Lemon and Herb Pasta
400g spaghetti or linguine
Small bunch flat-leaved parsley, leaves picked
About 20 fresh mint leaves
A handful of basil leaves
1 lemon, zest grated
1 small tub crème fraiche
200ml Parmesan cheese (Parmigiano-Reggiano)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Cook the pasta in a large amount of boiling water for the time stated on the packet (or until al dente). In the meantime wash, dry and chop the herbs finely and put into a large bowl with the juice of half the lemon, the finely grated lemon zest, crème fraiche, a handful of freshly grated parmesan and some black pepper. Stir to combine.
2. When the pasta is cooked, drain it reserving a couple of tablespoons of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the pan, add the cooking water, give it a good stir to loosen the strands then pour into the bowl containing the other ingredients. Combine, adding some sea salt and extra lemon juice if necessary. Serve garnished with some basil leaves and provide additional grated parmesan at the table.
A quickly-made and baked French-style bread that looks pretty at the table
500g strong bread flour
350ml tepid water
5g dried active yeast
10g sea salt Olive oil (optional)
1. Preheat your oven to its highest setting (around 240c).
2. Put the flour and sea salt into the bowl of a mixer or food processor with a dough hook. Measure the tepid (lukewarm or blood temperature) water into a jug and add the yeast. Whisk with a fork until combined and foamy. Add the water mixture to the flour and knead slowly for 10 minutes (you can also do this by hand). The dough is ready when it is smooth and not sticky.
3. Lightly flour the work surface, place the dough on the flour and form the dough into a ball. Put the dough into a clean large bowl and cover with a tea towel or cling film.
4. Leave the dough to rise for at least one hour. Turn out gently onto a wellfloured surface; let it spread across the work surface. Sprinkle some flour over the top of the dough and cover with a clean tea towel. Leave for about five minutes.
5. Use a sharp knife or dough scraper to cut the rectangle of dough into three triangles (by cutting in a V-shape).
6. With the point of the triangle at the top, make a slash down the middle. Make three smaller diagonal cuts on each side of the one in the centre. Gently ease open and enlarge the holes with your fingers. Drizzle a little olive oil over the surface of each loaf.
7. Gently lift onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown.
Sally Prosser reveals, "Thinking of some of the wonderful meals I’ve been lucky enough to experience, there have been plenty of luxurious foodstuffs and incredible culinary skills involved. They include a seafood banquet commencing with sushi, followed by several kinds of oysters, freshly nestled in their briny shells, both raw and ‘Rockefellered’ all accompanied by some excellent ‘bubbles’. Steak tartare with a quivering little poached quail’s egg poised on top, confit of duck with spiced, red cabbage, fresh Brixham scallops wrapped in pancetta with a spicy tomato sauce – I’ve cleaned every morsel from my plate and longed for more.
Then there is food prepared with love which seems to have a special secret ingredient added through the care involved. For me, this starts with my mother’s roast dinner with crispy potatoes, parsnips and Mum’s gravy. Then there are my mother-in-law’s fabulous stuffed vegetables, her blackberry and apple pie and unctuous yellow home-made custard, thick with cream and free-range egg yolks. Or my friend Wasia’s fabulous courgettes in a tomato sauce and her delicious dhal – she’s given me the recipes, which are simple, but they don’t taste the same when I make them for myself.
My favourite meals of all are those spent at home with my family and here I want simple comfort food, the freshest ingredients which are local if possible. If in need of some succour in terms of food I’ll find solace in the repetitive stirring action of a risotto, the chopping of herbs, the kneading of dough for bread. The comforting aromas in the kitchen are all part of the process. This bowl of pasta appeases my slight lemon addiction, refreshes with herbs and soothes with crème fraiche and cheese. A perfectly ripe mango or peach is all that is needed for dessert."
INFO: Sally Prosser is author of the blog My Custard Pie (www.mycustardpie.com)