Sorry for the hiatus guys! I’ve been working on something special though, so I hope you’ll forgive me. I have not just a recipe today but a fantastic summer menu! I am taking part in the French Wines with Style Blogger Challenge. For this challenge I was kindly sent a summer hamper with tasting notes for the wines and the challenge was to come up with some “perfect summer recipes paired with summer French wines with style”.
Now, you’ll never have to twist my arm to support French wines, having spent every summer in France as a kid, I have been on more tours of vinyards than I can remember. (Best one was where the dog peed on my dad but that’s 11 year olds for ya!) I have always prefered French wines over their new world compatriots. There is just something classier about them! I love the history, the wealth of knowledge and the traditions of wine growing in France and for me that adds to the whole experience. I also happen to think they’re just damned tasty! Because that’s what it comes down to, isn’t it? Do you enjoy drinking it? If the answer is yes, then you have a winner! I will never be one for “notes of goosberry and a hint of sweaty sock” type wine drinking. I either like something, or I don’t.
My stylish BBQ venue, complete with tableware handmade by my mother!
The notes that came with the wines were my starting place. The words that caught my attention for the Emmanuel Delaille - Le Petit Salvard Cheverny 2010 were “goosberry and lime characters” and the suggestion that it would be a good match for “Chinese and other exotic dishes”. I immediately thought that a recipe I’d seen for fish with lime, chilli, corriander, ginger and garlic was probably a winner there. As for the Gabriel Meffre Le Cirque – Vin de France Chardonnay Gros Manseng 2011 the “peach and ginger spice” and “honey and floral notes” immediately made my mouth start watering at the thought of sticky marinated pork with peaches.
For stylish summer eating you’ve got to be outdoors and if you’re luckly enough to be outdoors then you’ve got to fire up the BBQ! (Although, being British, this whole menu can be prepared inside in the oven, or even, in desparation when the gas runs out on the BBQ, on a health grill… ahem.)
For the first course I prepared sticky ribs with grilled nectarines. This recipe and the recipe for the fish came from a Jamie Olive BBQ special in the Daily Mail but I’ve tweaked them and added my own notes here.
I found that this recipe did not work at all as it said it would. It was tasty, but instead of a paste/rub this was definitely a liquid marinade. Slowcooking the ribs first was a great innovation though, and one I’ve been toying with the idea of for a while. While you can cook ribs on the grillstraight after marinading they always have a bit of a “crunch” to them. After slowcooking the meat is incredibly soft and tender and the flavour goes right through the meat.
Slow Cooked BBQ Sticky Ribs with Grilled Nectarine
1 large rack of ribs (or 2 if you need to feed a large group)
1 nectarine per person, sliced into 8ths
1 tbsp ketchup
3 tbsp cider vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp soft brown sugar
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp five spice
1 tbsp olive oil
3tbsp/ a few squidges honey
1cm grated ginger
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 small chilli, finely chopped
- In a large baking dish or roasting tray big enough to fit all of the ribs, mix all of the marinade ingredients together. Just dump it in then whisk it up to combine.
- Add the rack of ribs and coat well with the marinade.
- Cover the tray with foil and seal tightly.
- Pop it in the fridge for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.
- Heat your oven to gas mark 3 and then cook the ribs, still tightly covered for 2 hours.
- Make a glaze by combining all of the ingredients in a bowl and whisking together.
- When you’re ready to cook the ribs on the BBQ simply uncover them, brush all over with the glaze and pop on the hot BBQ.
- Turn after about 5 minutes and keep brushing with the glaze turning to cook evenly.
- In the meantime place your sliced nectarines on the BBQ.
- Cook until everything is just a bit blackened with all of that great BBQ flavour.
Now for the fish! I love cooking a whole fish. It’s just so much more fun, and it is just so easy. One of my favourite ways to cook any fish is en papilotte, wrapped in a paper parcel. My mum has been cooking salmon this way for as long as I can remember and it always seemed so stylish and grow up to me when I’d see her preparing it when I was a child. The advantages of cooking a fish this way are that you can impart a lot of flavour to the fish, it keeps it nice and moist, keeps the fish from falling apart and you get a lot of lovely juices full of flavour.
I have made this dish with rainbow trout and mackrel and I think I prefered the mackrel. (We named him Malcolm.) It seemed to me that the flesh of the mackrel took on a lot more of the flavours where as the trout seemed more perfumed than flavoured. Mackrel is a meatier fish and oilier too but the trout was lovely and delicate. Either way this recipe worked brilliantly with both fish, so really, just get whatever whole fish your fishmonger has that you fancy. Just remember to get your fish gutted as we forgot to get the mackrel gutted and there was some delay while I YouTubed how to gut a fish, wimped out, and then had to wait for my dad to do it for me! I think I’d give it a go next time but let it never be said that I am not a wimp at heart, let the fishmonger do it!
