The BBQ has had its official sunny day outing, there’s been a little trip down the country and I’ve cracked out the shorts, yes, I’m calling it, it’s officially summer! It really is my favourite time of the year to cook, there’s something about the possibility of eating outdoors that always inspires my dishes this time of year. This weekend it’s all about recipes that provide a taste of summer. Fresh flavours, simple methods and ideal easy summer eats.
Like these individual Tomato, Ricotta and Thyme galettes which are worth the effort of making the pastry yourself. The recipe is from my good friend and food dreamer Jeni Glasgow and is easily one the most reliable pastries you will make — it can be made both savoury and sweet. This recipe can be made as individual rustic tartlets or as a large tart. Serve it with salad leaves mixed with soft herbs such as chives, basil and chervil and lots of beautiful edible flowers. It’s particularly beautiful in the late summer when Irish tomatoes are at their best.
Next up, a chicken dish with a fresh salad. Honey & Thyme Pan-Fried Chicken with Shaved Fennel & Parmesan Salad. More often than not, the simple recipes are the ones we make time and time again. This very easy recipe is precisely one of those. It takes its inspiration from Maura O’Connell Foley’s roast chicken version from her timeless cookbook, My Wild Atlantic Kitchen, which creates a honey & thyme jus with Noilly Prat to serve over the roasted bird — a dreamy Sunday dinner dish.
In this simplified pan-fried version, the honey and thyme along with white wine vinegar is used to create a sweet and sticky sauce for pan-fried chicken breasts. Serve it with a salad of dressed summer leaves or this crunchy fennel slaw.
Another kitchen keeper recipe? My Raspberry & Dark Chocolate Muffins. These rich dark chocolate muffins are beautifully balanced with ruby red raspberries. This mix is easy to prepare, just prepare all your ingredients in advance — all it takes is a little mixing and you have a fudgy dark chocolate muffin mix. The basic batter works well for almost all flavour variations, particularly blueberries and lemon zest.
Time: 90 mins + cooling time Serves: 4
300g cherry tomatoes (red and yellow, if possible)
1 tbsp olive oil
Few fresh thyme sprigs
Small handful of oregano, roughly chopped
250g ricotta cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the pastry:
250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
170g very cold butter, cut into small cubes
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp ice cold water
1. First, make the pastry. Place the flour
and butter in a bowl and using a butter knife, cut the butter into the flour until you have a rough pebble mixture. Whisk together the egg with the balsamic vinegar and sea salt.
2. Add this to the butter and flour and using two forks gently toss through until the dough begins to come together.
Add the cold water to bring the dough
to a rough ball. Turn the pastry out onto parchment paper or cling film, parcel up and place in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.
3. While the pastry is resting, preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5. Slice the tomatoes in half and place in a bowl. Toss with a little olive oil, thyme, oregano and season with sea salt and ground black pepper. Set aside at room temperature to allow the flavours to develop.
4. When the pastry has rested, cut the pastry into quarters and roll each piece out onto a clean well-floured work surface using a rolling pin, until you have a round shape which will fit a 10cm tartlet tin with a removable base that is about 5mm in thickness.
5. Transfer the pastry to the tartlet tin and cut off any loose edges. Repeat until you have 4 pastry-lined tartlet tins in total. Prick the pastry bases with a fork and then spread with ricotta cheese.
6. Place the tomatoes on top and bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes until the tomatoes have reduced in size by half, slightly charred and the pastry cases have turned a nutty brown. Leave to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then carefully remove the tomato tartlets and serve.
Time: 20 mins Serves: 4
1 tbsp olive oil
4 small free-range chicken breasts
A good handful of thyme sprigs
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp honey
1 heaped tsp wholegrain mustard
Sea salt and ground black pepper
For the shaved fennel slaw:
2 bulbs of fennel, finely sliced on a mandolin
Extra virgin olive oil
Juice of ½ lemon
50g Parmesan cheese
50g pine nuts, toasted
1. For the fennel salad, add the thin fennel slices to a high-sided serving dish, drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice and toss to combine. Season generously to taste before using a vegetable peeler to shave the Parmesan cheese over the top. Toss it altogether with the pine nuts and set aside.
2. Place a large frying pan on a high heat and add the oil. Season the chicken breasts generously with sea salt and ground black pepper and place on the pan to fry. Lower the heat to medium high and continue to cook until the chicken is thoroughly browned and almost half cooked through (approx 4 minutes).
3. Flip the chicken and add the butter and thyme to the pan and using a tablespoon, continue to baste the chicken until cooked almost fully.
4. Just before the chicken is cooked, add the white wine vinegar and allow to bubble for 30 seconds or so before adding the honey and wholegrain mustard. Shuffle the pan to bring the sauce together and to allow the chicken to get completely coated in the sauce that forms. Once the sauce has come to a simmer and become slightly thickened, remove from the heat and slice the chicken into 2cm pieces on the diagonal.
5. Serve to the table on a platter with the remaining pan juices spooned over the top. Enjoy alongside the fennel salad.
Time: 30 mins Makes: 12 muffins
100g of butter, melted
200ml of buttermilk
2 large free range eggs
150g of caster sugar
250g of self-raising flour
250g of fresh raspberries
200g of dark chocolate, roughly chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Line a muffin tray with paper cases.
2. In a bowl, whisk together the butter, buttermilk and set aside. In a standalone mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the butter mixture and whisk until combined. Gently fold in the flour until just combined.
3. Stir through the fruit and dark chocolate until combined. Be sure not to over mix the batter. Spoon the mixture into the papercases and place in the oven to cook for 15-20 minutes.
4. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool before serving.