Monday, 30 January 2017

We Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Programme... talk about fascism. Yes, fascism. Why, you may ask? (Ha, ha; no, I'm pretty sure you know why.)

I was hoping to check out (at the usual age) before the dreadful day arrived, because frankly I am a coward but no; here we are. We've watched this time come barrelling down the pike for many years, as everyone said no, no, It Can't Happen Here. After all, we fought a mighty big war against it! As it turns out, there are plenty of people who like fascism just fine when it is them doing it to other people and not other people doing it to them.

By the way, I'm seeing lots of people - politically motivated and presumably attention-paying people - commenting about how what the Trump administration is doing is "Crazy", "Disorganized" or "Impulsive". NO IT IS NOT.

It is the bog-standard method of transitioning a democracy to a fascist regime.

There are a lot of people out there with smarter things to say about all this than me; I hope I can be helpful by collating a useful conglomeration of history, information, ways to think about things, and things to do. Most of this is reasonably short and "easy" reading.

This is a very preliminary list. I will add more as I find it; please leave your suggestions for reading material in the comments. I hope to put up another post in a week or so with more concrete action suggestions.

For an Overview on Fascism/Authoritarianism in General:

Umberto Eco Makes a List of the Fourteen Common Features of Fascism.

Ur-Fascism (Umberto Eco again). 

The Authoritarians. Bob Altemeyer. Book is free pdf file at site. It's long (it's a book) but READ IT.

Systems of Survival: A Dialogue on the Moral Foundations of Commerce & Politics. Jane Jacobs You will actually have to buy the book somehow (or check it out from the library if you can) if you want to read this, but I highly recommend it. It makes terrific companion reading to the The Authoritarians. Altemeyer is more about the psychology of authoritarians; Jane Jacobs talks about the moral structures (and therefore the social and political structures arising from 2 modes of interacting with the world, and what happens when those 2 modes are not upheld as they should be).

ADDED 17/01/31 12:05 pm: and, on a more ominous note, Major-General Smedley Butlers's War is a Racket

ADDED  17/01/31 3:00 pm Excerpt from They Thought They Were Free. Milton Mayer.

For Information About the American Situation Specifically:

Everything You Need to Know About Steve Bannon, Breitbart, & Russia. Daily Kos.

Is Donald Trump a Fascist? (Spoiler: yes. From fucking Newsweek no kidding.)

I was trained for the culture wars...  Kieran Darkwater

ADDED 17/01/30 9:19 am: A Realistic but Hopeful Assessment from Eliot A. Cohen at The Atlantic.

ADDED 17/01/30 10:07 am: Trial Balloon for a Coup? Yonatan Zunger. 

Now What?

How to Survive an Authoritarian Government. Larwunia at ExtraNewsfeed.

The Complete 4-Page Guide to Surviving an Authoritarian Regime. from your Eastern European friends. 

Autocracy: Rules for Survival. Masha Gessen at New York Review of Books.

Here's What You Can Do to Beat Trump. Student Activism, but pretty universally applicable.

ADDED 17/01/31 8:48 am: Carl Sagan's Baloney Detection Kit

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Crop Rotation and Soil Amendments in the Small Garden

When we first started working in an allotment garden oh, 20 years ago (aauugghh!) I read a lot of gardening books and magazines. The one thing that has really stuck from that reading is our crop rotation plan.

Our plan is adapted from one put forth by Sylvia Thompson, and which is described in her book The Kitchen Garden, although it only gets 3 pages there. I think I first found it as an article in The Kitchen Gardener magazine, an excellent but somewhat short-lived venture, where the plan was detailed in a longer article. No sign of it online, alas.

What I am about to describe is more-or-less her plan, much adapted to our own personal uses. That's one of the beauties of this scheme - it is a simple, even crude, four-part division, and as long as  you remember the logic of the plan quite adaptable. On this blog I've previously discussed this plan briefly and often presented vegetables grouped together in the categories we use, but I don't think I have really delved into it in great detail.

There are 2 general reasons to rotate crops, even in a fairly small garden. The first is the one people tend to think of: to avoid the build-up of diseases and pests in the area. Unfortunately, rotation does not do much to alleviate this problem in a small garden. You are staving things off for perhaps 15 minutes in my experience. Still, we rotate crops partially because hope is as hard to kill as cucumber beetles, and partially because we do get the second benefit: we can plan and target soil amendments to keep our plants at the level of fertility best suited for them. Essentially, this plan groups vegetables according to their nutrient needs.

