Chinese sausage and noodle soup

This is not an authentic Chinese soup recipe by any stretch of the imagination. It’s something I concocted using ingredients from the store cupboard in an attempt to liven up another Savoy cabbage to arrive in the veg box.

It also features slices of Chinese sausage, which you should be able to get from an oriental supermarket, but if not feel free to substitute with any cured sausage that takes your fancy.

I made up the dish as I went along and was really rather surprised at just how tasty and moreish it ended up and have made it several times since. As it takes only half an hour or so to rustle up, it’s an excellent contender for a quick mid-week dinner when you don’t want to spend all evening in the kitchen.

Chinese sausage and noodle soup

Serves 4

1 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil
½ onion, peeled and finely chopped
3cm piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped or grated
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 Chinese sausage (I used a skinny one about 20cm long), thinly sliced
½ Savoy cabbage, shredded
1.5l hot chicken stock
50ml light soy sauce
50ml Chinese rice wine (Shaohsing) or dry sherry
25ml black rice vinegar
80g egg noodles (I use either medium or fine)

In a large pan heat the oil and gently fry the onion until golden. Add the ginger, garlic and sausage and fry together for a couple more minutes.

Throw in the cabbage and stir-fry for a minute.

Pour in the hot stock, soy sauce, rice wine and vinegar and bring to a gentle simmer. Leave to cook for 10 minutes.

Add the noodles and simmer for another three minutes or according to the packet instructions. Serve and enjoy.

I’m also sharing this soup at the Fantastic Foods Friday supper party over at Justa’s Kitchen.

Spaghetti with wild garlic pesto

I’ve been swept away on an aromatic love affair with wild garlic in the last few weeks. As well as my delicious wild garlic risotto, it has also featured in many salads and has livened up our mashed potato. But this whirlwind romance is set to end all too soon. While there are still lots to be seen in the local hedgerows, it won’t be long before their leaves wither and the flowers wilt.

I have, however, come across the perfect way to capture this garlicky essence of early spring – by making up a large jar of wild garlic and walnut pesto. Divine.

This recipe comes from River Cottage, who say it will keep it in the fridge for up to three weeks and can also be frozen. They also say it makes 5 x 200g jars but I only got one large jar out of it. It’s not a problem though as I think this will keep us going quite a while.

The pesto tastes fresh and green (if you know what I mean) and packs a strong tasty punch so you don’t need too much of it. For its first outing, I served it very simply stirred through a dish of spaghetti and only needed to  use a couple of spoonfuls to get the full effect. I’m looking forward to trying it as a crostini or pizza topping next and, according to River Cottage, it’s also good stirred into soups and stews.

Spaghetti with wild garlic pesto

100g wild garlic leaves (carefully washed – I found a couple of slugs in mine!)
50g spring onions, chopped
50g walnut pieces
200ml good olive oil
70g Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
spaghetti, allow 75-100g per person

Remove any thick stalks from the wild garlic and put in a food processor with the walnuts, spring onions, and 150 ml of olive oil.

Give it all a good blitz until everything is finely chopped and you have a beautifully thick, vibrantly green salsa.

Stir in the grated Parmesan, salt and sugar. Then pour into sterilised jam jars.

The advice here from River Cottage  is to ensure you press the pesto down well with the back of a spoon to get rid of any air bubbles and leave room at the top of the jar for a layer of olive oil. Every time you use the pesto, mix in the oil before you take a spoonful, and replace with another layer of oil before replacing the lid and returning to the fridge.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions. Drain and stir in a spoonful or two of the wild garlic pesto to taste. Enjoy!

Highs and lows in the Bangers & Mash kitchen – part 2

I’m so happy to report a fortnight of consistent highs in the Bangers & Mash kitchen. I think I’m getting better at tackling more adventurous dishes at the weekend when I have more time, and keeping things very, very simple on the more hectic week days.

There was an almost-low at the weekend when my butternut squash gnocchi threatened to go pear-shaped at the last-minute. I’d spent an age preparing the squash and potato: first baking the veggies; passing it through a sieve before making the dumplings; gently simmering; and finally frying off. Of course when it came to the frying stage, my non-stick frying pan was in the dishwasher so I resorted to the non-non-stick pan.  And my gorgeous little dumplings instantly stuck to the pan and turned to mush. Quite infuriating. However, I don’t give in that easily.

