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NIGELLA SUMMER

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‘AS RELIABLY MOUTHWATERING AS EVER ... WITH IMAGES OF WARMTH AND MEDITERRANEAN CLIMES’

TIME OUT

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This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s and publisher’s rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

Epub ISBN: 9781448191918

Version 1.0

Published by Chatto & Windus, 2014

3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4

Text © Nigella Lawson 2002
Photographs © Petrina Tinslay 2002
Landscape photographs including endpapers and case © Art Directors and Trip Photo Library

Nigella Lawson has asserted her right to be identified as the author of this work under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval
system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise without the prior permission of the copyright owners.

First published in the United Kingdom in 2002 as Forever Summer by Chatto & Windus
Random House, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW1V 2SA

Random House UK Limited Reg. No. 954009

www.randomhouse.co.uk

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

ISBN 978 0 7011 8900 6

Design and Art Direction: Caz Hildebrand
Cookery Assistants: Hettie Potter with Angela Boggiano
Additional research: Skye Gyngell
Stylist: Helen Trent

NIGELLA COLLECTION

BY NIGELLA LAWSON

HOW TO EAT

THE PLEASURES AND PRINCIPLES OF GOOD FOOD

HOW TO BE A DOMESTIC GODDESS

BAKING AND THE ART OF COMFORT COOKING

NIGELLA BITES

NIGELLA SUMMER

EASY COOKING, EASY EATING

FEAST

FOOD THAT CELEBRATES LIFE

NIGELLA EXPRESS

GOOD FOOD FAST

NIGELLA CHRISTMAS

NIGELLA KITCHEN

RECIPES FROM THE HEART OF THE HOME

NIGELLISSIMA

INSTANT ITALIAN INSPIRATION

CONTENTS

COVER 

ABOUT THE BOOK 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

ALSO BY NIGELLA LAWSON 

TITLE PAGE 

COPYRIGHT 

LIST OF RECIPES 

PREFACE

FIRST COURSE

SECOND COURSE

PUDDINGS

DRINKS

PREFACE

Summer food, even when eaten in deepest winter, contains within it the idea of simple cooking. But the best recipes are never blueprints, only ideas hungrily mooted. The ones in this book have come to me the way they always do, plundered from friends, from family, grown out of an idea of what might go with what. As the Australian food writer Maggie Beer has written, ‘cooking is all about osmosis – a mental note made about a flavour combination or a technique, a memory of a dish’. Cooking is not just about applying heat, procedure, method, but about transformation of a more intimate kind; none of us cooks without bringing our own character to bear on the food in front of us. Just as the recipes that follow have been toyed with, changed, fiddled with to become my food, so I expect them to be remodelled in your own kitchen.

I have only one rule when I decide what to put in, what to leave out. However successful a kitchen experiment might seem to be, if I don’t feel the urge to cook something again, and soon, I ditch it. The one-off spectacular is not my style, nor ever could be. And, if at any time I’m still wondering if this or that particular recipe is worth keeping, I set myself a scene: a friend, a reader, a fellow-mother at the school gates, is coming up to me, telling me that tonight she’s going to cook my..... If I’m not filled with impatient, evangelical enthusiasm at the imagined exchange, if that recipe doesn’t inspire that same, unwavering, bossy confidence, then out it goes. I want to write only about the food I love, and I want you to love it, too.

ABOUT THE BOOK

‘The sweetness of new potatoes, fresh peas, broad beans and the grassy herbalness of asparagus make you almost want to skip with summeriness.’

Warm, witty and gloriously indulgent, this is the delectable summer classic from Nigella Lawson (“Queen of the Kitchen” – Observer Food Monthly).

Full of irresistible summer recipes, Nigella Summer brings the warmth of a sunny afternoon into your kitchen, all year round. Create delicious family meals and delectable outdoor dinners with Italian recipes, Greek feasts, Moroccan roasts, Mauritian curries and a wide range of luxurious puddings and ice-creams.

With luscious photography, easy recipes, witty food writing and a beautiful hardback design, this is a book you will treasure for many years as well as a delicious gift for friends and family.

