Sausages Stew with Braised Fennel and Lemony Potatoes

I am always looking for new things to do with fennel. This next recipe is based on a recipe which we saw on Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escapes. It was called Fennel Sausages with Lemon Potatoes. It comes from Puglia, in Italy and it sounded delicious. The fennel is excellent at cutting the fattiness of the sausages and lemon gives a delicious clean fragrance. I always find it really difficult to find good Italian sausages. You can get them at Vallebona which is always worth a trip, but only opens Saturdays and I always seem to forget. However, I do drive down Leopold Road every day and have discovered that Roberts & Edwards do their own Italian Sausage.  It is not terribly authentic and heavier on the chilli, than the fennel, by quite delicious all the same. If I am using these sausages I add a couple of heads of fennel and a teaspoon of fennel seeds to the recipe to compensate for flavour. I also add a little more liquid than Rick, as I quite like the stew-like consistence that it results in. I think of it as a “Summer Stew.” I have amended his recipe but you can find the original in  Mediterranean Escapes or even watch it online.

Sausages Stew with Braised Fennel and Lemony Potatoes 2

Finally, I usually throw in a few chipolatas from my daughter who prefers a plainer sausage, and this simple dish then happily pleases the whole family and is ready in no time at all.

Sausages Stew with Braised Fennel and Lemony Potatoes

Sausages Stew with Braised Fennel and Lemony Potatoes

Serves 4

The perfect sausages for this dish are those from specialist Italian or Continental delicatessens, Luganega, which come in one long length

Based on a recipe by Rick Stein From Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escapes

450g/1lb luganega sausages (available from specialist Italian or Continental grocers), or other nice meaty pork chipolatas

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced

2 heads of fennel, trimmed and each cut into 6 or 8 wedges through the root.

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

750g/1½lb small waxy potatoes, peeled and each cut into quarters

½ lemon, pared zest and juice only

4 fresh bay leaves

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Twist the sausages into 7.5cm/3in lengths and separate them into individual sausages.

Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a 26cm/10in shallow flameproof casserole dish. Add the sausages and fry until nicely browned all over. Lift them onto a plate and set aside.

Add the fennel, onion, garlic and another tablespoon of oil to the casserole dish and fry until soft and lightly golden. Stir in the potatoes, lemon zest and juice, bay leaves, ½ teaspoon salt and ten turns of the black pepper mill. Top with the sausages and add enough water to cover the potatoes and fennel

Cover tightly with the lid and bake for 30-40 minutes until the potatoes are tender. You can also do this on the stove top if you like. Adjust seasoning before serving.


Smoked Haddock, Mustard Mash, Spinach and Poached Egg

And for my final spinach recipe of the week, a real suppertime favourite in our family. Smoked Haddock, Mustard Mash, Spinach and Poached Egg. This is founded on real nursery (minus the mustard) comfort food and bound to cheer you up after a hard day.

Try and find undyed smoked haddock. The smoking process should give the fish a delicate tinge, not an alarming deep shade of orange.

“en papillote”

I like to cook my fish simply steamed in the oven. This is called “en papillote” in French which translates as in parchment. There is no great description in English, but it is a super quick and easy way to cook your fish to perfection. You can use traditional greaseproof paper, or even easier tin foil. If you seal it well the package will puff up when cooked so you know when it is done. (Make sure the package is quite flat before it goes in the oven, as in the  picture below, so you know when it has puffed up.)

“en papillote” 1

I have given you a brief description of how to make a parcel but if you want more help, have a look at youtube.

Preheat the oven. Bring your oven up to 350F/180C. Add a tray to the oven. Take a large sheet of tinfoil or grease-proof. The tinfoil should be a rectangle, the grease-proof cut into a circle. Lightly grease the paper or foil with a little olive oil. Place the fish in the middle and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Dot with a knob of butter and fold the paper or foil in half. For tin foil, neatly double fold each edge. For the grease-proof, start at one edge and start folding the edges in small inch sized folds until you have reached the other side of the semicircle.

Place on the hot tray in the oven and cook for 10 minutes or until well puffed up.

Smoked Haddock, Mustard Mash, Spinach and Poached Egg

Serve with some mashed potato with a teaspoon or two of Dijon mustard stirred in at the end, some wilted spinach (see spinach)  and a freshly poached egg.

