Hake Gratin Dauphinois

My recipe notebook has a note beside this recipe: ‘indescribably awesome’. It is.

Perhaps the ultimate comfort food, a fish pie is difficult to beat when the weather is autumnal and the central heating is on – and it’s the end of June.

This one is a bit different though, rather than a mash topping it uses Dauphinois potatoes layered over the top of an onion base with a fish and basil cream filling. Simple to make, and just delicious, it is so moreish it is not a dish you can eat if you are on a diet!

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RECIPE – feeds 3 

500g floury potatoes (Roosters, King Edward, Maris Piper etc)

2 large onions, peeled, halved and finely sliced

2 tbsp olive oil

3 hake fillets or loins (or other firm white fish)

300 ml double cream

a bunch of basil, leaves only, shredded


METHOD

Slice the potatoes to the uniform thickness of a pound coin. Use a mandolin if you have one, it makes the job much quicker and accurate, just be sure to use the guard – I managed to slice my thumb while making this.

Put the sliced potatoes into a large pan in just enough slightly salted cold water to cover them, and bring to the boil. As soon as the water is just at the boil, turn the heat right down until bubbles just break the surface and poach the potatoes for five minutes.

Drain the potatoes in a colander and set aside.

Heat the oven to 200C/ 180C fan/ Gas 6.

Finely slice the onions and fry them gently in a large pan, in the olive oil, for around ten minutes until softened but not coloured. I use my risotto pan for this, I can then leave the onions in it and layer everything on top before I put it into the oven. Use whatever you have though, a large ovenproof dish is perfect.

Spread the onions out in an even layer in the bottom of your pan or dish. Cut the fish into large chunks and season lightly with salt and pepper, then place them evenly on top of the onions. There will be gaps, this doesn’t matter.

Stir the basil into the cream, season lightly with salt and pour evenly over the fish and onions. It will look as though you don’t have quite enough cream, but you do. Don’t be tempted to use more.

Now start laying the potato slices over the fish and onions, slightly overlapping them, until completely covered. Drizzle more olive oil all over the top – not too much – or dot it with butter.

Bake for around 40 minutes until the potatoes have lightly browned and are starting to char at the edges.

Serve with a simple green salad.

Carrot and Ginger Salad

This simple, quick to make and very attractive salad is the perfect accompaniment to Indian curries.

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RECIPE – feeds 4 

5 or 6 large carrots

1 fresh red chilli, de-seeded and finely sliced

a 2cm knob of fresh ginger, trimmed but not peeled, finely chopped

a handful of flaked almonds

a small bunch of fresh coriander, leaves only, chopped

lime juice


METHOD

Peel and trim the carrots. If you are lucky enough to have a food processor with a grater attachment then you’re in luck, otherwise you will have to grate the carrots by hand. Put them into a salad bowl.

In a small, NOT non-stick pan lightly toast the flaked almonds until they are lightly and evenly browned. Keep your eye on them as they can burn quickly, when you judge that they are ready tip them out of the pan onto a plate to cool – the pan will be hot and they will cook on if left in it. Remove any toasted almonds that are burned as they are bitter.

Add the almonds to the carrots, together with the chilli, ginger and coriander. Toss thoroughly to mix, and when you are ready to eat sprinkle lime juice over the salad and toss again. Check the taste and add more lime if necessary, a little at a time.

Serve as a side salad alongside anything spicy, but this goes particularly well with many Indian dishes.

Tartare Sauce

Those who read this blog with any regularity will know that I am a dedicated advocate of making every element of a meal myself. I have tried my hand at tomato ketchup, brown sauce, making my own cheese, mayonnaise… anything and everything in fact – if it can be made in a home kitchen then I will give it a go. It’s not because I am some kind of zealot who treats his body as a temple and refuses to eat anything made in a factory – well, okay, to a large degree I am extremely distrustful of processed food of any kind – but the main reason is that I enjoy making new things, and also because when you make something yourself you can adjust its flavour to make it taste exactly how you want it to. There is also the fact that every time you make something new then you can learn something from it. If you want to become a good cook then whatever else you do there is no substitute for actual cooking.

