My favourite summer dish: Simple roast lobster with fresh aïoli
Sir Terence Conran, restaurateur extraordinaire, spends as much of the summer as possible in Sicily with his extended family, which includes his brother-in-law Antonio Carluccio.
Roast lobster with aioli
For the lobster:
1 x 500g live Dorset or Scottish lobster
a drizzle of good olive oil
a glug of white wine
a teaspoon of very mild fresh thyme, optional
a lemon, to serve
For the aïoli:
2 or 3 cloves of garlic, peeled with any green bits removed
a squeeze of lemon juice
scant tsp Dijon mustard
2 egg yolks
approx 8 tsp very good olive oil
Purists tend to make aïoli in a pestle and mortar - this is up to you. Bash the garlic up with the lemon juice and mustard - remember you don't want to actually taste the mustard, so don't overdo it. Whisk in the egg yolks gently but thoroughly.
Start adding the oil very slowly and whisking as you go - be careful as aïoli is very prone to misbehaviour. If it seems too thick, add some more oil very gradually. If the mix separates then whisk up another yolk with some lemon juice in another bowl and add the split mixture to it, whisking as you pour. If all else fails, add a splash of boiling water and whisk again.
Preheat the oven to 220C/gas 7. Don't try to cook a lobster that is much over 500g as they tend to be tough, as do the Canadian varieties. Split the lobster briskly straight through the head and body with a knife so as to minimise needless suffering. Remove the stomach sac from the head and any gritty bits you can see. Cut off the legs and crack the shells slightly with the handle of the knife. Place the legs in a roasting pan, and the body on top, cut-flesh-side up. Drizzle over a splash of olive oil, season and add the wine. If you wish, sprinkle on a tiny bit of thyme but this is very much optional and if it's at all strong don't use any. Cover the pan and blast in the oven for 8 or 9 minutes. Once cooked, lift the lobster out of the pan carefully, and deftly slide the whole thing on a plate. Scoop up the pan juices and pour on top, with lemon juice to taste. Serve with the aïoli and a green salad perhaps, or some chips.
· Recipe by Jeremy Lee, head chef at the Blueprint Cafe
My favourite summer dishes: Chilled melon soup
It took an Italian to show us Brits how to make a restaurant chain stylish and its menu simple and delicious. Take a bow, Antonio Carluccio of Carluccio's Caffès ...
Zuppa di melone e prosciutto (melon and parma ham soup)
This used to be a bestseller in my Neal Street restaurant. It's a wonderful way to enjoy parma ham and melon. It adds another dimension to summer eating. The blend of a little orange and lemon juice gives it a special spiciness.
1 x 1.5 kg very ripe cantaloupe or charentais melon (orange flesh is essential)
juice of 1 orange
juice of 1⁄4 lemon
1⁄2 tsp sea salt
1⁄2 tsp coarsely ground pink peppercorns
sugar to taste
4 large slices parma ham, cut into thin ribbons
Peel and liquidise the melon to a coarse purée. Stir in the orange and lemon juices. Season with salt and pink pepper and add sugar to taste (this should not be necessary if the melon is ripe and flavoursome). Mix in one quarter of the ham and divide the soup between four bowls. Sprinkle the remaining ham onto the soup and serve with a final twist of the pepper grinder on top.
My favourite summer dishes: A fruity oatmeal dessert
Mark Hix's number is on the A-list's speed dial. As chef-director of the Ivy, Caprice, J Sheekey - and, most recently, Scott's - he oversees the kitchens of London's most fashionable restaurants. He has a passion for British food - Hix has written several books on the subject - and was a hit on BBC's Great British Menu.
Cranachan with raspberries
This dessert is dead simple to make and it's full of flavour. You can use any soft fruit really, but raspberries - because of their size and sweetness - are perfect. I did try using Drambuie instead of whisky since I had some lying around, and it worked pretty well. I've used this recipe occasionally as a breakfast dish and replaced some of the cream with yoghurt.
60g medium oatmeal
600ml double cream
4tbs runny honey
4tbs malt whisky
Scatter the oatmeal on a baking tray and toast in a low oven or under a medium grill until golden. Watch it closely or it may burn.
Blend 50g of the raspberries in a liquidiser until smooth. Whip the double cream until stiff, then stir in the honey and whisky and mix well but do not over-whip. Fold in 50g of the oatmeal, then carefully fold in the raspberry purée to form a rippled effect. Spoon the mixture into individual glasses or a serving dish, then scatter the rest of the raspberries and oatmeal on top.
