Braised celery with crispy chicken thighs

Celery probably shouldn’t be something you can find exciting, but I do. I love the crunch and the freshness, how it’s delightful roasted with lashings of salt, and the bite when used in a stir fry.

To provide a way of shovelling more celery into my face, I came up with this:

Chicken with braised celery(photos in this post by Kit, who’s here on Flickr)

It’s a synthesis of a couple of recipes I found on the usual pointless content farms, the odd decent site, and the waterzooi I made months ago. It has an egg-thickened sauce, which gives it a rich creaminess, without any dairy.

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Potato, leek and chorizo pie

The Delicious Magazine website has a neat looking recipe for a Limoges style potato pie. The basis of it is simple enough – a flat, crimped, two sheet pastry affair of layered potatoes with herbs and shallots. But what got my attention was the liquid filling. A kind of savoury herb custard is poured into the pie midway through cooking. Egg yolks, beaten into warmed cream, go in through a hole in the top crust.

I assume this sets partially through the cooking time but remains a little most, adding a light gravy to a pie that could otherwise be a little dry. A quick Google hasn’t yielded much insight into this particular technique, but the pie sounded splendid, and I thought I’d give it a go.

Slice of potato leek and chorizo pie

Of course, I couldn’t help but tinker. My partner suggested “something with potatoes and leeks” for dinner, I’m mildly obsessed with chorizo, and I straight-up forgot the liquid filling was meant to go in part way through. So this is not the Delicious Magazine Limoges-style potato pie. It’s a kind of confused spicy homage.

I’ll re-do the Limoges pie properly in the week.

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Spinach croquetas (vegetarian and lactose free)

Felicity Cloake is probably my favourite food columnist, and one of the food writers I’m currently enjoying most overall. Gastro-bookworm synthesist probably isn’t a broad demographic, but I’m in it and she hits it square on. Her ham croquetas recipe is no exception, and making it a couple of times taught me a worrying lesson: croquetas are easy enough to make that you can have them as snack/comfort food.

Spinach croquetas frying

After all, a white sauce just doesn’t take that long, and you can cool it pretty fast by sticking the pan in a cold water bath. So yeah, you can bring croquetas in well under a hour and most of that will be waiting. This is bad – now I basically want them all the time.

It’s doubly bad if you’re, say, spending a month vegetarian out of perverse curiosity and cooking dinner for your lactose-intolerant boyfriend. Given croquetas are mostly milk and the body of the flavour is ham, that probably doesn’t fly. But I gave it a go anyway.

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Lactose-free ham and spinach quiche

My boyfriend is lactose intolerant. You can probably imagine that this occasionally makes cooking tricky. I’m not a big fan of food substitutes and fakes – “tofurkey” and mycoprotein dressed as lamb can go hang. Soy milk just doesn’t taste right to me, and the texture always seems off when I cook with it.

Fortunately, there’s lactofree products. This is regular cow’s milk, passed over what I assume will be lactase to remove and break down the lactose, rendering it largely safe. It works, and there’s minimal impact on the taste. Their faux cheddar tastes a bit rubbery and bland, mind,  but I can’t fault the milk, cream, or cream cheese.

More importantly, this let me service a quiche craving and win moderate boyfriend points.

Pancetta & spinach quiche
Pancetta & spinach quiche

It was a cobbled-together and very much from-memory recipe, but here it is. This isn’t quite dairy-free, but for the intolerant rather than the outright allergic, it’s probably fine. That said, I accept no responsibility, please don’t sue me, and so on, and so forth.

It’s also surprisingly quick and easy.

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