Leek fritters

IMG_0038 (1) - Edited (1)Now. It’s been quite some time since I posted, so I figured I needed a pretty decent recipe for my comeback. This one evolved when I received a veg box with an enormous leek, and frankly, was at a loss as to what I could make. This grew from a lovely recipe of Ottolenghi’s and has got me buying leeks of my own accord now!

 

What you’ll need

For the fritters:
30g olive oil
1 large leek, chopped in 2cm chunks (220g prepared weight)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
10g flat-leaf parsley or coriander (leaves and fine stems), chopped
½ tsp ground coriander
¾ tsp cumin
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
1 egg, separated
80g plain (/all purpose) flour
1 tbsp baking powder
100ml milk
35g butter, melted

For the sauce (optional):
100g greek yogurt
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp salt
15g flat-leaf parsley or coriander (/cilantro) leaves, chopped

IMG_0028

What to do

In a large frying pan, heat 15g of olive oil and saute the leek and onion until golden brown. Transfer to a bowl, stir in the chilli, parsley/coriander, spices, sugar and salt, and set aside.

In a new bowl (and using a hand mixer if you have one), beat the egg white until firm peaks form (somewhere between soft and stiff). Gently fold into the leek mixture.

In a third bowl (or your empty second one), combine the flour, baking soda, milk, melted butter and egg yolk, and whisk (or use your hand mixer) until you have a smooth mixture. Gently stir into your leek mixture, and you’re ready to get fritter-ing!

Heating the remaining olive oil in your pan, fry the fritters on low-medium for 5 minutes on each side. I fried three at a time and got 11 out of the batch – enough for dinner and lunch for two people.

While they’re frying, whip up the sauce (or alternatively some greek yogurt and a squeeze of lemon juice will do nicely as well). Pop the yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and parsley/coriander in a food processor (or blender) and blend until you have a green-ish sauce. Transfer to a small bowl to serve.

And… enjoy!

IMG_0035

Potato salad with mustard dressing

IMG_1945The summer evenings of my childhood were largely spent at barbecues in the backyards of our neighbours. They were those sorts of affairs where the host would serve up the meat and the guests would bring the sides, and this potato salad of my mom’s would always leave someone asking for the recipe. I’ve always been a bit wary of potato salads (I’m not a fan of the traditional mayonnaise component), but this garlicky mustardy dressing is tangy and fresh. Dressing serves 10.


What you’ll need

IMG_1942Enough potatoes to fill a large bowl
1 large red onion, finely chopped
4 tbsp flatleaf parsley, chopped (or 2 tbsp dried)
6 tbsp red/white wine vinegar
6 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup / 65g dijon mustard
4 garlic cloves chopped
salt and pepper

What to do

This recipe is wonderfully straightforward. The only thing to bear in mind is that you’ll need to sort your potatoes a few hours before you eat to allow them time to cool down.

IMG_1944To begin, choose salad friendly spuds, give them a quick scrub, and pop them into boiling water until just cooked. Drain, cool to room temperature, then chill in the fridge. When you’re ready to serve the salad, take them out and slice into salad-sized chunks.

With your potatoes sorted, you simply need to combine all of the other ingredients, stir, and toss gently with the spuds.

That’s it – salad sorted!

Chicken, mushroom and bacon pie

IMG_1811Despite the fact that we’re already halfway through March, these cold and rainy weekends have definitely not inspired me to create anything that’s light or refreshing. Instead, I’m making the most of this wintery weather by (what else?) embracing wintery food! This comfortingly warm pie is a worthy opponent for grey and blustery weather, and is best shared with your family or flatmates on a Sunday afternoon.

What you’ll need
1 tbsp vegetable oil
IMG_18028 skinless boneless chicken thighs, chopped into pieces
8 rashers of bacon (I used maple bacon which was lovely), cut into large pieces
1 onion, chopped
300g button mushrooms, sliced in half
handful of thyme sprigs, stalks removed
3 tbsp plain flour
400ml chicken stock
200ml milk
500g pack puff pastry
1 egg, beaten

IMG_1805What to do
Begin by heating the vegetable oil in a large frying plan. Add the chicken and cook on medium heat until the outside is a lovely golden brown (about 5 minutes).

Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.  Add the bacon to the frying pan and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes or until brown. Then add the onion, mushrooms and thyme and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the onions start to go brown.

