There’s been a certain synchronicity to events this month in that the subject of my daughter Roberta’s holiday homework seems to have overlapped with this menu.


Not that I can remember getting a science project to do when I was nine years old and I certainly wouldn’t have tackled it as eagerly as she has. Anyway, it’s thanks to her research that I can appear to be unusually erudite when doing what she calls “Mummy’s homework” and state that it was in 1857 that Louis Pasteur discovered that yeast generated carbon dioxide as a product of fermentation and it is, of course, the presence of this gas trapped in bubbles by the elastic strands of the protein gluten that causes the bread to rise.

A sourdough produces uniquely flavoured robust rustic loaves with a strong crust surrounding a chewy acid-tanged centre. Traditionally this was done by using wild yeasts and a lengthy fermentation process.

Although this recipe may still seem long-winded, it is really a simplified version and uses plain yoghurt to create the sourness.

You do need to get organised the day before, but the actual labour time is minimal. I’ve used pastrami and mustard as a sandwich filling but you can use anything you want and it’ll be perfect for a harvest picnic while the combines are rolling. For a salad to go with your sourdough sandwich, try this Asian coleslaw which has a real kick to it and the addition of beansprouts makes it light and crunchy.

For a great summer pudding, this Eton Mess is definitely worth trying and it looks great in nice glasses or sundae dishes, but don’t worry about the presentation too much or you’ll have Eton Tidy!


Pastrami Sandwich with Sourdough

500g strong white bread flour

200ml water

25g fresh yeast

150ml plain yoghurt

½ a teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil


Day 1: Warm the water, add the sugar to it and crumble in the yeast. When it is fizzing merrily add the yoghurt and then whisk in 200g of the flour. Leave this mixture in a warm corner of your kitchen covered with clingfilm. (Make sure your bowl is large enough as it can expand dramatically).

Day 2: Place the salt and oil in the remaining 300g of flour and work this into your mixture from the day before. Once you have achieved a smooth dough, cover again and leave to prove until it has doubled in bulk. Turn out onto a floured worktop and divide the dough into eight pieces, and shape each one into a baguette on the tray leaving enough space for each to expand. Prove again until doubled in size then put straight into a hot oven 230C (450F, Gas mark 8). Bake until well browned and when the base is tapped sounds hollow, about 20min.

For the filling:

Serves 4.

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 teaspoon English mustard

6 gherkins

1 handful of rocket or watercress

8 slices of pastrami

Mix the English mustard into the mayonnaise. Slice the gherkins thinly. Split your rolls while still warm. “Butter” each half generously with the mustard mayonnaise. Fill with the pastami, gherkins and rocket. Serve.


Asian Coleslaw

Serves 2.

Quarter of a small white cabbage, finely shredded

1 carrot, coarsely grated

1 apple, grated

½ red pepper, sliced

50g (2oz) beansprouts (optional)

1 tomato, chopped

1 tablespoon peanuts, roasted and crushed


For the dressing:

1 garlic clove, crushed

Half a small onion, finely chopped

1 chilli, chopped

2 teaspoon fish sauce

½ tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Dash of sweet chilli sauce

2 tablespoons sesame oil


Combine the dressing ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside. Prepare all the raw vegetables and mix together. Toss with the dressing and pile on a serving plate. Sprinkle with the roasted crushed peanuts.


eton messEton Mess

Serves 4.

For the meringues (Makes about 12-15 meringues)

4 medium egg whites

225g (8oz) granulated sugar

Caster sugar


Place the egg whites and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until the meringue is stiff and holds its shape. Line a baking sheet with lightly oiled parchment (baking) paper and sprinkle it with caster sugar. Spoon or pipe your meringues onto it and sprinkle them with caster sugar. Set the oven at 110C (Gas mark ¼) and bake for two hours. The meringues should have a crisp outer shell with a soft interior. Stored for any length of time they will dry out completely in a dry atmosphere or go soft in a closed container. They are better dried out completely for this recipe.


For the Eton Mess:

8 meringues

450g (1lb) strawberries

1 tablespoon icing sugar

300ml double cream

Whip the cream until it just holds its shape. Hull the strawberries and cut any large one into halves or quarters. Take half the strawberries and mash them with the back of a fork with the icing sugar. Set aside. Take four of the meringues and crush them into a bowl. Add the strawberries and double cream and mix gently. Add the crushed strawberries last. Pile the mix into your dishes and decorate with more strawberries or borage flowers.


See videos of Philippa preparing some of her favourite recipes.