TO WHAT desperate stratagems have you been led in the kitchen? Self-isolating as I am, I say grace more fervently than ever, over new and strange combinations of ingredients. Each item is a surprise: you never quite know what will come from neighbours or tradespeople, nor what it will cost. And that wizened old mother Necessity is responsible for a windowsill of seedlings and little re-rooting vegetables I look at hungrily every day.
Cheaper seasonal veg have to take centre stage. Margaret Barker suggests a Leek salad. Leeks are delicious, relatively cheap, and resilient. The internet even assures me that if I sacrifice two inches of root and set it in a dish of water, a new leek will grow. I’ll let you know.
Make the dressing first by mixing:
½ tablespoon white wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
a pinch of mixed spice
sea salt and black pepper
8 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon capers, chopped
1 spring onion, chopped
Then clean 3-4 leeks, chop them into bite-sized chunks, and steam them until al dente. Drain, dress, and serve.
As for flour — well, if you have any, Mary Goldsmith offers a vegan gluten-free Butternut squash and walnut batter bread made with the sort of flours I do find at the back of my cupboard:
350g (12 oz) roasted butternut squash purée, fresh or frozen
1 medium onion, roasted and puréed, fresh or frozen
70g (2½ oz) walnuts, ground
100 g (3½ oz) gram flour
70g (2½ oz) buckwheat flour
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon each of salt, hot smoked paprika, dried mixed herbs, baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon tomato purée
2 tablespoons water
Sift the dry ingredients together. Place in a mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Beat together the purée, coconut oil, tomato purée, and water. Add to the dry ingredients and stir well. The resulting batter will be fairly firm. Bake at 170°C/325°F/Gas 3 for 35 minutes.
I’m making quick Bread from all my bags of organic wholemeal self-raising flour.
Light the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 and mix together 300ml (½ pt) milk and 1 tablespoon vinegar about an hour before you want the bread. Then mix this with 300g (10½ oz) self-raising flour, 1½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda, a pinch of salt, and 4 teaspoons vegetable oil. Add 50g (2 oz) seeds, nuts, or a teaspoon of dried herbs, if you like. Pour the batter into a silicone or parchment-lined loaf tin or cake tin, and bake for about 30 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when you knock the bottom.