There’s something particularly special about cooking with stone fruit. Eaten raw, they can sometimes disappoint; catching an apricot or a peach at its absolute best is a moment to be treasured, because it’s actually quite rare. Cooking with them, then – teasing out their sweetness on the chargrill, for example, or cooking them down in a pan with sugar and spices – is a guaranteed way to hit on the wonderful. As for the cherries, well, it just feels like a luxury to be eating them after the pitting has been done!
Grilled apricot, honey and goat’s cheese dip (pictured above)
Sweet and sour, perfumed yet bold: a perfect apricot in season can really transform a dish. This will work wonders as a canape, as a light lunch for two on toast, or simply as a starter to share.
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 45 minutes
serves 4-6, ace to starter, with great bread
½ tbsp vegetable oil
4 apricots (160g)perfectly ripe, stoned and cut into quarters
2 tbsp runny honey
1 lemonzest grated, to get 1½ tsp, and juiced, to get 2 tbsp
1 tbsp olive oil
50g fresh or frozen and defrosted peas
2 tbsp mint leavesroughly chopped
2 tbsp dillroughly chopped
20g walnutstoasted and crushed
⅛ tsp aleppo chilli flakes
For the goat’s cheese dip
150g goat’s cheeserind removed (120g)
Flaked salt and black pepper
First, marinate the apricots. Put a griddle pan on a medium-high heat and ventilate the kitchen. Lightly oil the pan, then add the apricots and grill for three minutes on each side, until softened and charred. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix the honey, lemon juice and oil to make the marinade. Add the apricots and leave to cool completely.
To make the dip, crumble the goat’s cheese into a small food processor along with the lemon zest, ricotta and an eighth of a teaspoon of flaked salt. Blitz for 45 seconds, scraping down the sides as you go, until fully incorporated. Remove and put in the fridge until ready to serve.
Bring a small saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the peas, blanch for 15 seconds, then drain and plunge into iced water to cool quickly. Once cooled, drain and leave to one side.
To serve, spoon the dip into the center of a large, shallow bowl or plate. Use the back of a spoon to make a large well in the center. Drain the apricots and reserve the marinade. Put the apricots in a large bowl with the peas, herbs, walnuts, chilli, a quarter-teaspoon of flaked salt and a good grind of black pepper, toss gently to coat, then spoon into the well. Serve with a tablespoon of the marinade drizzled on top.
Lamb rump with peach chutney and cumin oil
This lightly spiced, sweet and savory chutney is great with cold meats or a cheese board. If you like, make extra and store in airtight jars for up to a week. Swap the rump for chops or any other cut that you can easily grill or flash cook.
Prep 25 minutes
marinate 1hr +
Cook 35 minutes
For the peach chutney
45g demerara sugar
60ml cider vinegar
1 chilli netfinely chopped (10g), desired if you like less heat
15g gingerpeeled and finely grated
3 peachespit discarded, flesh chopped into 1cm pieces
1 tsp black mustard seeds
salt and black pepper
for the lamb
2 lamb rumps (500g)
4 garlic clovespeeled and crushed
1 lemonzested, to get 1 tsp, and juiced to get 1½ tbsp
2 ½ tbsp olive oil
1 ½ tsp cumin seedsslightly crushed
3 spring onionstrimmed and finely sliced
10g picked parsleyfinely chopped
1 tsp aleppo chilli
1tbsp flaked salt
Put a small saute pan on a medium-high heat and add the sugar, vinegar, chilli and ginger. Stir and cook for four minutes until syrupy and bubbling. Add the peaches, black mustard and a quarter-teaspoon of salt, and cook for another five minutes, until softened but not completely broken down. Set aside to cool and thicken.
To marinate the lamb, put the lamb, garlic and lemon juice in a bowl with one and a half teaspoons of salt and a good grind of pepper. Mix well and marinate for an hour, or overnight.
Heat the oven to 240C (220C fan)/465F/gas 9. Rub a tablespoon of the oil into the lamb and put in a medium frying pan on medium-high heat. Lay in the lamb fat side down and cook for three to four minutes, until deeply golden. Now sear the lamb for two to three minutes on each side, then transfer to the oven for six minutes – this will cook the rumps to medium-rare, so give them plus or minus two minutes in the oven depending on your desired doneness. Remove from the oven and set aside to rest for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining one and a half tablespoons of oil in a small saucepan on medium-high heat and, once hot, add the cumin and take off the heat. Stir in a pinch of salt and leave to cool.
Mix the spring onion, parsley and lemon zest in a small bowl and set aside.
Cut the lamb at an angle into 1½cm-thick slices and arrange on a platter. Drizzle the cumin oil over the top, then sprinkle with the aleppo chilli and three-quarters of a teaspoon of flaky salt. Scatter the spring onion salsa on top and serve with the peach chutney on the side.
Roast Tenderstem broccoli with cherry and ancho ezme
Ezme is a spicy condiment from Turkey that pairs perfectly with grilled meats. The rich sweetness of in-season cherries pairs brilliantly with the bitter heat of ancho chillies in this untraditional twist.
Prep 30 min
Cook 55 minutes
serves 2 as a side, or 4 as part of a meze spread
1½ tbsp lemon juice
300g To tendstem broccoli
1 red chilli (10g)cut into thin rounds (optional)
2 tbsp olive oil
½ red onion (90g)thinly sliced
1½ tbsp corianderroughly chopped
1½ tbsp parsleyroughly chopped
½ tbsp sesame seedstoasted
For the cherry molasses
200g cherriesstems and stones removed (170g net), quartered
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1½ tbsp caster sugar
1 wide chili (15g), washed; stem, veins and seeds removed
Start by making the cherry molasses. Put half the cherries, the vinegar, sugar, ancho chilli and three tablespoons of water in a small saucepan. Put on a medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Turn down to a medium heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the cherries are glossy and soft and the liquid has reduced to a syrup. Tip into a medium bowl and leave to cool completely.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the tahini, half a tablespoon of lemon juice, 50ml water and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt until smooth, then set aside. Turn the oven grill to its grill setting and put an oven-safe griddle pan or roasting tray on the top shelf. Trim the broccoli, discard the woody bits, then toss in a bowl with the red chilli, a tablespoon of oil and a quarter -teaspoon of salt. Carefully place on the griddle pan and grill for two minutes on each side, until lightly charred and slightly softened.
Meanwhile, remove the ancho chilli from the cherries, finely chop and return to the bowl with the remaining cherries and oil, red onion, herbs and a quarter-teaspoon of salt. Mix well.
Arrange the broccoli in the center of a large plate, drizzle the tahini all over, then spoon the ezme on top. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and serve.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism