Navarin of Lamb with Broad Beans, Asparagus, Peas and Mint

Last week it was all summer fruits and ice-cream and salads and then the weather changed. I was almost tempted to turn the heating on – in June – as the temperatures plummeted and the rain lashed at the windows. Forget the ice-cream, it was back to stew weather. But what stew do you eat in June. A Navarin of lamb of course packet with lots of tender, young spring vegetables and lots of vibrant fresh mint. So delicious you could forget about the awful weather!

Navarin of Lamb with Broad Beans, Asparagus, Peas and Mint

The vegetables are flexible here – use what you have. Tender new seasons carrots, little spring onion heads or French beans all work well.

Serves: 4

Extra virgin olive oil

2 large onions or leeks, chopped

A couple of sticks of celery, finely chopped

2 garlic clove, finely chopped

450 g (1 lb) lean boneless leg of lamb, trimmed of fat and cut into cubes

150 ml (5 fl oz) red wine

450 ml (15 fl oz) lamb or chicken stock (or use good quality stock cubes)

1 or 2bay leaves

A few sprigs of fresh rosemary, very finely chopped

Baby new potatoes, scrubbed (cut into bite sized pieces if large)

Small turnips, scrubbed and quartered

Bunch of asparagus, cut into even sized pieces about ½ cm

Large handful of shelled fresh peas

Large handful of shelled broad beans

Fresh mint

Heat some oil in a large heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the seasoned lamb, in batches so as not to over crowd the pan. Brown evenly on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon. Turn down the heat of the pan and add the chopped onion, celery and garlic and cook, stirring, for 5-10 minutes or until softened. Scrape the browned bits of lamb of the bottom of the saucepan and stir them into the veg. Add the cubes of lamb back to the pan with the wine, rosemary, bay leaf and stock

Bring to the boil, then cover and turn the heat down. Let it gently bubble away for 1 hour.

Meanwhile boil the broad beans for three minutes and then plunge them into cold water. Shell.

Add the turnips and potatoes to the stew and stir. Cover the casserole again and continue cooking for 30–45 minutes or until the meat and vegetables are tender. Next add the peas and asparagus and cook until just done. Finally add the broad beans and mint. Check seasoning and serve.

Teriyaki Stir-fry with Cashew Nuts

This is such a great use-up dish at the end of the week, when your fridge is still full of veg and you know your next veg box is coming. You can throw in whatever you like and haven’t even padded it out with noodle, it is just veg, veg and more veg and you can be sure you have got your 10 a day

Teriyaki Stir-fry with Cashew Nuts

Serves 2

Teriyaki sauce varies hugely. My favourite is Waitrose home-brand.

Large knob of fresh ginger

2 cloves of garlic

1-2 fresh red chillies

1 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced

1 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced

Handful of purple sprouting broccoli, sliced finely

Head o Bok, Choi shredded

Few sticks of celery and its leaves, shredded

2 carrots, peeled and then peeled into ribbons

Sweet mixed peppers, sliced, seeds removed

Teriyaki (for gluten free a mixture of Mirin, gluten free soy and Chinese cooking rice wine)

Handful of fresh coriander, chopped

Chopped cashew nuts, toasted

Sea salt

Cut the chilli in half, remove the seeds and finely chop. Scrape the ginger with a teaspoon to remove the outer layer and grate. Peel the garlic and grate it. Heat a large wok or saucepan and add some sesame oil, the  garlic, chilli and ginger. Fry for a few minutes. Add all the rest of the vegetables and stir fry for 5 minutes or so. It is important to keep the veg moving all the time as the name stir fry implies. When the veg is well wilted, add the teriyaki to taste and a pinch of salt if necessary. Remove from the heat and add a little more sesame oil to taste. Add the freshly chopped coriander and chopped cashew nuts and stir well and serve straight away.

Cut the chilli in half, remove the seeds and finely chop. Scrape the ginger with a teaspoon to remove the outer layer and grate. Peel the garlic and grate it. Heat a large wok or saucepan and add some sesame oil, the  garlic, chilli and ginger. Fry for a few minutes. Add all the rest of the vegetables and stir fry for 5 minutes or so. It is important to keep the veg moving all the time as the name stir fry implies. When the veg is well wilted, add the teriyaki to taste and a pinch of salt if necessary. Remove from the heat and add a little more sesame oil to taste. Add the freshly chopped coriander and chopped cashew nuts and stir well and serve straight away.