You might wonder whether it’s worth going to the effort of making something as basic as tartare sauce when there are perfectly acceptable jars of it lining supermarket shelves all around the world. If you’re wondering that then you’re reading the wrong blog! Like everything else that you make by hand, the difference between home-made and shop-bought is like night and day. This is dead easy, quick and inexpensive, and because you will probably have more than you need you can store leftovers in the fridge for up to a week.

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RECIPE – feeds 6 people easily

3 medium large cornichons (pickled gherkins)

1 heaped tbsp capers, drained

4 anchovy fillets in oil, drained

a small bunch of flat leaf parsley, leaves and stalks roughly torn

1 lemon, zest and juice

200g mayonnaise

extra-virgin olive oil


METHOD

Put the cornichons, capers, anchovies, parsley and the zest of the lemon in a food processor (or, at a push, a blender), with half the lemon juice and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Blitz until you have a rough paste, if you like a little more texture in your sauce stop blitzing when it reaches your desired consistency. Add a little more olive oil if necessary.

Put the mayonnaise in a large bowl, then add the blitzed paste to it. Mix well and taste, adding as much of the remaining lemon juice as you wish so that it is as tart as you like it.

I have not specified that you make your own mayonnaise here, that is a blog post that will come in the future. This tastes great with shop-bought mayo, and because you are dealing with such strong flavours there is little benefit to be gained from making your own, unless you want to and then you can brag about it.

Salmon Fishcakes

Made well, fishcakes are one of the most delicious meals on the planet. Simultaneously soft and crunchy, mellow yet full of flavour. Made poorly, they can be flabby, soggy, oily and tasteless. It’s obviously best to ensure that they are made well then, and the best starting point is a great recipe.

This recipe was inspired by the Michelin-starred Tom Kerridge, so as you would expect they are full of flavour but do involve a fair bit of work. As a result these are best made on an afternoon when you haven’t much else to do, though I guarantee that once you have found the time to make them you will be yearning to repeat the experience.

Most fishcake recipes involve shallow frying, I have often found though that you need high heat to avoid them getting oily, but then the breadcrumbs tend to burn before the middle of the fishcake is cooked. Far better to bake them, it keeps the breadcrumbs crunchy, ensures even cooking and it also gives you a wider margin for error. It also means they are that much lower in fat and therefore even healthier than they already are.

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RECIPE – makes 6, feeds 3 people easily

3 or 4 baking potatoes – you will need 350g of potato flesh

350g salmon fillets

2 tbsp capers, drained

2 tbsp dill, chopped

2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 tbsp English mustard powder

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

finely grated zest of a lemon

100g smoked salmon, chopped

150g plain flour

2 eggs, beaten

150g panko breadcrumbs


METHOD

Heat the oven to 200C/ 180C fan /Gas 6. Bake the potatoes for between 60 and 90 minutes until soft. Allow them to cool, and when they are cool enough to handle, cut them in half and scoop out the flesh. Pass the flesh through a potato ricer or just mash it, without adding any butter or liquids. Weigh out 350g of the flesh and set aside for now.

*Tip: When you make mashed potato, make as much as you can (far more than you will need) and freeze the excess. It freezes well and it is always useful to have some mash ready-made for fishcakes, or toppings for fish pie or shepherd’s pie.

Season the salmon, wrap it in kitchen foil and place on a baking sheet then roast for 8-10 minutes until just cooked and the salmon flakes easily. Set aside.

Put the potato in a large bowl, then add the capers, dill, parsley, mustard powder, cayenne pepper, salt and lemon zest, then mix in the smoked salmon. Mix thoroughly, then flake the salmon fillets into the mix and fold in.

Divide the mixture into 6 balls, then shape them into cakes. Cover with cling film and put into the fridge to chill for at least an hour.

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When ready to cook, place the flour, eggs and panko breadcrumbs each into an individual deep plate. One by one, coat the fishcakes with flour, egg and finally the breadcrumbs. You can use regular breadcrumbs here, easily made by putting stale bread into a food processor and blitzing until crumbed, but be careful not to go too far or you will end up with dust. Panko breadcrumbs are far superior, being dry and crunchy and bringing a lovely textural difference to the finished fishcake.

Place the coated fishcakes on a baking sheet, and bake at 200C/ 180C fan /Gas 6 for approximately ten minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and beginning to char.

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These go extremely well with tartare sauce, roasted sweet potato wedges and a simple green salad.

The empty baked potato skins can be deep fried and served as a starter with sour cream and chives, or your favourite crispy skin dips and fillings.