My favourite summer dishes: A classic Italian salad
Angela Hartnett is Britain's best female chef. Having worked in many of Gordon Ramsay's restaurants worldwide - she trained alongside the great man - she now runs the GR kitchen at the Connaught hotel in London and is about to launch her TV-chef career.
Tomato, mozzarella and basil salad
While this classic Italian salad appears on menus everywhere, very few places make it well - often because they use cheap, rubbery mozzarella and watery, chilled tomatoes. The quality of the tomatoes in the UK is often pretty poor, so at the Connaught we roast the tomatoes in order to concentrate the flavour.
8 ripe plum tomatoes
8 ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tbs olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbs sugar
leaves from 6 sprigs thyme
1 garlic clove, sliced
2 x 125g balls buffalo mozzarella, sliced
1 bunch fresh basil, ideally with small leaves
To prepare the plum tomatoes, make a little incision with a sharp knife in the top of each one. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and blanch the tomatoes in it for 10 seconds.
Drain and plunge immediately into a bowl of iced water - this will make the skins easier to remove. Peel and cut in half lengthways. Remove all the seeds with a teaspoon. Preheat the oven to 120C/gas 1⁄2.
Prepare a roasting tin just big enough to hold all the tomatoes: drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil inside, then sprinkle in salt, pepper and half of the sugar. Place the tomatoes in the tin, cut side up, in one layer. Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and sugar. Scatter the thyme leaves and garlic slices over and around the tomatoes. Bake in the oven for 1-2 hours until the tomatoes begin to shrivel up. Halfway through the cooking time, turn the plum tomatoes over and remove the cherry tomatoes. Mix the tomatoes in a bowl with the mozzarella and basil. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil.
· From Angela Hartnett's Cucina (Ebury Press)
Tom Parker Bowles
My favourite summer dishes: An English and a Laotian salad
In foodie circles, Tom Parker Bowles is known as Tom, the food writer rather than Tom, son of ... And so he should. For his latest (and excellent) book he ate water beetles and dog in the name of research. He writes a column for the Mail on Sunday and appeared on Market Garden with Tana Ramsay.
An English lettuce salad
This recipe comes from Simon Hopkinson's classic, Roast Chicken and Other Stories
6 eggs, whites cooked, yolks raw
For the dressing:
2 tsp sugar
salt and cayenne pepper
2 tsp dry English mustard
1 tbs tarragon vinegar
300ml whipping cream
1 tbs fresh tarragon, coarsely chopped
For the salad:
6 fresh round lettuce hearts, separated into leaves, washed and dried
12 thin spanking-fresh spring onions, trimmed and sliced into 3cm lengths
12 radishes, washed, halved and put into ice cold water for 30 minutes to crisp up
cucumber, peeled and sliced not too thinly
a few mint leaves, torn to shreds
To make the dressing, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, seasoning, mustard and vinegar. Add the cream and tarragon and mix. Arrange the ingredients for the salad in a large shallow dish. Sprinkle over the chopped egg whites and spoon over the dressing in dribbles and swirls.
Minced meat salad, based on a Laotian larb salad
This is my own recipe based on larb gai. It's a minced meat salad, often raw and not too spicy. The key, as ever, is to balance the sweet, sour, salty and pungent. In Laos, this would always be served with sticky white rice.
125g chicken stock (use fresh or very good-quality stock cubes)
big pinch white sugar
250g skinless chicken thigh and breast, minced by hand
5 tbs fresh lime juice
1 tbs fish sauce
2 fat pinches of dried chilli powder (dry-roast dried red chillies until slightly seared, then crush in a pestle and mortar)
5 chopped bird's-eye chillies, optional (not authentic in this dish but if you want more heat, these will do the job)
6 Thai shallots, thinly sliced
handful mint leaves and sweet basil, torn
2 big pinches of roasted rice powder (dry-fry sticky white rice until golden then pummel to a powder in a pestle and mortar)
Heat the stock to simmer, add the sugar then add the chicken, simmering for about 4 minutes until cooked through. Then add the lime, fish sauce, chilli powder, and fresh chillies (if using) shallots and herbs. Cook for a further minute then taste. It should be hot, sour, slightly sweet and salty. Adjust to taste and serve, sprinkled with the rice powder.
