Mark Hix's best ever summer recipes, part 1

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Pan-fried squid, tomato and coriander salad

Serves 4

Depending on what's native to your coastline you can find sea beet and sea purslane year round, rock samphire now and marsh samphire in a few weeks' time.

12 medium scallops, shucked, cleaned and cupped, shell reserved
A selection of seashore vegetables like samphire, sea beet, rock samphire, sea purslane, sea kale, woody stalks removed, trimmed and washed
A good knob of butter

For the scallop roe butter

The orange roes from the scallops
2 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
Half a glass of white wine
Juice of half a lemon
150g cold unsalted butter, diced

First, make the scallop roe butter: remove the orange roes from the scallops. Simmer the shallots in the white wine and the same amount of water for a couple of minutes until it has reduced by two-thirds. Add the scallop roes, remove from the heat and blend in a liquidiser until smooth. Return to a pan on a low heat and whisk in the butter to form a smooth sauce. Season, add lemon juice to taste and keep in a warm place covered in clingfilm.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and quickly blanch the sea vegetables separately until just tender; drain and keep warm. Season the scallops, melt a little butter in a frying pan until foaming and quickly cook the scallops for 30 seconds on each side. To serve, arrange the sea vegetables in the warmed scallop shells, place the scallops back in the shell with some of the smaller sea vegetables, like samphire and purslane, and spoon the roe butter around.

Byessar with crispy lamb

Serves 4

This is the North African broad bean version of hummus. You could also add a broad bean relish made with a mixture of chopped tomato flesh, cooked broad beans, shallots, olive oil and coriander.

A piece of boneless breast of lamb (or you could use another lean cut) weighing about 400g
Vegetable or corn oil to serve
120-150ml olive oil
1tsp ground cumin
1 small green chilli
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
350g podded weight of broad beans (fresh or frozen)
Flat breads, to serve
Paprika or chilli powder, to serve

Put the breast of lamb into a pan, cover with lightly salted water, bring to the boil and simmer for 1-2 hours until the meat is tender; remove from the water and leave to cool.

Gently cook the cumin, chilli and garlic in a couple of tablespoons of the olive oil for a minute then add the broad beans. Cover with water, add a couple of teaspoons of salt, bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 minutes or until tender.

Spoon the beans out into a blender with enough of the liquid to help the blending process. Liquidise until smooth, trickling in the remainder of the oil, then season to taste. It's best to serve at room temperature, so avoid refrigerating it if possible.

Heat about 2cm of the corn oil in a deep frying pan, shred the lamb into small pieces, then fry until crisp, turning with a slotted spoon every so often. Transfer on to some kitchen paper. To serve, spoon the broad bean purée on to serving plates, scatter the lamb on top and dust with paprika; spoon over the broad bean relish if using. Serve with warm flatbread.

Pea and lovage soup

Serves 4

Pea and lovage is a very special combination for a seasonal soup. Apart from growing it yourself, you can buy lovage from garden centres or order it in advance from a good greengrocer.

1 leek, roughly chopped and washed
A good knob of butter
1.2 litres vegetable stock
450g (shelled weight) peas, fresh or frozen
8-10 sprigs of lovage
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Gently cook the leek in the butter for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally until soft. Add the stock, season and simmer gently for 10-12 minutes. Add the peas and simmer for another 10 minutes or until the peas are tender (only a couple of minutes for frozen). Add the lovage, remove from the heat and blend in a liquidiser until smooth. Taste the soup and blend in more lovage to taste if necessary and strain through a sieve if you wish; some liquidisers do a better job than others. Serve hot or cold with a blob of crème fraîche or yoghurt if you want.

Gazpacho with cucumber sorbet

Serves 4

This is a particularly special gazpacho, and the sorbet can be made a day or two in advance.

For the gazpacho

200ml tomato juice
4 large ripe plum or round tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 red peppers, halved, seeded, stalks removed and roughly chopped
Half a small onion, peeled and roughly chopped
Half a cucumber
1 small clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
1tbsp white wine vinegar
1tsp cumin seeds
A good pinch of sweet paprika
1 slice of white bread, crusts removed
40ml olive oil
Salt and freshly ground white pepper

For the cucumber sorbet

100ml olive oil
1tbsp caster sugar
350ml vegetable stock
12 small Greek cucumbers, or 3 normal ones
15g mint leaves
Salt and pepper

No more than a couple of days before you want to eat the soup, make the sorbet. Split the cucumbers lengthways and scrape out the seeds with a spoon, then roughly chop the flesh.

