leek and cannellini bean pie

Inspired by the turkey leftovers pie, I decided to embark on creating a vegetarian equivalent. The way the leeks were prepared in Jamie Oliver’s pie was fantastic. Rather than blanched, the leeks were sauteed in a little olive oil over the course of half an hour, DSCF7035to draw out both their moisture and flavour. Using this little piece of Jamie-wisdom, you get very tender, and very tasty, leeks! So all I needed was a turkey replacement. An obvious choice was Quorn, or another meat substitute. But claiming to develop a recipe to make it veggie-friendly, I couldn’t help feeling that using vegetarian “turkey” pieces was a little bit like cheating!

So instead, I turned to beans.

Ingredients, serves 1.

  • ½ leek, finely sliced
  • ½ 400g tin cannellini beans, rinsed
  • Dried chili flakes
  • Clove of garlic
  • Vegetable stock cube
  • Enough hot water to make a sauce, roughly 4-5 tablespoons
  • Dried parsley
  • Butter
  • Flour
  • Cold water
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil. Add the finely sliced leeks; reduce the heat to low, and sauté for 25-30 minutes. Ensure that you stir them regularly – although the moisture from the vegetables will come out, it is important to make sure that they do not burn to the bottom of the pan!
  3. Whilst the leeks are cooking, make the pastry. Place the flour and the butter in a bowl. With cold hands, using only your fingertips, gently rub the two ingredients together, until they resemble ‘breadcrumbs’. Do this gently and lightly – with each ‘rub’, lift the flour and butter a little out of the bowl to introduce air.
  4. Once breadcrumbs are achieved, add small amounts of cold water and stir in until a ball is formed. Wrap this in clingfilm or silver foil, and place aside in the fridge until later.DSCF7033
  5. Add the sliced garlic to the leeks, and fry until the garlic begins to emit an aroma. Crumble in a vegetable stock cube, and stir to coat the leeks and garlic. Add the cannellini beans, and stir.
  6. Gradually pour in tablespoons of boiling water, making a sauce. This should not be too runny, but should be enough to bind the ingredients together. The cannellini beans should sit comfortably in the sauce, but should not be fully submerged.
  7. Add the chili flakes and parsley to taste, and remove from the heat. Transfer the pie filling into a pie dish. Roll out the pastry and tuck over the pie filling, then brush with milk and score.
  8. Place in the oven, and cook for 20-25 minutes, until the pastry is golden.

 

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turkey leftovers pie

Not everyone is in love with the favoured Christmas turkey. There are those who cannot fathom what the fuss is about at all, and opt for a Christmas beef or gammon joint, bravely straying from tradition! But most people, like myself, are happy to eat it that one day. It’s Christmas, and turkey is the something that makes dinner different from any other, the something that makes it special. It only happens once year, let’s make an effort here! But as much as we’re content to eat it on December 25th, with mounds of crispy potatoes and little sausages wrapped up in bacon, by December 26th, personally I’m done with the novelty.

photoEvery year the days following Christmas are interesting to say the least, as my favourite childhood meals have been changed not-for-the-better with unwelcome surprise appearances from turkey. This year, rather than enduring such a dish simply to reduce the amount of leftovers in the fridge, I tried to find a recipe that I thought I might like! And this was once such recipe – Jamie Oliver’s turkey and sweet leek pie. I didn’t quite have all of the ingredients, so I played about with quantities. It’s a fantastic pie: after softening leeks to tease out their moisture and flavour, the turkey is added, before stock. After simmering it away to give tenderness back to the turkey, it’s strained through a sieve, producing a brilliant creamy homemade gravy separate from the pie filling. And stuffed pastry! I made my own shortcrust rather than puff, and stuffed it with chopped mushrooms over chestnuts, but it was inspired wholly by Jamie Oliver’s recipe. Who knew leftover turkey could be such a treat. It’ll definitely be making an appearance again next year…

Ingredients – serves 4, my modifications in bold. 

  • 2 rashers smoked streaky bacon, finely chopped
  • Dried thyme
  • Olive oil
  • 3 leeks, washed, trimmed; white end chopped into thin slices
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Cooked leftover turkey, shredded (either white or dark meat, or both!)
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of plain flour, for the gravy
  • 1 pint of vegetable stock
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of natural Greek yoghurt
  • 100g mushrooms, finely chopped
  • Butter, half the amount of plain flour used 
  • Plain flour, for the pastry, double the amount of butter used 
  • Cold water, as necessary, to bind together the butter and flour 
  • Dried sage
  • Splash of cold milk