First course – from simple soups and appetisers to pasta recipes and summery salads
Second course – melt-in-the-mouth fish dishes, meat ideas from roasts to kebabs, chicken recipes and a wide range of side dishes and vegetables
Puddings – indulgent chocolate desserts, pavlovas and cheesecakes, crumble, ice-cream and more ...
Drinks – cocktail recipes for those lazy summer evenings

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

‘I love Nigella Lawson’s writing and I love her recipes’ – Delia Smith

‘There’s an intelligence to the way she writes and she expects a certain intelligence of her readers as well’ – Nigel Slater

“I am unapologetic about being a home cook rather than a chef.

Real cooking, the sort that goes on in homes, does not have to be tricksy or difficult. A dish of chicken poached with leeks and carrots definitely isn’t fancy. But it tastes good, and feels essentially nourishing, to both body and soul, to cook and eat.

I want you to feel that I’m there with you, in the kitchen, as you cook. My books are the conversations we might be having.”

Nigella Lawson has written nine bestselling cookery books, including the classics How To Eat and How to Be A Domestic Goddess – the book that launched a thousand cupcakes. These books, her TV series and her Quick Collection apps, have made her a household name around the world. In 2013 she was one of the Observer Food Monthly’s ten Chefs of the Decade. She is a judge and mentor on The Taste in the US and UK.

www.nigella.com
@Nigella_Lawson

‘Her prose is as nourishing as her recipes’ – Salman Rushdie, Observer

‘Miss Lawson is the Thinking Person’s Cook. She tells stories, she explains why things must be the way she says they must be ... enlightenment and sensual pleasure’ – Jeanette Winterson, The Times

