We picked the last of our tomatoes this weekend – the sweetest of the summer. Whenever they taste this good, I’m reluctant to cook them and instead eat them raw in salads or stir them into just-cooked pasta so their flesh slightly softens in the heat.
Any leftover tomatoes I will slow roast with olive oil and thyme, and store them for the coming months. Unlike the fresh ones, these can be used almost like a seasoning, to impart a deep, savoury flavour to casseroles and soups, in the same way you might use anchovy to season the base of a dish. The flavour becomes almost indistinguishable but adds to the dish as a whole. The Japanese call this fifth flavour umami.
Bottarga is an ingredient which is packed full of umami. I always keep some to hand and it’s the ultimate store cupboard luxury. Not only does it keep for ages in the fridge, because it’s cured, but just grated, mixed with lemon, oil and chilli and served with spaghetti it makes one of the simplest, yet delicious suppers.
Recently I was asked to make toffee apples.
When was the last time you actually ate a toffee apple? I don’t think I’ve had one since I was a child, but I still feel that I know them like I had one yesterday.
That hard, smooth shell and the weightiness of the coated apple held on a fine stick. Then there’s that first bite into it. You almost wonder if your teeth will get through the armour. But they do. And the surprise is that after the cracking toffee, the apple, usually so crunchy, feels almost soft in contrast.
I don’t know about you, but I love a good kitchen shop. I could happily spend hours browsing beautiful French casserole pots and handmade serving dishes or aspiring to a set of Japanese knives. Just as enjoyable is seeking out an unusual and extremely useful piece of equipment (a chinoise sieve or pastry scraper) and get the satisfying feeling of having found it.
The Bees’ Knees. If any cocktail will tempt me, it will be one with a name like this. It promises enjoyment, humour and ultimate pleasure. The sort of allure a cocktail should have. I first came across this delightfully named creation at the bar of Soho’s Quo Vadis club. Since then, I’ve never looked back.
Other than its name, the simplicity of this drink is part of its magic. Like most of the best things, it is only as good as what you put into it and in this case, that’s honey, lemon and gin.
Lime honey from our bees