Potato, Leek, Chard and Blue Cheese Pie

I am going through a bit of a pie faze at the moment. Everything I make just seems to have to have a layer of puff pastry on top. My latest is this delicious Potato, Leek, Chard and Blue Cheese Pie. It is a bit heavy on the carbs but since it is packed with healthy vegetables, it is a great way of helping you get your 10-a-day too!

Potato, Leek, Chard and Blue Cheese Pie

Depending on the chard, you could use the stems too. Chop them up and blanch them with the leaves. Feel free to play around with the vegetables – a combination of pretty much anything would work, but the addition of mushrooms might be particularly nice!

600g Maris piper potatoes, peeled and cut into 4cm chunks

75g butter

2 leeks, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, grated

1 head of chard

1 packet ready rolled all butter puff pastry

200g blue cheese, crumbled

1 egg, yolk only

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the potatoes in a pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10-12 minutes until tender. Drain, allow to steam-dry for a few minutes, then mash roughly. Stir in 25g butter and season. Cover and leave to cool. Remove the leaves of the chard from the stems. Cook in a pan of boiling salted water for about 2-3 minutes. Remove the chard with a slotted spoon and spread out on a dry, clean tea towel. When cool, use the tea towel to squeeze out any excess liquid. Roughly chop the chard. Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter in a pan over a medium heat. Add the leeks and cook for 10-15 minutes until soft and beginning to caramelise. Add the garlic and fry for a minute more and finally add the chard leaves. Stir well, season and leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Spoon in the mashed potato into a pie dish. Scatter the blue cheese over the top and then the leeks. Lay a piece of puff pastry over the top and trim round the sides. Press down the edges with a fork to seal. Whisk the egg yolk and brush the top of the pie. You can chill the pie at this stage and bake the next day. Cut a few slits in the top of the pie so the steam can escape. Bake for 40-45 minutes until golden. Serve hot or warm.

Tagliatelle with Roast Parsnips, Leeks, Bacon & Cream

I have made pasta dishes similar to this one before, but it occurred to me that you could add all sorts of different roast root vegetables, just to get even move goodness in your diet. Bacon and parsnips is a winning combination and along with the leeks, this made a really tasty dinner.

Tagliatelle with Roast Parsnips, Leeks, Bacon & Cream

Serves 2

Extra virgin olive oil

1 large parsnip

6 slices thin-cut smoked streaky bacon, cut into small strips

1 large leek or 2 small, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise, shredded crosswise and washed

100mls double cream

125g Tagliatelle

Finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano

Preheat the oven to 180C. Peel and cut the parsnip into 1cm cubes. Toss in a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Tip onto a lined roasting tray and cook in the oven for about 30 minutes or so until tender and golden brown. Stir once or twice to ensure even cooking.

Meanwhile heat some oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring often, until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp, 5-8 minutes. Add leeks and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook over a low heat for as long as possible, stirring often, until leeks first completely soften and then begin to caramelize. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Add the cream to the leeks and some of the pasta water so that you have a nice creamy consistency but not too dry. Check seasoning. Drain pasta and add to the leeks and bacon. Add the parmesan to taste and serve straight away.

Butternut Squash and Leek Risotto with Gorgonzola

I permanently seem to have butternut squash to use up at the moment. No matter how many recipes I think up for this blog, there still always seems to be yet another half of one in my fridge. So here is yet another idea – Butternut Squash and Leek Risotto with Gorgonzola. Really delicious, it will make you wish that you had squash to use up every day.

Butternut Squash and Leek Risotto with Gorgonzola

Chicken stock is best for this risotto but vegetable stock is fine as well. If it is not home-made use a good quality cube like Kello.

½ butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and ciubed

Extra virgin olive oil

100g butter

1 leek, shredded and washed

100mls white wine

1 litre stock – either home-made of from cubes.