Smoked Haddock, Mustard Mash, Spinach and Poached Egg 2

Fillet of Wild Salmon and Vegetable Bake with Lemon Mayonnaise

There was just a hint of Spring in my veg box this week. I got a medium box (less roots) and the courgettes, fennel and cime di rapa all reminded me of my allotment in a few months’ time. Along with the ramano peppers (which I could never hope to grow) and the sunny, but very cold morning, I could almost feel the promise of the warmer, longer days ahead.

I thought I would share a really quick and easy recipe this week. Often when I have been working all day (which for me of course means cooking) the last thing I feel like when I get home is prepping a whole lot of veg. But I am loathed to give the family processed food, especially when I have spent the day making sure someone else’s family eats well. This is a great recipe for using up lots of veg, which also keeps kids and adults happy alike and it is none other than “a bake”.

A “bake” really doesn’t conjure up a good image for me – vegetable bake, tuna bake, cheesy bake – just the names fill me with repulsion. But there is no reason why a bake should not be a beautiful thing and happily, it is always all cooked in one pan, which saves on washing up as well.

Fillet of Wild Salmon and Vegetable Bake 3

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to it my kids, aged 9 and 11, they are happiest eating nothing more complicated that some meat or fish, some potatoes and some vegetables. But it is so important to keep it varied, interesting and full of flavour for the adults. So this first recipe is just very simply a selection of all your family’s favourite vegetables, baked all together with a lovely piece of fresh wild salmon.

Choose a selection of seasonal vegetables which compliment, rather than overpower the fish. This week’s selection of fennel, ramano peppers and courgettes, along with some cherry tomatoes and potatoes left over from last week’s box, were perfect. This dish also makes a great alternative to a roast at the week-end especially when entertaining. If you want to impress, make a lovely sauce to serve along side it. I made a simple lemon mayonnaise. Don’t be scared of mayonnaise, it is easier than you think. But I have given you a couple of other alternatives. Salsa Verde , Salmoriglio or a delicious Anchovy and Rosemary Sauce to drizzle over your fish, are a few of my other favourites from my River Café days.

I only eat wild salmon, when in season, as I find farmed salmon is too fatty for me. There seems to be a good supply of sustainable Alaskan Wild Salmon available, very reasonable and full of flavour. Obviously I would prefer to shop more locally than Alaska so If you are worried about your carbon footprint then at least make sure that the vegetables are locally sourced. One last tip about salmon: don’t overcook it. As soon as you see white liquid coming out of the salmon, that is albumin and it’s a protein, and is a sign you’re your salmon is done. Remove immediately from the oven and your fish should be still pink and juicy inside.

This bake works well with sausages as well and can take a heartier selection of veg. Think butternut squash, sweet potatoes, parsnips, red onions, carrots or beetroot, along of course with the veg I used for the fish. It is a really good way of using up vegetables at the end of the week from your veg box. Come to think of it, if you have got a lot of veg to use up, you can always leave out the fish or meat and just have the baked veg. It is just delicious on its own.

Fillet of Wild Salmon and Vegetable Bake

Fillet of Wild Salmon and Vegetable Bake with Lemon Mayonnaise
2 generous slices of wild salmon, with or without skin
2 bulbs fennel, trimmed of excess outer leaves, save fronds
2 courgettes, cut into ½ inch slices on the diagonal
Large handful of cherry tomatoes
Couple of handfuls of new potatoes, boiled in salted water until cooked
Extra Virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
Cut the fennel into 4 or 6 pieces lengthways, depending on size. Cut the potatoes in half or if very small leave whole. In a large baking dish toss all of the vegetables with 3-5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Make sure the tin is big enough. If the vegetables are too crowded they will sweat instead of bake. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Try and make sure that the potatoes are facing down and that the fennel and courgettes are also flat side down. The more surface area that comes into contact with the bottom of the pan, the easier the vegetables will brown. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Remove the pan from the oven and push the vegetables to one side. Season the salmon with salt and pepper and place it in empty space you made in the baking dish. Return the dish to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes, based on thickness of the salmon. Scatter with the chopped fennel

Lemon Mayonnaise

Lemon Mayonnaise
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Zest of one lemon,
juice of half a lemon
100mls rapeseed oil
50 mls extra virgin olive oil

Place the egg yoke in a bowl and add the mustard, the lemon zest and the juice of half a lemon. Add a good pinch of sea salt. Whisk very well, using an electric whisk if you have one. Don’t worry if you don’t, you just have to work harder. Very slowly add the rapeseed oil, especially at the beginning. Keep whisking until all the oil is amalgamated and them slowly add the olive oil. Check seasoning.