Sweet Potato Wedges with Paprika

These sweet potato wedges are lusciously soft, and when roasted with a sprinkling of paprika make an ideal accompaniment to fillets of fish, chicken or pork. They are ridiculously simple to make as well, and only take half an hour in a hot oven.

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RECIPE – feeds 2 

300g sweet potatoes

2 tsp paprika

olive oil


METHOD

Preheat the oven to 200C/ 180C fan /Gas 6.

Wash the sweet potatoes then, leaving the skin on, slice them into thin wedges. Place them in a shallow baking tray, drizzle them with olive oil – just enough to coat them – then sprinkle the paprika over them. Using your hands, rub the oil and paprika over the wedges ensuring that every surface is coated.

Spread out in a single layer and roast in the centre of the oven for around 30 minutes, until well-browned and meltingly soft.

Be generous with the portion sizes, these are very moreish!

Cod, Fennel & Potato Traybake with a Tomato Salsa

Think of this as jazzed-up fish and chips and you will get a very good idea of the kind of flavours to expect. Roast potatoes in any way and they will be delicious, roast a fennel bulb and it will also be delicious, roast a piece of cod… you get the idea.

There’s a lot going on here, lots of flavours and lots of lovely scents. Tying it all together and adding the sharp tang of vinegar is the salsa. It turns what is already a delicious meal into… um, what is more delicious than delicious?

Just try it, you’ll soon find out; it’s so simple to make and though it takes a little time in the oven the preparation is minimal.

One other thing: my wife commented that the fennel and potatoes are so delicious on their own with the salsa that you don’t actually need the fish to complete the dish. This makes it an ideal tummy-filler for vegans and non-fish eating vegetarians, without cheating anybody of flavour.

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RECIPE – feeds 2 

300g new potatoes, or floury potatoes like Roosters, cut into 5mm slices

2 fennel bulbs, trimmed, cored and thinly sliced, retain the fronds

2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges

1 tbsp fennel seeds

2 tbsp olive oil

2 cod fillets or loins (or similar firm white fish)

another 1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 banana shallot, finely sliced

another 2 medium tomatoes, de-seeded and diced

a handful of basil leaves, shredded, set aside a couple of small sprigs

a small handful of pitted black olives, quartered


METHOD

Preheat the oven to 200C/ 180C fan /Gas 6. Slice the potatoes, use a mandolin if you have one, it will make the job much faster and more precise.

On a large baking tray, scatter the potatoes, fennel bulbs, wedges of tomatoes and fennel seeds. Season with a decent pinch of sea salt, then drizzle all over with olive oil and toss it all together, using your hands, ensuring that everything is coated and the fennel seeds are distributed evenly. Spread out into a single layer on the baking tray, otherwise the potatoes are more likely to steam than roast and they won’t be as good as they can be.

Roast for 25 minutes or until the potatoes are golden and just about cooked through.

Meanwhile, make the salsa: combine the shallot and vinegar in a bowl and set aside while you chop the tomatoes; then add the tomatoes, basil and olives. Combine well, season lightly and set aside for now.

Remove the tray from the oven, place the fish on top, season the fish lightly and scatter the crushed fennel seeds over them, drizzle with a little olive oil and return to the oven for 7-9 minutes until just cooked through.

Pour the salsa evenly over the hot fish and potatoes, scatter the fennel fronds and reserved sprigs of basil and serve. All this needs by way of accompaniment is a pile of rocket leaves.

Thai Green Prawn Curry with Indian Baby Aubergine

We have lately become addicted to Thai green curry, the creamy, spicy sauce is very vibrant and when mixed with plain steamed or boiled rice makes the most deliciously moreish meal. We could quite happily just knock up a batch of the sauce, pair it with a bowl of rice and tuck in.

With such a promising beginning you can only make it even better by adding more flavours and textures. Flicking through another of my favourite books, ‘Rosa’s Thai Cafe’ by Saiphin Moore, I spotted a green chicken curry that uses pea and Thai aubergines. Interesting.