I'm being a bit facetious about the effectiveness of a rotation plan in avoiding diseases and pests, by the way. In reality while it doesn't do much to evade pests, I suspect it's quite useful in keeping the diseases down to a dull roar. Be sure however, that you are not saving diseased seeds and simply moving the problem along every year. (See our struggle with bean anthracnose.) And if you do get diseases don't put the season-end debris into the compost heap. If you have municipal compost pick up use that; if like us you have a large property, have a compost dump some good distance from the garden, from which you do not actually use the compost.


Friday, 27 January 2017

Lumpiang Hubad - Naked Springrolls

Doesn't look like spring rolls, does it? This is a Philippine stir-fry dish with a joking name - the typical filling ingredients of lumpia (Philippine spring rolls) are sautéed and served with a typical lumpia sweet peanut sauce. As with skillet lasagne, cabbage roll casseroles, or tamale casseroles, people have taken a beloved but very time-consuming traditional dish and made something with most of the flavour but far less work.

Lumpia vary a lot in what may be put in them, and this is a pretty flexible recipe too. Many of the versions I saw called for green beans, which are not available right now (frozen I guess, but I think them too soggy for an application like this) but most of the other commonly used vegetables are surprisingly available winter vegetables for us. I've categorized this as an all-year-round recipe though, because you can adjust the veggies according to what is in season.

As a stir-fry, it is really quite plain. It is the sauce that makes it distinctive, and it should be applied lavishly and mixed in well for best results. You can make it with or without meat added; most recipes I saw called for a mixture of chicken or pork with shrimp. I would think tofu would also work quite well here if you wanted a vegetarian version. In that case I would press it and sauté it until quite crisp before continuing with the recipe.

I'm calling for chopped peanuts over the top as most recipes do. I think they would really improve it, but alas, there were none in the house in spite of my distinct recollection of having purchased some recently. Mr. Ferdzy tends to regard them as his own personal snack (not without reason as I don't eat peanut products often) aaaand, yeah. Next time. Oh, and none of the recipes I saw called for ginger, but I think it needs a little bit of oomph, especially since I have stripped out most of the sugar.

3 to 4 servings
20 minutes prep time to make the sauce
40 minutes prep time to make the stir fry

Lumpiang Hubad - Naked Springrolls

Make the Sauce:
6 to 8 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon peanut or mild vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon arrowroot or cornstarch
3/4 cup chicken stock or water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup peanut butter

Peel and mince the garlic. Peel and grate the ginger. Put the oil in a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Mix the remaining ingredients, except the peanut butter, in a small bowl. Set aside.

Add the garlic and ginger to the pan and cook, stirring, for one or two minutes until the garlic just begins to colour. Stir up the bowl of sauce ingredients and pour it in. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until it thickens and clears. Remove it from the heat and mix in the peanut butter, working it well to avoid lumps.

Scrape the sauce into a serving dish and set it aside. Return the pan to the stove top - if you have scraped it out well you will not need to wash it - to use again for the stir fry.

Make the Stir-Fry:
125 grams (1/2 pound) bean-thread noodles
1 medium onion
1 medium carrot
1 small sweet potato
6 large white mushrooms
2 cups finely shredded green cabbage
2 cups bean sprouts
250 grams (1/2 pound) chopped raw chicken and/or pork OPTIONAL
2 to 3 tablespoons peanut or mild vegetable oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup chopped peanuts to garnish

Soak the bean-thread noodles for 15 minutes in warm tap water. When they soften, snip them up with a pair of kitchen shears into manageable lengths. Put a pot of water on to boil and boil them for 1 minute, then drain well.

Meanwhile, peel and cut the onion into slivers. Peel and grate the carrot. Clean and trim the sweet potato, and grate it with the skin on. Clean the mushrooms and cut them into slices, first one way and then the other (to form fairly long thin pieces). Trim and finely shred the cabbage. Rinse the bean sprouts and drain them very well. If using the meat, trim it of excess fat and chop into bite-sized pieces.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in the skillet over high heat. If using meat, add it now. Add the carrots, sweet potatoes, and onions, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cabbage, along with spoonful of water, and continue to cook and stir for a few more minutes. You may need to add a little more oil at this point. Season with the soy sauce.