Butternut squash gnocchi – so nearly a disaster but turned out quite gorgeous in the end

I retrieved the expensive frying pan and started again, and all the effort was worth it. A beautiful dish but quite a faff! I’ll post the recipe soon, but make sure you have a whole afternoon free if you fancy trying it out.

So on to singling out some of the highs. First up was a Thai-style cauliflower soup with coriander garlic bread. This made a perfect easy supper for a Meat Free Monday. It’s not one of the prettiest dishes I’ve ever come across but it tasted so good. My Mum wants the recipe, so I’m under orders to post it very soon on the blog.

Thai-style cauliflower soup with coriander and garlic bread

My Dad and Step-Mum came to stay for the weekend so I cooked wild garlic risotto again, after making them forage for the ingredients with the kids en route to a spot of Pooh Sticks. It seemed to go down very well. I followed it up with a simple plum and stem ginger fool, using Greek yoghurt instead of double cream, and it was absolutely delicious.

Plum and stem ginger fool, made with Greek yoghurt instead of double cream

A perfect dish for a busy week night is this grilled chicken parmesan from Karista’s Kitchen. Very simple grilled chicken breast with mozzarella (slightly confused about where the parmesan was though), which I served with steamed rice and stir-fried spring greens. I think this one could become a bit of a staple mid-week supper.

Grilled chicken parmesan (or should that be mozzarella?) from Karista’s Kitchen

Then there was the fantastically easy asparagus with poached eggs. What more need I say? New season asparagus with dippy eggs. Perfect.

A super speedy mid-week supper: asparagus with poached egg

Although this blog is called Bangers & Mash, I’m conscious I haven’t posted nearly enough sausage-related recipes, despite them being fairly fundamental to our family food. This week I made two very tasty but very different banger-based meals, showing the brilliant versatility of the humble sausage. The first was a quick and easy sausage and fennel bake, and the second was an indulgent slow-cooked spicy sausage penne, which I cooked when friends came over for dinner on Saturday night. Very good with a couple of bottles of red wine.

Sausage and fennel bake
Slow-cooked spicy sausage penne

Now, over to the last fortnight’s meal plans…

Monday 16 April
Lunch: rice salad
Dinner: kids – ratatouille and rice (F) adults – Thai-style cauliflower soup and coriander garlic bread 

Tuesday 17 April
Lunch: tarragon chicken pasta (F)
Dinner: kids – fish fingers, chips and peas (F) adults – purple sprouting broccoli with Thai dressing

Wednesday 18 April
Lunch: sweet pepper and mushroom cous cous 
Dinner: kids – salmon fish cakes (F) adults – Chinese sausage and noodle soup

Thursday 19 April
Lunch: salad wraps
Dinner: kids – tasty chicken rice (F) adults – steamed asparagus and dippy poached eggs

Friday 20 April
Lunch: pasta salad
Dinner: cottage pie

Saturday 21 April
Lunch: bread and cheese
Dinner: wild garlic risotto and salad; plum and stem ginger fool

Sunday 22 April
Lunch: spaghetti carbonara and salad 
Dinner: bread and cheese

Monday 23 April
Lunch: cheese and chutney rolls
Dinner: cottage pie (leftovers from Friday)

Tuesday 24 April
Lunch: red slaw (recipe to follow)
Dinner: kids – ratatouille and rice adults – grilled chicken parmesan

Wednesday 25 April
Lunch: rice and chicken salad
Dinner: pork, black pudding and apple pie (F)

Thursday 26 April
Lunch: ham and salad rolls
Dinner: baked sausages and fennel

Friday 27 April
Lunch: carrot and coriander soup
Dinner: spicy spinach and potato, chapatis and raita

Saturday 28 April
Lunch: falafels, pitta bread, tzatsiki and salad
Dinner: slow-cooked spicy sausage penne; rhubarb and stem ginger fool

Sunday 29 April
Lunch: butternut squash gnocchi with garlic butter
Dinner: bread and cheese

F = from freezer

Chicken with cous cous

I’ve been making this simple cous cous dish since my first-born Jessie was about a year old. Based originally on an Annabel Karmel recipe, it’s a perfect dish for little ones who are getting to grips with solid food and new textures; just make sure you cut the meat and vegetables into smallish pieces. As they get older, the pieces can get bigger.

I used to make it just for Jessie until I realised how tasty it was, so I now regularly make it as a speedy supper dish for the whole family. We usually eat this hot but it’s also a great lunchbox filler.

