Archive | October, 2012

Braised Leeks with Garlic and White Wine

29 Oct

As B heads in to cooler weather, with a hearty and healthy soup in hand, we are heading in to spring and warmer days. I am saying that out loud, willing it to happen faster.

You may have noticed already that I love onions, but have I mentioned my love of leeks before? I have been using them as an mellow alternative to onions for years, but never before as a side dish on their own. Braised leeks sounded good, and then I saw the other ingredients… I am not sure you could ever go wrong with a combination of butter, garlic, lemon and white wine. This is based on a Jamie Oliver recipe.

So if you are looking for a slow cooked side dish to go with pretty much any simple meat, for something to load on top of pasta, or even risotto, this is great. What brings this one to life for me, is the lemon. And I loved it when I had it again the next day and the lemon rind had infused even further.

What you will need…

Leeks, garlic, lemon, butter, wine, chicken stock, salt and pepper.

I cut the white part of the leek from the green, and sliced down to the centre of the green section, and rinsed it well in running water to clean it of any grit. The green part I sliced finely, along with the garlic.

Add them to the melted butter in a pan on the stove on low heat, and cook until the garlic is transparent, but not brown. This will flavour the butter nicely.

I then stripped two or three layers from the white section of the leek, and cut them in to pieces of around half an inch long. I added them to the rest of the leek, and mixed it through.

At this stage, if your stove top pan is not able to go in to the oven, you could transfer it all to a baking dish. I gave the lemon a squeeze over the pot before plonking it in skin and all, then added the stock, wine, a grind of pepper and a pinch of salt.

I put the pot in to the oven, uncovered, at 175C/340F and gave it a stir every 30 minutes or so. I cooked it for 90 minutes. I think it is quite forgiving and you could even cook it longer if you wanted.

It is both rich and vibrant to taste. Also kind of pretty. I love the way the hearts look amongst the green slices.

I served it with some chicken breast cooked in a pan with some olive oil and pepper, and steamed some Kipfler potatoes. But honestly, I think these leeks would go with so many things as a side dish, or topping.


Braised Leeks with Garlic and White Wine


4 large leeks
8 cloves garlic, finely sliced
120g butter (6Tbs)
1 cup chicken stock (homemade would be ideal)
1.5 cups dry white wine
2 lemon quarters
Salt and pepper for seasoning

Prepare the leeks by cutting the white bulb from the green leaves. Slice down in to the green leaves, so they open up flat, and rinse well under running water. Slice these leaves up finely. Peel the top two or thee layers from the white bulb sections, and slice in to pieces, mine were around half an inch long.

In a pan, melt the butter and add the green sliced leeks, and the garlic, and cook slowly over a low heat. When the garlic is transparent and aromatic, add the remaining leek and mix well through the butter.

If you are using a pan that cannot be placed in an oven, at this stage transfer the mix in to a baking dish. Add the the remaining ingredients, stir and then bake in a 175C/340F oven for around 90 minutes, stirring every half hour. Turn down the heat if the leeks are browning too much.

Serve with your choice of meats, pasta or risotto.

What a treat. I ate this with a friend before we went out to a comedy show the other night, and the whole drive there she kept punctuating the conversation with “Those leeks were so good. Leeks. Oh… those leeks!” I think she liked them.

It’s over to you Autumn bound B!

Beef, Leek and Barley Soup

22 Oct

I like all things Aussie and I think that burger is no exception. What a great flavor pop to add to a burger – good on ya, Alice!

The weather here in Minnesota has turned cool and gloomy these days, so what better than to make a big pot of soup. And how about a soup that is very easy to put together, that just sits on the back burner and simmers away while you’re busy with other things around the house? And bonus points for that soup to smell so amazing that it is hard to go about the other things around the house because all you can think of is how delicious that soup smells!

Well, have I found a soup for all of those things.

This Beef, Leek and Barley soup is taken from Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen and it is a keeper. It’s just as good for a nice dinner with guests as it is a cozy dinner at home on your coffee table with only a very curious cat for company.

It calls for short ribs with the bones, as those bones add so much flavor to soup. Of course, my butcher was out of short ribs with bones, so he suggested I get some boneless ribs and add a package of soup bones to the pot. That’s what I did. You’ll want to use a well marbled piece of meat so it just falls apart in the soup. These may also be called chuck ribs.

Chop up your ingredients. In addition to the simple beef, leeks, onions, garlic and barley you can add other ingredients to the soup as well. Such as lima beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots or whatever suits your fancy. I added dehydrated Asian mushrooms.

