Friday, March 09, 2007

with leek and butternut squash

The traditional French cassoulet contains pork or sausages, combined with white haricot beans and baked for a long time in the oven. It's easy to adapt this recipe - a splash of red wine, some tomatoes and vegetables, cannellini instead of Haricot - and it always tastes fantastic. Eat with traditional French bread (what else?!). Dried cannellini, by the way, are really easy to cook - as long as you remember to soak them overnight - they take just 40 minutes boiling with a tsp of bicarb. (You can still use them if you forgot to soak: put them into cold water and bring to the boil, then take off the heat and leave for a few hours before cooking.)

1 leek, finely shredded
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
250g slice butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and chopped
200g cooked cannellini beans (100g dried)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1tsp dried sage
1tsp red wine vinegar
1tbsp sundried tomato puree
0.5tsp brown sugar
1 slice old white bread, chopped into breadcrumbs
1tbsp parmesan

Preheat the oven to about 14o deg C.

Saute the leek and squash in 1tbsp olive oil, warmed in a large casserole dish. Add the garlic and stir for a minute before adding the beans, tomatoes, sage, vinegar, puree and sugar. Stir everything together, cover, and bring slowly to a simmer. Add the cooked cannellini beans, and put into the oven for 40 minutes.

Remove from the oven, take off the lid, stir, and add a splash more water if necessary (you want a thick stew here). Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and then the parmesan over the top and return to the oven for 20 minutes. Stand for 10 minutes before dishing up - and serve with crusty bread.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Cooking for St David...
Happy St David's day! Here are some favourite ways with leeks, goat's cheese, lamb and cake... stalwarts of Welsh eating...

Leek & Goat's Cheese Quiche
Make up a batch of wholemeal pastry (Weigh out 4oz wholemeal flour, 4oz plain flour, and a pinch of salt; rub in 2oz butter, 2oz vegetable fat, and add iced water to mix) and pop into the fridge while you prepare the quiche. Soften 2 leeks (washed and chopped) in a frying pan with a dab of butter, then season, and set aside to cool. In a jug, whisk 2 eggs with 2tbsp grated cheddar or parmesan, 100ml double cream and 100ml milk, seasoning generously and adding chives if you like. Now assemble the quiche: roll out the pastry to fit a 20cm flan tin, and scatter the leeks over the bottom. Carefully pour on the egg mixture, scatter 100g crumbled Welsh Goat's Cheese over the top, and slide into a moderate oven. Bake for about 40 minutes, then rest before serving.

Roast Squash with Leeks and Pine Nuts
The squash is an easy all-in-one dinner: just cut in half, then scoop out and discard the seeds, and also cut out some of the golden flesh - cube it and set aside. Put the squash shells on a roasting tray, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle on some salt and pepper. Roast for around 30-4o minutes, until tender and golden. Meanwhile prepare the filling: saute the cubes of flesh with 1 chopped leek, stir in 1tbsp Parmesan, and continue to fry until toasty. Cram the filling into the cooked squashes, scatter pine nuts and extra Parmesan over the top, and return to the oven for 10 minutes to get gold and crunchy on top. Straight from God's land to the fork!

Rustic Goat's Cheese Bread with Thyme
I have this baking in the machine as I type! I can't wait to eat it this evening with the roasted squash (above). Delia offers a hand-baking recipe for goat's cheese bread with thyme which is already a favourite in our house (with the addition of potato - it's bliss!), but I'm afraid work demands a less time-demanding recipe at the moment!

So - this comes from sumptuous book 'Traditional Breads for your Breadmaker'. In a breadmaker, combine 1.5tsp instant yeast with 2 cups white flour, 1 cup country grain flour, 1tsp salt, 1tbsp sugar, 2tbsp sunflower oil, 50g crumbled goat's cheese, 1tsp fresh thyme, and 1 cup warm water. Set to the 'white' programme... (recipe by Karen Saunders)

If it's cold or rainy and you want some comfort food, try traditional lamb stew - cawl (quick popty-ping version here) and Welsh cakes!