Tag Archives: leek

Rustic Leek and White Bean Soup with Rosemary

25 Jan

They are busy harvesting leeks at the moment where we walk the dog in the morning. I like leeks, they have a milder flavour than onions and they don’t make you cry when you chop them.

Leeks are one of those vegetables that have a strong supporting role in many dishes but hardly ever get to play the lead. Seeing fields full of row after row of them made me think about making them shine.

Leeks and white beans have an affinity. They have a history of working together in such classics as Cassoulet and Tuscan White Bean Soup. Rosemary is often found hanging around in the background with these two, completing the love triangle and it is flowering beautifully at the moment. Shall I stop with the film metaphors now and get on with the recipe?

Rustic Leek & White Bean Soup with Rosemary

Serves 4, Vegan, gluten free

  • Prep time: 10 mins Cooking time 20 mins
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 sticks celery, finely sliced
    • 3 leeks, trimmed, halved lengthways, rinsed and sliced
    • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
    • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
    • 1 tin/jar (400 gr) cooked white beans, drained & rinsed
    • about 500 ml veg stock
    • salt & black pepper
    • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped

    Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Cook the leeks, celery, rosemary and thyme with a pinch of salt for about 4 minutes until softened but not browned. Then add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.

    Blend half of the drained beans with splash of stock or water to a smooth puree. Add the pureed beans to the pan and stir to combine.  Pour in the veg stock and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the beans.

    Add in the whole beans, lower the heat to a simmer, season with salt & black pepper and cook  for about 10 minutes. Stir in the fresh parsley and taste. Adjust seasoning as necessary.

    Buen Provecho!!

    As promised here are some more pictures of our visit to the beautiful Alcazaba in Malaga. This is the view from the outside with the amphitheatre in the foreground.

    Inside is a study in  exquisite Moorish archways…..

    Leading through to hidden doorways and secluded patios………….

    Elaborately tiled ceilings…

    And floors….

    There are more pictures to follow on my next post…..

     

Thai Spiced Crispy Cabbage Pancake (or Japanese Pizza)

18 Mar

I was looking for a recipe to use up the other half of  the cabbage I used to make my Cabbage, Potato & Leek Soup and found this on 101 Cookbooks. The origianl version is called Okonomiyaki but is also known as Japanese Pizza. It is nothing like a pizza except, I suppose, it’s round. It is delicious though and you can add whatever flavourings you like. I added some toasted sushi nori (the seaweed sheets) and some Thai Massaman curry paste which gave it great flavour. It’s kind of like street food in your own home. It has that crispy, fried, spicy addictive thing that you want to eat with your hands. The shredded cabbage is mixed with leeks, eggs, wholemeal flour and whatever seasoning you fancy.

It’s a mixture of a pancake, frittata, tortilla, rosti and squeak without the bubble. But it definitely is not a pizza….

Thai Spiced Crispy Cabbage Pancake (or Japanese Pizza)

makes 3 or 4 large thin pancakes, vegetarian. Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

  • 1/2 head cabbage, core removed and finely shredded
  • 1 large leek, dark green ends removed, cut in half lengthways, rinsed well and sliced
  • 100 gr wholemeal flour (or plain)
  • salt & black pepper
  • about 2 tbsp curry paste (whatever you have)
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 2 sheets of sushi nori (toasted under the grill for few seconds on each side)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • fresh coriander to serve

In a large bowl, mix together the cabbage, leeks, flour, salt & black pepper until everything is coated in the flour. Stir in the beaten eggs, curry paste, oyster sauce and finely crumble over the toasted nori sheets. Mix well to make sure everything is evenly distribited.

Heat  about 2 tbsp oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat.  Add a quarter of the cabbage mixture to the hot pan and press it out and down to fill the pan with a metal spatula. Make sure it is quite thin & flat. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the bottom is golden brown. To flip it, slide it out onto a plate, place another plate on top and turn them over. Add some more oil to the pan if necessary and slide the pancake back into the frying pan. Press down with the spatula and cook for a further 3 -5 minutes until golden on that side too.

Serve straight away garnished with lots of fresh coriander leaves. This is a perfect quick and easy supper or brunch dish with bags of flavour. Great hangover food that isn’t bad for you!!