CONVERSION CHARTS

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List of Recipes

Barbecue

Barbecued Loin of Lamb, Three Ways

Barbecued Quail

Barbecued Sea Bass with Preserved Lemons

Black and Blue Beef

Coconut and Chilli Salmon Kebabs

Grilled Sardines with Lemon Salsa

Grilled Tuna with Wasabi Butter Sauce

Lamb Kebabs

Red Mullet with Sweet and Sour Shredded Salad

Salmon Kebabs with Pomegranate Molasses and Honey

Steak with Barbecue Butters

Beef

Black and Blue Beef

Cold Roast Beef with Lemon Salad

Steak with Barbecue Butters

Thai Crumbled Beef in Lettuce Wraps

Bread

Brioches

Crostini del Mare

Flatbread Pizzas

Garlic Bread

Za’atar Chicken with Fattoush

Dips

Cacik

Feta, Walnut and Herb Salad

Moutabal

Cheese

Baked Pasta Shells Stuffed with Spinach and Ricotta

Baked Ricotta with Grilled Radicchio

Capellini con Cacio e Pepe

Corsican Omelette

Feta, Walnut and Herb Salad

Flatbread Pizzas

Griddled Aubergines with Feta, Mint and Chilli

Puy Lentil, Goat’s Cheese and Mint Salad

Ricotta Hotcakes

The Ultimate Greek Salad

Watermelon, Feta and Black Olive Salad

Chocolate

Baci Ice Cream

Blonde Mocha Layer Cake

Caramelised Pineapple with Hot Chocolate Sauce

Chocolate Peanut Squares

Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova

Dime Bar Ice Cream

Frozen Chocolate Truffles

Mint Chocolate Mousse

White Chocolate Almond Cake

White Chocolate and Passionfruit Mousse

White Chocolate Ice Cream with Hot Blackberry Sauce

Curries

Chicken and Cashew Nut Curry

Green Vegetable Curry

Keralan Fish Curry with Lemon Rice

Mauritian Prawn Curry

Seafood Laksa

Desserts

Anglo-Italian Trifle

Arabian Pancakes with Orange-Flower Syrup

Banana and Butterscotch Upside-Down Tart

Blonde Mocha Layer Cake

Brioches

Caramelised Pineapple with Hot Chocolate Sauce

Chilled Caramelised Oranges with Greek Yoghurt

Chocolate Peanut Squares

Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova

Coconut Slab

Eastern Mediterranean Cheesecake

Figs for a Thousand and One Nights

Frozen Chocolate Truffles

Gingered and Minty Fruit Salad

Gooseberry Fool

Honey Semifreddo

Lavender Trust Cupcakes

Lemon Cupcakes

Lemon Rice Pudding

Mint Chocolate Mousse

Mint Julep Peaches

Orange Cornmeal Cake

Passionfruit Pavlova, Again

Passionfruit Shortcakes

Red Roast Quinces

Red-Hot Chilli Syrup

Rhubarb Fool

Ricotta Hotcakes

Slut-Red Raspberries in Chardonnay Jelly

Strawberry Meringue Layer Cake

Summer Crumble

Vanilla Shortbread

White Chocolate Almond Cake

White Chocolate and Passionfruit Mousse

Drinks

Alcoholic Iced Coffee

Blue Lagoon

Campari Soda

Elderflower and Passionfruit Cooler

Fragonard

Fresh Green Gimlet

Gina

Ginger Beer Shandy

Journalist

Kiwitini

Lemon Drop

Mint and Lime Cool Aid

Moscow Mule

Passione

Pimms

Pina Colada

Pomme Pomme

Sangria

Tom Collins

White Lady

Eggs

Corsican Omelette

Potato and Pea Frittata

Fish and Seafood

Baby Octopus and Potato Salad

Barbecued Sea Bass with Preserved Lemons

Coconut and Chilli Salmon Kebabs

Crostini del Mare

Ginger-Cured Salmon

Grilled Sardines with Lemon Salsa

Grilled Tuna with Wasabi Butter Sauce

Keralan Fish Curry with Lemon Rice

Lemony Prawn Salad

Linguine alle Vongole

Linguine with Chilli, Crab and Watercress

Linguine with Mussels

Marinated Salmon with Capers and Gherkins

Mauritian Prawn Curry

Pepper-Seared Tuna

Prawn and Black Rice Salad with Vietnamese Dressing

Red Mullet with Sweet and Sour Shredded Salad

Salmon Kebabs with Pomegranate Molasses and Honey

Salt Cod Fritters

Sea Bass with Saffron, Sherry and Pine Nuts

Seafood Laksa

Seafood Salad

Seared Mustard-Coated Salmon

Squid Salad with Lime, Coriander, Mint and Mizuna

Tagliolini al Pesto Amaro

Three Fishes with Three-Herb Salsa

Fruit

Apple Ice Cream

Banana and Butterscotch Upside-Down Tart

Caramelised Pineapple with Hot Chocolate Sauce

Chilled Caramelised Oranges with Greek Yoghurt

Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova

Coconut and Chilli Salmon Kebabs

Coconut Slab

Elderflower and Passionfruit Cooler

Figs for a Thousand and One Nights

Gammon with Pineapple

Gingered and Minty Fruit Salad

