Nigel Slater’s recipes for artichokes with olive oil, potatoes and elderflower cherries | Food

l I love these midsummer days in the kitchen. Cooking suddenly feels easier and more relaxed; lunches are often longer, dinner less urgent. I make food that can be eaten warm or warm to suit the slower pace of life. No one will demand that you come to the table “now”.

The bowls of tinned artichokes at the deli are wonderful to have in the fridge. (You can make your own artichokes if you have artichokes in the yard and can fiddle with them all day.) In our house, they can be dipped in tempura batter and then dipped in deep, bubbling oil or else brown on the grill; they are sometimes pureed with lemon and shredded basil leaves to give an effortless pasta sauce, or pureed to spread on crispy, thick toast. This week I grilled and ate some from the deli with waxy potatoes fried in oil and a tiny bit of garlic.

I’m making the most of our short cherry season. One week in a crumbled pie, the next cooked with elderflower syrup and anise. This was offered to everyone with freshly baked orange shortbread – small sugar-filled biscuits to dip in the burgundy cherry juice.

This is a meal that you can eat at your leisure, just as nice cool as straight out of the oven. A lunch made for those lazy summer days, a calm and tender moment for the scorching heat of late summer.

Artichokes With Olive Oil Potatoes

I use yellow waxy potatoes for this, but any small potato is fine. Keeping the skin on, cut the potatoes into coins that will soak up the olive oil and spices. If you don’t have fennel leaves, use whole sprigs of thyme. Serves 3-4

potatoes 750 g, small and waxy
olive oil 6 tablespoons
fennel 10g, stems and leaves
garlic 1 large cloves
lemon 1
preserved artichokes 250g

Preheat oven to 200/gas mark 6. Wash the potatoes, cut into 1 pound coin circles and place in a mixing bowl. Pour in the olive oil and season with salt and black pepper.

Cut the stems off the fennel and place them in the bowl along with the leaves. Peel and crush the garlic clove, add to the potatoes and mix well. I find this easier with my hands, but a spoon is enough. Place everything in a roasting pan or shallow baking dish.

Cut the lemon into thin slices and place between the potatoes. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the potatoes are golden brown and soft enough to pierce effortlessly with a skewer.

Heat a grill pan or grill pan. Drain the artichokes from their oil. If they are whole, cut them in half. Place the artichokes cut-side down on the baking sheet and let them heat through and brown on the cut edges. It will help if you press firmly on each of them.

Place the artichokes on the potatoes and put them on the table.

Elderflower cherries with orange shortbread

The icing on the cake: elderflower cherries with orange shortbread.
The icing on the cake: elderflower cherries with orange shortbread. Photo: Jonathan Lovekin/The Observer

I like to dip my shortbread in the cherry syrup while I eat. Serves 4

cherries 350g
Orange 1
star anise 3, whole
granulated sugar 125g
Elderflower Syrup 125ml
water 125ml

Pull the stems off the cherries. Place the fruit in a stainless steel pan. Using a vegetable peeler, cut a few thin strips of zest from the orange, trim off any white skin and drop the zest into the pan. Add the star anise, then the sugar, the elderflower syrup and the water and bring to the boil. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the cherries and simmer for 8-10 minutes until the fruit is soft.

Remove the cherries from the pan with a spoon and set them aside in a bowl, turn up the heat and let the cooking juices boil for 4-5 minutes until they have thickened into a syrup. Pour over the cherries and set aside. The fruit can be kept for a few days, cooled and in a storage jar.

Orange shortbread

Makes about 30 small cookies

butter 180 g, softened
powdered sugar 180g
flour 340g
cornstarch 80g
baking powder 2 level teaspoon
egg yolk 1, large
orange peel 2 tsp finely grated
orange juice 1-2 tablespoons

caster sugar roll

Line a baking sheet with parchment. Set the oven to 160C/gas mark 3.

Place the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until smooth with a wooden spoon, or alternatively in a food processor with a flat beater, if you prefer.

Mix the flour, cornstarch and baking powder together. Stir the egg yolk into the butter and sugar, then mix in the flour, orange zest and juice. Work carefully and be careful not to mix too much.

Remove the dough from the bowl and knead lightly on a floured board. Do this short, because if you work too long, the cookies will become tough. You just want a smooth dough. Break off pieces of about 18-20 grams and roll them into balls.

Put a little caster sugar in a small bowl and roll each ball in the sugar and place on the parchment-lined baking sheet so they have a little room to spread out.

Bake the shortbread for 10 minutes and then remove from the oven. They will be barely colored and will be very fragile. Let them cool for 5 minutes, then lift them off the baking sheet with a palette knife and roll them in more of the caster sugar. Offer them with the cherries.

The shortbread will keep for a few days in a tin, but are best eaten the day they are baked.

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