Yotam Ottolenghi’s peach recipes

There are few things as, er, peachy as a ripe peach( and even unripe ones have their utilizes)

I went to a party earlier the summer months and took a tray of ripe peaches instead of a bottle of wine. I would never have dreamed of taking a tray of, say, avocados or a bunch of bananas. Its not that those fruit are any less special; its only that they dont have quite the same wow factor, that tempting, feed me now look of a perfectly ripe peach.

The difference between peaches and avocados is all to do with the way the fruit ripen. Bananas and avocados( along with pears and tomatoes) are climacteric and often store their sugar in the form of starch. Once picked, a simple hydrocarbon gas called ethylene triggers the process that converts that starch back to sweetness. This constructs such fruit a logistical dreaming for those who grow and sell them: they can be picked unripe and shipped hard( so theyre not prone to bruising ), and ripened once the travel is done.( On a smaller scale, you can achieve a similar impact at home by putting an unripe fruit in a paper bag with a ripe one. The ripe fruit will emit ethylene, which helps ripen the unripe fruit .)

Peaches, on the other hand, are not such a peachy logistical dream. Along with other non-climacteric fruit such as pineapple, citrus, most berries and melons, they dont store starch, so they dont go across the same process of converting it into sugar. Theyll continue to soften once picked, sure, and also develop an odor, but their sweetness wont develop any more post-picking.( The cold temperature at which the objective is stored when shipped and stocked, to prolong shelf life, also means the flesh often turns very mealy .)

Thats why I regard a tray of ripe peaches as something of a gift: feeing them right there and then, and hitting that sweet spot, really is worthy of a festivity. Its also why I reserve firmer fruit for cakes and tarts; overripe ones go into jams, compotes or todays shrub. Hard peaches may absence some natural sweetness, true, but you can draw that out depending on how you cook them. They also have the advantage of being robust enough to hold their shape: chargrill wedges and pair with slices of salty corpuscle or pork belly, spoonfuls of creamy cheese or a hard herb such as rosemary.

Peach, rosemary and lime galette

This makes good utilize of firm , not-so-ripe peaches. By macerating them in sugar and lime juice, you not only soften the fruit, but you also make a beautiful syrup to pour over the dish at the end. Rosemary, which Ive utilized both in this dish and in the shrub, is a fantastic match for peach. Its a combining I detected only recently, and now I cant get enough of it. Serves four generously.

2 limes 1 peeled in 7 long strips, the other grated, to get 1 tsp, then both juiced, to get 1 tbsp
80 g caster sugar
2 large firm peaches, stoned and cut into 0.5 cm-thick slice( 300 g net weight)
2 large sprigs rosemary, plus tbsp picked leaves
150 g creme fraiche
Plain flour, for dusting
200 g all-butter puff pastry
10 g unsalted butter, cut into 1cm pieces
1 egg, beaten
tsp cornflour

Heat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F/ gas mark 4.

Mix the lime juice with 60 g sugar in a large bowl, add the peaches, strips of lime scalp and rosemary sprigs. Stir and set aside to macerate for at the least 40 minutes, and up to a couple of hours. Strain the peaches through a sieve set over a small saucepan, and discard the rosemary and lime peel: you should end up with about 60 ml peach syrup.

Mix the grated zest and a teaspoon of sugar into the creme fraiche and refrigerate until ready to serve.

On a lightly floured run surface, roll out the pastry into a 26 cm-wide circle just under 0.5 cm thick, then transfer to a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.

Arrange the strained peaches haphazardly in the middle of the pastry, leaving a clear 6cm perimeter all around the edge, then fold this outer 6cm rim up and over the peaches. Dot the butter over the exposed peaches, then brush the pastry all over with beaten egg. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of sugar evenly over the pastry and bake for 20 minutes, until its golden and the fill is beginning to bubble.

While the galette is baking, whisk the cornflour into the reserved peach syrup. Simmer over a medium-high heat until it thickens to the consistency of honey( about two minutes ), then pour over the peaches. Sprinkle the rosemary leaves on top and return the galette to the oven for 15 minutes, until the pastry is golden-brown and the fill bubbling.

Leave to cool slightly, then serve with a bowl of the lime creme fraiche on the side.

Peach and rosemary shrub

Shrubs( basically, sharp, sweet syrups) are traditionally used to flavour soft drink and cocktails. Theyre also great drizzled over desserts. In making this shrub, youre left with the bonus of 400g cooked peach pulp, which is delicious over yoghurt and granola( find next recipe) or ice-cream. Makes 600 ml.

1kg very ripe yellow peaches, stoned and approximately chopped
3 sprigs rosemary
120 ml apple cider vinegar
150 g caster sugar

Put everything into a large saucepan on a medium-high hot, and cook at a gentle simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fruit has broken down and is the consistency of a thick compote.

Line a large sieve with muslin, then set it over a large bowl or container( make sure the sieve does not touch the bottom of the container, so the liquid can drain through ). Tip the peach mix into the lined sieves and leave to drain for one to two hours, until all the liquid has strained through. Discard the rosemary.

Store the shrub and the strained fruit in separate airtight receptacles in the fridge: the shrub will maintain for up to a month, the fruit for a week.

Strained peaches with granola and yoghurt

This is a great breakfast, but by all means convert it into a pudding by swapping the yoghurt for whipped cream or ice-cream. Serves four.

600 g Greek-style yoghurt
350 g-4 00 g strained peaches from attaining the shrub( assure previous recipe )
100 g granola
60 ml peach and rosemary shrub( ensure previous recipe )
4 tsp honey
tsp Chinese five-spice
1 tsp roughly chopped rosemary foliages

Divide the yoghurt, strained peaches and granola between four serving bowl, dishing it up so that you can see each element. Pour the shrub over the strained peaches, then drizzle honey evenly over everything. Finish with a sprinkling each of five-spice and rosemary.

Peach and rosemary bellini

My ideal summer drink. Makes four.

120 ml peach and rosemary shrub( insure previous recipe )
Finely shaved scalp of 1 lemon (8 strips )
4 small rosemary sprigs
About 400 ml prosecco

Pour the shrub into the bottom of four champagne glasses. Add two strips of lemon peel and a rosemary sprig to each glass, top with prosecco and enjoy.

