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Ratatouille, speedy lamb chops and rum baba delicious menu from "Paris Express"

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Here are three recipes from Laura Calder's new cookbook, "Paris Express," which make a menu that's simple to prepare and ideal for entertaining.

Roasted Confetti Ratatouille

Calder loves experimenting with vegetables and she says this dish is very pretty with its confetti-like sparkles of tomato and warm-coloured peppers. She likes to serve it with grilled fish, lamb chops or even a poached or fried egg.

1 orange pepper, finely diced

1 yellow pepper, finely diced

2 small zucchini, finely diced

2 small eggplants, finely diced

3 to 4 medium tomatoes, seeded and finely diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

50 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil (more as needed)

Salt and pepper

Handful of sliced pitted black olives

Large handful of shredded fresh basil leaves

Heat oven to 200 C (400 F). Toss together all the ingredients except olives and basil and spread in a single layer on a large baking sheet (or 2 smaller baking sheets, depending on their size — you may need to work in batches). Bake, stirring once or twice, until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Stir olives and basil through mixture and transfer to a serving dish. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.


The Speediest of Lamb Chops

You can't get much easier than this entree, Calder says. "The other good thing about it is you don't have to carve at the table. Lay the chops on a baking sheet, zzzzt, zzzzt, and shut the oven off. Back in five."

12 small lamb chops (about 60 g/2 oz each)

Olive oil

Salt and black pepper

Pinch cayenne pepper or a few drops of Worcestershire sauce

Heat broiler. Rub chops with olive oil on both sides and lay on a baking sheet. Season with salt, black pepper and cayenne. Broil for 3 minutes per side. Turn off oven and let chops rest for 5 minutes with the oven door open before serving.

Makes 4 servings.


Speedy Rum Baba

This isn't a classic baba because it doesn't contain yeast. However, despite the lack of yeasty taste, this does yield an impeccably textured rum-soaked cake that Calder says is "really easy and it's good."

For a crowd, double the ingredients and use an extra-large ring mould. It may take slightly longer to bake, but keep an eye on it and you'll have no troubles.


250 ml (1 cup) flour

5 ml (1 tsp) baking powder

4 eggs

155 ml (1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp) sugar

2 ml (1/2 tsp) vanilla


250 ml (1 cup) sugar

375 ml (1 1/2 cups) water

50 ml (1/4 cup) dark rum

Heat oven to 180 C (350 F). Grease and flour a 23-cm (9-inch) savarin mould or other ring pan. (A loaf pan works too.)

Cake: Sift together flour and baking powder. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, then beat in sugar until thick and frothy. Stir in vanilla, followed by dry ingredients, to make a smooth batter. Pour into baking pan. Bake until golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

About 10 minutes before the cake comes out of the oven, make syrup. In a saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in rum.

Turn cake out onto a serving plate. Spoon syrup slowly over cake. It looks like a lot of syrup, but don't worry, the cake will absorb it all. Let cool completely. Serve at room temperature with whipped cream.

Makes 8 servings.

Source: "Paris Express" by Laura Calder (HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., 2014).

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