19 January 2016

In My Kitchen


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
Squash
Leek
Butter
Flour -  any
Thyme
Stock
Double Cream
Feta
  • 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.

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*This one is 30cm/12" wide and 24cm/9.5" tall.

The top photo is the Galette de Rois I made for Twelfth Night.

37 comments:

  1. A lovely post, we eat seasonally too. It helps being close to a jolly good farm shop & having a veg plot in the garden. That recipe looks good so I shall try that as I have a butternut squash to use & have some leeks in the garden xx

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    1. It does help enormously having a good farm shop nearby doesn't it. I hope you enjoy the recipe.

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  2. My mouth is watering. It all sounds so delicious. I'm definitely going to try the squash leek and feta recipe. I enjoy cooking when I get chance. I would love a 'heart of the home' type kitchen as opposed to my current pokey galley style kitchen. X

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    1. Mine was a galley style but luckily for me the previous owners of the house took down most of the wall between the kitchen and the dining room (and between the dining and the living room), it makes the room feel much bigger and lets in lots of light. I live in a terrace and none of the other houses have what we have, their kitchens look much smaller than mine!

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  3. Your squash with leek and feta sounds delicious. I do like a nice winter salad and your book sounds lovely. We carefully carried a tagine back from Marrakech too. I love kitchen stuff as souvenirs; it's so nice to remember the holiday whilst cooking. I look forward to seeing more of your recipes.xx

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    1. Thank you :). It is the only souvenir I have in the kitchen come to think of it, but then it is a long while since I have travelled abroad.

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  4. I like to eat salads, it is part of my Swiss heritage to eat salad with every meal. We don't manage of course but the memory is there. I am joining in with Penny (The Homemade Heart) this year, choosing a random book from my abundant collection of cookery books and cooking at least two recipes from it. So far so good but lots of complaints from the minions. Have a great week. x

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    1. I saw Penny's challenge I thought that looked like fun! I am lucky that my children will, mostly, eat what I cook!

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  5. That recipe gives me some inspiration again to intersperse our weekly (or is it daily?) dinners with something wholesome and vegetarian.
    Christmas cake is something so quintessential to English speaking countries (UK and Ireland in particular). I can't say that I am a fan, but then I hate raisins in anything sweet or baked.
    And sprouts are for winter, not just for Christmas. ;)
    xxx...x

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    1. Sprouts are most definitely not just for Christmas, we had them tonight in Colcannon :)

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  6. Oooh, yum, that recipe sounds delicious. I bet it's lovely with a jacket spud. We're not fans of traditional Christmas food either, we don't eat Christmas cake, Christmas pudding or mince pies, but I've never tried stollen, I shall have to rectify that.

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    1. Stollen is lovely, but only if you like almonds if you don't you won't like it at all. Its good to find your own traditions isn't it? Most of those we have now were from the Victorians so they haven't been around that long.

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  7. I would eat salads all the year round too. This year I managed to overwinter some little lettuces. Thanks more to the warmer winter than any skill on my part. The frost has finished the last of them off.

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    1. I have managed to over winter lettuce in my polytunnel despite the frosts. There are winter varieties that are frost resistant. The winter salads in this book don't have lettuce in thankfully as I wouldn't want to buy them, flown as they are from Spain.

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  8. The squash recipe sounds delicious, thank you for sharing. I'm so impressed with your tagine, how interesting to have a real one. I've only seen them on tv, actually. I would love to try using one someday. I'd like to see more of your kitchen too, if you wouldn't mind sharing. I love to see other people's kitchens, I'm just so curious about how other people do basic, daily things.

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    1. The tagine is so easy too use. I do love recipes that you can prepare and leave to cook. It means I go other things in the meantime ;)

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  9. Your recipe sounds well worth a try so am printing it out thanks. I first came across Galette de rois in France - did you remember to put a "fevre" in yours? Apparently the fevre (literally a dried bean but these days a little china figure) gives the recipient of the slice containing it the right to be King for the day and the galettes come with a golden crown to be worn by the King. Mind your teeth though as you chew!!