(If your mayonnaise splits, add a tablespoon of boiling water in a large metal bowl. Very slowly whisk in your split mayonnaise. It should come back together. Then add your remaining oil just as normal.)

All sauce recipes below are adapted from The River Cafe.
Salsa Verde
I vary this recipe according to what I am serving it with. I prefer to go easy on the mint as it can end up tasting a bit toothpasty and instead I opt for basil, dill, chives or the fronds from the fennel tops. Just get a good tasting balance.
1 large bunch Flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 bunch Mint leaves
Very good extra-virgin olive oil
3 Garlic cloves
100g Capers
50g Anchovy fillets
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Red-wine vinegar

In a food processor chop the garlic, capers and anchovies. Add the mustard and vinegar, season and add some olive oil and purée until well amalgamated. Add all the herbs and whiz and more olive oil to achieve desired consistency.

In a pestle and mortar, pound 4 level tablespoons fresh Thyme or preferable fresh Marjoram or a very good quality dried Oregano with 1 teaspoon sea salt until completely crushed. Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Pour 8 tablespoons of very good, peppery extra virgin olive oil slowly into the mixture. Add a little freshly ground black pepper.

Anchovy and Rosemary Sauce
2 tbsp. fresh young rosemary leaves, very finely chopped
12 anchovy fillets
Juice of 1 lemon
150mls very good extra-virgin olive oil

Place rosemary leaves in a mortar and grind as finely as possible. Add anchovy fillets and grind to a paste. Add lemon juice, mix well, and then, stirring constantly, add oil, a few drops at a time. Transfer sauce to a small bowl.

Fillet of Wild Salmon and Vegetable Bake 4

Batata vada pav (Indian potato burger)

Finally, for this week, a bit of a strange one. Batata Vada Pav is very popular street food in Mumbai, India and I have always wanted to have a go at recreating it at home. A sort of deep-fried, vegetarian potato burger in a bun, which is eaten with the accompaniment of a couple of chutneys.

I tried out a recommended dry chutney, which is rather like a very spicy version of the Egyption Dukkah. I love the idea of Dukkah but I have never quite worked out what to do with it. When I went to Indian restaurants with my parents as a kid, I always remember that when they brought the chutneys with the poppadums, my absolute favourite was this coconut and almond paste, which was bright red and slightly spicy. I loved it. You never see it anymore, probably because it is more expensive that the more ubiquitous mango chutney and lime pickles.

The other chutney I made was a super spicy, fresh coriander and coconut dip, which was really good. As for the burger, well it is interesting and worth a try. Certainly a great way of using up left over mashed potato.

Potato Burger 3

Batata vada pav (Indian potato burger)
I deep-fried a few onion rings in the left over batter.
Serves 2
1 tbsp. butter
1 tsp mustard seeds
Large knob of fresh ginger, grated
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp chopped green chilli
120g potatoes, cooked then roughly mashed
½ tsp turmeric
2 tsp garam masala

Coconut oil, for frying

For the batter
30g chickpea (gram) flour
500mls water
Salt to taste

2 burger buns
1 tbsp butter
Green Chutney, Dry Chutney, Tamarind Sauce

Heat half the butter in a pan, add the mustard seeds and allow them to crackle. Add the ginger and green chillies, and fry until fragrant. Add the mashed potato and the rest of the burger ingredients and mix well. Shape the mix into two dumplings and set them aside.

For the batter, add all the ingredients and enough water to reach a pouring consistency.

Dip the dumplings in the batter and deep fry until golden brown. Cut the burger buns through the middle, heat the rest of the butter in a pan and toast the buns. Put the dumplings in the buns and serve hot with the chutneys.

