Domini Kemp’s travel-inspired Turkish pizza, sesame-fried chicken, and Niçoise salad
Our resident chef shares four delicious dishes inspired by her travels over the years
How do you decide what dishes that you’ve consumed on holidays are worth recreating once you get home? Food consumed on holliers always suffers from the rosé effect - context is everything.
For the purposes of this piece, I set myself the task of making the Acorn cake I’d had in Hide, Ollie Dabbous’ glorious Michelin-star restaurant in London. Despite my best efforts I couldn’t get my hands on the recipe.
And my attempt at recreating it without one - relying on patchy middle-aged memory - was slightly marred by the fact that I had first tasted it at the end of a delicious meal in Hide, after some beautiful wine and in dim lighting, fighting off several other spoons to get the last few bites.
I didn’t have a lot to go on, so re-routed my efforts to the classic chocolate nemesis from the River Café, which was adapted to include a bit of their pressed chocolate soufflé cake methodology. The result is a super easy and impressive rich chocolate mousse cake that I think they might even be happy to serve in the wonderful River Café itself.
The niçoise salad is not exactly rocket science, but this slightly revved-up version of one I had in The Wolesley in London brings back some lovely memories of that exquisite dining room in the heart of Piccadilly. The Turkish pizza reminds me of a recent family holiday to Turkey, where the youngest member could not believe the hotel buffet actually served up pizza for breakfast.
Finally, the sweet and sour sesame chicken is a dish from a great little Chinese restaurant in New Jersey where I worked five million years ago. It is unbelievably good and tasted just like it did in the 90s: sticky, salty, sweet, slightly crunchy and moreish as hell. It has now become the number one requested dish in this house for special occasions. Happy cooking!
Ingredients, serves 4
250g strong flour
1 tsp dried instant yeast
1 tsp salt
Half tsp sugar
3 tsp olive oil, plus extra to grease
For the topping
1 tbsp olive oil
2 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp paprika
500g lamb mince
Salt and black pepper
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp honey
1 tbsp tomato purée
250g Greek-style yoghurt
1 tbsp harissa
1 red onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 lemon, juice only
Small handful fresh mint leaves
Small handful fresh coriander leaves
1. Sift the flour into a large bowl, then add the yeast, salt and sugar. Make a well in the centre and add the water and oil. Stir and then use your hands to bring the dough together. Knead until soft and smooth – you can also do this in a mixer.
2. Wipe a large, clean bowl with the olive oil and put the dough into to rise. Cover with a tea towel and leave somewhere warm for an hour or so or until doubled in size.
3. Preheat your oven to 250C. Knock back the dough, then roll out to a long and rustic rectangle, place onto a baking tray ready for the lamb topping.
4. To make the topping, heat the olive oil in a pan over a medium heat, then sweat the onion and garlic. Add the spices, then add the lamb. Turn up the heat and break up with a spoon. Cook for 5-8 minutes, so that the lamb starts to brown. Season really well, then add the remaining ingredients - you can also add a splash of hot water and this will “loosen it out” so you can mix it easier, then cook off the liquid so that it’s tasty but quite “dry”.
5. Top the flatbread with the lamb and bake for about 15 minutes until hot and with a crisp base.
6. While the flatbread is cooking, mix the yoghurt with the harissa. Mix the red onions with the lemon juice and some salt with your hands so that the acid “softens” the onions. Roughly tear the herbs.
7. When the flatbread is cooked, top with onions, yoghurt and the herbs, then slice and serve.
Sweet and sour sesame fried chicken (inspired by YY Doodles, Princeton)
Ingredients, serves 4
For the sticky sauce
100ml soy sauce
100ml rice wine vinegar
100g soft brown sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
100ml cold water
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp sesame seeds
For the batter
100g cream flour
2 egg whites
200g sparkling water
For the chicken
800g boneless and skinless chicken thighs, chopped into bite-size pieces
Salt and pepper
Pinch chilli flakes
2 tbsp sesame oil
Spring onions, sliced
1. First make the sauce. Heat the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and soft brown sugar together in a pot over a low heat until gently simmering. Mix the cornflour and cold water, then whisk into the sauce. Gently simmer until it thickens up a little bit, then add the sesame oil and seeds. Set aside.