Grilled peaches and athlete beans with goats cheese

Yotam
Yotam Ottolenghis grilled peaches and athlete beans with goats cheese. Photo: Louise Hagger for the Guardian. Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay, assisted by Agathe Gits

This is an unusual, and delectable, combination. Serves four as a starter.

400 g runner beans, stringy edges removed and cut on an slant into 8cm-long pieces
3 tbsp olive oil
Flaked sea salt and black pepper
2 firm peaches, stoned and cut into 0.5 cm-thick slices
5g mint foliages, roughly torn
tbsp lemon juice
80 g young, soft goats cheese, approximately broken into 4cm pieces
20 g roasted salted almonds, chopped
tbsp honey

Toss the beans in two tablespoons of oil and a half-teaspoon of salt. Heat up a barbecue or a ridged griddle pan on high hot, and cook the beans for three to four minutes on each side, until they get clear grill marks all over and are nearly cooked. Transfer to a bowl and covering with a plate for five to 10 minutes; the residual heat will softened the beans, so leave on their covering depending on how crunchy you like them.

Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of oil over the peach slicings and grill for one to two minutes a side, until they take on visible char marks.

Add the peaches and the mint to the bean bowl, then transfer to a platter and season with the lemon juice, an eighth of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Dot the cheese and almonds around the plate and finish with a drizzle of honey.

Yotam Ottolenghi is chef/ patron of Ottolenghi and Nopi in London.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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Anna Jones’s homemade ricotta recipe and three things to cook with it | The modern cook

Its easy to make your own ricotta from scratch. Its ideal for a gentle herb and citrus dip, as the main attraction on a tray of honey-baked figs, or stirred through a plate of spicy spaghetti with chard, garlic and herbs

There is so much to love about ricotta. First up, its clean, fresh cloud-like milkiness many of us think of it as a spring-time thing, but in fact, it works brilliantly as a much needed partner for the roots and roasts and punchier flavors well be feeing for the next few months. Next, its versatility in baking and desserts; to fill ravioli or spoon over warm veggies. Best of all, though, is that its made from something that would otherwise be wasted. The ricotta that you buy in the shops is a byproduct of the cheesemaking process. Whey that has been drained off the cheese curds is reheated to stimulate ricotta hence its Italian name, which entails recooked.

My recipe involves gently heating whole milk, then adding vinegar to promote little curds to form, which are then gathered and strained to form the softest and most gentle of the cheeses. Ive tried lemon juice, but vinegar somehow renders more ricotta. The quantity of vinegar is key, too little and the curds wont form properly; too much and the end result will taste like a chip store. Because this recipe is so simple there is nowhere to hide, so use the best milk that you can afford( the best ricotta Ive savor was induced in Italy use raw, unpasteurised milk, but thats not as widely available in the UK ).

Some recipes require a certain type of ricotta. The type you can buy in most supermarkets can be very soft, more mascarpone-like in texture than the firmer, strained ricotta I got used to working with when I cooked in Italy. Thats why I started constructing my own and Id urge you to try too its not as difficult as you might gues. If thats a step too far though, you can induce the recipes below with supermarket ricotta. If you do, then leave it in a sieve to drain excess liquid for a few hours, or ideally overnight, so its a little firmer. If youre luck enough to live near an Italian deli, most sell a good strained ricotta.

As well as a recipe for homemade ricotta, I have included three of my favourite simple ways to eat it. Aside from these almost any pasta would benefit from a little ricotta stirred through it, any flapjack or waffle will sit merrily next to a spoonful, and most fruits will team up well with a clean white helping drizzled with a little honey.

straining The type of ricotta available in most supermarkets can be very soft. Strained ricotta is firmer, and much closer to what is available in Italy. Photograph: Matt Russell for the Guardian

Homemade ricotta

How long you hang your ricotta for will be dependent on how you want to use it. To bake your ricotta whole or to use it to fill pasta you want something firm, so no moisture oozes out during cooking. For other recipes, such as the pasta or the whipped ricotta below, you could get away with a less firm texture, so hanging it for just a few hours would suffice.

Makes about 300 g
2 litres whole milk
A pinch of sea salt
40ml distilled white vinegar

1 Pour the milk into a large pan, add a pinch of sea salt and put over a medium hot. Allow the milk to heat up slowly, stirring from time to time.

2 When it is almost coming to the simmer when steam and small bubbles begin to appear on the surface( if you have a kitchen thermometer it should be 82 C-8 5C) remove from the hot, add the vinegar and stir gently. You will see curds starting to sort. Continue to stir for 1 minute or so.

3 Cover with a clean cloth and allow it to sit for a couple of hours. Once the ricotta has rested, line a colander with a large piece of damp muslin and put this over a larger bowl or pan.

4 Spoon the ricotta into the colander and allow it to drain for an hour or so, or overnight depending on your desired firmness( see note above ). To test whether the cheese is ready, gently lift the muslin up by the corners and twist lightly the liquid should be somewhat milky in colouring. The ricotta is now ready. Transfer to a container, seal and store in the refrigerator and use within 3 days.

Whipped herb and lemon ricotta

Quick and super-light, this combination of herbs and ricotta is ideal for dipping. I use baby veggies, but fingers of good toast or crackers would work too.

Serves 4
450g fresh ricotta
Salt and black pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed or grated
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp mint foliages, finely chopped
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus a good squeeze of lemon juice
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve

To serve
Baby carrots, beetroots and radishes, cut into sticks

1 Put your ricotta into a bowl with a good pinch of salt and pepper, then beat it with a wooden spoonful until light and fluffy. You can do this with an electric mixer if you want it actually cloud-like.

2 Now stir in the garlic, herbs, zest and olive oil. Savor for balance and adjust the seasoning, if necessary, adding a squeeze of lemon juice and a bit more of whatever you think it needs.

3 Serve in the middle of the table with your selection of veg or toast for dipping.

4 Drizzle with some olive oil and serve.

Honey ricotta with baked figs

This is a faintly sweet take on ricotta that could be served as a dessert or a quick lunch, piled on top of toasted bread with some bitter foliages to counter the very slight sweetness.