When the mixture appears to be essentially cooked - you are particularly observing the meat, if used, add the drained noodles and bean sprouts and mix them in well; continue to cook and stir for a few minutes until they are well amalgamated into the mixture and the bean sprouts are slightly wilted. Turn the stir-fry out onto a serving dish (or dishes), serve with the sauce and sprinkled with chopped peanuts.

Last year at this time I made Scotch Broth with Dried Peas & Barley.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Annual Seed Catalogue Review Edition the Seventh

Wow! I've been doing this for seven years now. Am I running out of things to say? Is it harder for me (and the seed sellers) to find New! and Exciting! varieties of vegetables? Maybe! Or maybe not, once I get digging. So to speak.

Are there a lot more small seed companies, with a wider range of heirloom and open pollinated varieties than when I started? I'd say so, in a big way. In spite of this, the over-all number of varieties continues to drop, on the national and global level, as older seed houses close or are purchased by the big players. So let's buy our seeds from the people who are (still) providing open pollinated seeds, grown by themselves or their neighbours as much as possible. I believe that locally grown seeds are just as important as locally grown food. Varieties adapt to their growing conditions over time, and if they are not grown here, they won't ultimately be as adapted to growing here.

There is such a long list of new (to me at least) suppliers this year that I am going to try to stick strictly to new offerings here. (NOTE: I failed.) Don't forget that just about everybody has much more interesting stuff than I can hope to mention - click through and read. I also hope to post another list with my own personal favourites over the years, and who supplies them, later this month.

Trends this year seem to be sorghum (continuing the interest in grains from the last few years), lots of lettuce and other greens, and flowers in red and white (guess why!) Also there seem to be extravagant quantities of peppers... there always are, but more extravagant.

This isn't exactly a trend since practically the first vegetable anyone grows is tomatoes, but I have to say, there are A LOT of tomatoes out there. That is all.

As ever, don't forget to check Seeds of Diversity's  Seed Catalogue Index

Okay, let's get started... behind a fold because this is loooong...

Monday, 23 January 2017

Papas (Patatas) Bravas

I'm a little embarrassed by the degree to which this seems to be developing into the winter of the root vegetable but, hey, themes happen.

These are not exactly low-cal but close your eyes and pretend you are at a tapas bar in Spain, the original home of this spicy potato dish and a much nicer place than slushy Ontario at the moment. I have to say I never had them in Spain but my Spanish bar experience usually consisted of staggering into the nearest one I could find open at 10:00 am and ordering a tortilla bocadito for second breakfast. (First Spanish breakfast leaves much to be desired, especially to someone who expects to walk 25 kilometres that day.)

The spicy sauce is not dissimilar to the one that usually accompanies sweet potato fries in North America, and I would totally make it to go with sweet potatoes roasted in the same way as these potatoes. Either way, a very simple but tasty dish.

4 servings
1 hour - 30 minutes prep time

Spanish Potatoes with a Spicy Sauce

Roast the Potatoes:
500 grams (1 generous pound) potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
a sprinkling of salt

Wash and trim the potatoes (peel them if you like) and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Put them in a pot of water to cover, bring them to a boil, and boil them for 10 minutes. Drain well.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Toss the potatoes with the oil in a roasting pan that will hold them in a single layer - I used my 8" x 10" lasagne pan. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Roast for 40 to 45 minutes until nicely browned; stir them once or twice during that time.

Make the Sauce:
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
2 large shallots
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sweet Spanish paprika
1 teaspoon smoked sweet or hot Spanish paprika
a little cayenne to taste
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup tomato sauce
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 cup mayonnaise (light is fine)

Start the sauce about 15 or 20 minutes before the potatoes are done. 

Peel and mince the garlic. Peel and mince the shallots. Heat the oil in a medium sized skillet and heat over medium-high heat; add the shallots and cook them gently for about 5 minutes until softened and reduced, and perhaps very slightly browned.

Mix the paprikas, cayenne, and salt in a small bowl. Add the garlic to the pan of shallots and sprinkle the seasoning over it. Mix well and cook gently for another minute or two. Add the tomato sauce and vinegar, and continue to cook gently for a few more minutes until the sauce is well amalgamated and slightly thickened. Remove it from the heat and allow to cool for 5 or 10 minutes until just warm.