My favourite summer dishes: Squid with olives and avocado and cucumber soup
Mark Sargeant is Gordon Ramsay's right-hand man - not only is he head chef at Claridge's but he's also masterminding Ramsay's new gastropub venture.
Squid with olives
This is a simple way to cook baby squid. The vinaigrette imparts a zesty flavour and helps to tenderise the squid.
250g (about 6-8) baby squid, cleaned
50g black olives
50ml extra-virgin olive oil
50ml groundnut oil
juice of 1⁄2 lemon
sea salt and black pepper
handful of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Rinse the squid and pat dry. Slice the body into thin rings and place these in a saucepan with the tentacles. Add the olives, oils, lemon juice and seasoning. Slowly bring the liquid to the boil, then immediately turn off the heat. Cover and leave the squid to continue cooking in the residual heat of the vinaigrette. The squid is ready when it turns white. Stir the chopped parsley through the squid then, with a slotted spoon, transfer to a serving bowl. Drizzle over a little of the vinaigrette to serve.
Avocado and cucumber soup
Use really ripe avocados to give this soup a rich green colour.
2 large cucumbers, about 400g each, chilled
juice of 1 lemon, or to taste
2 ripe avocados
2 tbs Greek yogurt
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
sea salt and black pepper
1⁄2 red onion, finely chopped
1 plum tomato, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tbs olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
3-4 basil leaves, finely shredded
Peel the cucumbers, quarter lengthways and remove the seeds. Dice a quarter and set aside for the garnish. Roughly chop the rest, place in a blender with half the lemon juice and whizz until smooth.
Halve, stone and peel the avocados. Finely chop one avocado half to use for the garnish. Squeeze over a little lemon juice and set aside with the diced cucumber. Tip the rest of the avocado into the blender. Blend the avocados with the puréed cucumber, Greek yogurt and Worcestershire sauce until very smooth. Season generously with salt and pepper, and add lemon juice to taste. Chill until ready to serve.
For the garnish, combine the diced cucumber and avocado with the red onion and tomato. Toss with the olive oil and shredded basil. Taste the chilled soup for seasoning and add a splash of cold water if it is too thick. Pour into four chilled bowls and spoon the garnish into the centre. Add a drizzle of olive oil and grind over a little pepper to serve.
· From Gordon Ramsay's Fast Food - Recipes from The F Word (Quadrille)
My favourite summer dishes: A salad of scallops, mozzarella and spicy strawberry juice
Mourad Mazouz first became a fixture on London's party scene when he launched Momo, his Moroccan bar and restaurant, and Madonna decided to throw a party there on the first night. Since then he has also opened the equally glam (and Michelin-starred) Sketch.
Scallops, mozzarella di buffala and spicy strawberry juice
250g fresh strawberries
15g black pepper
2 limes, juice and zest
2 mozzarella di buffala
100ml good-quality olive oil
5g sea salt
8 grissini sticks
120 extra-large fresh scallops (clean and out of the shell)
For the spicy strawberry juice, clean the strawberries, quarter them, and add a pinch of the ground black pepper, and 1 lime's juice and zest. Cover the mix with clingfilm and cook it slowly in a bain marie for 1 hour. Strain the mix and then keep the clear juice in the fridge to cool it down. Put in shot glasses with crushed ice.
Cut each mozzarella in two and season them with a good olive oil, sea salt and black pepper. Arrange on a cold plate with the grissini. Clean the lettuce. Cut it into strips and reserve on the side. Season the scallops with fine salt on both sides. Heat up some olive oil on a non-stick frying pan. Throw in the scallops for 40 seconds on one side and then 20 seconds on the other.
Take the pan off the heat and add the butter. Deglaze the scallops with lime juice and season with pepper, lime zest and sea salt. Glaze the other side with honey and dress them on a round, flat plate. Add the salad to the scallop pan briefly to warm and coat with the juices.
Place on a plate, add the scallops and serve with the mozzarella and strawberry juice.
My favourite summer dishes: Cod and chips
The talented Tom Aikens, of the eponymous Michelin-starred restaurant and Tom's Kitchen in London, has a rival - his identical twin brother and chef, Rob. This autumn the twins are opening a chippie, Tom's Place, in Chelsea.