Rainy Day Cabbage, Potato and Leek Soup

11 Mar

I hasn’t stopped raining here for five days and it’s not supposed to be stopping any time soon. I am not going to complain though as I wake up this morning to the news about the earthquake and terrible Tsunami after effects in Japan and the Pacific. My thoughts are with everyone who has been affected and anyone with family or friends out there.

I’m definitely not going out in this weather which means cooking something with what I have in the fridge. I found this recipe on The Red Spoon. It may not sound very glamorous but it really is delicious, a perfect rainy day soup to warm you from the inside out.  And I had all the ingredients in my fridge, bonus!!

The cabbage gives a real background flavour punch to the soup and the fried cabbage topping gives it extra texture. The creme fraiche swirl is scented with lemon zest and lifts all the other flavours to a different level. It is home comfort happiness in a bowl.

Cabbage, Potato & Leek Soup Recipe

serves 3 – 4, vegetarian/ vegan without the creme fraiche. Adapted from a The Red Spoon recipe

  • 1/2 head cabbage, core removed & chopped
  • 3 tbsp creme fraiche, sour cream or greek yoghurt
  • zest from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp butter (or olive oil for vegan)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large leeks, just white & light green parts, rinsed & sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 big potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 piece of parmesan rind (optional) I used Manchego rind with the black bit cut off
  • 1 & 1/4 litres veg stock
  • salt & black pepper
  • parsley, chopped for garnish

In a large pot, heat 1 tbsp butter & 1 tbsp olive oil over a medium heat. Add the cabbage, a large pinch of salt and a grinding of pepper and cook until tender but not brown, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the creme fraiche, lemon zest & juice together in a  small bowl, cover and put in the fridge.

When the cabbage is cooked, separate out 3 or 4 tablespoons into a bowl for garnish. Add the other tbsp butter to the pan with the cabbage, then add the leeks & garlic and cook for a further 2 or 3 minutes until the leeks have softened. Then stir in the potatoes, parmesan rind (if using) and the bay leaf. Add in the veg stock and season well with salt & pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender.

Remove from the heat and take out the bay leaf & parmesan rind. Blend carefully with a stick blender until smooth. Add more stock if you want to thin out the consistency (I didn’t need to), taste for seasoning and reheat to serve.

Serve the soup piping hot in warmed bowls garnished with a spoonful of the reserved cabbage, a swirl of the lemon creme fraiche, some chopped parsley and an extra grinding of black pepper.

This is feel good food, to lift the spirits and make you forget about the rain. This one’s for you Mum, enjoy!!

I’ve got to take the dog out in this….!

Ruby Beetroot and Pear Chutney with Squash and Chickpea Curry and Flatbreads

18 Feb

It’s all about the Beetroot Chutney for me. I don’t even like beetroot. Well I don’t like the beetroot you get in jars, all pickled and vinegary. Leaching it’s dark pink juice everywhere and contaminating whatever else is on the plate. 

I am always willing to be proven wrong and to make a complete about-face and this is one of those occasions. I love this beetroot chutney. I love the colour, it’s ruby-red shining jewels flecked with intriguing dark spices is a beautiful thing. I love the flavour, it’s a sweet, spicy, dark and mysterious blend that enhances any curry (or cheese sandwich for that matter)!

The other thing I love about it is that it is really easy to make. I just bought some cooked beetroot (it comes vacuum packed). You can roast or boil it and peel it yourself  if you like.

Ruby Beetroot & Pear Chutney Recipe

makes about 1 jar, vegan

  • 2 cooked beetroot, diced
  • 1 pear, peeled, cored & diced
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 star anise
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp punch pooran*
  • 4 tbsp white or white wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp white sugar

* Punch Pooran is a whole spice mix available from Indian supermarkets that gives a balanced flavour to any Indian dishes. Mine is from East End Foods.

Heat some oil in a pan over a medium heat and add in the whole spices. When they start to splutter add in the onion and ginger and cook for about 2 minutes. Add in the rest of the ingredients, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 15 – 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until it has thickened and looks like chutney. Pour into a hot sterilised jar (just put it through the dishwasher), seal immediately, leave to cool then refrigerate.

Serve with mini poppadoms as an informal starter  to an Indian meal alongside a coriander & lemon yoghurt raita. Or pile it on a sharp cheese like a Lancashire Crumbly( thanks Joan & Terry) in a sandwich, as part of a cheese board or as a new jacket potato filling: Lancashire Crumbly & Beetroot & Pear Chutney. It’s the way forward. You could also serve it with your favourite curry dish which is what I did on Tuesday night when we had friends for dinner.

