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How to make leek salad, and butternut squash and walnut batter bread

01 May 2020

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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.

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