Add the flour to the frying pan and stir until mixed in, then remove the pan from the heat and add the chicken stock (do this bit by bit) followed by the milk.

IMG_1808Return the pan to the heat, add the chicken back in, and simmer on low heat for a further 30 minutes.

Pour the contents of the frying pan into a casserole or pie dish and leave to cool for 20 minutes or so. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/fan 200°C.

On a floured surface, roll your pastry out until it is slightly larger than your dish, at which point it should be roughly 4mm thick or slightly thicker than a pound coin.

After the 20 minutes of cooling time has passed, brush the edge of the pie dish with the beaten egg. Carefully transfer the pastry onto the dish, trim the edge so that it’s flush, press tight against the dish and cut a few slits in the top. Finally, brush the top of the pie with the beaten egg and pop into the oven for 30 minutes or until it’s a lovely brown colour.

IMG_1813

It will be hot when it comes out of the oven, so is worth resting for a few minutes if you’re patient enough. After that, tuck in and take comfort in the fact that your belly will soon be full of warm food!

Many thanks to BBC Good Food for their original Chicken & mushroom puff pie recipe which has been adjusted only slightly.
 
 

Soup-er food

IMG_1642December is one month that wouldn’t be complete without a little overindulgence, and by the time January rolls around I usually find I’ve taken the festive merrymaking just slightly too far. That said, there’s something I quite like about re-setting in January, and my rebound from overindulgence usually brings about new cravings for fruit, vegetables, and generally-speaking healthier foods.

This year soup seemed like the perfect antidote to turkey and stuffing, and with a brand new cookbook gracing my bookshelf (Sunday Soup (Chronicle Books 2008) – a splendid Christmas gift from my sister), I was eager to test out a new recipe. Betty Rosbottom‘s recipe for Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Cider Cream is fresh yet hearty, and makes for a completely satisfying meal on a cold winter evening.

What you’ll need:

IMG_1630For the soup
5 tbsp/75g unsalted butter
6 cups peeled, seeded and cubed butternut squash (I used 1 large one)
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts only (I used 3 medium leeks)
1/2 cup (that’s a 125mL cup full) coarsely chopped carrots
1/2 cup (that’s a 125mL cup full) coarsely chopped celery
IMG_16322 small Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped, plus an extra for garnish
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried sage
5 (1250mL) cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups (375mL) apple cider (that’s cloudy apple juice for the Brits)
salt

For the apple cider cream
2/3 cup (165 mL) sour cream
5 bacon slices, sauteed until crisp, drained and crumbled

Note:
I doubled the recipe, so don’t worry if there looks to be rather a lot of some ingredients in the photos…

IMG_1636What to do:
The thing that takes the most time when it comes to making this soup is the prep. Butternut squash is always an underestimated nemesis, so once you’ve finished chopping, slicing and dicing, take comfort in the fact that the hard work is over.

For the soup
Begin by melting the butter in a large heavy bottomed pan (this pan will need to be large enough to hold all of your ingredients). Add the butternut squash, leeks, carrots and celery, IMG_1637and sautée over medium heat for 10-12 miuntes until they begin to soften. Add the apples, thyme, sage, chicken stock and 1 cup of the apple juice. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes (or until all of the vegetables are tender), then remove from the heat.

For the cider cream, boil the remaining 1/2 cup of cloudy apple juice and simmer until reduced to 1/4 cup (this will take 5-10 minutes). Cool then stir into the sour cream.

IMG_1641After this, purée the soup in a food processor (this will require a number of small batches) and season the puréed mixture to taste with salt. If necessary, you may wish to reheat the soup in your saucepan, however ours was toasty enough without.

When it comes to presentation, I love how easy it is to make this soup look gourmet. Fill your bowls with soup, drizzle each serving with apple cider cream, sprinkle with bacon and garnish with a few razor-thin slices of apple.

IMG_1644Bon appétit you chef extraordinaire!

Oh my fish pie!

I tend to think of pies as being inherently wintery dishes, however, this fish pie is lemon-y, packed with fresh vegetables and entirely suitable for summer. I’ve used Jamie Oliver’s fish pie recipe as my inspiration, but have lost the celery and boosted the veg. It doesn’t have the creamy sauce you might expect, but somehow seems to work just as well!

