Thursday, January 26, 2012

Burns Day and Mock-a-Leekie Pie

Robert Burns is the national poet of Scotland. His birthday (25. January) is celebrated as Burns Day or Burns Supper througout Scotland but also beyond. His nephew was a founding father of Dunedin in New Zeanland and so it is quite an international festivity. Although I can't warm up to the idea of eating Haggis (although luckily there are vegetarian Haggis recipes around) Burns' famous poem 'Address to a Haggis' made this dish the most eaten one at his birthday.
Even though he probably liked his Haggis, Burns was actually a very empathic person.
In my favourite poem of his, 'To a Mouse' he says

Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie! 
Thou need na start awa sae hasty
Wi bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murdering pattle.

I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth born companion 
An' fellow mortal!

In case you can't understand it, here is an English translation :)

Since he was so caring about a little mouse I thought it is only justified to make a veggie dish today. So I adjusted the Burns Supper cock-a-leekie (chicken and leek soup) and made a mock-a-leekie pie.

Here are the main ingredients:

The pie cooking in the pot:

and a cover-up with puff pastry:

In case you don't want to wait till next year and try the mock-a-leekie right now, I give you a rough recipe. I didn't make notes during cooking, so you have to go with your instincts and correct the amounts or add spices to your liking. Under no circumstances leave out the prunes; I was really surprised how nice the slightly tart prunes came out.

Mock-a-Leekie Pie (for 2-3 persons)

  •  olive oil for frying
  • 3 leeks, sliced
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 parsnip, cut in chunks
  • 1 potato, cut in cubes
  • 1/2 cup of pearl barley
  • 2 tablespoons of white wine for deglazing
  • ca. 1 and 1/2 cups of veggie broth
  • 1 bay leave
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • thyme
  • parsley (I didn't have one, but I wish I had, so next time I will put some in)
  • guinea pepper, salt
  • soy creamer (optional; the barley became so creamy on its own, that I will not use it next time)
  • 1/2 cup of prunes, chopped
  • 4 sheets of vegan puff pastry (rolled out according to the size of your baking dish)
What to do

Heat the olive oil in a wide pan and fry the carrots, potato, and parsnip for a couple of minutes (add some salt to draw out the juices; so they don't burn but rather roast in their own juice). Add the leek, garlic, and the barley and stir until barley is glazed and shiny. Add the white wine and let it evaporate; then add the broth (like in a risotto not all at once, so you can better adjust for the thickness of your stew), thyme, and the laurel leaf and let simmer for about 10 minutes.

Season with guinea pepper (or normal black pepper) and salt. If using soy cream, add a good dollop. Then add the prunes and cover your pie with the rolled out puff pastry. If you have time and fancy some decoration please go ahead and make a nice decor :)

Brush your pastry with water or water-thinned soy cream (a good replacement for egg-wash) and put in the oven for about 15 minutes. Enjoy!

And because this is full of winter veggies I am also sending it to a German blog event called Wintergemüse (winter vegetables) on buchcooks kitchen. She also has a birthday to celebrate: her blog will be one year old in February. Happy birthday bushcook!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I'm back! - From Abu Dhabi

Well, here I am again. Nobody seems to have missed me. But that doesn't stop me from pestering you with new blog entries.

So here is the first one for this year. Maybe it's best to let you know where I was between the years and post a camel photo (that's what I promised you after all). We spent our Christmas holidays in beautiful United Arab Emirates, in Abu Dhabi to be more exact. I'll just give you some impressions on how diverse a holiday in the desert can be.
At first we stayed at the Qasr al Sarab Desert Resort. Nice, isn't it?

Only surrounded by desert and camels

the desserts in the desert were just fabulous. Who can resist a gilded raspberry?

or a lovely apple tart at the pool?

 Morning fog:

We spent some time in Abu Dhabi City. The most impressive building was certainly the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, unbelievably beautiful. I had to wear an abaya though to get in :)

A short expedition into the Jebel Haffit mountains:

and to Al Ain where the National Museum is.

I just had to add a second photo from the museum. It's got a camel on it! Look!

The Al Ain Oasis with date palms:

 Hatta Dam in the Hajar mountains:

The famous Hatta rock pools:

 Hatta Fort tower:

Back in the city - underground camels:

and of course shopping malls with Christmas trees:

Actually I haven't finished with Abu Dhabi yet. There is so much to see and do, I have to get back. There is a lot of archaeology still waiting for me. For some we needed a pass to get in because they were on private ground, others had different opening times to what the webpages said or I only discovered them on the go - so to speak. Other sites we wanted to see needed an SUV and we only rented a normal car. We tried, but you can only go so far into the sand with a city car :(

I will make proper preparations next time and hope to be able to return soon. Abu Dhabi has so muchmore to offer than oil. And don't forget all the camels ...