Honey Any leftovers can be spread on warm toast the next day. Photograph: Matt Russell for the Guardian

Serves 4-6
250g ricotta
1 tbsp of runny honey
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
1 orange, zested, juice reserved
6 figs
50g almonds

1 Preheat your oven to 180 C/ 350 F/ gas mark 4. Line a baking tray with a sheet of greaseproof paper.

2 Turn the ricotta out of its packet on to the lined tray, then drizzle it with honey. Grate over the orange zest and scatter the vanilla seeds on top.

3 Halve the figs and arrange them around the ricotta. Squeeze over the juice of the orange and a little more honey then put into the oven to cook for 20 minutes.

4 Meanwhile, roughly chop the almonds. Scatter them over the baking tray and roasted for the last 5 minutes.

5 Serve straight from the oven in the middle of the table.

Spaghetti with chard, garlic, chilli and ricotta

One of the fastest pastas I know( the sauce is cooked in the time it takes for the pasta to turning al dente) and for my money one of the nicest.

Serves 4
400g spaghetti
Extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
12 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves picked
400g chard, rinsed leaves shredded and stubbles finely sliced
Grated zest and juice of 1 large unwaxed lemon( plus an extra lemon for juice, if needed)
Salt and black pepper
150g of ricotta
Parmesan or pecorino( optional)

1 Put a large pan of simmering water on to boil and add a couple of generous pinches of salt. Once the water is at a rolling simmer, add your pasta and cook according to the packet instructions or until simply al dente.

2 Meanwhile, hot a good drizzle of olive oil in a large frying pan and add the garlic, chilli and rosemary. Fry for a minute or so, until the garlic is starting to colouring, then add the chard stems and sizzle for 1-2 minutes. Add the leaves. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 34 minutes, or until the leaves have wilted a little.

3 Drain the pasta, reserving a mugful of cooking water. Add a splash of the pasta water to the greens and mix well. Grate over the zest of the lemon and squeezing over the juice. Take off the heat and savour for seasoning. Crumble over the ricotta and stir it though. Serve topped with a drizzle of olive oil and, if you like, a wispy grating of parmesan or pecorino.

Anna Jones is a chef, novelist and author of A Modern Way to Eatand
A Modern Way to Cook( Fourth Estate ); annajones.co.uk; @we_are_food

Yotam Ottolenghi’s peach recipes

There are few things as, er, peachy as a ripe peach( and even unripe ones have their utilizes)

I went to a party earlier the summer months and took a tray of ripe peaches instead of a bottle of wine. I would never have dreamed of taking a tray of, say, avocados or a bunch of bananas. Its not that those fruit are any less special; its simply that they dont have quite the same wow factor, that seducing, feed me now appear of a perfectly ripe peach.

The difference between peaches and avocados is all to do with the style the fruit ripen. Bananas and avocados( along with pears and tomatoes) are climacteric and often store their sugar in the form of starch. Once picked, a simple hydrocarbon gas called ethylene triggers the process that converts that starch back to sweetness. This constructs such fruit a logistical dreaming for those who grow and sell them: they can be picked unripe and shipped hard( so theyre not prone to bruising ), and ripened once the travel is done.( On a smaller scale, you can achieve a similar impact at home by putting an unripe fruit in a paper bag with a ripe one. The ripe fruit will emit ethylene, which helps ripen the unripe fruit .)

Peaches, on the other hand, are not such a peachy logistical dreaming. Along with other non-climacteric fruit such as pineapple, citrus, most berries and melons, they dont store starch, so they dont go through the same process of converting it into sugar. Theyll continue to soften once picked, sure, and also develop an odor, but their sweetness wont develop any more post-picking.( The cold temperature at which they are stored when shipped and stocked, to prolong shelf life, also entails the flesh often turns very mealy .)

Thats why I consider a tray of ripe peaches as something of a gift: feeing them right there and then, and hitting that sweet place, really is worthy of a gala. Its also why I reserve firmer fruit for cakes and tarts; overripe ones go into jams, compotes or todays shrub. Hard peaches may absence some natural sweetness, true, but you can draw that out depending on how you cook them. They also have the advantage of being robust enough to hold their shape: chargrill wedges and pair with slice of salty tinge or pork belly, spoonfuls of creamy cheese or a hard herb such as rosemary.

Peach, rosemary and lime galette

This constructs good utilize of firm , not-so-ripe peaches. By macerating them in sugar and lime juice, you not only soften the fruit, but you also make a beautiful syrup to pour over the dish at the end. Rosemary, which Ive utilized both in this dish and in the shrub, is a fantastic match for peach. Its a combining I discovered only recently, and now I cant get enough of it. Serves four generously.

2 limes 1 peeled in 7 long strips, the other grated, to get 1 tsp, then both juiced, to get 1 tbsp
80 g caster sugar
2 large firm peaches, stoned and cut into 0.5 cm-thick slices( 300 g net weight)
2 large sprigs rosemary, plus tbsp picked leaves
150 g creme fraiche
Plain flour, for dusting
200 g all-butter puffed pastry
10 g unsalted butter, cut into 1cm pieces
1 egg, beaten
tsp cornflour

Heat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F/ gas mark 4.

Mix the lime juice with 60 g sugar in a large bowl, add the peaches, strips of lime scalp and rosemary sprigs. Stir and set aside to macerate for at least 40 minutes, and up to a couple of hours. Strain the peaches through a sieve defined over a small saucepan, and discard the rosemary and lime peel: you should end up with about 60 ml peach syrup.

Mix the grated zest and a teaspoon of sugar into the creme fraiche and refrigerate until ready to serve.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pastry into a 26 cm-wide circle merely under 0.5 inches thick, then transfer to a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.

Arrange the strained peaches haphazardly in the middle of the pastry, leaving a clear 6cm perimeter all around the edge, then fold this outer 6cm rim up and over the peaches. Dot the butter over the exposed peaches, then brush the pastry all over with beaten egg. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of sugar evenly over the pastry and bake for 20 minutes, until its golden and the filling is beginning to bubble.

