Lentil and bulgur pilaf

This is based on an Ottolenghi recipe, which he suggests is one of the ultimate comfort foods. My version contains far less oil and butter, but still seems fairly comforting to me. Enough for 2 people as a main meal.

  • 5 tbsp olive oil;Lentil&bulgar_Pilaf
  • 1 aubergine (cut into 2cm dice);
  • 60g bulgur;
  • 70g green lentils (rinsed);
  • Bay leaf;
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds;
  • 1 medium onion (chopped);
  • 1 clove garlic (finely chopped/crushed);
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric;
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice;
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon;
  • 170ml water;
  • 2 tbsp flaked almonds;
  • 1 tbsp raisins;
  • Zest of half a lemon (grated);
  • 15g butter;
  • Black pepper;
  • Lemon juice to taste;
  • Fresh coriander;
  • Greek yogurt (to serve on the side).

Mix 3 tbsp of oil with the diced aubergine. Spread the aubergine on a baking tray and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes at 180C (Gas mark 4), until browned and nearly cooked though.

Meanwhile, cook the lentils with the bay leaf on plenty of water. Bring to the boil, simmer for 12 minutes and drain (they should be al dente).

At the same time, heat the remaining oil in a large oven proof, lidded casserole, and cook the cumin seeds for about 1 minute. Turn down the heat, add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic, turmeric, allspice and cinnamon, and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the bulgur and the water, bring to the boil, and simmer for 3 minutes.

Stir in the aubergines, lentils, almonds, raisins, lemon zest and butter, and season with black pepper. Place in the oven at 160C (Gas Mark 3), and bake for 10 minutes, or until the lentils are just becoming soft.

Stir in lemon juice to taste, and serve sprinkled with coriander and a portion of Greek yogurt.

 

Advertisements

Christmas pudding bread pudding

Xmas_Bread_Pudding_Tile

A Christmas leftover recipe (Christmas pudding and brandy butter), which (if frozen) allows you to re-experience Christmas in small bites over the coming months. It’s based on my recipe for Bread Pudding.

Makes 12 ‘modest’ pieces:

  • 4 large ‘thick cut’ slices of stale wholemeal bread
  • 400g leftover Christmas Pudding
  • 100g leftover brandy butter (make sure it is a ‘fridge’ temperature so you can grate it into the above ingredients)
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 nutmeg grated
  • 300ml milk
  • 1 large egg (beaten)

Cut the bread into small cubes and put into a large bowl. Crumble in the Christmas pudding, grate in the brandy butter, add the spices and ensure the ingredients are well mixed. Stir in the milk and egg. Then scrunch the mixture with your fingers, ensuring that the bread is broken up and the pudding evenly distributed. Leave to soak for 15 minutes.

Heat the oven to 170C/Gas Mark 3. Line the bottom of a cake tin with silicon paper (I used a tin about 20cm x 10cm). Transfer to the cake tin, smoothing the top. Bake for about 1.5 hours until firm and golden brown (cover with foil if browns too much).

When cooked, turn out onto a wire rack (removing the paper). Cut into squares. If freezing separate squares with silicon paper.

I think this is equally good, cold just like a cake; or hot with custard.

 

Banana bread

Banana_Bread_vertThe very hot weather had resulted in some very ripe bananas, so I made this banana bread – probably enough for 8 people for ‘tea’. The high banana content means that added sugar can be minimised:

  • Silicone baking parchment
  • 250g wholemeal flour
  • 3.5 tsps (generous) baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 125g butter
  • 50g soft brown sugar (sifted)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 very ripe medium sized bananas (mashed with a fork)
  • 2 tbsp milk

Pre-heat the oven to 180C (Gas Mark 4).

Line a bread tin (I used one 23x13x7cm) with baking parchment (or greased greaseproof paper).

Sift the flour, baking powder and cinnamon into a bowl.

In another (large) bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (I used a handheld mixer).