Golden Jubilee Chicken

Gooseberry and Elderflower Ice Cream

Gooseberry Fool

Kiwitini

Mint Julep Peaches

Orange Cornmeal Cake

Passione

Passionfruit Pavlova, Again

Passionfruit Shortcakes

Peach Ice Cream

Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream

Red Roast Quinces

Redcurrant Slush Sorbet

Rhubarb Fool

Slut-Red Raspberries in Chardonnay Jelly

Strawberry Ice Cream

Strawberry Meringue Layer Cake

Summer Crumble

Watermelon, Feta and Black Olive Salad

White Chocolate and Passionfruit Mousse

Ice Creams and Sorbets

Apple Ice Cream

Baci Ice Cream

Cheesecake Ice Cream

Dime Bar Ice Cream

Egg-Custard Ice Cream

Frozen Chocolate Truffles

Gooseberry and Elderflower Ice Cream

Honey Semifreddo

Margarita Ice Cream

Peach Ice Cream

Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream

Redcurrant Slush Sorbet

Strawberry Ice Cream

Vin Santo Ice Cream with Cantuccini

White Chocolate Ice Cream with Hot Blackberry Sauce

Lamb

Barbecued Loin of Lamb, Three Ways

Bulgar Wheat Salad with Pink-Seared Lamb

Crispy Lamb Chops

Greekish Lamb Pasta

Lamb Cutlets with Yoghurt and Cumin

Lamb Kebabs

Lamb Patties with Hummus and Pitta

Moroccan Roast Lamb

Rack of Lamb with Mint Salsa

Nuts and Pulses

Chocolate Peanut Squares

Chicken, Almond and Parsley Salad

Chicken and Cashew Nut Curry

Chilled Pea and Mint Soup

Double Courgette and Bean Salad

Feta, Walnut and Herb Salad

Lamb Patties with Hummus and Pitta

Pappardelle with Courgettes, Sultanas and Pine Nuts

Puy Lentil, Goat’s Cheese and Mint Salad

Sea Bass with Saffron, Sherry and Pine Nuts

Summer Minestrone Alla Genovese

The Rainbow Room’s Carrot and Peanut Salad

White Chocolate Almond Cake

Pasta

Baked Pasta Shells Stuffed with Spinach and Ricotta

Capellini con Cacio e Pepe

Greekish Lamb Pasta

Linguine alle Vongole

Linguine with Chilli, Crab and Watercress

Linguine with Mussels

Pappardelle with Courgettes, Sultanas and Pine Nuts

Rigatoni al Pomodoro e Prezzemolo

Short Pasta with Asparagus, Lemon, Garlic and Parsley

Spaghetti Aglio Olio Peperoncino

Spaghettini al Sugo Crudo

Tagliolini al Pesto Amaro

Pork

Gammon with Pineapple

Lomo de Orza

Porchetta

Spare Ribs

Potatoes

Baby Octopus and Potato Salad

Baked Potato Salad

Hasselback Potatoes

Potato and Pea Frittata

Salt Cod Fritters

Poultry

Barbecued Quail

Caesar Cleopatra

Chicken, Almond and Parsley Salad

Chicken and Cashew Nut Curry

Chicken Salad with Spinach and Lardons

Gingery Duck with Red Onion and Orange Salad

Golden Jubilee Chicken

Picnic-Fried Chicken

Saffron-Scented Chicken Pilaf

Sicilian Vinegar Chicken

Slow-Roasted Garlic and Lemon Chicken

Spatchcock Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary

Za’atar Chicken with Fattoush

Rice and Noodles

Happiness Soup

Lemon Rice

Lemon Rice Pudding

Prawn and Black Rice Salad with Vietnamese Dressing

Rice Paper Rolls

Risi e Bisi

Saffron-Scented Chicken Pilaf

Seafood Laksa

Soba Noodles with Sesame Seeds

Salads, Snacks and Sides

Baby Octopus and Potato Salad

Baked Potato Salad

Braised Little Gems

Bulgar Wheat Salad with Pink-Seared Lamb

Cacik

Caesar Cleopatra

Caponata

Chicken, Almond and Parsley Salad

Chicken Salad with Spinach and Lardons

Cold Roast Beef with Lemon Salad

Courgette Fritters

Double Courgette and Bean Salad

Feta, Walnut and Herb Salad

Garlic Bread

Golden Jubilee Chicken

Griddled Aubergines with Feta, Mint and Chilli

Hasselback Potatoes

Italian Beetroot Salad

Lemony Prawn Salad

Old-Fashioned Tomato Salad

Prawn and Black Rice Salad with Vietnamese Dressing

Puy Lentil, Goat’s Cheese and Mint Salad

Raw Beetroot, Dill and Mustard Seed Salad

Rice Paper Rolls

Roasted New Season’s Vegetables

Seafood Salad

Spare Ribs

Squid Salad with Lime, Coriander, Mint and Mizuna

The Rainbow Room’s Carrot and Peanut Salad

The Ultimate Greek Salad

Watermelon, Feta and Black Olive Salad

Soups and Stews

Chilled Pea and Mint Soup

Happiness Soup

Risi e Bisi

Seafood Laksa

Spiced Pink Soup

Summer Minestrone alla Genovese

Vegetarian

Baked Pasta Shells Stuffed with Spinach and Ricotta

Baked Ricotta with Grilled Radicchio

Capellini con Cacio e Pepe

