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For day 2 of the quote challenge, here’s food writer and critic Ruth Reichl, with a philosophy on which guests to invite for dinner!

Anyone who thinks they’re too grown up or too sophisticated to eat caramel corn, is not invited to my house for dinner

Ruth’s latest book is her first novel, and it came out in paperback in May. Delicious!

deliciousruthreichl_

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asparagusdukkahI can see that this dish is probably mixing my culinary metaphors, but I did think this was a successful combination.  I tasted my first dukkah a few years ago after I was given some as a present, and it has since become a standard in the kitchen, albeit one that gets occasional use.  Dukkah (or duqqa) is an Egyptian condiment, consisting of a mix of ground nuts, seeds, spices and herbs.  The jar I’m currently using contains sesame seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, coriander, cumin, salt, garlic, thyme and black pepper.  I use it mostly as a coating or in this case topping, added to breadcrumbs or cornmeal.  Every family would have their own blend of dukkah, so you could certainly make up your own mix!

The fine spear asparagus was delicious, although thicker spears would work well cooked a little longer.  This dish would make a wonderful seasonal starter, or a main course with a big side salad and chunks of crusty bread.

Asparagus with Dukkah over Chilli Polenta

Large handful of fine spear asparagus, washed and any woody ends cut off
2 tblsp olive oil
1 tblsp dukkah
1 tblsp fine cornmeal / polenta
Dash of sea salt
1 pint water
1/4 pint polenta (I find it works well to measure the polenta as a quarter of the water!)
1 small red chilli chopped.
Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F.  Put the asparagus into a roasting tin, pour over the olive oil and toss till well coated.  Roast for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile heat the water in a large saucepan.  As it heats, add the polenta, chilli and salt, stirring constantly with a whisk.  Keep stirring until you have a thick, creamy mix, then keep warm over a very low heat (or just put the lid on the pan).

Mix the dukka and the cornmeal.  Take the asparagus out of the oven, turn the spears with tongs, then sprinkle the dukkah mix over them.  Put back in the oven for a further 5 minutes.

Serve on warm plates, by spooning up a heap of polenta and topping with asparagus spears.

LeeksMarmalad

Having had a big bunch of leeks in my veg box, I couldn’t resist trying this curious sounding recipe.  I found it in a book I bought a while back in a second hand shop, ‘The Whole Earth Cookbook’ by Hilary Meth, (you can also get a copy on Amazon).

The book does feel like a flash from the past, using a lot of packaged and convenience foods in the recipes.  But I did rather like this recipe for leeks.  It was simple, a bit different, and went very well with some veggie sausages!

The original recipe called for the addition of soy milk, which I decided to leave out at the last minute, as I thought the dish looked complete without it.  Also I finished cooking in a casserole in the oven with the sausages, which I think gave it a slightly richer flavour, but you could manage without this step.

Leeks in Marmalade Sauce

2 medium leeks
170 ml water
3 tblsp marmalade
1 tablsp olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 170C.  Trim and carefully wash the leeks, then slice them into 5mm thick rounds.  Bring the water to a boil in a pan, then add the leeks.  Cover the pan and simmer the leeks for 3 – 4 minutes.

Add the marmalade and olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Put the leeks in a small casserole, with the lid and cook in the oven for around 15 minutes.

Early Vegetarian Recipes by Anne O'Connell

Thank you to everyone who commented on this blog over the last couple of weeks and we now have a winner of the National Vegetarian Week competition to win a copy of Early Vegetarian Recipes.

Congratulations to Yvonne at Krista, at the heart of it all.  I hope you enjoy the book!

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