Turkish Green Beans

I get a lot of my stuff from charity shops. Clothes mostly, trinkets occasionally, and every now and then I find a real gem, like a breadmaker for eight quid, or the tome of the aspiring cook, The Cookery Year (My gran has one, my mum and my aunt have one each, and now I’ve got my own. Everything you ever need to know is in here), or, wrenching this sentence back to the point, this: http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Turkish-Ingredients-Techniques-Traditions/dp/1846811767. Ghillie Basan’s The Complete Book of Turkish Cooking.

I’ve been to Turkey three times now, and I love the culture inordinately – a bizarre combination of insanely crowded streets and utterly tranquil little scenes, of old men drinking tea and playing backgammon while little kids run screaming and laughing around them. Most of all, I love the food. Most Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cultures have a tradition of meze, lots of little dishes meant to refresh, comfort and inspire – a far cry from stodgy Western European foods meant  to fill and warm the farm workers – but the Turkish really do it properly. Partly that has to do with the melting-pot nature of the country, and partly to do with the fact that Turkish food combines the peasant and the prince – the kitchens of the Sultans were famed all over the medieval world.

Before I wax too lyrical, I’ll give you a recipe for green beans in olive oil and tomatoes, a particular favourite of mine, and do nothing more than urge you to find your nearest Turkish restaurant (they do exist) and tucking into ten or twelve plates of meze with friends and family. It’s quite a dining experience. Turkish cuisine is also very good for vegetarians and vegans, not because they particularly recognise those preferences, but because they think of vegetables and pulses as the star of the show in their own right, not an accompaniment to meat.

Ingredients:

1 large handful green beans or runner beans, topped and tailed.

1 medium onion, halved lengthways and finely sliced.

1 large garlic clove, finely sliced.

1 tsp sugar

juice of half a lemon

1 tin chopped tomatoes

olive oil

Method:

Gently soften the onion and garlic in about three tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy based frying pan over a low heat. When the onion is translucent, halve the beans (or chop them into three or four pieces) and add to the pan, coating them in the oil. Allow to cook for a few minutes, then sprinkle over the sugar and lemon juice. Add the tomatoes, season liberally with salt and pepper, and bring to the boil. Let the sauce simmer for about half an hour until it’s nice and thick, then taste and add more sugar or lemon juice according to taste. They ought to be just a little sharp and crunchy.

Eat these as an accompaniment to chops or sausages, or better yet, on their own with some flat breads or pitta.

Special Roast Pork

I’m aware that this sounds like it ought to be on the menu at your local Chinese takeaway, but this stuffed and rolled shoulder of pork is really quite special (hence, you know…)

As ever, I’d recommend getting the meat from a proper local butcher – not just because I happen to work at a proper local butcher, but also because the meat is likely to be free range, well hung, and from a pig in this country, and more often than not, this county. Shoulder of pork is a fattier cut than the more traditional leg, but it’s well worth the longer cooking time for perfectly tender meat and crunchy crackling (which is, let’s face it, the best bit).

When you buy it, it’ll most likely be rolled and strung together already – this recipe requires you to cut the strings, unroll the meat, stuff it and then re-roll it – there is a special butcher’s knot for tying meat, but it’s a bit complex and not really necessary if you’re roasting it straight away, so I won’t bother explaining it here.

Ingredients:

Stuffing: 1 large cooking apple, 1 small onion, a large handful of dried apricots, 100g breadcrumbs, 50g butter, salt, pepper

Herb Rub: Two small sprigs of rosemary, a small handful each of sage, thyme and marjoram leaves, 1 1/2 tsp each celery seed (optional) and fennel seeds (not optional), 3 cloves garlic.

Pork Shoulder, about 2 1/2 kg or 5lbs. (Ideally, get this out of the fridge an hour or so before you start cooking, so the skin can dry out and the meat can relax)

Sea salt.

Method:

First, make the stuffing. Peel and core the apple, peel  the onion, then roughly chop both of these along with the apricots. In a food processor, whizz all three til they’re finely shredded. In a bowl mix the shredded fruit/veg with the breadcrumbs and butter, and add a good pinch of salt and a few twists of pepper. Mix with your hands until the stuffing can be loosely packed together.