Chilled Pea and Mint Soup

Corsican Omelette

Green Vegetable Curry

Griddled Aubergines with Feta, Mint and Chilli

Pappardelle with Courgettes, Sultanas and Pine Nuts

Potato and Pea Frittata

Rigatoni al Pomodoro e Prezzemolo

Risi e Bisi

Short Pasta with Asparagus, Lemon, Garlic and Parsley

Soba Noodles with Sesame Seeds

Spaghetti Aglio Olio Peperoncino

Spaghettini al Sugo Crudo

Spiced Pink Soup

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FIRST COURSE

Crostini del Mare

Griddled Aubergines with Feta, Mint and Chilli

Hot Salt Cod Fritters with Cold Seafood Salad

Seafood Salad

Salt Cod Fritters

Thai Crumbled Beef in Lettuce Wraps

Rice Paper Rolls

Ginger-Cured Salmon

Baby Octopus and Potato Salad

Flatbread Pizzas

Squid Salad with Lime, Coriander, Mint and Mizuna

Soups

Spiced Pink Soup

Chilled Pea and Mint Soup

Risi e Bisi

Summer Minestrone alla Genovese

Happiness Soup

Pasta

Pappardelle with Courgettes, Sultanas and Pine Nuts

Tagliolini al Pesto Amaro

Rigatoni al Pomodoro e Prezzemolo

Spaghettini al Sugo Crudo

Spaghetti Aglio Olio Peperoncino

Linguine with Chilli, Crab and Watercress

Capellini Con Cacio e Pepe

Short Pasta with Asparagus, Lemon, Garlic and Parsley

Linguine with Mussels

Linguine alle Vongole

Greekish Lamb Pasta

Baked Pasta Shells Stuffed with Spinach and Ricotta

Soba Noodles with Sesame Seeds

Salads

Old-Fashioned Tomato Salad

Raw Beetroot, Dill and Mustard Seed Salad

Baked Potato Salad

Cacik

The Rainbow Room’s Carrot and Peanut Salad

Double Courgette and Bean Salad

The Ultimate Greek Salad

Puy Lentil, Goat’s Cheese and Mint Salad

Italian Beetroot Salad

Watermelon, Feta and Black Olive Salad

Feta, Walnut and Herb Salad

CROSTINI DEL MARE

I’ve been harbouring a memory of these for eight years now, but this is the first time I’ve actually cooked them myself. I came across them while I was on holiday in Porto Ercole, at a little restaurant called Il Greco over the way in Porto Santo Stefano. I sat by the water’s edge, voluptuously savouring the menu while the waiters brought plates of lozenge-shaped toasts covered with the still warm meat of finely chopped mussels and clams, deep with garlic and sprinkled with parsley. It was when I was cooking the pasta with mussels for the book shoot that the briney, winey smell of the steaming seafood made me desperate to recreate these. And yes, they’re fiddly, but so very, very good.

You will have a little pool of marine juices left after you’ve chopped and smeared the seafood for the crostini and the best way I can think of for using this up is to dunk the remaining half of your French loaf straight into it and slurp it all up. You can of course, though, just bag it up as it is and freeze it so you have a small but concentrated stash of deep-scented fish stock to use at some later date. And once you get into the habit of crostini-production (and I find I do), you might find it easier anyway to buy a baguette, or ficelle (either will do), slice it and bag it up and keep it in the deep-freeze to be oil-dabbled and toasted whenever you want.

Half a skinny baguette (in other words, a ficelle)

approx. 4 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic minced

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, plus more to decorate

2 tablespoons olive oil

750g mussels

500g clams

1 tablespoon vermouth or white wine

Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Cut the bread into slices, about half to three-quarters of a centimetre thick: in other words, neither too thick, nor too thin. You need about 25 slices for the amount of chopped seafood topping here. Using a pastry brush or your fingers, dab the bread, on both sides, with the olive oil and sit these lightly oil-brushed slices on a rack over a roasting tin and bake for about 5–10 minutes, turning once. Frankly, it’s just a matter of cooking until the slices begin to turn gold, and this takes more time the fresher the bread. In other words, if you’ve got stale bread, use it for this. When the bread is toasted and gold, remove it from the oven and leave it to cool while you get on with the mussels and clams.