Blend the cucumber with the vegetable stock, olive oil, sugar and the mint leaves until it's the consistency you like – chunky or smooth. Season to taste and churn in an ice-cream machine. Leave in the freezer until you're ready to eat.

The day before you'll be eating, put all the ingredients for the soup into a bowl, cover with clingfilm; leave in the fridge to help merge the flavours. Liquidise in a blender until smooth and strain through a fine-meshed sieve for a smooth version, or leave as it is for a more robust soup. Chill for an hour.

The soup can be served with hot croutons as well as the cucumber sorbet. Fry 1cm cubes of white bread in olive oil until they begin to colour, then add a clove of peeled and crushed garlic and continue frying until golden. Transfer to kitchen paper and season if required. Serve the gazpacho in chilled soup bowls with a scoop of sorbet in the middle and, if you've made them, the warm croutons scattered on top.

Padron peppers and chorizo

Serves 4-6

These mini cooking chorizos make the perfect party snack either on their own on sticks or, as I've done here, using the spicy oil that's produced during cooking to sauté these special little green peppers in. Beware: approximately one in every 10 padron peppers is very hot indeed!

18-20 mini cooking chorizo
150g padron peppers

Heat a frying pan on a medium heat and cook the sausage for about 5-6 minutes, stirring every so often, so that they colour evenly. Remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the red oil in the pan and put them to one side. Turn the heat up and cook the peppers on a high heat in the oil for a couple of minutes, turning them with a slotted spoon every so often. Mix the chorizo with the peppers and serve.

Fried chilli prawns with pea shoots

Serves 4

Pea shoots are one of the most flavoursome greens used in Chinese cooking. You can often find them in Asian supermarkets in among the pak choi and choi sum. They don't go a long way, so be careful when you're cooking them.

20 large fresh prawns
2 red chillies, thinly sliced
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
3tbsp sesame oil
1tbsp oyster sauce
8 spring onions, trimmed and sliced thinly on the bias
300g pea shoots

With a sharp knife, cut the prawns through the back and head but not all the way through so that they are butterflied. Lay them on a tray and scatter with the chilli and garlic and season.

You will need two large pans for the prawns or, alternatively, you could use a griddle plate. Heat the pans with half of the sesame oil until it's almost smoking and fry the prawns, flesh-side down, for a minute or so on each side, then add the oyster sauce and a tablespoon of water, stir well, remove and keep warm.

Wipe the pan – or pans – clean and return to a medium heat. Add the rest of the sesame oil and then add the pea shoots and spring onions, season to taste and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring every so often, adding a little water if they seem to be colouring and drying out. Transfer to a serving dish and lay the prawns on top.

Summer bean, ham hock and gherkin salad

Serves 4

I once tasted something similar to this at Chez Georges in Paris and it inspired me to make my own variation. Chez Georges used salted ox cheek, but I've used ham hock which is cheaper and easier to find. You can buy great smoked ham hocks from some smokehouses (like Richardson's in Orford, Suffolk), but it doesn't have to be smoked. Or if you like, you could use salt brisket, silverside or salted ox cheeks. Any summer beans will do, but runner beans are particularly British, I always think, and gardeners often find themselves with a glut of them. This vibrantly green, grown-up salad is an unusual way of using them up.

1kg ham hock, soaked overnight in water (250-300g if you're using salt brisket or silverside)
100g green beans
80g broad beans (podded weight)
150g runner beans, shredded on the angle
3 large gherkins, shredded
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the vinaigrette

1tbsp tarragon vinegar
2tsp Dijon mustard
1 clove of garlic, peeled
2tbsp olive oil
3tbsp vegetable or corn oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Wash off the ham hock under running cold water then put it into a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2-2 hours until tender, then leave to cool in the liquid. Cook the beans separately in boiling salted water until tender, then drain and refresh under cold water.

To make the vinaigrette, put all the ingredients into a clean bottle or jar. Give them a good shake and leave to infuse for as long as possible at room temperature. Shred the ham or cut into chunks, mix with the beans and gherkins and toss the salad with the vinaigrette.

