July Blog

Tuesday 31st July 2018

July Blog

The weather has been incredibly hot and sunny for the whole of July with temperatures often reaching near to 30 degrees! Most gardens now have lawns that have turned an unattractive shade of brown, and look like they may never recover!  However, as I type this we have had two days of almost continuous drizzly rain.  A welcome relief from the heat for us all and at long last the entire garden has had a proper watering.  It appears to be recovering just a little, already!  The forecast for August is I believe, a return to the recent heatwave and the experts are talking about 2018 being one of the hottest U.K. summers on record!  A really good summer to experience a “Stay vacation” as many of us are, giving us the chance to enjoy the beautiful and varied scenery of Great Britain.

This month I enjoyed organising a coffee morning in our lovely garden in aid of two hospices, St Michael’s hospice in St. Leonards where my sister spent 5 weeks recently and our own wonderful local Pilgrim’s hospice, Ashford, Kent.  Friends and I got busy in the kitchen and made copious scones and cakes.  It was difficult to know quite how many goodies to make as we had no idea how many might turn up.  The day finally dawned and the weather, thank goodness, was very kind to us as the sky remained a little overcast for the whole morning, but the temperature stayed pleasantly warm.  Over 70 people duly arrived, bless them, and each person paid £5.00 entry fee to include a coffee and cake.  We all mingled, buying raffle tickets from my 9 year old great nephew Aiden, guessing the weight of the fruit cake, buying from the lovely gift stalls and enjoying henna tattoos, or simply relaxing and chatting to friends, whilst the children took advantage of our small pool for a cooling swim.  The morning raised an incredible £1,020.  An amazing and unexpected result and well worth the effort. A huge thankyou you to all those who participated.

For recipes this month, I thought I would include my recent dinner party menu.  I cooked a leg of lamb that was brined for 24 hours before dressing for the oven, with roast rosemary potatoes, cooked for an hour in hot rape seed oil and a large tray of colourful roast vegetables.  It really did make a big difference brining the lamb first. The resulting meat just melts in the mouth, once roasted, tastes wonderful and is not at all salty.  For dessert I made a Summer Pavlova.

The menu serves 6.

Recipes for July

Brined Leg of Lamb

1 x2kg. leg of lamb

3 Tbsp. Sea salt

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh coriander

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Black pepper

  • 24 hours before cooking, combine salt, rosemary, garlic and a good grinding of black pepper corns in a small bowl.
  • Using a sharp knife, score fat of lamb into a diamond pattern but take care not to cut the meat.
  • Generously coat top and sides of lamb with salt mixture, rubbing it into the cuts.
  • Wrap in cling film and chill.
  • When ready to cook, unwrap lamb and wash the salt off completely.  Allow lamb to stand for 1 hour at room temperature.  Dry lamb using absorbent kitchen paper.
  • When ready to cook, pre-heat oven to 190C, 170C Fan, Gas 6.
  • In a small bowl, mix 75g soft butter with a good handful chopped mint and rosemary and a seasoning of black pepper.  Blend in one teaspoon runny honey.  Spread all over lamb. 
  • Peel and slice 1 red onion and 2 carrots along with 1/2 sliced aubergine.  Arrange in base of a large roasting tin.  Spray veg with a little spray oil. Season veg with salt and pepper.  Arrange lamb on top of vegetables, cover the roasting pan with foil.
  • Roast for 2 hours, removing foil for final 30 minutes and increasing oven temperature to 210C, 190C Fan, Gas 6, to allow lamb to brown.
  • Remove from oven and leave to stand, covered in a tent of foil for 30 minutes, before carving.

Colourful Roasted Vegetables

Serves: 6

4 carrots, scrubbed clean and sliced

2 long red peppers, roughly chopped

½ aubergine, chopped

4 courgettes, sliced

Small bunch fresh parsley, chopped

Small bunch mint leaves, chopped

2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

Salt and pepper

3 Tbsp. olive oil

  •  Pre-heat oven to 210C, 190C Fan, Gas 6.
  •  Line a large roasting tin that will take the vegetables in one layer with non-stick baking paper.
  • Arrange all the vegetables in the tin.  Add the chopped herbs with the garlic and the olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Roast the vegetables for about 1 hour, stirring once halfway through.  The vegetables are ready when they smell amazing and are just starting to char round the edges.

Summer Pavlova

Serves: 6-8

4 large egg whites

225g caster sugar

1 teaspoon cornflour

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

For the topping

450ml double cream

3 Tbsp. crème fraiche

2 Tbsp. lemon curd

350g fresh strawberries, sliced

1 nectarine, sliced

1 kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced

  • Use a 20cm dinner plate to trace a circle onto a piece of baking parchment.  Arrange upside down on a greased baking sheet.
  • Heat oven to 150C, 130C Fan, Gas 2.
  • In a large clean mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff.  Gradually beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until a glossy meringue results.
  • In a small bowl, combine vinegar and cornflour to make a smooth paste.  Fold into meringue using a large metal spoon.
  • Turn meringue onto prepared paper and spread to fit circle.
  • Bake for 1 hour. Turn oven off and leave Pavlova in the oven over-night or for at least 2 hours.
  • Arrange Pavlova on serving plate.  Prepare filling.
  • In a mixing bowl, whip cream until thickened and floppy.  In a small bowl, blend lemon curd into crème fraiche. Fold into cream.  Pile cream filling on top of meringue.
  • Decorate top of Pavlova with the fruit and serve immediately.


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