Category Archives: leeks

beef madras

beef madras curry from sorted food

YouTube is quickly giving rise to a whole new breed of superstar; the self-made vlogger. From NineBrassMonkeys to Periodic Videos, if you’ve got something to say there’s a place for your voice. And if people like you, you’ll build a following (a quick shout out to my great mate MeganIsSleeping – go watch, subscribe and like!). This of course allows room for all hobbies, including food and cooking. I’ve given it a try myself but struggle to make it work. Some people that have found the magic formula are Sorted Food. With nearly half a million subscribers and over 35 million combined views, they’re clearly doing something right.

I was sent a printed copy of Sorted Food’s Food with Friends. On first pass everything reads a little ordinary, but looking again there’s surprising time-saving ingenuity at play – tapenade as a duxelle substitute in a Wellington, tinned oysters in a gratin, BLT in tortilla form. In terms of writing all the instructions are bold and brash with laddish overtones, featuring plenty of SQUEEZE this and SPLASH that. There’s definitely a debt to Jamie Oliver in the style, but it may put some off.

As a fan of the channel, Spud Jr took over this one. We left this simmering for 90 minutes but there was definitely something missing from the flavour, it lacked depth. I had to tone down the chilli content for the family so the tomato was the dominant flavour. It took a little boost from powdered coconut to add a rich sweetness (I love  this stuff from Maggi’s and have always got a box handy for coconut rice, Thai dishes or cake mixes). The instructions are slightly off on this recipe, referencing a paste which you may not realise you’ve just created in previous steps. My beef also wasn’t tender in 90 minutes, so this recipe would need someone confident dealing with casseroling meat to know it may take longer. I reckon with patience 4 hours would make this melting and delicious.

This are nitpicks really, from someone who’s spent a long time in the kitchen. If you’re looking for a great core of recipes you’re likely to actually want to make in an accessible style, this would be a good start. With recipes at the more humble end of budgets and a focus on fast food (the good kind!), this would be a great book to slide into a student’s bag before they head off to Uni (or gift them the Kindle version).

If you want to give it a try, The Ultimate Barbie from the Sorted crew is free to download for Kindle. Thanks to Penguin for the book.

Beef madras (serves 4):

2 onions, peeled

2 cloves of garlic, peeled

Thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and chopped

½ teaspoon chilli powder

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon salt

Juice of 1 lemon

800g diced beef

4 tablespoons tomato puree

200ml beef stock

1 tin tomatoes

2 tablespoons powdered coconut

For the leek garnish:

½ a leek

1 tablespoon cornflour

  1. Get a large lidded casserole on the hob over a high heat. Season the beef and fry all over until browned.
  2. While the beef browns, in a food processor blitz the onion, garlic and ginger to a paste. Add the salt and some pepper, the chilli, coriander, lemon and fennel and whizz for a second or two to recombine. Add this to the browned beef and continue to fry until fragrant.
  3. Add the tomato puree, tinned tomatoes and stock, stir well to combine and then cover. SImmer on a low heat for 60 minutes and stir in the coconut. After 90 minutes check to see if the beef is tender.
  4. For the leek garnish, slice the leek into fine strips and dust with cornflour. In a generous amount of oil fry the leek strips for a minute on each side then drain on kitchen paper. Sprinkle with salt and scatter over the curry. Serve with creme fraiche and basmati rice.

15 minute golden chicken with potato gratin and greens

jamie oliver's 15 minute golden chicken with potato gratin and greens

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals was a literary behemoth, tearing up the records for fastest selling non-fiction book, and causing many snooks to be cocked in its direction. But for people willing to give it a proper chance, approach it with an open mind and “get in the 30 minute frame of mind” it was a way to push what you can achieve in a small amount of time. Aim higher! I was certainly taken it with it, and gave me some great ideas how to make the best use of your time. Take the food processor: previously left for weekend projects, I now employ it 3 or 4 times a week to chop, grate or slice things in a flash.


cheeky chappie

What’s that coming over the hill, is it a monster, is it a monsterrrr? No, it’s another Jamie book, poised to take over the world. And this time it’s Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals. Yes, half the time. And the knives are already out in a pointless linkbait exercise. But I was approaching it with energy and excitement.

Flicking through, much like 30 Minute Meals there’s a wide variety of cuisines that should satisfy your mood. There’s an obsession with serving everything on wooden boards which I really like but isn’t practical for most dinners. Towards the end of the book there’s also a weird section that doesn’t really belong, talking about muesli and other breakfast odds and ends. Granola aside there’s definitely loads I will be trying over the coming months. I picked out a handful to try straight away and started with this golden chicken recipe.

I hit a snag immediately. Jamie juggles a frying pan, a saucepan and a baking tray on the hob simultaneously. I have a regular 4-burner hob, and this just won’t fit. Maybe all the recipe testing was done on a 5-burner but this was automatically going to put my time back as I couldn’t multi-task as effectively.

