Tag Archives: baby

Caramelised Baby Leek Spelt Flour Tarte Tatin

26 Feb

Baby Leek Tarte Tatin

I bought a bunch of these baby leeks at the farmer’s market and wanted to make something special with them rather than just chopping them into other things like I would normally. They are so much easier to peel and chop than normal onions and the flavour is mild and sweet. They also cook quicker. This is why they end up being ingredients in other dishes. I am intrinsically lazy and if I have leeks (or spring onions come to that) in the house the normal onions just sit there waiting.

Baby Leeks

Making a Tarte Tatin is not as scary as it sounds. You just have to be confident when you turn it out. And this one has none of the butter and sugar used to make the caramel that is usually abundant. I use honey and balsamic vinegar instead. You still get the nice sticky, sweet and caramelised effect that you need in a Tarte Tatin just fewer calories and less messing about. Yay.

Baby Leek Tarte Tatin

I used my olive oil spelt flour pastry (recipe here) for this tarte but you could use shop bought puff or shortcrust pastry if you like. I used about half of the pastry for this 8 inch tarte. Use the rest to make a quiche or empanadas.

You will need an ovenproof frying pan/skillet with a metal handle (plastic melts in the oven and gets messy). The amounts below are for my 8 inch/20 cm frying pan that serves 1 (or 2 at a push) with a nice salad. Whatever size you make you will need to fill the pan snugly with the leeks so adjust the amounts accordingly.

Caramelised Baby Leek Tarte Tatin Recipe

Serves 1-2. Vegetarian

  • about 250 g baby leeks
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp honey
  • sea salt & black pepper
  • dried thyme
  • balsamic or sherry vinegar syrup reduction (it comes in squeezy bottles)
  • a handful of breadcrumbs
  • finely grated manchego/parmesan
  • olive oil spelt flour pastry (or your choice of pastry)

Preheat the oven to 200 C. On a floured surface,  roll out the pastry to about 2 or 3 mm thick and cut out a circle about the same size as the top of the frying pan. Put in the fridge to rest.

Prepare the leeks by cutting off the dark green ends, cutting in half lengthwise and rinsing under the tap to remove any dirt hiding under the layers.

Put the olive oil in the frying pan/skillet and cover the base, round side down with a snug/tight even row of leeks. You can trim the leeks to fit the pan You want to fill any gaps as much as possible. Drizzle over the honey and balsamic vinegar syrup. Season well with thyme, salt & pepper and cook over a medium heat for a few minutes.

Sprinkle a handful of breadcrumbs and a little grated cheese all over the top of the leeks and remove from the heat.

Cover the leeks with the circle of pastry and tuck the edges down the inside of the pan encasing the leeks. Prick all over the top of the pastry with a sharp knife and bake for 25-30 minutes (depending on size) until the pastry is cooked.

Using oven gloves, remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. When ready to turn out, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the sides. Using oven gloves if still hot, place a large plate upside down on top of the pan and press down hard, then quickly and carefully flip the whole thing over so the pan is upside down and the tarte falls out onto the plate. Remove the pan and replace any leeks that may have fallen out of their place.

Serve warm or at room temperature with a simple green salad.

sCaramelised Baby Leek Tarte Tatin

The only thing to be scared of is picking up the hot pan without oven gloves. Don’t do it. It really hurts. But the tarte was worth it.

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Baby Leeks and Tomatoes with Oregano and Thyme

14 Aug

I can’t really call this a recipe. It’s just four ingredients cooked quickly in a pan with some olive oil. Which is about all the cooking I can manage in this heat.  I have also been working (in kitchens) for the past three weeks so I also have a slight aversion to being in one longer than absolutely necessary.

This goes someway towards explaining  my recent blogging absence too. We have been working as menu consultants at a beautiful yoga retreat hotel and restaurant called Shanti Som in Monda/Marbella. We have created a menu for them that compliments the style of the surroundings and the health and well-being ethos of the retreat. The new menu takes the best from the hotel’s Asian roots and Mediterranean heart ensuring that there is hopefully something for everyone to enjoy. Starting with fresh, seasonal and colourful salads…

Moving on to a Roasted Vegetable and Goats Cheese Tartlet with an olive oil spelt flour pastry case, Lebanese Lamb Burger with hummus, chargrilled aubergine, tabouli and tzatziki salad, Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls with Nuoc Cham dipping sauce and Fresh Fish of the Day with an Asian or Mediterranean marinade.

