Make the most of summer
Travel is good for the tastebuds as well as the soul: here is a flavour of some recent sojourns
Like most people, my summer has been busy. Part of my job requires quite a bit of travel and this summer has been no different. From a food perspective this has always provided plenty of inspiration and – bar dodgy airport meals and delays – it’s always an opportunity to savour new cultures and cuisines.
Our first summer in Los Angeles was a hot one. To beat the heat we explored dishes such as slow- braised meat tacos, Korean bulgogi and kimchi and fresh pasta dishes from trendy Italian pop- ups; only a small taste of the city’s diverse food scene. Time in Sweden satisfied cravings for all things seafood with piles of prawns and crayfish enjoyed with dill and baby potatoes, while Ireland gave me my fill of familiarity and a reminder of our unique food provenance.
While I write this I’ve just finished four days working in Bangkok – a true adventure in eating. Spicy papaya salad with peanuts and dried shrimp, grilled snake fish, fiery tom yum soups and blood clams – the food is simply captivating. This week’s recipes are a nod to the suppers I’ve been cooking through the summer: grilled meats with simple sides that allow for minimal hassle.
Htipiti is a Greek feta cheese and roasted red pepper spread that results in a sweet, smoky and salty concoction that works well as a dip for toasted pitta chips or spread on toasted sourdough bread and topped with roasted vegetables for an easy starter. Pronounced “h- tee- pee- tee”, the sauce is said to be named after the traditional method of pounding the cheese in a pestle and mortar to prepare it. In this recipe it provides a spiky sweetness to thin slices of striploin steak cooked medium rare on a hot griddle pan. It’s a treat served as it is but the addition of a puy lentil salad makes it a meal.
The yogurt marinade for the Indian grilled chicken is one I use to transform a traditional Sunday roast into something a little more alternative. A fresh cucumber pickle, and stems of baby broccoli charred until tender, give this chicken dish its edge. For the cucumber pickle mix in a bowl the sugar and vinegar until the sugar has dissolved. Mix in the salt and shallot, and add the thin slices of cucumber. Cover and leave in the fridge for at least two hours, or overnight.
To make the marinade, mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Add the chicken to the mix, and leave to marinate for at least four hours – or, preferably, for up to 24 hours.
Once ready to cook, put the broccoli in a small mixing bowl and toss in oil to coat. Season generously with sea salt and ground black pepper.
On a griddle pan or BBQ on high, cook the chicken skin side down for 6- 8 minutes, and then turn for a further 6- 8 minutes until cooked all the way through.
Add the broccoli to the pan or grill and cook for six minutes, turning regularly until tender.
Arrange the chicken pieces on a serving platter with the charred broccoli and cucumber slices.