While the galette is baking, whisk the cornflour into the reserved peach syrup. Simmer over a medium-high heat until it thickens to the consistency of honey( about two minutes ), then pour over the peaches. Sprinkle the rosemary foliages on top and return the galette to the oven for 15 minutes, until the pastry is golden-brown and the fill bubbling.

Leave to cool somewhat, then serve with a bowl of the lime creme fraiche on the side.

Peach and rosemary shrub

Shrubs( basically, sharp, sweet syrups) are traditionally used to flavour soft drink and cocktails. Theyre also great drizzled over desserts. In making this shrub, youre left with the bonus of 400g cooked peach pulp, which is delicious over yoghurt and granola( assure next recipe) or ice-cream. Makes 600 ml.

1kg very ripe yellow peaches, stoned and roughly chopped
3 sprigs rosemary
120 ml apple cider vinegar
150 g caster sugar

Put everything into a large saucepan on a medium-high heat, and cook at a gentle simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fruit has broken down and is the consistency of a thick compote.

Line a large sieve with muslin, then set it over a large bowl or receptacle( make sure the sieve does not touch the bottom of the receptacle, so the liquid can drain through ). Tip the peach mix into the lined sieve and leave to drain for one to two hours, until all the liquid has strained through. Discard the rosemary.

Store the shrub and the strained fruit in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator: the shrub will maintain for up to a month, the fruit for a week.

Strained peaches with granola and yoghurt

This is a great breakfast, but by all means convert it into a dessert by swapping the yoghurt for whipped cream or ice-cream. Serves four.

600 g Greek-style yoghurt
350 g-4 00 g strained peaches from building the shrub( insure previous recipe )
100 g granola
60 ml peach and rosemary shrub( see previous recipe )
4 tsp honey
tsp Chinese five-spice
1 tsp approximately chopped rosemary leaves

Divide the yoghurt, strained peaches and granola between four serving bowls, dishing it up so that you can see each element. Pour the shrub over the strained peaches, then drizzle honey evenly over everything. Finish with a sprinkling each of five-spice and rosemary.

Peach and rosemary bellini

My ideal summer drink. Makes four.

120 ml peach and rosemary shrub( consider previous recipe )
Finely shaved skin of 1 lemon (8 strips )
4 small rosemary sprigs
About 400 ml prosecco

Pour the shrub into the bottom of four champagne glass. Add two strips of lemon peel and a rosemary sprig to each glass, top with prosecco and enjoy.

Grilled peaches and runner beans with goats cheese

Yotam
Yotam Ottolenghis grilled peaches and athlete beans with goats cheese. Photo: Louise Hagger for the Guardian. Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay, assisted by Agathe Gits

This is an unusual, and delectable, combining. Serves four as a starter.

400 g athlete beans, stringy edges removed and cut on an slant into 8cm-long pieces
3 tbsp olive oil
Flaked ocean salt and black pepper
2 firm peaches, stoned and cut into 0.5 cm-thick slices
5g mint foliages, roughly torn
tbsp lemon juice
80 g young, soft goats cheese, approximately broken into 4cm pieces
20 g roasted salted almonds, chopped
tbsp honey

Toss the beans in two tablespoons of petroleum and a half-teaspoon of salt. Heat up a barbecue or a ridged griddle pan on high heat, and cook the beans for three to four minutes on each side, until they get clear grill marks all over and are virtually cooked. Transfer to a bowl and encompas with a plate for five to 10 minutes; the residual heat will softened the beans, so leave on their cover-up depending on how crunchy you like them.

Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of oil over the peach slices and grill for one to two minutes a side, until they take on visible char marks.

Add the peaches and the mint to the bean bowl, then transfer to a platter and season with the lemon juice, an eighth of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Dot the cheese and almonds around the plate and finish with a drizzle of honey.

Yotam Ottolenghi is chef/ patron of Ottolenghi and Nopi in London.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Nuno Mendes’ summertime recipes: seared beef salad with herb puree

Cooking with this unusual method produces the juiciest steak, which pairs beautifully with seasonal vegetables

This may seem an unusual route to cook steak, but a light touch preserves the integrity of the meat and renders the juiciest melt-in-the-mouth steaks you can imagine. The garnishes are very much a reflection of what is around at the moment, so feel free to substitute as you see fit.

( Serves 4 )
For the steak :
450 g good-quality aged hanger steak, well trimmed
5 tbsp salted butter, melted
Sea salt and black pepper For the salad :
6 tomatoes of different shapes, colours and sizes, wedged and sliced
1 medium-sized head of fennel, thinly sliced
4 large bulb spring onions, sliced in half lengthways
3 tbsp roasted cashew nuts, chopped
6 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, for garmenting For the sauce :
bunch coriander, leaves picked and stems disposed
bunch sorrel
bunch parsley
4 spring onion tops, sliced
6-7 big, fresh mint leaves
seeded jalapeo pepper
500 ml apple juice
Salt, to savour
Extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish

Season the steak well and bring to room temperature.

In a very hot non-stick pan, sear the meat on each side for 30 seconds, then remove from hot. Repeat this procedure six periods, permitting the meat to rest in between, and reseason with a little ocean salt each time. After the sixth time, let it rest and slice it into long, thin slices it should be nice and pink, but warm all the route through. Season the steak again and coat with the melted butter.

Mix together the tomatoes, fennel and cashews, and season with salt, pepper and olive oil. Sear the spring onions in the steak pan until they brown but retain their crunch.

Blend all the sauce ingredients until smooth, then season and blend again.

On a large platter, arrange the meat on the sauce with the salad on top. Scatter over the grilled spring onions, drizzle with a little olive oil and serve.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Nuno Mendes’ summer recipes: seared beef salad with herb puree

Cooking with this unusual technique renders the juiciest steak, which pairs beautifully with seasonal vegetables

This may seem an unusual style to cook steak, but a light touch preserves the integrity of the meat and creates the juiciest melt-in-the-mouth steaks you can imagine. The garnishes are very much a reflection of what is around at the moment, so feel free to substitute as you see fit.