Now make the herb paste. Bash the fennel and celery seeds in a pestle and mortar until roughly ground, then finely chop the herbs and add them to the pestle (or mortar, I forget which is which) with the peeled and squashed garlic cloves. Pound the hell out of the whole lot for a minute or so, then add a drizzle of oil.

Lay out your shoulder of pork skin side down and rub the herb mix into the flesh, then pack the stuffing into a rough roll in the middle of the pork. Re-roll and tie the joint quite tightly (start from the middle, and tie a couple of strings either side of the central one). Some of the stuffing will squeeze out of the ends, but chuck it in the roasting tray with the joint anyway. Place the joint in the tray. If you want perfect crackling, then make sure the skin is as dry as you can make it – rub it with kitchen paper and then rub in some sea salt. Some cook books will tell you to rub oil or butter into the skin – bad idea. That only softens the skin, which is not ideal for crackling.

Put the roast in a preheated oven at 200C for thirty minutes, then turn it down to 150C and give it a further 2/12 hours. You can roast vegetables around the joint in the pan, and the meat should provide plenty of tasty pork fat for roasties, although you can give it a helping hand with some oil or butter (or better yet, goose fat).

Another thing: with any roast meat, take it from the roasting tray and let it rest for about twenty minutes before you carve it (don’t put foil over the pork, keeping the steam in will do terrible things to your crackling) – this lets the fibres of the meat relax and the juices return to the surface. In that time, make gravy in the roasting pan by putting it on the hob over a medium heat, sprinkling some flour into the pan and scraping up all the burnt on bits (the food group of the gods). Pour some liquid into the pan (a mixture of stock and some meat-appropriate liquid – cider, red wine, white wine, sloe gin), bring to the boil and simmer until you have a nice flavoursome gravy. And promptly devour the lot.

(Leftover roast pork can be thinly sliced and ensandwiched with sauerkraut. Surprisingly good.)

Soup!

It’s definitely soup weather. Plus, our central heating appears to have taken this opportunity to slump in the metaphorical corner and laugh bitterly at the very notion of actually warming our house up in any way whatsoever, so ho! for lots of jumpers, woolly socks and soup.

Among the first things I ever learnt to make was  leek and potato soup – which is what learning to cook is all about, by the way; discovering what you really like to eat, and then learning to make those few things really well. I’ve added a few bits and bobs here and there to the basic recipe to end up with what I think is a particularly good winter warmer.

Leek and Potato Soup

Ingredients:

2 large leeks, washed and thinly sliced

2 large or 3 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

1 celery heart (take all the larger stalks off the outside until you’re left with the leafy, pale heart), chopped.

2-3  cloves of garlic

1 litre chicken stock

6-7 basil leaves, torn

oil/butter

double cream or milk

salt and black pepper

a good pinch of celery salt (I may have mentioned this particular condiment before. Well worth buying, for reasons I shall elaborate upon later)

Method:

Melt a large knob of butter with a couple of good glugs of oil (not olive oil) in a large saucepan or stock pot over a medium heat. Add your leeks, potatoes and celery, and mix it all up. Crush and peel the garlic and add to the pot. Stick a lid on and leave the vegetables to sweat for ten minutes or a little more.

Add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 25 minutes. Allow the soup to cool a little, then add the basil and celery salt. At this point you’ll need a stick blender (hugely useful pieces of kit) or a food processor, or failing that, a potato masher. Whizz up the soup , drizzling in a dash of cream, a splash of milk or both, until the whole lot is creamy and smooth, then season to taste and serve. Crusty bread and a warm fire are my serving suggestions today.

Foraging

Well, there’s no getting around it. Summer has waved a cheery farewell, taken hat in hand, and buggered off to the tropics for six months, leaving us to be bitten by frosts and sunk in seasonal gloom. On the other hand, this is the short-but-fruitful period before the first serious frosts, where the air is still delightfully brisk rather than cold enough to compel even the highest-pitched of brass monkeys to chitter the simian equivalent of ‘sod this’ and zoom off to Bali. Or something.

In any case, it’s also the perfect time for one of my favourite past-times, viz, tramping heartily through wooded dell and mossy field, poking things with a stick, breezily ignoring signs warning of imminent death by shotgun if I take but one more step, and scouring the bases of trees and the undersides of dead logs for that most elusive of bosky treasures, the wild mushroom.

