Tag Archive for 'mushrooms'

Leek and Mushroom Pies


Although we are back in a very summery Australia, I am keen to share this  savoury and wintry recipe of a Jamie Oliver inspired leek and mushroom pies with you. I cooked this recipe on our recent vacation in the lovely cold and snow covered Massachusetts and it was an enormous success with the family. So much so, that when one of my children spotted a picture of it on the computer this morning, he burst out with a “oh that was delicious”, a rather big endorsement.

I first came across this recipe while watching a Jamie Oliver special on Christmas left-overs. One of things he cooked was a ‘turkey and leek pie’. I raced through the living room trying to find a working pencil and jotted down an approximation at best of his recipe. He was talking about the struggle many people face when left with a large amount of turkey left over from Thanksgiving or Christmas. I am not sure what he was talking about, as we tend to fight over turkey left-overs and even when cooking a turkey as large as the oven, there is never enough to satisfy everyone’s large appetite for more of it. We usually have a second Christmas dinner on Boxing day, followed by turkey sandwiches and turkey soup in the week leading up to New Year’s Eve. Delicious! Anyway, so when it was time for me to make this pie with left-over turkey, I actually didn’t have any left. I decided to use a few slices of free-range bacon to give it a little meaty flavor, but really didn’t feel like adding more meat after a carnivorous visit of the extended family.

To make the leek and mushroom pie or pies, you don’t need much time or many ingredients. Buy some good quality all butter puff pastry (2 packages if you want to make individual pies) or make it yourself, which naturally would be far superior. Get a package of free-range bacon (turkey is fine), fresh thyme, a few handfuls of mixed mushrooms and 5 leeks. You’ll need one cup of stock (homemade is best, otherwise store bought free-range/ organic chicken stock, or vegetable stock), flour, half a glass of white wine and a little cream. For a party, individual pot pies would be lovely; the first time, I used a 8″ by 12″ (20 by 30 cm) pyrex dish, the second time 5 individual large ramekins.

As a proper Englishman, Jamie Oliver likes his pie with gravy. Therefore he used double the amount of stock and flour, then strained the cooking liquid from his turkey-leek mixture and turned it into gravy. I couldn’t imagine the need to pour gravy over my lovely crispy pastry, but then again, I am not English. If you feel like gravy for your pie, use double the amount of stock and flour (just like J.O.), drain the liquid from your vegetable mixture through a large sift and heat it in a small pan just before serving.  

Continue reading ‘Leek and Mushroom Pies’

French Buckwheat Pancakes (Galettes)

Hello there again! After 2 weeks of absence I have found my way back to my sorely missed blog. I was on a detox adventure (may be I still am a little) and none of my concoctions looked worthy enough for this blog. I have however taught a “Spring Cleaning” class full of detoxing information and recipes and will write about that as soon as I have digested these wonderful ‘galettes’.

I got the idea last night, when I had to make a typical French finger food for my son’s school presentation of “Joan of Arc”. He had to dress up as her, decorate a booth with related trinkets, posters and paraphernalia and present a little taste of France. As it was also the day of my daughters birthday party, I was short on time and could only think of one quick dish, which was crepes. To the great dismay of my two younger children I didn’t have enough batter to make some for them as well, and instead I promised them to repeat the process today.

I decided to slightly change the plan and instead of making sugary white flour crepes, I made galettes instead. The difference (to my knowledge) is that galettes contain mostly buckwheat flour and are used with savoury toppings rather than sugar, jam or chocolate. I found this wonderful recipe at ‘Chocolate & Zucchini’, a delightful French food blog which makes mine look very pale in comparison. The recipe is easy and the the galettes turned out golden and delicate and looked and tasted just like the real thing. As for toppings, anything goes. Traditionally they include eggs ‘sunny-side-up’, ham and cheese, and/or sauteed spinach and mushrooms. I decided to use some tiny white eggs from our Bantam chickens, which don’t make you feel guilty if you eat more than one, plus some chard and kale from the garden, fresh mushrooms and free-range bacon bits. I had 3 pans going simultaneously and miraculously burnt none of the galettes. Since my pans are not as large as a typical crepes pan, the slightly smaller than ideal galettes weren’t as easy to fold as they could have been, but I managed and my family isn’t too bothered about aesthetics. Dinner was declared a great success and possible future birthday dinner contender and for me there was definitely no going back to the detox juice tonight.

Running out of vegetables, the last few galettes turned into dessert. I sprinkled them with light brown sugar, spread some lovely organic raspberry and blueberry jam (IKEA!) on top, and added a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the end. Vive la France! 


adapted from ‘Chocolate and Zucchini’

Makes 12 pancakes


For the galettes:

  • 200 g buckwheat flour
  • 50 g white spelt flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 500 ml milk
  • 500 ml water

For the topping:

  • one bunch kale (I used cavolo nero)
  • one bunch swiss chard
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 500 g field or other mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 8 rashers of free-range bacon, cut into small bits
  • 6-10 small eggs
  • olive oil
  • butter
  • fine grain sea salt and pepper

extra butter for greasing the pans


Put flour in a large mixing bowl and dig a little well in the center. Add the eggs into the well and incorporate them into the flour, using a fork or whisk. Slowly add the milk, while continuing to whisk. When all the milk is incorporated add water in a slow stream. Whisk until you get a runny batter without any lumps. Place in the refrigerator.

