Yesterday was our tournament finals day at Eardisley tennis club. Tragically, Mary and I failed to retain our mixed doubles title. But it was a perfect sunny autumn day and a lot of good food was brought including some seriously good Chelsea buns from Norma – so I’m not complaining. A day of tennis and food on a beautiful day comes high on my list of good things.
I brought along a sort of English Greek salad and some very American chocolate chip cookies. A kind of yin and yang on the perceived healthiness continuum.
An English Greek salad
At home we’ve been eating something similar to this perfect simple salad regularly since the start of two delightfully overlapping seasonal deliciousities: Gardeners’ Delight tomatoes and runner beans. You can also add cucumbers and olives and substitute fresh oregano for basil.
500g runner beans, topped, tailed and finely sliced. The fineness of the slicing is important to get a good final texture without overcooking
350g Gardeners’ Delight tomatoes, halved (other well flavoured tomatoes can be substituted but this isn’t a salad worth making with poor quality tomatoes)
60ml olive oil
200g crumbled feta cheese
20-30 basil leaves, finely chopped
Add the beans to a large pan of boiling water. Once the water has come back to the boil continue boiling for no more than 2 minutes until the beans are just tender. Drain at once. If you’re going to eat the salad straight away then don’t bother to refresh them (it’s quite nice having slightly warm beans in the salad). But if you’re making it to eat later then plunge the beans into cold water for a couple of minutes and drain thoroughly.
Mix the cooked and drained runner beans with everything else. No need to season as the feta provides plenty of salt.
Chocolate chip cookies
At my Hereford and Cambridge cafes we always want to offer more cakes, tarts, buns and biscuits than there is room for on the menu. But one day we will start selling chocolate chip cookies and when we do it will be to this recipe. There is a recipe for chocolate chip cookies in my first cookbook but my taste has evolved over time. This recipe, based on one from convicted insider-dealer Martha Stewart, is just as buttery and chocolatey as my earlier recipe but a touch less sweet and all the better for that. I’m always suspicious when recipes are described as ‘quick and easy’ but this is genuinely quick, easy and exceptionally delicious.
makes 30 cookies
250g softened butter
300g light muscovado sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten together
1 tsp vanilla essence
325g plain white flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt (less if you’re using salted butter)
350g good quality dark chocolate chips
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C (using a fan oven)
- Butter and line with baking parchment two very large (or several smaller) baking sheets
- Cream the butter and sugar in a food processor until pale brown and fluffy.
- Add half the egg and the vanilla essence. Whizz until incorporated and then repeat with the other half of the egg.
- Add the flour, salt and baking powder and mix for as a short a period as necessary to mix it all properly together.
- Add the chocolate chips and pulse briefly to distribute them through the mixture.
- Using two desertspoons put blobs of the mixture on to the baking sheets. Each blob should weigh about 40g to make an even batch that Paul Hollywood might approve of but no harm will be done by creating a variety of sizes. You need to leave big gaps around each blob as the cookies will expand as they bake.
- Bake at 180C for 10-14 minutes until brown at the edges.
- Remove from the oven and leave the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for a couple of minutes and then transfer to cook fully on a wire rack. When completely cool, store them in an airtight jar. But they’re best eaten within a day or two of baking.