( Serves 4 )
For the steak :
450 g good-quality aged hanger steak, well trimmed
5 tbsp salted butter, melted
Sea salt and black pepper For the salad :
6 tomatoes of different shapes, colours and sizings, wedged and sliced
1 medium-sized head of fennel, thinly sliced
4 big bulb spring onions, sliced in half lengthways
3 tbsp roasted cashew nuts, chopped
6 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, for garmenting For the sauce :
bunch coriander, leaves picked and stubbles discarded
bunch sorrel
bunch parsley
4 spring onion tops, sliced
6-7 big, fresh mint leaves
seeded jalapeo pepper
500 ml apple juice
Salt, to savour
Extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish

Season the steak well and bring to room temperature.

In a very hot non-stick pan, sear the meat on each side for 30 seconds, then remove from hot. Repeat this procedure six days, allowing the meat to remainder in between, and reseason with a little sea salt each time. After the sixth period, let it rest and slice it into long, thin slicings it should be nice and pink, but warmed all the style through. Season the steak again and coat with the melted butter.

Mix together the tomatoes, fennel and cashews, and season with salt, pepper and olive oil. Sear the spring onions in the steak pan until they brown but retain their crunch.

Blend all the sauce ingredients until smooth, then season and mix again.

On a large platter, arrange the meat on the sauce with the salad on top. Scatter over the grilled spring onions, drizzle with a little olive oil and serve.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Italy’s best-kept food secret: the sagra festival

Italys food festivals are not just a chance to savor fantastic regional specialities, but also to delve into local culture and autumn is the time to go

Italys best-kept food secret is the sagra . A festival organised to show off a local food or drinking( or both ), a sagra is a place where youll eat well and learn. Most sagre have local producers selling the goods, but there are also tastings, competitors, demonstrations and special menus. And theyre not just about the food: many sagre have their roots in old country fairs or pagan celebrations celebrating the harvest and have been running for decades, even centuries. And while some have risen beyond local status to that of crowded international festivals, hundreds remain events where youll dine and drink elbow-to-elbow with locals. Here are seven autumn sagre that are both bustling but still true to their roots.

Sagra della Castagna, Soriano nel Cimino, Lazio

29 September-2 October and 6-9 October

A
A costumed medieval dinner at the Sagra della Castagna. Photograph: Marcello Mascellini

Yes, youll detect chestnuts cook in every piazza in this unspoilt hilltop township an hours drive north of Rome. But this sagra is about more than that: its also when Sorianos four districts duke it out over which one best transports the town to a bygone epoch. In the Convivium Secretum, for example, costumed locals serve dishes such as capon fricassee and white-rabbit pastry in the contest for best historic banquet. There are also jousts, archery and in a dramatic finale 700 townsfolk, each looking like theyve leap to life from a Renaissance painting or medieval tapestry, parading through the streets.
Admission for ticketed events from 2,
sagradellecastagne.com

Where to feed, year-round
Get a savor of Soriano nel Ciminos history and in-season specialities such as tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms and chestnut-and-beef stew at Rottezzia Osteria-Birreria ( 10, Via Dello Scarico, +39 0761 7490 22 ), where the owner gives tours of the caves that make up the medieval stone quarry-turned-wine-cellar and now osteria.

Where to stay
Try the 19 th-century stone farmhouse surrounded by wood at Podere Pontepietra ( doublings from 55 B& B ), whose three rooms have private bathrooms, wood-beamed ceilings and views of the Tiber valley.

Mortadellab, Bologna

20 -2 3 October

Plate
Mortadella, a dish many see as the Italian precursor of bologna. Photograph: Charlotte Observer/ Getty Images

The pink sausage known as mortadella bologna has been beloved for ages it was even traded like currency in the middle ages. And with its IGP protection ensuring no preservatives, artificial colours or flavours, this version is as far from US or UK baloney as you can get. No wonder the festival in its accolade now in its fourth year has become so popular: 130,000 went last year. Mortadella is sliced and served with bubbly aperitivo in the city streets, tells Italy-based food novelist Eleonora Baldwin, while tastings, demonstrations and rivalries sprawl across Bolognas central Piazza Maggiore. As the president of the Consorzio Mortadella Bologna put it: I guarantee that it will be love at first slice.
mortadellabologna.com

Where to eat, year round
Try mortadella at Pasquini& Brusiani , a butcher-delicatessen that has been cooking by traditional methods since 1950; its is accessible to clients from Monday to Wednesday and Friday.

Where to bide
Overlooking vineyards and the hills of the Parco dei Gessi Bolognesi at Ca del Frate ( doubleds from 95 B& B ), a fairly, peaceful B& B six miles from the centre of Bologna.

Fiera del Tartufo Bianco, SantAgata Feltria, Emilia-Romagna

Every Sunday in October

The
The medieval hilltop town of SantAgata Feltria. Photo: Atlantide Phototravel/ Getty Images

The most famous of Italys truffle celebrations is the International White Truffle Fair in Alba. But the medieval hilltop town of SantAgata Feltria near where Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna, Le Marche and Umbria intersect is home to a celebration as local as it is vibrant. In the main tent restaurants scoop out dishes such as truffle-infused cheese fondue, truffled veal and gnocchi with truffle, while vendors proudly display their( wonky-looking) wares and no matter where you walk, the earthy aroma lingers. Dont miss the race of the truffle-hunting dogs on 11 October.
prolocosantagatafeltria.com

Where to feed, year round
Enjoy upmarket versions of local specialities suppose black-pig carpaccio or ravioli with truffle, sausage and mascarpone at Il Tulipano Nero , a sleek restaurant that lately opened in town.

Where to bide
In a medieval village complete with tower and a B& B restored by local artists into the enchanting Il Borgo del Sole e della Luna ( doubleds from 60 B& B ), just three miles from town.

