Tag Archives: Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall

Cheese and Leek Toasties

Leeks and Cheese on Kefir Toast3

Inspired by Heidi’s comment about grilled cheese sandwiches  on the cheese and pickle post, I rifled through Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Vegetable book and found a lovely  simple recipe for cheese and leeks on toast which I have customized slightly to use up half a red pepper as well as my leeks. It is the sort of book that if you are an experienced cook and a vegetarian you probably know most of the methods and techniques in it already,  but I like it for its simple layout and clear straightforward recipes. I think, going by this article I just found, HFW is very fond of cheese on toast. Lots more of his ideas here of things to put on toast : – Posh cheese on toast recipes.

Leeks and Cheese on Kefir Toast2

As I was making vegetable soup anyway and sweating leeks, I borrowed a couple of spoonfuls of the leeks from the early stages of the soup to make this treat. I am going to make it again today as we have lots of leeks in our vegetable box this week.

Leeks and Cheese on Kefir Toast4

Pepper and Leek Cheese on Toast for Two

  • 1 medium leek
  • Half a red pepper (capiscum)
  • 50g of favourite cheese
  • 3 spoonfuls of half fat creme fraiche
  • salt and pepper
  • Thyme or favourite herbs
  • Two chunky slices of favourite bread – here I used my kefir date bread with sesame seed crust

Leeks and Cheese on Kefir Toast1

  1. Sweat the sliced leeks and pepper in a little butter or stock on a low heat
  2. Grate cheese and put to one side
  3. Once leeks and peppers are soft and glistening lower the heat
  4. Slice some bread and toast lightly and put the grill on
  5. Add the creme fraiche and mix in
  6. Add about three quarters of the grated cheese and stir well
  7. Season to taste, add thyme
  8. Pile onto warmed bread and divide the remaining cheese between the two slices
  9. Pop under hot grill and cook till bubbly and browning
  10. Eat!

Of Celery and Stock and Lentils…

Celery Gratin Prep

Last week I made a celery gratin and a lentil salad side dish to go with it. I also cooked some tiny chorizo sausages that Brian had bought as they needed using up, so it wasn’t in the end a vegetarian meal, but it was meant to be. Good intentions eh?

For the celery gratin I followed the method in Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s book on Vegetable cooking. I do have lots of cook books and after writing the last post I realise I am maybe not using them properly, so by writing the post it prompted me to open my books!

You bake the celery covered in foil with aromatics and a little butter.  In this case, I used bay leaf and thyme, both from my garden. Once baked and tender, I followed the recipe to make a sauce from the liquid exuded from the celery and a little cream and sprinkled the top with a mixture of breadcrumbs and grated hard cheese, such as parmesan and then put it back under the grill to bake and go an inviting golden crispy colour.  I found it a little bland so if I was going to make it again I would maybe add some other vegetables into the mix, but it was good to do something I wouldn’t normally do and see how it came out.

Uncooked Le Puy Lentils

I am on much more familiar ground with cooking lentils. One of my favourites, and I suspect that of many other people too, are the Le Puy lentils which hold their shape when they are cooked and have a wonderful earthy nutty flavour.

Home made vegetable stock

I boiled the lentils briefly first, before covering them in home made vegetable stock, the recycled bay leaf, (I have a whole shrub of it in the garden but I was feeling lazy)  parsley stalks and a couple of cloves of garlic. For the vegetable stock I used the leaf and off cuts from the celery dish, some ageing carrots, parsley and an onion.

Cooking Lentils

Once the lentils had cooked, I drained them and dressed them while warm with a little balsamic vinegar and oil and then added some cubes of yellow beetroot, cooked the day before, some feta cheese, some little tomatoes, spring (salad) onions and some basil and salad leaves.

Together with another bowl of salad leaves and some pita bread popped in the toaster direct from the freezer this was a happy meal which we shared with our lovely neighbour last week.

These sorts of dishes are really adaptable to using up small quantities of salad veggies and bits of cheese that you need to use up. They are colourful, a healthy mix of food types, and they store well in the fridge once mixed, good for lunch boxes too!