Coriander and Coconut Chutney (Green Chutney)
1 cup finely chopped coriander leaves
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tbsp. almonds, cashews or
1 tbsp. sesame seeds
2 tbsp. shredded fresh coconut
2 garlic cloves
1 green chilli, chopped
Large knob ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
Juice ½ a lemon
2 tablespoons water

Whiz up all the ingredients with a hand blender. Check seasoning.

Dry Coconut and Chilli Chutney
You might be able to buy ready roasted coconut, sesame seeds and nuts in which case there is no need to roast them again.
4 Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup grated Dry Coconut
1 tablespoon Sesame Seeds
1 tablespoon Roasted Peanuts, roasted cashews or toasted almonds
½ teaspoon Red Chilli Powder
1 teaspoon Coriander Powder

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in skillet or pan and roast the garlic over low flame for 1 minute until just light, golden brown. Remove to kitchen paper. Wipe out the pan and lightly toast the grated coconut in same skillet over low flame until light brown. Be careful not to burn. Remove. Dry roast the sesame seeds over low flame until seeds start to pop (approx. 30 seconds) and remove. Let roasted garlic, roasted coconut and sesame seeds cool for 5 minutes. Add roasted peanuts, red chilli powder, coriander powder and salt in coffee grinder or food processor jar. Grind them until medium coarse powder. Taste for salt and add more if required.

Potato Burger

Quick and Easy Baked Vegetable Samosas

Next up this week, a really quick and easy version of Vegetable Samosas. The idea is to be able to knock these up for a quick lunch or for the kids lunch-boxes, so I am not expecting you to make your own samosa pastry. Samosa pastry is readily available in oriental supermarkets in the freezer section but I wanted to try them out with Filo.

I have been giving a lot of thought to good fats recently and I am always questioning what is the best fat to use when cooking? It is a bit of a minefield out there of information at the moment. When I was growing up they told us butter was bad and margarine was best. Now there has been a complete reversal of opinion apart from, rather worryingly, the NHS.

This time it was a tossup between butter and coconut oil. Olive oil, my usual oil of choice, was not appropriate for samosas and I am very anti-vegetable oil. Health wise, butter and coconut oil are both in a similar boat. Once considered bad boys for their high content of saturated fat, (coconut oil has a much higher ration of saturated fat to butter) opinion seems to have changed. It is now considered that it is more important that they are low in omega 6, compared to vegetable oils which are very high. Our bodies need Omega 6 and Omega 3 but in equal ratios. Unfortunately, we are consuming far too much Omega 6 and not enough Omega 3 and vegetable oil is the main culprit. I now try and use primarily olive oil (high in omega 3), then butter (grass fed cows are also a good source of Omega 3) and finally coconut oil which contains no Omega 3, but neither does it contain Omega 6 and it can withstand high heats and adds a great flavour. Just use them in small amounts!

Taking all this into consideration, I decided to use Coconut oil for flavour BUT to bake my samosas instead of frying, to dramatically reduce the amount of oil I was using.

Finally, a note on frozen peas. I know I shouldn’t be telling all you seasonal veg enthusiasts, striving to eat fresh and local produce but to me, a samosa needs peas, even in the winter. But you can add any vegetables you like.


Vegetable Samosas
If cooking for the kids, omit the chilli. To avoid any bad fats, you might want to make your own pastry.
Coconut oil
400 g Maris Piper (or similar floury) potatoes
250 g cauliflower
125 g frozen peas
2 onions
2 cloves of garlic
Large knob of fresh ginger
1 fresh green chilli
2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cardamom seeds
½ a lemon, juice from
Bunch of fresh coriander
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Peel and chop the potatoes into rough 1cm chunks. Break the cauliflower into similar sized florets as the potato. Add the potatoes to a large pan of salted water and bring to the boil. When nearly cooked, about 8 minutes, add the, adding the cauliflower and after a further 3 minutes add the peas. Bring back to the boil and cook for a final minute, then drain.

Meanwhile, peel and finely chop the onion. Peel the garlic and grate finely. Scrape the skin off the the ginger and finely grate. Deseed and finely chop the chilli. Heat some coconut oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, and add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes or so until translucent and pale. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and the spices and a teaspoon of salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Cook for a minute or two more and add the drained vegetables. Squeeze in the lemon juice and season to taste. Stir in the chopped coriander. Taste again. Add more spices or chilli to taste.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Lightly grease a large baking tray with oil.