Wash and dry leafy greens. Cut out thick stems and slice leaves into 1 cm (1/2″) strips. Fry garlic in one tablespoon of olive oil for about 1 minute in a wok or large frying pan. Add greens to garlic and stir fry until wilted, adding a tablespoon of water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

In another pan fry mushrooms in a little butter and olive oil. Set aside when soft.

In a third pan, fry bacon bits until crispy. Set aside.

Now it’s time to make the galettes.

Heat a large non-stick skillet or frying pan on high heat. Add a small piece of butter, let it melt and with the help of paper towel, spread it all over pan. Don’t burn yourself!

Pour one ladle of batter into middle of pan and swirl until batter covers entire pan in a thin layer. Cook on medium to high heat for a few minutes, checking underside of galette regularly to prevent burning. When underside has turned golden, flip pancake with a spatula and cook for a few more minutes.

Take some of your toppings and spread them in the center of the galette. Don’t overdue it, otherwise the folding will become nearly impossible.

When the other side of the galette is slighly golden and the edges a bit crispy, fold the four sides in and make a square package. If making galettes with eggs ‘sunny-side-up’, make sure the whites have been cooked before folding the galette. If it’s too hard to make a square, just fold in two sides.

Repeat with remaining batter.

Serve straight away or place in a preheated oven to keep warm.

Bon Appetit!

Kale and Mushroom Pizza

I am constantly looking for new recipes that would help me make a dent in the enormous abundance of kale in our backyard and one of my ideas was to use it on pizza. When a guy at the market, who makes pizzas in his trailer, offered me some of his fresh dough the other day, I couldn’t resist. His pizzas looked delicious and I figured his dough would be too. Although I do make my own dough, using half whole wheat or spelt and half white flour, I am not opposed to getting a break in the kitchen once in a while. Back at home, I picked about a kilos worth of Cavolo Nero (Tuscan Kale or Lacinto Kale) to use with some caramelized onions, garlic, sliced mushrooms, and a mixture of sheep’s milk feta and fresh mozzarella on my pizzas.

Cavolo Nero is widely used in Italy and you might have seen it in some Italian cook books or in one of Jamie Oliver’s shows. When sauteed, it doesn’t wilt like spinach or chard and needs slightly longer to be cooked. It’s excellent stir-fried with lots of garlic, but I also add it to freshly made juices and use the younger leaves in salads. When fresh, it is very tasty and mild, plus it is loaded with vitamins and antioxidants. If you can’t get it at the farmer’s market or grocery store, try growing it on your own. It lasts forever and new leaves just keep coming up.

The pizzas turned out fantastic, even if my kids kept searching for the tomato sauce. And yes, the market-bought pizza dough was a winner and probably didn’t have the least bit whole wheat flour or spelt in it. But you only live once… However, if any of you would like to make your own pizza dough and are looking for a recipe that works well, let me know and I’ll be happy to post it for you.

Serves 6


  • 2 large balls (about 1 pound each) of fresh pizza dough, enough for 2 baking trays
  • 1 kg (2 lbs) Cavolo Nero, Chard or Spinach, washed, thick stems removed and cut into 2.5 cm (1 inch) strips
  • 1 punnet of mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 3 large onions, thinly sliced into rings
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 balls fresh mozzarella, grated or cut into small bits
  • 200g (7 oz) mild feta cheese, crumbled
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper


Bring pizza dough to room temperature by putting it in a bowl coated with olive oil. Let rise for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 225 C (450F).

Using a rolling pin, roll the 2 separate balls into 2 thin rectangles, fitting 2 baking trays. Alternatively, make 6 individual round pizzas.

Sprinkle baking tray with corn meal to prevent dough from sticking.

Lay rolled out dough on baking trays and cover with cling wrap. Set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in large frying pan. Add onion rings and fry on low heat, stirring often, for 20 minutes or until onions are nicely browned and caramelized.

In a separate pan, heat another 2 tablespoons of olive oil, add chopped garlic and fry until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.  With the heat on medium, add cavolo nero or other greens and stir-fry for about 5 minutes or until greens are tender. Season with salt and pepper.

Spread sauteed greens evenly on pizza doughs (remove cling wrap first). Top with sliced mushrooms and caramelized onions. Spread each pizza with mozarella and feta and drizzle with extra olive oil.

Place both baking trays in the oven using the middle and top shelf. Rotate and turn the trays 180 degrees half way through baking. The pizzas are done when the cheese has melted and and the crust is nice and golden (8-10 minutes).

Bueno Appetito!