I love to cook, good food is really important to me. If you are anything like me you spend a large amount of your life in the kitchen preparing good nourishing food to eat. I have posted the occasional recipe here in the past, so I though it would be fun to do a post of what has been going on in my kitchen each month. If you would like to join in you would be most welcome.
It would make sense, in the first post of this series, to show you round my kitchen. It faces North East, has dark counters and dark walls none of which is conducive to good pictures in the Winter. You would be forgiven for thinking it is a dark cave but there is a big window and the walls are few as it is open plan into the hall and the dining room. It will have to wait until a lighter month.
The Festive season in our house means eating special food but not overindulging. I am not a huge fan of many of the traditional foods eaten at Christmas in the UK. But the good thing about tradition is that you make your own at any time. I have never made a Christmas cake, my Mum did every year it often didn't get eaten until well into January, I wanted a cake that we could make,eat and enjoy at Christmas so this year I tried Stollen. I remember my Dad bringing one back from Germany some time in the 80s when they were unheard of in the UK, I thought it was delicious and light, and much preferred it to the heaviness of the traditional rich fruit cake. The recipe made enough for two very large loaves, Stollen is more of a bread than a cake, that didn't last long, it was delicious.
I got some lovely presents for Christmas all of them exactly what I would have bought for my self. We exchange presents with some friends who bought me the perfect recipe book. My shelves are already growning under the weight of recipe books but there is always room for more. This book is all about salads, 75 recipes. I love making and eating salad. I miss them in the Winter months but no more, this book has salads for whole year. Hearty salads that would be too heavy for the summer are perfect for the winter. We have eaten a different recipe each week this month and they have all been wonderful.
At the beginning of the 90s I went travelling around Morocco, during my eight weeks there I was sold for camels (but you already knew that) and found interesting presents to bring home. Two of which were these:
If you have not seen one before it is a tajine we saw them everywhere we travelled, in restaurants, cafes and outside in the streets. I used it a lot when I first bought it home, but being on the big side* it is stored at the back of a cupboard where it is easily forgotten about. I was reminded of it recently on a visit to my brothers' who was the recipient of the second one and who cooked us a wonderful meal in his. You cook with it on a low gentle heat and the unusual shape creates a complete seal, the gentle cooking means that the ingredients soak up all the flavours you add, creating a delicious meal in one pot. You pile the food up in layers in a cone, the base should be the ingredients that take the longest to cook with the quickest cooking ones at the top, pour over your flavourings and liquids place the cone on top and cook. You can use this one on the hob or in the oven on a low heat, I have also used in in an Aga putting it in in the morning before I went to work and coming home to tea ready to be served! In Morocco we saw these outside houses set on a fire bowl of smouldering embers. We have been enjoying a recipe from this book which a blogger has helpfully created a PDF version of should you want to make it yourself. In the manner of all good recipes we have adapted it to suit us!
I am going to leave you this month with a recipe that we are enjoying at the moment. We eat seasonally so this has two vegetables which are regulars in our veg bag at this time of year. I made this up so I have never measured quantities, I just go by how many I am feeding. It is essentially two vegetables in a rich creamy sauce, it freezes well so if you do make too much.........we never have any left over here.
Squash, Leek and Feta
Flour - any
- Peel and chop the squash into bite sized pieces.
- Trim and slice the leeks into slices about 1cm thick.
- Melt the butter on a low heat into a large pan/pot (it is important your pan/pot has a lid with a good seal) and cook the vegetables until they start to soften, stir occasionally to stop them catching you can put the lid on to do this it works well either way
- Add flour enough to just coat your vegetables, you can use any flour you want for this it helps to thicken the sauce slightly
- Add the thyme, stir through
- Add enough stock to just cover your vegetables, I always use vegetable stock as I am vegetarian I don't know how it would taste with any other type of stock, bring to a simmer, turn the heat down very low, cover and simmer gently until the vegetables are cooked
- Chop feta into very small chunks
- Add the cream and the feta stir in and cook gently until the cheese is melted
I serve this with mashed or jacket potato. It also works well as a pie filling with a pastry top.
In the spirit of all good recipes this also works well with Sweet Potato instead of the Squash and a soft goats cheese instead of the feta.
*This one is 30cm/12" wide and 24cm/9.5" tall.
The top photo is the Galette de Rois I made for Twelfth Night.