My good friend Noelle shared with me a very successful dish that she had just made using as her inspiration a recipe in The Telegraph by Diana Henry, Cornbread with leeks and feta. As soon as I saw who the cookery writer was I knew it would be tasty having dabbled with three of her books, A bird in the hand, my first love hankered over for nearly a year from the Books for Cooks bookshop in Notting Hill’s famous bookshop, who doesn’t need a new recipe for chicken every now and then. How to Eat a Peach, a lovely recipe book bought by son no.1 for Christmas having heard about its beauty on Radio 4 one day while travelling for work and he remembered it and purchased it for me. A delightful book that I love to while away a warm sunny afternoon with. And From the Oven to the Table, which is my kind of rustic simple cooking that is bunged into the oven and left to its own devices filling my home with tempting smells and then filling hungry tummies until contented all from one dish, what could be better.
And so I read further and realised that I just happened to have, with slight adjustments to the key ingredients the doings to make a lovely savoury dish that would do justice to the pumpkin that had been roasted earlier in the day, the homegrown leeks freshly pulled from the allotment and an assortment of cheeses that were sat quietly in the fridge waiting for their moment of glory.
500g cooked pumpkin
3 tablespoon virgin rape seed oil
350g assorted cheeses in this case Saint Agur, Camembert and a lovely strong cheddar, grated or chopped into small pieces
175 g polenta
2 tsp baking powder
4 medium eggs
oven 180 c
I prepared the onions and sautéed them in half the butter and half the oil until they were very soft and brown on the edges and then added the finely chopped and washed leeks and sauteed them until everything was soft. Added 280 ml of boiling water to a pan and added the polenta and baking powder and stir well, add a little more water if it seems too stiff and dry but not too much as the cheese and eggs will loosen it. Then add the cheese and beat whilst still hot and add the still hot leeks and onion, next add the roasted pumpkin that has been mashed up and stir really well and then add the eggs. Add salt and pepper to taste, but remember the cheese will contain salt so be careful not to over salt. Using a tablespoon or so of the remaining oil grease a baking dish of 30 cm by 40 cm and transfer all of the mixture and pop into an oven for 40 minutes, remove from the oven and using a butter knife pop the rest of the room temperature butter onto the top of the dish and as it melts spread it around the top and pop back into the oven for another 15 or so minutes. Leave it to cool slightly before cutting.
I’m very grateful to Noelle that late afternoon for sharing her inspirations as I just happened to have all the ingredients to hand and hadn’t really thought about our supper. Barry was able to enjoy his piece and went in for seconds and I had mine with a hearty salad, which was glorious. The left overs were delicious and not a scrap of it was wasted. We will do this again, it was so easy and very tasty. Next time perhaps with a little crispy bacon and sweetcorn if the pumpkin has not been roasted.