Chicken and Pea Traybake

Nigella Lawson has been dubbed, “The Queen of the Frozen Pea” and for just reason. The small jade orbs play a prominent role in her recipes. This recipe combines them with chicken thighs and leeks, all of which cook effortlessly in a large roasting tin.

Chicken and Pea Traybake

7 cups frozen peas
4 leeks
2 fat garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup white vermouth
2 tbs. olive oil
2 tsp. sea salt flakes
small bunch of dill, coarsely chopped
8 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on

Heat the oven to 400°F. Into a large roasting pan, tumble in the peas, leeks and garlic. Pour over the vermouth and olive oil, then sprinkle in the salt and most of the dill. Arrange the chicken on top, skin-side up.

Roast in the oven for 45 mins. Give the peas a stir, but leave to leeks in place (you want them to be caramelized). Roast for a further 30 minutes, or until the chicken is crisp and cooked through. Scatter with the remaining dill and serve.

 

Beef and Aubergine Fatteh

Nigella describes these as “Middle-Eastern nachos”. It is a subtly textured, richly flavored arrangement of  toasted pita bread with a meaty topping of beef and aubergine and a garlicky tahini sauce. This is meant to be put in the center of the table and shared.

4 pita breads, split oven and cut into triangles

For the topping:

1 1/4 cups Greek yogurt
5 tbs. tahini, at room temperature
3 tbs. lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 sea salt flakes

For the beef:

3 tbs. regular olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 aubergine, cut into small cubes
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. Aleppo pepper or paprika, plus more for sprinkling
1-2 tsp. sea salt flakes
1 lb. minced beef

To sprinkle over:

1/2  cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 tbs. chopped fresh mint

Heat the oven to 400°F. Arrange the pita triangles on a large baking sheet and toast for 10-15 minutes until crisp.

Beat the yogurt, tahini, lemon juice and garlic together. Add salt to taste.

For the meat, warm the oil in a heavy saucepan and cook the onions, stirring occasionally, over a medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Turn the heat down and continue to cook until soft and golden, about 4 minutes longer.

Turn the heat up to medium, tumble in the aubergine cubes and stir well. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the cumin, coriander, Aleppo pepper or paprika and 1 tsp. of the salt. Add the beef and, breaking it up with a wooded spoon, stir until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Taste and see if you need more salt.

Sit the bowl of the yogurt mixture over a pan of just simmering water. Stir until it is slightly room temperature and has the consistency lightly whipped cream.

To assemble, place the pita triangles on a large platter. Top with the beef mixture, followed by the yogurt sauce. Scatter over the pomegranate seeds, pine nuts and mint. Sprinkle with a little Aleppo pepper or paprika and serve.

Serves 4-6

Sunken Chocolate Amaretto Cake

This is one of those dark, squidgy-bellied cakes that is irresistible. The mixture of ground almonds and amaretto gives it a marzipan-like quality that balances perfectly with the bitterness of the chocolate.

100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
100g unsalted butter, softened
4 large eggs, at room temperature
125g caster sugar
75g ground almonds
2 tbs. cocoa powder, plus more to dust
3 tbs. Amaretto liqueur

For the amaretti cream:

250ml heavy cream
1 tbs. Amaretti liqueur
4 Amaretti biscuits, crumbled

Heat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the sides and line the bottom of a 8″ springform pan.

Put the chocolate and butter in a heat-proof bowl and set over a pot of just simmering water. Stir to melt, then pour into a jug and cool a little.

Whisk the eggs and sugar until thick, mousse-like and doubled. This will take 1-2 minutes. Fork the almonds and cocoa together in a small bowl, then turn the mixer to low and add to the egg mixture, tablespoon by tablespoon.

Stir the Amaretto liqueur into the slightly cooled chocolate, then pour the mixture into the egg batter, whisking all the time. Pour and scrape into the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes until the cake is coming away at the edges, the top has formed a slightly crack and a cake tester comes out with just a few damp crumbs.

Remove to a wire rack, drape a clean towel over the top and leave to cool. Once cool, unclip the tin and transfer onto a serving plate. Sift additional cocoa powder over the top.

Make the amaretti cream by whipping the heavy cream until thickened then adding the Amaretti liquor. Serve dolloped over the cake and sprinkled with the biscuit crumbs.

Serves 10-12

 

Lemon Meringue Fool

If you have ever wondered what a lemon cloud tastes like, here is your answer: it is a heavenly experience of celestial lemon lightness! Think Eton Mess, Amalfi style. A fool is a classic and oh-so-easy British dessert (or pudding) and this version couldn’t be easier or more delicious.

Lemon Meringue Fool

3/4 cup good-quality lemon curd, plus more to decorate
2 tsp. Limoncello (lemon liqueur) or lemon juice
1 cup heavy cream
4 oz. meringue cookies, crushed into large pieces

Put the lemon curd in a bowl and stir in the Limoncello or lemon juice to loosen the curd.

Whip the cream until soft peeks form, then gently fold in the lemon curd mixture and the crushed meringues, taking care not to over mix. You want swirls of the lemon curd throughout the cream.

Spoon the mixture into 4 small glasses and top with a dollop of lemon curd. Chill until ready to serve.