Tag Archives: leeks

Broad Bean Bruschettas with Goat’s Ricotta and Spring Onion

11 May Broad Bean Bruschetta

Broad Bean Bruschettas with Goats Ricotta

I have been running past these broad beans with the dog and I kept meaning to go back with my camera to take some photos. I eventually remembered and got stung by a bee on my little finger when I did. I had forgotten how much that hurts. The things I do for you…

Broad Beans

I also photographed some spring onions (Spanish ones are massive in case you were wondering) and some young leeks. These three things are cheap and plentiful at the market right now as well as spring garlic shoots.

Broad Beans, Spring Onions & Leeks

So this is less of a recipe and more of a, placing of ingredients on some toasted bread, really. You can do that even if you have guests, which we did. The good thing about that is that you can get them to help with the podding. (Thanks Lindsey)

Broad Bean Bruschetta

I bought a kilo of broad beans so sharing the job was a good idea. Podding the beans is the first part then you blanche them for a few minutes in boiling water, cool them down under cold running water, then you squeeze the bright green, sweet beans out of their pale jade cases.

This may sound like a faff too far but it is hardly taxing (while sipping a cool drink under an umbrella) and it really makes all the difference to the freshness of the dish. Look at the colour of them, aren’t they pretty?

Broad Bean Bruschettas

Broad Bean Bruschettas with Goats Ricotta & Spring Onion Recipe

Serves (who knows depends how hungry you are) 4-6? Vegetarian

  • 1 kilo broad beans still in their pods
  • a handful of finely sliced spring onions
  • a handful of rinsed, finely sliced baby leeks (or small leek)
  • a handful of finely sliced spring garlic/green garlic
  • dried (or fresh) thyme leaves
  • lemon juice
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped (plus leaves for garnish)
  • olive oil
  • sea salt & black pepper
  • goats ricotta (or soft goats cheese/feta)
  • a nice baguette/ciabatta (or 2) sliced on the diagonal

Pod the beans then cook in boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Plunge into cold water to stop the cooking or run under the cold tap until cold. Then squeeze the bright green beans out of their pale green cases.

Toast the baguette slices on both sides under the grill and set aside.

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the sliced spring onions, leeks and green garlic. Season with salt, pepper and a little thyme. Cook for a minute or so until starting to soften, then add the broad beans, stirring to coat. Cook for a few minutes more, add a squeeze of lemon juice, the chopped parsley and check for seasoning.

Spread or crumble a layer of goats ricotta/cheese on each baguette slice, top with a spoonful of the broad beans and put on your serving plate. Continue with the rest.

To serve, top with some fresh parsley leaves, a sprinkling of sea salt and a few drops of olive oil.

Broad Bean Bruschetta with Goats RicottaI’m thinking a long, cool white wine spritzer to go with this. You may prefer a Mojito though.

I know I said I would let you know about our new business venture in this post. Well I lied. You’re gonna have to wait.

Have a lovely weekend!!

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Caramelised Baby Leek Spelt Flour Tarte Tatin

26 Feb Baby Leek Tarte Tatin

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 Cherry Tomatoes

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!!

Rustic Leek and White Bean Soup with Rosemary

25 Jan Leek & White Bean Soup

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…..

     

Soupe Au Pistou- A French Summer Classic

18 Jun DCIM100MEDIA

Walking past the farms at the moment it is clear that we are at an “in-between” seasons moment. The tomatoes are still green, the peppers are on their way but apart from that not much is happening.

The only vegetables being harvested are the new season potatoes…..

Leeks…

And the enormous Spanish spring onions..

Potato, leek and onion just sounds like a soup doesn’t it? But I didn’t want to make a thick, creamy leek and potato soup, it’s far too hot for that. And Vichysoisse, non!  Call me a heathen if you like but, even coming from the land of Gazpacho, I can’t eat cold soup. I wanted something light, fresh and clean tasting.

I remembered seeing Raymond Blanc making his mother’s (Maman Blanc’s) summer vegetable soup which he served with a basil pistou. Pistou is the French version of pesto, without the nuts. It looked so clean, clear, healthy and delicious. Just perfect for a summer’s day, and it’s quick too. The vegetables are still quite al dente (or whatever the French word for al dente is) which adds to the freshness of the dish.

The pistou is amazing. I made mine with parsley instead of basil because I didn’t have any. When I buy basil here in the summer it wilts in the heat before I get home, so annoying.

You just blitz a big bunch of parsley (or basil) leaves with extra virgin olive oil and loads of garlic.  The original recipe uses parmesan as well. I left that out to keep it vegan and it was still stunning. Drizzled over the finished soup it lifts all the flavours and takes it to another level.

It keeps really well in a sealed jar in the fridge too. If you make this amount you will have some left so you are only minutes away from a quick and delicious dinner. Just stir the pistou through some cooked pasta and garnish with toasted pine nuts and/or parmesan. Or drizzle it over some sliced fresh tomatoes for an impressive side dish or salad.

This recipe is actually a combination of Dorie Greenspan’s Warm Weather Pot- Au-Feu and Maman Blanc’s Soupe Au Pistou. The original Soupe Au Pistou would also contain white beans so you could add some cooked haricots or cannellinis towards the end of cooking to heat through if you like. I thought the new potatoes were enough to give it body. Chopped fresh tomato is another ingredient that is sometimes added. I just cleaned out what I had in my fridge.

