Taste of summer with broad bean puree

broadbeansI’ve come to broad beans late in life. As a youngster I used to hate their leathery skins and bitter taste, only getting them down me out of a sense of duty instilled from being polite to people who prepare food for the dinner table. As soon as I could cater for myself they were definitely off the menu.

That was until I reluctantly agreed to grow some.

A neighbouring allotment keeper when I had a patch in Fallowfied some years ago persuaded me to give them a go – mainly I think because they had a reputation for being easy to grow and I’m a bit of a rubbish gardener.

They certainly did prove to be easy and surprisingly delicious. So I’ve grown them every since. In fact I seem to plant more of them every year and never tire of them – picked young and eaten within minutes of picking, they don’t even need cooking to be delicious but, if you’ve got a bit of a glut of them at this time of the year, this recipe brings out their full flavour. It’s from the fab Moro cook book but is basically a mash-everything-together recipe.

I had mine with barbequed lamb chops marinated in garlic and olive oil but they’d go equally well with other dips or any grilled meat or fish.
All you do is briefly blanch 300g of podded young beans in boiling unsalted water.
Drain and put them in the blender with a garlic clove mashed into a paste with sea salt, a squeeze or two of lemon, two tablespoons of olive oil, a sprig of chopped fresh mint and salt and black pepper to taste.

If you’ve any more broad bean recipes, I’d love to hear them.

A lesson in the perfect gin and tonic

Wine writer Victoria Moore believes there’s a need for instruction in how to create that quintessentially English drink.

In a chapter of the new book How to Drink she says;

“A G&T is the most dreadfully traduced of drinks, all too often made too flat, too weak, with one lonely ice cube sweating itself to an early grave and a slice of old lemon floundering on the surface like a corpse, whereas it should be effervescent and bright and so busy with ice that the bubbles have to fight their way up to burst with a splash and a hiss on the top.”

To put the situation right, she’s produced this pdf guide too.

Taste of summer range from Abel and Cole


“I don’t care what the weather man says….and the weatherman says it’s raining!” Isn’t that what the song they play at the end of the television weather forecast says?

Yeah right!

Who doesn’t care what the weather’s like – well people were the weather can be guaranteed, day after day that’s who.


So while the brief showing of the sun over the Bank Holiday fades into the distance (and half the city’s population head to Rome for reasons of football), so does any hope of one of those most English of pastimes – the picnic.

Oh for the family picnic!

Squashed sandwiches which unexpectedly incorporate tomato along with grass, weird angry wasps, warm pop (0r lashings of ginger beer of course), grass stained clothing, sunburned shoulders and “whiffy egg”! Who could want for anything more.

But maybe it doesn’t have to be quite like that. Opening up a delivery from Abel and Cole’s Summer Range yesterday gave me different view of what picnic could mean. OK there’s no outdoors in this version but what the heck – lay out a summery tablecloth and make believe there’s good weather abound.


The range includes plenty of Mediterranean favourites, ready to go. A black olive houmous (£2.20) which was so thick it was almost a mash – most definitely not of the runny dip variety – with a deep olive flavour enhanced with a good helping of black pepper, scooped up onto chunky, crunchy sesame breadsticks (£1.89).

Then there’s the hams – salty pancetta (£2.99), sweet prosciutto (£4.59)  – and the taleggio cheese (£4.95).

According to my Italian Food dictionary (Gillian Riley, 2008) this cheese is often matured in caves “wafted by draughts of cold humid air”. Whether this particular variety had been treated in this way I know not – wrapped like butter, it certainly had the freshness of the mountains and was perfect with good ripe sweet toms.

Eat your heart out Famous Five travels to Roma style.

But this being an indoor picnic meant that some cooking could occur so the centrepiece became a crab salad with this season’s Jersey Royals daubed in Danish butter.crab

The handpicked white Cornish crab from Seafood & Eat it (£4.99) comes with recipe ideas (chili crab linguine, crab rosti for instance) which sound great in their own way but the freshness of this white meat couldn’t be bettered than served simply with a nice crisp white wine – from Italy, of course.

Now that’s what you call a picnic! Oh, and yes, there was even cricket.

* The goods from the Abel & Cole Summer Range were provided free of charge for review purposes.