Raising your game
Escape the cooking rut and make bold choices for midweek dinners with these rewarding recipes from Lynda Booth
'A guide to culinary courage," is the subheading on Fearless Food, the second cookbook from Lynda Booth which aims to help cooks of every ability to "throw off the shackles of doubt and raise their game in the kitchen". In the book, the chef encourages us to get away from thinking of food as just "a set of nutrients" and to rediscover the joys of both cooking and eating.
Lynda is the owner/operator of the Dublin Cookery School, where those looking for more brave new horizons can sign up to day-, evening- and one-week courses at a state-of-the-art facility in Blackrock. Choose from over 100 course titles, including Modern Vegetarian and World Street Food, and masterclasses in chef skills, breadmaking and patisserie. For more information, see dublincookeryschool.ie or call (01) 210 555.
MOROCCAN FILO PIE WITH SPICED BUTTERNUT SQUASH, CHICKPEAS & HARISSA YOGHURT
This filo pie starts with the intrigue of the golden crispy pastry. As the knife breaks through the first slice, you get a glimpse of those colourful layers of squash, spinach and nuts. However, it is the taste that makes this a show-stopper. There is the hummus, the spices, the fruitiness. I like to have an accompanying yoghurt dip or some harissa but it really does not need much else. It's all in there already.
Equipment: 28cm springform pan with removable base
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika, plus extra for dusting
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
Olive oil, for panfrying
900g squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into small chunks
12 small round shallots, peeled and quartered (only 6 if they are the long banana shallots)
4cm root ginger, finely chopped
100g whole blanched almonds
100g shelled pistachios
75g dried cranberries
2 tbsp honey
225g fresh spinach
For the hummus:
400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
For the filo: 100g butter
8 large sheets filo pastry
Preheat the oven to 200˚C/180˚C/Fan/400˚F/Gas 6.
To make the filling, mix the cumin, coriander, paprika and cinnamon, ½ tsp salt and 3 tbsp of oil together. Put the squash into a bowl, pour over the spiced oil and mix with your hands. Scatter over a baking tray and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes or until tender.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp of oil in a frying pan and add the shallots. Season and cook, stirring regularly until they tenderise and start to colour. Stir in the ginger, almonds and pistachios. When the nuts turn a shade darker, add in the cranberries, honey and spinach. Toss until the spinach wilts. Remove from the heat and mix in the roasted squash. Set aside.
To make the hummus, place the chickpeas in a food processor. Add the crushed garlic, ground cumin, 2 tbsp of oil, lemon juice, 2 tbsp of water and seasoning. Blend together. Taste and adjust as necessary. Stir in the chopped coriander.
To build the pie, melt the butter in a small saucepan and brush the inside of the springform pan with butter. Brush one sheet of filo with butter and lay over half the tin so that it hangs over the edge by about 10cm. Brush a second sheet and lay it on the other side, allowing it to overlap the first sheet in the centre and to hang over the edge. Brush two more sheets of filo and lay in the opposite direction in the same manner. Build up two more layers in this way so that you use a total of eight sheets of filo. Pile half the squash mixture into the centre of the pastry. Spread over the hummus and then top with the rest of the squash mixture. One at a time, bring the edge of each sheet of filo into the centre to cover the filling, creating folds as you go. Brush the surface with more butter. The filo pie may be prepared up to this point in advance and chilled.
To finish the pie, bake in the oven for about 30-35 minutes until the filo pastry is golden. Cut into slices and serve with the harissa yoghurt (see recipe above).
300g Greek yoghurt
4 tbsp harissa
Squeeze of lemon juice
Mix the harissa, yoghurt and lemon juice together and season with salt. Refrigerate until ready to use.
LAMB BURGERS WITH SWEET POTATO WEDGES & TZATZIKI
It is hard to beat a thick juicy homemade burger which is charred on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside and accompanied by a variety of toppings. The cut of meat you buy will play a large part and it is worth asking the butcher to mince it to get the result you want. Dipping roasted sweet potato wedges into a minty yoghurt sauce gives the satisfaction of getting stuck into a plateful of chips but without any deep fat frying.
