A home-grown cucumber in the late English summer is a luxury for its fragrant, cool, pronounced cucumber flavour – if you can get hold of one. In any case, English home-grown cucumbers do have the best flavour and it’s difficult to find a well-flavoured imported cucumber in the winter. For the best results, and if you have time, salting, as you would an aubergine, does draw out some of the excess water content and helps concentrate the flavour.
What about the seeds? No problem. These are part and parcel of the cucumber, so I never bother to remove them. Then there’s the question of whether to peel or not to peel. I say not, because I like the colour, texture and flavour of the peel, but if the cucumber has a very tough skin, use a potato peeler, so only the outer skin is pared off. It’s also possible to just pare off strips of skin, a kind of halfway house. The exception is small, ridged cucumbers, which sometimes have quite knobbly skins and are usually best peeled.
This very simple little salad makes a nice side dish. I like to serve it as a nibble before an oriental meal. If you have problems tracking down Japanese ingredients, try www.clearspring.co.uk
Making pickles is always satisfying as they are usually far better than anything you can buy, and their jewel colours cheer up the darker days of autumn. This is one of the best...
This Middle Eastern salad is so pretty and summery, and if you have mint in the garden that is growing as wild as a jungle – as mine does – it's a wonderful way to use some of it!
This is a truly beautiful soup for serving ice-cold during the summer and it's particularly refreshing if we're lucky enough to have hot weather.
If you have some Thai Red Curry Paste to hand, these little fish cakes make a wonderfully different first course, especially if the rest of the meal has a spicy theme.
Good old rice salad is an absolute must at a buffet party. This one, made with wild rice, looks very pretty with the jewelled colours of the dried cranberries and nuts.
These lovely, sizzling deep-fried prawns are packed with flavour - and the dipping sauce simply adds plenty of Oriental elements. A real treat...
These are delicious little minced sausages threaded on to skewers.
Based on the Mediterranean salad, fattoush, this may sound unusual but go on, give it a try! We are confident you'll fall for its gutsy, robust flavours and textures. Great with barbecue food, or summery chicken and meat.
Low-fat and lovely, this hot-weather soup will become a regular in your repertoire, especially if your garden is overflowing with home-grown produce…