Getting seduced by an early taste of sunshine food


What on earth is going on outside at the moment? One day it’s lunch in the garden, the next it’s stew by the fire!


Although I’m sure the weather’s set to change again, I’ve started to get in the mood for summer, picking up fresh, light stuff to brighten the kitchen, like shiny red peppers and purple aubergines. And I’m already putting together cold platters of salty cheese, Spanish ham and griddled vegetables dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.


This is simple, pleasure food you can throw together quickly and savour slowly on a balmy summer’s evening – those rare ones we seem to get. But then I guess that’s all part of being British – the picnic eaten under a tree in the rain, barbecues cooked beneath an umbrella.


When it’s good, though, it’s great. Those evenings when the sun takes forever to disappear over the horizon and the smell of charcoal drifts on the still-warm air as the muted sounds of the neighbours enjoying their own al fresco experience float over the fence.


Such great times… So sod the cold, cook some summer food right now, even if you have to eat it indoors!


Artichoke, fontina and parma ham turn-over

Ingredients (Serves 4)


  • 100g fontina or other melting cheese like taleggio
  • 5 or 6 slices of Parma ham
  • a tin of artichokes hearts or a packet of griddled ones
  • 1 packet ready rolled puff pastry
  • a few thyme leaves
  • 1 egg, beaten


Pre-heat oven to 225°C. Lay pastry out on an oiled baking sheet. Drain artichokes and slice into quarters. Drape Parma ham over half the pastry, leaving a border of about a centimetre.


Scatter over artichokes and then slice cheese and spread it out over the top.


Scatter over thyme leaves, season with pepper only and then fold pastry over to form a parcel. It will probably be a bit lopsided. Brush the whole thing with beaten egg and bake in the oven for ten minutes or so until golden.


A green salad dressed with a punchy vinaigrette would make a great addition.

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