With so much coming into season, keep your entertaining simple and fun, says Rose Prince. Photography and prop styling by Yuki Sugiura. Food styling by Valerie Berry
Rose Prince celebrates seasonal ingredients
STRIKING A BALANCE between plenty and style is the essence of summer party cooking. The challenge is to make one stunning dish that goes a long way so everyone has their fill, but which is very low on effort.
At this stage in the summer, economy comes into the plan so I seek out star ingredients that are good value. In the height of the harvest, we buy into ‘gluts’ of home-grown vegetables and fruits, and can afford to literally pile them on to plates. Who can resist the sunny sweetness of just-picked cobs of corn, the various berries, orchard fruits, juicy root vegetables and new, lemony-flavoured potatoes that are so abundant right now?
When vegetables such as courgettes are available all year round, one forgets how different they are in their natural season. Look at the stalks, and you will see small, upright prickly hairs, a sign of real freshness – and this is reflected in their flesh, which has none of the starchiness of those kept a long time in cold storage. Cut into them and rivulets of sweetish juice will run out. This is the time to eat them raw, finely cut in a favourite salad with plenty of mixed herbs, thinly sliced radishes and a yogurt dressing. Add roasted beetroot for bulk and put flatbreads on the table – job done.
Summer entertaining should be fun. I love a dish that gets fingers sticky, and children tend to love them too. Since they are home for holidays, two recipes for this week are designed to keep them busy. Chicken wings can be bought in almost industrial quantities, chucked into a big pan and roasted slowly with nubbly new pink fir apple potatoes. Drizzled with a garlic mayonnaise, it is rather like eating a meaty version of patatas bravas.
And I can’t get through August without corn on the cob, in this case made a bigger dish with sprinklings of smokysweet bacon. A word of advice: if they are sold with their husks on, you need to check they are fresh. Part the leaves of the husk to be sure that the corn kernels look pale yellow and wrinkle-free. When at their best, full of juice, piled on a big platter, they look glossy and glorious – and surely the epitome of highsummer cooking.