SPRING PEA DIP
250g. frozen peas or petit pois
a large knob of butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 x 100g. bag watercress, spinach and rocket
25g. hard cheese finely grated
1 tbsps. chopped mint leaves
2 tbsps. olive oil
Extra mint leaves and cheese shavings to decorate
This can be made up to 2 days ahead and chilled. Remove from the fridge 2 hours before serving. It can also be frozen but leave out the mint. Defrost and allow to come to room temperature before adding the mint, finely chopped.
Put the peas in a large bowl and cover with just boiled water. Leave to stand for 5 minutes, then drain in a sieve, and run under cold water.
Meanwhile, heat the butter in a frying pan, add the shallot and cook gently for 5minutes, stir in the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the salad leaves plus 1 tbsp. water and cover with a lid. Cook gently for 2 – 3 minutes until wilted. Stir in the peas and remove from the heat.
Transfer to a food processor with the grated cheese, mint and olive oil. Whizz briefly to a chunky puree. Season, transfer to a serving bowl and decorate with cheese shavings and mint leaves. Serve with bread, toasted or otherwise.
FRESH STRAWBERRY CAKE
250g. plain flour
1 1/2 tsps. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
85g. unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pan
225g. caster sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp.vanilla extract
About 340g. strawberries (see below), hulled and halved (but quarter if large)
Preheat the oven to 180. You will cook the cake for 10 minutes at this temperature and then reduce to 165 for about 35 minutes.
Butter a 9 inch deep dish or a 9 inch square cake tin. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In another bowl beat the butter and all the sugar apart from 2 tbsps. until pale and fluffy, about 3minutes. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat again until well combined. Gradually add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk, and beat on low speed until smooth. It will be like a thick batter.
Transfer the batter to the prepared dish / tin and smooth with a spatula. Arrange the strawberries on top, cut side down, so that they completely cover the batter (use more or less if necessary). Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tbsps. sugar.
Bake until the cake is lightly golden and a tester comes out clean. It can take up to another 35 – 50 minutes. Let the cake cool in the dish / tin and serve with whipped cream or ice cream. The cake can be stored loosely covered for several days at room temperature.
I thought the dip would be nice to serve with drinks in the garden, always providing the weather holds and felt a strawberry recipe was called for at this time of year. The chef baked his cake in an earthenware dish. I would serve it directly from the dish. If you use a tin instead I would line it. I am a great one for lining tins, even when the instructions do not tell you to. It just makes life so much easier.