Lunches to salute the waning sun
The terrace at the Dock Kitchen is one of the things I like most about the restaurant, and it is hugely popular with our customers. I love the way it lends a kind of sophistication more often associated with eating abroad – in France or Italy, for instance. I think it demands a certain type of menu: one that suggests Continental glamour. The trick to achieving such effortless chic is to keep it simple. Use ingredients that require careful shopping and some work in advance, but will leave you free to sip rosé and look relaxed during lunch.
There are tomato salads, and then there are tomato salads. It can be the most glorious thing to eat; or one of the worst – so make sure you find some tomatoes that taste of something (ideally tomato). My recipe roasts the tomatoes first for an earthy intensity.
Tomatoes also feature alongside samphire in my recipe for a whole roasted fish. I prefer fish that are more oily than cod, but less so than mackerel; so turbot, brill and salmon are great – even served cold. I’ve used a large wild bass, which is pretty indulgent; but certainly one of my favourites.
Peach Melba is another recent discovery for me. It’s a delicious concoction of fruit and ice cream that was once popular, but is now overlooked in favour of less retro desserts. With great fruit and good ice cream, it shouldn’t be.
Serves four-six 1 garlic clove A few sprigs of thyme 1 dried chilli 2tbsp good olive oil 2tsp red wine vinegar 6 plum tomatoes 2tbsp crème fraîche 1tbsp Dijon mustard 3 heads of baby gem lettuce, washed and broken up by hand A small handful of parsley leaves Zest of 1 lemon
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. First crush the garlic, thyme and chilli in a pestle and mortar with a little salt, then add the olive oil and 1 tsp of the vinegar to make a smooth paste. Cut the tomatoes in half lengthways and put them in a mixing bowl. Line a roasting tray with greaseproof paper. Toss the tomatoes with the oil mixture, then lay them out on the tray. Sprinkle with a little more salt and then roast for about 45 minutes until they are soft and starting to shrivel. Set aside to cool.
When you are ready to eat, put the tomatoes in a salad bowl, then add the crème fraiche, mustard and remaining vinegar and stir robustly together to combine the flavours. Add the lettuce and mix in gently, then tear in the parsley leaves and grate over the lemon zest. Any whole fresh fish would work. Salmon, of course, would be classic.
Serves four-six 250g/9oz samphire, picked through 5 anchovy fillets 2 egg yolks Juice of ½ lemon ½ tsp Dijon mustard 250ml/8½fl oz olive oil, plus a little extra for drizzling and the dressing A small handful each of dill, tarragon, chervil and parsley, any stalks reserved 2 tbsp crème fraîche Approx 2kg/4lb 4oz whole sea bass, scaled and gutted ½ lemon, finely sliced into rounds 300g/10½oz ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks Red wine vinegar
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/ gas 6. Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the samphire for three to five minutes until soft. Drain and leave to cool.
To make the green goddess, use a blender or food processor to blend the anchovies, yolks, lemon juice, mustard and a pinch of salt until well combined. Very slowly add the olive oil, starting with a few drips and waiting for them to be incorporated before continuing. Try to not rush it as you will find it may split. Very finely chop the herbs, then stir them in along with the crème fraîche. Set aside.
Cover the bottom of a large baking tray with greaseproof paper and drizzle it with a little oil. Place in the tray and season the inside of the fish with salt and pepper, then insert the herb stalks (parsley is ideal) and a few lemon slices. Drizzle the skin with a little oil, season generously and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Test that the fish is done by inserting a skewer in along its backbone and leaving it there for 15 seconds. Carefully place the tip of the skewer against your lip; you want it to be warm. If it’s cold, return the fish to the oven. Leave to cool or keep warm.
Sweet and seasonal: clockwise from above, Stevie’s version of the retro classic peach Melba; and two dishes that make the most of the late summer tomatoes – whole roasted sea bass, and a rich roast tomato salad