Fish and chips
For the thick-cut chips:
450g King Edward or red Desirée potatoes
oil, for frying
For the fish:
4 x 100g fillets of cod or whiting
For the batter:
300g high-gluten bread flour, such as T55, used in French bread making
11⁄2 tsp sea salt and 1⁄4 tsp white pepper
500ml Heineken lager
30g dried yeast
For the tartar sauce:
4 egg yolks
10g English mustard
1g freshly ground black pepper
750ml vegetable oil
good dash lemon juice
15g white wine vinegar
2 tbs water
75g chopped gherkins
75g chopped capers
10g chopped parsley
75g chopped shallots
To make the chips, peel the potatoes and then cut them into 1cm square batons the length of the potato so they are all the same size. Wash the starch off the potatoes then place them in a pan of slightly salted water and bring to a rapid boil. Chill immediately in cold water . Dry them off well and then plunge into the oil at 140C to blanch them for 2-3 minutes, then drain. Heat the oil to 180C then plunge the chips into the oil for 3-5 minutes, or until they are golden; season with sea salt.
To make the batter, place the flours and seasoning in a bowl. Mix the other ingredients together and leave to stand for 10 minutes. Make a well in the flour, pour in the liquid and whisk thoroughly to avoid any lumps.
To make the tartar sauce, whisk the egg yolk, mustard, pepper and salt in a bowl, then slowly pour on the oil, whisking well. Keep adding the oil (you might need to add a little water to the mayonnaise as it may get too thick). Add the rest of the ingredients
Dip the cod in the flour then in the batter. Fry at 180C until golden and serve with the chips and tartar sauce.
· Tom Aikens: Cooking (Ebury Press)
My favourite summer dishes: Quail and rosewater and cardamon ice-cream
Nigel Slater is the award-winning cookery writer - and The Observer's much-loved (and down-to-earth) foodie columnist. He is the author of many cookery books plus Toast, his memoir told through his most memorable meals. This October he publishes Eating for England
Flattened quail, chilli, salt
This recipe comes from River Café Two Easy, by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers (Ebury).
Free-range quail are slightly larger with much more flavour than farmed quail, but they are hard to find. Don't bother trying to flatten the tiny, farmed quail - they are too small and will dry up on the grill.
4 dried chillies
12 organic quails
4 tbs sea salt
24 thyme sprigs
extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat the barbecue, griddle pan or grill. Crumble the chilli and halve the lemons. Dry the quail with kitchen paper, and lay breast-down on a board. With a pair of scissors, cut out the backbone and discard. Press and flatten the birds. Rub with sea salt and dried chilli.
Place the quails on the preheated grill breast-side down, scatter over the thyme and grill for at least 5 minutes. Turn and cook for a further 5 minutes. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and the lemons.
Rosewater and cardamom ice cream
This recipe, taken from the Moro Cookbook (Ebury), is one of my favourites. The ice cream is not to everyone's liking, but those who appreciate the heavenly scent of rosewater will adore it. The addition of gum mastic, a resin from a tree native to Greece and Turkey, makes it even more exotic.
2 tbs whole green cardamoms
600ml double cream
1 cinnamon stick
160g caster sugar
3 crystals gum mastic, crushed with 1 tsp caster sugar (optional)
1 x 400ml tin evaporated milk
dried rose petals, to decorate (optional)
Lightly crush the cardamom pods with a mortar and pestle, and pick out as much of the green pod as you can, leaving behind the small black seeds. Pound these seeds to a fine powder.
Pour the milk and cream into a large saucepan, then add the ground cardamom and cinnamon stick. Bring to the boil and simmer over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced by about a quarter and has turned a rich creamy colour similar to evaporated milk (around 20 minutes).
Meanwhile in a small saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the rosewater over a low heat and simmer until a thin syrup is formed. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
When the milk and cream are ready, remove from the heat, strain out the cinnamon and discard. Stir in the crushed gum mastic (if using), and cool for 10-15 minutes. Add the evaporated milk and combine with the rosewater syrup. Churn in an ice-cream maker. Serve decorated with dried rose petals if you have them.
Michel Roux Jr
My favourite summer dishes: A spicy crab salad and chocolate brownie with pistachio ice cream
Marathon runner Michel Roux has two Michelin stars for his cooking at the brilliant Le Gavroche in London.