Chicken with cous cous

Serves 4

200g cous cous
450ml hot chicken stock
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 chicken breast, diced
1 courgette, diced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
2 tomatoes, diced
Handful fresh basil, roughly torn or chopped
Salt and pepper

Put the cous cous in a large bowl, add the hot stock and leave to one side while you get on with the rest of the dish.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and gently saute the onion until golden. Add the chicken and cook until the meat turns opaque. Then add the courgette and garlic and cook until soft and starting to colour. Check the chicken is cooked through, then throw in the tomato and basil and stir in to heat through.

Fork through the cous cous to break up the grains and then mix in the chicken and vegetables. Season to taste and serve.

Pork, black pudding and apple pie

I remember my Nana Barbara taking me to Bury Market when I was a little girl. I must have been about six or seven. What I remember most was seeing a pair of the most amazing sparkly, silver, strappy shoes. With heels. And I wanted them so, so much. But of course I didn’t get them. If I did, it wouldn’t be one of those memories that stayed with me forever I suppose.

If you took me to Bury Market these days, I don’t think I’d be looking at clothes or shoes, even of the silver variety. It would be the food stalls that would receive my undivided attention.

One item in particular I couldn’t leave without would be some proper Lancastrian black pudding. So it might be one of those food stuffs you don’t want to think too much about what goes into (it’s largely pork blood and fat, if you were unsure), but it’s a food I’ve loved since I was a child, especially as part of a cooked British breakfast. It’s probably due to my northern roots on my Dad’s side.

When I saw a recipe featuring black pudding on my Twitter timeline recently, I knew immediately I’d have to try it. @seldom_seen_boy had seen Brian Turner cook a pork and black pudding pie on that British institution of daytime television known as This Morning. I made a mental note there and then that the next time we had roast pork, I’d use the leftovers to make this pie.

So that’s precisely what I did, and it was very, very good. I wasn’t 100% sure whether the rest of the family would like it. My husband’s never been all that keen on black pudding and I thought the kids might turn their noses up at it too. Overall though it got a thumbs up. Only my seven-year-old was a little unsure, and about halfway through she started picking out the black pudding. But at least she had a go.

Personally I loved it. Who needs silver shoes when you have a black pudding pie, eh?

Pork, black pudding and apple pie

Serves 8

1 tbsp vegetable oil
30g butter
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 large carrot, grated
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
300ml chicken stock
350g roast pork, shredded
250g black pudding, diced
2 apples, peeled and diced
Salt and pepper
500g ready made shortcrust pastry
1 egg, lightly whisked

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/gas mark 6.

Heat the oil and butter in a large pan, and gently cook the onion, garlic and carrot until they start to colour.

Add the chopped tomatoes and chicken stock and simmer gently without a lid for 15 minutes. Stir in the shredded pork.

In a separate pan, fry the black pudding and apple until slightly browned. Then stir this into the rest of the pie filling. Season, bring to the boil, and then leave to cool.

Roll out half the pastry into a thin circle the same size as an ovenproof dish. Grease the dish and then lay over the pastry. Pile on the pie filling.

Roll out the second half of the pastry into a circle the same size as the first. Egg wash the rim of the pie and lay the lid over the filling. Press the rim, scallop the edges and cut a tiny air hole in the centre of the pastry. Brush with egg wash and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.

Serve with mashed potatoes and onion gravy.

Highs and lows in the Bangers & Mash kitchen – part 1

There have been lots of highs and not too many lows in the Bangers & Mash kitchen in recent weeks.

I’ll get the lows out of the way first.

The first  was a dish that really should have been too easy to mess up: a simple Swiss chard and potato tortilla. Then I went and left it in the oven just a tad too long and the egg turned to dry rubber. Not nice. But lesson learned for next time.

More disappointing though was the fact I messed up my husband’s birthday cake. He requested a boston creme pie from Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess. I’ve had a few baking successes recently and so perhaps I got a little cocky and over-ambitious.

Boston creme pie – but where did all the filling go?!

Well, the cake and ganache were delicious, but the creme anglaise filling was an absolute disaster. I should have known it wasn’t thick enough but I was in a rush and used it anyway. So when I put the second tier on top, it all slowly spilled out to leave a dry cake. Ah well, another lesson learned.

