Paula McIntyre loves summer dessert and soup

Tall summer berries are now in abundance. If you happen to live near one of the pick-your-own fruit farms, now is the time to visit. Claggan fruit farm outside of Limavady is the closest one to me and is a great place to spend a day.

Fruit toasting has been going on for generations – you’ll find little kids with stained teeth and lips from strawberry tasting to seasoned jam makers stocking up on fruit for the winter.

There is nothing more pleasant than picking perfectly ripe raspberries right on the spot, as soon as they grow. You can buy black and red currants, which are rarely sold in supermarkets. These fruits make me think of a classic dessert, summer pudding.

Although it looks good with sweet fruit in bread, it reminds me of a fruit poultice. It’s much better for me to celebrate with a nice big change. Lemon sponge cake topped with strawberries and redcurrants in blackcurrant puree, topped with a layer of custard and whipped cream. The perfect summer dessert.

Some things are much tastier when you are abroad. Ripe Italian tomatoes simply smeared with peppery olive oil, peaches dipped in sparkling wine and gazpacho.

This cold Spanish soup of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers is all about the ingredients. It is fragrant and cooling, the perfect antidote to the scorching heat.

A variation that’s more affordable here is Ajo Blanco, where toasted almonds are mixed with cucumber, garlic, soaked bread, olive oil, and sherry vinegar. Chill well and traditionally served in a cold bowl or glass, drizzled with a few drops of olive oil and a few grape halves. Here it is served as a puree as a side dish to fried prawns with grilled grapes and a little dill oil.

Creamy nutty pairs perfectly with shellfish. Oiling the grapes and grilling them gives them a nice sweet smoky flavor. Dill really brings it all together. You can substitute mackerel or even crab or lobster in the recipe.

Pour yourself a chilled Manzanilla or Fino sherry for the perfect accompaniment to remind you of hot Spanish evenings…

Fried prawns with ajo blanco, dill oil, bubble grapes

What will you need

400 g shrimp meat

1 tablespoon oil

Salt

Method

Season the shrimp with salt. Brush with oil and place on a hot ribbed pan or barbecue and cook for a couple of minutes, flipping halfway on each side depending on size.

For ajo blanco

100 g blanched almonds

50 g white bread, preferably made from sourdough, without crust, sliced

200 ml ice water

2 garlic cloves

½ cucumber

75 ml olive oil

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

Salt to taste

Roast the almonds in a pan to release the oil. Soak the bread in enough cold water to cover it for 10 minutes. Squeeze the water out of the bread and place in a food processor along with the almonds and grind until dissolved – add some soaking liquid. Peel the cucumber, chop and add to the blender along with the garlic. During processing, add ice water. Add oil and vinegar and blend into a smooth puree. Add salt to taste.

For dill oil

2 tablespoons chopped dill

4 tablespoons olive oil

Salt to taste

Mix.

For bubble grapes

150 g grapes in a bunch

1 tablespoon oil

Sea salt

Dip the grapes in oil and place on the grill. Fry until they bubble up. Cool slightly and remove from stems.

To assemble, place some ajo blanco in a bowl. Place a piece of fish on top, sprinkle with grapes and drizzle with ajo blanco oil.

Summer berry trifle

What will you need

For the lemon biscuit

100 g soft butter

100 g castor sugar

2 eggs

100 g self-rising flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

Zest of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set the oven to 180°C.

Beat butter and sugar until they are pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Add flour, baking powder, lemon and vanilla. When smooth, place on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until the inserted skewer comes out clean. Chill.

For blackcurrant puree

350 g blackcurrant

100 g castor sugar

50 ml water

Lemon juice from above

500 g strawberries, peeled and chopped

100 g red currants + extra for garnish

Cook the blackcurrants, sugar, water, and lemon juice in a saucepan until the blackcurrants are soft. Mix to a smooth puree and rub through a sieve. Cool and add strawberries and red currants.

For custard

3 egg yolks

50 g castor sugar

10 g cornmeal

10 g plain flour

150ml whole milk

100 ml whipped cream

Whisk egg yolks, sugar, flour and cornmeal. Bring the milk and whipped cream to a boil and pour over the egg mixture, beat well and return to the saucepan. Stir constantly over medium heat until thick. Pour into a clean bowl, cover with a sticky surface and, when cool, refrigerate for a couple of hours.

Collect

500 ml double cream, whipped

Cut the sponge into squares and place in the bottom of six separate glass bowls or one large bowl.

Paula McIntyre uses her bread