I didn’t bother growing my own broad beans this year as they have failed miserably in the past. I put this down to the sea air, but it’s more likely due to my lack of bean-growing skills.
I opted instead for mangetout – sugar snaps and Shiraz purple sugar snaps – which seem to produce a better yield in a small garden and are a little easier to grow.
If you’ve had more success than me and have a good crop, and are scratching your head wondering what to do with all your broad beans other than serve them as an accompaniment, then try the falafel recipe beneath. They will be better than any other falafel you’ve ever tasted.
Falafel recipes can vary greatly. Some use chickpeas and others broad beans (also known as fava beans). I really like the broad bean version, as it has a lovely fresh flavour, especially with the herbs in it.
There are a few British producers who make very good feta-style cheese – such as Graceburn by Blackwoods Cheese Company in Kent, and Yorkshire Fettle from Shepherds Purse – which cuts out those unnecessary air miles.
Prep time: 20 minutes, plus chilling time
Cook time: 15 minutes
For the falafel
- 200g fresh broad beans, unshelled (podded weight)
- 1 large garlic clove, grated or crushed
- ⅓ tsp ground coriander
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley
- 1 tbsp chopped dill
- 4 spring onions, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp chopped coriander
- A good pinch of cayenne pepper
- 4-5 tbsp dried white breadcrumbs
- Vegetable or corn oil, for frying
For the dressing
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 4-5 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
- 30-40g fresh peas
- 30-40g broad beans (podded weight)
- 50g mixed small salad leaves and soft herbs such as mint, coriander and dill
- 100-120g feta-style cheese, crumbled into large pieces
- First make the falafel. Put the broad beans in a food processor with the garlic, ground coriander and cumin, and blend to a coarse purée. You will probably have to stop the machine a couple of times to scrape the sides with a spatula in order to get an even-textured mix. You can also add a little water to help the blending if your food processor isn’t behaving.
- Transfer into a bowl and mix in the parsley, dill, spring onions and coriander. Season with salt and cayenne pepper, and mix in two thirds of the breadcrumbs. If you have time, shallow-fry a small amount of the mixture as a tester. If it is a bit wet, add in some more breadcrumbs; you can tweak the seasoning too. Make into 16-20 patties by shaping small handfuls into tight balls in your hands and flattening them slightly. Put them on a tray or plate and refrigerate for a couple of hours.
- Make the dressing by whisking together the lemon juice and oil, and seasoning to taste.
- Heat 8cm of vegetable or corn oil to 160-180C in a deep, heavy-bottomed pan or electric deep-fryer. Fry the falafel, 5-6 at a time depending on the size of the pan or fryer, for 3-4 minutes, until golden. Drain on kitchen paper.
- To serve, cook the peas and broad beans in a pan of gently boiling water for 2-3 minutes, then cool under running water. Remove the skins from the broad beans if they are large. Arrange the leaves, falafel, peas, broad beans and cheese on one large or four individual serving plates, and pour over some dressing.
Piri piri quails
I often wonder how people cook quails at home. I imagine most are cooked for far too long, when a quick and simple roasting or grilling is all they need to bring out their mild, gamey flavour. You can serve these, which have a bit of a warming kick from the Portuguese marinade, with a simple salad or as they would in Portugal, with chips.
Prep time: 15 minutes, plus marinating time
Cook time: 15 minutes
- 4 large red chillies, roughly chopped, seeds and all
- 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 2 oregano sprigs
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon
- ½ tbsp cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
- 8 quails
- First make the marinade. Blend together all of the ingredients except the quails in a liquidiser until smooth.
- Place the quails in a glass or ceramic dish, pour over the marinade and mix well. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for a few hours, or preferably overnight.
- Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas mark 7. Put the quails on to a roasting tray with the marinade (you can line it with foil if you wish, to save on scrubbing afterwards). Roast for 15 minutes, basting a couple of times during cooking, until golden but still a little pink.
- Serve immediately, with finger bowls as your guests are going to have to get their hands dirty picking up the quails.
Gooseberry and elderflower fool
Gooseberry and elderflower is one of those traditional seasonal combinations. It’s strange that gooseberries have been falling out of fashion but at the same time elderflower is coming back, especially at parties as a non-alcoholic drink option. Perhaps it’s the sourness of gooseberries that puts people off. Except for the red dessert gooseberries, they need to be cooked with sugar. Elderflower gives them a complementary summery fragrance.
If, like me, you have harvested elderflowers back in May and June and made a cordial, then great. If not, there are some lovely cordials on the market.
Prep time: 15 minutes, plus chilling time
Cook time: 10 minutes
For the compote
- 200g gooseberries
- 60g caster sugar
For the fool
- 30ml elderflower cordial
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 40g caster sugar
- 250ml double cream
- A handful of red dessert gooseberries, to serve (optional)
- To prepare the compote, cook the gooseberries and sugar together over a low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring every so often until a jam-like consistency is achieved. Leave to cool.
- For the fool, mix the elderflower cordial, lemon juice and sugar together. Add the cream and whip the mixture slowly with an electric whisk or by hand until fairly stiff, but be careful not to over-whip it.
- Fold three quarters of the gooseberry compote into the cream mixture, then chill for 1-2 hours. Serve spooned on to serving plates or in glasses with the remaining compote, dessert gooseberries, if using, and a butter biscuit on top.
Crisp butter biscuits
These are a great way to use up leftover trimmings of puff pastry if, like me, you’ve been saving them in the freezer. Otherwise, just use a block or ready-rolled sheet of pastry.
Prep time: 10 minutes, plus resting time
Cook time: 10 minutes
- 250g ready-made, all-butter puff pastry trimmings
- Plain flour, for dusting
- 150g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
- 1 egg white, to glaze
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- Roll out the pastry as thinly as possible on a work surface dusted with flour and icing sugar. Sprinkle with 75g of icing sugar, fold in half, sprinkle with the remaining 75g, then fold in half again. Roll out with a little more flour and icing sugar and rest in the fridge for an hour.
- Remove from the fridge and roll out the pastry as thinly as possible (you want almost to be able to see through it). Using a knife or suitably shaped cutter, cut the pastry into rough oval shapes or elongated triangles – it’s up to you.
- Carefully transfer the biscuits to a lined baking tray, reshaping a bit once moved if necessary. Brush with egg white, scatter with the caster sugar and leave to rest in the fridge for 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/200C fan/gas mark 4. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden. Dust with icing sugar and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Read last week's column: Mark Hix's recipes for a Turkish-inspired summer feast