Give your next menu a seasonable take with a hint of Europe

The nights are getting longer, so what better time to explore some warming autumn flavours the next time you have to cook for guests at home.

Try these recipes that provide a satisfying culinary nod to Europe while also allowing you to do the bulk of the prep work and cooking ahead of time.

Starter: Baby marrow fritters

This recipe is from Alix Verrips’s mouthwatering Brunch Across 11 Countries.

Though it is a brunch-themed book, this recipe and others in the book would work well as a starter or as part of a vegetarian lunch or dinner.

As a private chef Verrips has cooked in the Bahamas, St Tropez, Spain, the UK, US and Africa, much of time on yachts owned by royalty and other celebrities.

Interestingly she spends much of her down-time in the Garden Route town of Knysna, where she enjoys cooking for friends and raising funds for children’s charities.

Ingredients

4 large baby marrows, grated
1 leek, white part only, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
30ml olive oil
100g feta cheese, crumbled
15ml chopped fresh dill
5ml chopped fresh mint
75ml dried breadcrumbs
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Put baby marrows in a colander or sieve, sprinkle with salt and leave for 30 minutes for the salt to draw out the moisture.
Saute leek and garlic in some of the olive oil for three to five minutes until translucent.
Rinse marrows and squeeze to remove as much moisture as possible.
Place marrows, leek and garlic, feta, dill, mint, breadcrumbs and egg in a bowl and mix well.
Heat remaining oil over medium heat and spoon mounds of mixture into the pan, pressing down gently to form a patty (Alix uses an ice-cream scoop to scoop out the batter).
Cook for two to three minutes or until nicely browned, then tip over and cook the other side. Drain on a wire rack or paper towels.

Serve with dollops of tzatziki.

Brunch Across 11 Countries is published by Human & Rousseau and retails for R390.

Main course: Chicken pie

Marlene van der Westhuizen’s rib-sticking chicken pie
Marlene van der Westhuizen’s rib-sticking chicken pie
Image: Robbert Koene

This recipe serves eight and is from author Marlene van der Westhuizen’s sumptuous new cookbook, Plate, which is a collection of 86 main courses from her two kitchens – one at her family home in Cape Town and the other at her holiday home in Charroux, France.

Van der Westhuizen suggests you leave the skin on the chicken “if you like your pies not to be indifferent!”

Ingredients

2 x 400g rolls frozen flaky pastry, defrosted
1 egg white
250ml white wine
1 free-range chicken (about 1.5kg)
12 chicken wings
1 bouquet garni with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
8 cloves garlic
1 stalk celery, with leaves, finely chopped
50ml good olive oil
8 large leeks, sliced into circles
15ml butter
30ml cake flour
125ml double cream
1 egg
Salt and white pepper to taste

Method

Grease a springform cake tin with butter and line it with one sheet of puff pastry.
Prick a few holes in the pastry with a fork and brush with egg white. Refrigerate until needed.
Pour wine into a large casserole dish and add whole chicken and the chicken wings.
Add bouquet garni, garlic and celery, and bring to a boil. Cook for at least three minutes before adding enough water to cover chicken.
Cover, turn down heat and leave to simmer gently until tender.
Remove all the chicken from the casserole dish, allow to cool a little, then debone. Reduce stock to enhance the flavours, then pour it through a sieve into a bowl and set aside.
Meanwhile, pour olive oil into a heated pan, add leeks and fry until tender and translucent.
In a medium casserole dish, melt butter and stir in flour with one hand while adding reserved chicken stock with the other.
Keep adding stock until it becomes a really thick and smooth sauce. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream.
Whisk egg and fold it into the slightly cooled sauce.
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Spoon sauce over the leeks, add shredded chicken and mix until well combined. Taste and season.
Spoon filling into the prepared pastry shell. Cover with the second sheet of pastry.
Fold the two sheets together around the edges and trim where necessary. Bake for one hour.
Serve with a green salad.

Plate is published by Struik Lifestyle and retails for R375. It is also available in Afrikaans as Bord.

Dessert: Amalfi lemon tart

Jamie Oliver’s Amalfi lemon tart
Jamie Oliver’s Amalfi lemon tart
Image: David Loftus

This baked lemon tart is fresh but comforting and just a stone’s throw away from a baked cheesecake, says Britain’s Jamie Oliver in Jamie Cooks Italy: From the Heart of the Italian Kitchen. Oliver fell in love with Italian food more than 25 years ago and says he still can’t get enough of the country where everyone is passionate about food. He suggests serving the tart with ice cream and berries such as raspberries or strawberries. The recipe serves 10 to 12 and takes two hours, plus chilling time.

Ingredients for pastry

250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
50g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
75ml olive oil
75ml crisp white wine (Jamie suggests Greco di Tufo which is not readily available in SA)
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Ingredients for filling

5 large lemons
500g quality ricotta cheese
150g caster sugar
2 large free-range eggs

Method

To make the pastry, put flour and icing sugar into a large bowl with a good pinch of sea salt.
Make a well in the middle, then add oil, wine and vanilla paste. Use a fork to whip up the wet mixture, gradually bringing the flour in from the outside until it comes together as a ball of dough.
Tip on to a lightly floured surface and knead for just a couple of minutes, then wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
On a flour-dusted surface, roll out pastry to about 3mm thick. Loosely roll it up around the rolling pin and unroll it over a 25cm loose-bottomed tart tin, easing and pushing it carefully into the sides.
Trim off any excess, patch up any holes, then prick the base with a fork, cover with clingfilm, and chill in the freezer for 1 hour 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 180°C . Bake pastry case blind for 25 minutes or until lightly golden. Meanwhile, finely grate zest of one lemon and put aside. Squeeze all the lemons to give you 150ml of juice, then whisk with the rest of the filling ingredients until smooth, by hand or in a food processor.
Pour into tart case and bake for 30 minutes, dusting with icing sugar and sprinkling over lemon zest for the last five minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool – it will have a slight wobble, but will set as it cools. Dust with extra icing sugar, slice and serve.

Jamie Cooks Italy, by Jamie Oliver, is published by Penguin Random House and the recommended price is R425.

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