I’m sorry, I’m getting a bit carried away. In truth, as much as spring and summer have the goods in terms of sunshine, lazy days and all-round gloriousness, I’m a bit of a one for autumn. The snap in the air and the slow transition from light snacks, delicate fancies and salads to hearty stews, roasted meat and many, many pints of good ale really has me at my best.

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been doing something almost entirely alien to my essentially indolent nature – taking voluntary exercise. The reason being, I’m lucky enough to live in the (relative) countryside, and the New Forest begins more or less at the end of my road. A short stroll down a green path with horses eyeing me suspiciously from afar, a hair-raising dash across the main road, a shaky tip-toe across a cattle grid, and an entire National Park stretches out before me, crammed to the ruddy gills with free food.

Which, of course, is the nub and crux of the whole issue. The reason I love early autumn so much is that I can go for a quick stroll and return with all the necessaries for supper, all of which I can guarantee is fresh, in excellent condition, and best of all, free.

I’m very aware, of course, that you may not have such a huge natural resource at your beck and call. Wherever you might live, however, there’s almost certainly a place within reach – a small patch of woodland, a city park, an overgrown stretch of scrubland – where something edible will have eked out an existence, ready for you to wander along and munch it. Whether it be blackberries for crumble, sloes for gin, rabbits and squirrels for those of you with a more direct approach to ‘free food’, or mushrooms for just about everything, there will be something edible, going free, right under your nose.

Beyond the above-mentioned, my expertise runs dry. I can heartily recommend Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ‘A Cook on the Wild Side’ (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cook-Wild-Side-Channel-Four/dp/0752211153) and Richard Mabey’s excellent ‘Food for Free’ (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Collins-Gem-Food-Richard-Mabey/dp/0007183038/ref=pd_sim_b_6), together with their related mushroom books for further reading.

Anyway. Enough hyperbole. On with the recipes.

Blackberry and Apple Crumble

Picking blackberries is, I hope, something everybody has done at least once. The bloody things seem  to grow everywhere, so you’ve got no excuse. The actual plant is something of a pest, consisting of approximately one million tiny thorns per square inch, but the ripe, dark purple fruits are worth the hassle. Occasionally you come across one that is so ripe that it almost glows, and juice dribbles invitingly down your fingers (and anything white you happen to be wearing. Automatically. Even if said clothing got nowhere near the blackberries. It’s probably because of quantum), and there’s nothing for it but to scoff it right there and grin gleefully. All the rest will do for cooking.

Evidence of a good walk.

As with most foraged food, eyes and fingers are your best tools – a ripe blackberry will come easily from its stem, and only the dark purple will do – red ones are NFG. That said, the closely-packed dark berries that require a little ‘help’ to come off the plant are fine for cooking too. I was lucky enough to find a couple of apple trees in the same field as the blackberries (and cooking-apple trees aren’t all that abundant in the wild, so I was probably poaching), but you can get bramley apples more or less anywhere.

170g plain or wholemeal flour (Spelt flour is pretty good, if you have such a thing)

50g porridge oats (not the jumbo ones)

150g soft brown sugar

75g butter, in small cubes

1tsp baking powder

1tsp mixed spice

Two good handfuls of blackberries, carefully washed and expunged of any spiny stalks or insect-life therein

4 medium cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into centimetreish chunks.

First, make the crumble mix. Add the baking powder to the flour and oats in a large mixing bowl, then add the butter and rub between your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. The trick with this rubbing-in business – you can’t really get away from it – is to dive in hands first, grabbing lumps of butter, making sure there’s enough flour nearby, and then bringing the two into happy conjunction. The hand-movement you’re after is along the lines of the classic show-me-the-money, thumb-and-forefingers, only with all four fingers. Got it? Good.

Tip in the sugar and work it through the mix lightly, until everything’s combined together. Add the spice, plus any remnants of flaked or ground almonds you may have about the place, and give everything a final toss with your fingers. Chuck your diced apple and blackberries into a suitable ovenproof dish, sprinkle liberally with sugar and a splash of water, then pack the crumble mix on top. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t entirely cover the fruit – any gaps will simply allow fruit juices to surge upwards and caramelise on top during cooking, which is needless to say a good thing.

Bake at 180 degrees for 35-45 minutes. Custard, cream or vanilla ice cream would suit.

Mushrooms

I’m not going to give you a recipe here, because you know what you’d do with mushrooms – omelettes, stir frys, fried with garlic, whatever your preference – and though my plethora of mushrooms books have many recipes in them, I’ve yet to collect enough of any one type to give them a go.

