Recipes: Zesty summer treats

Feta, chickpea and lemon salad. Picture: Robert Perry
Feta, chickpea and lemon salad. Picture: Robert Perry
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In my last column, I was praising the benefits of outdoor eating and here I am, on my summer holidays, sitting on the beach at Seacliff in North Berwick, in the middle of a picnic.

I need to be slightly more protective of the food than before, as we’ve got new puppies in the family, who are also enjoying all these seaside excursions. I once took my old dogs to Yellowcraigs, where a young family were enjoying a small barbecue with just four burgers and four buns. Unfortunately, my boys soon made sure that there were only three of each. The daddy in charge was not happy.

Recently, I’ve been to more barbecues than you could shake a stick at, so I don’t like it when I have to get back into my long breeks and heavy chef’s jacket and go indoors. It’s particularly hot in our kitchens right now. I always say that those who don’t work in a restaurant aren’t allowed to moan about the heat, as there will always be someone working in a kitchen who will be much hotter than 
you are.

Anyway, for now, I’m on holiday, and here are a few more of my favourite sunshiney recipes, for eating inside or outdoors.

Jacqueline O’Donnell will be appearing in the Chef Theatre at the Foodies Festival next weekend in Edinburgh’s Inverleith Park, www.foodiesfestival.com

SHOPPING LIST

STARTER

1 pack whole pitta breads cut into wedge shapes

½ teaspoon each ground coriander and cumin

2 tablespoons Summer Harvest rapeseed oil

400g drained chickpeas

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, coriander and mint

½ red onion finely sliced

½ red chilli

zest and juice of 1 lemon

small garlic clove crushed

150g cubed feta cheese

1 small cooked beetroot cubed

MAIN COURSE

1 bottle of chilled Crabbies Alcoholic Ginger Beer

4 tablespoons soy sauce

2 dessertspoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons honey

3 slices fresh root ginger

2 cloves garlic, crushed

4 (100g) boneless chicken breast fillets

DESSERT

6-8 small tartlet cases or shortcrust pre-rolled pastry

For the lemon filling

8 lemons, zest and juice

75g cornflour

250g caster sugar

6 free-range egg yolks

For the meringue topping

4 free-range egg whites

225g caster sugar

1 tsp cornflour

LEMON, FETA and BEETROOT SALAD WITH SPICED CRISPY PITTA BREAD

My family loves the crispy pitta breads in this salad, which are a much nicer alternative to those triangular tortilla chips with horrible flavours. They’re also much better for you, especially if you use rapeseed oil.

serves four

1 Brush the rapeseed oil and spices onto the pitta bread, then place it onto a baking tray, before baking in the oven at 180C until crisp.

2 Heat a pan with the remainder of the oil and add the onion, garlic, chilli and chickpeas.

3 Stir until the chickpeas are warmed, then take off the heat and add the lemon, herbs and feta.

4 Add the beetroot last, then serve scattered with crispy pitta bread.

SPICY GINGER BARBECUE CHICKEN

If ginger beer doesn’t tickle your taste buds, beer works just as well. Use pork chops instead of chicken if you prefer.

serves four

1 Blend the ginger, garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce and garlic, along with 50ml of the ginger beer (drink the rest – chef’s privilege – retaining a little for basting).

2 Mix your marinade with the chicken and leave in the fridge for 15 minutes or so (or overnight if you’re organised).

3 Once your barbecue coals are hot, cook the chicken for 5 minutes on the sides of the fillets, brushing with beer to help the meat stay moist. Then cook for 15 minutes skin side down then 10-15 minutes skin side up.

4 Check all juices run clear, then serve with potatoes and salad.

LEMON MERINGUE TARTS

When I was small and visited my granny, she would often make the same dish, week in week out, but that never, ever, stopped me wanting a slice of her lemon meringue pie. To make this foolproof, buy 6-8 small tartlet cases. Or, go for shortcrust pre-rolled pastry and line individual cases. Amazing hot or cold, you can bake the pastry cases and make the curd the day before, but don’t assemble it until you are serving, or they will end up with soggy bottoms.

serves Six to Eight

1 Mix the lemon zest and juice with the cornflour and stir to form a smooth paste. Pour 400ml of water into a pan and bring to the boil. Add the lemon cornflour mixture to the hot water and stir over the heat until the mixture has thickened, then remove from the heat.

2 In a bowl mix together the sugar and egg yolks, then carefully whisk into the lemon mixture in the pan. Stir over a medium heat until thickened.

3 Set aside for a few minutes and then pour into the already baked pastry case.

4 For the meringue topping, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, Add the caster sugar, a little at a time, whisking until the meringue is stiff and glossy. Add the cornflour and whisk again.

5 Pipe or swirl meringue on top of each pastry case and bake for 10-15 mins in a 170C oven.