Friday, 19 February 2016

Cafe Culture

Serve up some great-tasting, good-for- you dishes everyone will love

Written by Alex Elliott-Howery and James Grant

Bittersweet tabouleh with radicchio and pomegranate (pictured above) 

Serves 4

100g buckwheat
1 Lebanese (short) cucumber, finely diced
2 oxheart tomatoes, finely chopped u ½ small radicchio, finely shredded
Seeds from 1 smallish pomegranate
finely grated zest and juice of 1-2 lemons
2 handfuls roughly chopped or torn mixed herbs, such as parsley, mint and dill
80ml olive oil
2-3 pinches sumac
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses

Put the buckwheat into a large saucepan of salted boiling water. As soon as the water comes back up to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 6-8 minutes. When the buckwheat is done, the grains should still have a slight bite to them. Drain and leave to cool.

Mix the buckwheat, cucumber, tomatoes, radicchio and pomegranate seeds in a bowl. Add the lemon zest and juice, three-quarters of the herbs and season with salt and pepper, then gently toss everything together.

To serve, place the tabouleh in a large bowl, then pour over the olive oil. Scatter over the sumac and the rest of the herbs and drizzle over the pomegranate molasses.

Zucchini and farro salad with toasted hazelnuts

Serves 4



200g farro (pearled spelt), rinsed and drained
2 zucchini (courgettes), thinly sliced lengthways using a mandoline or very sharp knife
½ red onion, thinly sliced
6 prunes, pitted and finely chopped
50ml apple balsamic vinegar, regular balsamic vinegar or sherry vinegar
½ tsp dijon mustard
60ml vegetable oil
60ml olive oil
Large handful mixed herb sprigs, such as mint, parsley and dill
50g toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Put the farro into a large saucepan of salted boiling water. When the water comes back to the boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until the farro is cooked but still has a bite to it. Drain.

Meanwhile, combine the zucchini, onion and prunes in a bowl and add a pinch of salt to soften the raw zucchini.

To make a dressing for the salad, combine the vinegar, mustard and both the oils in a screw-top jar and season with salt and pepper. Put the lid on and shake well to emulsify.

Add the cooked farro to the zucchini, onion and prunes. Tear the herbs into smaller pieces, then add them to the salad along with the dressing, and toss gently to combine. Place the salad in a serving bowl or on plates and scatter over the hazelnuts.

Chard and wild greens pie

Serves 4-6



1 bunch rainbow chard or swiss chard, leaves removed from stems
50ml olive oil
8 shallots, thinly sliced into rings
1 quarter preserved lemon (available from supermarkets), rind only, finely chopped
80g mint, leaves picked and finely chopped
150g parsley, leaves picked and finely chopped
2 handfuls foraged or bought bitter greens, finely chopped
Good pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
200g sheep’s or goat’s fetta, finely crumbled
4 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
1½ tbsp melted butter
6 sheets filo pastry
Lemon halves, to serve

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the chard leaves and blanch for 5 minutes or until they soften. Drain and refresh under cold running water, then drain again. Use your hands to squeeze the chard as dry as possible, then chop finely.

Thinly slice the chard stems. Heat a tablespoon of the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat, add the chard stems and fry for about 3-5 minutes or until they soften. Add the shallots and cook for 2 minutes, then add the preserved lemon and season with a little salt (not too much, as the preserved lemon and fetta will be quite salty) and pepper. In a large bowl, combine the herbs, chopped chard leaves and bitter greens, along with half the chard stem mixture. Season with nutmeg and pepper, then add three-quarters of the fetta and all of the beaten egg. Thoroughly mix everything together.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.

Combine the melted butter with the remaining olive oil in a small bowl. Brush the base and sides of a 22cm non-stick ovenproof frying pan with the butter and oil. You need to work quickly with filo, or it dries out and becomes brittle.

Lay a sheet of filo on a clean, dry surface, brush with the melted butter and oil, then place in the pan, brushedside up and slightly off-centre, so it partially covers the base and overhangs one side of the pan. Continue in the same way with the second, third and fourth sheets, creating an overlapping cross shape with pastry hanging over the edge of the pan all the way round. Place the fifth sheet of filo in the same position as the first, just to stabilise the pie.

Spoon the filling into the pie case, spreading it out evenly. Sprinkle over the rest of the chard stem mixture and the remaining fetta. Now, one by one, fold the overhanging ends of the pastry sheets over the filling, brushing the top of each one with butter and oil as you go.

Lay the sixth sheet of filo on top, tucking in the edges, then brush with butter and oil. Bake the pie for 40 minutes, turning it around a few times so it browns evenly. Remove from oven and let it sit in the pan for about 5 minutes, then turn it out, upside down, onto a board.

Cut into slices or squares and serve with lemon halves for squeezing.

Cornersmith: Recipes From The Cafe And Picklery, by Alex Elliott-Howery and James Grant; photography by Alan Benson (Murdoch Books, £20). 

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