 orange
finely grated zest 1 lemon
60g pistachios, roughly chopped

Filo and Finish:
10 sheets filo pastry (plus a few extra just in case…)
100g unsalted butter, melted
icing sugar
ground cinnamon
30g toasted flaked almonds

To make the filling beat all the ingredients except pistachios together.   Work in the pistachios.   Chill until needed.  Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4.

Now it gets fun.   Brush the first sheet of filo pastry and lay on the work surface in front of you, towards one side of the work surface, narrow side towards you.   Now butter the next sheet and lay that on the work surface, overlapping the first sheet by some 4-5 centimetres.   Repeat with the next 8 sheets.   Spoon the filling mixture in a long sausage shape all the way along the whole stretch of the overlapping sheets, running parallel to the edge nearest you and sitting around 5 centimetres from it.

Now fold the filo over each end of the sausage, then roll up tightly (far easier if there are two of you!)   Carefully, but firmly, coil up like a great big Cumberland sausage, then slide a baking tray underneath.   If a few rips appear here and there, fear not.   Patch with a strip of spare filo, buttering it well and wrapping around the sausage like a bandage.

Brush liberally with more butter, then bake for around 30-40 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and crisp.   Cool slightly then dust with icing sugar and cinnamon if using, and scatter with toasted almonds.

Sophie Grigson’s Recipes for National Trust Theatre

Sensationally Seasonal:

Vietnamese Shaking Beef

Crab Mayonnaise with Fennel & Cucumber

Braised Pork Chops in Milk

Deliciously Dairy:

Semolina Gnocchi with Sizzling Cheddar and Spinach

Cod with Welsh Rarebit Crust

Avocado Ice Cream with Strawberries

Vietnamese Shaking Beef
Serve with Viceroy IPA
Serves 3-4

500g sirloin steak, trimmed and cut into 2cm cubes
2-3 tablespoons rapeseed oil


2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons fish sauce
3 cloves garlic, crushed
½ tablespoon caster sugar


Juice 2 limes
2 green chillis, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce

To serve:

100g of small salad leaves
½ cucumber, cut into batons
100g cherry tomatoes, halved
a handful of soft herb leaves – basil, mint, chives, coriander, dill etc.

Toss the beef with the marinade ingredients.   Mix the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl.   Mix together the salad leaves, cucumber and tomatoes and arrange either on a large serving dish or on individual plates.

Heat half the oil over a high heat in a wok or large frying pan.   Add half the beef, spread out to give a single layer, then let it cook for 1 minute without moving.   Now shake the wok from side to side to turn the cubes, then let the beef cook for another minute.   Repeat once more, until the beef is toasty brown on the outside.     Scoop the beef out and straight into the dressing.  Repeat with the remaining meat.    Toss all the meat together, then pile it onto the salad, with all the dressing.   Scatter with herbs, and serve.

Crab Mayonnaise with shaved fennel, cucumber and tarragon
Serve with Traditional Dry Cider
Serves 4

300g white crab meat
100g brown crab meat
1 fennel bulb
1 cucumber
juice 1 lemon
rapeseed oil
salt and pepper

For the tarragon mayonnaise:

Leaves from 2 sprigs tarragon
1 egg
juice ½ lemon
1 tablespoon very hot water
300 ml rapeseed oil

First make the mayonnaise.  Pour boiling water over the tarragon leaves, leave for 1 minute then drain.   Run under the cold tap and press out excess moisture.   Break the egg into the processor and add the tarragon, and salt.   Run the blades and spoon in 1 tablespoon very hot water.   Now add the lemon juice, then keeping the motor running, pour in the rapeseed oil in a steady stream.   Check that the mayonnaise is thick and voluptuous.   If it is still a bit sloppy, turn on the processor again and trickle in a little more oil, until you reach the right consistency.   Now taste and adjust seasonings, adding more lemon juice or salt as needed.   Keep cool until needed.

Now for the cucumber.   Working lengthways, peel off half the skin.  Cut the cucumber in half, lengthways, so that each half has an equal share of skin on, skin off cucumber.   Scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon, then slice the cucumber thinly.   Pile into a bowl and sprinkle with salt.   Mix well, massaging the salt into the cucumber.   Set aside.

Trim off the base and the tough stalks of the fennel.   Discard out layer of fennel if it is damaged or looks particularly tough.   Using a mandolin if you have one, slice paper thin.   If not, cut in half and slice as thinly as you possibly can.

When you are ready to serve, drain the cucumber, toss with the fennel, a squeeze or two of lemon juice, a few dashes of rapeseed oil, and a little salt if needed.

