Have a lunch party! Six weekend dishes

By Elizabeth Summers / May 3, 2016 / No comments
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The MasterChef finalist Emma Spitzer shares some of her favourite recipes inspired by the Middle East and North Africa

Sticky pomegranate salmon
Serves 4

2 tsp soft dark brown sugar
1 tsp ground sumac
1 tsp cornflour
½ tsp sea salt
4 skin-on salmon fillets
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp vegetable or groundnut oil
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
Seeds from ½ pomegranate, to garnish
For the buckwheat and barberry salad
200g buckwheat
150ml hot vegetable or chicken stock
50g unsalted pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
2 tsp dried barberries
1 tsp dried mint
1 tbsp olive oil
2 large handfuls of coriander, finely chopped
For the spiced pomegranate dressing
1 tbsp date syrup
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground sumac
½ tsp grated fresh root ginger
½ tsp harissa
Sea salt and pepper

1 Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6.
2 Make the buckwheat and barberry salad. Place the buckwheat in a sieve and rinse well in cold water. Put it in a medium saucepan and cover with the hot stock. Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid and simmer gently for 10-12 min until the buckwheat is soft but retains a bit of bite.
3 Drain and spread out on a tray or plate to cool slightly. Whisk the ingredients for the dressing together in a bowl and set aside.
4 Make the salmon. First, mix the sugar, sumac, cornflour and salt together, then rub over the flesh side of the salmon fillets and add a twist of black pepper over the top.
5 Heat an ovenproof frying pan over a high heat and add the oil. When it is very hot, add the salmon fillets, flesh-side down, and reduce the heat to medium. Sear for 2 min, then turn the fillets over and cook on the skin side for a further minute. Using a pastry brush, spread the pomegranate molasses evenly over each fillet.
6 Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for a further 8-10 min. If you don’t have an ovenproof frying pan, transfer the salmon to a baking tray lined with foil before placing in the oven.
7 Put the buckwheat in a large bowl, then stir in the pistachios, barberries and mint, pour over the dressing and mix with a fork. Finish with the olive oil and coriander, reserving a tablespoon of the coriander for garnish. Serve the salmon on a bed of the buckwheat and barberry salad, garnished with pomegranate seeds.

Crispy chicken wings with garlic sauce
Makes about 30 wings

1kg chicken wings
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp lemon pepper
1 tsp ground sumac
2 tsp chilli flakes (or Aleppo pepper), plus 1 tsp for sprinkling
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp English mustard powder
½ tsp cayenne pepper
3 tsp soft light brown sugar
60g plain flour
80g butter, melted
For the creamy garlic sauce
150g full-fat natural yogurt
1 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tsp olive oil, plus extra if needed
1 garlic clove, crushed
½ tsp dried mint
½ tsp sea salt, or to taste

1 Preheat the oven to 220C/gas 7. Line a baking tray with a double layer of foil.
2 Halve the chicken wings at the joint and remove the wing tips, or ask your butcher to do this for you.
3 Mix all the spices and sugar together in a bowl. Put the flour in a sturdy resealable plastic food bag, add the spice mix and then the chicken wings.
4 Seal the bag and give it a really good shake to ensure that all the wings are well coated.
5 Place the chicken wings on the lined tray in a single layer and pour the melted butter over each one, turning so that both sides of the wings are covered. Sprinkle with the remaining teaspoon of chilli flakes.
6 Bake for 30 min, then turn the wings over and bake for a further 15 min, until they are crispy and golden and cooked through.
7 Meanwhile, mix all the ingredients for the creamy garlic sauce together in a bowl and check for seasoning. If it is too thick, thin with a little more olive oil. Serve the wings hot with the bowl of creamy garlic sauce.

Israeli chard and ricotta pastries
Makes 15 bourekas

For the filling
200g Swiss chard
150g ricotta cheese
85g parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground white pepper
For the boureka pastry
1 sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry
Plain flour, for dusting
Beaten egg, to glaze
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp Nigella seeds

1 Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6 and line 2 baking trays with baking parchment.
2 Trim the thick stalks from the Swiss chard and blanch the leaves in a saucepan of salted boiling water for 1-2 min. Line a sieve with kitchen paper and then drain the chard, pressing down on the leaves with a wooden spoon to remove all the excess water. Leave to drain and cool, then chop the leaves and combine with the remainder of the filling ingredients.
3 Unroll the sheet of pastry on a lightly floured work surface and roll out by another 2½cm all round. Using a 9cm-square pastry cutter, cut out squares from the pastry — you should get about 12 from the sheet. Wrap the pastry trimmings in clingfilm and place in the fridge for rerolling to make more squares later.
4 Place a heaped tablespoonful of the filling in the centre of each square, then brush beaten egg round the border with a pastry brush and fold over to make a triangle. Seal the triangles by pressing down on the edges with the tines of a fork and at the same time making a nice pattern. Place on the lined trays. Reroll and repeat with the chilled pastry trimmings.
5 Brush each of the triangles liberally with beaten egg (this also helps to prevent the filling from leaking out while baking) and sprinkle over the sesame and Nigella seeds.
6 Bake for 25-30 min until puffed up and golden. Enjoy hot or cold.

