New recipes from the River Cottage

Prepare for the summer barbie with the new Outdoor Cooking handbook from Gill Meller of the River Cottage. Down to earth and practical, the book includes everything you need for cooking over fire, and is full of ideas for using seasonal produce in new ways, including plenty of vegetarian dishes. Here we share two recipes from the new cookbook:

Barbecued courgettes with dill, goat’s cheese, mint and yoghurt

Courgettes cook beautifully over fire. The high heat chars their surfaces and the smoke gives them a wonderful savoury depth. Here I’m pairing them with two of my favourite courgette accompaniments: goat’s cheese and dill.

Serves 4 as a starter

4–6 medium courgettes

4 tbsp olive oil

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

½ tsp dried chilli flakes

2 tsp fennel seeds, toasted and crushed

3 tbsp natural yoghurt

150g soft goat’s or ewe’s cheese

½ small garlic clove, peeled and grated

A small bunch of chives, thinly sliced

6–8 sprigs of dill, chopped, plus extra to garnish

2 tbsp chopped mint, plus whole leaves to garnish

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Prepare your fire. You want a glowing bed of embers with no real flames to speak of.

Set a grill over the fire; it will have reached the right temperature when you can hover your hand above it for no more than 3 seconds. Top and tail the courgettes and slice them lengthways into strips, 3–4mm thick. Place in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add 2 tbsp olive oil along with the lemon zest, chilli flakes and fennel seeds, and tumble together.

Lay the courgettes across the grill. Cook for 8–12 minutes on each side, or until they are lightly and evenly charred, with some caramelisation.

Meanwhile, combine the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil with the yoghurt and crumble in the goat’s cheese. Add the garlic and half of each of the herbs. Season with salt and pepper and mix well to combine.

Arrange the grilled courgettes over a large platter and squeeze over the lemon juice. Spoon on the goat’s cheese dressing and scatter over the remaining herbs to serve.

Baked peaches with vanilla, butter, thyme and brown sugar

This wonderful late-summer dessert is easy to assemble and incredibly delicious. It’s the perfect thing to cook as the flames die back and you are left with a nice bed of chunky embers. You can do the same thing with apples or plums; they will be equally good.

Serves 4

4 ripe peaches

50g unsalted butter, softened

1 vanilla pod, split lengthways

2 tbsp soft brown sugar

Grated zest of ½ lemon

4 sprigs of thyme

Prepare your fire and let it die back a bit. You want a nice bed of moderately hot embers – a little flaming wood and smoke is fine.

Halve the peaches and remove the stone. Lay the peach halves, cut side up, on a double layer of foil, large enough to encase the peaches in a parcel.

Put the butter into a bowl. Scrape the vanilla seeds from the pod and add them to the butter, along with the sugar and lemon zest; mix well. Dot a little of this sweet vanilla butter on each peach half. Top with the sprigs of thyme and throw in the split vanilla pod for good measure. Fold the foil over the peaches to create a neat sealed parcel.

Set the parcel carefully down in the embers of the fire. The peaches need to be cooked in a gentle, glowing heat, so don’t let them come into contact with any super-hot embers. Bake for 20–25 minutes, rotating the parcel occasionally to ensure the peaches cook evenly.

Remove the parcel, open it and check if the fruit is tender by prodding it with a knife. If it’s not quite ready, rewrap and return to the fire for a little longer. Once the peaches are tender, serve them hot, with all the buttery sweet juices from the parcel, and cream if you like.

Outdoor Cooking by Gill Meller with an introduction by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is published on 2 May 2019 by Bloomsbury, £16.99 at amazon. Gill will be hosting a six-course feast at the River Cottage to celebrate the recipes from the book on 17 May, tickets available for £70 here

— Daisy Allsup
8th May 2019