And this leads me on to another issue: there are no timings given for anything. It’s just “do this, then this, by this time the first thing will be ready.” But if for whatever reason you can’t stick to the timeline you don’t have a way of knowing how long things should take. If you are a confident cook this isn’t a problem but I can see it being a real boundary for a lot of people.

These issues aside, the dinner was very good, although it took me 28 minutes. Best of all was capturing a really good potato gratin in 15 minutes, that really is impressive. So do try out the 15 minute recipes – but do read it all carefully before starting. And don’t get hung up on the time and focus instead on creating great food quicker than you would expect. That’s the key.

Golden chicken with potato gratin and greens (serves 4):

800g potatoes

3 onions

1 chicken stock cube

½ teaspoon dried sage (Jamie demanded fresh but I couldn’t get any)

100ml single cream

30g Parmesan

4 chicken breasts

Fresh rosemary

2 rashers smoked bacon

1 large leek

200g baby spinach

200g frozen peas

  1. Get a large saucepan filled with boiling, salted water over a high heat. Finely slice the potatoes and tip them in. Get a large roasting tray over a hob with a little oil in, and after passing the peeled onions through the food processor throw them in the pan. Crumble in the stock cube and sage, and stir often.
  2. Spread out a large sheet of greaseproof and lay the chicken on. Scatter over some salt, pepper, sage and rosemary. Fold the paper over and using a rolling pin bash to about 1.5cm thick. Get a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the chicken in a little oil. Flip as they turn golden in colour.
  3. Warm another pan and add a dash of oil. Wash and finely slice the leek, and then add to the pan. Get the grill on high and drain the potatoes. Tip them into the pan with the onions, spread into a single layer and pour over the cream. Grate over the parmesan and bung under the grill until the edges are catching golden brown. Slice the bacon and add to the chicken pan.
  4. Add the spinach and the peas to the leek’s pan, add some seasoning and toss well. Cover and leave until the spinach has wilted, and then serve the chicken with the greens and potato fresh from the grill.

chicken, leek, mushroom and port salut fricassee

chicken, leek, mushroom and port salut fricassee

I’ve always wondered what fricassée meant (I had to google “wiki fricassee” to find that. Try saying it out loud, it’s fun), and making this recipe meant I finally looked it up: poultry stew in gravy thickened with dairy. I’ve strayed a little from that definition in making this but I hope it’ll do.

I came to this recipe via Port Salut. It’s a cheese I’d almost forgotten about; until I was sent some to try along with some Jean Christophe Novelli recipes. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Jean Christophe before and couldn’t wait to try these out. Essentially chicken, leeks and mushrooms sweated down with cream and cheese – what’s not to like? I substituted a few things based on my larder and came up with a wholesome and tasty one-pot dinner. The Port Salut was creamy and nutty, kinda like a Brie.

Personally speaking I’d put the breadcrumbs to one side and serve it with tagliatelle next time. I think it would be great all tangled up with some pasta.

Chicken, leek, mushroom and port salut fricassée (serves 2):

2  chicken breasts, diced

Pinch of paprika

10g butter

2 leeks, sliced

1 red onion, sliced

1 sprig of rosemary, leaves finely chopped

150g chestnut mushrooms, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

100ml white wine

200ml creme fraiche

100g Port Salut, thinly sliced

50g Port Salut, diced

50g wholemeal breadcrumbs

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Put a large casserole dish on a medium heat and a little oil.
  2. Dust the chicken with paprika and season, then fry in the pan for a couple of minutes until coloured all over. Remove to one side.
  3. Turn the heat down to low, melt the butter in the pan and add the leeks, rosemary and onion. Sweat gently for 5 – 10 minutes until softened. Add the mushrooms and garlic and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes, then crank up the heat.
  4. Add the wine. After a minute of bubbling away stir in the creme fraiche, sliced Port Salut and put the chicken back in. When everything is melting together stir well and check for seasoning. Top with the breadcrumbs and diced cheese and bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until everything is bubbling and brown.

leek and potato soup

leek and potato soup

It’s June and I’m writing about leek and potato soup. Bloody June. The weather has been truly atrocious this year in England and so instead of craving salads and light meals I want soup. So I have some, and to cheer myself up gild it with all manner of little touches to try and make it my ultimate leek and potato soup. I keep the stiff green tops and simmer them in the stock, I keep the potato peelings and bake them into a crispy garnish, and use the logic that everybody knows: bacon makes everything better.

Except the weather.