But let’s forget about those blips and move on to the  highlights. First on the list is a lovely springtime dish using ingredients foraged from the local hedges – wild garlic risotto. This was so good I’m making it again this weekend when my Dad and Step-Mum come to stay.

Wild and free – wild garlic risotto!

Who doesn’t love a good Sunday roast? Especially when it’s delicious free range pork with proper salty crackling, lashings of apple sauce and a cheesy leek bake on the side. This is what I made for my husband’s birthday meal on Easter Sunday. So although I ruined the pudding, he couldn’t complain too much because the main course had been so tasty!

Roast pork and crackling

Sometimes it’s the most basic meals that turn out be the tastiest. One Monday evening I cooked us all a super speedy supper of stir-fried spring greens with noodles. Something seemingly worthy and virtuous was also exceptionally appetising, thanks to lots of ginger, garlic, Chinese rice wine, black vinegar and soy sauce.

Stir-fried spring greens with noodles

Tarragon is fast becoming one of my favourite herbs. I really like it in chicken dishes, such as the scrummy chicken pasta I made when my good friend Sarah came over during the Easter holidays with her kids. It’s an easy meal which also includes leeks, purple sprouting broccoli and cream cheese.

Tarragon chicken pasta with purple sprouting broccoli and leeks

When a recipe featuring black pudding appeared on my Twitter timeline recently I just had to try it. It was a pork, apple and black pudding pie and the perfect way to use up the leftover roast pork from Sunday lunch. Black pudding is a real guilty pleasure for me. Maybe it’s down to my Dad’s side of the family coming from Lancashire. Anyway the pie was absolutely delicious served with onion gravy and wild garlic mashed potato.

Pork, apple and black pudding pie

Finally to the spicy lamb meatballs. My family adores meatballs but I’ve only ever made them with beef or pork mince. I’ll definitely make this lamb version again, complemented so well by the spices, apricot and fresh mint. Next time I might serve them in warmed pitta bread with salad and tzatsiki.

Spicy lamb meatballs – a firm family favourite

Now onto the meal plans for the last fortnight in full detail…

Monday 2 April
Lunch: rice salad
Dinner: noodles and stir-fried spring greens (recipe coming soon)

Tuesday 3 April
Lunch: baked potatoes
Dinner: kids – tasty chicken rice (F) adults – chard and potato tortilla

Wednesday 4 April
Lunch: brie and salad rolls 
Dinner: kids – beef casserole and rice (F) adults – bacon and tomato pasta

Thursday 5 April
Lunch: OUT
Dinner: broccoli, potato and walnut salad with homemade garlic bread

Friday 6 April
Lunch: grilled chicken breast wrapped in garlic with beetroot and nectarine salad
Dinner: carrot and coriander soup

Saturday 7 April
Lunch: OUT
Dinner: OUT

Sunday 8 April
Lunch: roast pork with apple sauce, roast potatoes and vegetables
Dinner: bread and cheese

Monday 9 April
Lunch: wild garlic risotto and salad
Dinner: sandwiches

Tuesday 10 April
Lunch: OUT
Dinner: kids – tasty chicken rice adults – leek and cheese bake with rosemary crumbs

Wednesday 11 April
Lunch: baked potatoes
Dinner: chicken and mushrooms in cream with rice and steamed broccoli

Thursday 12 April
Lunch: tarragon chicken pasta (recipe to follow)
Dinner: kids – fish fingers, chips and peas adults – garlic mushroom omelette and salad

Friday 13 April
Lunch: cheese rolls
Dinner: spicy lamb meatballs with rice

Saturday 14 April
Lunch: pork, apple and black pudding pie
Dinner: bread and cheese

Sunday 15 April
Lunch: picnic
Dinner: OUT

= from freezer

Maple syrup and banana cupcakes

My two girls almost ate us out of house and home during the Easter holidays. And now that they are back to school and nursery, they are coming home in the afternoon absolutely ravenous. There’s no way they can keep going until tea time without a quick snack as soon as they get through the front door.

These maple syrup and banana cupcakes are perfect, and they’re also good as a lunch box treat. They contain wholemeal flour and fruit so they’re also vaguely healthy!

Maple syrup and banana cupcakes

Makes 12

150g self-raising flour
100g wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
50g Demerara sugar, plus extra for sprinkling on top
1 tsp cinnamon
60g margarine, very soft
2 large ripe bananas
50g sultanas
2 eggs, beaten
3 tbsp maple syrup
4 tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/gas mark 6 and line a bun tin with 12 paper cake cases.