Soupe Au Pistou Recipe

serves 3-4, vegan, gluten-free

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 Spanish spring onion, finely sliced
  • 1 leek, cut off dark green parts (could keep for making veg stock), quartered lengthways, rinsed and sliced diagonally into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced diagonally into 1/2 inch pieces (reserve leaves)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 6 baby new potatoes, cut into 1cm slices
  • 2 large carrots (or 4 small) quartered lengthways & chopped into 1/2 inch pieces diagonally
  • 1 – 1 1/2 litres good quality veg stock ,preferably homemade (or water)
  • 1 strip lemon zest (use a peeler)
  •  2 inch piece lemongrass, cut in half, lengthways and bruised
  • 1 bunch asparagus, woody ends snapped off, cut into thirds
  • 4 or 5 mushrooms, removed stems, cleaned, finely sliced
  • 100 gr frozen spinach (or a bag of fresh, stems removed)

For the Pistou

  • a big bunch of basil or parsley leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 100 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of sea salt
  • ground white pepper
  • fresh grated parmesan (optional)

First put all the pistou ingredients in a processor (or mortar & pestle) and blend until smooth. Pour into an airtight jar and store in the fridge.

In a large soup pan, heat the oil over a medium heat then add the onions, leeks and celery and a pinch of salt. Cook for about 5 minutes until the onions have softened but not browned. Then add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Stir in the potatoes and carrots season with salt & pepper and pour in the stock/water. Throw in the lemon zest and lemongrass, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer gently (uncovered) until the vegetables are just tender about 10 minutes. The soup can be kept in the fridge now until you are ready to serve.

Bring back to the boil and add the asparagus, mushrooms (beans & tomatoes if using) and frozen spinach. Cook for another 4 minutes until asparagus is tender (add fresh spinach and celery leaves if using to wilt).

Taste for seasoning add more salt if necessary. Ladle onto a warmed soup plate and drizzle generously with the pistou.

Bon Appetit!!

Things That Made Me Smile Today….

Jacarandas en la Plaza Alta…

Have a Great Weekend & Happy Father’s Day !! xxx

Flamiche – A Wholemeal Leek and Gruyere Quiche

29 Mar

 I’ve been walking past these leeks every day watching them grow. I thought they were spring onions up until a few days ago when they became definite leeks.

I use leeks a lot for cooking. I like their sweet mellow oniony flavour and they are also quicker and easier to peel and chop than a normal onion. You have to be careful to rinse them thoroughly before you chop them though. They hide a lot of grit in between the layers that could ruin a lovely dish.

Although I use them often it is always in a supporting role. I wanted a dish where they could be the star of the show, come out from the background and impress all by themselves. This is a recipe for Flamiche. A  classic northern French tart where the white parts of the leeks are softened slowly in butter until sweet then mixed with cream and egg yolks and baked in a pastry case. It is a simple recipe with very few ingredients and that is how it should be. I couldn’t resist topping it with some grated Gruyère for the last 5 minutes of cooking, but if you want you be a purist about it leave it out.

I used wholemeal flour and vegetable suet to make my pastry but you can make your own version of short crust pastry or buy a prepared pastry case if you want to make life easier.

Flamiche –  Wholemeal Leek & Gruyère Quiche

Serves 6, makes a 9 inch Quiche, vegetarian. Adapted from The Art of the Tart by Tamasin Day-Lewis

  • 120 gr self-raising wholemeal flour
  • 60 gr vegetable suet (I use Atora)
  • salt & pepper
  • iced water
  • 6 or 7 large leeks
  • 90 gr unsalted butter
  • 150 – 300 ml cream (I used creme fraiche)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • salt & black pepper
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • a handful of grated Gruyère

To make the pastry, mix together the flour and suet and season with salt & pepper. Pour in about 3 tbsp iced water and stir to combine. Keep adding water a tbsp at a time until the mixture comes together and stays in a ball. Wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge while you make the filling.

Chop the dark green parts and the hairy ends off the leeks and remove the outer layer(you can use them to make your own veg stock if you want). Slice the leeks in half lengthways and rinse well under the tap to get rid of any grit between the layers. Slice into about 1cm half moons. Heat the butter over a medium low heat in a large pan. When the butter has melted add the leeks and a good pinch of salt and allow them to sweat slowly until they are completely softened, about 15 minutes. Leave to cool.

Butter and flour your tart tin. Remove the pastry from the fridge, flour your work-surface, rolling-pin and pastry and roll it out, making quarter turns to keep it even and stop it sticking. When it looks big enough to fill the tin (it should be about 3mm thick), lift it up by rolling it over your rolling-pin and lay it gently over the tart tin.  Push it into the tin (don’t stretch it out) and cut off any large overhanging bits but don’t trim it completely. Put it in the fridge while you finish the filling.

Preheat the oven to 180 C. When the leeks have cooled, whisk together the cream (the amount you use will depend on the depth of your tart tin, do it by eye) and egg yolks and season with salt, pepper and a little grated nutmeg. Stir this into the leeks. Remove the pastry case from the fridge and spread the leek mixture evenly over the base. Cook for 35 minutes until just barely set then sprinkle over the grated Gruyère, if using, and give it another 5 minutes for the cheese to melt & brown slightly. Leave for at least 10 minutes before serving and trim off the edges of the pastry with a sharp knife.

This is best served warm, not hot, to really appreciate the flavour of the leeks. In my opinion it is even better served the next day at room temperature (Not cold just out of the fridge). It is perfect picnic food or for a spring buffet even if you’re feeling brave about the weather.

Serve it with a peppery green salad, rocket & watercress would be good, dressed with olive oil & lemon juice for a spring time lunch alfresco…..

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