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Dining in with Isaac Carew

Chef Isaac Carew is one of the talented young creatives who shared his firsts in our First Home film. His new book, The Dirty Dishes, is a collection of 100 fast and delicious recipes. We asked him to put together a menu that delivers maximum flavour with minimum hassle.

'This is a twist on a potato rosti I used to make when I was a Saturday boy for my dad in the restaurant. The amount of time and finesse it took to get the rostis perfectly crisp and brown on either side… I have never concentrated on something so much in my life! Just watch out for the water content in the cauliflower mixture before you start frying, because you don't want it to be too soggy.'


Sea salt

1 x 500g head of cauliflower, cored and cut into florets

Olive oil, for frying

1 onion, diced

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 tsp smoked paprika

40g strong flour

50g vegan hard cheese, grated

15g chives, chopped

Pinch of smoked sea salt (optional)

Serves 2


Bring a pan of salted water to the boil over a medium heat. Add the cauliflower and boil for three minutes. Drain, then set aside to stand for five minutes.

Meanwhile, hit a saucepan with a small amount of olive oil and sweat the onion for two minutes. Add the garlic and smoked paprika and sweat for another three minutes.

Add the cauliflower to the onion and stir in the flour. Cook for one minute.

Either transfer the mixture to a food processor and pulse for 10 seconds, or chop the mixture until fine on a chopping board. Allow the mixture to cool, then add the vegan hard cheese, chives and a pinch of smoked sea salt, if using.

Form the cauliflower into 6-8 cakes. Either fry them in a splash of oil for three minutes on each side and serve straightaway, or make the cakes in advance and allow them to firm up in the fridge for an hour before frying.

Serve with a simple green salad and the dirty chilli sauce.

Boiling the cauliflower partly cooks it, takes some of the bitterness away and makes it easier to form into cakes.

'Crab is quite an underused ingredient. I think a lot of people try brown crab meat first and don't like it, or find a whole crab a daunting challenge. But it's actually very easy to cook and the combination of crab and chilli creates a clean-tasting but fiery dish. I nearly always choose linguine over spaghetti - sauces cling to linguine easily and you get more from every mouthful.'


Sea salt

Olive oil

1 shallot, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

½ medium red chilli, sliced (see tip)

1 sprig of thyme, leaves only

100ml white wine

1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

360g linguine

100g white crab meat

1 tbsp mascarpone

Juice of ½ lemon

A few chives, finely chopped, to serve

Serves 4


Whack a saucepan of salted water on to boil. In the meantime, heat a medium frying pan over a low to medium heat, add a little olive oil and sauté the shallot and garlic until sweet and tender.

Add the chilli to the pan, along with the thyme leaves and cook for a few minutes. Next add the white wine and cook over a medium heat for another minute or two until the sauce is reduced. Finally add the chopped tomatoes and simmer for five minutes.

Chuck the linguine in the salted boiling water and cook until al dente. Retaining 1-1½ ladles of the pasta water, strain the pasta and set aside.

Add the crab meat and mascarpone to the sauce, then fold the sauce through the pasta, adding the reserved water. This will give extra gloss to the dish and a deeper taste. Finish with a little drizzle of olive oil, the lemon juice and a sprinkling of chives.

'I love the different textures in this salad: it's all about the chew and crunch. Raw courgettes are so tasty and the spice in the chilli gives them a kick. You've also got the pea shoots for colour and vibrancy, the sultanas for sweetness and the hazelnuts for crunch. I'm a big fan of hazelnuts - they have a much stronger flavour than other nuts and are a great addition to any salad.'


100g sultanas

Around 50ml warmed apple juice, for soaking (optional)

2 courgettes

Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper

Pinch of chilli flakes

50g blanched hazelnuts

95g pea shoots

Handful of parsley, chopped

Serves 2-4


Place the sultanas in a medium bowl and pour over the warmed apple juice or 50ml warm water. The sultanas should be just covered by the liquid.

Using a vegetable peeler or mandoline, slice the courgettes as thinly as possible. Alternatively you could use a grater. Toss the courgettes with the lemon juice, olive oil, a pinch of salt and the chilli flakes. Allow the acidity from the lemon to 'cook' the courgette.

Meanwhile, toast the hazelnuts lightly in a frying pan, then transfer them to a clean kitchen towel and lightly crush.

Drain the sultanas and add them to the courgettes along with the pea shoots and hazelnuts. Season with salt and pepper and serve garnished with the parsley and lemon zest.

'For me, this just shouts lazy Sundays: you've eaten your roast, been out for a walk, then you're on the sofa when the sticky toffee pudding comes out. You can buy ready-made ones but nothing beats making your own. Just don't overcook the base because it will dry it out - and no one likes a dry sticky toffee pudding! Serve with vanilla ice cream.'

Ingredients: serves 4

200g medjool dates, de-stoned and chopped

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

150g brown sugar

150g butter, softened

2 large eggs

150g self-raising flour

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp mixed spice

1 tbsp baking powder

For the toffee sauce

50g butter

250g Muscovado sugar

125ml double cream

1 double shot of rum

900g (2lb) loaf tin or 23cm (9in) round baking tin


Preheat the oven to 180ºC (fan 160℃/gas mark 4). Pop the dates in a bowl and cover with 400ml boiling water. Add the bicarbonate of soda and leave to soak and cool.

In a bowl or stand mixer, mix the brown sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and whisk together. Next add the cooled dates and most of the liquid and whisk until combined. Finally, add the flour, cinnamon, mixed spice and baking powder. Mix until fully incorporated.

Next, line and butter the loaf tin or baking tin. I prefer to use a loaf tin for this recipe. Add the cake mixture and pop in the oven for 35-45 minutes or until the knife comes out clean.

While the sponge is baking, start making the toffee sauce. In a pan, heat the butter and sugar together until melted, then add the double cream. Bring to the boil then add the rum.

When the sponge is ready, dot with a few holes here and there. Pour half the sauce over the sponge while it's still in the tin and allow it to soak in for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the tin, slice thickly and serve with vanilla ice cream and the remaining sauce.