Grilled courgettes with scamorza

Serves 4

Good-quality scamorza cow's milk cheese – or mozzarella or burrata – is the key to this dish; so ensure that you buy the best, especially if you go for mozzarella, as there are a lot of rogue imitations out there on the shelves. Scamorza is sometimes sold smoked, but buy it fresh if you can.

4 large or 6 small courgettes, with or without flowers
Olive oil for brushing
200-250g scarmorza, mozzarella or burrata, at room temperature
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the dressing

The juice of half a lemon
4-5tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Cut the courgettes lengthways into rough cm-thick slices. Preheat a barbecue or ribbed griddle pan. Season and brush the courgettes with olive oil and cook the courgettes for 2-3 minutes on each side.

To serve, arrange the courgettes on a serving dish and spoon over the dressing, then tear the scamorza into pieces over the courgettes and tear the flowers over if you are using them.

Steak, watercress and shallot salad

Serves 2

I love eating main course salads during the summer – they are light enough for a late supper, and you can almost invent a new one every night. Use whatever steak you like, from a tasty, cheap bavette to a more expensive fillet.

1 steak weighing 250-300g or larger if you wish
100-150g watercress, trimmed, thick stalks removed
5-6 shallots, cut into thin rings
Flour for dusting
100ml milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the dressing

1tbsp good-quality red wine vinegar
3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1tsp Dijon mustard

Preheat about 8cm of oil to 160-180C in a large thick-bottomed saucepan or deep fat fryer.

Put the shallot rings into the flour, shaking off any excess, then through the milk and then through the flour again, shaking off excess. Fry them a handful at a time for 3-4 minutes until crisp, then remove with a slotted spoon and drain on some kitchen paper. You don't need to worry about keeping these hot.

Heat a ribbed griddle pan or a heavy-bottomed frying pan, or better still a barbecue. Season the steak well and cook to your liking. For me, it has to be rare, especially in a salad.

Make the dressing by mixing all the ingredients together and seasoning. Dress the watercress and arrange on serving plates. Slice the steak and arrange on the watercress; scatter the shallots on top.

Lotus stem salad with crispy pork and prawns

Serves 4

This is one of those delicious salads that relies on good ingredients; try Waitrose fresh Red Sea prawns and make sure you buy pork belly with a good provenance. You could adapt this if you wanted by adding squid, chicken or a mixture. You are likely to find lotus stems in Asian supermarkets, preserved in brine, or alternatively you could use white radish. If you can find the long Malaysian prawn crackers, all the better, or if not try to find the prawn crackers that have the highest percentage of seafood in them.

A piece of pork belly weighing about 500g
8–12 prawns, preferably fresh and lightly cooked in salted water for about a minute then drained
100g lotus stems, rinsed
1 small carrot, peeled and cut into matchstick shapes
¼ cucumber, halved lengthways, seeds scooped out and the flesh and skin cut into matchstick shapes
1 red chilli, very thinly sliced
A handful of herbs such as fragrant basil, coriander, mint, sawtooth coriander, Chinese parsley, etc, washed and dried
Prawn crackers (see above), cooked

For the nuoc cham (dressing)

2tbsp fish sauce
8tbsp water
1tbsp sugar
Juice of 2 limes

Preheat the oven to 175C/gas mark 4. Score the skin of the pork belly with a very sharp knife in 1cm intervals, just through the rind. Lay the pork skin-side down in about 1cm of water in a tray or pan on the stove top and simmer for 2-3 minutes, then remove and place in a roasting pan, skin side up.

Season with sea salt and pepper and cook for about 2 hours, basting regularly, then turn the oven up to 220C/gas mark 7 and continue cooking for 30 minutes, or until the skin is crisp.

Peel the prawns and save the heads and shells for a soup or sauce. Cut them in half, lengthways, and put them to one side. Make the nuoc cham dressing by mixing all of the ingredients together. The quantities depend on the quality of the fish sauce; if it's good, use less sugar. I would suggest adding sugar to taste. Nuoc cham must taste not too sweet and not too fishy; the anchovy-like aroma must be barely detectable.

To assemble the salad, remove the crispy rind from the pork and break into strips. Slice the meat thinly and toss with all of the other ingredients and arrange on plates with the crispy pork rind on top. You can pile the salad on to the crackers or serve the crackers alongside the salad.

