Monday, 27 February 2012

Creamed Leeks; A 10 minute Dinner

A really quick post today devoted to the gloriously green vegetable that is the humble leek. Whenever I go to Gav's for a roast dinner on a Sunday his Mum always serves up plenty of creamed leeks and I can't get enough of them! So while I was on half term last week and was able to cook my dinner everyday, I decided to recreate them for a quick and tasty break from planning. This recipe is so simple I hardly need to write it down, but hopefully it will give you  a nice idea for a satisfying meal for one.

All you need is a leek, butter, about 200ml double cream a little salt and plenty of black and white pepper

Slice the leek in half lengthways and wash thoroughly with cold water, making sure you get any dirt out that's hiding between the layers. Chop the halves up into 1cm width pieces. Put a knob of butter into a pan on a medium heat and add the sliced leeks when it's foaming. Fry for a good 8 minutes, ensuring you are softening but not colouring the leeks. Add the cream and stir as it heats through for about 2-3 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt and lots of black and white pepper. Serve as a side dish to lamb or chicken or simply enjoy with a jacket potato.

I had mine with one of those new McCains jacket potatoes that you just shove in the microwave. They're not amazing but it meant this creamy, deleicious, subtly oniony treat was ready in about 10 minutes. Lovely.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Lads Night In; Pizza and Curry

Blogging has been very thin on the ground lately as alas, my laptop that was literally held together with sellotape finally gave up the goat. I've therefore had to nab a quick moment on my sisters computer in order to write up this Lads Night In special.

Now I should start by sayin that Gav is very unadventurous when it comes to food, leading to me never bothering cooking for him before. However one slow Sunday I decided that this must change and came up trumps with these 'Lad' friendly recipes, with the ability to win over the most hesitant of diner.

We started off with a homemade pizza. Having never made my own before I was really excited by this simple recipe and can't wait to try other toppings that aren't often available in the supermarket (I'm not a big fan of takeaway pizza - I find them too greasy and lacking in fresh, vibrant tastes). Here's the recipe, taken from the GoodFood website:

175g ciabatta bread mix, plus a little extra for dusting
olive oil
large handful basil leaf
1 avocado , halved and thinly sliced
splash lemon juice
125g ball reduced-fat mozzarella
225g cherry tomatoes, sliced

1) Heat oven to its highest setting, about 240C/fan 220C/gas 9. Tip the bread mix into a large bowl, pour over 125ml lukewarm water and 1 tbsp olive oil, then mix well to a sticky dough. Knead for a few mins, using some of the extra dry mix to stop it sticking. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place for 15 mins.

2) While the dough is rising, put the remaining oil in a small blender with most of the basil, then whizz until the leaves are finely chopped. Toss the avocado in the lemon juice, then tear the mozzarella into rough pieces. 3 Using a little more of the dry bread mix to help you, roll and stretch the dough out to a rough circle on a large baking sheet.

3) Brush over the basil oil, scatter with the mozzarella and tomato slices, then bake for 10-12 mins until the base is crisp and the cheese melted. To serve, scatter with the avocado slices and remaining basil leaves, then season with freshly ground black pepper.

This was such an easy way to make the pizza base! I'll definitly be doing it again. The toppings were a revelation aswell. At first I found it odd that there was no tomato sauce in the recipe, however I found I much preferred the basil oil. It wasn't as heavy as your regular tomato based pizza and tasted far more authentic and fresh. The recipe made a pizza big enough for two very greedy people or four averagely hungry people for a starter.

Next up was a curry. This recipe, also from GoodFood (I bought my mum a 12 month subscription for Christmas, dead kind and completely selfless gift), billed itself as an introduction to curry. I thought this would be perfect for Gav's plain tastebuds and so gave it a try, here's the recipe:

(serves 2)
2 tbsp Pataks Tikka Masala curry paste
Half an onion , finely chopped
200g potatoes , cut into chunks
2 large sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
300ml vegetable stock , from a cube is fine
200ml can coconut milk
100g frozen peas
small bunch coriander , roughly chopped

1) Heat the curry paste in a large pan and stir in the onion. Cover and cook for 5 mins, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the potatoes, stock and coconut milk to the pan and bring to the boil.

2) Turn the heat down and simmer the curry for 20 mins until the potato has softened. Add the peas, bring back to the boil and simmer for 2 mins more. Season to taste and spoon the curry into bowls. Scatter over the coriander before you tuck in.

A very simple throw together curry that made a mild but very satisfying winter warmer. This served up two small portions (yes we admitted we were greedy with the pizza), and made for a very good lunch to take to work the next day.

Overall, two really simple recipes that I'm looking forward to adapting and cooking again. I'm starting to build up a collection of meals that are quick and practical/adaptable for when I have a place of my own and am limited on time/ingrediants. These will definitley be taking their place within that category. Any ideas for future pizza toppings from you lot?