Marian Finucane

    Saturday, Sunday, 11 - 1pm

    Marian Finucane Saturday 20 September 2014

    Yotam Ottolenghi - Plenty More

    Yotam Ottolenghi is an Israeli born cookery writer and chef who has achieved phenomenal success since he moved to Britain in the late 90’s.

    Renowned for his vegetarian recipes, Yotam also runs his own group of restaurants and food shops.

    “Plenty More” is the title of his new book.



    Cauliflower Cake

    Cauliflower cheese sounds to me like the most indulgent of dishes, but to an alumnus of the British school system, it's a stomach-turning echo of soft florets in a puddle of cheesy water. So I need to work extra hard to convince readers that it's something they might want to eat. Well, I've got a winner here. Serve as a light supper with a salad of sliced cucumber, dill and mint, dressed with a little sugar, cider vinegar and rapeseed oil. Wrapped, it will taste even better the next day.

    Serves four to six.

    1 small cauliflower, outer leaves removed, broken into 3cm florets

    Salt and black pepper

    1 medium red onion, peeled

    75ml olive oil

    1/2 tsp finely chopped rosemary

    7 eggs

    15g basil, chopped

    120g plain flour, sifted

    1 1/2 tsp baking powder

    ? tsp ground turmeric

    150g coarsely grated parmesan (or another mature cheese)

    Melted butter, to grease the tin

    1 tbsp white sesame seeds

    1 tsp nigella seeds

    Heat the oven to 200C/390C/gas mark 4. Put the cauliflower in a saucepan and add a teaspoon of salt. Cover with water, bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, until the florets are quite soft: they should break when pressed with a spoon. Strain and leave in a colander to dry.

    Cut four round 0.5cm slices off one end of the onion and set aside. Coarsely chop the rest of the onion, and put in a small pan with the oil and rosemary. Cook for 10 minutes on a medium heat, stirring from time to time, until soft, then set aside to cool. Transfer the cooked onion to a large bowl, add the eggs and basil, whisk, then add the flour, baking powder, turmeric, cheese, a teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper. Whisk until smooth, then add the cauliflower and stir gently, trying not to break up all the florets.

    Line the base and sides of a 24cm springform cake tin with baking parchment, and brush the sides with melted butter. Mix together the sesame and nigella seeds and toss them around the inside of the tin, so they stick to the sides. Tip in the cauliflower mix and arrange the reserved onion rings on top.

    Bake in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes, until golden-brown and set: a knife inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean. Remove from the oven and leave for at least 20 minutes before serving: it needs to be served just warm, or at room temperature, rather than hot.

    Mushroom and Tarragon Pithivier

    Many people refuse to believe that I got my basic training at Le Cordon Bleu cookery school, because there is nothing French about my cooking; in fact, I often describe it as anti-French, or at least anti-classical French. This is probably because I am not too big on stocks, I don't do brunoise, and I use less meat and more vegetables in my cooking. Still, I don't want to undermine anything I learned at that legendary institution; it gave me all the basic tools I needed for a career in food. I particularly remember my thrill at making a pithivier (a sweet one with almond cream), using my own puff pastry. It was the first professional-looking thing I made, and I was so proud. This savoury version is wonderfully rich and aniseedy, and needs only a sharp leafy salad alongside.

    Serves six generously.

    300ml vegetable stock

    50g dried porcini

    3 tbsp olive oil

    45g unsalted butter

    400g small shallots, peeled and left whole

    200g chestnut mushrooms, quartered

    150g shiitake mushrooms, halved

    150g oyster mushrooms, quartered

    150g buna-shimeji mushrooms, separated into clusters

    Salt and black pepper

    200g creme fraiche

    2 tbsp ouzo or Pernod

    15g tarragon, chopped

    15g parsley, chopped

    900g all-butter puff pastry

    Plain flour, for dusting

    1 egg, beaten

    Bring the stock to a simmer and add the porcini. Remove from the heat and set aside to soften. Put a tablespoon of oil and a third of the butter in a large, heavy-based saute pan. Add the shallots and cook on a medium-high heat for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the shallots have softened and coloured. Transfer to a bowl.

    Add another tablespoon of oil and half the remaining butter to the pan. Keeping the pan on a medium-high heat, add the chestnut and shiitake mushrooms, and leave for a minute without stirring. Stir, cook for two minutes, then add to the shallots.

    Put the remaining oil and butter in the pan and repeat with the remaining mushrooms. Return the shallots and cooked mushrooms to the pan, with the stock, porcini, three-quarters of teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Simmer vigorously for eight minutes, until the stock has reduced by two-thirds. Turn the heat to low, add the creme fraiche and cook for eight minutes. When just a small amount of sauce is left - two to three tablespoons - add the ouzo, tarragon and parsley. Cook for a minute more, then transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool.

    Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Divide the pastry into two blocks and roll each out on a floured surface to a 3mm-thick square. Put the pastry squares in the fridge for 20 minutes, to rest, then cut one into a 28cm-diameter circle and the other into a 30cm one. Rest in the fridge again for at least 10 minutes.

    Put the smaller circle on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper. Spread the mushroom filling on top, leaving a 2cm border clear around the edge. Brush the edge with egg, lay the larger pastry circle on top and seal together the edges. Use the prongs of a fork to make decorative parallel lines around the edge, then brush the pie with egg. Use the blunt side of a small knife to draw circular lines, running from the centre of the pie to the edge; make sure you only score the pastry without cutting through it.

    Bake for about 35 minutes, until golden on top and cooked on the bottom. Remove, leave to rest for at least 10 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.

    Baked Orzo with Mozzarella and Oregano

    Even the most standard of pasta bakes will always hold a place in my heart, because they remind me of my father's cooking. This is no sentimental journey, though; it's a proud, sophisticated and luxurious take on the bake. People can be a bit sniffy about the firm, low-moisture mozzarella that's sold in blocks. If eaten by itself, it's a very different beast from buffalo, yes, but it works brilliantly for grating or finely dicing in a dish such as this.

    Serves four.

    100ml olive oil

    1 large aubergine, cut into 2cm dice

    4 medium carrots, peeled and

    cut into 1.5cm dice

    4 celery stalks, cut into 1.5cm dice

    1 large onion, peeled and

    finely diced

    3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

    250g orzo pasta, rinsed

    1 tsp tomato puree

    380ml vegetable stock

    3 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped

    (or 1 1/2 tbsp thyme leaves)

    Grated zest of 1 lemon

    120g hard mozzarella, cut into 1cm dice

    40g parmesan, grated

    Salt and black pepper

    1 tsp dried oregano

    3 medium tomatoes, cut into 1cm-thick slices

    Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Heat the oil in a large saute pan and add the aubergine. Cook for eight minutes on a medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown. Remove with a slotted spoon to kitchen paper. Add the carrot and celery to the pan, fry for eight minutes, then transfer to kitchen paper. Turn down the heat to medium and add the onion and garlic. Cook for five minutes, stirring often, then add the orzo and tomato puree, and cook for two minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the stock, fresh oregano and lemon zest. Add the cooked vegetables, mozzarella, parmesan, a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of pepper. Mix well and transfer to a rectangular ovenproof dish, 21cm x 27cm (or a round 27cm diameter one). Arrange the tomatoes on top and sprinkle with the dried oregano, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a grind of pepper.

    Bake for 40 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed and the pasta is cooked. Remove, leave to settle for five minutes and serve.

    Sweet-and-Sour Leeks with Goat's Curd and Currants

    I have done it before, and I am doing it again: namely, putting leek right in the centre of a substantial stand-alone dish. This is not trivial for a vegetable that is normally given the side job of flavouring other things, such as stocks and soups. I find the creaminess of leeks and their sweet, oniony flavour very satisfying. This dish, with its jewel-like currants, makes an elegant starter. Use long, relatively thin leeks, if you can find them; otherwise, use four large ones.

    Serves four.

    8 small leeks (or four large ones), green parts discarded

    2 bay leaves

    2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

    200ml dry white wine

    3 tbsp olive oil

    1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped

    20g currants

    1 tbsp cider vinegar

    2 tsp caster sugar

    2 tbsp sunflower oil

    100g goat's curd (or a creamy goat's cheese)

    1 tbsp chervil leaves (or parsley)

    Salt and black pepper

    Cut the leeks widthways in two, each about 10cm long (if using larger leeks, cut into four 10cm-long pieces), wash well, then lay on the base of a large shallow pan and add the bay, garlic, wine, olive oil and about 250ml of water, so the leeks are half covered in liquid. Add three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt and some black pepper, place on a medium heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes, until a knife can be inserted into the leeks without any resistance; turn the leeks over once or twice during cooking, so they cook evenly.

    With a slotted spoon, transfer the leeks to a plate and set aside. Strain the cooking liquid into a small pan and on a high heat reduce until just three tablespoons remain - between 12 and 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the onion, currants, vinegar, sugar, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and some black pepper, then set aside to soften and marinate.

    Heat the sunflower oil in a large frying pan on a medium-high heat. Carefully add the leeks and fry for two minutes on each side, until lightly golden. Transfer to a plate and set aside to cool.

    To serve, divide the leeks between four plates, dot with the cheese, spoon over the onion and currant dressing, and finish with the chervil.

    Courgette 'Baba Ganoush'

    I don't know why we don't roast courgettes more. Getting some smokiness into the naturally bland flesh is a real revelation. Served with bread, this is a delicate and delightful way to whet the appetite at the beginning of a meal.

    Serves four as a starter or as part of a mezze.