Mix together the self-raising and wholemeal flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add the soft margarine and mash it into the flour using a fork until well combined.

Mash the bananas using a fork and stir this into the mixture, along with the sultanas.

Add the beaten eggs, maple syrup and milk and beat until the mixture is well combine and dropping consistency.

Spoon the mixture into the paper cases and sprinkle a little Demerara sugar on top of each one.

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Place on a wire rack to cool. Eat them as they come or make into more of a pudding by eating warm drizzled with more maple syrup.

 

Spicy lamb meatballs

There’s something about meatballs that makes them a family favourite the world over. Why do we, young and old alike, go crazy for food in bite-sized morsels? From the ubiquitous chicken nugget to the classy vol au vent, we all love food we can pop in our gobs.

And I’d say meatballs fit this category. Mini (or, if you make them like me, not-s0-mini) mouthfuls of meaty pleasure, smothered in a rich tomato sauce and served with anything that takes your fancy really – spaghetti or rice, in a warm pitta, or simply with a salad.

I normally make my meatballs with beef mince but, as I’ve been looking at a few Moroccan-style recipes lately, I thought I’d try making them with lamb. Of course this led me onto the traditional Moroccan accompaniments of mint, apricot, cumin and coriander.

We’re lucky that our daughters like spicy food. I’d always taken this quality for granted but I’ve eaten with a few friends and their children recently who really don’t like strong flavours, which has made me wonder why our girls do go for them in such a big way. I suppose it’s because spices have always been an essential part of my cooking. During both pregnancies I ate a lot of spicy food, even more so in the latter stages when both girls were overdue and I was trying to encourage things along!

If you’re thinking of making this recipe for children who aren’t into spicy flavours, you’ll probably want to consider cutting down (or out) the cumin and coriander and perhaps reducing the amount of garlic. But if I were you, I’d try the recipe as it stands – you might be surprised.

As this was one of our favourite meals last week, I’m entering it into The Best Thing You Ate link party organised by Justa at Frugally Delicious. Justa is a woman after my own heart: she’s into her weekly meal planning and, as the name of her blog suggests, she’s into frugal food that is seasonal, fresh and inexpensive.

Spicy lamb meatballs

Serves 6

2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 x 400g can chopped plum tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper
20g fresh mint, finely chopped
400g lean lamb mince
handful dried apricots, finely chopped
40g breadcrumbs

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and gently soften the onions until golden. Add the garlic and spices and cook for a couple more minutes. Put half the onion mixture into a bowl and leave to cool.

To the remaining onions in the pan stir in the tomatoes, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for ten minutes until the sauce has thickened.

When the onions have cooled, add the mint, lamb, apricots and breadcrumbs. Season well and mix together with your hands. Shape into ‘bite-sized’ meatballs.

Heat the remaining oil and fry the meatballs until golden brown. Stir in the sauce and cook gently until the meatballs are cooked through. Serve with boiled rice and a green salad.

Wild garlic risotto

I know spring has most definitely sprung when the scent of wild garlic starts wafting out from the hedgerows, which are completely overrun by them this time of year. As the weeks go on, the aroma can get really rather heady and pungent. Almost intoxicating on warmer days when the pretty white flowers are in full bloom.

Despite being in plentiful supply for at least a month of the year here in Somerset, I’ve never made much use of them other than adding a few chopped leaves in a salad here and there. But now that I’m a genuine foodie (well, I write a food blog don’t I?), I’ve decided it’s my duty to do more with them.

Also known as ransoms, buckrams, broad-leaved garlic, stinking Jenny, wood garlic, bear leek, bear’s garlic and gypsy’s onions, the wild garlic is a wild relative of the chive. It has a delicate taste, a delicious combination of chive and garlic. Both the leaves and the flowers are edible.

When thinking of recipe ideas for the wild garlic, two immediately came to mind: risotto and pesto.

Last weekend we tried it in a risotto and it was an absolute triumph. Grown ups and children enjoyed it alike. I was impressed by the fact it tasted so special, almost extravagant, even though one of the main ingredients was completely free. Perfect family food on a budget. It felt good to pop down the lane with my oldest daughter, grab a few bunches and within half an hour or so turn it into a delicious feast.

I plan to try it in a pesto next week, so watch this space.

In the meantime, here’s my recipe for wild garlic risotto. I happened to  have some leftover chicken from another meal in the fridge so I’ve added this but I think it would work equally well without.

