One list five meals: Bean and Squash Hot Pot with Garlic-rubbed Bread

1 medium butternut squash, deseeded, peeled and chopped
2 waxy potatoes, washed and cut into chunks
A dash of olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 red chilli, finely chopped

4 tsp of cumin seeds, toasted

150mls of stock

1 tin of butter beans, drained

A bunch of coriander, chopped

Toss the squash and potatoes in olive oil and roast until tender.

Heat another dash of oil and sauté the onion until translucent. Add the chilli, cumin and stock. Add the beans and bring to the boil and simmer for one minute.

Pour the contents of the pan over the squash and potatoes in the roasting tin. Return the dish to the oven for five minutes.

Stir in the fresh coriander and serve.

Merguez Sausage Pasta

Merguez sausages are available in a lot of shops and are particularly nice for a barbecue in the summer months. They are usually made with lamb and sometimes beef and have a nice warm harrisa style flavour.

Penne pasta for four

A dash of olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

8 Merguez sausages, cut into bite size chunks

2 tsp of fennel seeds, lightly toasted

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp of tomato purée

2 tbsp of crème fraiche

Grated parmesan to serve

Put the pasta on to boil in lightly salted water and drain when cooked. Heat a dash of oil over a medium heat and sauté the onion until it is turning translucent. Add the garlic to the pan and stir fry for 30 seconds. Add the sausages and fennel seeds and fry until the sausages have browned on the outside.

Add the tomatoes and the purée to the pan and allow to bubble away for 15 to 20 minutes until the sauce has thickened and the sausages are cooked through. Taste and season. You can add a tablespoon of red wine to the sauce with the tomatoes if you wish, it gives a nice richness.

Stir in the crème fraiche and season. Sprinkle with a little parmesan to serve.

Butternut Squash Fritters with Crumbled Blue Cheese

A dash of olive oil

250g of butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and chopped into chunks

1 egg, lightly beaten

300 mls of milk

200g of self raising flour

1 tsp of baking powder

A small bunch of sage, finely chopped

100g of cream cheese, crumbled

50g of blue cheese, crumbled

A handful of walnuts, toasted

A handful of pumpkin seeds

Toss the squash in a little oil and seasoning and roast in the oven at 180 degrees until tender. It will take about 20 minutes. Mash it once it has cooled a little. Whisk the egg and milk together until slightly foaming. Mix the flour and baking powder with a pinch of salt. Stir in the chopped sage. Make a well in the flour and stir the egg mixture into it, then stir in the cooled, mashed squash and the cream cheese.

Heat another dash of oil in a frying pan and put an eighth of the batter into it. Fry until golden underneath and then flip the fritter over. Continue with the rest of the batter.

Serve with the crumbled blue cheese, pumpkin seeds and the walnuts. A green leaf salad also works well on the side.

Pan fried Plaice with Wasabi Mash and Sesame Carrots

Potatoes for four, about 500g

1 onion, finely chopped

A knob of butter

A dash of rapeseed oil

2 medium carrots, cut into thin batons

4 fillets of plaice

Flour for dusting, I used brown spelt flour

100mls of milk

2 tsp of wasabi paste

A handful of sesame seeds, toasted

Put the potatoes on to boil in lightly salted water and drain when cooked. Heat a small knob of butter and a dash of rapeseed oil together in a frying pan over a medium heat. Sauté the onion until it is turning translucent then set aside on a plate.

Add the carrots to the same pan and stir fry until tender. Set them aside on another plate. Mash the potatoes with the milk, wasabi and the fried onions. Put a lid on the pot and keep warm.

Coat the fish in the flour and some seasoning. Heat another knob of butter in the same pan you cooked the onion and carrots in and fry the plaice until cooked through.

Toss the carrots in the seeds and a little oil and seasoning. Serve with the mash and plaice and any butter from the pan poured over the fish.

Pan Poached Salmon

Rice for four

4 x 150g pieces of salmon, skin removed

8 tbsp of white wine

The juice and zest of 2 lemons, 1 other lemon sliced

2 tbsp of creme fraiche

A bunch of tarragon or dill if you prefer, very finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, sit it in boiling water for

30 seconds then chop it very finely

Sitting garlic in boiling water takes away the harshness that it can have when you eat in raw.

Put the rice on to boil in lightly salted water and drain when cooked. Char the slices of the lemon on a dry pan until they are browning and set aside. Mix the garlic and which ever herb you choose into the creme fraiche and taste and season. Add the lemon juice and zest from the other two lemons into the same pan with 500mls of boiling water and the wine. Add some seasoning and place the salmon pieces into the pan. Simmer for four minutes or until cooked through and gently remove.

Serve the salmon with the rice and spoon a teaspoon or two of the poaching liquid over the rice. Put a dollop of creme fraiche on the side with the charred lemon slices and serve.

Michelle Darmody owns The Cake Cafe, The Daintree Building, Dublin 2, 01 4789394


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