Rich pickings - The Drinking & Dining Directory 2019 - Magazine | Monocle

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Recipes & food styling: Susie Theodorou

Cucumber salad with feta and pistachio

(Serves 6 as part of a mezze menu)

5 mini cucumbers (550g in total)
1 tbsp sea-salt flakes
30g each of mint, basil and flat-leaf parsley, washed and dried
2 tbsps red-wine vinegar or Moscatel vinegar
1 tsp clear honey
5 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
175g feta, thinly shaved on a mandolin or sliced thinly with a knife
45g pistachios, roughly chopped

1. Top and tail the cucumbers. Using a mandolin on a 3mm setting, cut them into long strips. (You could also do this with a good vegetable peeler.) Put the cucumber slices in a single layer on a cooling rack over a baking tray and sprinkle with the salt. Stand for 15 minutes to draw out some of their liquid.

2. Meanwhile, discard any thick stalks among the herbs and mix in a medium bowl.

3. Make the dressing: mix the vinegar with the honey and whisk in the oil. Season with black pepper.

4. Toss the herbs with a little of the dressing.

5. Pat the cucumbers dry with paper towels. Place in a clean bowl with half the remaining dressing. Mix in the herbs.

6. Arrange the cucumber mix on plates or a large platter. Place the feta and pistachios on top. Spoon over the dressing. Serve.

Grilled squid salad with fava-bean puree

(Serves 6 as part of a mezze menu)

650g squid, cleaned, with tentacles and bodies separated
1 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted and crushed
4 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
3 lemons, cut in half
Sea-salt flakes
1 bunch spring onions
1 batch fava-bean puree (see next recipe)
15g coriander leaves to serve (optional)

1. Place the squid in a bowl and season with half the coriander seeds, 2 tbsps olive oil and the juice of 1 lemon. Season with a pinch of salt and mix well, cover and leave to stand for 30 minutes at room temperature, or for 2 hours in the fridge.

2. If using a charcoal grill, heat to medium. Put a cake rack over the existing grill to stop the squid falling through. Brush with oil and heat for 5 minutes. Add the squid, cook for 10 minutes on one side; turn over and cook for 5 to 8 minutes. Get a good colour on both sides. The tentacles will curl.

3. Transfer the squid to a clean bowl and allow to cool slightly. Add the spring onions to the grill and char on each side. Place 2 lemons over the charcoal to char slightly. Remove and set aside.

4. Thinly slice the squid bodies and cut the tentacles in half, then return to the bowl. Roughly cut the spring onions in half and mix with the squid, adding the remaining coriander seeds. Taste and add a little lemon juice from the grilled lemon halves (and a little salt if needed).

5. To assemble, swirl the fava-bean puree in bowls (or 1 large one), top with the squid salad and then the coriander leaves (if using). Drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Serve with the grilled lemon halves.

Fava-bean puree

Serve with the grilled squid salad or the focaccia bread and confit cherry tomatoes.
(Serves 6)

225g fava beans, skinless and cracked
1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
75ml extra-virgin olive oil
Sea-salt flakes
1 lemon, juiced

1. Rinse the beans in cold water and drain. Place them in a saucepan and cover with 900ml water. Bring to the boil, skimming any froth from the surface. Once boiling, reduce the heat. Add the onion, 2 tbsps of oil and a large pinch of sea-salt flakes. Simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered. The beans should be tender and at least ¾ of the liquid absorbed. Cool slightly then pour the mixture into a blender or food processor. Whizz to a fine puree. Add the lemon juice and remaining oil. Season, adding salt if required.
Make the puree in advance and reheat when needed, adding a little water to loosen.

Grilled sugar-snap peas  with tahini

The sugar snaps can be replaced with in-season flat green beans or thick long green beans. The recipe is inspired by the steamed soybeans you can eat in Asian restaurants.
(Serves 6 as part of a mezze menu)

500g sugar-snap peas
4 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
Sea-salt flakes
Black peppercorns, roughly crushed
3 tbsps tahini
½ lemon, juiced
2 tsps sesame seeds, toasted
1 tsp nigella seeds, toasted

1. Preheat grill to medium. Set a cake rack over the existing grill. Brush with oil and preheat for 5 minutes.

2. Place the sugar snaps in a bowl and add 2 tbsps oil and a little sea salt; toss to coat the vegetables. Leave to stand.

3. Put the tahini in a deep bowl and whisk in 75ml of water; once smooth, add the lemon juice and 2 tbsps of oil. Taste, add salt and lemon juice if needed. Set aside.

4. Grill the sugar snaps for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until charred in places. Transfer to a platter and intersperse with small bowls of the tahini dressing. Sprinkle everything with the sesame and nigella seeds. Serve.

Grilled red snapper with fennel and lemon

(Serves 6 as part of a mezze menu)

1 large red snapper (about 1kg, or 2 smaller ones), cleaned and scaled
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced
4 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil

1. Preheat the grill to medium hot. Brush the grill rack generously with oil and heat for at least 5 minutes.

2. Cut 3 slits on each side of the fish then rub with a little salt and pepper, inside and out. Stuff with 2 slices of lemon and a few slices of fennel, then tie 2 or 3 times with butcher’s string.

3. Put the fish on the hot grill and cook for 8 to 10 minutes on each side. Add the remaining fennel and lemon slices to the grill, brushing with a little oil. The fish should be just opaque.

4. To serve, remove the string. Run a small pointed knife along the top edge of the fish, from heat to tail, to remove the top fins. Slide a spatula over the bones and open out one side of the fish, revealing the white flesh. Pick up the tail and ease the backbone out in one piece; cut at the head or remove it with the head if you prefer. Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil.