I have only slightly tweaked Saiphin’s recipe, so credit where it is due. Raw, tail-on king prawns are a match made in heaven for green curry, as is chicken, so use whatever you fancy. I swapped the pea and Thai aubergines for Indian (baby) aubergines, purely because they were the only ‘exotic’ variety available when I popped into my nearest international supermarket. They were perfect, and based on that experience I would recommend that you use whatever aubergines you can find, even the regular large Black Magic variety that are ubiquitous in UK supermarkets. Do try and use the smaller, more interesting looking varieties if you can though, just because they look more interesting. After all, the first bite is always with the eye.

You can have this on the table within 15 minutes from heating the oil, that’s quicker than a takeaway, with much more flavour.

Please, please, please make up your own Thai green curry paste. It is infinitely superior to anything you can buy ready-made in a jar. It freezes well so make up a large batch and put some aside for when you make this again, which you will…

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RECIPE – feeds 2 

1 tbsp vegetable oil

3 tbsp Thai green curry paste

1 400ml tin of coconut milk

1 tbsp of palm sugar or jaggery

2 tbsp fish sauce (nam pla)

3 kaffir lime leaves, fresh or dried, shredded

300g raw, tail-on king prawns or 300g skinless chicken breast in bite-size pieces

100g Indian (baby) aubergines, cut in half

100g cooked bamboo shoots, cut into bite-size pieces

a handful of Thai or regular basil, leaves only, shredded

a couple of sprigs of basil to garnish

2 long red chillies, sliced thinly lengthwise to garnish


METHOD

Heat the oil in a large pan over a high heat and add the green curry paste. Stir-fry for ten seconds or so until it is fragrant, then reduce the heat to medium and add half the coconut milk. Cook for a couple of minutes until the curry paste splits and the oil becomes visible.

Now add the remaining coconut milk, palm sugar, fish sauce and lime leaves. Season carefully, bearing in mind that the fish sauce brings saltiness.

At this point you can remove the sauce from the heat and allow to sit and infuse for a few hours if you wish, this will deepen the flavours. Otherwise, add the aubergines and bamboo shoots and cook for 5-7 minutes until the aubergines are tender. If you are using chicken then add this with the aubergines.

If using the prawns, add them just before serving, along with the shredded basil leaves and cook very gently for a few minutes until the prawns are just pink.

Ladle into serving bowls, garnish with the thinly sliced red pepper and a sprig of basil each, and serve alongside bowls of steamed or boiled rice.

When it all goes wrong

Yesterday I posted my 50th recipe. That’s 50 things that I’ve made in the past seven weeks or so that have been triumphs: delicious, well-made, well thought-out, properly executed… I could go on, adding superlative after superlative, talking myself up. I was starting to believe I could make anything and it would be a success, I was starting to believe my own hype. Pride comes before a fall…

I am very selective about which television programmes I watch; there isn’t a great deal that I do like to watch, though I am a sucker for a well-made cooking programme. Watching top chefs go through their paces on a live show; watching a top chef cooking up an unlikely delight on a tropical beach with only a couple of breeze blocks, a bit of wire mesh and a propane canister to hand; or watching a top chef breeze through a tricky French classic without missing a beat – et voila! These are the rarefied heights that I guess anybody who takes pride in their cooking would like to reach: unshakeable confidence; easy concentration; pinpoint knife skills; a flawless and sophisticated palate; an encyclopaedic knowledge and, most importantly, error-free execution.

Except it isn’t really like that. You only have to watch professional cooking challenges such as Masterchef: The Professionals, The Great British Menu or Britain’s Best Bakery to realise that, like everybody else in any other profession, the experts do get it wrong. They mess dishes up, they run out of time, they spill things, drop things, forget to season things, season too much, forget to carry out an important piece of prep, they cut themselves, scald themselves, swear, panic, sweat and wobble. They’re just like us.

I have seen culinary geniuses get it spectacularly wrong when faced with the pressure of their peers, a TV crew and a tight deadline. I have seen professional chefs, who have made the same dish thousands of times, simply forget the most basic processes when faced with a challenge that they would laugh at in their own kitchens. I have seen extraordinarily gifted amateurs competing on Masterchef making the most rudimentary errors of judgement. These are people whose skills I admire and (not so) secretly envy.

