Summer cooking.jpg

Summer cooking

With temperatures in the high 30s and even 40s, the last thing you need is to spend a long time in the kitchen. However, this does not mean that you cannot produce some scrumptious food.

This month we have two main course suggestions for you, both of which are extremely tasty, taking no more than 20 minutes of your time.

The first is a simple seafood pasta dish. This can be eaten either hot or cold.

Seafood pasta

Cook your chosen pasta in plenty of boiling, salted water with a little cooking oil, to prevent the pasta from sticking together. Please don’t overcook the pasta – flabby pasta reminds me of children’s food that comes out of a tin in a rather unpalatable sauce.

Drain the pasta well and return to the pan in which it was cooked. If intending to serve the pasta dish hot, return the pan to a low heat and add a jar of good quality tomato sauce. Outlets such as, Let The Magic In can supply you with excellent sauce, which contains roasted vegetables – perfect for this dish and ideal for vegetarians.

For four people, add the contents of a can of tuna (185g), either packaged in brine or oil, but please drain the liquid off before adding the tuna to the pasta pan, followed by two tins of mussels.

Gently fold the contents of the pan together until everything is just heated through. Allow your guests to season the dish themselves, as there is quite a lot of seasoning already present with the tomato sauce and the tinned fish. Puritans say that you should never serve Parmesan cheese with fish pastas, but, in our house, pasta isn’t pasta without freshly grated Parmesan.

If you are feeling in a celebratory mood, you can substitute the mussels for cooked prawns!

Poached salmon with orange syrup

The second choice for a main course is again fish, but this time salmon. There are so many different ways of cooking and serving this lovely fish, farmed salmon is excellent quality these days.

The important thing to remember when cooking salmon is to remove it from the heat when it is barely cooked. Overcooked salmon turns grey and tastes dry and nasty.

In this recipe we suggest that you poach your portions of salmon in fresh orange juice and a crushed clove of garlic. Salmon portions vary in weight and thickness, so it is impossible to give you exact cooking times.

Start out by poaching on one side for three or four minutes. Gently turn over the portions of salmon and, if necessary, add additional orange juice. Cook for a further two to three minutes. Insert a knife into the thickest part of one of the portions to check for ‘doneness’. The fish should still have very moist coral flesh in the middle.

Remove the salmon from the pan and add a tablespoon of the darkest brown sugar you have to the pan, with a further wineglass full of orange juice. Adding the grated zest of an orange or lemon will liven up the sauce. Bring to the boil and spoon over the salmon portions. Serve with a simple green salad and some crusty bread.

Pudding mess

My intention was to give you a recipe for Pavlova this month, but this would mean heating your kitchen up with the use of the oven.

This meringue treat is so simple that children can make it for you – though you may find that not very much actually gets to the table!

The ingredients are simplicity itself.

• Meringue shapes which are pre-packaged and available from all larger supermarkets

• Whipping cream

• Fruit in season

Roughly crumble the meringues (you may find this easiest to do in the bag they are sold in).

Prepare the fruit. The ideal fruits for this pudding are strawberries, raspberries, peaches and nectarines. If using fruit with stones, remove the stones but do not peel the fruit.

Whip the cream until it holds a peak. Gently fold in crushed meringues and fruit. Pile in to pretty serving dishes or tall glasses and, if available, squeeze a small amount of passion fruit pulp over the top.

For a dinner party pudding, add a tablespoon or two of your favourite liqueur to the cream prior to whipping.