Cucumber & Dill Salad

D’you know what?  I’ve absolutely nothing to say!  How astoundingly rare.

So, I’ll just cut to the chase and get on with the recipe…

No quantities in the ingredients list as it all depends on how many you’re serving and how much you like the salad…judge by eye and taste and you shouldn’t go wrong 🙂

Ingredients
Cucumber, cut into slices
Fresh dill, finely chopped
Soured cream
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Music

The first thing you need to do is find your sieve and balance it over a bowl.  Don’t use a metal one!

We’re going to disgorge the cucumbers – this is just a posh way of saying we’re going to get some of the water out of them.  It will give a salty flavour and softer texture to the cucumber.

Cucumber and saltPlace a layer of cucumber slices into the sieve and sprinkle with salt.

Salted cucumberKeep layering cucumber and salt until you have enough, or you’ve filled your sieve, whichever comes first.

Now place a small plate over the top and put something heavy-ish on top to weight it down.  Set to one side for 2-3 hours.

Disgorged cucumberAfter a few hours, when plenty of water has drained from the cucumber, remove slices from sieve and lay out on kitchen towel – gently pat dry.

Some people rinse the slices before drying in order to remove some of the salt – I think this is unnecessary but you may wish to do so.

Soured cream and dillIn a bowl that will be large enough to accommodate your cucumber slices, mix together soured cream and chopped dill.

Add cucumber slices and a good dose of black pepper and gently mix.  Taste and adjust seasoning.

Cover bowl and refrigerate until ready to use – ideally give it 30 minutes to an hour to allow flavours to blend.

People tend to come by and ‘just try a bit’ so consider setting a guard dog on duty beside the fridge to ensure there’s still enough salad left when you come to serve it.

with salmon en crouteYou may find a little water continues to seep from the cucumbers after mixing with the soured cream – don’t worry, just before serving give everything one last stir.  Taste again to check seasoning is still good and serve with dish of your choice.

Cucumber and dill salad shown here served with mini salmon en croute.  It also makes an excellent, cooling, side dish to go with spicy foods.

Enjoy!
x

Blackberry & Apple Upside Down Cake

When I was a child, living in the depths of Wales, the summer holidays brought many good things…dawn-to-dusk freedom, yomping through fields and barns, ‘helping’ with hay making, riding bikes and ponies (not simultaneously), paddling in the stream, chasing water boatmen across ponds and marvelling at the way they could walk on water, eating crab apples (and never getting belly ache, despite everyone’s assertions that we would), building dens, grubbing in mud…kid paradise.

BlackberriesThe other thing that summer brought was blackberries – in fields and gardens, along hedgerows, in a derelict chapel, filling the little island in the middle of the stream – simply acres of unpolluted, naturally growing, free to all, fat, purple, lip-and-finger-staining berries. Three of us could easily harvest two buckets each within a matter of hours (it would probably have taken less time if we’d not eaten so many along the way), and there would still be plenty more for the days and weeks to follow.  Mum made a lot of jam.

So you see, to me blackberries are something you forage for and pick yourself by the bucket load – they’re not something you buy at around £2-£4 for a teeny little 170g pack of not-quite-ripe, cultivated, inferior flavoured, supermarket berries (oops, I think my food snobbery’s showing 😉 ).

That price just seems insane to me, so I tend to go without unless I happen across some rare, relatively unpolluted, inner city scrub land that’s bearing fruit.Big fat berries

However, if someone else succumbs to said insanity, then gifts me the berries, I am not going to spurn the gesture – that would just be rude.

Which is why, when a friend recently tossed a pack of Mexican blackberries to me and said, “I bought you these – thought you’d be able to do something with them”, I did not respond with, “Are you mad?!”  I simply said “Thank you very much”, and started to plan what to make.

Baked apple and blackberry cakeThis was an experimental recipe so required tweaks revealed themselves in the review process.  What follows is a posting of what I actually did, with guidance on the things that should be done differently.

The ingredients list is accurate and will work for a 7″ or 8″ round cake tin.

Because I was experimenting, I split my mix and did a 5″ tin with apple and blackberry, and a 4″ tin with just blackberries.  This produced two very different cakes – the one with apple was more of a pudding really, and the other a tea/coffee cutting cake.  Both had their own merits.

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