Stuffed aubergines with feta and mint salad

Serves 4

Lamb and aubergines make perfect partners, and this makes a great summer main course. You can even have the aubergines already cooked and finish them on the barbecue, and have the salads ready assembled on plates in advance for your guests.

2 large fat aubergines

For the stuffing

250g minced lamb
4 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
3tsp ground cumin
2tbsp chopped coriander
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad

60g pea shoots or other small salad leaves
A handful of mint leaves
120g good quality feta, cut into rough 1cm chunks
3 firm tomatoes, skinned, seeded and roughly chopped
3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 small lemon

Cut the aubergines into four 4cm-thick rounds (you may have a little aubergine left). With the point of a sharp knife make a 2-3cm long slit through the skin of each aubergine, slice and work the point of the knife into the flesh, almost to the edge of the skin at the opposite side, but taking care not to pierce it. The idea is to make a pocket as large as you can.

Mix all the ingredients for the stuffing together and season. Push as much stuffing as possible into the pockets with your fingers, again being careful not to break the slices. Don't worry if the stuffing bulges out a little. It's hard to gauge exactly how much stuffing you need, and you may find you have a little stuffing left over.

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Heat a roasting tray in the oven with a little olive oil, season the aubergines and place in the roasting tray.

Roast for about 10-15 minutes on each side, or until the aubergines are soft.

Meanwhile, arrange the pea shoots or salad leaves, mint leaves and feta around the edge of a plate and scatter the tomatoes over.

Mix the olive oil and lemon juice and season before spooning over the leaves. Place the aubergine in the centre and serve.

Squid with roasted peppers

Serves 4-6

Squid is perfect for slapping on the grill in the summer – it lends itself to all kinds of Mediterranean and Asian flavours.

1-1.5kg fresh medium to large squid, cleaned and tentacles reserved
A few sprigs of thyme, chopped
4 thick-fleshed red peppers
5-6tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1tbsp balsamic vinegar
2tbsp capers

Heat your barbecue. Cut the squid in half, season and marinate with a little of the olive oil and thyme. Quarter the peppers lengthways and remove the seeds. In advance, grill the peppers on the cooler part of the barbecue for 5-6 minutes on each side until they soften.

Remove the peppers and cut each piece in half, then put them into a saucepan, add the capers and the rest of the oil and season. Cover the pan and sit it on the edge of the barbie to keep warm.

When you're ready to eat, grill the squid for a couple of minutes on each side, then remove and cut into 2-3cm pieces and mix with the peppers; drizzle the balsamic over. You can serve this hot or at room temperature with some salad leaves.

Rare roast beef fillet with horseradish potatoes and runner beans

Serves 4

500-600g good-quality beef fillet, or rib eye
1tbsp vegetable oil
Sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper
400-450g new potatoes like Juliette, Jerseys or Anya, cooked in their skins, peeled and kept warm
150-200g young runner beans, cut on the angle
2tbsp chopped chives

For the dressing

2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
3tbsp freshly grated horseradish
2tbsp good-quality white wine vinegar
6tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 230C/gas mark 8. Season the fillet well with the sea salt and pepper. Put the shallots in a pan with the horseradish, vinegar and 2 tablespoons of water, bring to the boil, simmer for 30 seconds and remove from the heat. Whisk in the olive oil and season.

Heat the vegetable oil in a roasting tray or large metal-handled frying pan on the stove until almost smoking. Brown the beef well on all sides then cook in the oven for 10-12 minutes for rare and another 10 minutes for medium. These times are approximate, depending on the thickness of the beef fillet. Leave the beef to rest for 10 minutes. Cook the runner beans in boiling salted water for 3-4 minutes until just tender, then drain. Slice the potatoes while they are still warm, then mix with the beans, chives and dressing and season.

To serve, cut the beef into 8 slices or 4 thick slices; arrange the beans and potatoes on serving plates with the beef on top.

Pan-fried mackerel with salsa

Serves 4

Ask your fishmonger to butterfly the mackerel for you for this dish, or remove the heads and split them either side of the back bone and remove the bones.

