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.
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…
When the heat is on, you either don't feel like cooking or even eating a great deal. This recipe fits the bill perfectly and would also be ideal at a drinks party or as a nibble before dinner.
Salmon fishcakes are such a treat, yet are amazingly easy to make: just red salmon and creamy mashed potato in a crisp coating. The sauce perfectly complements the fish too...
This is one of the best combinations of salad ingredients ever invented. Slick restaurants often attempt to do trendy versions with salmon, char-grilled tuna and the like, but the original reigns supreme.
The soups of South-East Asia are all united by their punchy flavours, spicy elements and use of fresh herbs, fish and meat. This laksa is a really authentic version, but if you're short of time, use a ready-made paste.
A brilliant soup that probably includes your five a day in one bowl! Serve it warm or chilled depending on the weather.
This deliciously light and subtle soup is incredibly easy and quick to make. However it does need some fresh British cucumbers and not the rather tasteless imported ones.
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...