Hot day, cold dish

21 July 2017

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WARM summers induce a reluct­ance to slave away Martha-like in a hot kitchen. Simple and tasty food is my preference, usually prepared in advance. The Italians have a splen­did dish of cold roast veal with tuna-mayonnaise sauce on top. Veal is not widely available here; so I use pork for a Porchetta tonnata. Porch­etta is a slow-roasted, herb-stuffed pork joint, and can be sourced from some deli counters, but cold roast pork is fine and easily obtainable.

 

12 slices cold roast pork
1 can tuna fish (120g/4 oz)
1 clove garlic
1 handful parsley
1 dessertspoon apple sauce
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
1 tin anchovy fillets
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoons capers
1 lemon, sliced

 

Arrange the meat slices on a large platter, or individual plates.

In a food processor, combine the tuna, garlic, parsley, apple sauce, fennel seeds, three of the anchovy fillets with oil (reserve the remain­ing fillets), and cider vinegar. Com­bine well, then add the mayon­naise and half the capers. Season to taste, then dot over the cold meat.

Garnish with the remaining an­­chovy fillets, half of capers, and lemon slices, then serve. This is usu­ally a starter, but a green salad can transform it into a main course.

Recently I visited Honey and Smoke, a new restaurant in London which rejoices in Middle Eastern flavours. At the end of the delicious banquet came their Honey cheese­cake: a revelation for featuring feta, and I have tried my own version here. You can get the authentic one from their book (Honey & Co, pub­lished by Head­line Home) — par­ticu­larly as they use the vermicelli-­like kadaif pastry, which is not easy to find, but is a staple in so many baklava examples.

 

250g (½lb) digestive biscuit crumbs
40g (1½oz) melted butter
1 tablespoon demerara sugar
160g (6oz) cream cheese
160ml (6 fl. oz) double cream
40g (1½oz) icing sugar
40g (1½oz) honey
50g creamy feta cheese
50g (2oz) each of water and honey
handful of roasted almonds and pistachios

 

Combine the biscuit crumbs, butter, and sugar. Use a cookie cutter for small rounds about the thickness of a £1 coin, and bake on a sheet in the oven for 15 minutes at 325°F/170°C/Gas 3. Set aside to cool. In a large bowl, mix together the cream cheese, cream, sugar, honey, and feta. Use a spoon or spatula and take your time. Leave in the fridge to firm up a little. Simmer the honey and water in a saucepan, until you have a glossy syrup.

Toast the nuts in a dry frying pan for about 30 seconds, shaking and sliding the pan; then throw them into the honey syrup.

Assemble the cheesecakes by pla­cing a large dollop on to each biscuit base, then topping with the nutty syrup and maybe some berries.

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