Now Rhian, who doesn’t cook, has promised to make this, because she enjoyed it so much and has been inspired. Okay Rhian, here’s the recipe, no excuses now………..

Butternut Squash & Chickpea Curry Recipe

serves 6 – 8, vegan

  • 1 large butternut squash, cut into 1 inch chunks
  •  1 onion, chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  •  1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp onion seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 or 2 tsp punch pooran*
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 large red chilli, chopped
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes 400 gr
  • 3 or 4 tbsp tomato puree (tomate frito)
  • 1 400 gr jar/tin cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 500 ml – 1 litre veg stock
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1/2 lemon juice
  • a big handful of fresh coriander, chopped. Plus leaves for garnish
  • * Punch Pooran is a whole spice mix available from Indian supermarkets that gives a balanced flavour to any Indian dishes. Mine is from East End Foods.

    In a big deep pot, heat some oil over a medium heat. Throw in the whole spices, when they start popping, add in the onion with a big pinch of salt and cook for about 4 minutes until softened. Add in the garlic, ginger, chilli and the  rest of the powdered spices and cook for another minute. Tumble in the squash chunks and stir well to coat with the spices. 

    Pour in the tinned tomatoes, rinsed chickpeas and the tomato puree. Stir again so everything is well-distributed. Season well with salt & black pepper then add in 5ooml veg stock. Stir and bring to the boil. When boiling reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 20 – 30 minutes depending on your squash.
    When the squash is cooked/tender take the lid off and cook for another 5 minutes to reduce/thicken the sauce if necessary. If it is dry add some more veg stock until you get the consistency you are looking for. If it is too liquidy you can take out a ladleful of the curry, blend it to a puree and add it back into the pot.
    Just before serving squeeze over the lemon juice and stir in the chopped coriander. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or lemon juice to taste.

I served this with my Leek & Fennel Seed Flatbreads, some mixed wild rice and the beetroot & pear chutney. I used strong bread flour to make the flatbreads this time and had a much better result…..

Good luck & enjoy!!!

Rainbows, Mushrooms and Pot Pies!

6 Dec

This Mushroom & Leek Pot Pie is comfort food at its best. Quick ,easy, warming and oh so satisfying. All you need is a sofa and a fork. It’s like a big hug in dish.

Today we walked about 15 km around the Barranco Blanco valley. This picture is the view to the hill retreat we visited yesterday, from the other side of the valley.

It rained on and off as we walked round which meant we were lucky enough to see this beautiful rainbow as we descended into the valley. We remebered to take a picnic this time…

At the bottom of the valley we came across a stream which led into an overgrown woodland area…

We saw these amazing mushrooms growing in the woodland but I have absolutely no idea if the are poisonous or not so decided it was best to leave them where they were..

Got me thinking about dinner though, after three and a half hours walking in the rain it had to be quick and comforting!

Individual Mushroom & Leek Pot Pies

makes 2 vegetarian

  • 1/2 pack frozen puff pastry (defrosted in the fridge overnight)
  • 15 gr butter
  • 1 clove garlic chopped finely
  • 1 pack mushrooms approx. 300 gr (I used small portobellos) quartered, you want chunky
  • 1 leek, cut in half lengthways, rinsed and sliced into 1 cm half moons, chunky again
  • 2 or 3 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • a few sprigs of thyme leaves
  • some chopped parsley
  • salt & black pepper
  • about 200 ml veg stock (you could use 1ooml white wine 100 ml veg stock)
  • 50 gr grated cheese (I used Manchego)
  • 1 egg beaten mixed with a little water to brush on the tops

Melt the butter over a medium heat in a large frying pan, add the leeks & garlic and soften gently for about 3 minutes. Meanwhile put the quartered mushrooms in a freezer bag and tip in the flour, herbs, spices, salt & pepper. Shake it around a bit to get the mushrooms coated in the seasoned flour.

Tip the mushrooms and the floury mix into the pan with the leeks and stir everything around. Cook this for a minute or two then add in the veg stock little by little until you get a thickened white sauce consistency. You may not need all the stock. Leave this to cook gently while you do the pastry.

