Whenever I think of July I think of strawberries. Strawberries with double cream, strawberries with ice cream, strawberries smashed with meringue, or perhaps just as they are, plucked from the stalk and eaten with my fingers. A dinner party in July should always include strawberries and this time I’m letting them mellow with cherries in a boozy Cointreau bath before serving them with a cloud of pillowy thick pistachio cream. It’s a pudding that sounds fancier than it is – it’s really just a combination of good ingredients. A fresh fizzy cocktail to start the evening makes the most of summer basil. For the main course, a big pot of spaghetti cooked with clams and prawns is best served at the table.
I love bubbles with seafood and recently I have been enjoying this Vintage Cuvée from Cornish maker Knightor. Made from a blend of pinot noir and chardonnay grapes, it has an almost buttery, biscuity flavour to it with hints of lemon and apple.
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Basil Elderflower Smash
This is a refreshing summer cocktail perfect for summer entertaining. I love the pairing of basil and elderflower here – I also love vodka but feel free to make this with gin.
Spaghetti With Clams, Prawns, Tarragon & Chilli
There is something joyous about a big pot of spaghetti vongole. The heady smell of chilli and garlic and the sea-saltiness of the clams immediately transports me to the Mediterranean. A classic vongole is always a crowd-pleaser, but for a slightly elevated version I add prawns. Make sure you get prawns still in their shells. Peeling them is somewhat tiresome but the result of a quick boil of the shells, oil and water adds a glorious depth of flavour to this sauce. I love tarragon in this but if you prefer, parsley will do.
Boozy Berries With Pistachio Cream
Pistachio is my go-to gelato flavour. If, like me, you are a pistachio fan, this pudding is a useful one to have up your sleeve. It’s less of a recipe and more of an assembly of ingredients, the key being pistachio paste. You will find this at well-stocked delis or supermarkets. Look for a vibrant green paste made with real pistachios. Then, all that is required is some double cream and fresh fruit. I love to macerate my berries in a splash of booze. Citrusy Cointreau is especially good with strawberries.