5. The fennel and lemons used to stuff the fish can be served or discarded – up to you.

Lemon, black olive and sesame salsa

(Serves 6 as part of a mezze menu)

2 lemons
150g oil-cured black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
4 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp sesame seeds

1. Remove the rind and pith from one lemon and cut between the membranes to make segments. Place in a bowl and squeeze the juice from the membranes over the lemon pieces.

2. Sauté the sesame seeds with the oil in a frying pan for 1 minute. Add the olives and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, until the sesame seeds are golden brown. Add to the lemon pieces. Taste, add extra lemon juice if needed and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

No-cook green sauce

(Makes 400ml)

1 green celery stalk, roughly chopped
75g cucumber, roughly chopped
75g coriander
15g flat-leaf parsley
2 tbsps white-wine vinegar or lemon juice
2 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil

1. Using a blender, whizz all the vegetables, herbs, vinegar and oil. Gradually add salt, taste, and add a little more oil or vinegar.

2. Serve with the grilled fish.

Fingerling potatoes with capers and green olives

(Serves 6 as part of a mezze menu)

750g small thick-skinned fingerling or baby potatoes, such as charlotte, washed
Sea salt
2 tbsps red-wine vinegar
1 tsp clear honey
5 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
175g marinated green cracked olives, pitted
4 tbsps capers in brine
30g flat-leaf parsley, leaves roughly chopped
Aleppo pepper to serve

1. Put the potatoes in a pot and fill with water. Salt the water. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until potatoes are tender. Drain.

2. Mix the vinegar and honey, then whisk in the oil. Season with black pepper. Stir in the olives and capers.

3. Preheat fan oven to 200C.

4. Smash each potato with the flat side of a knife and place on a baking tray. Top the potatoes with the olive dressing and toss a little to mix so the potatoes fall apart. Roast for 25 minutes until crispy. Toss with the parsley; season with salt if needed. Sprinkle with Aleppo pepper and serve.


(Makes one 26cm 3 36cm flat bread)

5g crushed sea salt
325ml lukewarm water
1 teaspoon honey
25ml extra virgin olive oil
450g bread flour
50g whole spelt flour
5g instant dry yeast

5g sea-salt flakes
80ml lukewarm water

To bake
6 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
Sea-salt flakes, to sprinkle

1. Make the dough. Dissolve the sea salt in 50ml of the water. Add the honey and stir to dissolve. Add the remaining water and the 25ml oil. Stir well.

2. Mix the 2 flours in a large bowl and stir in the yeast. Add all the liquid to the flour and mix with your hand for about 1 or 2 minutes. Cover with clingfilm and stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

3. Oil a large mixing bowl; add the dough. Cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge overnight (at least 12 to 15 hours).

4. Three hours before it’s needed, flour a surface. Dump the dough on the flour and fold the dough 4 times, rotating each time (do not knead). Flour a large baking tray and place the dough on top. Dampen a tea-towel and place it over the dough. Keep the dough in a warm place to come to room temperature for about 2 hours.

5. Flour a clean surface, place the dough on the flour and press it out with your fingers so it’s almost large enough to fit a 26cm 3 36cm baking tray.

6. Grease the tray with 2 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil, lift the dough into the tray and continue to press it out to fit.

7. For the brine, stir the salt in the lukewarm water to dissolve and pour it over the dough. Set aside in a warm place for 45 minutes. Then pour the remaining oil over the dough.

8. Preheat the oven to 250C.

9. Bake for 20 minutes, turning the baking tray halfway through. Cook until golden on top and on the base. Sprinkle with sea-salt flakes as soon as it comes out of the oven. Cool for 5 minutes, then lift out of the baking tray and place on a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Confit cherry tomatoes

The tomatoes will keep in a shallow container, with the oil, for 2 weeks in the fridge. Use the oil in salad dressings once the tomatoes are finished.
(Makes 1kg)

650g mixed small cherry or grape tomatoes
1 large, fresh rosemary sprig
4 garlic bulbs, roughly bashed so skin splits
2 or 3 strips lemon rind
400ml extra-virgin olive oil
Sea-salt flakes to serve

1. Preheat fan oven to 130C.

2. Wash the tomatoes and place in a ceramic pot large enough to hold them in a single layer. Add the rosemary, garlic, lemon rind and oil. Cook for 35 to 40 minutes until the tomatoes just start to blister (but not burst). You will notice the odd skin just split. Remove from the heat and leave in the pan until cool. Serve at room temperature with the focaccia and fish.

Summer salad

This salad can be served with a red-wine vinegar dressing or with the no-cook green sauce, strained, using the juice only.
(Serves 6 as part of a mezze menu)

150g flat green beans
150g green beans
100g podded peas
3 baby courgettes, sliced, with flowers
2 tbsps red-wine vinegar
1 tsp clear honey
5 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
Sunflower oil, to shallow fry
1 lemon, finely sliced
175g green salad leaves (a mix of little gems and other soft leaves, such as rocket)
1 handful of micro sprouted Mediterranean mix, which includes coriander and fennel

1. Blanch all the beans in salted boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and cool in iced water. Slice the flat beans into thin pieces, on the bias; the beans should be cut into 2.5cm pieces. Place in a bowl with the peas and courgettes (reserve the flowers).

2. Make the dressing by mixing the vinegar with the honey and season with salt and pepper. Add the oil.

3. Heat the sunflower oil. Add the lemon slices and cook until crisp. Drain on paper towels and tear into thirds.

4. On a large platter, mix the leaves with a ¼ of the dressing. Add another ¼ of dressing to the beans and courgettes. Taste, adding extra salt if needed. Add the beans on top of the leaves. Tear the courgette flowers and add on top of the beans. Sprinkle over the micro greens and the crisp lemon slices. Add the remaining dressing and serve.

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