A Summer Food Blog

Before things start getting serious again, here are two small and simple ideas for improving the quality of life on a warm summer evening.

Pumpkin seeds, pepper, sugar — Sprinkle dried pumpkin seeds (green or black, not the light ones) to cover the bottom of a small frying pan, put it over a medium heat for the seeds to toast. They’ll start popping appealingly - when they do, sprinkle a little salt over them and give them three or four twists of black pepper from the mill. When most of the popping’s done, but before the seeds char too much, sprinkle some raw cane sugar over them, and give the pan a shake. The sugar will melt instantly (if it doesn’t the pan isn’t hot enough), stir the seeds around once or twice, then tip them into a bowl and let them cool, giving them a poke from time to time to stop them sticking together in a single sticky mass. These are great with cocktails or aperitifs - you’ll never want another peanut again.

Balsamic syrup for strawberries — Put three tablesopons of balsamic vinegar with one of sugar in a small pan. Heat so that the sugar melts and the syrup starts bubbling: you need to reduce it to about two-thirds of it’s volume, but this will happen quite quickly. When the bubbles start sounding sticky, and the syrup is just starting to thicken, is the time to stop. Take off the heat, and pour into a small heatproof dipping bowl. It’s good used while still warm - not hot - it will thicken and get nicely sticky as it cools. This is sensational with fresh strawberries and good vanilla ice-cream - looks like chocolate, but tastes sweet, sharp and sexy.


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