17 September 2012

Leek, Pear and Blue Cheese Pasties

At the moment we reap the benefits of Caroline’s careful cultivation of our leek bed. As happens so often with such a vegetable bed, you end up with a glut. This dish was one way of dealing with this. The pears, which don’t appear in the “What you need” photo, were Caroline’s afterthought to use up slightly overripe fruit, and an inspired one as it turned out.




What you need

  • 2 leeks sliced, including the green bits
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, pressed (optional)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp mixed spices (e.g. black pepper, cayenne pepper, hot paprika, ground coriander)
  • 1 tbsp instant vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp dried herbs (e.g. Greek oregano)
  • 100 ml dry sherry
  • 250 g mild blue cheese, Gorgonzola, bleu-de-Bresse or our very own Blaues Wunder
  • 2 sheets of puff pastry about 300g each
  • 1 or 2 pears, peeled and sliced (not pictured)
  • 1 egg, beaten

What you do

  1. Sauté the onions and the garlic, if using, with the mixed spices until the spices are a bit darkened.
  2. Add the leek and stir-fry until the leeks are wilted.
  3. Sprinkle with vegetable broth and dried herbs.
  4. Pour in the sherry and the blue cheese in small cubes. Stir until the cheese is melted.
  5. Finally, add the pieces of pear.
  6. Lay out one sheet of puff pastry, distribute the vegetable and cheese mix for the pasties. Brush the area where the pastry sheets are meant to stick together with part of the beaten egg.
  7. Cover with the second sheet of puff pastry and press together with a fork. Brush with the rest of the egg for a glazed finish.
  8. Bake in a hot oven (200°) for about 20 minutes – until the pasties are golden brown.

Served with a mixed salad this is a lightish meal.

15 September 2012

Damson Flan

What you need It is damson time and the neighbouring farms are almost giving them away. My Mother, who would have been 87 last Tuesday, used to make quiches and lovely fruit flans on Fridays, and at this time of year it was obviously done with damsons.This one is quite a quick one to make.

What you need: 

  • 300 g spelt flan dough spread to fill a 30 cm flan tin (100 g butter is rubbed into 200 g spelt wholemeal flour mixed with 1 level tsp salt and two tbsp vanilla sugar. Then work about 200 ml of water into the crumbs, adding water while kneading until the dough is firm and doesn’t stick to your hands; lazy alternative: buy it already spread. There is very good organic stuff around.)
  • 1 kg damsons, more if you have them, halved, stone removed
  • 2-3 generous tblsp ground almonds or hazelnuts,
  • 4 tbsp cane sugar
  • optionally 1 heaped tsp cinnamon powder
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • Optionally: whipped cream and plum schnapps for serving

What you do:

  1. Line a flan tin with greaseproof paper and then with spread dough, making sure it comes up the sides.
  2. Mix 2 tbsp of the cane sugar with the ground almonds or nuts (and the cinnamon, if using) and distribute evenly over the base.
  3. Lay the damson halves in concentric circles that should overlap on the base.
  4. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tbsp of cane sugar and drizzle the lemon juice evenly over the damsons.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven at 200°, checking after 20 minutes.
  6. Serve hot or cold, if you like with a dollop whipped cream and optionally a light drizzling of plum schnapps.

05 September 2012

Greek-style Cracked Baby Potatoes

I had this when I was in Greece and loved it. It is utterly delicious with small new potatoes, which have a lot of surface area for the cooking “juices”; needless to say, you can also do it with slightly bigger ones. I cannot guarantee that this is like the traditional Greek recipe but I prefer taste to authenticity.

What you need

½ - 1 kg of small new potatoes
4-5 tbsp balsamico vinegar
olive oil for frying
1-2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fenugreek or fennel seeds
1 tsp black pepper corns
sea salt to taste
fresh herbs, finely chopped (Greek basil, oregano, marjoram, flat-leaved parsley, coriander leaves, etc.)
zest of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, pressed
optionally: capers and/or dried olives, finely chopped

What you do

  1. Crack the washed, unpealed potatoes with a kitchen hammer or under the flat blade of a large knife which you smack with your fist; the potatoes must only be cracked, not broken up!
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy pan with a lid and add the potatoes in a single layer. Sauté with the lid on until they are a golden.
  3. In the meantime grind the spice seeds and the salt with mortar and pestle. 
  4. Add the balsamic vinegar and the spice mix and shake thoroughly. Add the capers and/or dried olives, if using.
  5. Cook with the lid on for about 15 min. until they are softened but still firm.
  6. Stir in the herbs, lemon zest and the garlic, warm once more briefly and serve with Tsatsiki and a Greek or other salad for a delicious, light meal.