THE weather experts seem to think that we are due two or three more little heatwaves this summer; it’s when I reach for cold, simple dishes such as a tomato salad, or poached salmon. Cold soups, too; and the French have it right with their take on leek and potato, which I rejig as Vichyssoise with smoked-salmon cream. This soup needs making in advance with enough time to chill.
60g (2 oz) soft “spreading” butter
900g (2 lb) leeks
450g (1 lb) floury potatoes
400ml (14 fl. oz) chicken stock
200ml (7 fl. oz) full-cream milk
100g (3½ oz) smoked-salmon trimmings
200ml (7 oz) crème fraîche
juice of half a lemon
1 bunch of chives
Heat the butter in a large, lidded pan. Trim, wash, and slice down the leeks, and throw in with the peeled and chopped shallots. Give this a good stir and heat on the lowest setting. After five minutes, add the potatoes, peeled and diced. Stir, cover, and cook through for another ten minutes.
Add the stock, bring to the boil, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Take off the heat, stir in the milk, season, and set aside to cool. When ready, liquidise everything, pour into a clean bowl, cover with clingfilm, and chill in the fridge.
Sprinkle black pepper over the smoked salmon, combine with the crème fraîche and lemon juice in a bowl, then cover and chill.
When ready to serve, divide the soup between four bowls, snip the chives on top, and drop a dollop of the smoked salmon into the centre of each bowl.
The other week, I was enchanted by some cherries on a stall; so I turned them into this Cherry clafoutis tart.
120g (4 oz) plain flour
120g (4 oz) ground almonds
120g (4 oz) unsalted butter
2 eggs, beaten
300g (10 oz) cherries
60g (2 oz) demerara sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
45g (1½ oz) plain flour
200ml (7 fl. oz) full milk
200ml (7 fl. oz) single cream
Make the pastry by blitzing the flour and almonds together in a food processor, then adding the diced butter and mixing to breadcrumbs. With the motor running, pour in a tablespoon or so of cold water, and let it combine. Tip out, knead briefly with a little flour, then wrap in clingfilm and chill. Later, use it to line a tart tin and chill for another half-hour, at least. Bake blind at 190°C/375°F/Gas 5 for 15 minutes, then remove the beans, brush the base with a little beaten egg, and bake for a further 5 minutes.
Wash and stone the cherries, and scatter them inside the tart case. Sprinkle the sugar on top.
Whisk the beaten egg and vanilla into the flour, then gradually add the milk and cream to make a smooth batter. Pour this over the cherries. Bake at 180°C/350°F/Gas 3 for 40 minutes until set and with some golden brown colour.