Le Puy Lentil Salad

Bread and Dukka

This is one of my favourite months, I vividly remember going back to school each September and the hum of activity after the long quiet days of August, so September always feels like the starting point, one of the moments when you kick off from the side of the pool, extending your arms hopefully into the future, thinking that this will be the perfect glide, no water up the nose, just a smooth and here-in-the-now rush of sensation and rightness.

Zeb Bakes spelt and rye sourdough

So September I embrace you, I love the light you bring into the kitchen in the morning, conveniently illuminating the bread board so I can take photos to show you.; the warm days and the cool nights, the changing colours, ripening fruits, making small plans to see friends, thinking about bigger plans. I love the possibilities of this time of year, not tied to any calendar festivities, the pressures of Christmas and Easter, the demands of holiday seasons.

I have made some glorious bread from my favourite flour from Stanway Mill in Gloucestershire, (I am going to write a little post about the mill next) combined with French spelt from the Moulin de Cotentin in Normandy, which was a gift from my Dad.

I also keep making the Dan Lepard BBQ semolina buns (above) for my neighbour to take to her mother, who is still enjoying home made sandwiches filled with garden tomatoes and other goodness.

The formula for the loaf is the Weekly Sourdough, using the spelt for the additional flour part. This time I mixed the dough in the evening and left the whole lot in the fridge overnight, shaped it when it was cold in the morning and left it to rise before baking. Dough is remarkably flexible. Brian baked these off and did the slashing so they look a bit different from usual.

Zeb Bakes Bread and makes DukkaI also made some dukka from the recipe in Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s book  River Cottage Everyday. You can find it and some of his recipes that go with it here in this old Guardian article of his online – (see how I make it easy for you!)

Dukka (or duqqa) is a dry Egyptian mix of coarsely ground toasted hazelnuts, toasted sesame, coriander and cumin seeds, salt, chili and torn up fresh mint leaves. There are recipes for this traditional blend all over the net. Here is another one by Nikki Duffy, which is very similar and there are variations using pumpkin seeds and other nuts if you have a quick google.

Anyway I have become addicted and have been eating it with bread and  good olive oil, sprinkled on my salads and over fried eggs. If you are trying to eat less sugar, this is a good thing to replace jams and preserves with on your breakfast table.

Does September give you that push off from the side of the pool feeling, is it a month of good associations for you too?

Chocolate Cake Heart’s Desire

verbena bonariensisThis is the sort of cake that you want when you go to the garage late on a Saturday night. And do they have a cake that meets the following criteria? Well, did you really think they would…?

Fortunately the man from River Cottage has come up trumps as far as I am concerned with this easy to make (and even easier to consume)  cross between a brownie, chocolate mousse and, depending on whether you eat it hot or cold, chocolate fudge or chocolate soufflé.

I was happy, in fact we were all very happy; I decided we needed a pudding, friend coming over at short notice, and so, in between making beetroot and walnut hummous, Thai carrot salad, couscous with pomegranate molasses and tomato, Dan’s perfect pitta bread and mini lamb souvlaki marinated in thyme and lemon, cooked outside by a man with a torch on his head, (forgot to say, pitch dark and  freezing cold!)  somehow I found myself on the chocolate cake page of Everyday Cooking. Mad, moi? 40 minutes to go and considering making a cake…

chocolate cakeSo bless you Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall. I must stop calling you by silly names, because I do love many of your recipes, I do! And I really, really like this cookbook. It’s friendly, well laid out, easy to read and there are some cracking good ideas for easy everyday cooking, which is really all I hope to do most of the time. 

Cake made I could settle back onto sofa happy and content.  It’s better warm than cold, but that’s only my opinion! Heat for 30 seconds or so in the microwave and it transforms back into chocolate souffle cake from the solid, fudgey-looking slice you see above. Anyone got any good tips on photographing chocolate cake by the way?

I’m much happier photographing bread… here’s a pic of what we’ve been eating for breakfast this week, sourdough challah with sesame and black onion seeds (nigella). Pop that in the toaster and the aroma of those toasting seeds takes me to a warm Greek bakery somewhere. Ah ! Proustian bread moments. Do you have those?Maggie Glezer Sourdough Challah Crumb Shot

Maggie Glezer's sourdough challah