There comes a time when autumn asks:
‘What have you been doing all summer?
The goldenrod is yellow
The corn is turning brown
The trees in apple orchards
With fruit are bending down.’ Anonymous
I do have to ask myself, “What have I been doing all summer?” Well I have been working, wrestling with my stock control system, sorting out my recipes and allergens, and tidying it up for the start of the new academic year. With the last throws of summer, how about something light to eat as the dieting begins? Look for some very under-used grey mullet, which is in season, and cook it simply with a little lemon and the aniseed flavours of fennel. Still barbecuing? How about a hot sandwich of halloumi and aubergine with an African-inspired relish.
Roasted Grey Mullet with Fennel and Lemon
4 500g grey mullet
4 fennel bulbs
4 tsp fennel seeds
Splash of olive oil
1. Heat the oven to 220°C. Scale the fish by scraping them off using the back of a cook’s knife, from tail to head. Make some diagonal cuts on each side of the fish. Slice the fennel as thinly as possible; use a mandolin if you have one or, if not, a sharp knife.
2. Put some of the green fennel fronds into the cavity of the fish, along with a couple of slices of lemon. Season the fish inside and out with salt and pepper.
3. Put the sliced fennel onto a roasting tin and season with salt, pepper and the fennel seeds then dot with butter.
4. Put the fish on top, give it all a splash of oil and dot a little butter on the fish, add about 200ml of water to the tray and roast in the oven for 20–30 minutes until the fish lifts easily from the bone when tested with a small knife.
5. Sprinkle with chopped chives and serve with the new potatoes, green salad and lemon.
Halloumi Aubergine Ciabatta with Harissa Relish
2½ tbsp olive oil
2 onions, very finely sliced
½ aubergine, cut into 8 round slices
250g halloumi, cut into 8 slices
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 red pepper roasted and chopped
2 tsp harissa
4 ciabatta rolls, halved and lightly toasted
4 tbsp hummus mixe
4 slices beetroot cooked
1. Sweat the onions in a little oil. Meanwhile, fry the aubergine for a few minutes on each side until tender. Set aside. In the remaining oil, fry the halloumi until golden.
2. Add the brown sugar, pepper and harissa to the onions. Cook for 1 minute until the sugar has melted to make the relish.
3. While it’s cooking, spread the rolls with hummus, laying halloumi, beetroot and aubergine slices on top. Spoon the sticky, spicy relish over and serve.