Seasonal eating lets your body and soul know where you are in the year. Like delicious edible bookmarks, berries are synonymous with British summertime and I love indulging in all their unique forms and flavours. Marks and Spencer are championing British berries and have pledged to only supply the berries from our green and pleasant land in their stores. Great news for British farmers, sustainability and for our tastebuds too. They kindly invited me to celebrate all that the British berry has to offer by sampling some of their delicious berry range and using their Cook with M&S app.
The last bank holiday of summer 2018
Bank holidays are the perfect opportunity to embrace the season. Summer 2018 has been a scorcher, but as the sunshine has taken a little rest after our heatwave, it’s so easy to be tricked into thinking that Autumn is upon us already. I know I’ve felt a little confused over the last few weeks, but I’m not ready to let go of summer yet! The final bank holiday of the summer months was the perfect opportunity to get creating and eating with loved ones.
A Marks and Spencer berry feast
Breaking bread, or in this case, berries with loved ones is something I love to do and I quickly organised a little summer bank holiday gathering with Mr SV, my brother and sister-in-law. I couldn’t wait to get cooking.
The preparation always begins with the perfect menu and I chose three dishes from the Cook with M&S recipes. A cosy bank holiday breakfast for two would start the day right with Southern Cherry Syrup Pancakes. I love pancakes but save them for highways and holidays, this recipe takes them to the next level and was the perfect fuel for the day ahead.
The Berry bank holiday menu
For the bank holiday gathering I chose Avocado, Strawberry and Halloumi Salad, served alongside a few other summer delights from Marks and Spencer’s seasonal range. Strawberries are my absolute favourite summer berry and I had to squeeze in a few more with Balsamic Strawberries with Basil and Vanilla Ice-cream. The flavours were so different in the main course and pudding that there were certainly no complaints about the beautiful strawberries that were heartily devoured.
I love shopping for hosting, thinking about all the little details to make everything just right. My local Marks and Spencer is the Longbridge store and collected the ingredients kindly prepared by the team. I downloaded the Cook with M&S app and planned out the day. I tried to pick the most involved recipe for breakfast, when it would just be the two of us. Even so, the recipe was far from complex or demanding, it would be so simple to adjust quantities for large families.
The recipes for the evening meal were really simple, quick and easy to follow. There’s nothing worse than inviting people to dinner and feeling too exhausted and stressed to enjoy the efforts of your hard work. With the food planned, all that was left was to spend a little time prettying up the table. I always keep tables understated and simple so as to not detract from the food.
Bank holiday brunch: Southern Cherry Syrup Pancakes
I really don’t eat enough cherries and this recipe is the perfect reminder of how good British cherries are. I make fresh pancakes often and found this recipe very easy and a great way to potter around the kitchen on a morning whilst making something special for breakfast.
This dish is essentially two delicious elements that merge to create the pancakes of dreams. Firstly, you make a sugar syrup and macerate the halved and pitted cherries in orange juice, zest and sugar, then make you pancake batter and griddle the flat beauties in batches, keeping them warm in the oven. You then combine the cherry infused orange juice with the sugar syrup to create your southern cherry syrup. Load your pancakes high, top them with macerated cherries, drizzle with syrup and finish with a quenelle of creme fraiche. Head to the full recipe to get all the details.
The recipe was so easy to follow and the result was even better than I imagined, and I imagined great things! I love food with complex flavours and multiple textures and I couldn’t get enough of the fresh cherries with the doughy pancakes with that zingy-sweet syrup. I will definitely be making these again, and you know, they could so easily be served as a dessert too.
A cup of Summer
I find it quite daunting pairing wines with food and Marks and Spencer take all the fuss and worry out of that with their ready-to-pour Summer Cup Fizz. Everyone commented on how fresh and drinkable this cocktail was and I’m definitely stashing away a couple of bottles to enjoy over the next few weeks.
A sparkling gin-based cocktail with notes of cucumber, melon and citrus, I served it with slices of juice orange and lots of crushed ice. What a wonderful way to start the evening.
A celebration of British berries
Marks and Spencer are passionate about sustainable British berries and if you look at each packet, you will find the name of the farmer that tended your produce. The strawberries that I used for the next two dishes were from George Leeds, the farmer at Withers Farm. I visited the farm this week and got to experience first hand the care that is put into producing the very best summer berries to enjoy in your summer feasts.
Avocado, Strawberry and Halloumi Salad
This may well be the queen of all salads; fresh, zingy and packed with all my favourite summer ingredients, its such a quick and tasty dish that is the work of mere moments.
The recipe was really simple to follow and I loved the dressing, I’ve been enjoying pomegranate molasses a lot recently and was so excited to try a dressing with it’s wonderfully fragrant bitterness that works so well against the other ingredients.
The salad was no effort at all to assemble; the dressing took even less time. The chilli infused halloumi was golden and blistered in just a few minutes and once a scattering of pomegranate seeds showered the bowl, it was ready to serve. I adore a dish that looks as good as it tastes, the platter made the perfect summer centrepiece, don’t you think?
I served the salad alongside Beetroot and Caramelised Onion Hot Dogs with Dill Pickles and Mark’s and Spencer’s Ultimate burgers for the meat-eaters and it was such a summery pairing, leaving just enough room for dessert.
Balsamic Strawberries with Fresh Basil & Vanilla Ice-Cream
Such a simple and sophisticated dish that works so well. The balsamic vinegar, sugar and strawberry juices infuse one another to create a tart syrup that lifts the summer strawberry to new heights. The decadent addition of a generous scoop of the creamiest vanilla ice-cream and you have the perfect end to a perfect evening.
I loved hosting my ‘berry’ British Bank Holiday feast and it was a delight to use the Cook with M&S made the whole shopping and cooking experience. By choosing less time-demanding dishes that didn’t sacrifice any flavour meant that I was able to enjoy the food with my family instead of being tied to kitchen. A lesson well learned! Thank you so much to Marks and Spencer for inviting me to celebrate the provenance with their British berries.
So tell me, which was your favourite berry dish from the day?
Disclaimer: This post is produced as part of a paid partnership with Marks and Spencer. My opinions are honest and my own.