200g risotto rice

75g Parmesan, finely grated

Gorgonzola or another blue cheese

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat oven to 180C. Toss the diced butternut squash with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Tip onto a lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes until tender and golden brown. Meanwhile, melt half the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan, add the leek and a good pinch of salt and gently fry without colour until softened for about 10 minutes.  Add the rice and cook for a minute more and then add the wine. Keep stirring. It is banging the grains of rice together which releases the starch which makes your risotto creamy. Gradually start to add the stock a ladleful at a time. When the liquid has just about been absorbed, add another ladleful of stock. Keep cooking like this for 20-25 mins until the rice is chewy but not chalky. Add the butternut squash, parmesan and the rest of the butter but do not stir, and leave to sit covered for a minute or two. Finally give the risotto a good stir and crumble the blue cheese over the top. Serve immediately.

Grilled Leeks with Romesco Sauce

And so to my last leek recipe of the week. This recipe is actually for new season’s spring onions. In Catalan they have a festival in honour of their spring onions, called Calcots and the festival is literally called Calcotada. They grill their Calcots on fabulous charcoal fires and serve it with variations of this Romesco Sauce. It is funny I should think about this recipe now, because when I did some research into the festival, I discovered that it is celebrated this weekend! How is that for timing!

I have adapted the recipe for lovely fresh leeks. The secret to grilling perfect leeks is to boil them first until completely tender. Obviously that would be best grilled and lightly smoked, over a charcoal grill, but if not a griddle plate will have to do.

Romesco Sauce

2 red peppers

75g blanched almonds

75g walnuts

3 slices of wiale white sourdough bread

3 tbsp. olive oil

1 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tsp. smoked paprika

2 tbsp. sherry wine vinegar

1 small dried chilli

1 tsp. fennel seeds, lightly toasted

30g bunch of parsley

1 tbsp. tomato puree

3 tomatoes, roughly chopped

For the leeks

4 leeks

Extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Put the peppers in a roasting dish and leave in the oven for 40 minutes, until they are charred all over. Remove and place in a bowl, covering with cling film to steam the peppers and help the skins slip off. When cool enough to handle, skin and deseed. Meanwhile, lightly toast the walnuts and almonds in a dry frying pan, stirring frequently. Add to a bowl with the tomatoes, bread, vinegar, garlic, paprika, chilli, tomato puree, parsley, fennel seeds, olive oil and sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the peppers and pulse all the ingredients in a food processor or with a hand blender until you have a smooth, thick sauce. Check for seasoning.

Put a large, salted pan of water on to boil. Trim the leeks both ends and cut in half. Put the leeks in the boiling water and simmer for about 10 minutes until you can easily pierce all the way through the leek with a sharpish knife. It is imperative that your leeks are properly cooked. Remove and leave to drain in a colander. When cool. Carefully cut in half lengthways with a sharp knife. Brush both sides of either leek and grill on a really hot BBQ or griddle. Leave until griddle marks are clearly made on one side before flipping to the other side. Serve warm with your Romanesco Sauce.

Ham Hock, Leek and Butter Bean Soup

This soup is just so quick and easy and it is exactly what you want to eat on a gloomy, winters day. Pulled ham hock is probably the most convenient food product since sliced bread, and much nicer. It is ready cooked and it is ready shredded. It saves literally hours in the kitchen.

Ham Hock, Leek and Butter Bean Soup

Serves: 4

20g unsalted butter

2 leeks, halved and finely sliced

1 garlic clove, crushed

400g can butter beans, drained and rinsed

750ml chicken stock (or use good quality stock cubes)

1 tbsp dijon mustard

150ml single cream

180g Pulled ham hock (or leftover ham)

1 tbsp chopped chives

Heat the butter in a large pan until foaming. Add the leeks and garlic and sweat for 10 minutes, until the leeks have softened and begin to caramelise. Add the butter beans and chicken stock, then simmer gently for 3 – 4 minutes. Mix the mustard into the cream, then stir into the soup along with the ham. Serve hot with chopped chives.

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Spicy Chorizo, Leeks and Tomato Baked with Eggs

This week is all in praise of leeks. It is still a month until St David’s day and I don’t know what got me thinking about leeks, but once I did, I couldn’t stop. The first recipe is a sort of variation on the North African Dish of Shakshuka. Here I replace the peppers and onions with leeks and chorizo. Serve it with plenty of sourdough bread to soak up the sauce. A great brunch!

