20 July 2014

Leek & Potato Soup

It’s winter here & oh boy has it been chilly, well chilly for us Aucklanders. We’re not so hardy & any days that don’t reach double digits are deemed freezing & this week we have been down to 2s, 3s & 4s!  Chilly indeed but a great excuse to rug up with jumpers, scarves & gloves.

The cold weather & a bunch of leeks led to this soup & warming me up over a few lunches this past week.

Good fresh leeks will have bright white root & dirt attached, they should after all just have come out the ground! Cut off the the roots & just give the leeks a good wash to get rid of any sand & dirt. Don’t throw the roots way, add them to some stock & they’ll in turn add some flavour.

Friends of the leek: butter, olive oil, cream, creme fraiche, Parmesan, goat cheese, Gruyere, cheddar, eggs, capers, olives, mustard, lemon, thyme, parsley, potatoes, fennel.

Leek & Potato Soup

Based on Heston’s with slightly less exactness with the measurements it’s soup after all!  Plus I think his leeks must be way smaller than ours here in NZ!  He suggest 750g is approx. 15 leeks!  Here 15 leeks would be a proverbial leek mountain & more in the vicinity of 2-3 kgs of leeks!!

My new favourite gadget is my mandolin.  If you have one use it to speedily & perfectly thinly slice those potatoes, onions & leeks.  Just be careful of fingers!

Serves 6


2 medium waxy potatoes, peeled & finely sliced*
120g unsalted butter
2 medium onions, finely sliced
4 leeks, washed to remove any dirt & thinly sliced
1 bouquet garnet**
1 ltr vegetable or chicken stock, homemade or good quality low sodium store bought stock
100 ml double cream
50 ml trim / semi-skimmed milk
Chives & creme fraiche to serve

*Rinse the potatoes under cold water to remove the starch & you’ll avoid gluggy gluey soup.

**Bouquet garnet; a few sprigs of thyme, celery leaves & parsley tied together with a strip of leak or some kitchen string. (Just not blue string a la Bridget Jones if you wish to avoid bright blue soup!)


Melt the butter in a large saucepan & add the potatoes & onions.  Sweat them over a medium high heat for 10 minutes. Add the leek* & cook for 5 minutes more.

Add the bouquet garnet & the warmed stock, bring to the boil & reduce to a simmer.  Add the cream & the milk & simmer for 10 minutes more until the potatoes are tender.

Remove the bouquet garnet & liquidize the soup in a blender or with a hand blender. If you want super super smooth soup you can then pass the soup through a very fine sieve. If the soup is too thick just add a little more stock. Taste & season with salt & taste until you have it as you like it. I found it took a good few pinches of salt, but then I love salt!

*Heston’s tip: the leeks add the flavour to this soup but if you cook them for longer then 10 minutes they will lose colour & flavour. So slice them as thinly as possible to cook them as quickly as possible to hold on to all that flavour.

Pour in to bowls, add a dollop of creme fraiche & scatter over a few chopped chives & serve.  Crusty bread slathered in butter on the side would not go amiss.

This feels like quite a decadent soup, the cream just adding a wonderful level of velvety silky luxuriousness. It’s a bowl of indulgence, yet packed with vegetables & perfect for warming you on a particularly chilly Winter’s day.


12 July 2014

Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemons & Olives

This is one I cooked up while I was at home in Scotland last month for a Friday night dinner party, it was bright & fresh & perfect for Summer but at the same time it actually wouldn’t be out of place as warming & comforting dinner here in the midst of our Kiwi winter, in fact it would most definitely brighten up a winter’s evening, which is probably just as well given the wet, wild & windy weather we’ve been on the receiving end of.  Some days the rain is just interminable; an endless downpour.

Having had an amazing endless Summer here in New Zealand & then a second helping of long sunny summer days back in the mother country I am struggling  a little with these shorter, colder wilder & wetter days! Please Spring hurry up but in the mean time I can have some Moroccan chicken to warm my soul & transport to warmer climes, at least in my head anyway.

Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemons & Olives


4 chicken thighs & 4 chicken breasts
4 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red chilli, finely chopped, deseeded if you like less heat
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric
Pinch saffron strands
700ml water
Juice of one lemon
1 cup green olives
1 preserved lemons, flesh removed & finely chopped
Bunch coriander, chopped
Bunch flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
Salt & pepper


Season the chicken with salt & pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large casserole dish or tagine & brown the chicken in batches until golden brown all over & set aside. Don’t overcrowd the chicken as then it will steam & rather than go wonderfully tasty & golden. 

Add the onion & garlic to the frying pan & sauté for a few minutes until translucent. Add the chilli, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric & saffron. Sauté for a couple of minutes & then return the chicken to the casserole dish & stir it around to coat the chicken in the onion mixture. 

Pour in 700ml water, cover & bring to the boil. Reduce the heat & leave to simmer for 30 minutes. Lift the chicken onto a plate & cover with foil to keep it warm.

Add the lemon juice to the sauce & increase the heat. Simmer until the sauce is thickened & return the chicken to the casserole. Add the olives & preserved lemon, cover & simmer for 20 minutes more.  Life the chicken out & place it on a platter.  Stir the coriander & parsley in to the sauce & spoon it over the chicken & serve.

If you like this you might like this Roast Chicken with Hazelnuts, Honey & Saffron
Four years ago Supper Club #2


07 July 2014

Roasted Pumpkin , Kumura & Quinoa Salad

With all the trips & travelling I my four year blog-iversary completely passed me by.  Not that I really mark it, it’s just it’s hard to believe I’ve been posting here on Toast or 4 years...that’s a lot of cooking & recipes & photos. Not to mention eating.  In some ways it seems I’ve been doing this forever & others it’s like I just got here. It’s certainly been a fun, food filled adventure that’s for sure. Lots of delicious along the way & even better all the other food loving people I have met. So here’s to many more years of good food & great friendships.

This tasty salad could be a meal in itself; quinoa - keen-wa! - packed with roasted pumpkin & kumara. It’s also bursting with flavour from fresh herbs, grilled spring onions, a splash of lime, feta & a little hit of chilli for nice little hit of  heat.

For a little healthy yet satisfying living post 4 weeks of holidays this salad is the way to go with the quinoa packing a hefty protein punch along with calcium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B & vitamin E...a veritable powerhouse all   on its own.

Roasted Pumpkin , Kumura & Quinoa Salad

Serves 2-4 or more as a side

1 cup pumpkin, chopped in to bite sized pieces
1 cup kumura, chopped in to bite sized pieces
1 red chilli diced, deseeded if you like less heat
1/2 cup coriander leaves
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt & pepper
4 spring onion
1 cup (185g) quinoa
1 1/2 cups (375ml) water
Juice of two limes
Bunch of coriander leaves
Bunch of mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 red pepper, diced
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled


Pre-heat oven to 200C/400F. 

Place the pumpkin & kumara in to a baking tray & add the chilli, coriander, brown sugar & olive oil.  Season with salt & pepper & toss everything together.  Pop the tray in the oven & roast for 25-30 minutes until golden & roasted. Remove from the oven & set aside to cool.

While the pumpkin & kumara are roasting give the quinoa a good rinse.  Bring the water to the boil in a medium saucepan & add the quinoa.  Pop the lid on & turn the heat down to a simmer & cook for 10-12 minutes until all the water has been absorbed by the quinoa.  Remove from the heat & let it steam for 5 or so minutes & then fluff with a fork.

Grill the spring onions in a griddle pan over a medium heat for a few minutes until lightly browned. Remove from the heat, allow to cool a little until cool enough to handle & slice.

Place the quinoa, pumpkin, kumara & spring onion in a large bowl & toss to combine. Add the lime juice, coriander & mint leaves, red pepper & feta & gently mix it all together. Taste & add a little salt & pepper if need be.

Pile the salad on a platter & serve.

Full of flavours & textures I think you’ll like this salad.  Perfect with a Summer BBQ for those of you enjoying the summer sun in the northern hemisphere or as a satisfying salad in the cooler months for us in the depths of winter down here in the south.

Three years ago Potato & Celeriac Gratin

Four years ago Supper Club #2

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