Thai style lentil soup

Thai_LentiL_Soup

I made this soup out of  the normal ‘base’ vegetables and what I had available. Hence no fresh coriander, which I would have added at the end, if I had had some. This quantity will feed 2-3 people:

  • 2 tbs cooking oil
  • 1 medium onion (sliced)
  • 1 medium carrot (sliced)
  • 1 celery stick (sliced)
  • 1 clove of garlic (sliced/roughly chopped)
  • 1 large chilli (green or red: cored, deseeded and chopped)
  • 2 pieces of dried lemongrass (chopped)
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves (crumbled)
  • 2 generous teaspoons of Thai curry paste (green or red)
  • 50g creamed coconut (the hard block sort, crumbled)
  • 200g good quality tinned of chopped tomatoes (ie 1/2 a tin)
  • 800 ml water
  • 1 tsp vegetable stock powder (or stock cube equivalent)
  • 120g red split lentils (washed under the cold tap in a sieve)
  • 1 bundle of fine rice noodles (c. 60g)
  • zest and juice of 1/2 lime

Heat the cooking oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, chilli, lemon grass and the kaffir lime leaves. Mix the ingredients well, turn down the heat and stir frequently over a lowish heat for about five minutes.

Add the curry paste, creamed coconut (crumble in), chopped tomatoes, water, stock powder and the lentils. Stir well, bring to the boil and simmer for about thirty minutes.

Blend the soup – in a liquidiser, food processor, or use a hand blender (my preference because it is so much easier to clean than a liquidiser or food processor) in the saucepan.

Break up the noodles and stir into the soup. Heat the soup until it just starts to boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the lime juice and grated zest. At this point the soup is very thick. You can add some cold water which will reduce the overall temperature so that it can be eaten immediately (if you are freezing it, the thick soup saves space).

Torta di spinaci e riso

TortaSpinaciRiso-tile

One reason for making this, is that Rachel Roddy said in her column in the Guardian’s Cook Supplement on 30 January 2016 (which provides the recipe on which this is based), “Italy is where … leftovers really do still rule, helping cooking feel like a continuum” – has she been reading my blog?

Anyway, I also needed to use most of a 260g bag of spinach leftover from a stir-fry. Enough for 3 people:

  • 200g spinach
  • 125g risotto rice
  • small onion (finely chopped)
  • 20g butter
  • 1 large egg (beaten)
  • 40g parmesan (grated)
  • black pepper to taste
  • oil (to brush the cake tin)
  • 1 heaped tbsp bread crumbs

Quickly wilt the spinach in a hot pan. Remove it to a plate, allow to cool, and snip into smaller pieces with scissors.

Cook the rice in boiling water and drain.

Heat the butter in a pan and cook the onion very gently over a low heat for about 10 minutes.

Brush a cake tin (about 20cm in diameter) with a little oil and dust with the bread crumbs.

Heat the oven to 200C (Gas Mark 6).

Mix together the spinach, rice, onion and parmesan, and then mix in the beaten egg and add black pepper. Place the mixture in the cake tin, smoothing the top with a spoon.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the top starts to brown. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before serving.

I served mine with roasted baby plum tomatoes.

 

Lemon polenta cake

Lemon_Polenta_Cake

This is based on a Nigella Lawson recipe. As Nigella says, this is an Anglo-Italian crossover recipe. It’s basically an iced lemon drizzle cake made with polenta and ground almonds instead of wheat flour. I made it for my Art Class yesterday, and it seemed to be pretty popular. It’s also gluten-free provided you use gluten-free baking powder. This made 12 quite generous portions:

The cake:

  • olive oil for greasing the cake tin lining
  • 200g softened butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 100g fine polenta (or cornmeal)
  • 1½ tsp baking powder (gluten-free if required)
  • 3 large eggs
  • finely grated zest from 2 unwaxed lemons (reserve the juice (see below))

The syrup:

  • juice of 2 lemons (see above)
  • 125g icing sugar

The icing:

  • 250g marscapone
  • 70g reduced fat cream cheese (eg Philadelphia or similar)
  • 90g icing sugar
  • zest from another unwaxed lemon
  • lemon juice to taste
  • a few lemon segments (for decoration)

Line the bottom and sides of a cake tin with baking parchment (I used a rectangular tin about 18cm x 27cm), which I also brushed with olive oil.

Preheat the oven to 180C (Gas Mark 4).

Beat the butter, and when creamed, add the caster sugar (I used a hand held electric whisk).

Sift together the ground almonds, polenta and baking powder. Beat some of this into the butter/sugar mixture, followed by 1 egg, then alternate dry ingredients and eggs, beating with every addition.