First of all, A Warning. Do not, under any circumstances, eat any wild mushroom without knowing to 99% certainty what it is. Get a mushroom book or two – the River Cottage Mushroom Handbook is a good one, as is The Edible Mushroom Book and the Collins Mushroom book. Your first few mushrooming trips will, by necessity, involve more study than supper. By all means, however, pick one or two specimens of everything you see, bring them home and take time to identify them. Then next time, you’ll know what to look for. And don’t lick your fingers while you’re out there.

Actually, this is a good excuse for a picture. Recognise this?

Not pictured: a gnome.

‘Course you do. It’s not a very good picture, but that there is a Fly Agaric, probably the most well known of all poisonous mushrooms – although in point of fact you’d have to eat about 70kg of those in one go to seriously endanger yourself. A quick munch on a fried Fly Agaric will result in nothing more than stomach cramps, nausea, some amusing hallucinations and a powerful urge to sleep.

There are, however, plenty of seriously dangerous ones out there, and some of them are worryingly abundant. As far as the spectrum of mushrooms go, it’s about equal thirds delicious, dangerous, and dull. Two of the most prized are the Cep, or Penny Bun, an enormous specimen of which is to be seen below, and the Chanterelle, a relatively baby example of which is even further below

A very large Cep

Chante...oh. Well, what he said.

One afternoon's haul

The above, I should point out, is the work of four people in two different areas of the forest. The Cep and Chanterelle you’ve already met, but the grey ones in the plastic box are Oyster mushrooms, which you sometimes see in the supermarket (cultivated ones, mind) and, just to prove a point, that little brown one on the far left is the hilariously deadly Brown Rolled Rim which, if it hasn’t already featured in an episode of Midsomer Murders, will be shortly.

This underhand little bugger will, instead of poisoning you outright, instead do nothing. For a while. You can happily eat it several times, after which it will proceed to kill you dead. What it does is build up, slowly, a terribly allergy to itself in your body – up until about the 1970s it was considered edible, until one of the most prolific mycologists of all time suddenly found himself dropping dead unexpectedly after eating it for the ninth or tenth time. After that, people started taking notice.

In any case, I can give no heartier recommendation than for you to equip yourself with a good mushroom book, a basket and a small knife, and ho for the nearest patch of woodland to see what you can find. Look up as well as down, you get plenty of good fungi on trees as well as between their roots and in patches of moss and dirt. You’ll find that you start getting a genuine thrill from finding a particularly choice specimen. Well, I do.

As I said above, most of them can be used in any recipe that calls for mushrooms, although some types of cooking suit certain varieties better. When I’ve experimented more with some of that haul above, I’ll post the results here. That’s your lot for now.

Trifle

Sherry is, almost without exception, a foul and noxious substance good only for cleaning drains, so why people insist on ruining  a perfectly good trifle with it is beyond me. I’m aware of the pleasures of a glass of ice-cold fino with a plate of tapas, when on holiday, but other than that the world is better off without it.

This loathing of mine probably stems from a  badly made trifle when I was younger (I’ve often suspected that if I was ever conned onto the psychiatrist’s couch, any deep-rooted childhood traumas discovered would be food related), so a few years ago I came up with an alternative. It’s much tastier, and contains no traces of sherry at all.

I made this trifle more-or-less to comission, to persuade a younger sister (not mine, I’m lacking in the sister department) of my acquaintance that puddings without chocolate are indeed worthy of the title. Fruit-wise, you’re after soft fruits in season – strawberries and raspberries are traditional, but also try halved and stoned cherries, diced peaches, blueberries and blackberries.

(Last time I briefly experimented with not listing the ingredients, and instead just highlighting them. This was ill-received, so ho for the traditional list!)

You’ll need:

Strawberries/Raspberries/Other soft fruit (see above)

One of those cheap raspberry swiss rolls.

Disaronno Amaretto – or some other kind of Amaretto, if there is one.

Custard – fresh or packet. Fresh won’t set that well, but will taste better.

Double cream, a medium pot.

Amaretto biscuits, a handful, crushed.

Balsamic vinegar (optional)

N.B - that is *not* enough cream. Trust me on this.