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    1. I didn't put a fevre in. Both my children had wobbly teeth that week so I didn't want any confusion! I hope you enjoy the recipe.

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  10. I think I am something like you - food is very important to me and I spend a LOT of time in the kitchen. I get the feeling from those pictures that I am not quite so talented but that tajine really beckons to me. I think that the kind of food usually cooked in those is exactly the food that I want to eat these days- complex, warm and spiced dishes. If only I could convince my children to feel the same way!

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    1. It is definitely complex, warm and spicy but oh so easy to prepare and cook. Sometimes those meals are important to us busy mamas aren't they?

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  11. Food is important to me too, and feeding my little man healthy, in season foods is one of my priorities :) I love salads too, but can't eat cold ones in the winter. I found a lovely roasted vegetable salad recipe a few weeks ago, it was delicious, and served warm. Perfect for winter. Thanks for sharing the squash recipe, it looks delicious.

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    1. The winter salads are all warm, so perfect for this time of year. I remember having a warm salad years ago and thinking it a rather odd concept but loved it. There seems to be a sort of expectation that salad should be about salad leaves, tomatoes, cucumber etc but it is so much more than that to me. I make so many different salads in the summer often created from a random assortment of ingredients from the bottom of the fridge! It would be good to be able to do the same in the Winter.

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  12. I would love to visit Morocco sometime and get myself one of those tanjines. Thank you for that recipe...I can already taste the double cream and feta !!

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    1. Morocco was an amazing place. Even though I visited over twenty years ago the memories are still really vivid to me. I spent eight weeks there and travelled extensively through the country. It was a wonderful, wonderful trip.

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  13. Yes, it's funny how we can always find space to fit in more cookbooks, though I really need to make better use of the ones on the shelves here. The chickpea and cauli salad sounds delicious though must admit I'm a big fan of Christmas cake.

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    1. I go through my books every now and then to get rid of the ones that I hardly use, or only cook one recipe from. It makes space!

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  14. I always admire women who can cook well, I am a completely hopeless cook :) I burn things, I put too much or too little salt and so on... I can do simple things, but I always avoid cooking anything that has more than 5 ingredients :)

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    1. I am fascinated by those who cannot cook. I wonder did you not spend time in the kitchen as a child watching what was going on? Or perhaps you lived in a house where that didn't happen? My mum and granny where wonderful cooks who seem like they worked magic when I was a child. I loved nothing more than to sit and watch them from an early age. It all sunk in!

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  15. I got a tajine a couple of years ago with a voucher I had won in a giveaway ..... and I have hardly used it. I do have a recipe book for it, so I must make the effort to use it more. I'm looking forward to more of your cooking!

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    1. It is so easy to use, give it a go. Like so many things you have to find what works for you but I bet you can and will.

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  16. Oh this post made my mouth water. Like you I spend a lot of time in the kitchen - but I really should try and be more adventurous.

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    1. I am not always adventurous just when I get a little bored of cooking the same old over and over. I don't always have the time to read my recipe books when I am planning our menus but every now and then they all come out ;)

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  17. Yes to food! Good food! There is nothing I love more than experimenting with new recipes and ingredients. I am really interested in your stollen recipe. I have been so interested in a tajine- because it's so unique looking- but now how you explain cooking with it - going to look into this. Great read, thank you for sharing.

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    1. Lovely to hear from you again Camilla, I do hope you are well. The tajine is so easy to cook with in Morocco the standard dish is veg, tomatoes and meat with lots of flavourings left to slow cook on a low heat until everything is really tender and incredibly well flavoured.

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  18. That bread looks perfect!! I would rather knit that be in the kitchen but I find time spent in the kitchen well worth it!!

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    1. Knitting is often what I would rather be doing!

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  19. All of it sounds divine. That tajine is beautiful. We have many middle eastern shops around the city that seel beautiful hand painted ones. I've always wanted one. Maybe this year!

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Hello......would love to hear from you :)