Leek and Yoghurt soup with dried mint

This is totally delicious, much more than you’d think. I made this tonight, because of a constellation of ingredients in my fridge that inspired me to try. The trick with the egg and yoghurt really works for keeping the soup smooth. 

INGREDIENTS;

  • 25g butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large leeks
  • 1/2 tsp Turkish chilli flakes (pul biber) or paprika
  • 1/2 tsp dried miint
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp plain flour
  • 150ml greek yoghurt
  • 250ml vegetable or chicken stock
  • 20g/person caramelised butter
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Chop the leeks: slice them in half lengthways, rinse and slice finely. 
  • Heat the olive oil and butter together until the butter starts to foam, and then fry the leeks over a low heat for ten minutes. 
  • Add the chilli and dried mint, cover and continue to cook for a further 15 to 20 minutes, checking regularly to ensure that the leeks don’t stick or burn. 
  • Meanwhile, mix the egg yolk with the flour, to a smooth paste, and then beat in the yoghurt and stock. I used a soup wand to do this. 
  • When the leeks are cooked, sweet and soft, pour on the yoghurt and stock, and heat gently, do not allow to boil. Keep stirring as the soup thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste. 
  • To make browned butter, put around 20g per person in a small saucepan, melt the butter over a low heat. The white milk solids will sink to the bottom. Keep cooking until the milk solids start to turn a gentle brown. Remove from the heat. 
  • Pour a little browned butter into each bowl before serving.

Prawns with caraway, tomatoes and green peppers

This dish is sensational. We bought 3kg of small Dublin bay prawns from a local fisherman, and boiled them for a couple of minutes in batches. The cooking water was flavoured with a pinch of saffron. We peeled them after they had cooled. Then I made this sauce and served them with toasted pitta bread and a green salad, as well as a stupendous white burgundy. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • Cooked peeled prawns, as above
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, sliced and chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 2 small dried hot chillies, crumbled
  • 1 green pepper, diced small
  • 2 cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp honey or sugar
  • chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan, and fry the garlic over a medium to low heat until it starts to brown.
  • Add the caraway and the chilli and cook for a further 30 seconds before adding the green peppers. Cook for another 10 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and bring to a slow simmer. Cook for another 20 minutes, so that the sauce is reduced and thickening. Add sugar, salt, and pepper to your taste. 
  • Add the prawns and simmer for another couple of minutes to heat them through. 
  • Serve in a bowl, garnished with chopped parsley. A rocket salad and toasted pitta bread is ideal as an accompaniment. 

 

Pork chops in a cream and mustard sauce

We had guests round, and I had some pork chops in the freezer. This was delicious, nothing left at the end. Here are quantities for two. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 pork chops
  • 25g butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • around 150ml white wine
  • around 150ml double cream
  • 1 tsp grain mustard
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Cornichons (optional, around 4 per serving)

METHOD:

  • Before cooking, season the chops with salt and pepper and set aside for at least half an hour
  • In a large skillet, heat the butter and olive oil together, and add crushed garlic, and then the chops. Brown the chops on each side and then cook until they are no longer pink inside, taking care not to over-cook them. 
  • Set the chops on a warm dish and keep warm.
  • Meanwhile, pour off any excess fat and oil, and then add the wine to the pan. Bring to the boil and scrape any delicious sediment in the pan so that it dissolves. 
  • Pour in the cream, bring to a gentle boil for a very short time, stir in the mustard and season to taste with salt and pepper. 
  • If you are using cornichons, you can add a tbsp of the liquor from the jar to the sauce. 
  • Pour the sauce over the chops and serve with mashed potatoes. 

 

 

Gin Julep

Another Saturday evening cocktail with gin. Still working through the gin gifts from last Christmas. This time I used the Ramsbury gin from my brother. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 to 10 fresh mint leaves plus a separate wee sprig for a garnish
  • 1/4 floz (1 tsp+) fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 floz (1 tsp+) fresh lemon juice 
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 2 floz (50ml) gin

METHOD:

  • Put the mint, lemon, lime and sugar in the bottom of a tumbler and crush them together
  • Add ice, and then the gin. 
  • Add a garnish of mint

Death in the gulf stream

Saturday cocktail hour. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 floz gin (50ml)
  • 1 1/2 floz lime juice (35ml) – about 1 small lime
  • pinch of caster sugar
  • 3-4 splashes of Angostura bitters

METHOD:

  • Put a load of ice in a tall highball glass
  • Pour in the gin and the lime juice and stir
  • Add the bitters and sugar and stir again
  • Twist a strip of lime peel over the drink and then drop it in