Fete, flowers and fish
THE LONDON Oratory summer fête is with us again this Saturday, 18 June, starting at 1130 a.m. and continuing until 5.30 p.m. So, roll up in your hundreds with children, who will be quite safe in the nice walled garden. The men always do very well for bargains, I find: last year beautiful Jermyn Street shirts were going for a song, gener- ously donated by the makers. The raffle prizes are £1,000, £500 and £200, as well as wine and a quality camera. There is a very goad home-made food tent and a drinks tent, together with beguiling stalls of flowers, books and treasures to be won. This is an entertaining and thoroughly English affair, so bring any friends from abroad and amaze them.
Speaking of churches, I was reading the parish newsletter of St Mary's Battersea, that beautiful church on the river, and found this charming receipt,. which is very suitable for this time of year.
(Very good with gin, ice and Perrier water or as a soft drink — one part syrup to eight parts water, still or fizzy. Also good in gooseberry dishes or fruit salads.)
Take 20 elderflower heads — shake free of insects. Bring to the boil and stir in 3-4 lbs of sugar according to taste. Dissolve slowly, stirring all the time until quite clear. Remove from the heat, add the elderflow- ers and 23/4 oz of citric acid. Add the grated rind of 2 lemons, then slice the lemons fine- ly and mix them into the concoction. Tip into a bowl, cover and leave for 24 hours. Rub through a sieve (use a mouli for the easiest method), filter through a jelly bag and pour into clean bottles. Store in a cool dark place. It does not keep indefinitely, a mould forms at the top of the bottle after a few weeks. (If you haven't got a jelly bag by you, I believe you can use tights.) Suzie Booth, whose husband's dulcet tones can be heard around midnight on Classic FM, has given me two good ideas for your delectation. The first is her Incredible chicken, courgette & mushroom mixture 6 chicken breasts
olive oil juice of 2 lemons 3 plump cloves of garlic
1/2 lb large button mushrooms
6-8 courgettes a good handful of fresh marjoram or oregano salt and freshly ground black pepper
You can use any bits of chicken, but the breasts are probably the simplest. First of `Never have so many been elected by so few.' all make a marinade, enough to cover all the ingredients. Use plenty of olive oil, preferably not too extra virgin, the lemon juice and the garlic cloves, peeled, bruised and roughly cut up, and the good handful of marjoram or oregano. Season with salt and pepper. Cut the chicken into pieces about the size of the mushrooms, and slice the courgettes into chunks. Place in the marinade with the mushrooms for at least 4 hours, turning regularly. When ready, sim- ply thread the various bits on to skewers and grill or barbecue, basting with the marinade as you rotate the skewers. Any marinade left over can be kept in a jar in the refrigerator for further use. This is a very good combination of textures and tastes.
The other receipt is for a lovely, dark pink sauce to elevate a simple fish pie into the realms of exotica.
Prawn sauce 1/2 lb prawns 1 carrot 1 stick of celery
1 spring onion 2 medium onions 1 tin chopped tomatoes (14 oz)
1/4 pint thick double cream white wine or vermouth Take the heads and shells off the prawns and place in a saucepan with the chopped spring onion, celery and carrot. Cover with water and simmer for 25 minutes to make a stock. Reserve the prawns. In another saucepan soften the chopped onions in a lit- tle oil, add the tin of tomatoes, bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes until thickened. Take off the heat and liquidise. Return to the saucepan. Sieve the prawn stock into the tomato mixture, add some white wine or dry vermouth to taste, then pour in the thick cream. Boil rapidly until the sauce will coat the back of a spoon, and sea- son to your liking with salt, freshly ground pepper and perhaps a dash of Tabasco. Remove from the heat and add the peeled prawns. Pour into a warmed sauce-boat and serve alongside a fish pie or anything you fancy. It is a beautiful colour and absolutely delicious. I should think it would cheer up some hard-boiled eggs no end.
See you at the fête.