Sunday Lunch

We love Sunday Lunch! After a bit of reading and pottering around the house, lunch usually starts late and works its way well into the night. Sharing food is something we are totally in love with, whether just between the two of us or with friends. Eating lots, enjoying good wine, music, conversation and fabulous company. Lunch is a lengthy leisurely luscious affair.

Making food that isn't fussy but that rather showcases good quality produce prepared simply is really what I enjoy the most. It takes me a couple of days to construct a possible menu and then based on what I can find at the market, I take it from there. I really love cooking seasonally as this is when the produce is at its best. At this time of year; tomatoes, artichokes and blueberries are in their prime, their flavours are rich and vibrant with textures that only summer can bring. For this menu I wanted a few courses to share between four of us, I wanted it to flow, starting with lots of veg shining on their own, then onto lovely sea bass with giant oyster mushrooms and to finish, an adapted clafoutis overflowing with blueberries. Mmm mmmm mmmm!!

The first dish is one of my favourites, there is nothing I love more than showing off a truly glorious tomato and this time of year is the very best for it. I found gorgeous large heirloom tomatoes with dark green and rose coloured flesh, ideal to be  eaten when they are quite green as the texture is sublime. Tomatoes need nothing more than good bittery olive oil and salt to make them shine. Served with freshly sliced baguette.

Next up was a wonderful flower to share and add a bit of theatre to the day. Artichokes come in all varieties but my chosen love is the globe artichoke. It's large and fleshy with plenty of petals, this time of year yields giants and they are delicious! I made two to share between four of us with an anchovy, garlic and chilli dipping sauce on the side.

2 large globe artichokes

For the sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small mild chilli, finely chopped
3 anchovy fillets
1 lemon
50g butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut stem off the artichoke and remove any small leaves from around the base. Cook in plenty of boiling water for about 20 minutes or until a knife slides into the flesh of the stem with ease. Drain.
In the meantime, fry garlic and chilli in a bit of olive oil until slightly browned. Add anchovies and break down with a fork once sizzling. Stir in butter, allow to melt and then add the juice of the lemon. Add salt and pepper to taste. If anchovies really aren't your thing then you could leave them out but they are a cunning little fish and without them the flavour just isn't the same.

To eat: Peel off individual petals starting from the outside working your way in. Dip the small fleshy base of the petal into the sauce and bite it off. Discard the remaining petal. When you get to the heart, be careful to remove all the hair before eating. This can be cut out using a sharp knife.

Something to clean the palate after all that buttery lusciousness. I decided on this punchy little salad using peppery watercress, bitter chicory and crunchy radishes. The textures in this salad are fantastic and with the addition of a classic italian dressing it soars to unimaginable heights.

80g freshest watercress
2 heads chicory, halved and sliced along the length
handful of radishes, finely sliced

quarter of a clove garlic, crushed
2 anchovy fillets
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar

Make dressing using a pestle and mortar, making sure all ingredients are well combined. Pour over veg and gently toss together until evenly coated. Serve on small plates.

Sea bass is the king of white fish, it has a beautiful flavour and a very small flake. I think it is best pan fried and served on its own or with a single veg in order to enjoy its subtle character. I decided to use king oyster mushrooms as its partner. Sliced thickly length ways and pan fried with little seasoning, these beauties added some extra meatiness. I'm not keen on heavy creamy sauces for fish but butter with capers is perfect. 

And to the end we go! I absolutely love blueberries, they are delicious raw or cooked and the colour is incredible, staining fingers and lips as their juice oozes out. Bliss. I found this recipe the other day and I have this crazy habit, every time I have people round I always make something I've never made before! This blueberry clafoutis was the days wild card and it was divine. The best part was that I could make it  just before and after 35 minutes this puffy volcanic mass of blueberries descended onto the table. This recipe is lighter than most and the batter is incredibly thin, it is quite eggy and is almost like a giant stuffed pancake. Not too sweet and very gentle, it could benefit from adding a bit more sugar to the mix and a squeeze of lemon to serve.

Blueberry Clafoutis (by Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall)
Serves 6 (but we ate all of it)

75g plain flour
75g caster sugar
2 medium eggs, plus 1 medium white
300ml whole milk
400g blueberries
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 190C  and liberally butter a 205cm round oven proof dish.
Sift flour, salt and sugar into a bowl, make a well in the centre. Beat together eggs and egg white and pour into well, whisk gradually incorporating flour from the sides. Continue whisking adding the milk slowly, until you have a smooth thin batter. Its important not to over whisk as the gluten in the flour can make the dough rubbery. Spread the blueberries in the buttered dish and pour over the batter. Bake for 35 minutes until puffed up and golden brown. Leave to cool, it will sink as it does so. Dust with some icing sugar and serve with cream and a squeeze of lemon.

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