One list five meals: Crostini with pistachio tapenade and grilled courgette

Serves 4
1 clove of garlic
1 tbs of capers
a bunch of fresh oregano, chopped

a bunch of parsley chopped

the juice and zest of a lemon

90g of stoned green olives

100g of pistachios nuts out of their shell

1 tbs of olive oil

2 courgettes, sliced thinly lengthwise

1 tsp of paprika

12 small slices of bread such as a baguette cut at an angle

Crostini are handy at this time of year, they can be served as lunch or evening snack and are perfect party nibbles.

Blitz the garlic, capers, oregano, parsley, juice and zest of the lemon with the olives and nuts until they form a rough paste. Taste and season; it will probably not need salt as the ingredients contain a lot of salt already, but black pepper would be good.

Toss the courgette slices in some oil and sprinkle with the paprika. Grill until golden on each side.

Toast the bread. Spread some tapenade onto each slice and then place a slice of courgette on top. If you wish you can sprinkle some pine nuts or some toasted pistachios over the crostini.

The tapenade can also be stirred through warm pasta for a very quick dinner.

Smoked salmon paté with lime and coriander

Serves 4

250g of smoked salmon, roughly sliced

100g of cream cheese

1 tbs of cream

zest of a full lime and juice of half a bunch of coriander, roughly chopped

½ tsp of honey

8 pitta bread, toasted and sliced into soldiers

Smoked salmon often comes in hampers or is given as a gift and you may already have bought some yourself. I find that after Christmas I often have extra that needs to be used up, so this week I have included two recipes to help do that. Other ready-to-eat smoked fish can be substituted in its place if you have it to hand.

Put the salmon, cream cheese, cream, juice and zest, coriander and honey into a blender and blitz until it is forms a paste. You can make it as smooth or rough as you wish. Taste and season, as with the tapenade yesterday it may only need black pepper.

Serve with the toasted pitta bread.

Pear and cheese crostini

Serves 4

12 small slices of bread such as a baguette

cut at an angle

2 cloves of garlic, halved

4 tbs of ricotta cheese

the juice of half a lemon and the zest of a whole one

a small bunch of tarragon, finely chopped

2 small pears cored and thinly sliced

a few leaves of a bitter lettuce such as radicchio

a dash of good olive oil

12 walnuts, toasted

Rub the garlic all over one side of each slice of bread.

Mash the ricotta with the lemon zest and tarragon and season to taste. Spread a dollop on each of the slices where you rubbed the garlic.

Place under a high grill until the ricotta is turning golden.

Double the volume of the lemon juice with water and toss the pear slices in it then drain them. This will stop them going off colour. Toss the pear slices and the lettuce in a little olive oil and seasoning.

Assemble the crostini by laying a few slices of pear on each with a little lettuce and finish off with a toasted walnut and some black pepper. A drizzle of honey works nice too if you wish.

Macaroni with left over cheese and crispy bacon

Serves 4

250g of macaroni

8 smoked back rashers

40g of butter

40g of plain flour

600 mls of milk

2 tsp of nutmeg

1 tsp of chilli powder

280g of left over cheese, I use a mixture of

what ever is in the fridge, all either grated or crumbled

50g of breadcrumbs

This recipe can be made with a combination of cheese that are left over after Christmas.You can even add a little blue cheese if you wish. It does change the dish slightly, however, I would reduce the nutmeg by half if using blue cheese.

Put the macaroni on to boil in lightly salted water for ten minutes then drain. Grill the rashers until crispy. Chop them into thin slices and set aside.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and stir in the flour until you have a smooth texture. Continue to stir over a medium heat for a minute. Add the milk slowly until it forms a smooth paste and continue stirring for a further five minutes. Stir in the nutmeg and chilli. Stir the cheese into the sauce until melted. Pour the drained macaroni and the bacon into the saucepan and completely cover them in the sauce.

Scoop the mixture into an oven proof dish and cover in the bread crumbs. Place under a medium grill until golden on top.

Smoked salmon and cream cheese pasta

Serves 4

Pasta shapes for four

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

a small dash of oil

200g of cream cheese, crumbled into pieces

a dash of milk

the juice of half a lemon and the zest of the whole lemon

a bunch of parsley, finely chopped

a bunch of dill, finely chopped

150g of smoked salmon, sliced

a stalk of broccoli, broken into florets and steamed

Put the pasta on to boil in lightly salted water and drain when cooked.

Heat a dash of oil and sauté the garlic over a low heat until it has started to change colour. Add the cream cheese to the pan and allow it to become liquid, add the milk, lemon juice and zest and then the dill and parsley. Taste and season.

Stir the drained pasta into the sauce while they are both still warm. Stir through the salmon and broccoli and serve.

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


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