We are deep into June now, so the ‘greenness’ of both nature and produce is reaching its acme. From the acid green of a moped of frisee lettuce, to the fresh green of broad beans and peas, all the way through to the deep, iron-rich green of courgette, rocket and nasturtium leaves. These last two are wonderful salad ingredients, adding a good peppery kick to the proceedings. I decided to pair these greens with some fillets of sweet and succulent sea bass. Their silvery and slate-coloured scales had caught my eye at the fishmongers- immediately I envisaged them pan-fried til golden in foaming, nutty butter, alongside nuggets of rocket pesto melting over their seared flesh. Heaven! Back home, I tossed a handful of broad beans in the herby butter too, and finished the dish with a few scarlet nasturtium flowers (the flowers start off peppery in the mouth then leave you with a hint of honey as you reach the nectar).
Gooseberries are often dismissed as spiky, hairy and overly tart, but it’s for their very sourness that I love them. In a sea of sweet soft fruits, they provide a welcome blast of acidity. Earlier, I’d found a packet of golden marzipan lurking at the back of my cupboard, and quickly had some deliciously oozing, little marzipan cakes in the oven- terribly sweet and moreish though they were, I thought they required a good sour kick. Enter the gooseberry sorbet! When making the sorbet use as little sugar as you can bear to keep the tartness of the goosegogs to the fore. Scatter with a few toasted almond slivers and you have the perfect Summer dessert- sweet and sour, golden and green.
Sea Bass with Rocket & Nasturtium
4 fillets of sea bass, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp butter, 2 bunches of wild rocket, 200g board beans, 1 clove of garlic, zest of 1 lemon, juice of 1/2 lemon, 25g grated Parmesan, handful of pine nuts toasted, 3 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper.
Make the pesto first- blitz together the rocket, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan, zest and lemon juice, salt and pepper and olive oil- check for seasoning.
In a large frying pan on a high heat melt the oil and butter, once foaming add the fillets skin-side down and cook 3 mins. Turn carefully and cook 3 mins til done.
Blanch the broad beans in boiling water 3 mins then toss them in a frying pan with a knob of butter and a spoonful of the rocket pesto.
Serve the sea bass on a bed of rocket topped with the broad beans, pesto and nasturtium leaves and flowers.
Ingredients: 800g gooseberries topped and tailed, 220g golden caster, 300ml water.
Put the sugar and water in a pan and bring to the boil, then add the fruit and simmer for 5 mins. Allow to cool then puree the compote and pour into a container and freeze, forking up the ice crystals every couple of hours.
Melting Marzipan Cakes
Ingredients: 100g butter, 40g soft brown sugar, 50g molasses sugar, 2 eggs, pinch of salt, 30g spelt flour, 100g ground almonds, 30g whole almonds roughly chopped, 60g marzipan cut into tiny pieces.
Grease a 4 hole muffin tin liberally with butter (the cakes are quite sticky). Preheat the oven to 175C.
Cream the butter and both sugars together. Add the eggs one by one mixing after each addition. Add flour, salt, ground almonds- mix well. Stir through the chopped almonds and marzipan chunks.
Divide the batter and bake for 20 mins until golden. The cakes should still be a little squidgy in the middle.
Serve with a scoop of gooseberry sorbet and a handful of toasted flaked almonds.