Food for the heat this week, with our guest food blogger Jo Orr
It’s such a pleasure when the idea you have in your head actually translates into reality. I was lying in tangled sheets this morning, cursing the fact that it was already in the 30s by 7am and that my toe couldn’t quite reach the switch for the fan, when the thought of cool, refreshing melon popped into my mind. Melon was to be the order of the day. I had a ruby-coloured watermelon the size of a football just begging to be made into a sorbet, which would serve as dessert and also as the base for a Watermelon Fizz – just keep a little of the watermelon sugar syrup aside to act as the base of your drink, which can then be topped up with Champagne for the adults and fizzy water or lemonade for the kids.
Deliciously refreshing on a sweltering evening.
For the main, I wanted something cooling, light yet full of flavour. This salad ticks all the boxes, juicy fresh sweetness from the melon, a musky hit from the figs, saltiness of feta, a deep berry tang from the blackberries and then that sweet honey and lime dressing spiked with mint to finish it off. Seeing how well the mint married with the melon in the salad gave me the idea for reprising it for dessert. Crushing the mint and sugar together in the mortar and pestle fills the kitchen with a minty aroma so heavenly that it’s almost worth making it for the smell alone. Served on top of the watermelon sorbet it adds a crunchy, herby note to the sweet and refreshing sorbet. Hope these dishes help you keep cool in the heat!
Fig, Blackberry and Melon Salad with Crumbled Feta
Ingredients: 8 figs, 1 Canteloupe Melon, 200g blackberries, 1 packet of feta, bunch of mint, mixed salad leaves, salt and pepper, 3 tbsp walnut oil, juice of 1/2 lime, 1 tbsp runny honey.
Method: Cut the figs into quarters and scatter over a platter of mixed salad leaves. Give the berries a quick rinse then pat dry and scatter over. Halve the bunch of mint and pop had the mint leaves onto the salad and chop the rest finely and add to the dressing.
Crumble over the feta. Whisk up the dressing ingredients (the oil, lime juice, salt and pepper and honey) until emulsified then pour over the salad.
Watermelon Sorbet with Crushed Mint Sugar
Ingredients: 1 watermelon deseeded and cut into large chunks, 1/2 cup of sugar, 3/4 cup of water, 2 tbsp lemon juice.
for the mint sugar: 1 small bunch of mint and 2 tbsp golden caster sugar.
Method: You will need a 1kg metal loaf tin to freeze the sorbet in. Make the sugar syrup by brining the water and sugar to the boil in a medium pan- stir from time to time to dissolve the sugar. Once at a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 mins. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
Cut and deseed the watermelon and put the large chunks into the food processor in batches to blitz. You can pass this through a sieve to catch any seeds you might have missed earlier.
Once the sugar syrup is cool stir it through the watermelon juice along with the lemon juice. Pour into the tin and pop into the freezer. Fork through the crystals every hour or so until completely frozen.
To make the mint sugar, tear the mint leaves and add to the sugar in the mortar – use the pestle to grind the two together.
Serve bowls of the sorbet topped with the crushed mint sugar.