Leek and Potato Boats

It’s St David’s Day again–time to celebrate all things Welsh, and time for a new recipe using leeks! This one can use virtually all leftover bits and bobs, or can be made fresh. Just add the necessary time to bake potatoes. Caerphilly cheese is also a Welsh speciality, so if you can get it in your area, do give it a try.Picture of baked leek and potato boat on a plate

Serves three


1 1/2 Cold leftover jacket (baked) potatoes
1-2 tablespoons Butter
1 cup Steamed chopped leeks
Dash Ginger powder
About an ounce Shredded smoked Caerphilly (or other Gouda type) cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C/gas mark 4.
  2. Cut cold potatoes in half lengthways. Scoop out most of the potato, leaving only enough to help the skins hold a potato shape (your ‘boats’).
  3. Mash the potato insides and heat gently with butter.
  4. Stir in hot leeks and ginger.
  5. Divide the mixture between the three potato ‘boats’ and stuff gently.
  6. Top with shredded cheese.
  7. Bake until heated through and lightly browned, about 20 minutes.


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Posted in Holidays, Leftovers, Recipes

Planned Leftovers with Ox Heart

Ox heart is not something you see every day in the average (super)market, but when you do, it is definitely worth snapping up. As a member of the offal family, it comes dirt cheap, but it can be prepared in a number of different ways, which variously emphasize its affinity to other organs or to steak. Plus, there’s enough meat on it to serve at least 8 people.

Choices of how to cook ox heart include boiling then pickling (my grandmother’s favourite), slow stewing (my first instinct), roasting, and more. Because I wanted to have the maximum opportunity for leftovers variety, I opted for roasting, and used a modified version of the recipe I found here.

My daughter came for a visit between Christmas and New Year, so it was a good opportunity to play with what for us is rather non-traditional food. To me, the meat tasted mostly like beef steak, though my family detected a faint hint of organ, too. Either way, it is definitely a rich meat, so portions need to be on the smaller side than normal.sliced-ox-heart-24-12-2016-06-21-55-pm

Day one: Stuffed roasted ox heart with cherry port sauce (a pre-packaged gift), baked pumpkin and wilted cabbage salad.

Day two: Hot meat sandwiches with thin-sliced heart and bubble and squeak (made with pumpkin instead of potatoes).

Day three: Basic leftovers of cut up chunky strips, browned all over and covered with hot leftover port sauce (see above), leek and potato boats, cranberry salad.

Alternative leftover meals:

Stuffed cabbage–using ground leftover heart for the meat element.

Soup (of course).

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Posted in Kitchen Economy, Leftovers

Sharing Sunday dinner

We’ve got a friend who lives on his own and has recently had surgery on his hand. How could we not invite him over for Sunday dinner, even if it means my other half will have to drive out to fetch him? The food will have to be easy to eat one-handed, so fork tender. As he’s got traditional tastes, I’m fixing Oven Pot Roast. Since it’s rather earlier in the season than when I posted that recipe, today’s version doesn’t have celeriac or leeks, but I’m adding chopped up patty pan squash and a bit of celery for extra flavour. And there will be seasonal fruit crisp fresh out of the oven for dessert.

Can’t wait!

Picture of meat and veg in open casserole

Here’s one I made earlier….

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Posted in Autumn, Uncategorized

Cold weather food

It’s the coldest day of the season so far, and there’s a cold north wind to boot. So I’ve got a pot of soup on the stove for tonight’s supper: stock from pheasant bones and warm spices, various veggies from the store cupboard, and apples (to balance the hotter spice with some sweet, and to thicken the broth).
While that cooks, I’ll continue to harvest tiny sweet orange tomatoes from the greenhouse, and sort through a box of the grapes I picked the other day. Maybe I’ll make more juice to freeze, or maybe jam. So many choices!

Grapes in the greenhouse a few weeks ago

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Posted in Autumn, Kitchen Economy

Stuffed Butternut Squash

So called ‘winter squash’ is one of my favourite fall and winter foods. (It is actually harvested in autumn.) The main characteristic that distinguishes it from ‘summer squash’ is the density of the flesh. Summer squashes are light and watery, storing briefly at room temperature or in refrigerated conditions. A summer squash past its best discolours and quickly goes squishy. Winter squashes are heavy and dense, and are suitable for long storage in cool pantries or cellars. When finally past their best, the skin will wrinkle and the fruit will begin to collapse in on itself, but will still be usable for a while. The taste of winter squash is similarly more robust than that of  summer squash. There are many varieties available, but the one most easily found here in Wales at this time of year is butternut squash.