If necessary, roll out the pastry to a rectangle about 2 or 3 mm thick. Preheat the oven to 21o degrees. Take a dish that you will be using for the pies and cut out two circles about 1 cm larger than the top.(you may need to re roll the pastry to get two). From the leftover pastry cut 1 cm thick strips to stick around the edge of the dishes.

 Stir the grated cheese into the mushroom mix and pour the whole lot into the two pie dishes. Wet you fingers and run them round the edges of the pie dishes then stick the strips of pastry round the top edge. Wet the strips and stick the circle of pastry on top of each dish. Squeeze the pastry together to seal the edges and crimp round the edges with a fork. (This doesn’t have to be perfect, messy is good!). Make 3 sets of holes in the top of each pie with a fork then brush the tops with the egg wash. Cook in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes until the top is golden brown & crispy.

Serve immediately and feel yourself coming back to life……..

Sweet Potato Curry with leek and fennel seed flatbreads

8 Nov

This curry ticks all the right boxes for me. Seasonal, spicy & satisfyingly stodgy. It’s what you need right now, easy to make and tastes amazing. You can substitute different onions and spices into the flatbreads, why not try, red onion & cumin seeds or spring onion & coriander seeds (make sure you crush them first). I like the combination of the sweet leeks with the aniseedy fennel seeds but use whatever you like or have in the house, experiment and enjoy..

Sweet Potato Curry Recipe

Serves 3 -4 Vegetarian 

  • 2 large sweet potatoes scrubbed & cut into 2cm chunks
  • 1 large red onion finely chopped
  • 1 tomato chopped
  • 1 or 2 tbsp tomato paste or passata
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 or 2 red chillis (depending on you & the chilli) finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp onion seeds/mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • the juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • about 750 ml veg stock
  • a handful of chopped coriander plus leaves for garnish
  • salt & black pepper

Heat some veg oil in a large frying pan or wok over a medium heat. Add the seeds and cook until they start to sputter then add the onion and stir to coat in the spices. Cook  for about 2 minutes until softened then add the garlic, chilli, ginger and the rest of the powdered spices. Cook for another minute then add the chopped tomato, tomato paste/passata and stir again.

Throw in the sweet potato, season with salt & pepper, stir to coat then add half the lemon juice and the veg stock. Bring to the boil then turn the heat down to medium low and cook for about 35 – 40 minutes or until the sweet potato is really soft and the sauce is thickened. When you are ready to serve squeeze over the rest of the lemon juice, sprinkle with chopped coriander and mix well.

While the curry is cooking make your flatbreads and coriander lemon yoghurt raita. You can also make the flatbread dough beforehand and leave it to rest in a bowl covered with cling film at room temperature until you are ready to use it.

Leek & Fennel Seed Flatbreads Recipe

Makes 4 Vegetarian

Adapted from Flavour by Vicky Bhogal

  • 1 leek, halved lengthways, rinsed & thinly sliced
  • about 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tbsp mild olive oil , plus 1 tsp for frying leek
  • 255gr strong bread flour
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • salt & pepper
  • 125 ml hot water from the kettle

Heat the tsp of oil in a frying pan over a medium high heat and fry the leek, fennel seeds, chilli flakes & black pepper for about 3 minutes then set aside to cool slightly.

In a bowl mix the sifted flour, olive oil and leek together with a metal spoon add a few pinches of salt pressing out any lumps then add the hot water and bring everything together into ball of dough. Flour your hands and the surface and knead for a few minutes until soft and elastic, you may need more flour it should be quite smooth. Put it back in the bowl cover with cling film and leave for at least 30 minutes at room temperature.

Divide the dough into 4 equal balls and, using flour to prevent sticking, roll them out to about 2 or 3 mm thick. (An uneven oval/circle is good!). Preheat a non stick frying pan  until hot. Dry fry them , one at a time over a medium heat (not too hot or they will blister outside before the inside is cooked) for about 2 minutes on each side until crispy and browned in places. Put them on a plate covered with a tea towel to keep warm while you cook the rest..

For the Coriander, Lemon Yoghurt

  • 1 pot greek yoghurt 125 ml
  • the juice of half a lemon
  • a handful of chopped coriander plus leaves for garnish
  • salt & black pepper

Mix all the ingredients together in the yoghurt pot, taste for seasoning then tip into a small bowl for the table garnished with coriander leaves.

Or just heap a generous spoonful directly onto the curry… Yum!

