The sunflowers have gone mental. It’s a jungle out there – take a look at the contrast between the littlest and largest heads.
I saw whole sunflower heads being sold as bird food this week at an eye-watering price. But there’s no need for such extravagance: I’ve been saving up my heads and once they’ve dried, will string them up to hang in the garden. Next to them on the drying rack are the first ornamental squash – green rather than my preferred orange, though do I enjoy their exuberant striping.
It’s been a good summer for cut-flowers – here’s me with an armful of sunflowers and cosmos.
But I have a feeling that the real bumper crop this year will be raspberries. Our autumn canes are heaving with swelling, ripening fruit. Currently I’m picking three punnets a week but give it a fortnight and, frankly, I will be overwhelmed.
A small punnet of berries is just enough to try out this raspberry vinaigrette, a recipe that I earmarked in the Jamie Magazine a few weeks ago and have only just got around to trying.
Raspberry salad dressing?! Really? Yes! At once sweet, sharp, fresh and warming, this one is a winner.
First, you heat red wine vinegar, water and sugar with the merest pinch of coriander and cumin. The original recipe calls for whole spices, and I am sure this would be better, but I only had ready-ground coriander and so that is what I used.
The hot vinegar is poured onto raspberries and left to sit for an hour. The liquor turns colour from a vague peach to glorious, lurid pink.
Then you whisk in some olive oil, and that’s it! Easy as anything.
Raspberries have a complicated flavour base, at once sweet, sharp and tangy, and as a result they work surprisingly well in savoury dishes. Use this dressing to offset the heat of mustardy salad leaves (mizuna, rocket, mustard) or, once the weather gets a little colder, it would be divine with rare grilled venison or duck, or even smoked meats. Plus it’s pretty, so what’s not to like?
Adapted from recipe by Robbin Holmgren in Jamie Magazine, July 2016
65g raspberries (fresh or defrosted)
15ml red wine vinegar
7g caster sugar
10 whole coriander seeds, or a scant quarter teaspoon ground coriander
5 cumin seeds
25ml olive oil
Toss the raspberries in a small pinch of salt and leave to sit for twenty minutes or so. In a small saucepan, heat the vinegar, sugar, water, coriander and cumin until it comes to the boil. Pour the liquid over the raspberries and leave to macerate for an hour or more. Whisk in the olive oil and decant into a jar. Will keep for about 1 month in the fridge.