Beat in the lemon zest and spoon the mixture (which should be quite stiff) into the prepared tin. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until browned and cooked through (test with a fine skewer, if it comes out clean, then the cake is cooked). Remove from the oven to a wire cooling rack, leaving the cake in its tin.

Meanwhile, make the syrup by boiling together the lemon juice and icing sugar in a small saucepan, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved.

Prick the top of the cake all over with a large needle, pour the warm syrup over the cake, and leave to cool before removing from the tin.

Make the icing by whisking together the marscapone, the cream cheese and the icing sugar. Add a little lemon juice (to taste).

Turn out the cake. Spread the icing on top, and use a fork to make a close, lined pattern. Grate a little lemon zest over the icing, and cut the cake into squares.Decorate each square with a small piece of a lemon segment (use two or three segments in total).

I put each square in a muffin case, which I had ‘reshaped’ by folding around a suitably sized square plastic box (you could use a child’s wooden brick (clean it first!)).

 

 

Rhubarb and apple compote

Rhubarb&AppleComp-tile

There’s been a lot of publicity about Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb. I bought 400g in Waitrose and made a compote together with three Braeburn apples which were looking past their best.

I sliced the rhubarb into 3cm lengths and peeled, cored and sliced the apples.

Microwave on high for about 7 minutes. Stir and cook for a further minute or so.

I then added sugar and honey to taste.

Could be served warm with Birds Custard; but I cooled mine, stored it in the fridge, and served it for breakfast with Greek yogurt, granola and mixed seeds.

Gatto di patate

Gatto_di_patate

More comfort food – this time an Italian potato cake, based on a recipe in today’s Guardian, by Rachel Roddy. You get lovely warming, buttery, cheesy potato with a layer of melted, slightly chewy, cheese in between. I served mine with lightly cooked broccoli. Enough for four people.

  • 750g mashed potato (I baked some largish potatoes, and removed most of the cooked potato, so I could use the skins as a separate snack)
  • 60g grated parmesan
  • 35g butter
  • Nutmeg
  • Black pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 100ml milk (or a mixture of milk and cream)
  • 80g provolone cheese (or mature gouda, or emmental)
  • 125g mozzarella ball
  • A little olive oil (to grease the baking dish)
  • 1 tbsp finely ground breadcrumbs

Mash the potato together with the parmesan, 25g of butter, grated nutmeg and black pepper to taste. Lightly beat together the eggs and the milk, and mix into the potato mixture.

Cut the provolone and mozzarella into small (0.5cm) cubes.

Grease the inside of an oven proof dish (I used a square earthenware dish about 21cm square) with the olive oil. Place half the potato in the bottom of the dish, and sprinkle with the cubed provolone and mozzarella. Place the remaining potato on top and smooth the surface. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and dot with the remaining butter.

Cook in the oven for about 30 minutes, at 180C (Gas Mark 4), or until the top is brown and crispy. Leave to stand for about 10 minutes before serving.

 

Potato and cheese dumpling topping

Potato_Dumplings.

If you’re after comfort food in this cold weather, here’s a quick recipe for topping a casserole or even a couple of tins of baked beans. My casserole was made from onions, garlic, chilli, celery, carrots, butternut squash and tinned tomatoes. But this would also suit a beef stew. I think chicken might be better without the cheese – in that case, I’d leave out the cheese and substitute double cream for the milk (to maintain the fat content), or use soft cheese instead of grated cheddar (and initially add less milk, so that the mixture is not too wet). Enough for 3 people:

  • 250g mashed potato made with 30g of butter
  • 120g wholemeal flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 60g finely grated cheddar
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 90ml milk

Sift together the flour and baking powder. Mix in the grated cheese and parsley. Mix in the mashed potato using a fork until it is well integrated.

Heat the oven to 180C (Gas Mark 4). Your casserole or beans etc needs to be hot so heat on the hob or in the microwave if cold.

Mix the milk into the dumpling mixture, and using your hands, place golf ball sized pieces of dough on top of the casserole.

Cook in the oven for 20 minutes until the dumplings are risen and starting to brown.

Serve as it is – nothing more is required!

Borlotti bean and tuna lunch box

Enough for 2 lunch box portions:Borlotti_Lunchbox

  • 1 tin tuna steak (drained);
  • 1 tin borlotti beans (drained and rinsed);
  • 1/2 small onion (chopped);
  • 1 piece of fennel (peeled from a bulb and chopped);
  • About 8 sprigs of flat parsley ( roughly chopped);
  • Dressing made with olive oil, lemon juice and black pepper.

Mix all the ingredients (except the dressing) together, then mix in sufficient dressing, so that the mixture is moist but not too wet.

As usual, this comes with cherry vine tomatoes, beetroot, spring onions, carrot sticks and oil and vinegar dressing.