Spicy Chorizo, Leeks and Tomato Baked with Eggs

Serves 2

120g Good quality Chorizo, finely chopped

2 leeks, cut in half and shredded, washed and drained

1 can tinned plum tomatoes

Pinch chilli flakes

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp smoked paprika

4 eggs

A little extra virgin olive oil

A small bunch of coriander

In a heavy bottomed pan (which can go in the oven) add a little oil and then fry the chorizo until it releases its own fat. Add the leeks, season, cover and cook gently for about 15-20 minutes, checking regularly. Remove the lid and continue to cook until they are beginning to caramelise. Add the tin of tomatoes and half a tin of water.  break up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Add the chilli and paprika and cook down until the sauce has thickened. .  Check seasoning and adjust to taste. Preheat oven to 180C. Make little wells in the sauce and crack a egg into each hole  Place the pan in the oven and cook the eggs to your liking. I like mine yolks just runny, whites fully set. Sprinkle with coriander and serve with bread.

Homity Pie

It is funny how vegetarian cooking has gone in and out of fashion through the years and even more so, how the recipes have changed in style . It all started with Cranks which actually opened before I was born, but it was still fashionable when I was student, when being vegetarian was almost obligatory.  I remember waiting desperately for Cranks cookbook to come out so that I could try and recreate their legendary Homity Pie. I can’t remember if I ever made it back then, but I googled it the other day and came up with the original recipe which, not very surprisingly was really dated and uninspiring. Now a days it would have about twenty more ingredients in it. But I was drawn by it’s old fashioned simplicity, although it needed some serious alterations – It recommended putting the filling into a raw pastry case, which I thought sounded unwise, and indeed the pastry came out completely uncooked and soggy on the bottom. Anyway, a few tweaks here and there and my Homity Pie came out even better than I remembered it. I have to admit, that although Homity Pie should be made with wholemeal pasty, I cheated with some ready-made, ready-rolled shortcrust pastry, which made up for the extra blind-baking time.

Homity Pie

8” Fluted pastry case

125g/4oz plain flour, plus extra for rolling

125g/4oz wholemeal flour

150g/5oz butter

1 free-range egg, beaten

Or 215g ready-made, ready-rolled good quality shortcrust.

For the filling

350g tasty potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm slices

25g/1oz butter

1 tbsp olive oil

3 leeks, shredded and washed (or onions)

2 garlic cloves, crushed

100g mature cheddar cheese, coarsely grated

250ml/9fl oz double cream

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C/180C (fan)/Gas 6. Put the flour and butter in a food processor and blend until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg and pulse until the mixture just comes together as a dough. Bring the dough together and flatten into a round.

Put the pastry in the centre of a 20cm/8in pastry tin and carefully ease it over the base and up the sides of the tin. Line with baking parchment and bake until very light golden brown. Meanwhile cook the potatoes in boiling water for 15 minutes, or until just tender.

Melt the butter and oil in a saucepan and fry the leeks gently for 15 minutes, or until soft and pale golden-brown. Add the garlic and cook for two further minutes, stirring regularly. Add the garlic and fry for minute of two more. Add ½ the cheese and season well. Add the potatoes and spoon the filling mixture into the pastry case. Pour over the cream and allow it to drizzle down between the layers. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Place the tin on a baking tray and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the top is pale golden-brown.

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Fettuccini with Leeks, Bacon & Cream

I am really excited about this recipe for Fettuccini with Leeks and Bacon, probably because I am really hungry and it sounds just what I want to eat now. There are so many really good ready made pastas on the market now, and so much choice. This recipe would work just as well with pappardelle or tagliatelle, just choose a good one.

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Fettuccini with Leeks, Bacon & Cream

Serves 2

2 tablespoons olive oil

90g slices thin-cut smoked streaky bacon, cut into small strips

1 large leek or 2 small, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise, shredded crosswise and washed

100mls double cream

125g fettuccine, tagliatelle or pappardelle

Finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring often, until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp, 5-8 minutes. Add leeks and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook over a low heat for as long as possible, stirring often, until leeks first completely soften and then begin to caramelize. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Add the cream to the leeks and some of the pasta water so that you have a nice creamy consistency but not too dry. Check seasoning. Drain pasta and add to the leeks and bacon. Add the parmesan to taste and serve straight away.

Leeks cut

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