But they get things wrong. I am just like them in that respect, I also get things wrong. Perhaps you wouldn’t think so; after all I spend my time writing about how delicious is the food that comes out of my kitchen. That is my role though; if I were to tell you that this dish was okay, or quite nice, or that I hadn’t quite nailed it and the recipe needed a bit of tweaking… well, why would you bother to read any more? If you are going to spend some time in your life reading about what you might like to cook then you have to be sure that what I write has been road-tested to death, tweaked and perfected, and that it can be made exactly as I say it can be made. I therefore choose not to share my disasters, failures, works-in-progress and basic errors. Well, until now.

I had spotted a recipe for a pasty with a creamy vegetable filling in a magazine. I liked the idea of making a pasty, it would be a first for me and I might be able to add another kind of pastry to my toolbox. I didn’t much fancy the filling though, I thought I could come up with something much more exciting and flavourful.

I made small dice of potato, carrot and butternut squash and roasted them in a hot oven until they were just starting to caramelise. I sauteed some red onion, yellow pepper, mushrooms and garlic, added some finely chopped fresh rosemary from the garden, a tablespoon of flour, then some single cream so I ended up with a thick creamy sauce into which I added the roasted vegetables. I seasoned it and left it to cool, while I made the pastry, a simple affair of flour, butter, vegetable shortening, mustard powder and cheddar. So far, so good; lots of individually delicious ingredients that all complement each other, cooked sympathetically to their strengths.

I made my pasties, had a little bit of trouble pinching them closed while keeping them looking neat but practice makes perfect and I will of course make them again, otherwise it was all good. The oven was hot, I glazed them with beaten egg, put them in, baked them for half an hour, made a lovely salad to go alongside them, wobbled out to the garden with plates and cutlery, a bottle of wine and some glasses, sat down and waited, smugly.

They came out of the oven looking good and the pastry smelled delicious. They looked good on the plate, I took a couple of photographs to blog later, cracked open the pastry and… couldn’t really smell very much. Hmmm, I had a taste and… not much. I had committed the cardinal and unforgivable sin of making something that was, well, alright.

My error was as terminal as it was basic: I hadn’t paid enough attention to my seasoning. My pasties were bland, there is nothing worse. I was embarrassed, apologising profusely to my wife – my greatest champion and severest critic, how else is one to improve unless you have someone who is prepared to be brutally honest. She has spent weeks and months saying this was delicious and that was divine, now she had no option but to say: sorry, it doesn’t taste of much.

So much for swaggering around (in my own head, not in the real world); so much for thinking I could cook anything. I had failed the most basic test, if this had been Masterchef or The Great British Bake-Off then I would have been going home. I was careless, distracted, not paying attention, dare I even say arrogant?

It’s not the end of the world of course. I shall cook again today and it will be delicious. I know it will because I got a kick in the seat of my pants yesterday; I was reminded that no matter how good you get at anything you always have to bring your best game, you always have to give it your all and you always have to think about things from every possible angle. That is, you have to do all that if you care, no matter what aspect of life you might be referring to.

I guarantee you that I will make mistakes in the next seven weeks, but they will be because I will be experimenting with and perfecting recipes. What I won’t do is get careless – until the next time I get careless, and then I will have to give myself a good talking to again.

I was taught to always finish on a high, and yesterday did have a gleaming bright spot at its centre: the pastry was absolutely delicious. I’ll work on a delicious, properly-seasoned filling, then I will share it with you.

Cajun Meatballs

My wife is vegetarian which means that by default my own diet is largely vegetarian as well. Some of my friends pity me, “don’t you miss meat?” they ask. The short answer is no.

I could, if I wished, prepare vegetarian and meat-based versions of the same dish by dividing the sauce, or I could cook entirely separate dishes for the two of us. Much as I enjoy cooking, why would I make more work for myself? No, I would rather concentrate on creating one dish that works because it is delicious; if it tastes good then you will be thinking about what is good on your plate rather than thinking “I wish this was steak”.

I am a real fan of quorn meatballs, they have a good firm texture and ‘mouth-feel’, and more importantly they carry flavours really well. My default dish for quorn meatballs is to cook them in a great tomato sauce and serve them with spaghetti. I thought it was time I did something different with them though, so I turned to another cuisine which is big on flavour – the cajun cuisine of the deep south of the USA.

Reliant on green peppers, celery, white pepper and dried herbs to give the sauce a kick, and a very dark roux to give the depth of flavour and thicken the sauce, the flavours can be surprisingly varied just by modifying the relative quantities of green pepper and celery.

