Leeks vinaigrette & roasted potatoes with herb oil

Photographer: Emma

Christmas is officially a week away and I am a little nervous.
End-of-year catch-ups and a few work functions have occupied my weeknights. Last year I was preserving tomato chutney, making molasses and caramel chocolates and sewing handmade scarves for my friends.  All my presents were wrapped and under the tree, patiently waiting to be opened.  This year it’s a completely different story.  My tree is in pieces, strewn over the living room floor.  It seems my new kitten is particularly fond of the bright red poinsettias and gold baubles that I precisely arranged on it last week.  There is not a wrapped present to be seen, apart from the one I had done in the shop.  My handmade gifts are sitting in the cupboard, unfinished, and the jars I have been saving all year are empty.
I love Christmas but this year it has crept up on me.  It has actually jumped at me from around a corner and then slapped me in the face.

I’ve got the weekend to get organised.  I will be taking advantage of the midnight closing hours. I will be running round the shopping mall dodging thousands of people.  I will be stalking leaving shoppers to their cars to get their park.  I will be driving to six different supermarkets trying to find one that hasn’t sold out of fruit mince.  I will be cooking no-fuss food on Christmas day.  Enjoy these simple but tasty sides to your ham or turkey.


1tbsp olive oil
1tbsp fresh herbs, e.g. rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley
1kg new season gourmet potatoes
3tbsp olive oil
Sea salt
Black pepper

500g baby leeks (about 16)
200ml chicken stock (or vegetable stock)

3tbsp olive oil
1tbsp white wine vinegar
1tsp fresh thyme
1tsp sugar
Sea salt
Black pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC on bake.
2. Mix the fresh herbs with 1tbsp olive oil and set aside.
3. Wash and scrub the potatoes. Cut larger potatoes into halves.
4. Toss potatoes in 3 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper, place on a baking tray in the oven.
5. These potatoes will take approximately 20 minutes to cook. Once they are soft inside and crispy and golden outside, remove from oven.
6. Pour over herb oil and serve in a bowl or on a platter.

1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC on bake.
2. Prepare the leeks: beginning at the the green top of the stem, start cutting them in half lengthways, stopping about 2 cm from the root base end so that each leek is still in one piece.
3. Place the leeks in a baking dish and pour over hot chicken stock.
4. Cut a piece of baking paper the same size as the baking dish and lay on top of the leeks and stock. Place in the oven for 15 minutes.
5. Take the leeks out of the oven, remove the baking paper and drain any excess chicken stock.
6. Make up the vinaigrette by combining the olive oil, vinegar, thyme, sugar, salt and pepper and pour over the leeks as they are cooling.
Serve vegetables warm.