Spicy fresh crab salad
600g white crab meat
1 large avocado, diced
2 spring onions, sliced thinly
juice of 2 limes
1 tbs sesame oil
200g brown crab meat, pushed through a fine sieve
watercress, to garnish
Crab is my favourite seafood - I think all the work involved in picking the meat out of the shell makes it taste even better. The best way to cook a crab is to drown it first: just submerge it in cold fresh water for 5 minutes and it will gently pass away. Cook it in boiling salted water for 18 minutes (for a large 2kg crab). If all this seems like too much work, buy the best quality picked claw meat - fresh, not frozen or pasteurised.
Put the white crab meat in a bowl and add the avocado, spring onions, lime juice, sesame oil, salt and Tabasco. Mix gently with a fork; do not overmix as you should keep the delicate flaky texture of the meat.
Place one spoonful of the brown meat in six individual serving dishes, then divide the white meat mixture between the dishes. Serve garnished with watercress.
Hot cherries with chocolate brownie and pistachio ice cream
300ml red wine
120g caster sugar
800g cherries, stoned
For the chocolate brownies:
275g extra bitter chocolate, chopped, and a little extra to serve
225g unsalted butter
400g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
a pinch of salt
200g plain flour
For the pistachio ice cream:
6 egg yolks
120g caster sugar
500ml full-fat milk
30g pistachio paste
30g peeled pistachios, roughly chopped
Bring the wine and sugar to the boil, add the cherries and boil for 20 seconds, then remove the cherries. Boil the liquid to reduce until syrupy. Return the cherries to the syrup and keep warm.
For the chocolate brownies, heat the oven to 150C/gas mark 2. In a large bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter together and then whisk in the sugar, vanilla and salt. Beat in the eggs, two at a time. Fold in the sifted flour. Pour into individual buttered baking rings (7cm in diameter and 2cm deep) and bake for 12 minutes, until set on the outside but undercooked inside.
To make the ice cream, whisk the egg yolks with half the sugar in a large bowl until thick and creamy. Bring the milk and remaining sugar to the boil. Remove from the heat, add the pistachio paste and stir to dissolve. Pour the hot milk into the yolk mixture and stir well. Return the mixture to the saucepan and stir over a low heat until the mixture thickens enough to coat the spatula. Chill, then strain the mixture into an ice-cream maker and churn until frozen. Stir in the chopped pistachios and freeze until required.
To serve, decorate the plates with a little melted chocolate. Place a brownie on each plate and arrange the hot cherries and syrup around. Finish with a big scoop of ice cream and a few chopped pistachios.
· From Le Gavroche Cookbook, by Michel Roux Jr (Weidenfeld & Nicholson)
My favourite summer dishes: Tomato soup and grilled salmon
Ruth Rogers runs the Michelin-starred River Café with her friend and fellow chef, Rose Gray. Ruth, wife of architect Sir Richard, is passionate about unfussy Italian food. It was the River Café that introduced Tuscan peasant food to the chattering classes and got us all hooked on cavelo nero.
Pappa al pomodoro
This may be my favourite soup, especially in late summer when tomatoes and basil are at their best. Use open-textured white bread made with olive oil, such as pugliese.
4 garlic cloves, peeled and cut into slivers
175ml olive oil
4kg ripe sweet tomatoes, skinned and seeded, or 2kg tinned plum tomatoes, drained of most of their juices
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 loaves stale pugliese bread
1 large bunch basil
extra virgin olive oil
Put the garlic and the olive oil into a heavy saucepan and cook gently for a few minutes. Just before the garlic turns brown, add tomatoes. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes become concentrated. Season with salt and pepper, then add 600ml water and bring to the boil.
Cut off most of the crust of the bread and break into large chunks. Stir into the tomato mixture until the bread absorbs the liquid, adding boiling water if it is too thick. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. If the basil leaves are large, tear up. Stir the soup with 120-175ml of the olive oil. Allow to sit before serving to let the bread to absorb the flavour of the basil and oil. Add more of the oil to each bowl and serve.
Grilled whole side of salmon
1 wild salmon, 4kg, trimmed and filleted
extra-virgin olive oil
2 lemons, cut into quarters
Preheat a grill, griddle pan or barbecue. Season both sides of the salmon and rub with olive oil.Place it, skin-side down, on a grill and cook for 4 minutes. Turn over and grill for a further 3 minutes. Drizzle with olive oil, cut into thick slices, and serve with lemon quarters.
Read part two of this story