2. Mix together all of the batter ingredients, then set aside. Mix together the chicken, seasoning, chilli flakes and sesame oil, then set aside.
3. When ready to complete the dish, heat a few inches of oil in a wok or suitable saucepan. You can also use a deep fat fryer if you have one. Toss the chicken into the batter, then drop carefully into the hot oil and cook (in batches) until golden brown and the chicken is fully cooked. Drain on kitchen paper.
4. Heat the sauce in a wok - if you have used it for frying, dispose of the vegetable oil appropriately before using again - then add the chicken and carefully toss together. Plate up immediately and sprinkle with extra sesame seeds and spring onions to serve.
Don’t get too hung up on portions as you’ll lay this out on one big platter, but this will probably serve four.
For the dressing
1 large garlic clove, peeled and minced
6 anchovy fillets, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
200ml olive oil
For the salad
500g baby red potatoes
37g pack flat-leaf parsley
100ml olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
200g green beans, blanched and refreshed
Small pack radishes, thinly sliced
250g good kalamata olives
200g mixed leaves
1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 lemon, juice only
1 punnet good-quality cherry tomatoes
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
Approximately 400g good quality tuna fish, in olive oil, drained
A few basil leaves, roughly torn
Good-quality olive oil
1. Make the dressing by blitzing all of the ingredients, excluding the oil, together. While blitzing, slowly stream in the olive oil until fully combined, then reserve.
2. Place potatoes in a medium pot with 2-3 inches of cold water and lots of sea salt. Boil until just soft, then drain, put back in the pan and cover with a tea towel, off the heat to steam. In the meantime, blitz the parsley with olive oil, vinegar and lots of salt. Roughly chop the potatoes, then pour over the dressing so that the spuds are well coated in the salty, parsley dressing.
3. When you have finished blanching the green beans, cook the eggs in boiling water for 6 minutes, then plunge into cold water and peel when cool. This will give you lovely hard-boiled eggs, with a fudgy yolk.
4. Massage the lemon juice into the red onion, then leave to soften. Slice the tomatoes and eggs in half.
5. When ready to serve, toss the salad leaves in the vinaigrette and then lay out as the base on a platter. Arrange the eggs, tomato, tuna, cucumber, radishes, potatoes, green beans, olives and onions on top, then scatter over the basil. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and some capers, then serve.
Chocolate nemesis crossed with pressed chocolate cake
This cake would easily serve eight, as it’s so rich.
Butter, for greasing
400g dark chocolate
200g caster sugar
50g cocoa powder
1 tsp instant coffee
2 tbsp Tia Maria
1 tsp vanilla essence
For the topping
100g chopped pistachios
1-2 tbsp maple syrup
250g crème fraîche
A few raspberries
1. Preheat oven to 180C and lightly grease a 23cm springform cake tin with butter.
2. Over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter together. Separate the eggs and whisk the whites to soft peaks.
3. When the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat and whisk in the egg yolks, sugar and cocoa powder along with the coffee, Tia Maria and vanilla essence. Don’t worry if it starts to look claggy and lumpy.
4. Add a big blob of the whites into the chocolate mix and beat in - the mixture will start to regain some smooth consistency. Fold (and occasionally whisk) the rest of the egg whites in until the mix is quite smooth, then pour into the prepared tin and bake for about 30 minutes. You want there to be a very slight wobble, but remain pretty firm.
5. Allow the cake to cool, then top with baking paper and place a plate and something heavy on top to press the cake down. Leave for a few hours to chill and compress.
6. When ready to serve, remove the cake from the tin and place on a serving dish. Spoon over the crème fraîche. Mix the pistachios and maple syrup together, then spoon onto the crème fraîche with the raspberries and serve. Feel free to sweeten up the c crème fraîche, but I like the slightly sour taste of it against the sweet pistachios and rich cake. You may well need more crème fraiche for this, though.