Lunches to sa­lute the wan­ing sun

The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - Front Page -

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

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