On another note, leeks make me happy. They are so delicious and mellow that they add a lovely flavor to whatever you are cooking.

If you haven’t cooked with them before, definitely give them a try. You won’t regret it. I don’t use them often enough, so to get a jump start on my New Years’ resolutions, I resolve to make more dishes with leeks in them.

One thing to note about leeks is that they hold quite a bit of sand in their lovely layers. You should always soak the leeks in cool water after chopping them up.

Swish them around in a large bowl of water, then scoop them out carefully so you don’t accidentally get any of the sand that has collected in the bottom of the bowl in your soup. See?

Add all of your ingredients to a large stock pot with the water and let it simmer over medium-low for three hours.

If you prefer your barley to have a bit of chewyness to it  rather than a softer, mushy texture, feel free to keep that out of the soup for the first two hours of cooking.

Add the barley and mix it in well, then let the soup continue to simmer as you reorganize your pantry (yes, that is exactly what I’m doing…how did you know??)

When the soup is cooked, remove any bones in the pan, cut up the meat into bite-sized pieces and skim off any fat that has floated to the top. If you’d like to remove more of the fat, put the pot in the refrigerator until it has solidified at the top of the pan and spoon it off before reheating the soup and serving it.

The soup is delicious the next day. The flavors intensify as it sits, so don’t be afraid to make a very large pot of this soup so you have leftovers.

Bon Appetit, Alice! Are you hungry yet?

Beef, Leek and Barley Soup
Adapted from Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen

2 meaty short ribs, trimmed of excess fat
3 cloves of garlic
2 onions, chopped
3 leeks, cut lengthwise and chopped (use white and green parts)
1/2 cup barley
Black pepper to taste
8 cups of water or beef stock

Place the short ribs in the bottom of your soup pot. Add the barley, garlic, onions and leeks. If you are using any additional vegetables, add those at this time as well. Grind in some black pepper.

Add eight cups of water or beef stock and let it simmer on the back burner for at least three hours.

Before serving, skim off the fat, remove bones and chop the meat into bite-sized pieces.

Remember, this soup becomes more flavorful the next day, so be sure to make enough for leftovers.

Best Burger… Aussie Style

15 Oct

Aussies have a strange adoration of beet, which we call beetroot. We all grew up with pieces of pickled beetroot in our salad rolls and sandwiches. And burgers. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I had the un-pickled variety of beetroot. B’s salad looked deeee-licious.

I don’t mind a hamburger. A good hamburger. This recipe is for a patty that I think is great. Yes, I am selfishly using this blog as my personal recipe file.

It is up to you what you want to add to your burger, but if you want to fly the Aussie flag, by rights you should add some pickled beetroot.

The patty is made with…

Minced beef, red onion, garlic, parsley, rosemary, sage, Worcestershire sauce, and a little butter.

I chopped up the onion, and cooked it in a fry pan in butter. I like it cooked on a low heat until it is starting to brown. While it is cooking I minced up the garlic, and chopped some parsley, sage and rosemary.

I also made sure the minced meat was not too wet. This meat I bought at the farmers’ market (I love that place) and it was quite wet. So I used some paper towel to remove some of the liquid.

I put all of the ingredients in to a bowl together, including some Worcestershire sauce and black pepper, then mixed them well with my hands. I formed patties, and then the hardest part, after smelling the cooking onions, was putting them in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.

I cook the patties in the same pan as the onions, and my method for melting the cheese is to add it to the burger as the second side cooks.

I like lettuce, tomato, pickles, mustard, cheese, a little tomato sauce (ketchup), and of course…… beetroot, piled up on a toasted bun with my burger patty.

This patty is versatile though. I also like tomato, lettuce and Roquefort cheese. Try that on a day you want to fly a french flag. And perhaps wear stripes.


Best Burger Patty


1 red onion, chopped
1/2 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
500g (a pound) of minced beef
A few grinds of black pepper

Melt the butter in a fry pan and cook the onion until beginning to brown. Add all of the ingredients to a bowl and mix well. Form in to patties and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Cook over a medium low heat. I use the same pan that I cook the onions, as it has some nice caramelisation already starting.


To a toasted bun, add your favourite fillings, along with this flavoursome hamburger patty.

Beet Salad

8 Oct

Those savory pies of Alice’s are going right onto my fall menu rotation. They will be perfect to keep in my freezer to take for a lunch on the go. This beet salad would be a good accompaniment to the savory pies, as well as many other dishes.

