We’ve been swept away by a wave of heat. Much awaited and slightly overwhelming, one that makes me want to fall into the Mediterranean rhythm of leisure and siesta and forget everything else. Heat will do that to you.
After eight years of mostly rainy Dutch summers with occational blaze of warmth (which usually happened when we were on holiday), I’m not really used to living a proper summer. It’s hard to appreciate how much sun and light and warmth gives to life when you get tidbits of it and as long as we have heat waves sweeping through our little Swiss town, I am loving every moment of it.
Mornings carry a particular kind of magic. Just a touch of coolness lingering from the night, making me want to leap out of bed with the first light and make plans for the day while sipping steaming coffee and feeling the air getting warmer by the minute. When the days get so hot it is almost impossible to breath, this breeze of fresh air in the morning is a blessing. On times it doesn’t quite cool down it makes a perfect excuse to have a semifreddo for breakfast and have chilled gazpachos throughout the day. Chilled and frozen, that’s my food motto for July.
Few weekends back we were in Provence to begin filming my cookbook trailer, just in time for the summer to truly begin and to see lavenders in full bloom. During all the years we were coming to Provence I would always miss this gorgeous time and kick myself for it. This year, driving through it all, I must say it’s a mesmerising view and I couldn’t help but go on a lavender foraging spree, meaning lavender is in everything I cook right now and with a bit of Muscat wine it goes wonderfully with apricots. Add a healthy yogurt semifreddo, pine nut britle and it is a spectacular dessert or in my world a perfectly decent breakfast.
These days I care only for cold soups and my favorite to date is this melon gazpacho with chili pickled fennel, cucumber, coriander and watermelon. It’s both refreshing and has a good kick to it, everything I want from a summer meal.
- 1 melon
- 1 lime, zest and juice
- 2 tsp Xeres vinegar
- 1 shallot, finely diced
- 1 small garlic clove, chopped
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 slice of watermelon, diced and chilled
- 1 small fennel, finelly sliced
- 1 small cucumber, deseeded and diced
- 6 tbsp apple vinegar
- 3 ½ tbsp sugar
- generous pinch of chilli flakes
- 4 tbsp pine nuts
- Reserve 1 slice of melon, dice it and refrigerate till needed.
- Blend together melon, a bit of lime juice, zest, vinegar, shallot and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, taste add more lime juice if needed. Chill very well till needed.
- Heat sugar, vinegar and chilli flakes till sugar fully dissolves then pour over fennel and cucumber. Allow to marinate for at least 20 minutes and chill.
- Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan for a few minutes and set aside.
- Just before serving, pour gazpacho into chilled plates, top with melon, watermelon and cucumber dices, a bit of pickled fenner, pine nuts and coriander. Serve immediatelly with some bread.
- 3 egg whites
- pinch of salt
- 3 tbsp honey
- 250g/1 cup full yogurt
- 6 apricots, halved
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 cup Muscat wine
- few lavender springs
- 3 tbsp pine nuts
- 3 tbsp sugar
- For semifreddo, place a heatproof bowl with eggwhites, salt and honey over simmering water and using a whisk or a mixer beat for a few minutes till they reach 65C/150F. Then take off the heat and continue to whip eggwhites till the bowl has cooled down completely. Stir in yogurt and eith pour into a single container lined with clingfilm or 6 small moulds. Place in the freezer for at least 2-3 hours.
- For roasted apricots, preheat the oven to 180C/356F. Place apricots in an ovenproof dish in a single layer, drizzle with honey, lavender and pour over Muscat wine. Roast for about 15-20 minutes, basting them with cooking liquid a couple of times.
- Heat the sugar in a non stick pan shaking occasionally till the sugar turns to dark caramel then pour over pine nuts placed on a baking sheet.
- To serve demold semifreddo and serve a piece with roasted apricots, a bit of cooking syrup and pine nut brittle.
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