Arrange a handsome mound of salad on each plate.  Top with white crab meat, and spoon a dab of brown meat on the side.   Add a socking big spoonful of tarragon mayonnaise, and serve.

Braised Pork Chops cooked in Milk, Italian Style
Serve with Viceroy IPA
Serves 4

4 meaty pork chops
a good knob of butter
a splash of rapeseed oil
1 onion, sliced
6 fresh sage leaves
400-500 ml milk
salt and pepper

Don’t trim any fat off the pork chops!  Pre-heat the oven to 150C/130 Fan/Gas 4.

Heat the butter and rapeseed oil in a heavy based frying pan.   Add the onions and fry gently until golden.   Scoop out of the pan.   Now brown the chops on each side.   Check the pan – if the butter has burnt on the base, then transfer the chops to a clean heavy pan.   If the base is good, then don’t bother – it will taste better for all the delicious brown goo on the base.

Add the onions to the pork, together with the sage leaves, salt and pepper.   Pour in just enough milk to come level with the upper surface of the chops.   Bring up to the boil then transfer to the oven, two thirds covered with a lid.   Leave to cook gently for 1 hour, then check and see how the pork is doing.   Turn the chops over, and add a little more milk if the mixture is looking dry.   Return to the oven for another 45 minutes, until chops are exceedingly tender and the milk has caramelised to a tempting brown.

Life out the chops, and whizz sauce and onions together with a hand-held liquidizer.   Simmer for a few more minutes to thicken, then taste and adjust seasonings.   Serve with the pork chops.


Semolina Gnocchi, with Sizzling Cheddar and Spinach
Serve with Scotney Pale Ale
Serves 6

For the gnocchi:

1 litre milk
250g semolina
50g butter
50g grated Parmesan
1 egg
freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
lots of freshly ground black pepper

To finish:

300g Mature Cheddar, derinded and crumbled or grated
2 handfuls young leaf spinach

Line 2 baking trays with baking parchment.

Put the milk into a pan and bring up to the boil. Just as it begins to boil, pour in the semolina in a steady stream. Cook for 4-5 minutes, beating constantly to prevent sticking, until the mixture is so thick you can stand the spoon up in it. Draw off the heat and beat in the butter, Parmesan, nutmeg salt and pepper. Finally, beat in the egg.

Pour onto the lined baking trays and spread out in a layer about 1 cm thick. Leave to cool. Chill for an hour or longer until set firmly.

Pre-heat the oven to 190/200C (Fan 170/180, Gas 5/6). Stamp out circles (or cut triangles or diamonds if you prefer) about 4 cm in diameter. Butter an oven proof dish and scatter a handful of spinach leaves over the base. Arrange the circles over the spinach, in overlapping rows, like the tiles on a roof. Sprinkle over the remaining spinach, then the crumbled cheese. Dot with more butter. Bake until golden brown and sizzling (around 20 minutes). Eat hot, with a big green salad,.

Avocado and Lime Ice Cream
Delicious served sweet strawberries
Serve with a sweet fruity cider
Serves 6

2 ripe avocados
finely grated zest and juice of 2-3 limes
1 x 397g can condensed milk
300 ml whipping or double cream, whipped

Peel the avocados and remove the stones.  Mash thoroughly with the lime juice (or whizz to a puree with lime juice in a processor).   Mix with the condensed milk and lime zest.   Fold in the whipped cream, scrape into a container, and slide into the freezer.

Get the ice cream out of the freezer 5-10 minutes before serving.

My Mother’s Halibut (or Cod) with Welsh Rarebit Crust
Serves 4

4 halibut (or cod) steaks weighing about 180-200g
30g unsalted butter, softened
salt and pepper

For the Rarebit Crust:

225g grated mature Cheddar
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
dry breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 190C/Fan 170C/Gas 5.

Mix the rarebit ingredients together to form a thick paste.   Use the butter to grease a baking dish just large enough to take the halibut steaks.   Arrange the fish in the dish and smear the rarebit mix thickly over each steak.   Bake for around 20 minutes until the fish is just cooked through, and the rarebit is sizzling and browned.  Serve immediately.