Mix in the mayonnaise and transfer the sauce to a serving bowl or drizzle it over the roasted potatoes.

Last year at this time I made Rutabaga with Bacon, Mushrooms, & Onions.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Bean & Salsa Soup

This is the world's simplest "recipe", but we have been eating it regularly this winter and enjoying it surprisingly. Surprisingly because Mr. Ferdzy and I have been on the "5-2 Diet" and this was devised to provide us with 200 reasonably filling calories for lunch, and for no other reason.

In fact though, this is really very tasty. No doubt it helps that I use our own home-made salsas, both regular tomato and tomatillo, as well as our own tomato sauce. I would think it could be made quite easily with tinned beans and purchased salsa. In that case I would probably add a little grind of cumin seed and a squeeze of lime or lemon juice to liven it up a bit, as well as a bit of minced cilantro if it was available, and the calorie count might vary slightly. If calories were no object, I might sauté a minced clove of garlic in a teaspoon of oil and add it in too. Likewise, if this was not diet food a quesadilla on the side would round it off nicely.

The beans in this batch were Cherokee Trail of Tears, but just about any bean should be fine. I've been using Arikara Yellow as well, and apart from making a less murky soup there's no big difference. I was surprised to discover that Black-Eyed Peas are a little lower in calories than most other beans, for what that's worth; but we didn't grow any.

2 servings
15 minutes prep time

Black Bean & Salsa Soup

1 1/4 cups cooked beans, with their cooking water
2 cups tomato salsa OR 2 cups tomatillo salsa
OR 1 cup tomato salsa and 1 cup tomatillo salsa
1/4 cup tomato sauce
OR 1 cup chopped tinned tomatoes
1 or 2 slices pickled Jalapeño, OPTIONAL

Put the beans, with their cooking water, into a soup pot and add the remaining ingredients. Mince the Jalapeño very finely before adding, and before that check how hot your salsa is.

Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve it up. Wonder what's for lunch... No, actually it does a pretty good job of getting me to about 4:00 pm. Which is about as far as 200 calories can be reasonably expected to take you.

Last year at this time I made a Parsnip & Cheese Soufflé.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Roasted Parsnip & Carrot Kugel

This parsnip and carrot kugel makes an excellent vegetarian main dish. Slicing the vegetables is a little fiddly, but easy. Once that's done, the rest is somewhat slow but very simple to do. 

Kugels traditionally often have a sweet component, and the parsnips and carrots supply that very well. I had a hard time deciding on the seasoning for this. I kept it simple and savoury (literally) but next time I might try a little nutmeg.

I have to confess that I roasted the vegetables in the casserole dish rather than on a tray; however it took me an hour to get them reasonably roasted because they were too densely piled. Next time I will do as I say: spread them out in a roughly single layer on a larger tray then transfer them to the final baking dish once they are roasted and the cheese mixture gets added. The savings in time and energy (both mine and the utility companies) will justify using the extra pan.

4 to 6 servings
2 hours - 1/2 hour prep time

Roasted Parsnip & Carrot Kugel

Roast the Vegetables:
225 grams (1/2 pound) large parsnips (2 or 3)
225 grams (1/2 pound) large carrots (2 or 3)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 medium shallots OR 2 medium onions
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Peel and trim the parsnips and carrots; discard the trimmings. Use the vegetable peeler to continue to peel the parsnips and carrots into long, thin strips. At some point you will need to slice whatever remains into long, thin strips with a knife. Don't worry if they are not terribly even.

Put the butter in a large shallow baking tray, and put it into the oven until the butter is melted. 

Peel and cut the shallots or onions into slivers.

Toss the parsnips, carrots, and shallots or onions with the butter. Spread them out evenly on the baking tray, and roast for about 30 minutes, until softened and browned in spots. Stir once in the middle of the baking time.

Finish the Kugel:
450 grams (1 pound) ricotta cheese
4 large eggs
1 cup milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 teaspoons rubbed savory
200 grams (1/2 pound, scant) old Cheddar cheese

About 10 minutes before the vegetables are roasted, put the ricotta in a mixing bowl and break in the eggs. Mix them in well. Mix in the milk, salt, pepper, and savory.

Grate the Cheddar (or other hard) cheese and mix half of it into the ricotta and egg mixture.

