Hearty, comforting recipes to celebrate the spirit of Hygge from British Leeks
This winter we're all taking about the Danish ritual of Hygge. It encapsulates the Danish art of living well, through warmth, cosiness and conviviality. It's about spending time with loved ones, celebrating nature and of course enjoying hearty, culinary dishes. If you don't have a sauna in the garden, a roaring open fire or a sumptuous cashmere rug, don't fear you can still enjoy the concept of Hygge by sharing warming, seasonal dishes and comfort food with friends and family. Check out the following Hygge-inspired dishes, created using in-season British Leeks and designed to warm the soul and ward off the winter chill.
Wholesome leek, lamb and nigella seed casserole
Serves 4 Sweet leeks are a heavenly partner to lamb and in this simple casserole, you only have a handful of ingredients to prepare before the dish goes into the oven to cook quietly on its own. If possible, make it the day before you plan to eat, giving the flavours time to develop. 1.1kg boned lamb shoulder, diced into 2" pieces 400-450g leeks, trimmed and sliced 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed 1 heaped tbsp nigella seeds 1 heaped tbsp wholegrain mustard 500ml chicken or lamb stock Large handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped Preheat the oven to 160C / Gas Mark 3 Heat a little oil in a large casserole pan and brown the diced lamb in batches, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go. Make sure you brown the pieces on all sides, to give plenty of flavour, adding more oil as you need it. Keep to one side. Once all of the lamb is browned, add the sliced leeks to the same pan and cook for 2-3 minutes over a moderate heat, stirring. Add the garlic and nigella seeds and turn the heat down, to cook the leeks as gently as possible. Cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes, being careful not to let the leeks stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. Stir and cook for a further 5 minutes. Return the lamb to the pan along with the wholegrain mustard, parsley and stock. Stir well, season with salt and pepper and bring to a gentle simmer. Return the lid to the pot and place in the centre of the oven for 1 ½ hours. At this point, taste the casserole, checking to see if the lamb is tender. If not, return to the oven for a further 30 minutes.
Finally, taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Serve with mashed or new potatoes. This hearty stew could just as easily be classed as a chunky soup. Leeks and smoked haddock are the perfect bedfellows; however you could also try this dish with some lightly smoked mackerel, kippers or even smoked chicken or ham. It's really easy to prepare and uses very few ingredients.
Warming leek, white bean and smoked haddock stew Serves 4 30g butter 2 leeks, trimmed and sliced thinly into rings 200g potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm dice Salt and freshly ground black pepper 400ml milk 600ml fish, chicken or vegetable stock 1 bay leaf 400g smoked haddock fillet, undyed 30g plain flour 1 x 195g tin of sweetcorn 2 x 400g tins white beans; drained and washed (you can use cannellini, butter or haricot beans) 1 tbsp chopped parsley 1 tsp smoked paprika 1. Place a medium-sized saucepan or sauté pan on the stove and add the butter. Allow it to melt before adding the leeks and potatoes with a pinch of salt and a generous twist of pepper Cook for 10 minutes until the leeks are soft. 2. Meanwhile, pour the milk and the stock into another pan with the bay leaf and add the fish. Bring to the boil before removing the fish from the poaching liquor. When cool enough to handle, flake the fish into chunks and remove and discard any skin. Set the cooking liquor aside. 3. Add the flour and the sweetcorn to the leeks and potatoes and stir well. Cook the flour and sweetcorn for a few minutes before adding the hot poaching liquor. Mix well and bring to the boil. Add the drained beans and simmer until the potatoes are tender. 4. Add the flaked fish to the stew and heat through. Taste for seasoning. Stir in the chopped parsley and sprinkle with a little smoked paprika. Serve with crusty white bread.
Hearty leek & lamb cobbler Serves 4 450g/1lb stewing lamb such as shoulder, cubed (or use pork shoulder or braising beef) 2 tbsp plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper 2 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil 150ml/¼ pint brown ale 4 medium leeks, trimmed then cut into thumb lengths 1 stick celery, sliced 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into big chunks 400g/14oz swede or turnip, peeled and cut into big chunks a few sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried) 1 or 2 bay leaves, fresh or dried is fine 500ml/18fl oz lamb or beef stock For the cobbler topping 250g/9oz self-raising flour 80g/3oz cold butter, cut into cubes 125ml/4fl oz semi-skimmed milk 2 tsp wholegrain mustard 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tsp dried) 1 egg, beaten
1 Heat the oven to 160°C/fan 140°C/gas 3. Toss the lamb with the seasoned flour. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a medium casserole, then fry the meat for 10 minutes, until dark golden brown all over. Transfer to a bowl. Splash in the ale and bring to a boil, scraping up all of the tasty brown bits from the bottom. Tip this over the meat then wipe the pan with kitchen paper. 2 Heat 1 tbsp oil then gently fry the vegetables with the thyme and bay for 10-15 minutes until turning golden here and there. Return the lamb and juices to the pan, top up with the stock, then season. Cover the casserole with a lid, leaving just a small gap to one side, then cook in the oven for 21/2 hours. 3 With 40 minutes to go, make the topping. Add ½ tsp salt to the flour in a large bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mix looks like fine crumbs. Combine the milk, mustard, thyme and half of the egg, then tip into the bowl and bring to a soft dough. Knead a few times on a floured surface till just smooth, then pat the dough to about 3cm/1in thick and stamp into rounds. Squash together any trimmings and repeat. Don't overwork the dough as it will make it tough. 4 Uncover the meat, stir gently and taste the sauce for seasoning at this point. Place the cobbler pieces on top, brush them with the remaining egg, then return to the oven until the topping is golden and lamb tender. Let the cobbler settle for 10 minutes before serving with your favourite seasonal greens.
Comforting chicken, leek, prune and cheese pie Serves 4
Ingredients 1 tbsp olive oil 1 tbsp butter 1 Spanish onion chopped 3 cloves of garlic sliced 4 boned chicken thighs cubed 200g leeks sliced, white parts only 2tbls flour 150ml dry white wine 1pint chicken stock 200ml double cream 2 tsp English mustard Salt and black pepper to taste 100g prunes halved 150g Caerphilly cheese crumbled 50g mixed chopped tarragon and flat leaf parsley
500g ready rolled puff pastry 1 egg yolk 1 tablespoon of double cream
Method 1. Preheat oven to 180ºC / 350ºF 2. In a medium sized saucepan melt the butter and oil then fry the onions and garlic until they start to colour, about 10 minutes 3. Then add the chicken and cook for a further 5 minutes until the chicken is sealed 4. Add the leeks and flour stirring continually until they are well combined 5. Add the wine and chicken stock slowly until the sauce has thickened 6. Add the cream and mustard and then season 7. Take off the heat and stir in the prunes, cheese and herbs 8. Place the pie filling into a medium sized pie dish 9. Mix the egg yolk and cream together and then brush around the pie dish. Cover with pastry and cut around the sides with a knife 10. Brush the remaining egg mix over the pie 11. Poke a couple of small holes in the pastry to let out the steam 12. Cook in the oven for 25 minutes, remove from the oven and serve
For more, delicious seasonal recipes that incorporate the spirit of Hygge visit www.britishleeks.co.uk