a farewell to summer: gin-infused creamy lemon sauce with basil

gin-infused creamy lemon and basil sauce with spaghetti
I had a couple of lemons leftover from a recent Dinner Doctor blog post that I had written for The Guardian newspaper, on what to do with a leftover lemon. So I thought I'd post this recipe, just to prove that I really do practice what I preach!

what's in season: september

vegetables at Borough Market
With half-hearted levies of frost that make foray, retire, and refrain
Ambiguous bugles that blow and that falter to silence again.

With banners of mist that still waver above them, advance and retreat,
The hosts of the Autumn still hide in the hills, for a doubt stays their feet;

But anon, with a barbaric splendor to dazzle the eyes that behold,
And regal in raiment of purple and umber and amber and gold,

And girt with the glamour of conquest and scarved with red symbols of pride,
From the hills in their might and their mirth on the steeds of the wind will they ride,

To make sport and make spoil of the Summer, who dwells in a dream on the plain,
Still tented in opulent ease in the camps of her indolent train.

Early Autumn by Don Marquis (1878-1937)

apple butter (an english marmalade!)

apple butter
This apple paste, also known as apple butter, was often made in the autumn with a glut of windfall apples. Packed full of sugar, it has a long shelf-life, particularly if kept in the fridge. I realised having made it that it is actually very similar to the Spanish membrillo or Italian cotognata, which are made with quinces. With addition of lemon peel it is very like Portuguese marmelada.

the gentle heart of a recipe: hilda leyel's salad of mint leaves and beans

hilda leyel's salad of mint leaves and beans
Whenever I can, I like to wallow in old cookbooks. It both comforts and relaxes me; I enjoy immersing myself in the food of older times; ferreting out bits of lost knowledge and useful thoughts.

a virtuous necessity: lemony pea and mint pesto

lemony pea and mint pesto crostini
Stumbling bleary-eyed into the kitchen in need of my early morning fix of strong tea and Radio 4's Today programme, I was just settling in to gently waken up when, as the fog cleared, I spotted something out of place on top of the fridge-freezer. "Oh b***er," I thought.

socca "pizza" topped with lamb, aubergine and feta

socca "pizza" with lamb, aubergine and feta
Pizza is one of the dishes that I know from my friends on a gluten-free diet that they miss the most. So I just use socca, a chickpea flour pancake, as my dough base. I am not entirely sure whether I actually prefer the pancake base. I have to confess that I've been eating these a lot recently because firstly I am lazy, secondly I have been quite busy cooking for other people (yay! more of this another time.) and they are both easy to make and utterly delicious.

socca (chickpea flour pancakes)

socca (chickpea flour pancakes)
I've been "socca'ing" a lot recently. But before you roll your eyes and wince at the idea of me shimmying around the kitchen in sequins and a few gently swaying ostrich feathers in best Brazilian stylee, I should add that all I am actually doing is making a load of socca - Proven├žal chickpea flour pancakes, a popular Nicoise streetfood, where they are cooked in huge flat pans, the size of small cartwheels. You'll also find them just across the French border, in the Italian region of Liguria, where they are known as farinata.

chilli-lime butter

chilli-lime compound butter
Compound butters are a brilliant and easy way to inject a bit of flavour into your food with minimal effort, which frankly is my favourite type of cooking. Smother chargrilled corn-on-the-cob or roasted pumpkin with a generous slice of flavoured butter.

what's in season: august

a beautiful display of tomatoes in Borough Market - summer 2014
Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn't it a pity?
Doesn't seem to be a shadow in the city
All around, people looking half dead
Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head

it's official! borough market demo on 25 July!

Borough Market tweet: it's official!
It's official! The tweet is out! Borough Market have just confirmed my appearance in their demo kitchen on Friday 25 July, from 12 noon until 2 pm.

spanish moorish skewers: pinchos morunos

pinchos morunos (Spanish Moorish skewers)
No country or its people particularly like being invaded by another, unless I suppose it is by friendly, high-spending tourists. But one of the things I love about looking at the history of food and the different world cuisines, is how conquest and migration can change or benefit a conquered country. Of course it is easy with the benefit and distance of a thousand or even a hundred years to look at the food highlights of conquest.

what's in season: july

clematis - london july 2014
I get so excited in July. If June is a dreamy, soft focus kind of month in muted pink. Then July is bright and full of sunshine colours with food to match. But this year, I have even more things to be excited about. If you weren't aware of the fact, then this is just to let you know that for the past few months I have been given a weekly column on The Guardian's website as part of their Live Better sustainable living challenge on the subject of leftovers, a subject very close to my heart!