Lay out the filo pastry and cut it in half lengthways. Take your first sheet and brush with some melted coconut oil. Spoon in the filling right down one end and fold over in triangular turns until you reach the other end. (Please see youtube link.) Finally brush with a little more coconut oil and place on a lined baking sheet. Bake in the oven for around 25-30 minutes, or until golden and piping hot through. Serve straightaway if possible.

Making Samosas 4

Making Samosas 3

Making Samosas

Making Samosas 2

Saag Aloo

I seem to quite unintentionally have two themes this week. First of all, all three recipes contain potatoes and secondly, they are all Indian. I am going to start with the really, quick and easy recipe of Saag Aloo which translates, somewhat unexcitingly as “Spinach Potato”. Things often sound more exotic in another language!

You will need to use waxy potatoes for this dish so that they do not turn to mush. It is hard to tell from the outside of the potato how it is going to cook but as a general rule, if it is yellow when peeled it is usual waxy and the whiter it is inside the more floury it will be.

As for the spinach. True spinach can be wilted straight in the saucepan as in the recipe, but if using perpetual spinach (larger slightly tougher leaves) you will have to briefly blanch the leaves first in a pan of boiling salted water. Cook for 2-3 minutes and layout to cool. Squeeze out any excess water before adding.

Saag Aloo makes a lovely side dish, but I recon this could make a meal on its own, maybe with a naan bread on the side. Noting beats, a freshly made naan baked in a tandoor. I call up my local Indian restaurant, place an order and pick them up on my way home!

Sagg Allo

Saag Aloo
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 small onions, or 1 very large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic clove, grated
Large knob of ginger, scrape off the outside with a teaspoon and grate
500g potato, peeled and cut into 1 cms chunks
1 large red chilli, halved, deseeded and finely sliced
½ tsp each black mustard
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp ground cardamom seeds (grind in a coffee grinder)
2 big handfuls spinach
Large handful of coriander, freshly chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the coconut oil in a large heavy bottomed saucepan and add the onion and a ½ tsp salt and a large pinch of pepper. Sweat for about 5-10 minutes until translucent but without colour. Add the garlic and ginger, chilli and spices and fry for 1-2 mins. Stir in the potatoes, and continue cooking and stirring for 5 mins more. Add a splash of water, cover, and cook for 8-10 mins. Keep checking. The potatoes are ready when you can easily spear them with the point of a knife. If necessary, add more water and stir time to time replacing lid each time. When you are sure the potatoes are cooked. Check seasoning and add the spinach. Replace lid and allow 1-2 minutes to wilt. Stir in spinach and a large handful of freshly chopped coriander. Serve straight away.

Saag Aloo 2

Caldo Verde

Finally, for this week, my final cabbage recipe. Another hearty soup this time from Portugal, Caldo Verde literally translates as hot green, consisting traditionally of potatoes, a local kale and Portuguese spicy sausage. I have adapted it for cabbage, but you can only use the dark outer leaves so it does not lack its deep, famous green colour. This makes it a great use-up dish when using the paler greener inner leaves for slaw, or even for my Keralan cabbage Thoran recipe this week. But it obviously works very well with any kale or Cavalo Nero too.

When it comes to the sausage, it really is hard to find good quality Portuguese sausage such as Linguica, however good chorizos are easily available now a days – Unearthed do spicy or oak smoked or Waitrose do their own brand Iberico Chorizo which comes with the added bonus of being already diced.

Caldo Verde in Pan

Caldo Verde
Extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 potatoes, peeled and diced
200g good quality chorizo, diced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
ground black pepper to taste
1 large cabbage, the outer leaves only or couple of heads of kale or  Cavalo Nero, shredded and washed
Smoked paprika

In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook onion with plenty of olive oil for 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and chorizo and fry gently to release the fat. And potatoes and cook, stirring constantly, 3 minutes more. Pour in water to cover, season well with salt and pepper and bring to a boil, and let boil gently for 20 minutes, until potatoes are soft all the way through. When the potatoes are ready, mash them into the broth. Add smoked paprika to taste and more seasoning. Meanwhile blanch your cabbage or kale into boiling, salted water for about three minutes. Remove and drain well, allowing to cool quickly. Add to soup and simmer. Stir in some more olive oil and serve at once.


