Chicken livers in sherry sauce is well known Spanish dish. One corner of Andalucia includes Jerez de la Frontera and Sanlúcar de Barrameda. Much sherry is produced there. So many Spanish meals can be improved with a drop of sherry. It is a favourite in some of the tapas bars around the Spain. Kidneys are often cooked in the same way and this recipe can be adapted for kidneys if you prefer them. In Andalucia they sometimes replace the sherry with a dry Montilla wine which is very similar. Rich chicken livers have a very moist, crumbly texture. This dish can be served in small quantities as a starter, or as a main course.
This ravioli dish has a smooth extra-cheesy sauce that coats the pasta very evenly. If you cannot find all of the cheeses, simply substitute your favourites. The aim is to have a total quantity of 225 g cheese and to include Parmesan in the selection. Always buy Parmesan in the piece and grate it yourself. Using the ready grated cheese may save time, but the flavour will not be as good. Here are used Parmesan (fragrant and tangy), Edam (sweet, slightly nutty), Gruyère (nutty, slightly sweet) and Fontina (delicate, good for desserts) cheese. You may like to try to use a different combination, with cheeses such as Gauda, Cheddar, Red Leicester or Wensleydale. Most cheeses are available all year round, but a few traditionally-made cheeses, such as Gruyère, have a season when they are considered to be at their best. If possible, it’s best to buy cheeses from a specialist who stores their stock well and will be able to suggest which cheese will be best for your purpose. Specialist suppliers will also allow you to taste a range of cheeses before purchase.
Apricot and plum brioche is real summer recipe. Both apricots and plums are seasonal fruits and it is easy to find very nice varieties. Apricots are at their best and cheapest in July, but avoid any fruit that feels spongy. Apricots can vary greatly in quality. If they taste woolly and bland when eaten fresh, cook them into a dish and they will become luscious and flavoursome. The British plum season starts in late July with the Opal variety and finishes in mid-to late-September with the Marjorie Seedling. Each variety has a 2-3 week season. Plums develop an intense flavour when cooked. They make excellent jam, jelly and fruit cheese, but can also be bottled. Strong spices such as star anise, cloves, vanilla, cinnamon and black pepper all taste good with poached plums. Cream and custard based accompaniments such as ice cream or rice pudding balance their flavour. Out-of-season imported plums can be cooked, but are much sweeter and taste best eaten raw.
Courgettes on garlic bread are delicious choice for quick lunch or light dinner, or even a party bite. Easy to make and with ingredients that may be found in any shop, this recipe will be your next favourite. Cheap, tasty, quick-growing and endlessly versatile, courgettes make a decent meal of any storecupboard ingredient. They can be dressed up in a creamy lemon sauce and served with pasta, grated and added to a quiche, or served as crisp fritters. In fact, recipes for courgettes come in as many shapes and sizes as the squash itself: varieties of this summer vegetable can range from small and flying-saucer shaped, to dark-green and tennis ball-sized, to long and yellow. Give courgettes a go: remember, the smaller they are, the more flavour – if you don’t pick them early enough they grow into marrows.
The tarte Tatin is an upside-down tart in which the fruit (usually apples) are caramelized in butter and sugar before the tart is baked. There are conflicting stories concerning the tart’s origin, but the most common is that Stéphanie Tatin, owner of the Hotel Tatin who also did most of the cooking, was overworked one day. She started to make a traditional apple pie but left the apples cooking in butter and sugar for too long. Smelling the burning, she tried to rescue the dish by putting the pastry base on top of the pan of apples, quickly finishing the cooking by putting the whole pan in the oven. After turning out the upside down tart, she was surprised to find how much the hotel guests appreciated the dessert. In an alternative version of the tart’s origin, Stéphanie baked a caramelized apple tart upside-down by mistake.