    5 large courgettes

    80g goat's yoghurt

    15g roquefort, coarsely grated

    1 egg, lightly beaten

    15g unsalted butter

    20g pine nuts

    1/2 tsp urfa chilli flakes (or a pinch of normal chilli flakes)

    1 tsp lemon juice

    1 garlic clove, crushed

    Salt and black pepper

    1/2 tsp za'atar, to finish

    Heat the grill to its highest setting. Put the courgettes on an oven tray lined with baking parchment and grill for 45 minutes, turning once or twice during the cooking, until the skin crisps and browns nicely. Remove and, once cool enough to handle, peel off and discard the skin and put the flesh in a colander to drain (or scoop out the flesh with a spoon).

    Put the goat's yoghurt in a small saucepan with the roquefort and egg. Heat very gently for three minutes, stirring often - you want the yoghurt to heat through, but not quite reach simmering point - then set aside and keep warm.

    Melt the butter in a small frying pan, add the pine nuts and cook, stirring often, on a gentle heat for three to four minutes, until the nuts turn golden-brown. Stir in the chilli flakes and lemon juice and set aside.

    To serve, put the warm courgette flesh in a bowl and add the garlic, a third of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Gently mash together with a fork, then spoon out on a large serving platter. Spoon over the warm yoghurt sauce, and top with some warm chilli butter and the pine nuts. Finish with a sprinkle of za'atar and serve at once.


    The combination of walnuts, apricots and lavender is as French as baguette with butter and brie, and every bit as invincible. Do try this cake: it has a moist and soft crumb, a delicate, fruity topping and it keeps well, covered, for a few days.

    Serves eight.

    185g unsalted butter, at roomtemperature, diced

    2 tbsp walnut oil

    220g caster sugar

    120g ground almonds

    4 eggs, beaten

    120g walnuts, blitzed in a food processor to a coarse powder

    90g plain flour

    1/2 tsp vanilla extract

    Grated zest of 1 lemon

    1 1/2 tsp lavender, fresh or dried


    600g fresh apricots, halved and stoned

    For the icing

    50g icing sugar

    1 tbsp lemon juice

    Heat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5. Put the butter, oil, sugar and almonds in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on a medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs bit by bit, and continue to beat until well incorporated. Fold in the walnuts, flour, vanilla, lemon zest, a teaspoon of the lavender and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt.

    Line the base and sides of a 23cm cake tin with baking parchment. Pour in the mix and level the top. Arrange the apricot halves over the top, skin side down and slightly overlapping, right up to the edge. Bake for 70-80 minutes (cover with foil if the top starts to brown too much).

    Meanwhile, make the icing. Whisk the icing sugar and lemon juice to a light, pourable icing, adjusting the amount of sugar or juice as needed. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, brush the icing on top, sprinkle on the remaining lavender and leave to cool before serving.

    Ricotta Fritters with Orange and Honey

    You know how slightly terrifying certain grandmother figures can be? Well, I had to cook these fritters for one such person on a recent visit to Sardinia. Signora Assunta turned out to be completely harmless in the end, but I was sure she was going to eat me alive if I didn't produce something extra-special for her. Luckily, I did her proud and she even gave me a kiss.

    Serves six.

    470g ricotta

    60g caprino goat's cheese (or another soft goat's cheese)

    3 eggs

    60ml full-fat milk

    1 1/2 tbsp mint leaves, finely chopped

    Grated zest of 1 orange

    160g plain flour, possibly more

    1 1/2 tsp baking powder

    50g caster sugar


    700ml sunflower oil, for frying

    4 tbsp clear honey, warmed slightly, for drizzling

    Icing sugar, for dusting

    For the orange syrup

    100g caster sugar

    1 orange, rind shaved into long

    pieces and cut into very thin strips

    Start with the syrup. Put the sugar and 100ml of water in a small saucepan on a medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then gently simmer for three to four minutes. Add the orange strips, cook for two minutes, remove from the heat and leave the orange strips to cool down in the syrup.

    Put 350g of ricotta in a bowl with the goat's cheese and eggs. Beat until fairly smooth, then whisk in the milk, mint and orange zest. Set aside.

    Sift the flour and baking powder into a second bowl, and add the sugar and a quarter-teaspoon of salt. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients to make a batter, adding more flour as necessary, until it is a dropping consistency. Set aside for 10 minutes to rest.

    Pour enough sunflower oil into a small, heavy-based saucepan to come 4cm up the sides of the pan. When the oil is hot (180C), gently drop four or so heaped teaspoonfuls of the batter into the oil and cook for three to four minutes, turning occasionally, until golden-brown (turn down the heat if they brown too quickly). Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on kitchen paper and repeat with the remaining batter.

    Pile the fritters on to individual plates and drizzle over the warmed honey. Top with a dollop of ricotta and dust with icing sugar. To finish, spoon a few orange strips and some of the syrup on top of the ricotta, and serve immediately. *

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