Another cookbook to kick my cooking muscles back into gear this time for Leon restaurants the takeout restaurants tick all my boxes with a focus on sunstainability and seasonally .
Leon restaurants don’t exit outside London which is really unfair because we do get Cafe Nero, Starbucks etc. I have the first Leon book which has plenty of slow cooks, the second features plenty of quick cook, this the third in the series focuses on Baking and Puddings
The design of both the restaurants and books is beautiful sort of Vintage -Euro it’s the focus on friends and family that grabs you, enhanced by recipes accompanied by their originator’s childhood photos. The book lets you imagine Leonites of all ages gathering round big trestle tables for pot luck suppers of delicious food, adults swapping stories and recipes, children running around mouths covered in chocolate and blackberries. It’s like a lovely club you want to be part of : in fact there are even stickers in the cookery book.
The book is split into Everyday and Celebration ( even a section on Wakes : Irish Coffee and Guiness Cake) there is a strong focus on allergy aware recipes. Having a baby means I can already picture the roll-call of allergies at childrens birthday parties – thankfully I will now have chocolate cake suitable for vegans , a flour free & flour and sugar free chocolate cake, jellies and ice cream . This gives the impression it’s just for kids but these are luxurious grown up desserts – that kids will love too.
As well as flexing my cooking muscles I took this week to flex the foraging muscles urban foraging though not quite up to dragging the pushchair across fields and forests just yet.
First up walnuts for the Spelt Loaf, spelt is lighter on the tummy than wheat . Mine was from Sharpham Park in Somerset ) they do a big range wholegrain seeded white and an artisan mix)
The Leon recipe is brilliantly no heavy kneading so suitable for lazy people , the walnuts were gathered from the front garden on the way to the shops. I did knock on the door and ask, a slightly grumpy man told me I could help myself since they were ” A bloody tripping hazard”.
The bread it cheqy and moist, great for serving with some blue cheese, parma ham and some fresh in season figs
Date and Walnut Spelt Bread
500g of strong wholemeal spelt flour
5g of dried quick yeast
1 tsp of salt
75ml of virgin olive oil
75g of dates cut into 1/2cm pieces
75g of walnut cut into 1/2cm pieces
300ml of warm water
- Mix together the dry ingredients
- Add the oil and then the water stiring until the mixture sticks together
- Knead in the bowl until smototh
- Place in a loaf tin cover with a plastic bag and leave somewhere warm to rise until doubled in size should take two hours
- Bake at 230degC for 20 minutes, turn down to 200degC and bake for a further 20 minutes.
This recipe takes some time and uses a lot of bowls but the result is perfect fluffy and creamy and a lovely pinky purple , I’m going to try it with the blackberries threatening to escape their plastic bag and roll around the bottom of my freezer.
400g of damsons
juice of 1 lemon
175g of caster sugar
2 large free range eggs
a pinch of salt
200g of golden caster sugar
300ml double cream
3 tbsp of fruit liquer
- Cook the damsons, cut them in half remove the stones and put the fruit into a saucepan with the caster sugar
- Cover the pan and put over a low heat stirring until the sugar has dissolved and the fruit is mushy. Leave until cool
- In a large clean bowl whisk the eggs whites until softly peaking
- Put the golden caster sugar into a saucepan with the lemon juice on a low heat until dissolved. Then increase the heat and boil fiercely ( DO NOT STIR or the sugar will crystallize) approximately 3 minutes.
- Pour the syrup immediately onto the whisked eggs in a thin stream from above whisking until the mixture is thick , looking like uncooked Italian meringue
- In a separate bowl whisk the cream until thick not stiff , then using a metal spoon gently fold the cream into the egg white mixture followed by the damson puree and then the fruit liquer if using
- Place into a freezer proof dish and freeze for at least 5 hours.
Following the Leon Theme : here is my childhood photo in suitably 70s sepia ( Blame dodgy film) I would still wear this outfit