Leek and stilton tarts

Photography by  Tara Fisher

These are starter sized, but feel free to make them smaller (canapé size) or larger if you like. There are lots of other versions you can make with the same egg mix poured over – bacon and pea, caramelised onion or broccoli to give you just a few ideas.

Makes 4 small or one large tart
Ingredients:
400g shortcrust pastry
25g butter
Three medium leeks, trimmed and finely chopped
Two eggs and one egg yolk
200g pot creme fraiche
150g stilton cheese, crumbled

You will need six small loose bottomed tartlet cases of about 11 to 12.5 cm diameter at the base and baking beans. Or use a larger tin measuring 24cm width.

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 200c/180 fan. 
2. On a floured surface, roll out the pastry until the thickness of a £1 coin.
3. Cut out rounds from the pastry to line your tartlet cases and prick the bases with a fork.
4. Cut circles of greaseproof paper large enough to line each case. Scrunch up the papers then open them up again, place inside the tartlet cases and fill with baking beans.
5. Place them on a baking sheet and bake for five minutes, before removing the beans and paper and drying out in the oven for a further five minutes.
6. Lower the oven to 190c/170 fan.
7. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a pan and fry the leeks very gently until softened – about 10 minutes, stirring every so often.
8. In a bowl, beat the eggs and the creme fraiche with some seasoning.
9. Remove the tartlets from the oven and divide the leeks between each one, then top with the crumbled cheese.
10. Finally pour in the egg mix until it reaches the top of each case.
11. Bake for approximately 15 to 20 minutes or until risen and golden.
12. Remove from the oven and either eat straight away or cool then freeze.

You can reheat from frozen for 15-20 minutes at 180c/160 fan (larger tarts will take longer).

This recipe can be found in The Foolproof Freezer Cookbook.


Haddock Chowder with Crispy Bacon

Photography by  Tara Fisher

Chowders are, by far, my favourite kinds of soup and often feature in our house on a Saturday lunchtime, as everyone will eat them (my kids prefer chunky soups). If you can, try and buy undyed Scottish haddock, which is more subtle and milder flavoured than others.

Serves 4-6
Ingredients:
25g butter
2 tsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 medium potatoes unpeeled if new, chopped into 2cm cubes
1 tbsp thyme leaves or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
splash white wine (optional)
1 tbsp plain flour
400ml chicken stock
650ml whole milk
2 x 198g tins sweetcorn drained, or 2 cobs, niblets removed
450g undyed smoked haddock fillet, cut into 5-6cm chunks
to serve 5 slices streaky bacon, chopped and a handful chives, snipped

Directions:
1. Heat the butter and oil and add the onion. Cook over a lowish heat for 5 minutes before adding the potatoes and cooking for a further 5 minutes.
2. Then add the wine and bubble for a minute or so before stirring in the flour and thyme then gradually adding the stock, stirring as you go.
3. Add the milk and bring up to nearly boiling, before reducing the heat and simmering for 10 minutes or so, until the potatoes are nearly tender.
4. Add the sweetcorn, haddock and a grind of pepper and  once back up to simmering point cook for a further 10 minutes or until the haddock is just cooked.
5. Taste for seasoning.
6. Cool and freeze at this point.
 
To serve, heat a frying pan and add the bacon. Cook until crisp, then drain on kitchen paper. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a sprinkle chives and crisp bacon.

This recipe can be found in The Foolproof Freezer Cookbook.


Spiced sweetcorn and pumpkin fritters

Photography by Jonathan Gregson

My inspiration for this came from the many heavenly recipes that Yotam Ottolenghi has perfected for spicy fritters and cakes in his books – in particular his heavenly cauliflower fritters. This combination of sweetcorn, pumpkin and onion is very moreish and goes down incredibly well as a warm pre-supper bite to enjoy with drinks. The joy is that you can prepare the mixture up to four hours ahead of time, then cook the cakes just before friends arrive and keep them warm in the oven.

Makes 20–30 fritters
Ingredients:
2 large corn cobs
400g pumpkin or butternut squash (350g once peeled), cut into 2.5cm cubes
2 medium free-range eggs
3⁄4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 heaped teaspoon sea salt flakes or 1⁄2 teaspoon table salt
5 tablespoons plain flour
2 tablespoons milk
4 spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
15g chopped coriander
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped, or1⁄2 teaspoon crushed chilli flakes
Vegetable or rapeseed oil for shallow frying freshly ground black pepper
For the dipping sauce: 200ml soured cream or yogurt a good squeeze of lime juice a pinch of cayenne pepper a good handful of coriander leaves, chopped

Directions:
1. Put the corn cobs in the base of a steamer, covered with boiling water, and the pumpkin on top in the steaming compartment.
2. Steam for about 15 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft.
3. Leave both to cool, then run a sharp knife down the cobs to remove the kernels and set aside in a bowl.
4. Put the pumpkin into a separate bowl and mash until smooth.
5. Beat in the eggs then add the cumin, ground coriander, salt, pepper and flour and combine well.
6. Stir in the milk, followed by the sweetcorn kernels, spring onions, fresh coriander and chilli.
7. Shallow fry small spoonfuls of the mixture until golden on both sides – they take 2–3 minutes per side.
8. Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm.
9. Meanwhile, mix the soured cream or yogurt, lime juice, cayenne and coriander in a bowl with some salt and pepper.
10. Serve with the fritters.

This recipe can be found in Amazing Grains.


Tuscan vegetable and farro soup

Photography by Jonathan Gregson

Originating from the Tuscan town of Lucca, this soup is a wonderful sight on the table – its colours and smells are so rich and inviting! It’s the ideal soup to serve for a weekend lunch as it’s filling and needs only some crusty bread. The soup uses Italian farro, which is tricky to define as it can embrace a variety of ancient grains, including emmer wheat and spelt. If you want to use wholegrain farro for this you can, but you will need to cook it for nearer to one hour rather than half an hour, so some extra stock will be needed. You can also substitute dried soaked borlotti beans for the tinned version used here, especially if you’re doing a slower-cooked version as they will take longer to cook. If you haven’t got fresh stock, I like to use slightly watered-down tinned beef consommé for this sort of thing, as I think it has way more flavour than cubed stock. If you have some fresh pesto to hand, that is also a lovely addition – just top each bowl with a spoonful before serving.

Serves 4-6
Ingredients:
1 onion chopped
2 sticks of celery finely chopped
2 carrots finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
100g cubed pancetta, or chopped streaky bacon
2 garlic cloves, chopped 75g semi-pearled or pearled farro
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
700ml beef stock 2 sprigs of thyme 1 bay leaf a pinch or two of sugar
1 x 400g tin borlotti beans, drained
To serve: olive oil, for drizzling plenty of chopped basil freshly grated Parmesan

Directions:
1. In a large saucepan, gently fry the onion, celery and carrot in the oil for about 5 minutes.
2. Add the pancetta or bacon and cook for a further 5 minutes.
3. Stir in the garlic and farro grains, stir for a minute or so, then add the chopped tomatoes, boiling hot stock, thyme, bay and sugar.
4. Season, bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.
5. Add the drained and rinsed beans and cook for a further 10 minutes.
6. Taste for seasoning, adding extra if needed, then serve each bowl with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, fresh basil and grated Parmesan sprinkled over the top.

This recipe can be found in Amazing Grains.