Braised eggs with leeks, lemon and zahtar

We are about to head off to a family gathering, and so tonight’s supper was composed of items that needed to be eaten. This included a very chunky home-grown leek and some fresh local eggs. This served 3

INGREDIENTS:

  • 20g butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 chunky leek, sliced into 1/2 cm slices
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice, or 1 preserved lemon, finely chopped
  • 150ml marigold stock or other simple stock
  • 125g baby spinach
  • 3 large eggs
  • 45g feta cheese
  • 1 dessert spoon zahtar spice mix
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Melt the butter into the olive oil in a small braising pan which has a lid that fits well. 
  • When the butter starts to foam, add the chopped leeks and cook over a medium heat for 3 minutes or so, until the leeks soften. Season with a little pepper while the leeks are cooking.
  • Add the cumin, lemon and stock, and boil rapidly for 5 minutes or so to reduce the liquid.
  • Add the spinach, and cover, cook for a minute until the spinach has wilted right down.
  • Use a spoon to make nests for the eggs in the mixture. Break the eggs into these depressions. Sprinkle crumbled feta over the top. Cover with the lid, and braise for 4 minutes, until the whites are set and the yolks are runny. (I wonder if crowdie would work). 
  • Sprinkle with Zahtar spice mix, and then serve immediately, with fresh bread. 

 

Beetroot dip/spread

I  made this dip from Ottolenghi’s book, Jerusalem. We had it as part of a meal that included a hot bean and leek dish, some salmon, and bread. This was the best bit. The spices I got mail order from Seasoned Pioneers

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 medium beetroot, about the size of a tennis ball
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 small hot red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 250g Greek-style yoghurt
  • 1.5 tbsp date syrup 
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 level tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp za’atar spice mix
  • 2 spring onions
  • 15g toasted hazelnuts, roughly crushed. 
  • 60g soft goat’s cheese or sheep’s cheese, crumbled. 

METHOD

  • Wash the beetroot, and cook without peeling. I boil them in water for an hour, but you can also bake them for an hour in the oven. 
  • Once they are cooked and cooled, peel them and chop them roughly. 
  • Put the garlic, beetroot, chilli and yoghurt in a blender, and puree. I used a soup wand to do this. 
  • Mix in the date syrup, salt, olive oil and Za’atar. 
  • Transfer the mixture to a serving dish, and garnish with chopped spring onions, goats cheese and toasted hazelnuts. A drizzle of olive oil is good as well. 

This is best served at room temperature, with bread. 

Red Soup

Red lentils, beetroot and tomato puree. This is a great soup. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 beetroot, a bit bigger than a tennis ball
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 3 sticks of celery, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or other vegetable oil
  • 120g red lentils
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Boil the beetroot for an hour, then cool, peel and chop. 
  • Gently fry the chopped onion and celery in the olive oil for five minutes or so, add the chopped beetroot and stir. 
  • Add the stock, tomato puree and lentils, and bring to a simmer. Keep simmering for 30 minutes. 
  • Puree the soup with a soup wand, and then add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. 

Serve with brown bread. Lovely, tasty, filling, red. 

Leeks in a lemon and tomato sauce

I still have some home-grown leeks and carrots from the garden, trying to eat them up before the weather totally trashes them. I also have a brand new Turkish recipe book to try, and so far, so good. It has a great index by ingredient, an informative forward describing the different culinary regions within Turkey, and it is massive. I’m thinking of adding it to the favourite book list. 

It is called ‘The Turkish Cookbook’ by Musa Dagdeviren.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 600g leeks, sliced (about 3 large leeks)
  • 150g carrot, diced (about 1 carrot)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp red bell pepper paste (from Turkishop)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • juice of half a lemon or 2 tbsp grape vinegar
  • 500ml boiling water
  • 40 – 60g rice

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat
  • Add the chopped leeks, diced carrot, tomato paste, pepper paste, sugar and salt, and cook for around five minutes. 
  • Add the boiling water, lemon juice, and rice, turn the heat down low and cover the pan. Simmer for around 20 to 30 minutes, until the rice is cooked. 

This works well on its own, as a light supper or lunch. It is also glorious with goat’s cheese and brown bread. 

Circassian chicken salad

This salad is a rich paste made with chicken, walnuts, stock and breadcrumbs. It is delicious spread on bread, oatcakes and other savoury biscuits. I got this recipe from Cookistan, when we were on holiday in Istanbul. 

The Circassians were a tribal people who lived in the area between the Black Sea and the Caspian sea, north east of modern Turkey. They were part of the Ottoman Empire, and the dish has made its way into modern Turkish cookery. 

INGREDIENTS:

 
  • 2 chicken breasts, poached in 1 litre of well-seasoned stock
  • 250g walnuts
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 200g panko breadcrumbs, or other dried breadcrumbs
  • 4 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 12 tbsp plain yoghurt
  • Chopped dill, optional
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 3 tsp sweet paprika, to taste
  • 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper to taste (quite a lot of salt and pepper)
  • 6 teaspoons paprika (sweet)
  • Garnish: 1 tsp paprika in olive oil and whole walnut halves

METHOD:

  • Cool the poached chicken, and strain and reserve the stock. 
  • Shred the cooked chicken breast very finely. 
  • Roughly crush the walnuts and finely crush the garlic.
  • Soften the breadcrumbs with stock to make a soft paste.
  • Add the chicken, olive oil, mayonnaise, yoghurt, cumin, paprika dill, and salt and pepper to make a paste, and stir in the walnuts and garlic. Check the seasoning; this needs quite a bit of salt to bring out the flavour. 
  • Garnish with 1 tsp paprika fried in 1 tbsp olive oil, walnut halves, and chopped dill.