Cooking Instincts

Roasted Leeks & Cheddar Cheese – Serves 4

I love this recipe for the sweetness of leeks with the creamy and sour taste of mature cheddar. It can be used as a starter or as side for a Sunday roast, leeks are cheap and largely available most of the year. They are rich in vitamins A, C, K and a good source of iron and minerals.

700g leeks, white and yellow parts only
2 tbsp of salted butter
3 tbsp of flour
450ml of milk
150g of mature cheddar, cut into cubes
Salt and black pepper to taste
Pinch of nutmeg

1. Clean the leeks and cut each of them into three equal pieces. Halve each cylinder cross wise on a bias. Cook in lightly salted boiling water for 3 minutes and set.
2. In a separate saucepan, melt the butter and add the flour. Stir until the mix starts to be come golden brown and add a 1/4 of the milk, keep stirring until smooth. Add the remaining milk and cook until thickened.
3. Stir 2/3 of the cheddar cheese into the sauce until melted. Make sure to keep stirring in all the processes to avoid lumps of flour or the sauce to stick and burn. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.
4. Butter the bottom of a 20x20cm ceramic plate. Stand the leeks bias-side up and drizzle with the sauce.
5. Top with the remaining cheddar cheese and bake at 180c or mark 4 for 10-15 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Enjoy.

Recommended Wine: Merlot (France)

Beef, Mushroom, Tomato & Rosemary Stew – Serves 4-6

This recipe always comes to my mind when I think about Autumn. October is a great season for mushrooms and so many varieties are available: filed mushrooms, puff balls, lobster mushrooms, cauliflower mushrooms, winter chanterelle and so many more! With the tender pieces of beef and the rich wine sauce, this is a perfect heart warmer to welcome the beginning of the cold season.

200g mushrooms (you can mix different types of mushrooms they are plenty on season now)
2kg chunk of steak, cut in cubes
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
5 celery sticks, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, sliced
3 small red onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp of rosemary roughly chopped
2 x 400g cans of chopped plum tomatoes
350ml full body red wine
Salt and black pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven at 180c or mark 4, season the beef cubes with salt and pepper. Heat a flameproof casserole, then add 2 tbsp of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the beef (do it in batches to make it easy) and sear on all sides. As each batch is browned, remove from the pan and set aside.
2. Add the remaining olive oil to the pan along with celery, garlic, onions and rosemary. Cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetables are softened.
3. Add our mushrooms and keep cooking for 10 minutes, some type of mushrooms will release more water when cooking and require 2-3 minutes extra. Add the chopped tomatoes and the wine. Bring to simmer.
4. Return the beef to the casserole. Cover it with greaseproof paper and place in the oven to cook for 2 hours.
5. After this time the stew should be thick and the meat so tender that it breaks easily. Check the seasoning before serving and tuck in!

Recommended Wine: Shiraz (South Africa)

Apple Fritters – Serves 4

This is a real treat, and kids will especially love these delicious fritters. If you serve it with a scoop of ice cream and salted caramel syrup, it will make a great family dinner dessert.

1 large egg
4 tbsp of flour
1 tbsp of sugar
100ml milk
3 apples
50g butter
Vegetable oil for frying (100ml should be enough)
Icing sugar

1. First make the butter by breaking the egg into a bowl and mix in the flour and sugar. Start adding some milk and mixing it in. What you need is the butter to be thick enough to coat the apples but doesn’t drop off as soon as you pick them up.
2. Peel and core the apples and cut them into rings, not too thin or you will have apple crisps.
3. Put some vegetable oil with a knob of butter in a frying pan and heat until hot. Then turn it down a little or the butter will burn.
4. Get a plate ready with some kitchen paper in while the pan is heating up. Dip each apple ring in the butter and put it into the hot pan, frying on each side until they are light brown.
5. Lift out and put on the kitchen paper to absorb a little of the oil so they are not too greasy. Sprinkle with icing or granulated sugar and serve them hot.

Recommended Wine: Moscato D’Asti (Italy)

Simone Conti

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