Spicy Algerian potato cake
Serves 8

6-7 waxy potatoes
1 large or 2 medium onions, finely diced
300ml olive oil
6 large eggs
2 tbsp harissa, or more if you want it hotter
1 tsp ground cumin
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Peel the potatoes, then cut in half vertically and slice each half thinly so that you have half-moon shapes; use a mandolin if you have one.
2 Add the potatoes to a large bowl with the onion, season with salt and mix together to combine.
3 Heat all but 1 tablespoon of the oil in a non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Check the oil temperature by adding a potato; if it sizzles, the oil is hot enough. Turn the heat down to medium and add the rest of the potatoes and onion. Cook for 20 min, turning very carefully in the oil every 5 min, or until the potatoes are soft all the way through — you don’t want to fry the ingredients too quickly.
4 Drain the potatoes in a sieve over a bowl, reserving the oil — this has so much flavour, so you must keep it for other uses.
5 Beat the eggs in a large bowl, then mix in the harissa and cumin. Season again with salt and some black pepper, and then add the potatoes and onion back in. Mix very gently to avoid breaking up the potatoes.
6 Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the same frying pan, add the egg and potato mixture and cook for about 4-5 min — you want the heat medium-low to avoid burning the bottom. Place a plate larger than the diameter of the frying pan over the top and very carefully invert the frying pan to turn the mahkuda over on to the plate. Then return the mahkuda to the pan to cook the other side, adding in any potato that has escaped. Tuck the edges in with a spatula if need be, to make a nice shape.
7 Cook for a further 3 min and then repeat the turning process as before, placing the plate over the top and inverting the frying pan. Serve warm.

Artichoke and pistachio gratin
Serves 6

200g artichoke hearts in oil from a jar, drained and finely chopped
85g cooked spinach, fresh or frozen, finely chopped
85g parmesan cheese, grated
85g breadcrumbs
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
50g unsalted pistachio nuts, slightly crushed
125g soured cream or crème fraîche
125g mayonnaise
Freshly ground black pepper
For the pitta crisps
3 pitta breads
2 tbsp olive oil
Freshly picked thyme leaves
Sea salt

1 Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6.
2 Add the artichokes and spinach to a bowl with half the parmesan, half the breadcrumbs and all the garlic, pistachio nuts, soured cream and mayonnaise. Give everything a good stir, then season generously with black pepper.
3 Place the mixture in a small gratin dish and top with the remaining parmesan and breadcrumbs.
4 For the pitta crisps, cut the pitta breads into triangles and spread out on a baking tray. Brush the olive oil over each square and sprinkle with the thyme leaves and salt.
5 Bake the gratin for about 20-25 min, adding the pitta crisps to the oven for the final 15 min, until the top of the gratin and the pitta crisps are nice and golden. Serve hot or cold.

Freekeh risotto with soured cream
Serves 4

2 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
2 tsp ras el hanout
250g freekeh, rinsed
500ml vegetable or chicken stock, plus extra if needed
100g raw cashew nuts
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Large handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
150g parmesan cheese, grated
For the minted soured cream
300ml soured cream
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp finely chopped mint
Juice of ½ lemon, or to taste
Sea salt and black pepper

1 Heat the oil in a medium saucepan, add the onion and garlic and gently sauté for about 10 min, until softened. Add the spices and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes, then add the freekeh and stock.
2 Cook, uncovered, over a low heat for about 30-40 min, until the freekeh is cooked through but still has a little bite. You may need to add a bit more stock if the liquid has been absorbed before the freekeh is ready.
3 Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200C/gas 6. Spread the cashew nuts out on a baking tray and roast for 10 min, until golden. Leave to cool, then roughly chop; you want them left quite large.
4 Once the freekeh is cooked, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon zest, along with all but a handful of the cashews, parsley and parmesan.
5 Mix all the ingredients for the minted soured cream together in a bowl and season to taste with salt and black pepper.
6 Ladle the risotto into shallow bowls, then sprinkle with the reserved cashews, parsley and parmesan, top with some of the minted soured cream and serve.
Any leftover risotto can be shaped into walnut-sized balls with dampened hands, then rolled in seasoned flour, beaten egg and panko breadcrumbs, and fried until golden brown.
Recipes taken from Fress by Emma Spitzer (Mitchell Beazley, £25), published on Friday