Parsnip, Brussel Sprout and Bacon Potato Cake

Finally, for this week, another one of my recipes from Riverford’s “Autumn and Winter Veg”. This is simply a basic Bubble and Squeak with a few extras thrown in. I always think it is better made with left over veg from Sunday lunch, than made to order, but it makes a great brunch either way. The combination of parsnips, Brussel sprouts and bacon is a particular favourite of mine, but you can throw in any cooked veg. If you have left over roast potatoes, you can use them instead of mash but you need to chop them up small and mush them up so your cakes stick together. I have even used up left over baked potatoes, scraping them out of their skins and mashing them up. Serve with a fried or poached egg and a couple of sausages would be nice too.

Bubble adn Squeak 2

Parsnip, Brussel Sprout and Bacon Potato Cake
Sometimes I add a teaspoon of mustard or horseradish sauce to the mix.
300-400g potatoes, peeled + cut into even sized pieces
200g Brussel sprouts, trimmed of the outer leaves
200g parsnips
8 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
3 tbsp oil
salt + pepper
Fine polenta

Cook the potatoes in salted water until soft. Drain well and mash while still warm. (You need to keep your mash as dry as possible so that the cakes hold together.) While the potatoes are cooking, cook the Brussel sprouts in plenty of salted boiling water. Drain well. Cut in half if large. Peel and cut the parsnips into even pieces, toss with salt, freshly ground black pepper and some good olive oil. Roast in a hot oven until soft and beginning to caramelize. Allow to cool and roughly chop the parsnips. Cut the bacon into fine lardons and fry in a little oil until really crispy. Drain. (Keep the oil to fry the cakes.) Mix the vegetables together with the mash and bacon, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Mould the mixture into little cakes. You can use polenta flour to help them not stick.
Heat some oil in a large, preferably non-stick, frying pan and cook the cakes until they are golden brown on each side. Finish them in the oven until hot all the way through.

parsnips 2

Potato, Leek and Mushroom Gratin

Next up. I managed to get a bit behind with my potato consumption and they were piling up, somewhat out of control in the vegetable basket. Anyone who know my cooking, will know that I make rather a lot of potato gratins. I tend to incorporate all sorts of greens as a hidden middle layer –from Cavalo Nero to Kale to Cabbage. The potato can just as easily be replaced, be it celeriac, parsnip, carrot, beetroot or swede. The possibilities are endless. This is one of my favourites – Potato, Leek and Mushroom. The mushroom adds a meatiness which makes it substantial enough to serve on its own just maybe with a salad. For a real treat add a little white truffle oil with the mushrooms once you have removed them from the heat.

Potato, leek and mushroom gratin on plate

Potato, Leek and Mushroom Gratin
This makes a very large gratin. You can cut the amount easily by 1/3 or 2/3
1 cup milk (250mls)
3 cups Double cream (750mls)
3 whole peeled garlic cloves
Small bunch of thyme, tied tightly with a piece of string
2 garlic cloves thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
10 sliced mushrooms
3 Leeks cut in rings
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 pounds (1.4kg) baking potatoes, sliced thin

In a saucepan, combine milk, cream, whole garlic cloves and thyme over low-medium heat being careful not to boil over. Gently boil for about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.
Meanwhile, coat a frying pan with olive oil and place over medium heat. Sauté the mushrooms until golden brown. Add the chopped garlic and cook for a minute more. Remove. Heat another frying pan and sauté leeks in butter and olive oil until just beginning to caremelise for about 15-20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange 1/2 of the sliced potatoes. Arrange remaining potatoes on top. Press the layers down with a spatula to condense.

Remove the thyme fron the cream, pressing it to remove the juices. Mash up the garlic cloves until they dissolve. Check the seasoning of the cream. It needs to season all those potatoes. Pour the infused milk over the potatoes. Cover the dish with foil and place in a preheated 170 degree oven. Bake for about 1 hour until the potatoes are tender. A knife should easily insert in the middle. Uncover and bake for 15 additional minutes until gratin is golden around the edges. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

leeks in pan