Home cook Anne Shooter talks to ELLA WALKER about her new cookbook Cherish

CHERISH is Anne Shooter’s second cookbook, following her 2015 debut, Sesame & Spice, but this is the one her 12- and 14-year-old daughters wanted her to write - so they’d have all their mum’s recipes on file when they grow into adults with their own kitchens.

“It’s the kind of food I cook all the time,” says Shooter, flicking through pages of crisp chicken thighs baked with walnuts and pomegranate, roasted aubergines drizzled with tahini, and fried pitta pockets bursting with lamb mince. “It’s just really nice, homely food - some of it isn’t even particularly Jewish.”

Shooter’s own childhood food memories are largely of spending time at her maternal grandparents’ house in Elm Park, on the Essex/East End borders, very much eating traditional Jewish food. “My grandma was amazing and could do anything with a chicken,” she remembers. “The house always smelt of chicken soup, and she’d mince the livers by hand.”

Shooter’s own style of cooking, reflected in Cherish, is “more of a mish-mash”, especially when it comes to her family’s traditional Friday night dinner - where having 15 people round the table is “quite standard”. “It’s noisy, warm, there’s lots of chat, lots of eating - there’s always a lot of talk of diets within Jewish community, and I think that’s possibly because we have Christmas dinner pretty much every week,” she says with a laugh.

Lamb in coriander sauce (serves 4)

2tbsp coconut oil or sunflower oil 500g cubed lamb shoulder 2 onions, chopped A large bunch of coriander leaves, chopped 1 mild green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped 2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped 5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated 2tbsp ground coriander 1tsp ground turmeric 1/2tsp fennel seeds Seeds from 2 cardamom pods A pinch of ground cloves A pinch of ground cinnamon 2tsp mild chilli powder 4 curry leaves 1 tomato, chopped A good pinch of salt 200ml water 2tbsp toasted flaked almonds, to garnish (optional) Heat the oil in a large pan or deep-sided frying pan over a medium heat. Add the lamb cubes and fry until the lamb is brown on all sides, then add the onion and fry until softened, about 10 minutes.

Add the chopped coriander, chilli, garlic and ginger and cook for a further two minutes. Add the remaining spices, the curry leaves, chopped tomato and salt and cook for a further two to three minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the water and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer very gently for one hour, uncovered. Keep an eye on it and add a little more water if it dries out.

Garnish with toasted flaked almonds, if using, and serve with rice.

Middle Eastern mess (serves 6)

300g mascarpone 150g Greek yoghurt 75g icing sugar, sifted 1tbsp rose water 3 meringue nests, roughly smashed into pieces 6 plump figs, quartered 450g raspberries 2tbsp date syrup (silan) Around 8 pieces of baklava, smashed with a rolling pin (optional) 100g pomegranate seeds A small bunch of mint leaves, shredded Stir together the mascarpone, Greek yoghurt, icing sugar and rose water in a bowl, until well combined and creamy.

Fold in the smashed meringue nests, figs and raspberries.

Drizzle over the date syrup and broken baklava pieces, if using, and fold again.

Cover and chill in the fridge until ready to serve. Serve chilled sprinkled with the pomegranate seeds and mint leaves.

Syrian courgette and cheese pies (makes 16-24 depending on size)

These crispy, cheesy delights make a great after-school snack. “These soft, pillowy little open pies, called fatayer, are popular all over the Middle East, where they are often grabbed as a snack from a market stall, served on platters at parties, or served for lunch with a mound of tomato and cucumber salad,” says food writer Anne Shooter.

“Shaped like petals, or boats, they couldn’t be prettier and you can experiment with all sorts of fillings - meat and spinach are traditional. The dough only takes about 20 minutes to rise, so you can make the filling during that time and have them on the table shortly after.”

For the dough: 350g plain flour 7g sachet instant yeast 2tsp granulated sugar 1/2tsp salt 200ml lukewarm milk or water 75ml olive oil, plus extra for oiling and brushing For the filling: 3 courgettes, coarsely grated 200g feta, drained and crumbled 1tbsp sumac A small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped 1 egg, beaten Salt and freshly ground black pepper Mix together the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a bowl. Add the milk or water and olive oil. Knead by hand or in a free-standing mixer fitted with a dough hook until the dough is soft and no longer sticky. Coat a bowl with a little olive oil, form the dough into a neat ball and place in the bowl. Cover with lightly greased cling film and leave to rise somewhere warm until it doubles in size, about 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6.

Place the grated courgettes in a colander to drain over a sink. When you are ready to make the filling, squeeze them with a clean tea towel to remove as much moisture as possible. Add the squeezed courgette to a bowl with the other filling ingredients and mix gently to combine.

Form the dough into 16 balls (or 24 smaller balls) and roll each ball into a long oval shape about 5mm thick. Place around one to two tablespoons of filling in the centre of each oval.

Fold one long edge a little bit over the filling, forming a frame for it but leaving some filling exposed. Press down to seal at each end of the folded edge. Do the same on the other side, forming a petal or boat shape. Pinch the edges well to seal.

Repeat with the remaining dough pieces and place them on lightly oiled baking sheets. (You need to work quickly as the dough will continue to rise and the pies may open, so you may want to bake one tray while finishing the second tray.) Brush the edges with olive oil, then bake for about 15 minutes until the dough has turned golden brown and the cheese mixture has melted. Serve warm or at room temperature.