We then moved on to cooking lunch in a private villa for a family of 14 people every day for two weeks. Now this may sound like a bit of a nightmare but luckily they were very open to our “world of flavours” which made our lives a lot easier and more fun. The family was Iranian living in London, Paris, Boston and Switzerland. They meet up once a year for a holiday together. They were lovely people and we really enjoyed cooking for the whole family, including the children, which could be a little challenging at times!!

We cooked from a different country every day but our favourite (and I’m sure theirs) was the Persian food that we made. We learnt a lot about Persian cuisine from the Aunties, the Grandma and the nieces which was fabulous. We served a fresh rocket and herb salad every day, they love fresh herbs and greens (sabzi is the Persian word for greens).

The Washer Up made a gorgeous Persian Roast Lamb marinated in lots of spices and served with an apricot, orange and date glaze. Pomegranates make everything look beautiful and burst like sweet jewels in your mouth.

Alongside the Lamb and Herb Salad we also served Shirazi, a tomato, cucumber and red onion salad with mint and lime juice, Tomatoes Stuffed with feta, apricot and almond couscous and Sabzi (fresh herb) rice. Persian is my new favourite food. I didn’t even like dill before, now I love it! It’s so good in rice and in a Tzatziki dip as well as the mint you should try it. They also add sultanas and chopped walnuts which takes it to another level completely.

So back to the non recipe. It’s all about quality and freshness of ingredients if you’re going to go this minimal. We bought some tiny little baby cherry tomatoes and baby leeks from the organic market this Sunday. There they were next to each other as I unpacked the bag. Sometimes it is that easy. Sometimes you are incapable of anything else. Occasionally it all works out perfectly. This was one of those times. We have fresh oregano and thyme growing on the roof so they went in as well.

I served them with a poached egg and spinach on brown toast. You could eat them with anything. The next evening we had them with some Italian white bean and rosemary cakes. They would be lovely with a steak or to toss with some freshly cooked pasta or on their own with a chunk of nice bread.

Baby Leeks & Tomatoes with Oregano & Thyme

Vegan, gluten-free. Serves 2 as a side dish

  • 2 tbsp good olive oil (Andalucian Extra Virgen if possible)
  • 250 g baby cherry tomatoes (the smaller the better for quick cooking)
  • 3 baby leeks, trimmed, halved lengthways, rinsed to get rid of any mud and finely chopped
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed, chopped (about 1/2 tsp) or dried
  • 1/2 tsp fresh chopped oregano leaves or dried
  • salt & black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium high heat and saute the leeks with a pinch of salt for about a minute then add the tomatoes and herbs. Season well with salt & black pepper. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally for a few minutes until the tomatoes begin to split and soften. Serve with anything you like.

Buen Provecho!!

French Red Potato Salad with Spring Onions, Garlic and Fresh Herbs

25 May

This is what I made with the gorgeous red baby new potatoes that I bought at the market on Sunday. I also roasted some with garlic, rosemary, olive oil , salt and pepper.

They were really lovely too. I roasted them for about 45 minutes I think until they were crispy and slightly caramelised with the garlic.

This potato salad is not rich and drenched in mayonnaise. There’s a time and a place for those but this is a lighter more elegant take on the classic. The warm potatoes are tossed with white wine and veg stock and then left to absorb all of the liquid. Wine-soaked potatoes, am I good to you or what?

You then toss it in a vinaigrette and throw in the spring onions, spring garlic and loads of fresh herbs. You can eat it warm or at room temperature, with a glass of that white wine that you have already opened.

French Potato Salad with Spring Onions, Garlic & Fresh Herbs

Serves 2-3 as a side dish, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Barefoot Contessa

Prep time: 10 mins, Cooking time 20 mins Resting Time 10 mins

  • 500 gr baby new potatoes, red, white or a combination
  • 1 tbsp good white wine, one you would/will drink
  • 1 tbsp veg stock
  • 1+1/2 tbsp Champagne vinegar or sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4  tsp black pepper
  • 5 tbsp extra virgen olive oil
  • 2 spring onions/scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 spring garlic (they look like spring onions), finely chopped
  • a handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • 5 or 6 mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 6 or 8 basil leaves, rolled and finely shredded

Put the whole washed potatoes in a large pan of boiling salted water and cook for about 20 minutes (or longer if larger) until just cooked through. Drain in a colander, cover with a tea towel and leave to steam for 10 minutes.

