At the beginning of the year, when hailstones, rain and wind were beating against our windows and arctic temperatures were making us shiver, we promised faithfully never to complain about the summer heat again. Well – we lied.
These last few weeks, we have done nothing but complain, and although I never imagined I’d say it, the thought of cooking hasn’t exactly filled me with enthusiasm. So the beauty of my recipes today is that all the cooking can be done early when it isn’t quite so hot, so they have plenty of time to chill.
The field tomatoes in the shops now are full of juice, and are perfect for a refreshing chilled tomato and pepper soup. I always use a can of red peppers for this because they are already peeled and are soft enough to blend easily. With a sprinkling of basil and croutons, you have an easy and delicious summer soup.
Next up is a cold sweet and sour chicken noodle salad. Serving noodles cold was not something that occurred to me, but then I had some left over in the fridge, and to use them up I put them in a salad and was surprised to find how nice they were. I now use them quite often in summer.
The chicken and component parts can be cooked early in the day and left covered in the fridge to be quickly assembled at dinner time.
Cold poached salmon is one of my husband’s favourites. Serve it with a potato, broad bean and pea salad tossed in a green goddess dressing. It’s not really necessary to skin the broad beans, I just think they look better.
For pudding, there’s a crema Catalana from Spain. Make it the night before you want to serve it and leave it in the fridge to get really cold, then top it with chilled peaches which have been poached in a rosé syrup.
Finally, cut some chunks of flesh from a watermelon. Blend them, sieve out the seeds and purée the fruit, then shake it together with a teaspoon of caster sugar, a squeeze of lemon juice, a shot of tequila, a splash of Triple Sec and lots of crushed ice. Pour it into a salt-rimmed glass, find a cool and shady spot at sundown and reward yourself with a chilled and frosty watermelon margarita. Enjoy!