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. 

 

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. 

Scrambled egg with mushrooms, Spanish style.

I got some free range eggs from Linda, and then Kenny bought me some too – all wonderful, but that was a lot of eggs. So I made this. It is from the Moro cookbook, by Sam and Sam Clark .

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500g mushrooms (a mixture, could include chanterelles, other wild mushrooms)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 25 butter
  • 6 eggs, broken into a bowl. Do not beat the eggs. 
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 40g serrano ham, cut into small strips
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Clean the mushrooms and slice them roughly. 
  • In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the chopped garlic, and fry for only a minute, then add the mushrooms. It will look like you have too many mushrooms, but don’t worry, all will be fine. Fry for around 5 minutes or so, stirring, so that the mushrooms are soft. 
  • Add the ham, salt and pepper, cook for another minute, and then transfer the mixture to a bowl. 
  • In the same pan, melt the butter and then add the eggs and mil. Stir the eggs with a fork or wooden spoon so that the eggs break up a bit. 
  • When they begin to set, return the mushrooms to the pan, along with the chopped parsley, and continue to cook until any eggwhite has set. 

Serve with fresh bread. 

Pea and feta fritters

This is from Ottolenghi’s book, SIMPLE. These pea fritters are good hot or cold, as part of a light lunch or a side dish as part of a feast. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500g frozen peas, defrosted
  • 120g ricotta
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • wedges of lemon, to serve
  • 3 tbsp za’atar spice (from seasoned pioneers)
  • 100g white flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 20g mint leaves
  • 200g block of feta, crumbled into large chunks
  • about 800ml oil
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Mash the defrosted peas using a soup wand or blender, just until the mixture is coarsely crushed. 
  • Transfer the peas to a bowl, add the ricotta, eggs, lemon zest, 3/4 tsp salt, a good grind of pepper, and mix well. 
  • Add the za’atar, flour and baking powder, mix well, and then fold in the feta and the chopped mint. 
  • Pour the oil into a saucepan, and heat to a medium to high heat. 
  • Using a pair of dessert spoons, form the mixture into smooth ovals, and drop them into the boiling oil. They should fizz and bob to the surface, and cook to a wonderful crispy brown in about 3-4 minutes. You’ll need to ensure they are flipped over in the oil to cook on all sides. 
  • As each batch becomes cooked, lift them out in a slotted spoon and put on a towel to drain the oil, before adding to the serving dish. 
  • Serve with the wedges of lemon. 

Tomato, Chard, Spinach, Lime, Mint, Almonds

Sorry about the wee hiatus – keep having many things to do. This is an astonishing mix of flavours and textures, and I was raving about it at work. Clair – this is the recipe I was talking about. It is from ‘Simple’ by Yotam Ottolenghi. Even better, it uses lots of ingredients from my garden. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 60ml olive oil
  • 50g flaked almonds
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 500g chard leaves – roughly shred the green leaves, and finely chop the stems
  • 150g spinach, roughly shredded
  • 1 tsp grated lime zest
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 35g chopped mint
  • 35g chopped dill, or 3 tsp dried dill leaves. 
  • 8 spring onions, chopped into 1 cm pieces
  • salt

METHOD:

  • In a frying pan, put in half the oil, heat to medium, and then add the almonds and the paprika. Fry for 2-3 minutes, until the almonds are golden brown. Remove them from the heat, and strain the oil from the almonds, which should be set aside in a bowl. 
  • In a large pan, heat the remaining oil over medium to high heat. When it is hot, add the crushed garlic and the caraway, and cook for a a couple of minutes until they start to sizzle and brown.
  • Add the tomatoes and chard, and 3/4 tsp salt, and stir. The pan will look very full. Cover the pan, and cook for around 20 minutes, stirring every so often. If you are using dried herbs, add them at this step.
  • Remove from the heat, and stir in the spinach, lime juice and zest, herbs and spring onions. 
  • Serve with the almonds sprinkled on to. 

I successfully reheated this the next day, although it did wilt the spinach a bit too much. I ate it with pitta bread and labneh.

 

 

Pasta with a cream sauce and vegetables

Cream sauce is a classic, but I usually only make this recipe when I have lots of vegetables in the garden, over the summer. This year I grew red orache, and it turned the whole dish a lovely pink colour. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 25g butter (use vegetable oil for a vegan version)
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed
  • 300ml cream (use soya cream for a vegan version)
  • salt and pepper
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • Approx 700g fresh vegetables – a mixture of orache, shelled broad beans, mange tout, asparagus tips, carrots, etcetera
  • 400g pasta (best with fusilli)
  • A good squeeze of lemon juice
  • Herb garnish (chervil, or parsley, or chive flowers)

METHOD:

  • Melt the butter in a small to medium saucepan, and add gently cook the onion for around 10 minutes until tender.
  • Add the garlic, cook for a couple more minutes, and then add the cream. Leave to simmer gently so that the mixture thickens, around 10 minutes.
  • Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, and set aside until it is required. 
  • Prepare the vegetables; cut the asparagus into 2 cm lengths, peel and cut the carrots into similar sized pieces, cut the orache or spinach to large shreds. 
  • Steam the beans, asparagus and carrots for around 5 minutes, then add the other vegetables for another 3 minutes or so. 
  • Meanwhile cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet, around 10 minutes. 
  • Add the vegetables to the cream sauce and bring to a simmer, check the seasoning and add a good squeeze of lemon juice. Do not forget this step because it is a bit dull without it. 
  • Add the sauce to the drained pasta, and serve on warmed plates, garnished with herbs. 