Be careful with the white pepper, it is quite fiery and an early version of this dish had me sweating profusely because I was a bit too liberal with it. Be sure to cook it in and the flavours will mellow; experiment with it and tweak it to your own taste. This one is perfect for me.

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RECIPE – feeds 2 with leftovers

For the seasoning mix:

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp freshly ground white pepper

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/2 tsp dried thyme

For the sauce:

1/2 small onion, finely chopped

1 stick of celery, finely chopped

1/2 green pepper, finely chopped

3 tbsp vegetable oil

3 tbsp plain flour

2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

1 400ml tin of chopped tomatoes

1 vegetable stock cube

200ml water

a dash of tabasco or hot pepper sauce

300g Quorn meatballs

4 spring onions, very finely sliced on an angle

a small bunch of coriander, leaves only, chopped


METHOD

Prepare all of your ingredients before you do anything else, and combine your seasoning mix in a small bowl. Also combine the onion, celery and green pepper in a small bowl.

In a large pan, over a high heat, heat the oil until it just starts to smoke. Add the flour gradually while whisking constantly, keep it on the heat. Keep on whisking over the heat until the flour and oil are fully combined and smooth, by now you should notice that the roux is starting to change colour. The longer you cook and whisk it the darker it will go. You need to get the colour to a very dark brown, the colour of a hazelnut; be brave, just keep on whisking and if you think you are ever in danger of burning it just lift it away from the heat for a few seconds – just keep on whisking.

When your roux is a very dark brown remove it from the heat and immediately stir in your combined onion, celery and green pepper, and half the seasoning mix. Keep on whisking it all together until the roux and the pan have cooled sufficiently that you can safely leave it for a minute or two and nothing will burn. That should only take a minute or so.

Now add the tomatoes, water, stock cube and tabasco; bring it to the boil and keep on stirring until the sauce has thickened, then simmer gently for ten minutes. Add the meatballs and simmer for a further ten minutes.

If you have the time, this is a dish that benefits from resting for a few hours to allow the flavours to develop. If you do so, add the meatballs and turn the heat off. They will cook very gently as the sauce cools and when you are ready to serve just reheat as you normally would.

Add the remainder of the seasoning mix and stir well, then remove from the heat and serve. Garnish with the chopped spring onions and fresh coriander leaves and serve in a bowl alongside Cajun rice.

Hummus – Quick and Easy

A Lebanese classic, hummus is – in theory – quick and easy to make. Actually, it is quick and easy to make, so quite why I have had the misfortune to taste some of the most disgusting muck on the planet masquerading as hummus is beyond me. Admittedly, the disgusting stuff is found on supermarket shelves, alongside some quite superb hummus. Once you have made your own though there can be no going back: you know exactly what you are going to get, you know exactly what goes in to it, and you can tweak the proportions of the ingredients to get it exactly how you like it.

This version is not authentic Lebanese hummus, but it is close, and started life as a recipe courtesy of Sabrina Ghayour and her wonderful book ‘Persiana’. Consider the ingredient quantities specified as a starting point, and if you don’t want to make quite so much just reduce the quantities of everything in proportion. You might be surprised at how much salt you need, just add it little by little until it is just as you like it.

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RECIPE – feeds a crowd

3 tins of chickpeas, reserve the liquid from 1 1/2 tins

6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

3 lemons, juice only

4 tbsp tahini

sea salt

paprika to garnish (optional)


METHOD

Put the chickpeas, garlic, tahini, half the olive oil, half the chickpea liquid and half the lemon juice in a food processor and pulse a few times to break the chickpeas down and roughly mix the ingredients.

Empty it in to a large mixing bowl, and using a fork to vigorously mix it together gradually add the olive oil and then some of the chickpea liquid and lemon juice until the consistency is loose but not sloppy, while the texture remains rough – unless you prefer it very smooth like shop-bought, in which case get mashing!

Now start tasting: gradually add the sea salt, a pinch at a time and tasting as you go. Likewise, add more lemon juice if you think it needs it. Your aim is to get a balance of smoky flavour from the garlic, that the salt will accentuate, while bringing out the sharpness of the lemon juice. If your hummus gets a little too loose then a little more tahini will thicken it again, as well as adding more depth of flavour. Adjust gradually and taste it after every addition and you will end up with the most delicious hummus you have ever had, and all in around ten minutes.