Bitto in Centro, Morbegno, Lombardy

15 -1 6 October

Blocks
Blocks of bitto( cheese ). Photograph: Getty Images

The small town of Morbegno is near the border of Switzerland, 70 miles north-east of Milan, and few foods reflect that like its beloved cheese. Devoted protected( DOP) status 20 years ago, bitto , which is soft and sweet when young but gets sharper as it ages, relies on cows grazing on Alpine pastures. The sagra offers tastings and bitto-centric menus( look for the most traditional dish: the cheese melted over pizzoccheri , a buckwheat pasta ), as well as vendors selling products such as Alpine-herb amaro or local honey. What I love about this sagra and many sagre on the northern bounds of Italy is how much the cheese and its preparations feel distinctly connected to the neighbouring nations, in this case Switzerland, says Katie Parla, an Italy food expert and writer of the book Tasting Rome. Its a wonderful reminder of how what is perceived as authentic Italian cuisine is merely a small part of Italys gastronomic culture.

Where to feed, year round
Try bitto at the Slow Food restaurant
Osteria del Crotto , which also serves local dishes like roast lamb and ricotta ravioli.

Where to stay
Sleep in silence and wake up to the crisp Alpine air at the homey B& B Costiera dei Cech ( doubles 58 B& B ), which is in the mountains a six miles drive from Morbegno.

Bacco nelle Gnostre, Noci, Puglia
5-6 November

Visitors
Visitors revel in the foodie streets at Bacco nelle Gnostre

Held in a fairly, whitewashed town halfway between Bari and Taranto, this celebration celebrates the Pugliese spirit at its most welcome, where locals prepare food at home and share it with passersby in the towns distinctive gnostre ( semi-private courtyards ). Grab a steaming dish of orecchiette or grilled octopus and clean it down with a glass of vino novello, primitivo or negramaro, while listening to the thrum of tarantella that threads through the streets. On every alley theres something happening, says Puglia native Antonello Losito, founder of Southern Visions Travel. If someone asked a question: I want a quick showcase of Puglia, as Ive never been before and I only have two hours, Id bring them here.
formichedipuglia.it

Where to feed, year round
Between its star chef and lovely place in a courtyard in the heart of Noci its no wonder that LAntica Locanda is famous for its top-notch versions of traditional dishes like orecchiette with capocollo or fava beans and chicory.

Where to stay
The historic masseria( fortified farmhouse ), Abate Masseria ( doubleds from 89 B& B ), is spotted with trulli ( the cone-roofed homes unique to Puglia ), all carefully restored and complete with a swimming pool, tennis courts and a horse stable thats now a restaurant.

Fiera Nazionale del Marrone, Cuneo, Piedmont

14 -1 6 October

Marrone
Roast with the most marrone are celebrated, and eaten in great sums, at the festival in Cuneo

Now in its 18 th year, this festival in Cuneo, 60 miles south of Turin, has become one of Italys most popular, greeting about 300,000 visitors. And with good reason. The chestnuts more desirable, sweeter cousin( and the one used for marrons glacs ), marrone have been cultivated in the field since the middle ages. This festival in the fruit honour is Italys foremost, but its not only marrone youll discover here: 250 vendors also sell local olive oils, cheeses, wine and the not-to-be-missed cuneesi al rhum , a local speciality of rum-infused darknes chocolate.
marrone.net

Where to eat, year round
With an emphasis on Slow Food, local and organic products, Osteria Senza Fretta ( the no-rush osteria) has found a following for dishes such as vitello tonnato ( sliced veal in a tuna-flavoured sauce) and Alpine-herb risotto.

Where to stay
Agriturismo Tetto Garro ( doubles from 70 B& B) is a running 15 -hectare farm of walnut, chestnut and hazelnut trees, whose impeccably renovated barn offers amazingly stylish and contemporary rooms.

La Sagra dellUva, Marino, Lazio

30 September to 3 October

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Yotam Ottolenghi’s peach recipes

There are few things as, er, peachy as a ripe peach( and even unripe ones have their uses)

I went to a party earlier the summer months and took a tray of ripe peaches instead of a bottle of wine. I would never have dreamed of taking a tray of, say, avocados or a bunch of bananas. Its not that those fruit are any less special; its simply that they dont have quite the same wow factor, that seducing, eat me now seem of a perfectly ripe peach.

The difference between peaches and avocados is all to do with the style the fruit ripen. Bananas and avocados( along with pears and tomatoes) are climacteric and often store their sugar in the form of starch. Once picked, a simple hydrocarbon gas called ethylene triggers the process that converts that starch back to sweetness. This constructs such fruit a logistical dream for those who grow and sell them: they can be picked unripe and shipped hard( so theyre not prone to bruising ), and ripened once the travel is done.( On a smaller scale, you can achieve a similar impact at home by putting an unripe fruit in a paper bag with a ripe one. The ripe fruit will emit ethylene, which helps ripen the unripe fruit .)

Peaches, on the other hand, are not such a peachy logistical dreaming. Along with other non-climacteric fruit such as pineapple, citrus, most berries and melons, they dont store starch, so they dont go across the same process of converting it into sugar. Theyll continue to soften once picked, sure, and also develop an odor, but their sweetness wont develop any more post-picking.( The cold temperature at which the objective is stored when shipped and stocked, to prolong shelf life, also means the flesh often turns very mealy .)

Thats why I consider a tray of ripe peaches as something of a gift: eating them right there and then, and reaching that sweet place, really is worthy of a celebration. Its also why I reserve firmer fruit for cakes and tarts; overripe ones go into jams, compotes or todays shrub. Hard peaches may absence some natural sweetness, true, but you can describe that out depending on how you cook them. They also have the advantage of being robust enough to hold their shape: chargrill wedges and pair with slices of salty tinge or pork belly, spoonfuls of creamy cheese or a hard herb such as rosemary.

Peach, rosemary and lime galette

This attains good use of firm , not-so-ripe peaches. By macerating them in sugar and lime juice, you not only soften the fruit, but you also make a beautiful syrup to pour over the dish at the end. Rosemary, which Ive employed both in this dish and in the shrub, is a fantastic match for peach. Its a combining I detected most recently, and now I cant get enough of it. Serves four generously.

2 limes 1 peeled in 7 long strips, the other grated, to get 1 tsp, then both juiced, to get 1 tbsp
80 g caster sugar
2 large firm peaches, stoned and cut into 0.5 cm-thick slicings( 300 g net weight)
2 large sprigs rosemary, plus tbsp picked leaves
150 g creme fraiche
Plain flour, for dusting
200 g all-butter whiff pastry
10 g unsalted butter, cut into 1cm pieces
1 egg, beaten
tsp cornflour

Heat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F/ gas mark 4.