Pile the roasted vegetables into a 8" x 11" baking (lasagne) pan and spread them out evenly. Pour the cheese mixture over them evenly, but don't stir it. Sprinkle the remaining grated cheese evenly over the top. Return the pan to the oven and continue baking at 375°F for another 45 minutes.  Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Last year at this time I made Dad's Barley & Cheese Meatloaf.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Baked Potato Skins with Samosa Stuffing

Here's another dish made with left-over, or pre-baked if you prefer that term, vegetables. In this case it's potatoes. These are much simpler than real samosas; very easy to put together. I used a slightly heavy hand with the butter and did not regret it... after all, there's no pastry. So yummy! Everybody liked these a lot.

4 servings
1 hour to bake the potatoes
1 hour - 15 minutes prep time - to bake the second time

Baked Potato Skins with Samosa Stuffing

Bake the Potatoes:
4 medium-large baking (Russet) potatoes

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Wash the potatoes, poke them a couple of times with a fork, and bake them until soft but still with structural integrity. This will likely take about an hour and can be done a day in advance. 

Mix the Spices:
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon fennel seed
3 pods green cardamom
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
3/4 teaspoon salt

Toast the cumin, coriander, and fennel lightly in a dry skillet. Let them cool and grind them with the cardamom. (Remove the green papery husks once they are broken.) Mix the ground spices with the cayenne, turmeric and salt in a small dish. Set aside. 

Finish the Potatoes:
3 large shallots
1 teaspoon peeled, minced ginger
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup frozen peas

Peel the shallots and chop them finely. Peel and mince the ginger and the garlic.

Cut the cooled potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop out the flesh with a thin, sharpish spoon to within a quarter of an inch of the skins. Arrange the skins in a single layer in a snug baking dish.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Heat the butter in a large skillet, and cook the shallots in it gently until softened. Add the spices once they have cooked for a minute or two. While they cook, chop the scooped out potato flesh into smallish dice. Once it is chopped, add it to the pan with the shallots, and continue cooking, stirring frequently. Once the potatoes are hot through and slightly cooked down, add the garlic and ginger and mix in well; cook for another minute or two.

Turn off the heat and mix in the peas. Divide the potato mixture evenly between the prepared potato skins, mounding up a little to get it all in. Bake the potato skins for about 45 minutes, until hot through.

Last year at this time I made Beet, Carrot, & Pineapple Salad.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Cheesy Double-Baked Acorn Squash

If you are looking for acorn squash at this time of year you will likely need to go to a farmers market. They are not long-keeping squash, and their time is coming to an end. Of course, that means I have to use up the half-bushel still sitting in my laundry room...

Mine are those delightful little Gill's Golden Pippins which are actually not bad keepers for acorn squash. Any other variety is likely to supply squash about twice the size of these so one should be sufficient. You probably want to cut such a squash into 4 wedges to start with, for the first baking.

Also, this is an excellent thing to do with left-over, or at least planned-over squash. 

4 servings
1 hour to bake the squash
1 hour - 15 minutes prep time - to stuff and rebake

Cheesy Double-Baked Acorn Squash

2 small acorn squash
OR 1 medium acorn squash
a little mild vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons light cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon rosemary, ground
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese

Cut the acorn squash in half from stem to stern, and scoop out the seeds. Save them - clean them, toss them with a little oil, season to taste and roast them for 20 to 30 minutes to eat as a little snack, but that has nothing to do with this recipe.

Ahem. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Rub the cut surfaces of the squash with a little oil, and put them in a shallow baking dish. Roast until tender, about 1 hour. This can be done a day ahead.

When the squash are cool (enough to handle) return the oven to 375°F. Scoop out the flesh of the squash as close to the skin as you can get, but be VERY careful not to break through the skin. Mash the flesh thoroughly, and break in the eggs. Mix well. Mix in the cream and the seasonings, as well as the 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.

Divide the mixture evenly between the squash shells. Sprinkle the remaining cheese evenly over the squash. Bake them for 45 minutes, until hot and set, and the cheese is melted and slightly browned. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Last year at this time I made Bubble & Squeak.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Hamburger Soup

Here is something I have not made for quite a while! Hamburger soup is a depression-era classic that was also a mainstay for me in my poor student days. Fortunately, in addition to being budget-friendly and easy, it's also very tasty. Bonus: it's made in one pot. I don't know why it fell off the roster for so long.

