Lamb Patties with Hummus and Pita

Think hamburgers, Middle Eastern style.

scant 1/4 cup bulgar wheat
18 oz. lean minced lamb
4 tsp. dried mint
4 tsp. dried oregano
1 garlic cloves, crushed
zest of 1 lemon
vegetable oil, for frying
1 1/3 cup hummus
1 1/3 cups whole-milk yogurt
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
8 pita breads
1 Little Gem or Boston lettuce, shredded
bunch fresh mint, chopped
1 red onion, thinly sliced
3-4 tomatoes, chopped

Soak the bulgar wheat by covering it with boiling water and leaving it for 15 minutes in a small bowl. Sieve out the water and mix with the lamb, mint, oregano, garlic, lemon zest and seasoning. Form into small, walnut-sized patties and set on a baking tray. Chill for 20 minutes or up to 6 hours.

Fry the patties in a little oil until cooked through and golden. You may need to do this is batches so as not to crowd the patties.

Stir together the hummus, yogurt and cumin. To assemble, toast or warm the pita bread, then slice off the top. Into the cavity, dollop in some of the hummus mixture, several patties, some lettuce, mint, onion and tomatoes.

Serves 8

 

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

 

Salmon, Avocado, Watercress and Pumpkin Seed Salad

This lovely salad is truly a treat. The salmon is poached into a silky, coral texture and combined with creamy avocados and crunchy toasted pumpkin seeds. Served warm or chilled, this will be a new favorite.

2 salmon fillets
2 scallions, torn in half
1 tsp. black peppercorns
1 1/2 tsp. lime juice
2 tsp. sea salt or kosher salt
3 tbs. pumpkin seeds
4 oz. watercress
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 small, ripe avocado, scooped out into curls
1 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

Put the salmon in a small frying pan and cover with cold water. Add the scallions, peppercorns, lime juice and salt. Bring to a boil, then turn the salmon over, cover the pan  and leave to sit for 7-10 minutes, until the salmon is done. (This depends on the thickness of the salmon.) Take the salmon out of the pan and leave to cool for a few minutes or chill to use later.

Tip the pumpkin seeds in a small, dry skillet and toast them on the stove over a medium heat until they start to snap. Take off the heat and leave until needed.

To serve, arrange the watercress on a large plate, sprinkle with the vinegar and toss. Break up the salmon into pieces and place on top. Add the avocado curls, sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds and drizzle with the olive oil. Check seasoning and add sea salt, if needed.

Serves 2

 

Sicilian Vinegar Chicken

This is wonderfully sour, still mellow chicken casserole in lovely thin sauce.

1 onion, finely chopped
6 tbs. olive oil
8 chicken pieces, skinless, bone in
10 tbs. chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
juice of 1/2 lemon
handful fresh parsley, chopped
handful fresh basil, chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped

In a wide, heavy saucepan, gently fry the onion in the 4 tbs. of the oil until softened but not browned. Arrange the chicken on top and season well. Pour in the chicken stock, wine, vinegar, lemon juice and most of the parsley and basil. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.

When the chicken is ready, toss the tomatoes with the remaining olive oil and season. Tumble over the chicken and serve sprinkled with the remaining parsley and basil.

Serves 4

Pasta with Ham, Peas and Cream

Utter comfort food, this wonderful pasta comes together in moments and is such a divine treat.

7 oz. farfalle or other short pasta (2 cups)
2/3 cup frozen peas
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cups diced ham
2 tbs. grated Parmesan

Cook the pasta according to the package directions in plenty of boiling, salted water. Add the peas after 5 minutes. When the pasta is cooked, drain it with the peas.

Put the dry pan back on the heat with the cream, ham and Parmesan. Warm through, then tip in the pasta and peas, tossing everything together well.

Serves 2

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.