Roasted potato wedges:
1 tbsp ground coriander
600g sweet potato
2 tbsp olive oil
300g Greek yoghurt
1 small handful dill, finely chopped
A few sprigs mint, chopped
Good squeeze of lemon juice
For the lamb burger:
600g lamb mince, preferably from the lamb shoulder
2 tsp cumin
1½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp chilli flakes
1 clove of garlic, crushed
Olive oil, for cooking the burger
6 multi-seed burger buns
Optional garnishes: 4 slices thick mature Cheddar, Gubbeen or Gruyere
A handful of salad leaves
Carmelised onions (see recipe)
Preheat an oven to 200˚C/180˚C/Fan 400˚F/Gas 6. For the wedges, wash the sweet potatoes. Leaving the skin on, chop lengthways into wedges about 3cm thick. Toss them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and ground coriander. Place on an oven tray, leaving enough space between each one to form a crust and brown. They will take about 25 minutes in the oven but should be turned after about 15 minutes.
For the tzatziki, peel the cucumber. Grate coarsely and place in a sieve over a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and leave for half an hour. Squash it with your hands and press with a wooden spoon to extract the liquid. Mix the cucumber into the yoghurt. Add the herbs and lemon juice and season.
Mix all the burger ingredients together in a bowl and season. Divide into 6 portions and shape the meat into patties. Heat a frying pan and add a dash of olive oil. When hot, place the burgers in the pan and cook at a medium high heat until they caramelise on the underside. Flip the burgers and brown the second side. Transfer to the oven for about 10 minutes, depending on the thickness. Add the slices of cheese for the final 4 minutes of cooking, if using.
To assemble the burger, char the buns on a griddle or heat under a grill. Sit the burger on one half and top with some salad leaves and tzatziki. Serve with the potato wedges and extra tzatziki for dipping.
KOREAN FISH PARCELS
Cooking fish in a parcel ensures that all the flavours are trapped inside as the fish steams. The fish sits on a selection of vegetables placed in the centre of the parcel and in this recipe a Korean dip is spooned over the top. Banana leaves are available (fresh and frozen) in Asian markets and allow for a dramatic presentation - closed with wooden skewers or tied with cotton string - though baking parchment is the best everyday option. The moment of opening the parcel is high drama for the senses.
For the parcels: 120g courgette
Half a small onion
4 spring onions
1 red pepper
1-2 green chillies
4 slices lime, cut in half
80g baby spinach
4 x 150g hake, cod, brill or turbot, skinned
For the Korean marinade: 100g Kikkoman soy sauce
1 tbsp gochugaru or 1 tsp chilli powder
40g shallot, diced very finely
2 spring onions, sliced finely
2 tsp sesame seeds
Preheat oven to 220˚C/200˚C Fan/425˚F/Gas 7. To prepare the marinade, mix all the ingredients for the Korean marinade together and keep in a jar in the fridge. The marinade will hold refrigerated for a month.
To make the parcels, halve the courgette lengthwise and then slice thinly crossways. Slice the onion as thinly as possible. Chop the spring onion into 1cm pieces. Slice the red pepper into thin strips. Slice the carrot into thin matchsticks. Chop the chillies into 3 or 4 pieces. Place all of the vegetables, including the lime, in a bowl and mix together. Season lightly with salt.
Fold a sheet of parchment paper in half and cut a semicircle approximately 18cm in radius. When the sheet is opened out, the circle will then be 36cm in diameter. Cut out four sheets and lay them all out on your counter top. Place the vegetable mixture on the lower half moon of each semicircle. Dry the fish with kitchen paper and season very lightly with salt. Sit the fish on top of the vegetables. Spoon about 2 tbsp of Korean marinade over the fish in each parcel. To seal, fold over the free half of the paper so both ends meet and fold the edges in twice to seal them, creasing them carefully as you go.
Place the parcels on a baking tray. They should not overlap. Bake in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Check one parcel in advance of when you think it is ready so that it doesn't overcook. Take into account that the fish will carry on cooking slightly after you remove it from the oven.
Serve immediately on hot plates. With a scissors, cut a slit down the centre of the parcel just as you go to serve it. You may eat the fish out of the paper to savour all the juices or tip the contents out onto the plate.