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At this time of the year there are always plenty of things happening. Work falls back into a more predictable routine and the kids are back to school.
Summer still tempts us with her hot sticky evenings to sneak out and mow the lawns, get lost in the garden, tinker away on unfinished projects or simply grab a towel and go for a swim.
On days like these, one craves the quick and easy. Something from the garden or fridge that you can knock up and then keep rolling.
Tomato, garlic and broccoflower soup is one-pot cooking at its best, and a fabulous way to keep up with all those heads of broccoli the garden keeps on throwing at you. Melted down, it is utterly delicious.
Twice cooked cheese souffles are crazy good and a quick look at the ingredients listed reveals it is essentially baked cheese sauce. Who doesn't like the sound of that?
The trick is to make them ahead of time, so all you have to do is reheat them when you want. What could be easier?
Trust me, these are legendary for good reason and not just for special occasions.
Lastly, panzanella, for me translates into summer eating at its best. Ripe tomatoes, olives, basil, anchovies, roasted peppers, capers and toasted ciabatta all tossed together with lashings of peppery extra virgin olive oil.
By the time the salmon is placed on top of it, all the flavours have got to know one another really well and become very good friends indeed.
It has to be one of the easiest dishes around and in kitchen speak ``it's the bomb'', because it so delivers.
So enjoy the sun while it lasts and of course, happy eating.
-Chef, restaurateur, author and father of two, Bevan Smith is the owner of the award-winning Riverstone Kitchen, north of Oamaru. His life revolves around food. Sharing that passion is central to his philosophy that all people should and can eat well.
Tomato, garlic and broccoflower soup
½ cup olive oil
1 large head of broccoflower
½ head garlic, peeled and finely sliced
2 400g cans chopped Italian tomatoes
salt and pepper
1 tsp caster sugar
200ml water or chicken stock
ground parmesan, optional
extra virgin olive oil
Place the olive oil in a medium sized saucepan over a low to medium heat.
Finely slice the broccoflower and slowly cook down with the garlic for 20-30 minutes or until very soft and tender. Add the tinned tomatoes, salt, pepper and sugar and continue to cook for a further 5-7 minutes.
Adjust seasoning to taste and thin down with water or stock. Bring back to a simmer and divide between four bowls. Serve with parmesan if using and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Twice cooked cheese souffle with salad of apple and roast hazelnuts
canola oil spray
plain flour for dusting moulds
60g plain flour
450ml full cream milk, warmed
4 free range egg yolks
150g gruyere cheese, grated
2 healthy pinches sea salt
good pinch cayenne pepper
6 egg whites
¾ cup cream
½ cup grated aged cheddar cheese
2 ripe apples, finely sliced or grated
2 cups salad greens
1 spring onion, finely chopped
¼ red onion, finely sliced
½ cup, roasted hazelnuts, skins removed
Juice ½ small lemon
extra virgin olive oil
Heat oven to 180degC. Lightly grease 6 200ml steel ramekin moulds with canola spray or grease with a little extra butter.
Place dusting flour in the first greased mould and turn the mould around so the flour coats the sides. Tip excess flour into the next mould and repeat until all the moulds are greased and lined with a thin coating of flour.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes before slowly adding the warmed milk, stirring well between each addition so the mixture is nice and smooth.
Stir in the egg yolks and cook for a further minute before adding the cheese, salt and cayenne pepper. Continue to stir until the cheese has melted and then remove sauce from the heat and allow to cool.
Whisk the egg whites to a soft peak and gently fold into the cheese sauce. Spoon the souffle mixture into the ramekins and place the ramekins into a baking dish with sides.
Pour a cup of boiling water into the baking dish and bake souffles for 15-20 minutes or until just golden brown around the edges.
Remove from heat and allow to cool before gently turning out on to a baking paper lined tray.
Souffles can be made up to 5 days in advance and stored, once cool, in a refrigerator. When ready to serve place the souffles on a baking dish.
Pour cream over top and sprinkle each souffle with grated cheese. Place in oven for 8 minutes or until the souffle has risen a little and the cheese on top has started to become golden brown.
Remove from oven and with a spatula carefully place a souffle on each plate and spoon over the reduced cream and cheese sauce.
Toss the salad ingredients together to combine and serve on the side.
Seared Mt Cook salmon with Panzanella
40ml olive oil
salt and pepper
4 160g pieces Salmon fillet, skin on
8 slices ciabatta
6 roasted red peppers, roughly chopped
4-6 large ripe tomatoes, cut into 2cm pieces
1 cup basil leaves, picked
½ cup Italian parsley leaves, picked
¼ small red onion, finely sliced
2 Tbsp small capers, rinsed
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 Tbsp good quality red wine vinegar
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. When oil starts to smoke, add salmon fillets and fry, skin-side down, for about 3 minutes.
When salmon is two-thirds cooked, turn and cook for a further minute before removing from the pan and allowing to rest in a warm place.
Meanwhile, lightly toast the ciabatta and cut each piece into 2cm pieces. Place ciabatta into a bowl along with the remaining ingredients and toss together to combine.
Divide panzanella between four plates and top with salmon.
Drizzle with a little more extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately.