Bring me my spear

Bring me my spear

Not quite burning gold but purple sprouting broccoli is edible treasure for Jonny Nicholson, Chef – Proprietor of The Sail Loft in Southwold

Early spring is far from a purple patch for chefs and gardeners; the brassicas are mostly over, the root vegetables might store well but quite frankly we’re getting bored; the game season long since finished, mussels are off the menu but lobster and crab really aren’t about much yet and asparagus is still a good few weeks away; but all is not lost, there is one glorious vegetable to savour.

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Margarita time

Margarita time

Precious downtime from the stove in his busy kitchen means easy comfort food for Jonny Nicholson, Chef – Proprietor of The Sail Loft in Southwold

This month I thought I would take it easy or rather you might with a favourite pizza recipe. It is perfect for nights on the sofa in front of a good film, for the kids on a sleepover, for a light lunch al fresco with salad, and for whenever you feel like taking it easy in the kitchen. Pizzas are the easiest dish to do in a hurry as there are so many cooks’ cheats you can use or you can make the tomato sauce and bake the bases ahead. Below is my idea of a perfect pizza but if you don’t have the time to make the ragù or the dough, there are lots of ready-made alternatives. For the sauce, you can use simple tomato and garlic purée and/or basil pesto (green or red both work well) and for the bases, thinly-cut baguette horizontally is delicious as are naan or pitta breads. You’ll see I make the basic margarita recipe and then top it with raw ingredients, this keeps the flavour and texture in the lovely ham and olives but if you prefer it all baked together, be my guest.

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Man-size happiness!

Man-size happiness!

Spoil your Dads and Grandads this Fathers’ Day with a proper burger, says Jonny Nicholson, chef-owner of The Sail Loft in Southwold

Fast food joints might be obviously quick and easy and the kids love them of course. But whilst their pretty adverts try to convince us how authentic their take-aways taste and other than being convenient on a long journey, I do try and avoid them.

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The Food of Love

The Food of Love


All it’s all about shared indulgence come February 14 for Jonny Nicholson of The Bell At Sax’, Saxmundham

Perhaps every day should be Valentine’s Day, not just one day when we celebrate Cupid and his proverbial arrow, but I guess the heartfelt expressions and good intentions on the big day make us appreciate our loved ones even more all year round.

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Sweet Summertime

 Life is luscious for Jonny Nicholson, Chef-Proprietor of The Sail Loft when it’s berry season

I love all manner of berries, whatever the size or colour and of course currants, plums and cherries too, they are the sweet epitome of summer sunshine on the plate.

If you are lucky and have a fruit cage on your veg patch or on the allotment, then you are probably overwhelmed with soft fruit by now, being the height of summer. I guess you’ll have dusted off the preserving pan to get jam-making and filled up the deep freeze, ready for the depth of winter.

So I thought I would just give you a few of my ideas to use up any glut of berries you’ve picked, been given or perhaps bartered for with neighbours.

There are my favourite berry classics, Eton Mess – that sweet confection of crushed meringues, strawberry sauce, dairy vanilla ice and whipped cream; Summer Pudding – bread pudding filled with berry compote, particularly good if you melt gelatine into the juices, it then slices beautifully too when set; Knickerbocker Glory – who doesn’t love an ice cream sundae and Berry Custard Tart – a flaky, buttery pastry case, filled with thick crème pâtissière and topped with apricot jam-glazed berries.

Three more modern offerings for you: Balsamic Peppered Strawberries – this sounds weird but trust me, generously sprinkle halved hulled strawberries with good balsamic vinegar, lots of freshly-ground black pepper and a thick dusting of caster sugar, close with a tight lid and every few hours, turn them upside down and gently shake, leave for 24 hours and you will have the most intense strawberry compote you can imagine; Raspberry Chocolate Nemesis – google a recipe but essentially it’s the richest choccy truffle cake you could imagine, very similar to a festive roulade, no flour, just eggs, chocolate, sugar and butter, it eats fabulously with crushed raspberries and vanilla mascarpone on the side; last of all, the celebrity favourite of Iced Berries and Hot White Chocolate Sauce  - made famous at London’s Ivy, just soften frozen berries slightly for a few minutes and top with a warm white chocolate sauce of equal volumes of white chocolate chunks and double cream, simply melted together, heavenly!

And a simple berry dessert recipe to finish, it eats best just warm so it’s ideal when entertaining outside as you can make it ahead before you light the barbecue, in the knowledge that ‘afters’ is all sorted.

Enjoy, Jonny

The Sail Loft, Ferry Road, Southwold IP18 6HQ
Our beachside café-bar-restaurant, proudly using local, seasonal, Suffolk ingredients – find us near the campsite and lifeboat station.
W:   T: 01502 725713

Phone to book for our daily specials: Curry-tastic Tuesday; Wednesday Burger Bonanza; Thursday Live Music

Berry Clafoutis

This spongy batter pudding is best made with pitted cherries, stoned apricots or whole blueberries but any mixture of berries whatever the glut to hand will work well. (serves 6)

Unsalted butter

Caster sugar

500g berries or stoned fruit        

125ml double cream

125ml whole milk

Vanilla extract

4 eggs

175g caster sugar

1 tbsp plain flour

Handful of flaked almonds

Pre-heat the oven to 180c. Grease a wide gratin dish with butter and add the fruit with a generous scattering of sugar before tossing around. Put into the oven to heat up whilst you make the batter.

Heat up the cream, milk and vanilla until it is blood temperature and set aside. Whisk up the eggs and sugar before slowly beating in the flour. Whisk in the cooled cream mixture. Pour over the fruit in the heated gratin dish, scatter with almonds and bake for 30 minutes or until the sponge is soft but set-through and lightly-golden. Allow to cool for at least half an hour before serving with cold, pouring cream.