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).

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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 mascarpone
  • 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 mascarpone, 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!)).