What you’ll need

salt and pepper (to season)
2kg potatoes (choose ones suitable for mashing – try to steer clear the yellow waxier varieties)
knob of butter and a splash of milk
3 carrots, coarsely grated
200g cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 fresh chili pepper (opt for 1/2 a chili with no seeds if you prefer less spice)
300g salmon fillets, skin off and bones removed
300g smoked haddock fillets, skin off and bones removed
150g prawns, raw, peeled
1 tbsp olive oil
2 large handfuls of spinach leaves
4 tomatoes, chopped

What to do

Begin by preheating your oven to 200C/400F. Peel the potatoes, slicing any large ones you find in half, and place them in a large pot of water. Bring the pot to the boil and let it bubble away until the potatoes are soft.

In the meantime (and this is the most tedious part), you’ll need to skin and debone the fish (if it isn’t already). Following this, chop the salmon and haddock into small 1.5cm chunks and set aside. Continue by chopping the tomatoes into small cubes, finely chop the chili pepper, coarsely grate the carrots and cheese, and finely grate the zest of your lemon.

By this point in time, the potatoes should nearly be done, so once you’re satisfied they’re soft the whole way through, drain them and return them to the pot. Begin mashing your potatoes, adding as much butter and milk as required to achieve a creamy consistency (a couple of tablespoons each should do the trick), and season with salt and pepper.

**If you’re in the mood for a bit of variety, why not play around with the mash? Try creme fraiche, sour cream, or cream cheese instead of butter and milk, or alternatively, add a dollop of dijon mustard to give your potatoes an extra bit of kick. Alternatively, for a more rustic (read: wonderfully easy) alternative, opt for skin-on mash.

Once you’re happy with your mash, it’s really just a matter of lobbing the carrots, lemon zest, chili, salmon, haddock, prawns, spinach and tomatoes into a large baking/casserole dish. Add a tablespoon of olive oil, squeeze the lemon over top, season with salt and pepper and mix it all together (I like to use my hands for this part). Carefully spoon the mash potato over top, smooth the surface and top with the grated cheddar.

Pop the pie into the oven for 40 minutes, and if you find you’d like the top just a bit more brown by the end, don’t be afraid to turn the heat right up and bake for an extra 5 minutes.

Take the pie out of the oven, and serve. I have an uncanny knack for burning the roof of my mouth on this particular meal, so if you can muster a couple of extra minutes of self restraint before digging in, I’d highly recommend it!

Pizza for gluten-haters (GF)

I don’t think there’s anything more tragic than going out for pizza with a gluten- or wheat-intolerant friend and watching them order a salad. Because everyone deserves to eat this Italian invention, I present you here with a very solid gluten-free recipe for pizza dough which went down a treat with each gluten-lover and -hater I served it to.
Set your oven to 220ºC/425ºF.

What you’ll need

For the crust
2 tbsp dry yeast
1 1/3 cup brown rice flour
1 cup gluten free flour (I used Doves Farm)
1 1/2 tbsp xanthan gum
1 tsp salt
2 tsp unflavored gelatin powder
2 tsp Italian herbs (oregano and basil)
1 1/3 cup warm milk
1 tsp sugar
2 teaspoon olive oil
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup rice flour for dusting/rolling

To go on top
1 1/2 cup tomato/pasta sauce
2 cups cheese
Any toppings you choose (I used tomatoes, mushrooms, olives, peppers, ham, jalapeños, spinach and fresh basil)
black pepper

What to do

After setting your oven to 220ºC/425ºF, mix together the yeast, flour, xanthan gum, salt, gelatin powder and Italian herbs in a large bowl. Using electric beaters on a low speed, add the milk, sugar, olive oil and vinegar.

By this point, you should have achieved a doughy consistency, but you may need to add a bit more milk or flour to get it just right. Divide the dough into three even portions, and using rice flour to dust your countertop and rolling pin, roll each portion of dough to the same shape as your baking trays.

Transfer the dough to the trays and bake for 10 minutes at 220ºC/425ºF. Take the pizza base out of the oven, cover evenly with tomato sauce, layer on your toppings and sprinkle with cheese. After cracking a generous helping of black pepper over the top (that is if you are a fan), pop the pizza back in the oven for an additional 15 minutes or so until the crust is nicely browned.

Remove from the oven and devour.

This recipe makes enough dough for three medium-sized pizzas.