Method:

Hull and quarter the strawberries, then set aside with the raspberries. If you want to be a little adventurous, then splash them with a teaspoon or two of balsamic vinegar, a teaspoon of Amaretto, and three teaspoons of sugar, and leave to macerate for an hour or two before you make the trifle. This is a pretty good way of dealing with strawberries in any situation, they respond well to the depth and sweetness of good balsamic. If not, well, as you were.

The three stages of strawberry preparation.

Cut the swiss roll into slices about 1cm thick and line the trifle dish with them. Soak liberally with amaretto.

About the only suitable use for long-life swiss roll.

Insert fruit, then pour over the custard. At this stage, stick the whole thing in the fridge for an hour, which will let the instant custard set, or the fresh custard… get cold.

Whip the cream with a hand whisk or electric beater until it forms stiff peaks, then layer over the custard. Decorate the top with a few raspberries and the crushed Amaretti biscuits (crush them by sticking them in a sandwich bag and going nuts with a rolling pin). Devour.

There are no pictures of the final product, because it got eaten before I could take any. I’m choosing to see this as a good thing. That’s your lot for today, folks.

P.S. Photos! I’d like your feedback, pls. Do they work? Are they too small? Too big? Too blurry (can’t do much about this one, I’m taking them on my phone until my freeloading brother gets back from India with my camera *shakes fist*)?. Comments appreciated.

Admin and Pizza

What ho you fellows. As you may have noticed, the ol’ blog’s had a bit of a facelift, some corrective surgery and a spot of liposuction, and here we all are, overwhelmed by the green and the shiny. There will be more posts, more often, and with less whacking great blocks of text – I figure I can spread out a four-recipe post over four days and make it look like I’m more productive than I actually am, without compromising my essential idleness – after all, with a title like the Idle Epicurean, you can’t be expecting too much.

After a stern talking to by someone who I’m this close to referring to as ‘my lovely assistant’, just because it would annoy her, I’ll try and keep you updated with my culinary gallivantings as I zoom hither and yon, sampling this and munching that. And if you’re really lucky, there may even be pictures…

But not today, because I didn’t take any when I was making…

Home-made Pizza

First things first: the base. I happen to own a breadmaker, not because I have the disposable income to buy these sorts of kitchen gadgets (a statement to be flatly contradicted in an upcoming post involving ice cream), but because I was lucky enough to find one in a charity shop for less than a tenner. For making pizza bases, I use one of those pre-blended bread mixes, the ciabatta kind, stick it in the breadmaker on the ‘dough setting’, and Bob turns up claiming to be my uncle.

If you don’t happen to own one of these luxury electronic doodads, a) buy one – they’re not that expensive, and fresh bread is definitely worth it – especially if you set it the night before to be ready for breakfast, or b) there are other options. You can buy ready-made pizza bases, which are almost invariably terrible, or ready-to-make dough mixes, which generally aren’t. Or you can make the dough properly, in which case good luck to you. Try the River Cottage Family Cookbook for a good from-scratch recipe.

Anyway, assuming you’ve picked your option and have your dough in front of you, roll it out on a well floured surface until it’s as thin as you can possibly make it without the whole thing falling apart. Transfer to a large, flat baking sheet, brush with olive oil and preheat the oven to 220C (200C for fan ovens).

The sauce: Easy as anything. You’ll need a tin of tomatoes, salt, pepper, olive oil, butter and half an onion at the very least.

Tomatoes in a saucepan, over a high heat. If they’re not chopped already, mash them with a fork.

Finely chop half a medium onion, add to the tomatoes, and season.

A dash of olive oil, a small knob of butter, and stir.

Boil the hell out of it for ten minutes, until the sauce has thickened and reduced by half. Let it cool a little while you get on with the real reason we’re all here – the pizza toppings.

The Cheese: The classic pizza cheese is of course mozzarella, but you need to be careful here – what you mostly see in the supermarkets is buffalo mozzarella, which is delicious in a tomato salad, but expensive and sod all good for pizza – it doesn’t spread as it melts, and it can also make the base and surrounding ingredients wet. This doesn’t mean you can’t use it as a pizza topping, just don’t rely on it as your main cheese.

Hunt instead for cow mozzarella, which is frowned upon by mozzarella purists, but makes a perfect melty, stringy topping. Most supermarkets stock at least one variety, usually huddled alongside other cheese refugees like halloumi. You can also get grated mozzarella, if you’re willing to shell out for it – I wouldn’t bother.