Like most soups made with pasta, leftovers don't keep well. I think next time I would make and divide the soup into 2 portions before I added the pasta, and then just add (half) the pasta as the portions are to be eaten.

This will serve 4, as a definite meal; you may like to serve it with some garlic bread or follow it with a baked pudding, but you may not wish to either. It depends, probably, on whether you are still a growing student who walks 10 miles a day or not.

4 to 6 servings
30 minutes prep time

Hamburger Soup

1 medium onion
1 cup finely chopped or grated peeled celeriac
OR 2 stalks of celery
1 medium carrot
6 to 8 white mushrooms
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
500 grams (1 pound) lean ground beef
a little mild vegetable oil if needed
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 bay leaves
4 cups chopped tinned tomatoes
2 to 4 cups water
2 cups finely chopped green cabbage
1 teaspoon rubbed basil OR oregano
100 grams (4 ounces) small pasta

Peel and chop the onion. Peel and chop the celeriac or celery. Peel and dice the carrot. Clean and chop the mushrooms. Peel and mince the garlic (set it aside separately).

If your ground beef is very lean, put a tablespoon or so of oil in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot and heat over medium-high heat. If it isn't, put the beef into the soup pot and cook it until it renders a little fat. Add the onion, celery, and carrot, and cook, stirring regularly until the vegetables are softened and reduced a little in volume. Add the beef, if it is not in already, and cook it too, crumbling it into small chunks. Season the beef with salt and pepper as it cooks, and add the bay leaves. Mix in the mushrooms. Let this mixture simmer for 10 or 15 minutes, stirring regularly, until the vegetables are quite soft and the beef is cooked through and slightly browned. Add the garlic and let it cook in for a minute or so.

Add the tomatoes, being sure they are chopped into bite-sized pieces. You can use chopped tomatoes, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce in a pinch although I prefer something more like bits of tomato; whatever you have, or in the old days, whatever was on sale. Add water, the exact amount to depend on how soupy you would like your soup, and also how much water the pasta soaks up. Start with the smaller amount. You can add more later if you think it needs it.

When the soup is simmering again, add the basil or oregano and cabbage, and bring back up to a slow boil. Add the pasta, and cook for the amount of time suggested on the package for the pasta (or until it is in fact cooked as desired) and serve at once.

Last year at this time I made Red Cabbage with Cranberries & Lemon

Monday, 9 January 2017

Creamy Spaghetti with Leeks & Smoked Salmon

I have to admit it's probably hard to find leeks at this time of year. Not for me - my fridge is absolutely full of them. It was also impressively full of Christmas leftovers, which is why I've been slow off the mark to get posting again. We had to eat some space in the fridge. Since the smoked salmon was one of the leftovers this is actually part of that process.

This was lovely; simple and delicious. I wish I had had a sprinkle of chives, but that's January for you. Even dried ones would do, though.

2 servings
20 minutes prep time

Creamy Spaghetti with Leeks & Smoked Salmon

1 large or 2 small leeks
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
150 grams (5 ounces) spaghetti
2 cups unsalted chicken stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
salt to taste
the finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
100 grams (4 ounces) smoked salmon
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
minced chives or parsley, if available

Trim the leeks, and if they are sufficiently long cut them into 2 sections. Cut each section in half lengthwise, and cut each half into 3 or 4 sections to form long, thin pieces to mimic the shape of the spaghetti. Peel and mince the garlic.

Put a pot of salted water on for the spaghetti, and cook it - adding the leeks to the pot just before the spaghetti goes in - for HALF the suggested cooking time. Meanwhile, bring the chicken stock to a boil in another, larger, pot.

Cream the butter with the flour, pepper, salt, and lemon zest. Mix in the minced garlic. Cut the smoked salmon into thin strips.

When the spaghetti has cooked for half the suggested cooking time, drain the leeks and spaghetti and add them to the pot of chicken stock. Cook for the remaining suggested cooking time for the pasta.

Two minutes before the pasta is cooked, scrape the butter and flour mixture into the pot. Mix in until completely dissolved. Add the smoked salmon, cut into thin strips. When the timer goes off, mix in the heavy cream and lemon juice. Let simmer for just another minute more. The sauce should be just thick enough to coat the spaghetti. Serve sprinkled with a little minced chives or parsley, should they be available.

Last year at this time I made Gluten-Free Pan-Fried Chicken Fingers.