Sunshine, antipasti and white wine

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Afternoon all!

In the spirit of this glorious weather we’ve brought you a sparklingly fresh couple of recipes and a wine suggestion to help you make the most of these blue skies. We also have some useful information in store – a guide to the best foods of the season, and an online wine school for those interested in learning a little (or a lot) more about the wines they’re drinking. It’s a fascinating read!

This beautiful weather has us looking forward to the season ahead – the endless opportunities for summery outdoor barbecues, garden parties and weddings… If you’re dreaming of putting on an unforgettable event this summer do contact us, and we’ll take care of every detail while you enjoy your party!

With this gorgeous weather we wanted to share a hearty summery salad with you all. Spinach, purple sprouting broccoli and spring onions are all in season right now; griddle the latter two until slightly blackened and toss with baby spinach and cherry tomatoes (avocado, feta and toasted pine nuts would also be lovely), with a lemon and olive oil dressing. In this weather some easy antipasti would also be gorgeous – griddle spring onions, little gem, peppers and artichoke hearts with some olive oil until slightly blackened. Griddle some bread alongside (so much better than toasting!), and guzzle the lot in the sun with a big glass of white wine.

To make a decent meal of this some of Jason Atherton’s decadent grilled sardines on toast – done the right way – would be gorgeous (add some blanched and buttered samphire to be uber seasonal), and we’ve provided the recipe below.

Of course, we’re all about the hidden benefits of foods – from the sophisticated sardines and salad you’ll get a generous dose of calming Omega-3s and assorted healthy fats, more iron than you can shake a stick at, plenty of lutein to keep the eyes in sparkling condition, immunity-boosting vitamin C and a hearty dose of sunshine. If this doesn’t perk you up nothing will!

We also have to tell you about the fantastic Triptych Wines online wine school which we’ve recently discovered and can’t keep a secret! If you fancy learning more about a different wine each week with abundant visual guides to help you navigate a sometimes daunting world, do have a look!

In season right now:

Lamb and wood pigeon are the meats of the season at the moment. On the fish front, it’s a perfect time to have lobster, cockles, crab, red mullet, prawns, whitebait, shrimp and sea trout. Windward bananas, kiwi fruit and rhubarb are lovely right now, as are chives, dill, sorrel, broccoli (green or purple sprouting), jersey royals, lettuces, samphire, spinach, spring onions, watercress and nettles.

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Jason Atherton’s Grilled sardines on toast

Serves 4

8 sardine fillets, butterflied (filleted and opened flat)
25g pack basil, leaves picked, stalks reserved
400g cherry tomatoes, about 35-40, halved
2 tbsp red onion, finely diced
4 tbsp sherry vinegar
120ml olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
1½ lemons, in halves ready for squeezing
4 rashers of streaky bacon, left whole
120g tin sardines in tomato sauce
4 slices of thick country bread (ciabatta or sourdough)
1 garlic clove, peeled and halved
Vegetable oil, for frying

1 Check the sardine fillets for bones, cover and refrigerate.  Set aside some of the basil leaves for garnish and put the rest into a bowl with half of the cherry tomatoes.

2 Add the onion, sherry vinegar, olive oil and the juice of ½ lemon to the tomatoes. Toss gently and season with salt. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

3 Meanwhile, heat a little vegetable oil in a small wide pan and fry the bacon rashers until crisp. Remove and drain on kitchen paper, trim to neaten if you like, and set aside.

4 Into the same pan, tip the tinned sardines in tomato sauce, basil stalks and remaining cherry tomatoes. Stir and let simmer over a medium heat for 10 minutes or until the tomatoes are cooked, stirring often. Remove from the heat and stir in the juice of ½ lemon. Transfer to a small blender and purée until smooth, then press through a sieve into a bowl. Season.

5 Heat up a griddle or grill. Char-grill or toast the bread until golden brown, and scorched if using a griddle. Drizzle with olive oil and rub with the cut garlic clove.

6 Heat a good splash of vegetable oil in a large frying pan. Pan-fry the sardine fillets, skin side down first, for 1-2 minutes on each side until cooked. Season with a little salt and add a squeeze of lemon.

7 To serve, place the griddled bread on the plate and top with the puréed sardine mix, top with the tomato salad and fresh sardines and garnish with the bacon, remaining basil and lemon.

Reproduced with thanks from Jason Atherton for Waitrose.

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Enjoy your evening!

Capital Cooking

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