Put the garlic and parsley into a large saucepan with the oil and cook, stirring, over a low heat for a couple of minutes making sure it doesn’t colour. Tip in the cleaned mussels and clams, turn the heat to high, add the tablespoon of vermouth or wine and clamp on the lid. Cook for 4–5 minutes, shaking the pan a few times to disperse the shells until they are all gaping open. Remove the lid and take off the heat so that the shellfish can cool a little, then pick out the meat with your fingers.

Chop the shellfish flesh finely with a mezzaluna or knife (you can use the processor but be careful not to turn everything into undifferentiated mush), then spread on to the crostini and sprinkle over some more chopped parsley. Eat while still warm.

Makes approx. 25.

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GRIDDLED AUBERGINES WITH FETA, MINT AND CHILLI

You can griddle these aubergines, grill them or just blitz them in the heat of the barbecue: I really don’t care. The point is this: once your slices of aubergine are cooked, you pile up one short end with lemon-soused crumbled feta, chopped red chilli and fresh mint and roll the whole thing up; it’s really more of an assembly job than cooking.

I tend to think of these simple involtini as an ideal vegetable picky-thing to serve either as a starter before, or alongside, a generally meat-heavy barbecue, but they don’t have to be: frankly, just serve these with drinks and you don’t have to think of a first course for the rest of summer. And I eat these happily deep into winter too.

2 large aubergines, each cut thinly, lengthwise, into about 10 slices

4 tablespoons olive oil

250g feta cheese

1 large red chilli, finely chopped, deseeded or not, depending on how much heat you want

large bunch fresh mint, finely chopped, with some saved for sprinkling over at the end

juice of 1 lemon

black pepper

Preheat the barbecue or griddle to a high heat.

Brush both sides of the aubergine slices with the oil, and cook them for about 2 minutes each side until golden and tender.

Crumble the feta into a bowl and stir in the chilli, mint and lemon juice and grind in some black pepper. You don’t need salt, as the feta is salty enough. Pile the end third of each warm aubergine slice with a heaped teaspoon of the feta mixture and roll each slice up as you go to form a soft, stuffed bundle.

Place join side down on a plate, and sprinkle with a little more mint.

Makes 20 rolls.

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HOT SALT COD FRITTERS WITH COLD SEAFOOD SALAD

These are actually two completely independent, separate recipes, but I so love the palate-searing, heavy hotness of the potato-fluffy fritters with the anise-clear coolness of the seafood salad that I had, quite bossily, to stick them together here.

SEAFOOD SALAD

Feel free to alter the relative amounts of seafood in this; indeed, play with it as you want to. Don’t think of making it just for some planned-for, guest-invited meal, though: nothing’s lovelier, in the summer (and beyond), than to have a huge, cold bowlful of this, standing in the fridge, for you to pick from when you want.

1 bottle white wine

4 bay leaves

8 black peppercorns

500g baby octopus

500g baby squid, sliced but tentacles left whole

500g medium raw prawns

125ml olive oil

juice of 2 lemons

2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped

3 sticks celery, finely sliced

large bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

salt, if necessary

Make a stock to cook the seafood in by boiling the wine, bay leaves and peppercorns in a large saucepan.

Cook the octopus, squid and prawns separately in the stock as they will take different times to cook. It’s very hard to be specific about lengths of time, though; fish changes in density, relative tenderness and size, from catch to catch. But taste as you go, and fish them out with a slotted spoon as they are done, letting them cool in a bowl. The liquid will go quite murky but that’s to be expected, so don’t be alarmed.

Whisk together the oil and lemon juice, and add the finely chopped chillies. Pour this mixture over the cooled seafood and add the celery and chopped parsley, mixing everything together thoroughly. Check the seasoning and add salt if necessary. Add enough of the cooled stock to cover the salad so that it macerates completely covered in juice.

Keep in the fridge and let the flavours develop for at least a couple of hours; after a day, this will really come into its own, though. Spoon out excess liquid, if there is any, drizzle over a little more olive oil if you like, and sprinkle over a bit more chopped parsley.

Serves 6–8.

