Friday 28 April 2017

Recipes: Angela Hartnett's easy-to-follow Mediterranean dishes

Get a taste of holidays past and to come with Angela Hartnett's easy-to-follow recipes

Angela Hartnett

For me, home cooking is more about sharing good meals with friends than showing off cheffy skills. If you're having people over for a meal then you want to spend time with them, not chained to the kitchen, so you need recipes that are easy and enjoyable to cook.

Cooking should be fun, not stressful, so don't get too anxious about it all. Mistakes happen to the best of us -- me included -- and, as my mum says, you can always go and get a curry if you overcook the meat and burn the apple tart!

These recipes are for the kind of food I like to eat at home -- simple, tasty and not too complicated to make at the end of a working day. I enjoy cooking them for friends too.

You won't need to spend precious time hunting down exotic ingredients. Nearly everything is readily available at supermarkets and farmers' markets. There are recipes you can make from leftovers too, and many are very easily adapted to suit the contents of your larder. Of course, my inherited love of Italian food is evident, so there has to be a chapter on pasta and risotto. No cookbook is complete without these in my opinion!

But I've included some slightly different variations that you may not have come across before.

I'm lucky in having friends who are great cooks, and I've begged and borrowed recipes I've enjoyed at their houses. There's my neighbour's beef with butternut squash and my friend Liz's fantastic banana bread, to name just a couple of these fantastic dishes.

I've included quite a few cakes, too, as home baking is always hugely popular -- there's nothing like a homemade cake. When my mum hears about some great chef, she often remarks: "All very well, but can he bake a cake?"

So I hope you enjoy these recipes and have fun trying something different. Feel free to adapt and change to suit your taste -- that's always when the best dishes happen.

Tips: I like to use Maldon sea salt, but occasionally a recipe may refer to rock salt. All lemons should be unwaxed, and all olive oil used is extra virgin.

Chicken with olives and tomatoes

I love the Mediterranean flavours in this chicken dish. Use capers instead of olives if you like, or add a few anchovies. It's easy to serve too -- just whack the dish on the table and let everyone help themselves. Serves four.

You will need

1-2 tbsps olive oil

4 corn-fed chicken legs, cut in half

2 white onions, sliced

1 lemon, sliced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

4 thyme sprigs

50g butter

250g plum tomatoes, cut in quarters

50g black olives, pitted and cut in half

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Season the chicken pieces and lightly brown them in the pan. Do this in batches -- if you overcrowd the pan the chicken will stew and not brown.

Once all the chicken is lightly coloured, put it back into the pan and add the sliced onions, lemon, garlic and thyme.

Add the butter and 100ml of water and continue to cook for about 10 minutes. Then add the tomatoes and olives and cook for another two to three minutes, until the chicken is just done.

Mix everything together, then add the balsamic vinegar and cook for a further one to two minutes.

Spoon the chicken into a big bowl, season with salt and pepper and then serve.

Lemon and raspberry tart

You'd think that raspberries and lemon would be too sharp, but they work very well together. If you don't feel like making the lemon filling, you can use a good lemon curd -- easy to find at farmers' markets these days. Just spoon it over the cooked pastry base and add the raspberries on top; no need to cook. Serves six.

You will need

For the sweet pastry 330g plain flour, plus extra for rolling out

Pinch of salt

100g icing sugar

200g cold butter, diced

3 eggs For the filling 4 medium eggs

200g sugar

125g whipping cream

130ml lemon juice, plus grated zest of the lemons

200g raspberries

Icing sugar, for dusting

Method

First, make the sweet pastry. Sift the flour, salt and icing sugar into a bowl. Add the butter and rub it in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs -- you can do this in a food processor if you prefer.

Beat two of the eggs, add them to the bowl and mix well to form a dough, but don't overwork. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and leave it to rest in the fridge for at least an hour before using.

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas mark 4. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface until it is only about 2mm thick -- be careful not to break it.

Use the pastry to line a 24cm, loose- bottomed, fluted tart tin. Cover the pastry with a piece of baking parchment and fill it with baking beans, rice or dried pasta. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the crust starts to turn golden.

Once the tart shell is cooked, remove it from the oven and discard the baking beans.

Beat the remaining egg and use it to paint the inside of the pastry case. Put the pastry back in the oven for just two minutes so that the egg cooks, then take it out, paint with more egg and bake for another two minutes -- this will fix any holes in the pastry and seal the base.

Turn the oven down to 110°C/ Fan 90°C/Gas mark ¼. Now make the lemon filling.

Whisk the eggs with the sugar until all the sugar has dissolved. Add the cream, lemon juice and the grated zest.

Pour the lemon mixture into the pastry case and bake in the oven for 45 minutes until the filling is set. Leave to cool.

Once the tart is cool, carefully place the raspberries on top. Dust with icing sugar to serve.

Clams with chorizo and rocket

These sensational Spanish flavours transport you straight to the bars of Barcelona. Serves four.

You will need

2 tbsps olive oil

500g clams, washed

Splash of white wine

1 garlic clove, sliced

1 thyme sprig

2 baby shallots, sliced into rings

100g chorizo

1 bag rocket leaves

1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Heat a heavy-based pan over a medium heat and add the olive oil. Throw in the clams with the white wine, garlic, thyme and shallots.

Put a lid on the pan and steam until the clams are cooked -- about five minutes.

Strain everything into a big bowl, discarding any clams that don't open. Keep the cooking juices and serve them with the salad.

Slice the chorizo and fry in a little olive oil for one minute, then add to the clams. Finish with the rocket and parsley and season to taste.

Good served with some toasted sourdough bread.

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