Amelia’s Torta Squisita

We’re big fans of this exquisite tart here at Sophie’s Cookery School. It’s an unusual dessert which includes all the great flavours of cannoli – citrus, chocolate, ricotta – brought together in a simple tart. It’s the crowning glory of the table at our Tuscan Farmhouse Kitchen class, and we’re sure you’ll enjoy it as much as we do.

for the pastry 

225g plain flour
75 g caster sugar
115g butter at room temperature
3 egg yolks
zest of a lemon

for the filling

500g ricotta
100g candied peel
150g good dark chocolate, cut into rough chunks
100g sugar
1 large egg
  1. Put the flour on a board and make a well in the centre. Put the remaining pastry ingredients in the centre and smush to make a paste. Incorporate the flour and work into a dough. At this point you can wrap it in clingfilm and chill for half an hour, but it is a forgiving dough and you don’t have to. Either way, you should divide it into ¾ and ¼ and shape each amount into a flattened disk.
  2. Mix all of the filling ingredients together except the egg. If your ricotta has a puddle at the bottom of the pot, be sure to leave it behind. Don’t over stir the ricotta or it will become quite liquid. You may want to make the filling less sweet, depending on how sweet a tooth you have and how bitter your chocolate is. Best to have a thorough taste before adding the egg…
  3. Roll out ¾ of the pastry and line a cake or tart tin. If you’re using a cake tin allow the pastry to come roughly up the sides – rustic is the motto here. Fill with the ricotta mix. Again, if using a cake tin flop the edges of the pastry over the top. If a tart tin, trim neatly. Use the remaining pastry to make a lattice over the top and bake at 180 for about 45 minutes until the pastry is golden and the filling set. To avoid the dreaded soggy bottom, you may want to slide the cake onto a hot baking tray in the oven.
  4. Allow to cool and serve at room temperature. It goes especially well with a glass of vin santo.

Compton Verney Canapés

A big thank you to all at Compton Verney for running such a brilliant Christmas Fair. I only wish I had seen more of it, but I loved my day in the restaurant cooking canapes inspired by the art collections. Here are the recipes:

Picasso: Fried Olives with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto and Smoked Paprika

pitted green olives
pitted black olives
sun-dried tomato pesto
plain flour
Spanish smoked paprika
lightly beaten egg
Panko breadcrumbs
sunflower oil for frying

Drain the olives and pat dry if necessary. Put a couple of tablespoonfuls of pesto into a piping bag. Snip off the end and pipe a little of the pesto inside each olive.

Pour a couple of centimetres of oil into a small saucepan and heat. While it is coming up to temperature, arrange three bowls by the hob. Put flour, seasoned generously with smoked paprika, pepper and a tad of salt in the first. Beaten egg in the second. Breadcrumbs in the third. Then line a plate with a couple of layers of kitchen paper and place on the other side of the hob.

4 or 5 at a time, roll olives in flour until fully coated. Then coat in egg, and finally roll in the breadcrumbs, making sure each olive is thoroughly covered. Slide the olives into the hot oil, which should sizzle gaily. Cook until golden brown, then scoop out and drain briefly on kitchen paper. Pass round with cocktail sticks to spear the hot olives.

James Booth Higginson’s Cheese, Bread & Beer: Compton Verney Rarebit, Rhubarb Relish
Makes around 30

for the rarebit

225g grated mature cheddar
30g butter
2 tsp plain flour
2 tsp Dijon mustard
4 tbsp Hooky Gold
slices sourdough bread, toasted

for the relish

200g rhubarb
juice of 5 large oranges
120g caster sugar
40g finely chopped ginger
1 heaped tsp fennel seeds
½ tbsp coriander seeds, roughly crushed
1 heaped tsp black onion seeds

To make the rarebit, put everything in a saucepan, stir over a low heat until smooth and creamy. Done. It will keep for a week or so in a covered bowl in the fridge. Warm slightly if necessary.

To make the relish, trim the rhubarb and cut into 5 cm lengths. Then cut each piece into very fine batons. Put orange juice, sugar, ginger and spices into a saucepan. Heat, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Now boil hard until reduced to a syrupy consistency. Stir in the rhubarb and cook for a further 2 minutes. Leave to cool.

Spread the rarebit thickly over each slice of toast. Grill until the rarebit is bubbling and browned. Let it cool slightly then cut into fingers. Serve with the relish as a dip.

Giovanni Battista Ruoppolo: Parma Ham, with Sour Cherry & Avocado
Makes 12

4 slices Parma ham or similar, cut into thick strips
12 croustade cases
12 small mint leaves

for the salsa

40g dried soured cherries
1½ ripe avocados
150g very finely chopped fennel bulb
lemon juice
3 sprigs mint leaves
3 halves kaffir lime leaves, very, very finely shredded
salt and pepper

Soak the cherries in a little warm water if necessary, until soft. Drain and chop roughly. Dice the avocado finely, then toss with a little lemon juice. Strip the leaves off the mint and chop finely. Mix with mint, avocado, lime leaves, cherries and fennel. Season with salt and pepper.

Just before serving, spoon a little of the salad into each croustade case, top with a curl of ham and a sprig of mint.