Leek, gruyère and thyme pie

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Perfect brunch dish… can be made in advance, is delicious and has the exact amount of richness for a semi-festive meal. It has nothing but very simple and humble ingredients, which work well together, for a very versatile dish. Leeks are in season, even…

 Leek,  gruyère and thyme pie (as seen in The Guardian)

Ingredients

  • 1 large baking potato, cut into slices
  • 3 medium leeks, washed and sliced into rounds
  • A knob of butter
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 20ml  cream
  • 150g  grated gruyère cheese
  • 1 sprig thyme, leaves picked
  • 500g all-butter puff pastry, rolled
  • 1 egg, for washing

 Method

Heat an oven to 180C. Cook the baking potato in boiling salted water until just tender, then drain and set aside.

Cook the leeks over a medium heat in the butter until tender. Season well with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a bowl, mix the potato flesh with the leeks, cream, gruyère and thyme leaves and season well.

Place one circle of puff pastry on top of a 25cm nonstick pie dish and press into the base – there will be an overhang, which can be trimmed off.

Spoon the leek mixture into the prepared dish and place the other pastry disk on top. Crimp around the sides to seal, then brush the top with egg and make an incision in the middle of the lid to let the steam escape while it’s in the oven.

Cook the pie for 30‑40 minutes until the pastry has turned golden and crisp. Rest for a few minutes before serving.


Sweet potato, carrot and chickpea soup

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It is cold in Zurich, and this is all I want to eat. It is warming, filling and packed with different flavours – what is not to like about this soup?

Sweet potato, carrot and chickpea soup (recipe found in taste.com.au)

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large brown onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 600g orange sweet potato, peeled, diced
  • 500g carrots, peeled, sliced
  • 1.5L chicken stock
  • 300g can chickpeas, drained, rinsed
  • 1/2 small lemon, juiced

Method

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Stir in coriander, cumin and chilli powder. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add sweet potato and carrot. let them sweat stirring often, for 5 minutes until they are all covered with the spices and onion.

Add stock. Cover and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.

Add chickpeas to soup and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes or until chickpeas are tender.

Remove from the heat and blend the soup with an hand held mixer, until smooth.

Return to saucepan over medium-low heat. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Heat, stirring until it gets to a soft boil. Serve.


Carrot and potato soup with cumin and ginger

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I love to bits my nephews and nieces, but sadly, I don’t know very well. I don’t go to Lisbon that often, maybe once or twice a year and only for a few days. It is a real shame that I missing out the kiddies growing up. I try to keep up with their everyday life, and always find amusing when I found in these kiddies my own quirks. F, the oldest one is fearless in the water. I, the youngest one and my goddaughter, always wakes up in a bed mood and take her time to engage with the rest of the world. And, this Christmas I found out that V, the middle one refuses to eat his soup. “Oh, my dear boy, how can I understand you!”, I thought. 

At the table the drama start to unfold, while I was having a déjà moment. “Eat you soup, V. Now.” said his mother. “You won’t eat anything else”. “No”, he answered and smiled defiantly.  “V, try the soup”, replied the mother. V is a sweet kid and forced himself to have a spoon of the greenish liquid. “I don’t like soup”, he told his mother. “You don’t like soup???”, I asked him. “No, I don’t like soup” he retorted “I only like pumpkin soup. Or carrot”. Qed– not liking soup and taste preferences seems to have a strong genetic correlation. What else could I do but support V not to have his soup? He eventually moved to the main dish and dessert, soup uneaten… That is my boy!

This one is not a pumping soup, now out of season, but I guess carrots would have been enough for V to take at least 5 spoons. Or maybe even six.

Carrot and potato soup with cumin and ginger (adapted from a recipe found in taste.com.au)

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 3 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 floury potatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 750ml chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper

Method

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan until it is pipping hot. Then, add the onion, garlic and ginger and let them fry for 3 mins or until just soft.

Add carrots, potatoes and half the cumin seeds. Cover, reduce heat to low and let them sweat for 7 mins or until just golden.

Add stock, cover and simmer for 15 mins or until vegetables are just tender. Cool slightly then blend until smooth.

Season to taste, and sprinkle with some cumins if you like.


Roasted carrots with butter, cumin and orange

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It’s carrots, enough said. And if it wasn’t, it has orange. And cumin. The perfect side dish for your roast…

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 750g carrots, peeled and cut into thick batons
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange, plus some juice

Directions

Preheat the oven to 175oC

Put the oil and butter into a large baking dish and leave in the oven for a couple of minutes, until the butter melts. Remove from the oven and add the carrots, cumin, and plenty of salt and pepper. Toss together, cover with foil, and return to the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the carrots are tender.