Wild garlic risotto

Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
320g arborio risotto rice
1 litre hot chicken or vegetable stock
300g cooked chicken, torn or cut into bitesized pieces (optional)
2 large handfuls wild garlic leaves, washed and roughly shredded
100g Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil and wild garlic flowers to serve

Gently cook the onion in the olive oil in a large frying pan for around 10 minutes until golden. Add the rice and fry for another couple of minutes.

Stir in the hot stock to the rice a ladleful at a time, allowing the liquid to be absorbed before adding more. Keep going until you have added almost all the stock.

As the last ladleful goes in, throw in the wild garlic and (if you’re using it) cooked chicken, and stir together for two to three minutes.

Just before serving, stir in the Parmesan cheese and a grind of salt and pepper to taste. Plate up, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and decorate with a wild garlic flower or two.

Leeks and greens springtime pie

I’m a big fan of the weekly veg box. There’s something quite exciting about not choosing your own produce but simply going with whatever is in season and is in good supply.

The veg box didn’t always suite my lifestyle though. Back in my crazy 20s when we lived in Bristol, in the days before children, when I was working full-time yet still partying hard, I first ventured down the veg box path.

It was around the time that I was just beginning to develop an interest in food and cooking, and the idea of a weekly delivery of fresh organic vegetables seemed a right-on thing to do.

Problem was the vegetables would arrive and I simply had no idea what to do with them, or indeed what some of them actually were. I’d get home from work, wanting to make a quick supper before meeting friends at the pub, and end up just staring blankly into the fridge at a gnarly celeriac or pile of sweet potatoes and having not the slightest scooby what to do next.

And eating greens week-in-week-out just wasn’t turning me on. It took me right back to my Cranks childhood

But life is very different now that I’m all grown up. The veg box suits me and my family. As you have probably spotted already, I’m rather into meal planning. Each Sunday night I sit down at my laptop surrounded by recipe books, plan out my family’s meals for the week, and place my online order for all the groceries needed.

No meal makes it onto the plan though until I’ve consulted the Riverford website, where they list the contents of the coming week’s veg boxes. I love reading through the list of produce and letting my brain whir into action as it comes up with meal ideas.

But sometimes inspiration doesn’t arrive of its accord and the Riverford website itself is a marvellous treasure trove of recipe ideas for every vegetable (and fruit) under the sun. And because I was running short of ways to cook leeks, I came across a Riverford recipe for Flamiche, which turns out to be a Belgian leek pie.

I don’t think I’ve cooked a Riverford recipe yet that has disappointed, and this was certainly no exception. The creamy, buttery leeks combined with tarragon and nutmeg, encased in a light shortcrust pastry made for a tasty supper on one of our regular Meat Free Mondays. We ate it cold for lunch the next day and it was equally good, so I reckon this pie would be great for a picnic.

So here is my slight variation on the Flamiche, which has some spring greens thrown in, just because I happened to have those in the fridge too. It’s ever so easy to make, particularly when you use ready-made pastry. And no it’s not cheating – everyone does it!

Leeks and greens springtime pie

Serves 6

500g ready-made shortcrust pastry
600g leeks, washed, trimmed and sliced
200g spring greens, washed and shredded
6 tbsp creme fraiche
60g parmesan cheese
1 tbsp chopped tarragon leaves (I couldn’t find fresh so used dried, which worked perfectly well)
nutmeg, freshly grated
salt and pepper
1 egg yolk, beaten

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/gas mark 6.

Gently cook the leeks in butter until soft and translucent. Add the spring greens and stir into the leeks until the greens wilt.

Pour the leeks and greens into a large bowl and allow to cool.

Butter a quiche dish. Halve the pastry and roll out one half into a large circle and line the dish. Prick the bottom with a fork. Roll out the other pastry half into another circle the same size and cover with clingfilm for later.

When the leeks and greens have cooled, add the creme fraiche, nutmeg, parmesan and tarragon. Season well. Spread the mixture evenly over the pastry base.

Next brush some egg yolk over the exposed edges of the pastry, and place the other pastry circle over the pie filling and pinch the edges to seal.

Brush the top with more egg yolk and use a sharp knife to make a cross-shaped slit in the middle so that steam can escape.

Bake in the oven on a baking sheet for 30-40 minutes until the pastry is golden. Serve warm or cold with a side salad.