I got this recipe from my friend Diana after I picked up these gorgeous multicolored beets. It was certainly a winner, thanks Diana!

I bought these from an organic farmer at the Mill City farmers market in Minneapolis. After scrubbing the skin, cutting off the stems and roots, I popped them into a large pot with a steamer basket and a couple inches of water to steam.

Keep pot covered and steam the beets until they are soft enough to be easily pierced by a fork.

While they are steaming, chop up some bacon. Mmmmmm, BACON!

Put it into a large skillet over medium heat to crisp it up

Toss in some sliced garlic near the end to crisp that up as well. Drain and set aside.

When the beets are fully steamed, pull them out and let them cool for a few minutes, then peel.

You should be able to slide the peels right off with some paper towels.

Chop them into bite sized pieces and let them cool.

Whisk up a vinaigrette with olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard and salt & pepper.

Toss the beets with the bacon bits, crisp garlic slices and the dressing, then crumble goat cheese over the top.

Voila! Alice, I think we make a pretty good team with our dishes. What’s next?

Beet Salad

7-8 beets
6 slices of bacon, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
2 oz crumbled goat cheese

3/4 cup of nice extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon of Dijon mustard
salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

Remove stem and root of beets, scrub skin and place into steamer for 15-20 minutes or until they can easily be pierced by a fork.

While beets are steaming, chop up bacon and place into skillet to crisp. Add sliced garlic to skillet for the last few minutes to crisp as well. Do not burn the garlic, as it will get very bitter if it is burnt at all. Remove and let drain on a paper towel.

When beets are finished, remove from steamer and let cool for a few minutes. Then slide the skin off the beets with a paper towel, chop and let chill.

Whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard and salt & pepper. You may not need all of this dressing for the beet salad – in which case, you can store the unused portion in the fridge and use it on another salad.

Toss all ingredients together and top with crumbled goat cheese. Serve.

Cauliflower, silverbeet and goat’s cheese pies

1 Oct

B’s savoury cake…. reminded me of savoury muffins… and then…..

The other day, my good friend Beth dropped over a huge bunch of silverbeet (chard) that she had grown, and a large piece of goats cheese, and then emailed me this recipe. Talk about spoiled rotten! I absolutely love the way she has written it out, so I am posting it just as she sent it.

I made it in a muffin pan, I thought this was a perfect thing to keep already portioned in the fridge, ready for a quick-to-make lunch, dinner or even breakfast. Full of veggies, eggs… and OK, a bit of cheese, and oh so very tasty.

This is the email…

2 heaped cups of cooked brown rice (must be cold)
¼ cup finely grated grana padano 
1 big egg
1 cup milk
4 eggs
1 cup roasted cauliflower (did mine under the gorilla with some evo and finished with truffle oil… arghh, drool)
1 large onion, caramelized
1 cup of fresh goat’s cheese, crumbled
1 cup of sautéed silverbeet
fresh thyme
salt and pepper (I am of the firm opinion that eggs need a GOOD amount of salt)

Okee dokee

Mix all of filling stuff together and have ready to go.

Mix crust stuff and press into a fluted flan – mine is 22cm dia and 4.5 cm deep with a loose base.

This step must be done thoroughly, otherwise leakage will occur!!!

Bake in a screamingly hot oven for 9 minutes, then take out of the oven and leave the oven door open.

Add filling mix immediately, return to oven, turn down to 170 degrees and bake for somewhere between 30 – 40 minutes.

Try not to eat all of it in one sitting.

Honestly, I adapted from a broccoli and spring onion version I found on the interwebs, using what I had in the fridge, so it clearly lends itself to bastardisation 
B xx

Isn’t she awesome?

A bit of translation may be needed:
In Beth and Alice speak, a gorilla is a griller, or a broiler for you Americans. And, being ornery, I roasted my cauliflower instead.
Evo, is extra virgin olive oil.

I steamed my silverbeet, as I love it steamed. You could do either.

I used a muffin tin, as I don’t have a fluted pan, but also… nice and easy to package them up in the fridge or even freezer in that size.
Grana Padano is similar to Parmesan.
170 degrees C is 340 degrees F

It is an unfussy meal, which is worthy of a much better photo than I have taken here. Even though it is full of veggies, it would actually go well with some leafy green, or tomato salad served beside it.

Wonder how long I can hold out before I make another batch. I am tipping not long. Thank you for the recipe Bethois. Over to you B!

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