Sunday, November 19, 2006
'A truly filthy Irish day'
Even though it's my fourth winter living in the UK, I never fail to be surprised and upset by the arrival of winter. I know that seems like a funny thing for someone from the Saskatchewan arctic to say, but believe me, while a skiff of snow is about as 'wintry' as it gets in Ireland, there are still some temperature issues. Perhaps I should be more specific - what I'm really getting at is that it gets really cold in doors here. While at home it's so frigid that well-insulated houses, central heating and warm buildings are absolute musts, it's not uncommon for houses, churches and workplaces to be really cold here!! Drives me nuts. I love our wee house, but I have to admit that heating is a bit of a challenge as the kitchen doesn't have any heat (other than the oven!) Oh well - it's not really that bad. I have definitely learned to be more energy conscious, coming to see putting on slippers, wearing layers of fleece and exploring the wonders of hot water bottles (called 'jars' here) as sensible rather than resentable like I used to!
What prompted this rant about indoor heating? Well, the weather has turned really miserable this week - the commentator on the rugby game Stu's watching on TV just called it a 'truly filthy Irish day' and I have to agree - there's cold wind, dark skies and heavy rain. Okay, I'll stop whining because I know anyone at home reading this while coping with minus 30 will really want me to shut up!
Well, I think the best way to cope with nasty weather is to make soup and this Sunday afternoon I opted for Leek Vichyssoise from Crank's Fast Food (our all-time favourite cookbook). Don't ask me what vichyssoise is technically speaking, but the creamy leek and potato soup that the recipe yielded was delicious. I paired it with Savoury Scallion Biscuits from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home (another fav). So, without further adieu . . .
Leek vichyssoise with Kaffir lime leaves
This can be served hot or cold but if you're going for cold, thin it down with a little extra stock.
1 small onion, chopped
4 large leeks, trimmed and chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 large potato, roughly chopped
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
800ml vegetable stock made with 1/2 tsp bouillon powder (I always use Marigold)
4 Kaffir lime leaves, crushed but not broken up
1 tbsp double cream
salt and pepper
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the onion, leeks and garlic and sweat until translucent. Add the potato, nutmeg and a little of the stock. Cook quite fast for 5 minutes, then add the rest of the stock and the lime leaves and simmer for a further 10 minutes or so until the potato is tender right through. Remove the lime leaves and puree in a blender until smooth. Return to the heat for a moment while you stir in the cream. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
And for the biscuits . . .
Savory Scallion Biscuits
1 1/2 c unbleached white flour
1/2 c whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp oil
1 c low-fat plain yogurt
1/2 c minced scallions
1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 F. In a medium bowl combine the flours and stir in baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl combine the remaining ingredients and then add the yogurt mixture quickly and thoroughly to form a soft dough. Drop eight spoonfuls of the dough onto a cookie sheet lined with baking parchment. Bake for 20 minutes and serve warm.
I'm feeling warmer now.