Remove from the oven, take off the foil, and give everything a good stir. Then return to the oven, uncovered, for about 20 to 30 minutes, so the carrots start to caramelise.

When you take the dish from the oven, stir in the orange zest and a good squeeze or two of the juice. Serve at once


Pumpkin and tahini spread

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Smooth, creamy and  with a warm spices note – Autumn doesn’t get any better than this. It was supposed to be eaten in small portions with savoury cookies, but soon spoons made an appearance. TEoU and I ended up having it as pumpkin purée for lunch…

Pumpkin and tahini spread (adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s column in The Guardian)

Ingredients

  • About 1kg pumpkin (or butternut squash)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 70g tahini paste
  • 120g Greek yoghurt
  • 2 small garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • Olive oil to drizzle

Method

Heat the oven to 180C. Spread the pumpkin out on a medium-sized baking tray, pour over the olive oil and sprinkle on the cinnamon and salt. Mix well, cover the tray tightly with tinfoil and roast for 70 minutes, stirring once during the cooking. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Transfer the cooled pumpkin of the bowl of a food processor, along with the tahini, yoghurt and garlic. Roughly pulse so that everything is combined into a coarse paste

To serve, spread the butternut in a wavy pattern over a flat plate and sprinkle with sesame seeds, and a drizzle of syrup.

PS – Cookies (Taralli Caserecci Pugliesi) courtesy of Coop Fine Food 


Kale, chorizo and white beans soup

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Just what you need when you get back home on a Winter: a hot plate of hearty soup. But, please don’t say my Mother I this is I am having for dinner almost every other week… Officially, I am still allergic to soup.

Kale, chorizo and white beans soup (adapted from The Hairy Bikers website)

Ingredients 

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into 1,5cm chunks
  • 150g green beans, cut in 3cm pieces
  • 75g chorizo sausage, skinned and cut into 1cm slices
  • 1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon flaked sea salt, plus extra to season
  • 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1.5 litres chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 400g can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 150g curly kale, thickly shredded
  • freshly ground black pepper

Method

Heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan  Add the onion and garlic and fry gently for 5 minutes until softened but not coloured, stirring often.

Add the chorizo, paprika and carrots to the onion and cook over a low heat for 2 minutes, stirring until the chorizo begins to release its fat. Season with salt and lots of black pepper. Tip the tomatoes into the same pan, add the stock and sugar, then turn the heat up to medium.

Bring the liquid to the boil. Reduce the heat slightly and leave the soup to simmer for 12 minutes. Add the canned and fresh beans and the kale and bring it back to a gentle simmer. Cook for 10 minutes until all the vegetables are just tender, adding a little extra water if the soup is looking too thick. Season the soup with salt and black pepper and serve in deep bowls


Scrambled eggs with tomatoes

eggs tomato sauce

This is supposed to be Northern China style scrambled eggs.  Even though mobile calorie intake units  friends were happy to eat it away, I cannot help but feel I didn’t make justice to the original Bill Granger’s recipe. I still blame the wok (or lack of it thereof) for a somehow odd texture. Mind you, this is far to be a total cooking failure.  As heard over and over again – it all comes down to flavour… And indeed it was delicious. It is the satisfying, filling and healthy breakfast everyone is sort of expecting in a festive days. Or any other day, for that matter…

Scrambled eggs with tomatoes  (adapted from Bill Granger‘s Easy)

Ingredients 

  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Szechuan pepper ground with a mortar and pestle together with one teaspoon of salt
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons light flavoured oil
  • 6 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
  • 3 medium tomatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Method

Start to making the Szechuan salt, by crushing the the peppers  with a mortar and pestle together with a teaspoon of salt.

Whisk the eggs with a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper until smooth.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a non-stick wok over medium-high heat. Add the egg mixture and swirl the pan on the heat for 30 seconds, or until browned around the edges, but still liquid in the center. Transfer to a large bowl.

Heat the remaining oil in the wok. Add the spring onion and the garlic. Stir fry for 30 seconds or until softened. Add the tomatoes and the sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, unit softened but still whole. Return the eggs to the wok and fold gently until set. Remove from the heat and leave to rest for a few seconds.

Sprinkle with the Szechuan salt. Serve with white boiled rice and green leafy vegetables.