Mix the lime juice with 60 g sugar in a large bowl, add the peaches, strips of lime scalp and rosemary sprigs. Stir and set aside to macerate for at least 40 minutes, and up to a couple of hours. Strain the peaches through a sieve defined over a small saucepan, and discard the rosemary and lime peel: you should end up with about 60 ml peach syrup.

Mix the grated zest and a teaspoon of sugar into the creme fraiche and refrigerate until ready to serve.

On a gently floured work surface, roll out the pastry into a 26 cm-wide circle merely under 0.5 cm thick, then transfer to a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.

Arrange the strained peaches haphazardly in the middle of the pastry, leaving a clear 6cm perimeter all around the edge, then fold this outer 6cm rim up and over the peaches. Dot the butter over the exposed peaches, then brush the pastry all over with beaten egg. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of sugar evenly over the pastry and cook for 20 minutes, until its golden and the filling is beginning to bubble.

While the galette is cooking, whisk the cornflour into the reserved peach syrup. Simmer over a medium-high hot until it thickens to the consistency of honey( about two minutes ), then pour over the peaches. Sprinkle the rosemary leaves on top and return the galette to the oven for 15 minutes, until the pastry is golden-brown and the fill bubbling.

Leave to cool slightly, then serve with a bowl of the lime creme fraiche on the side.

Peach and rosemary shrub

Shrubs( basically, sharp, sweet syrups) are traditionally are applied to flavour soft drink and cocktails. Theyre also great drizzled over desserts. In making this shrub, youre left with the bonus of 400g cooked peach pulp, which is delicious over yoghurt and granola( assure next recipe) or ice-cream. Makes 600 ml.

1kg very ripe yellow peaches, stoned and approximately chopped
3 sprigs rosemary
120 ml apple cider vinegar
150 g caster sugar

Put everything into a large saucepan on a medium-high heat, and cook at a gentle simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fruit has broken down and is the consistency of a thick compote.

Line a large sieve with muslin, then set it over a large bowl or receptacle( make sure the sieve does not touch the bottom of the container, so the liquid can drain through ). Tip the peach mix into the lined sieve and leave to drain for one to two hours, until all the liquid has strained through. Discard the rosemary.

Store the shrub and the strained fruit in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator: the shrub will maintain for up to a month, the fruit for a week.

Strained peaches with granola and yoghurt

This is a great breakfast, but by all means convert it into a dessert by swapping the yoghurt for whipped cream or ice-cream. Serves four.

600 g Greek-style yoghurt
350 g-4 00 g strained peaches from stimulating the shrub( ensure previous recipe )
100 g granola
60 ml peach and rosemary shrub( ensure previous recipe )
4 tsp honey
tsp Chinese five-spice
1 tsp approximately chopped rosemary foliages

Divide the yoghurt, strained peaches and granola between four serving bowls, dishing it up so that you can see each element. Pour the shrub over the strained peaches, then drizzle honey evenly over everything. Finish with a sprinkling each of five-spice and rosemary.

Peach and rosemary bellini

My ideal summer drink. Makes four.

120 ml peach and rosemary shrub( consider previous recipe )
Finely shaved skin of 1 lemon (8 strips )
4 small rosemary sprigs
About 400 ml prosecco

Pour the shrub into the bottom of four champagne glass. Add two strips of lemon peel and a rosemary sprig to each glass, top with prosecco and enjoy.

Grilled peaches and athlete beans with goats cheese

Yotam
Yotam Ottolenghis grilled peaches and runner beans with goats cheese. Photograph: Louise Hagger for the Guardian. Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay, assisted by Agathe Gits

This is an unusual, and delectable, combination. Serves four as a starter.

400 g athlete beans, stringy edges removed and cut on an angle into 8cm-long pieces
3 tbsp olive oil
Flaked sea salt and black pepper
2 firm peaches, stoned and cut into 0.5 cm-thick slices
5g mint leaves, approximately torn
tbsp lemon juice
80 g young, soft goats cheese, roughly broken into 4cm pieces
20 g roasted salted almonds, chopped
tbsp honey

Toss the beans in two tablespoons of oil and a half-teaspoon of salt. Heat up a barbecue or a ridged griddle pan on high hot, and cook the beans for three to four minutes on each side, until they get clear grill marks all over and are nearly cooked. Transfer to a bowl and cover with a plate for five to 10 minutes; the residual heat will soften the beans, so leave on their covering depending on how crunchy you like them.

Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of petroleum over the peach slices and grill for one to two minutes a side, until they take on visible char marks.

Add the peaches and the mint to the bean bowl, then transfer to a platter and season with the lemon juice, an eighth of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Dot the cheese and almonds around the plate and finish with a drizzle of honey.

Yotam Ottolenghi is chef/ patron of Ottolenghi and Nopi in London.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Rosemary: the mind-bending herb of choice for today’s students

Sales of the plants oil which reportedly improves memory have shot up in the past year. So, which other natural remedies may aid learning?

Students are known for dabbling with mind-altering herbs, and the latest tale of herbal experimentation shows there has been a rush on rosemary. Following a report that the woody herb may improve memory, students have been seeking it out to give them the edge in exams.

Health store Holland & Barrett has reported a 187% increase in sales of rosemary oil in the past year. A spokesperson said that most in-store questions about rosemary came from parents hoping to boost their childrens success for exam season. The store also said that relaxation aids and natural energy drinks … have been popular this exam time as alternatives to caffeine.

Molecules in rosemary oil have been shown previously [to] have the ability to interact with the brains neurotransmitters, according to Mark Moss, head of the psychology department at Northumbria University. Compounds are absorbed into the blood by inhaling the aroma. They interact with what is called the cholinergic system, which is involved in memory, he added.

Herbal remedies, says Moss, are not a magic bullet. Its not just one molecule; there are a number of them and you need the right molecules in the right proportions in order to get the beneficial effect. You might actually get some rosemary oil that isnt having any beneficial effect.