This dish is fantastic for entertaining, you can make it ahead, even the day before it will only get better, and just heat it up when you are ready. Serve it in a gorgeous dish on the table with the coriander lemon yoghurt and the warm, delicious flatbreads.

Everyone is always really impressed when you make your own bread!!!

And Then The Rains Came ….

10 Oct

 

This is the other side to “Sunny Spain” unpredictable but just as beautiful, as the Spanish always say “It’s good for the oranges”.

Rufus & I got caught in a big rainstorm this morning. It definitely throws a different light on  everything. Very atmospheric and cleansing although the mascara running down my face was not a good look!

It’s at times like this when only risotto will do, it’s comforting, warming and also therapeutic with all that stirring, staring out of the window at the steely sky. I like to make risotto with shortgrain brown rice (it gives a really nutty flavour and great texture) & whatever I have in my fridge, which today is mushrooms, leeks & red onion. I also have a bottle of Marsala in the cupboard which will be fabulous with the mushrooms..

Leek & Mushroom Risotto with Marsala

Serves 2/3 (with leftovers) Vegetarian

  • 1 tbsp olive oil (basil oil if you have it see recipe)
  • about 150 – 200gr mushrooms sliced
  • 1/2 red onion chopped
  • 1 leek chopped
  • 2 clove garlic chopped
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 4 or 5 handfuls of risotto rice (I use brown shortgrain, it takes a bit longer to cook)
  • a good glug of Marsala (or Madeira, or white wine)
  • 1 litre veg stock
  • 1 or 2 tbsp basil pesto (I used my basil & garlic pulp from the basil oil recipe)
  • salt & black pepper 
  • a handful of grated parmesan (plus extra shaved for garnish)
  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the onions & leeks and cook over a medium heat until translucent & softened.
  2. In the meantime put the veg stock in a small sauce pan over a low heat.
  3. Add the mushrooms & garlic to the onions and cook for 2 or 3 mins then add the lemon juice.
  4. Add the rice and stir to coat in oil and vegetables then add the Marsala, stir again.
  5. When the liquid has evaporated add a ladleful of warm veg stock to the rice, stir or shake the pan to combine.
  6. When the liquid has evaporated add another ladleful of veg stock and stir or shake the pan, continue like this until all the veg stock is incorporated or the rice is cooked,stirring frequently.
  7. It should take about 25 mins. (Longer if you use brown rice, you may have to put the lid on for the last 10 mins to soften the rice).
  8. When the rice is cooked & most of the liquid evaporated add a handful of grated parmesan, the basil pulp/pesto, black pepper & salt to taste .Stir to combine.
  9. Serve in warmed bowls with shaved parmesan

Making Risotto

    

    Leek & Mushroom Risotto with Marsala

    I think it was owning a restaurant for 9 years that has made me slightly obsessed with using leftovers. It can be the difference between making profit & not and also encourages creativity in the kitchen. I think most of the time the leftover recipes turn out to taste better than the main dish, which is when it’s really succesful.

    One such recipe is for Arancini (The Italian word for little oranges) which uses up leftover risotto by making it into balls, coating in breadcrumbs and frying them. In my recipe I stuff them with a cube of mozzarella, bake them in the oven (a little healthier) and serve them with a tomato sauce that is actually my leftover tomato & basil soup.

    Mushroom & Mozzarella Arancini with Tomato Sauce Recipe

  • leftover risotto (I had enough for 6 balls a bit bigger than golf balls)
  • 1/2 ball mozzarella cut into cubes
  • 1 egg
  • breadcrumbs
  • olive oil
  • tomato pasta sauce (I used my leftover tomato soup- see recipe)
  • shaved parmesan to garnish
  • 1. Make the cold risotto into little balls a bit bigger than golf balls, poke a piece of mozzarella into the centre and roll it into a ball again around the mozzarella.

    2. Have two small dishes ready, one with beaten egg and the other with breadcrumbs. Roll the balls one at a time first in the egg then in the breadcrumbs and put on a plate to chill in the fridge.

    3. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees, brush the Arancini with a little olive oil and place on an oiled baking sheet. Cook for about 20 mins until golden & crispy.

    4. Meanwhile heat up your tomato sauce adding a little basil pulp/pesto.

    5. To serve ladle the sauce into the bottom of your warmed serving dish & place the Arancini in the sauce, garnish with shaved parmesan.

    Enjoy!!

    Arancini in Tomato Sauce

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