Don’t tell my kids but, when the sun’s not out, I’m not that brilliant at eating fruit. A whole piece of fruit, that is, taken from the bowl on the kitchen counter. What I absolutely love to do, however, is cook with it. The application of some heat and some sort of sugar to tease out the sweetness leads to all sorts of irresistibly rich and sticky results. Maybe I will share this secret with my kids, after all.
Roast pears and parsnips with endives and watercress pesto (pictured top)
These sweet but slightly spiced pears and parsnips make a great side dish for a roast. If you like, swap the ricotta salata for pecorino or finely grated halloumi instead.
Prep 20 min
Cook 30 min
600g baby parsnips, trimmed and cut in half lengthways
4 conference pears (600g), each cut into 6 wedges, stems and cores removed
2 tbsp maple syrup
1½ tbsp olive oil
1¼ tsp chipotle flakes
Salt and black pepper
1-2 red endives (80g), root trimmed and leaves separated (60g net)
25g ricotta salata, crumbled
For the pesto
75ml olive oil
30ml fresh lemon juice (from 1-2 lemons)
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1 shallot (30g), peeled and finely chopped
Heat the oven to 220C (200C)/425F/gas 7. Put the parsnips and pears in a large bowl with the maple syrup, olive oil, chipotle flakes and a teaspoon of salt. Mix well, transfer to a large tray lined with greaseproof paper, then bake for 25-30 minutes, turning once gently halfway through, until sticky and golden. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Meanwhile, make the pesto. Put the watercress in the large bowl of a food processor and blitz, scraping down the sides as you go, until finely chopped. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, half a teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper, blitz to incorporate, then stir in the shallots.
To assemble, arrange the endive leaves on a large platter and place the roast pears and parsnips on top. Spoon the pesto over the top, then scatter on the ricotta.
Braised lamb neck with persimmon and feta salsa
Persimmons have a really distinct, sweet and perfumed flavour and a texture that feels both firm and giving all at the same time. They’re best eaten at peak ripeness, when the fruit should feel like a slightly under-ripe vine tomato. The salsa also works as a standalone salad.
Prep 25 min
Salt 20 min
Cook 2 hr 30 min
4 lamb neck or shoulder fillets (800g), cut into 4cm pieces
Salt and black pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
6 garlic cloves, peeled and bashed lightly
1 onion (180g), peeled and cut into 8 wedges
1 persimmon, stem removed, peeled and cut into 6 wedges
1 red chilli, cut in half lengthway (remove the pith and seeds if you prefer less heat)
1 tbsp thyme leaves
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp cumin seeds
5 cardamom pods, bashed open in a mortar
2 tbsp tomato paste
150ml white wine
300ml chicken stock
3 x 12cm flatbreads, lightly toasted and cut into nacho-sized triangles
For the salsa
1 persimmon, peeled and cut into ½cm-dice
1 shallot, peeled and thinly sliced into rounds
1 lemon, zested, to get 1 tsp, and juiced, to get 1 tbsp
¼ tsp urfa chilli flakes
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp parsley leaves, roughly chopped
1 tbsp dill fronds, roughly chopped
75g feta, crumbled into 1cm pieces
First, toss the lamb and a teaspoon of salt in a large bowl and set aside for 20 minutes.
Put a large casserole for which you have a lid on a medium-high heat, add a tablespoon of oil and, once hot, sear the lamb in three or four batches for four to six minutes each, until a deep golden brown on all sides, then return to the bowl.
Pour the remaining tablespoon of oil into the casserole pan, add the garlic, onion, persimmon wedges, chilli, thyme, half a teaspoon of salt and a good crack of black pepper, and cook, stirring, for five minutes,until the persimmon starts to break down. Return the lamb to the pan, stir in the tomato paste and cook for two minutes.
Pour in the wine, cook for another two minutes until the liquid reduces by two-thirds, then add the stock and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 90 minutes. Remove the lid, cook for a further 20 minutes, then take off the heat and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, put all the salsa ingredients in a medium bowl and mix gently.
Arrange the flatbread pieces on a large serving dish with a lip, spoon the braised lamb on top and serve scattered with the salsa.
Bitter orange posset with hibiscus granita
Make the most of the short, sharp Seville orange season – the fruit’s tart juice is very special indeed – but during the rest of the year, a mix of two parts lime juice to one part regular orange juice and an equal mix of both lime and orange zest will work just fine as a substitute. These quantities will make a bit more granita than you need here, but it keeps well in the freezer for up a month.
Prep 10 min
Cook 15 min
For the granita
150g caster sugar
10g dried hibiscus, ground to a powder, or the leaves from 3 hibiscus tea bags
350ml Seville orange juice (from 4-5 oranges)
10g mint leaves, finely chopped
For the possets
130g caster sugar
600ml double cream
2 Seville oranges, zested, to get 1 tbsp, and juiced, to get 80ml
Flaked sea salt
First make the granita. Put the sugar, hibiscus and 150ml water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over a medium-high heat. Leave to bubble for two minutes, then pour into a freezer-proof container with a lid and whisk in the orange juice. Leave to cool to room temperature, then cover and freeze for two hours.
Use a fork to scrape through the partially frozen mix and break up the ice crystals, then return to the freezer. Repeat the scraping every hour for the next two hours, until the mix resembles crumbly snow. Mix in the mint, then return to the freezer overnight.
Meanwhile, make the possets. Put the sugar and cream in a medium saucepan on a medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, whisking well to combine. Turn down the heat to medium, cook for a minute, whisking constantly, then take off the heat and whisk in the orange zest and juice. Quickly divide the mix between eight small glass tumblers and refrigerate for at least six hours, and preferably overnight.
Next day, scoop a large spoonful of granita on top of each posset, sprinkle over a pinch of salt and serve.