BBQ Whole Fish En Papilotte
1 trout or mackrel or other whole fish, gutted.
1 lime, halved and sliced
1 small birds eye chilli
1 stick lemongrass
1/2″ root ginger
2 cloves garlic
1 bunch coriander stalks (if making for 4 then just get a whole bunch of coriander and divide into 4, no need to stick to just the stalks)
Salt, pepper and olive oil
- Take your fish and rinse it under cold water.
- Pat it dry and lay on a sheet of baking paper with a row of lime slices underneath it.
- With the side of a large knife crush/bruise the lemongrass, ginger, and galic cloves. Split the chilli in half lengthways.
- Stuff the cavity of the fish with the lemongrass, garlic, ginger and chilli.
- Lay the remaining lime slices on top of the fish.
- Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.
- Fold the baking paper around the fish to make a sealed packet.
- Place on a large sheet of newspaper and wrap this securely and tidily round the baking paper package. Tie with string to secure.
- Soak the parcel for about 3 minutes in a sink/bucket of cold water.
- Place on a hot BBQ and cook for 45 minutes, turning halfway through. Be careful though as the newspaper may disintegrate and make a mess!
As for the sides, a parcel of roasted summer vegetables, sweetcorn on the cob and South African BBQ breads (the actual name of which I totally forget, saw it on the Food Network) work a treat. The roasted vegetable parcels create a lot of juices of their own and the bread is great to mop those and the fish juices up. Sweetcorn on the cob is just a summer essential, I love grilling it, you don’t need to precook it, just pop it on the BBQ and cook until slightly charred. You can brush it with soy sauce if you want to or simply serve with a sprinkle of salt.
Roast Summer Vegetable Parcels
1 stalk cherry tomatoes on the vine
1/2 courgette, cut into batons
olive oil, salt and pepper
- Take a large sheet of tinfoil.
- Place all of the vegetables in the lower half.
- Drizzle with olive oil and season to taste.
- Fold the top half over the lover half and fold up all of the open edges to make a sealed parcel.
- Place on the BBQ and cook for 20-30 minutes.
- Open the parcel by splitting the top open, being careful of all of the lovely juices inside.
250g strong bread flour
1 tsp fast action yeast
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
150ml warm water
- Mix the flour, yeast, sugar and salt together in a large mixing bowl.
- Make a well and pour in the oil and water.
- Mix together to make a dough.
- Turn out onto a floured worksurface and knead by hand for 10 minutes until smooth and pliable. It will be rather sticky but just keep it moving and try not to add too much extra flour.
- Place in an oiled bowl covered in a warm, draft free spot and leave to raise for 1 hour or until doubled.
- Knock down the dough and turn out onto a worksurface.
- Divide the dough into four and shape into rounds.
- Place on a board or plate and leave to rise for 20-30 minutes.
- Cook on the BBQ turning after 10 minutes and cook for 10 minutes more on the other side.
- Remove from the BBQ and tap. If the bread sounds hollow then it’s cooked.
And now for dessert! After all of that faffing about you need something that is simple, no cook and that you can prepare ahdead. However, it still has to look great. I give you, the summer fruit flan! This is a wonderfully stylish cheat dessert. You can buy all of the ingredients and simply assemble a few hours in advance. It will even keep in the fridge for a few days if necessary (while you wait for that elusive sunshine, perhaps!) but you’d need to use very fresh fruit.
Cheat’s Summer Fruit Flan
1 large flan case.
1 sachet creme patissiere
Fresh fruits (I used frozen raspberries and blueberries, fresh strawberries and whole cherries with a few fresh raspberries fro the garden for good measure.)
- Place thr flan case on your serving plate.
- Drizzle with any available fruit juices or a few tbsp of Framboise liqueur if you have it.
- Spread the creme patissiere over the base of the flan.
- Cover the top with fresh fruit.
- Set aside for a few hours for the flan to soften, if you try eating it straight away it ca be a bit dry and crumbly.
So there we have my summer menu to go with my stylish French wines! Hope you’re inspired to give some of them a go this summer. There’s nothing like eating and cooking al fresco, no matter the size of your gathering be it close family or a crowd of friends a bit of sunshine is always the perfect excuse to crack open a few bottles of French wine and laze away a few golden hours in the back garden with a Barbie! Bon appetit!