Mascarpone & Leek Stuffed Crepes

I’ve recently discovered the wonderful world of Meetups. Having social events where you just turn up and don’t have to harass people for availability has considerably lowered my anxiety levels. I’m enjoying a French exchange group and also a book club/games night. Tomorrow, we’ll be discussing ‘Woman on the Edge of Time’. Feminist dystopia is so my genre with the added benefit of being a warm pub as opposed to being in the arctic tundra of my house (the boiler has broken down). This delicious recipe was in Gino Di Campo’s cookbook ‘Gino’s Veg Italia’ which is highly recommended. I used tinned artichokes but proper ones or the nice jarred ones would be even better. I was proud of myself for finally being able to make a half decent crepe. The trick being a hot pan and plenty of butter.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 115g plain flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 300ml milk
  • salt & pepper
  • butter
  • 2 tins artichokes
  • 1 leek
  • 50g self raising flour
  • 150g mascarpone
  • 50g parmesan
  • 25g parsley
  • pinch nutmeg

Method

1.) Make the crepes by whisking together the plain flour, milk and 1 off the eggs. Add a pinch of salt.

2.) Melt enough butter to cover a frying pan and pour in 1/8th of the crepe batter.

3.) Fry until browning on the bottom then turn over (or flip if you’re feeling brave).

4.) When browned on both sides, remove to a plate.

5.) Repeat until all the mixture is used. Wash out the pan.

6.) Now, preheat the oven to 180 degrees C

7.) Wash and slice the leek finely.

8.) Melt 1 tbsp butter into the pan and add the slices of leek. Open and drain the tins of artichokes and then wash the artichokes under the tap to remove the grit.

9.) Chop up the artichoke and add to the pan.

10.) While the leek is softening, separate the remaining two eggs into yolks and whites. Finely chop the parsley and grate the parmesan.

11.) Add the mascarpone, a pinch of nutmeg, the parmesan, some salt and pepper, the flour and the egg yolks to a mixing bowl and whisk.

12.) Once the leek is soft, remove everything from the pan and add to the mixing bowl. Give it a stir.

13.) Whisk up the egg whites until there is a light foam and then stir this through into the mixing bowl.

14.) Find an oven proof dish and start loading up with the crepes and filling. Do this by folding a crepe into half then half again to make a pocket. Stuff with the mascarpone mixture.

15.) Bake for 18 minutes to crisp up the pancakes.

Smørrebrød

I wanted to make the most out of the delicious rye bread I bought from Pollen bakery so I decided to make some Smørrebrød – Danish-Norwegian open faced sandwiches. The toppings can be pretty much limitless but the trick is to have some sort of fatty layer. It’s good to butter the bread if you’re not eating the sandwiches straight away as it stops it going soggy. I just love the creaminess with the dense rye bread. Because of the density of the bread, you can really pile up the toppings on this sandwich. I went with 2 types salmon, cream cheese and dill and a walnut, pear and blue cheese.

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 3 slices rye bread
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp mustard
  • small bunch dill
  • Smoked salmon
  • 2 radishes
  • St Agar blue cheese spread
  • handful walnuts
  • 1 pear

Method

1.) Mix together the cream cheese and mustard.

2.) Pick the leaves off the dill and stir through the cream cheese mix.

3.) Slice 3 pieces of rye bread.

4.) Liberally spread the cream cheese on one slice.

5.) Top with the smoked salmon.

6.) Thinly slice the radish and place on top of the salmon.

7.) Spread the blue cheese spread over the other two slices of bread.

8.) Crush the walnuts in your hand into pieces and sprinkle over the blue cheese.

9.) Thinly slice the pear and arrange over the sandwiches. (I didn’t put all the pear on in the pic so it was possible to see the filling).

Carrot & Parsnip Soup

The beautiful pumpkin sourdough bread you see in this picture is from Pollen bakery in Manchester. I spent the day after my birthday in the city centre last weekend and popped into Pollen for lunch. We shared a pizza topped focaccia and a slice of egg custard tart and they were both so perfect that I bought some rye bread and some sourdough to take home. I’ve tried making sourdough a few times and failed miserably so it’s good to know where I can get the best. Pollen itself actually has a kickstarter appeal to raise £45,000 to start a second bakery specialising in pastries. I signed up to a day’s patisserie course so I’m really hoping they make the target. Of course, I needed to make the most out of this beautiful bread so I made a carrot and parsnip soup that I saw on the BBC Good Food website.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 2 onions
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 small bunch thyme
  • 3 large carrots
  • 2 large parsnips
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 100ml double cream
  • 1/4 bunch parsley
  • salt & pepper

Method

1.) Peel the onions and chop up

2.) Heat some oil in a large casserole dish and add the onion. Chop up the celery and add that.

3.) Pull the leaves off the thyme and throw in with the celery

4.) Peel the garlic, finely dice and add to the pan. Add some water if it starts to catch.

4.) Peel the carrots and parsnips and chop into slices. Add to the pan and fry for a couple of minutes.