Leek and potato soup (serves 4 – 6):

20g butter

4 rashers streaky bacon, diced

2 fat leeks, sliced

4 cloves garlic, peeled

650g floury potatoes, peeled and diced (keep the peelings to one side for now)

1 litre chicken stock

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. In one saucepan get the stock to simmering point and add the green tops and the garlic while you get on with the rest. In a large casserole dish melt the butter, then fry the bacon over a medium heat until crisp and then remove. Make sure the leeks are washed and add to the pan, then pop the lid on and turn the heat down to low.
  2. Meanwhile, bake the potato peelings. Toss the peelings in a little oil, salt and pepper and put on a baking tray in one layer. Pop in the oven for 10 – 15 minutes until crisp and then put aside to cool.
  3. After 10 minutes the leeks should be softened so add the potato, crank up the heat and fry for a couple more minutes to warm up the potato. Fish the garlic out of the stock (it should be bobbing on top anyway) and add to the leeks and potatoes. Discard the green leek tops and add the stock to the pan. Bring to the boil then simmer for 15 minutes or until the potato is tender. Blitz a bit with a food processor until it’s the texture you like (I like thick but not pureed, but hey-ho).
  4. Ladle out the soup into bowls and top with the bacon and crispy potato skin.

catherine wheel sausage with leek gravy

catherine wheel sausage with leek gravy mustard mash

This is largely based on a recipe from Jamie’s 30-Minute Meals (yes, I still haven’t cooked them all) but without the crazy Ryvita-apple salad (?). I’ll be honest: the only reason I made it was to have a squirly-whirly sausage which somehow makes me grin more than regular daisy-chained sausages. But the leek gravy is the surprise star, all sweet and silky. I’ve added a dollop of creme fraiche to make it even more smooth and tasty. Great stuff as the nights draw in.

Catherine wheel sausage with leek gravy (serves 4):

12 linked chipolatas

1 large teaspoon dried sage

500g potatoes, peeled and diced

3 cloves garlic, peeled

2 leeks, quartered and sliced

1 chicken stock cube

1 tablespoon flour

200ml cider

50g butter

1 heaped teaspoon wholegrain mustard

1 tablespoon creme fraiche

  1. Get the grill on medium, and two lidded saucepans on a low heat. Fill one of the pans with boiling water, add the potatoes and garlic, a large pinch of salt and get them simmering away.
  2. Allow the sausages to unravel and squidge the meat together so you get one long sausage as opposed to lots of links. Push a couple of skewers through the sausage to hold it in place. Douse with olive oil and sprinkle with half the sage. Pop under the grill for 10 minutes.
  3. Chuck the leeks along with some olive oil and the remaining sage into the other pan and a splash of boiling water, then clamp the lid on. Let these whistle away for 5 minutes until tender, then sprinkle in the stock cube and flour. Stir well and when well combined add the cider. After a minute or two bubbling away top up with the same amount of hot water and simmer.
  4. Flip the sausage over for a further 5 minutes or so until browned. In the meantime check the potatoes are cooked through; when done drain well and add the butter and mustard. Allow to sit for a minute and then mash until it’s a smooth as you like. Check for seasoning.
  5. Take the leek gravy off the heat and whisk in the creme fraiche. Serve up the sausages with a pile of mash and drown with leeky gravy.

leek rosti with tomato & chickpea stew

leek rosti with tomato & chickpea stew

I saw this great recipe on Waitrose’s website (you need some magic Flash gadget to make it work): “leek rosti, BRILLIANT”. I duly bookmarked it to cook later in the week.

I settle in front of the oven and fire up the recipe and something struck me on this cold Sunday evening: it was served with a carrot salad. A freakin’ carrot salad in January. What was I thinking? I quickly swapped in a hearty and comforting tomato and chickpea stew and I’m so glad I did. The rostis themselves are great too.

Based on a recipe from WaitroseLIVE

Leek rosti with tomato and chickpea stew:

2 large potatoes, peeled

2 leeks, shredded

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1 teaspoon cumin

Handful of coriander, chopped

1 tin of chickpeas, drained

1 tin tomatoes

½ teaspoon paprika

  1. Boil the potatoes in boiling water for 6 minutes until just tender. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  2. Grate the potatoes and combine with the leeks, corianders and cumin. Season and form into squat patties.
  3. Heat two pans with some oil in each: fry the patties in one until browned and flip over.
  4. In the other pan chuck in the chickpeas, tomatoes and paprika and bring to a high heat. Keep it bubbling hard to remove the excess liquid.
  5. When the rostis are done drain on kitchen paper. Check the stew for seasoning and add any spare coriander you have.

leek and potato soup

leek and potato soup

If you’ve got some cracking ham stock knocking about from a recent joint, why not make some amazing leek and potato soup? Especially if Philadelphia give you a hand on Twitter. Stirring cream cheese through it right at the end leaves you with a creamy, tangy finish… lovely.

Adapted from Kraft’s recipe.

Leek and potato soup:

3 leeks, diced

5 maris piper potatoes, peeled and diced

2 pints ham stock (or equivalent other stock)

100g cream cheese

For the croutons:

2 thick slices of bread, cut into chunky cubes

1 tablespoon sunflower oil

Sea salt

Pinch of paprika

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Heat a little oil in a large casserole pot. Drop in the leeks and cook gently for a couple of minutes, until the leeks have softened. Stir in the potatoes then add the stock. Bring up to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
  3. When the soup is about halfway, toss the bread in the oil, salt and paprika. Pop on a baking tray and roast for 10 minutes, or until the bread is crispy and golden.
  4. When the potatoes are tender, use a hand blender to pulse the soup a little. I like it roughed up a little so there’s plenty of texture remaining. Whisk in the cream cheese in chunks and check for seasoning. Serve with the croutons.