4 medium or 8 small mackerel, heads off
2tbsp plain flour
2tsp ground cumin
1tsp ground paprika
2tsp flaky sea salt
2tsp coarsely ground black pepper
2tbsp vegetable or corn oil

For the salsa

4 spring onions, finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
4 firm red tomatoes, finely chopped
1tbsp cider or white wine vinegar
2tbsp olive oil
1tbsp chopped coriander
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

First make the salsa by mixing all of the ingredients together and seasoning to taste, then leave to stand for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix the flour with the cumin, paprika, salt and pepper then coat the mackerel on both sides, patting off any excess with your hands. Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the mackerel, skin-side down first, on a high heat for about 2-3 minutes on each side, making sure the skin is nice and crisp. Serve on warmed plates with the salsa spooned around.

Poached sea trout with wild fennel hollandaise

Serves 4-6

The aniseed flavour of wild fennel is the perfect accompaniment to fish; if you can't find any, then just use normal fennel.

1x2kg whole sea trout, gutted and scaled

For the court bouillon

1 small onion, peeled and roughly chopped
10 peppercorns
1tsp fennel seeds
1 bay leaf
A few sprigs of thyme
100ml white wine
1tbsp sea salt

For the hollandaise

40ml white wine vinegar
40ml water
1 small shallot, chopped
5 peppercorns
Thick stalks from the fennel or 1tsp fennel seeds
3 small egg yolks
200g unsalted butter
1tbsp chopped wild fennel

First make the sauce: put the vinegar, water, shallot, peppercorns and fennel stalks in a saucepan and reduce the liquid by boiling for a few minutes until there is no more than a dessertspoonful. Strain through a sieve and leave to cool.

Melt the butter; simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, leave to cool a little, then pour off the pure butter where it has separated from the milk solids – discard the milk solids. This helps to keep the sauce thick. Put the egg yolks into a small bowl with half of the vinegar reduction and whisk over a pan of gently simmering water until the mixture begins to thicken and become frothy. Trickle in the butter, whisking continuously. If the butter is added too quickly the sauce will separate.

When you have added two-thirds of the butter, taste the sauce and add a little more, or all, of the remaining vinegar reduction. Then add the rest of the butter. The sauce should not be too vinegary, but the vinegar should just cut the oiliness of the butter. Season, stir in the chopped wild fennel, cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place. It can be reheated over a bowl of hot water and whisked again.

Put all of the ingredients for the court bouillon in a fish kettle or large saucepan (it needs to be big enough to put the fish in); alternatively, you may want to cut the fish in half. Add about 2 litres of water, or enough to cover the fish, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Place the sea trout in the court bouillon and simmer for 6-7 minutes and turn off the heat; leave in the court bouillon for another 6-7 minutes, checking that the fish stays slightly pink.

Remove the fish from the court bouillon and transfer to a warmed serving dish. Serve with the hollandaise.

Tomato, red pepper and feta tart

Serves 4

250g puff pastry, rolled to one-third of a cm
1 egg yolk
5 ripe tomatoes
6 thick-skinned red peppers
140g sunblush or semi-dried tomatoes, drained and coarsely blended in a food processor
12-14 black olives stoned
200g good-quality feta
2-3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
A few sprigs of bush basil or ordinary basil

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Cut the pastry into a circle about 25-30cms diameter or into a rectangular shape and place on a baking tray. Score a line with the tip of a knife about 1cm from the edge all the way round and prick the inner pastry all over with a fork. Cut a piece of cardboard the same size as the interior pastry, wrap it in foil and place it on the pastry, leaving the pastry's edge exposed. Brush the edge with the egg yolk; bake for 12-15 minutes until the edge is golden.

Meanwhile, quarter the peppers, remove the seeds and place on a baking tray with the skin side up. Place under a hot grill for 8-10 minutes or until the skins are black, then place in a bowl and cover with clingfilm; this allows the skins to be removed easily. Bring a pan of water to the boil large enough for the tomatoes. Cut a criss-cross on the top of each tomato and remove the eye with the point of a knife. Have a bowl of cold water ready; plunge the tomatoes in the boiling water for 10-12 seconds, then remove with a slotted spoon and plunge into the cold water. The skin should easily peel away now; if not, then give them a few more seconds in the boiling water. Quarter the tomatoes and squeeze out the seeds. Remove the skin from the peppers and cut each piece in half. Remove the cardboard and spread the sun-dried tomato paste over the centre of the pastry. Arrange the tomatoes and peppers up to the edge of the tart; scatter the olives over. Season; drizzle with olive oil. Bake the tart for 8-10 minutes, then remove from the oven and place nuggets of the feta on the tart and drizzle with more olive oil. Scatter with the basil.

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