Simply dice the mozzarella, as much or as little as you like, and if you feel like it grate some parmesan to add to the cheese quota of your pizza.

The Rest: Well, you know what you like on pizza – have a ball. If you’re stuck for ideas, try finely diced chorizo, sliced peppers, mushrooms, thin rings of red onion, sweetcorn, olives, chunks of ham or chicken, spiced minced beef – the possibilities, as the feller said, are endless. I prefer my toppings on the small-chunks-and-fine-slices side of things, but as long as you keep everything roughly the same size, it’s up to you.

Assembly: Base, drizzled with olive oil (only a dash, you don’t want it to be greasy). Spread with the tomato sauce. Arrange your chosen toppings artfully, then scatter generously with cheese. Some people do the last two stages in reverse order – those people are misguided and we can only hope they will one day see reason.

A final sprinkling of oregano, and pop the whole thing in the oven, fairly high up, for 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of your base/chunkiness of toppings.

Re: shapes – if you can make your dough into a circle, and have the requisite baking sheet, then well done, you’re a better man than I. For the rest of us, the standard rectangular-amoeba shape will have to do. Enjoy.

<<So much for no big blocks of text. I tried, honestly.>>

Broad Beans, Peaches, and ETA…

Right, exams are over, so the blog is back. Just a few quick recipes to whet your appetite.

Broad beans are just coming into season in England, and they’re one of my favourite summer vegetables. They’re a bit of a hassle to grow, but not hugely expensive, so if you see them in the supermarket or the greengrocers, grab them in huge quantities – you generally only get six or seven beans to a pod.

It’s purely personal preference, but I prefer to pop the beans out of their greyish skins – the bright green of the beans themselves are very summery.

Broad Bean Salad

Ingredients:

Broad beans, podded, a good double handful

Olive oil

Salt (preferably good flaky sea salt – it’s more of an ingredient than a seasoning here)

Fresh mint (or if you have such a thing, a few lovage leaves)

Method:

Put the beans in a pan, cover and bring to the boil. Let it bubble away for four or five minutes, then drain and let them cool (or rinse them in cold water). Once the skins have gone a bit wrinkly, you need to de-skin them. There’s a trick to this – grasp the bean firmly at one end between the finger and thumb of one hand, then tear the skin at the other end with a fingernail. Give it a squeeze and the beautiful bright green bean will pop out. You’ll get into the rhythm pretty easily. Save the skins – see the recipe below.

Drizzle the beans with olive oil and scatter with a pinch of sea salt and some roughly ripped mint leaves. Stir everything well and leave it for a few minutes so that the flavours can infuse.

Spicy bean skins

Ingredients:

Broad bean skins

Chilli flakes

Cumin seeds

2 cloves of garlic, finely choppped

Paprika

Sea salt and black pepper

Olive oil

Method:

Fry the skins in a small splash of olive oil over a high heat for a couple of minutes. Scatter over the spices, salt and pepper, stir, and turn the heat down to medium. Let the skins cook for another five minutes, til they’re just a tad crispy, then tip into a bowl and munch them down with a cold glass of beer.

Peaches

Peaches are one of my favourite fruits – their lightly feathery skins are far superior to the rather dull nectarine, in my opinion. A perfectly ripe peach (give it a squeeze and a sniff – a little give in the flesh and a fresh, peachy smell from about six inches away are the indicators you’re looking for) needs no more accompaniment than something to catch the drips. If, as with most peaches you find in the supermarket, they’re a few days away from ripe, then here’s a couple of ways to tart them up.

If you’re having a barbecue, then wrap a peach in a double layer of foil (shiny side on the inside – physics!) with a scrap of unsalted butter, a  teaspoon of soft brown sugar, and a generous glug of rum. Wrap the peachy parcels very tightly and put them in the embers of the barbecue for ten to fifteen minutes. Before you eat them, make sure to smell – half the pleasure of food is in the smell, and these smell fantastic.

ETA: What is done cannot be undone, etc, but at the top of this post I distinctly remember promising two peach-based recipes, and yet I’ve give you only the  one – so, more than a month later, here is the second:

Peaches, halved, destoned. A wee dollop of marscapone in the hollow. Sprinkle with crushed Amaretti biscuits, brown sugar and a dash of Amaretto. Grill. Wolf, with chilled white wine. Oh yes.