SALT COD FRITTERS

I can’t pretend these aren’t fiddly to make, but they aren’t hard. The most taxing thing really is that you have to remember to start soaking the salt cod 24 hours before you want to cook it, and you do have to change the water regularly (just pour out then replace the water every time you think of it, or about four times during the whole soaking period). A friend of mine once told me that the best way of soaking salt cod was by sitting it in the lavatory cistern, so that everytime someone flushes you get a change of water. I wanted to try this but the protestations in my household when I suggested it, were simply not worth putting up with. I can’t quite see the problem, though, since you’re hardly soaking the fish in the water from the lavatory bowl, but the fresh water kept in the cistern. Still, perhaps you’ll have more luck.

500g salt cod, soaked for 24 hours, changing the water regularly

500g maincrop potatoes, peeled and quartered

600ml milk

2 bay leaves

1 egg, beaten

4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

quarter onion, finely grated, to give about 2 tablespoons

1 clove garlic, finely grated

black pepper

sunflower oil for frying

Drain the salt cod and put it in a saucepan with the potatoes, covering both with the milk. Add the bay leaves and bring to the boil, cooking everything for 8–10 minutes, or until the salt cod’s tender, then lift it out. Let the potatoes cook for a further 20 minutes.

Let the cod cool slightly, until you can remove any bones without burning your fingers, then flake the fish into a bowl and beat it to threads with a fork or whisk, or even easier still, with the paddle attachment of a free-standing mixer. Drain the potatoes and add them to the fish, mashing them with the beater again. Or you can just push both through the coarse disc of a food mill.

Stir in the beaten egg, chopped parsley, grated onion, garlic and black pepper, adding a little of the poaching liquid to make a smooth mixture. Then shape, using two spoons, into quenelles or lozengey forms. Place these on baking sheets, lined with clingfilm (so they don’t stick), and sit them in the fridge to cool completely before you fry them. This helps them hold their shape.

Heat some oil in a frying pan to make a layer of about 1cm, and drop in the fritters a few at a time. Cook, turning as necessary, until golden on all sides, and drain on kitchen paper.

Makes about 20.

THAI CRUMBLED BEEF IN LETTUCE WRAPS

Given that I made this out of my head rather than out of a book, I don’t know how authentically Thai it is, but I do know it’s authentically wonderful. What I was after was that first course (among many) I always order in Thai restaurants, of crumbled meat, quite dry, sour-sharp with chilli, which you eat by scooping with crunchy, boat-shaped lettuce leaves.

One of the joys of this, in my version at any rate, is how easy and quick it is to make. If you’re having people over to dinner midweek, you could make this as a first course before a plain roast chicken and provide a full-on dinner with next to no effort. Mind you, as a meal in its entirety, for three or four of you, it takes some beating, too. Reduce quantities (or not) for a five-minute supper for one.

You may need to be rather brutal with the lettuce as you tear the leaves off to provide the edible wrappers for the beef, which is why I specify one to two icebergs. If you want to perk the leaves up a little, making sure they curve into appropriate repositories for later, leave them in a sinkful of very cold water while you cook the minced beef, then make sure you drain them well before piling them up on their plate.

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

2 red birdeye chillies, finely chopped

375g beef mince

scant tablespoon Thai fish sauce

4 spring onions, dark green bits removed, finely chopped

zest and juice of 1 lime

3–4 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander

1–2 iceberg lettuces

Put the oil in a non-stick frying pan on medium heat and when warm add the finely chopped chillies and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally. It’s wiser not to leave the pan, as you don’t want them to burn. Add the beef, turn up the heat and, breaking up the mince with a wooden spoon or fork, cook for 3 or 4 minutes till no trace of pink remains. Add the fish sauce and, still stirring, cook till the liquid’s evaporated. Off the heat, stir in the spring onions, zest and juice of the lime and most of the coriander. Turn into a bowl, and sprinkle over the remaining coriander just before serving.

Arrange the iceberg lettuce leaves on another plate – they should sit one on top of another easily enough – and let people indulge in a little DIY at the table, filling cold crisp leaves with spoonfuls of sharp, spicy, hot, crumbled meat.

Serves 6.