Stuffing vegetables, especially squash, is incredibly easy and versatile, with the added benefit that you can shorten cooking time by kick-starting it in the microwave, and/or leave it in the oven to keep warm for a fairly long time. For this recipe, I used some of our own small, home-grown butternut squash, in prime condition.Picture of stuffed squash dinner

Serves 2


One, one pound Butternut squash (you could use a small acorn squash)
1 cup Leftover beef stew (not runny)


  1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C/gas mark 4.
  2. Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeeds.
  3. Microwave on high power, cut side down, for 3-5 minutes. The squash should be hot to the touch, but the solid end should not be cooked through.
  4. Divide stew between the two squash halves. Place in baking dish and cover loosely.

    Picture of stuffed squash in baking dish

    Squash stuffed and ready to cover before going in the oven. Notice that the hollowed/stuffed end has begun to take on a shine as it cooks, but the solid end has not.

  5. Bake for 30 to 60 minutes, until squash is tender and beef is hot through. You can put the dish in the oven before the oven is fully pre-heated, and you can keep it warm in the oven if dinner is delayed. The meat will eventually dry out, so keep it covered to minimize loss of moisture.
  6. Serve with a green vegetable and complement the dish with a chutney or pickle based on a tart fruit, such as cranberry or rhubarb.Picture of squash plated up
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Posted in Autumn, Eating seasonally, Leftovers, Recipes

Pasta Disaster?

How embarrassing! Within minutes of posting my last recipe, I realized that I had not, in fact, prepared fettuccine, but tagliatelle.  I guess I was just too caught up in the alliteration of my recipe name to notice what I was actually cooking! You could, of course, prepare it with actual fettuccine, but the textures won’t be quite as compatible.

Can anybody think of a better clever name for ‘Tagliatelle with fennel and feta’?

Posted in Uncategorized

Fun with Fettuccine, Fennel and Feta

The last time I was in the greengrocer’s, they were selling off some bulb fennel at reduced prices, so I bought a bag. Bulb fennel is quite strongly flavoured, and a little goes a long way, so I figured we’d get at least two meals out of it for only about a pound. The first one I sliced up and added to a harvest medley to roast. Oh my goodness! Within minutes, the kitchen smelled so aniseed-y that I thought I was going to be sick. I turned on the extractor fan and hoped for the best. Fortunately, by the time everything was cooked, it had all settled down a bit, and actually tasted pretty nice. (Phew!) So last night, I decided to play it safer, and braise the fennel to add to our dinner. But I also wanted to use up a few scrappy leftovers and play with flavour combinations. This is what I came up with.Picture of bowl of fettucini, fennel and feta


Serves 2


1 Fennel bulb
1 teaspoon Mango chutney (or other very sweet chutney/jam)
1 Vegetable stock cube
4-6 nests Fettuccine (I use half whole wheat)
A few Large stuffed olives–leftovers are good!
1 tablespoon Olive oil
2-3 ounces Feta cheese
Sprinkling Herbs, such as oregano (optional)


  1. Wash the fennel bulb, slice in half lengthwise and trim off any icky bits.
  2. Slice each half into vertical slices about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Further slice the ends if they are too chunky. Slice down the middle of each slice. You are aiming for shapely pieces of a relatively uniform size, with nothing too thick which would cook slower.
  3. Mix chutney with 1/4 cup hot water. You can use the hard-to-get scrapings from an otherwise empty jar for this. Simply pour water into the jar, screw the lid on and shake vigorously. Wear a hot mitt if necessary.
  4. Add vegetable stock cube to chutney water and stir to dissolve. The small quantity of water mixed with the stock cube will eventually result in a thicker ‘sauce’ instead of the broth you’d get if you used the usual amount of water per cube. Place fennel and flavoured water in microwavable casserole dish with lid. Stir around a bit.
  5. Cook in microwave on high, stirring every few minutes until fully cooked. This may take 6-10 minutes, depending on microwave power, thickness of vegetable slices, and how much water you actually used (less=faster). When it’s done, you will have ‘braised fennel’. I aimed for al dente, neither squishy nor crunchy, but still holding its shape.Picture of braised fennel
  6. While fennel is cooking, prepare fettuccine according to package directions. This time around, I used only 4 nests of pasta, as we wanted to have a relatively light meal.
  7. While fennel and pasta are cooking, slice olives in quarters lengthwise.
  8. Drain pasta and return to pan.
  9. Stir in olives and olive oil. If there’s enough with the olives, you won’t need to add any extra; use a rubber scraper to get it all.
  10. Fold in fennel, again using your rubber scraper to get all the sauce from the casserole dish.
  11. Portion into dishes, crumble feta over. Garnish with herbs if desired.Overhead picture of dish of fettuccine, fennel and feta

Serve this with a side salad for a delicious light meal.

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Posted in Kitchen Economy, Recipes
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Sharing a lifetime of experience of kitchen challenges. Respecting food and making the most of what's available. Read more on my About page.
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March 2015
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© Julia Davis-Coombs and Creative Economy in the Kitchen, 2014-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Julia Davis-Coombs and Creative Economy in the Kitchen with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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