Method

  1. In a large pan that has an accompanying lid (I used a wok), over a medium heat, add dried thyme. Toast the dried herbs until they become aromatic, and then add the sliced bacon. Add a little olive oil, and fry for a few minutes. Add the finely sliced leeks, and fry them for about 3-5 minutes.
  2. Season, then add the lid, turn the heat down to low and let them fry gently for 25-30 minutes. The moisture in the leeks will come out, but make sure you stir them regularly to prevent them sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  3. Whilst the leeks are cooking, make your shortcrust pastry. Placing the flour and the butter in a bowl with cold hands. Using only your fingertips, gently rub the two photo-1ingredients together, until they resemble ‘breadcrumbs’. Do this gently and lightly – with each ‘rub’, lift the flour and butter a little out of the bowl to introduce air. Once breadcrumbs are achieved, add small amounts of cold water and stir in until a ball is formed. Wrap this in clingfilm or silver foil, and place aside in the fridge until later.
  4. When the leeks are done, add the shredded turkey and stir. Scatter over the flour, mix it well to coat all the ingredients, then pour in the vegetable stock and stir again.
  5. Add the natural Greek yoghurt, and then bring everything to the boil. Season to taste, then remove from the heat.
  6. Pour the mixture through a sieve or colander over another large empty pan; let the gravy from the mixture drip into the pan while you roll out your pastry.
  7. Get a deep pie dish roughly 22 x 30cm. Dust a clean surface and a rolling pin with a bit of flour and roll your pastry out so it’s double the size of your dish.
  8. Crumble the chopped mushrooms over one half of the pastry then sprinkle over some dried sage. Fold the other half of pastry on top then roll it out carefully and evenly so it’s the same size as the pie dish. The mushrooms will poke through the surface and you may need a bit more flour, as they will release moisture, making the pastry catch a little on the surface.
  9. Spoon the leek mixture from the sieve into the pie dish and spread it out evenly. Lay your pastry on top, and tuck it down the sides of the dish. Score with a large, sharp knife.
  10. Wash the top of the pastry with milk, and season. Place your pie in the oven for 40 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.
  11. When the pie is ready, re-heat the gravy and serve with your pie, along with some fresh green vegetables. Enjoy!

recipe by Jamie Oliver. 

salmon and leek parcels

This recipe comes partly as a celebration of the return of the oven after our last one failed to muster any warmth, and partly as the result of a conversation about the ‘best way to cook salmon’. After eating a particularly unappetising microwaveable macaroni cheese a few days ago in lieu of using the oven, I decided the moment that the new one was installed I would use it wholly. Nothing shows how wonderful an oven is like pastry – golden, puffed up pastry with a delicious, bubbling filling waiting underneath. These salmon and leek parcels are just that, their buttery pastry keeping moist salmon entwined with soft leek ribbons under wraps. As a development of the traditional salmon baked in foil, these little parcels are just as simple to cook as their predecessor, but result in a more exciting variation on the humble original.

I decided to experiment, making two variations of the parcel, to ensure all avenues of development had been visited! The first parcel focussed on the taste of the fish – lightly seasoned, with some butter to act as a sauce and give moisture to the parcel. The second was without butter, sprinkled with flat-leaf parsley, a herb often used as a complement to fish. Both were cooked for 20 minutes in a hot oven, and then were tasted to decide which recipe was the best improvement on foil baking. The salmon of the second parcel was drier than the first – whilst puff-pastry has an already notable fat content, sometimes comprising ‘all-butter’, it was not sufficient to keep the salmon moist in the oven. Using a small knob of butter created the delicious liquid that accompanies fish when foil-baked, without causing the pastry to go soggy. Plus, the light seasoning of the first parcel meant that the flavour of the fish was not overpowered by other ingredients, as it arguably was in the second – the flat leaf parsley gave a richness that wasn’t necessary with the pastry, and didn’t pair well with the leeks. Salt and pepper brought out the natural flavours of both ingredients, rather than attempting to create another dimension of taste that wasn’t required! The recipe listed below is for the first parcel – the simplicity of the ingredients mean the flavour of the salmon is at the forefront, with a buttery sauce lending moistness to the fish and leeks. Served with some peas, or a light salad, the parcels are not more complex to produce than using foil, and show a new aspect of a much-loved dish!

Ingredients

  • 1 salmon fillet, skinned and sliced into thin strips
  • ½ large leek, sliced diagonally into 1cm thick chunks
  • 1 sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry, sliced evenly into quarters
  • A knob of butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil, to drizzle

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Boil the kettle, and use the boiling water to blanche the sliced leeks for 5 minutes, until slightly softened. Drain the leeks, and set aside for later.
  2. On a clean surface, lay out two of the squares of puff pastry. In a bowl, place the salmon strips, and add the leek. Stir gently to combine.
  3. Divide the leek and salmon mixture evenly between the two squares of puff pastry. Season, and top each with a generous knob of butter.
  4. Gather the corners of the pastry square, and pull towards the middle until a ‘bun’ shape is created. Scrunch up and down the joins to prevent it falling apart in the oven!
  5. Place onto a non-stick baking sheet, and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Bake for 20 minutes, until the pastry is golden. Remove, and serve immediately to prevent them going soggy!