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RICE PAPER ROLLS

I’ll be honest with you: I had longed to make some version of these little rolls for years but either essential laziness or fear that they would be frighteningly complicated put me off. Now that I’ve made them, I can’t quite see what I was on about. Fiddly they may be, but I think they must be one of the easiest recipes to make in the whole book. And also one of the loveliest: there is something about the light, unwheatenness of rice pasta (which in effect these sheets just are) and the bundles of fresh herbs within that make them compulsive and uplifting eating. You can, and this is how I ate them first in a Vietnamese restaurant, add some cooked prawns and cooled, stir-fried chopped pork along with the herbs and rice vermicelli, but I can’t honestly see that you need to.

You can often find the rice pancakes, or rice sheets (emphatically not rice paper) in the supermarket. If you’re unlucky in this respect, you will have to track down an Asian store, which offers a gastro-reward of its own.

100g rice vermicelli

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce

bunch fresh mint, roughly chopped

bunch fresh Thai basil, roughly chopped

half a cucumber, cut into thin batons

6 spring onions, finely sliced

12 rice pancakes

soy sauce for serving (optional)

Soak the vermicelli according to the instructions on the packet, and drain once the translucent threads are rehydrated.

Flavour the vermicelli with the rice vinegar, soy and fish sauces, and then add the chopped herbs, cucumber and spring onions. Mix gently with your hands to try to combine the noodles, herbs and vegetables.

Soak the rice pancakes (again, according to packet instructions) in a shallow bowl of hot water and then lay each one on a tea towel to pat dry. Run a fairly narrow strip of noodle mixture down the middle of the pancake, fold over one half and then carefully roll it up as tightly as you can. Slice each roll into four and then arrange them on a plate.

If you want, pour some soy sauce into a few little bowls for dipping the rolls into as you eat. They are also fabulous with the Vietnamese dipping sauce, in the form of the dressing.

Makes 48 rolls.

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GINGER-CURED SALMON

I know that suggesting you cure anything sounds as if I am about to get you in a mob cap sitting in a pantry for days on end, but just think marinade: the ingredients and the fridge do all the work. And look at it this way: the steeping, which asks very little of you in the first place, means you then dispense with any actual cooking later.

I suppose this is a tentatively Asian gravadlax, but I think it’s important not to get bogged down in post-hoc definitions. All you need to know is that you end up with fleshy salmon, salty-sweet and infused with the hot breath of ginger, edged aromatically with a grassy green covering of coriander. Eat it finely sliced as it is for a starter, or with a salad and maybe some steamed new potatoes as a light lunch.

1kg salmon fillet, skinned, pin boned and of equal thickness throughout its length

50g fresh ginger, coarsely microplaned (or otherwise minced or grated)

4 tablespoons Maldon salt

4 tablespoons caster sugar

juice of 2 limes

bunch fresh coriander, chopped

Put the salmon into a dish large enough for the fillet to lie flat, skinned side down. Combine the ginger, salt, sugar and lime juice and press it on to the top of the salmon, spreading evenly. Sprinkle over the chopped coriander so that there is a thick layer of dark leafy green.

Cover the dish with clingfilm, weigh the fish down – I just sit three or so unopened cans of tomatoes on top of the clingfilm – and stick it in the fridge for three to five days.

When you want to eat it, just remove your weights and the clingfilm, transfer the lawn-bordered piece of fish to a wooden board and slice across at an angle as thinly as you can manage.

Serves 6–8.

BABY OCTOPUS AND POTATO SALAD

You really need the teensy weensy, almost miniature-sized baby octopus for this, which means you need a fishmonger, and a good one at that, to prepare this. Failing that, just alter the focus a little and buy squid – grown-up ones – and chop them into 3cm slices, cook them for about half the time of the octopus and add a few peas along with the potatoes at the end. But if you can get baby octopus, count yourself fortunate. I love the tender, warm graininess of this; the way the garlicky, chilli, mellow seafood juices ooze their way into the potato. For this reason I use maincrop potatoes, and peel them, but by all means cube waxier-fleshed new potatoes if you are not as greedily keen as I am on all that floury absorbency.

I’ve stipulated marinating the octopus for an hour, but to be honest, the longer the better. A day in the fridge will do it no harm whatsoever.

6 tablespoons olive oil

juice of 2 lemons

2 cloves garlic

1 long red fresh chilli

750g baby octopus

2 large potatoes (approximately 750g total weight), peeled

salt

small bunch fresh parsley, chopped