It is also worth remembering, perhaps aided by a cup of rosemary tea, that evidence for the benefits of herbal remedies mostly comes from small-scale studies. In any case, here are some other remedies that might be useful to students.

Peppermint

Last year, Moss presented findings that showed that volunteers who drank peppermint tea before tests had better memory and alertness than those who were given camomile tea. In the US, studies led by Bryan Raudenbush, an associate professor of psychology at Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia, found peppermint scent reduced anxiety and fatigue.

Cinnamon

Raudenbush also studied the effects of cinnamon, testing it in a simulated driving experiment. He found it increased alertness and reduced frustration.

Sage

Moss has also studied sage. He discovered performance enhancements in aspects of memory and also attention the speed at which you can attend to something. They are small effects, but they seem to be beneficial.

Ginkgo biloba

This supplement, extracted from the leaves of the ginkgo tree, is believed traditionally to give cognitive benefits, but one large study into whether it could help prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimers disease or dementia failed to show positive results, while one review found no compelling evidence that ginkgo biloba was helpful in healthy young people. Sometimes we have found beneficial effects and sometimes we have not, says Moss. These extracts differ considerably depending on where they have been sourced. Perhaps no amount of supplements and herbal teas can make up for rest and revision.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Nigel Slater’s lemongrass recipes

Its one of the most subtle and delicious aromatics, says Nigel Slater. Use it in soup, and save some for dessert, too

At the bottom of the fridge is a little plastic box of aromatics: a hand of ginger, an assortment of red and orange chillies, a tuber of galangal and a tight bundle of lemongrass stubbles. This is the box of tricks that comes out when I construct pho or any kind of coconut milk curry or soup( the lemongrass neatly cuts the fattiness of the coconut ). Today it comes out for a classic and a curiosity.

I buy lemongrass from Chinatown if I’m passing through, because the stalks are more plump there, the layers of tightly packed leaves softer and greener. They are also cheaper than elsewhere. But what really matters is the freshness of the husks. So many around are dry and absence the highly aromatic quality that induces them worth buying. The bottled ones, by the way, are as good as useless.

Lemon verbena, a herb I use for tea and that grows extravagantly if your plant is protected against the frost, is a better substitute for lemongrass than lemon. It has something of the effervescence of the stubbles. Lemongrass, like lime leaves, suffers from freezing, bottling and drying. The basic citrus flavour remains, but the real magic, the addictive essence- its heart and soul if you like- is lost.

The idea of flavouring creme caramel with vanilla or coconut is easy to get to grips with, but I have always had doubts concerning flavouring the milk itself. But an infusion of lemongrass worked wonderfully this week, producing a mildly citrus note that is flattered rather than overpowered by the thin layer of caramel that lies on top. The herb added a refreshing note that appealed at the end of dinner, though I should probably was acknowledged by scoffing one at breakfast, too, in lieu of my usual yogurt. But then, what kind of a world is it when we can’t have pudding for breakfast?

Prawn and lemongrass soup

Serves 4
prawns 16, large and raw
shallots 400 g, small
groundnut oil 4 tbsp
lemongrass stubbles 3
ginger 50 g
water 1.5 litres
carrots 150 g
sugar snap peas 150 g
coriander a handful
nam pla( fish sauce) 1 tbsp

Peel the prawns, defining the shells to one side. Return the prawns to the fridge. Peel half the shallots then approximately chop them. Warm half the petroleum in a deep pan then add the shallots and fry them until they are soft and pale gold.

Split the stalks of lemongrass lengthways, discarding the tough, outer leaves, then bash them hard with a heavy weight, such as a rolling pin, to splinter them. Add the shattered stalks to the shallots. Peel the ginger, cut it into coins about as thick as a PS2 piece, and add them to the shallots. Continue cooking over a low heat.

Add the reserved prawn shells to the pot. Pour the water into the pan and bring to the simmer. Lower the hot, then leave to simmer for 30 minutes.

Peel the remaining shallots, cut them in half, then open into individual layers. Peel the carrots, cut into thin slices then into short matchsticks. Warm the remaining part groundnut oil in a large pan, then cook the shallots until golden.

Cut the sugar snap peas into thin strips. Add the reserved prawns and cook them for three minutes on both sides. Strain the broth through a sieve into the shallots and prawns. Add the carrots and sugar snaps and season with the fish sauce, then cook for another minute or two before tearing the coriander leaves and adding them to the soup.

Lemongrass creme caramel

Mellow
Mellow amber: lemongrass creme caramel. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin for the Observer

Shred the lemongrass finely, into paper-thin disc, this is why it dedicates up as much flavor as is practicable to the milk. The custards are cooked when the concoction is softly firm but will still quiver when shake. Makes 4.

For the caramel:
caster sugar 125 g

For the custard:
creamy milk 500 ml
lemongrass 3 large stalks
egg yolks 4
eggs 2
caster sugar 80 g

Pour the milk into a saucepan. Finely slice the lemongrass then add to the milk and bring to the simmer. Remove from the hot, covering with a eyelid and set aside for 20 minutes to infuse.

Make the caramel by putting the sugar into a small pan then pouring over enough water to merely cover it. Place the pan over a moderate hot and leave to boil, watching carefully, until walnut brown.

Set the oven at 150 C/ gas mark 2. Pour the caramel into 4 china ramekins, twisting each one from side to side until the base of the dish is covered with a fine layer.

Put the kettle on to boil. Stimulate the custard: beat together the egg yolks, eggs and 80 g of caster sugar. Strain the infused milk through a sieve into a large jug to remove the pieces of lemongrass. Pour the milk over the eggs and sugar and stir together. Pour or ladle the concoction into the caramel-lined dishes. Lower them into a roasting tin then place on the middle shelf of the oven. Pour enough simmering water from the kettle to come halfway up the sides of the dishes.

Bake the custards for 40 minutes until they are just set. They should quiver when gently shaken. Remove and leave to cool, then chill for at least 2 hours. To turn out, operate a palette knife around the edge, place a small plate on top and turn the plate and ramekin over. Shake securely and let the custard slide out.

Email Nigel at nigel.slater @observer. co.uk or follow him on Twitter @NigelSlater

Read more: www.theguardian.com