5.) Boil some water and make up the stock. Pour into the pan, bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

6.) Chop up the parsley

7.) Blitz with an immersion blender until smooth.

8.) Mix in the cream, season and stir through. Season with parsley and serve with a slab of bread.

Superfood Salad

Superfoods may be seen as a bit of a fad but the thing is, most of them are really delicious. This salad may be made up of some slightly different superfoods from Jamie Oliver’s original recipe from his website but I’m going to blame that on the train service in this country, resulting in me having to do a rush job lunch-time shopping trip to an M&S express. Nonetheless, pomegranate seeds, feta cheese, parsnips and nuts contribute to making this delicious.

Serves 6 – 8

Ingredients

  • 2 parsnips
  • 2 baking potatoes
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • tsp olive oil
  • 200g bulgur wheat
  • 1 broccoli
  • 35g mixed nuts (I used a mix of pine nuts and sunflower seeds)
  • 1 small tub pomegranate seeds
  • 2 limes
  • 1 pack beansprouts
  • 1 onion
  • 1 bunch coriander leaves
  • 1 pack feta cheese
  • salt

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C

2.) Peel and cube the parsnips and potatoes

3.) Line a baking tray

4.) Add the cubed vegetables to a mixing bowl, add half a tbsp oil then add the chilli flakes, a sprinkle of salt, the ground coriander and the cinnamon. Turn around with your hands until everything is coated with the spices then pour into the baking tray.

5.) Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until soft.

6.) While this is baking, peel and dice the onion.

7.) Heat some more oil in a frying pan and fry the onion for a couple of minutes. Then add the beansprouts. Fry until everything is soft then turn off the heat.

8.) In another pan, add the bulgur wheat with enough water to cover and bring to the boil.

9.) Chop up the broccoli and add in the pan with the bulgur wheat.

10.) Cook for about 10 minutes until the broccoli and bulgur wheat is soft. Turn off the heat, drain off the water and set aside to cool.

12.) In another small pan, toast the nuts until they’re starting to give off a nutty fragrance then remove them from the heat.

13.) Chop the feta cheese into cubes and add to the mixing bowl. Slice the limes and add the juice into the bowl. Chop up the coriander leaves and add them to the bowl.

14.) Once the broccoli and bulgur wheat, potatoes and parsnip, onions and beansprouts have cooled to lukewarm, combine them with the rest of the ingredients in the mixing bowl. Give everything a good stir.

Minestrone soup

I really love this soup from Jamie Oliver’s website. I first came across it during lockdown when he was doing a show to encourage people to home cook filmed by at home by himself and his family. This recipe uses tinned beans, passata and pasta, some of the things some crazy people were stocking up on at that time. Some people must have been pretty bored of pasta with tomato sauce, really Jamie was doing a bit of a service for us. It’s a light soup but also quite filling and is a great choice for when you want to cook in bulk.

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 small onions
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 2 handfuls of kale
  • 1 veggie stock cube
  • 400g passata
  • 2 tins of beans (kidney or butter, whatever you like)
  • 100g dried small pasta e.g. orzo, macaroni
  • 25g parmesan cheese (if you have rinds of parmesan cheese, you can stick them in to simmer with the soup)
  • salt & pepper

Method

1.) Peel and finely chop the garlic. Peel and dice the onion.

2.) Heat some oil in a large pan and add the onions. Let them soften for 5 minutes or so.

3.) In the meantime, peel and chop up the carrot. Chop up the celery.

4.) Add the garlic to the pan and fry for 1 minute.

5.) Add the celery and carrot and leave to soften for a further 10 – 15 minutes. Close to the end, fill a kettle with water and boil.

6.) Pour in the beans and their juices, the passata, crumble in the stock cube then fill up one of the tins and pour in the water from that. Measure out 600ml of the boiled water and pour that in too.

7.) Throw in the pasta, tear up the kale leaves and put them in too.

8.) Simmer for 10 – 15 minutes.

9.) Grate the parmesan.

10.) Stir into the soup. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

Pesto Pasta

I generally wouldn’t choose to eat Italian food in a restaurant, but when I’m at home sometimes I find pasta to be a real comfort food. It’s great after a long gym session when I can really appreciate a mountain of carbs like this and I think everyone loves pesto. If you buy the pasta ready-made it can be really quick to throw together too. Here I’ve used fresh pasta from the supermarket which doesn’t taste any different from when I’ve actually made pasta. I got the recipe from ‘Gino’s pasta’.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 500g tagliatele pasta
  • 50g fresh basil
  • 50g pine nuts
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 130ml olive oil
  • 25g parmesan (more to serve)
  • 150g frozen peas
  • salt and pepper

Method

1.) Put the basil, pine nuts and garlic in a food processor, pour in the oil and blitz until smooth.

2.) Grate 25g parmesan and add to the pesto mix. Grate a bit of extra parmesan for a garnish.

3.) Cook the pasta until done. 1 minute from the end, add the peas and cook until hot. Drain off the water then add the pesto into the pan with the pasta. Sprinkle in some salt and pepper and stir through.

4.) Serve into dishes and garnish with a bit more parmesan and that’s all there is to it!