Tuesday, 20 August 2013

A couple of summer salads

Huzzah, summer is still here! So inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi and Nigella, I've tried to come up with a few salad recipes that can be served warm or at room temperature, and don't require loads of standing around in a hot kitchen. And the results of this have been an aubergine, feta cheese, tomato, and basil salad, and a green bean, spring onion, and almond salad. The aubergine salad just requires the aubergine to be fried in olive oil, and when cooled a bit mixed with the cheese, chopped tomatoes, and basil, and seasoned with a (little salt) and pepper. The oiliness of the aubergines means that no further dressing is required, but the salty cheese cuts through some of this richness.

For the green beans, I just steamed these in the microwave and softened the sliced spring onions in olive oil. Once the onions were almost done, I added in some flaked almonds and carried on cooking until they took on a bit of colour. The onions and nuts were then tipped over the cooked beans, with any extra oil acting as a dressing, and the whole lot seasoned well. I served both these salads with an Ottolenghi mushroom dish I've written about before, to make an excellent summer vegetarian meal that also avoided overheating in the kitchen.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Iced coffee

I am not a huge coffee drinker, but my consumption usually rises in the summer when iced coffee starts appearing on the menu of the cafe mega-chains that are so handily placed around our train stations and places of work. Milky coffee poured over ice doesn't sound too complex an item to replicate at home, but there seems to be lots of debate over how to make the coffee element with advocates for instant coffee, cold brewing, and just chucking an espresso over ice.

Anyway, as summer in the UK has finally kicked in over the past few weeks, I thought it must be a sign when I saw this recipe for iced coffee on the Beautiful Mess blog. This basically involves steeping ground coffee overnight in the fridge, filtering, and that's pretty much it. I halved the quantities used, so for 2.8 litres of water I added around 2.5oz of ground coffee (apologies for the mixed measurements resulting from trying to scale down a US recipe), which still makes a lot of iced coffee. I did also try adding a teaspoon of cinnamon, but that wasn't really enough to have any impact on flavour. So I'd either leave this out altogether, or bite the bullet and add the proportions recommended in the original recipe. I like my coffee milky in all circumstances, so for my final drink I filled a glass with ice cubes and poured in about two thirds coffee, a third milk, and a little cream for extra richness. This resulted in an icy cold drink that was also rich and smooth. But obviously making iced coffee at home means you can have it however you want, and add whatever flavourings or syrups you fancy too.

Apparently, the cold brewed coffee should be fine in the fridge for at least a couple of weeks. And so far I've found that the inconvenience of having a large glass jar occupying a big chunk of the fridge, has been well worth the delight of having iced coffee available at all times.