Orzo with meatballs

This is a bit of a mixture of recipes. My daughter left some Orzo pasta when she last visited. I hadn’t come across it before, it looks like large bits of rice. So I googled and tested and used what was in my fridge and freezer. This is heavily based on Nigella Lawson’s dish of the same name, but there are other twists from similar recipes. 

You could use one of my other meatball recipes to make the meatball mixture, but I followed the method below. The recipe makes six servings. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500g mince
  • 1 large egg
  • 50g breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 50g grated parmesan
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 litre cold water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp dried oregano (I actually used the mystery herbs)
  • 60ml red vermouth or red wine
  • 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 300g orzo pasta

METHOD:

  • Put the mince, egg, breadcrumbs, garlic, oregano, parmesan and 1 tsp salt into a large mixing bowl, and mix to a smooth paste. Leave to chill in the fridge for half an hour minimum.
  • Heat the oven to 180C
  • Make small meatballs from the mixture, about the size of a large marble. I made around 35. They should be small enough to eat whole without looking greedy. Put them onto the bottom of a roasting tray or baking sheet. 
  • Bake the meatballs in the oven for around fifteen minutes. 
  • MEANWHILE get ready for the sauce and pasta. Get the ingredients assembled. 
  • Heat the oil in a large casserole dish or pan with a lid. Cook the chopped onion over a medium heat for around 10 minutes until very soft and cooked
  • Add the herbs and stir them in, before adding the vermouth. 
  • Once the vermouth is hot and bubbling, add the tomatoes, and rinse out the tins with the water before adding that as well. Add 1 tsp salt at this stage. 
  • Bring the mixture back to a simmer, and let it cook with the lid on for around twenty minutes.
  • Add the orzo and the meatballs, bring back to a simmer, and cook with the lid on for a further ten to fifteen minutes. The orzo has a tendency to stick, so the occasional stir will help. 
  • Serve in shallow bowls, garnished with parmesan shavings and chopped parsley. 
  • I also served a dish of grilled asparagus and buttered baby carrots. 

Asparagus Risotto

This is a beautiful summer risotto. We made it because there was asparagus that had been reduced in the co-op, and added some fresh vegetables from the garden. I added mange tout peas, broad beans, and chive flowers. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 100g broad beans
  • 100g asparagus, chopped into 2cm lengths
  • 100g mange tout peas (or about 300g total green vegetables)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 75ml dry white wine
  • 750ml hot vegetable stock
  • 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh sage
  • 50g butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • 50g parmesan cheese, grated
  • a handful of chive flowers

METHOD:

  • Gently fry the onion in half of the butter, until it is soft, about five minutes.
  • Add the rice and give it a good stir, heating it through. 
  • Add the glass of wine, and bring the mixture back to a simmer. 
  • Start adding the stock, a ladleful at a time, bringing the risotto back to a simmer each time, and waiting for the stock to be absorbed into the rice. 
  • About half-way through, add the sage, asparagus, beans and peas. Continue adding the stock as before. 
  • When the rice is just about done, take the risotto from the heat, stir in the parmesan and the chive flowers and the rest of the butter. Season with pepper, and a bit of salt if required. Leave the risotto to rest. 
  • Transfer to a warmed platter to serve. 

This can be garnished with toasted sage leaves, or other chopped herbs. 

Beans, garlic, dill and eggs

I can hardly wait to tell you about this recipe, or to eat it again. It is delicious, and dangerously garlicky, so I think I will be in trouble at work tomorrow. I made it with tinned beans, but the original recipe starts from scratch. I got the recipe from the remarkable book, Nightingales and Roses. These are recipes from all over Iran, organised by seasonal availability of ingredients. Where she wins over my other current favourite book, Jerusalem, is her serving suggestions. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 can of cannellini or borlotti beans
  • 50g butter
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 small bulb of garlic, with the cloves peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3 tsp of dill seed, or 5 tsp dried dill weed, or 30g fresh dill, chopped
  • salt, to taste
  • 4 eggs

METHOD:

  • Melt the butter in a medium lidded frying pan, add the oil and then the chopped garlic, and fry until the garlic is turning golden. 
  • Add the turmeric, pepper, dill, and salt, and then add the can of beans including the water they are in. 
  • Bring to a simmer, and cook, until the mixture is getting drier and thicker. 
  • Make 4 wells in the bean mixture, and into each well, break an egg. Cover the pan and cook on a low heat until the eggs are cooked to your liking. 

The book suggests serving this with a little rice, with side dishes of olives, chopped radishes, smoked fish. We were not so dainty, and served this with a side salad with herbs and some bread, olives and labneh

Frittata

I think I got this recipe from Nadine Abensur’s new Cranks’ recipe book, which I gave to someone. We are in peak egg season at the moment, I have been given so many boxes of eggs. Combine that with summer potatoes, and the sweet burn of fresh garlic from the garden. Who knew that the Hebrides could be so lush. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • New potatoes, around 4 medium sized, or more if they are smaller
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • Lots of olive oil
  • tomatoes, peppers or other vegetable, optional
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 eggs

METHOD:

  • Slice the potatoes thickly, and slice the onions finely. Chop the garlic. 
  • Heat some olive oil in a large deep frying pan. Turn the heat to low and then add the potatoes, onions and garlic. Cook on a low low heat until the potatoes are cooked. Stir so that nothing burns. 
  • Meanwhile, beat the eggs with salt and pepper. 
  • Add the fried potatoes to the eggs
  • Put the onions or other vegetables with a little oil in the pan, and then, over a medium heat, add the eggs and potatoes. 
  • Once the edges and bottom of the frittata appear to be cooked, put the pan under a hot grill for 4-5 minutes

Serve in slices with salad and wine.