Put the wine and stock in a medium bowl and cut the warm potatoes in half or quarters into the bowl. It doesn’t matter if they crumble and start to break up. That’s what mine did and it was lovely. Toss in the liquid and leave it to soak in before proceeding.

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, 1/4 tsp salt and a few grindings of black pepper. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and continue to whisk to make an emulsion. Pour this over the potatoes, add the spring onions, garlic and herbs and season well with salt & pepper. Gently toss everything together until evenly distributed. Taste for seasoning.

Serve warm or at room temperature as part of a buffet or as a side dish with whatever you like.  It would be perfect for a Jubilee party or barbecue too.

Bon Appetit!!

Sri Lankan Green Bean, Potato and Cashew Nut Curry

16 May

I saw Rick Stein making this curry on his Far Eastern Odyssey series. I watched every episode because he visited all the places I’d love to go; India, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam. Him eating his way around Asia just reinforced my desire. Even though he doesn’t cook much vegetarian food it still transports you there.

You know when you are watching a food programme and someone makes a dish that you just have to cook straight away. That’s what happened when I saw this dish. It’s like the planets align and you simultaneously have all the ingredients in the house and the perfect recipe. I love it when that happens……

The original recipe doesn’t have potatoes in it but calls for 300 gr cashew nuts. I didn’t have 300 gr of cashew nuts (who does?) so I padded it out with some baby new potatoes. The potatoes are great  because it means that you don’t have to make rice to go with it. It’s a one pot dish, which is always a bonus, less washing up.

It may seem like a lot of fuss to make you own Sri Lankan curry powder but it makes such a difference. You just toast the whole spices and then grind them in a spice grinder, coffee grinder or mortar & pestle. I did mine in a battery operated pepper mill, it took a while and it wasn’t really a powder but hey, afterwards you have a little jar of your own  Sri Lankan curry powder that you can bust out whenever you need a quick and delicious dinner.

Cinnamon has been cultivated in Sri Lanka for a very long time. About 90% of the world’s cinnamon comes from Sri Lanka making it a very important part of the history of the island.  It is made from fine curls of the inner bark of the cinnamon tree. Not surprisingly cinnamon plays an important part in the cuisine of Sri Lanka and, along with coconut, is found in nearly every dish.

Sri Lankan Green Bean, Potato & Cashew Nut Curry

Serves 2, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey

For the curry powder

I halved the original recipe feel free to double it again.

  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tbsp black mustard seeds
  • 3 green cardamoms
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  •  1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp rice

Toast all the spices in a dry pan for a few minutes until they release their aromas and start to pop. Cool them slightly and then grind in a spice grinder, coffee grinder or mortar & pestle. Tip into an airtight jar and store in a cool dry place.

For the Curry

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil (or coconut oil)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 stick lemongrass, bruised & finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp Sri Lankan curry powder (see above)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tin 400 ml coconut milk (I used low-fat)
  • about 400 ml veg stock
  • a handful of curry leaves (if you can find them)
  • 2oo gr green beans, trimmed & cut into thirds
  • 350 gr baby new potatoes, quartered
  • 150 gr cashew nuts, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1 lime, 1/2 juiced 1/2 cut into wedges
  • salt
  • 1 tsp cornflour, to thicken if necessary

Heat the oil in a large pan or wok over a medium heat. Add in the cinnamon, garlic, ginger, chilli, lemongrass, turmeric and the Sri Lankan curry powder. Fry until the aromas develop but don’t let it burn. Add the coconut milk then fill up the coconut milk tin with veg stock and add that too, mix well.

Stir in the potatoes, green beans, curry leaves and cashew nuts (save some for garnish).  Bring to the boil, season well with salt then add the sugar & lime juice. Lower the heat and simmer for 25 – 30 minutes until the potatoes are tender.

If it seems a bit too liquidy. Stir a teaspoon of cornflour into a few tablespoons of water until dissolved, add this to the pan and stir. Cook for a few more minutes until thickened.

Serve in warm bowls topped with more toasted cashew nuts and the lime wedges.

Enjoy!!

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Daisies…….

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