Add the eggs, mashed bananas, and milk, and continue to mix. If the mixture curdles, add 2 tbsp of the flour mix and continue beating.

Fold in the remaining flour, and spoon the mixture into the lined bread tin.

Bake for about 1 hour until risen and golden brown (take a look after 45 minutes).

Remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.

I sliced mine, ate some and froze the remaining slices.

 

 

 

Moroccan mushrooms with couscous

This is based on a recipe I found on the BBC GoodFood website. Enough for 2:

Mushroom_chickpeas

  • Oil
  • 150g mushrooms (quartered)
  • 1 small onion (thinly sliced)
  • 1 clove garlic (finely chopped/crushed)
  • 1/3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 tsp ground cumin
  • A pinch of chilli flakes
  • ½ 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • ½ 410g tin chickpeas (drained)
  • 1 tsp clear honey
  • 90g couscous
  • ½ tsp harissa
  • 3 soft dried apricots (diced)
  • 20 raisins
  • 1 tbsp pine nuts
  • 130ml boiling water
  • Flat parsley (roughly chopped)

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a saucepan. Add the mushrooms and stir constantly over a high heat until they start to soften. Set aside.

Heat a 1 tbsp oil in another saucepan. Gently cook the onion 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cinnamon, cumin and chilli flakes, and cook for 1 min. Then stir in the tomatoes, and simmer gently for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix ½ tbsp. of oil and the harissa and stir into the couscous (in a bowl). Stir in the dried apricots, raisins and pin nuts. Pour over the boiling water, stir and then cover. Leave to stand for 7 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed.

When the tomato mixture has simmered for 15 minutes, stir in the mushrooms, the chickpeas and honey. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

To serve, fluff up the couscous with a fork, and serve with the mushroom mixture, scattered with parsley.

I served this with some green beans.

 

Vegi Indian meal – chickpeas and lentils

Punjabi

These recipes are based on some that appeared in Waitrose Kitchen magazine (November 2013 issue). I was actually rather disappointed with the results, which seemed rather bland to me. Does anyone have any suggestions?

These recipes are supposed to be for 4 people, but the chole recipe seemed to me to make just enough for 2 very hungry people (or 3 with normal appetites). I also added some of the liquid reserved from cooking to the chickpeas (and some spinach which happened to be in the fridge). For the daal recipe, I cut down the main ingredient (lentils) to 2/3 rds of the suggested amount.

Punjabi chole:

  • 150g chickpeas (soaked overnight and then cooked (in water) for about 45 minutes (boiling rapidly for the first 10 minutes))
  • [reserve a small amount of the liquid from cooking the chickpeas]
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 large onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 red chillies (deseeded and finely chopped)
  • Ginger (equivalent of a 3cm cube, grated)
  • 3 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 100g leaf spinach
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Some torn coriander leaves

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. gently cook the onion for 10 minutes. Add the chillies, ginger and garlic. Stir and cook for a further 2 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon and turmeric and cook for 1 minute.

Add the chickpeas and the bay leaf and about 100ml of the reserved cooking liquid. Stir the mixture and simmer gently for 10 minutes. If you are adding spinach, stir it in after 8 minutes and turn up the heat, stirring until it has wilted.

Remove the bay leaf. Stir in the garam masala, the lemon juice and the coriander. Serve.

Tadka daal:

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • Ginger (equivalent of a 3cm cube, grated)
  • 2 red chillies (deseeded and finely chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 200g red split lentils
  • 1 large tomato (peeled and roughly chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala

Gently heat the oil in a large saucepan. Fry the cumin seeds for 1 minute. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add the chillies, ginger and garlic. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the turmeric and cook for 1 minute.

Add the lentils and sufficient water to more than cover the pan contents. Stir, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Adding more water as necessary.

Stir in the tomato, and continue cooking until the lentils are cooked (10-15 minutes – you may need to add more water). Stir in the garam masala and serve.

I served these dishes with Lidl plain naans (which came top in this survey); currently 49p for a packet (2 naans).

Lamb tagine

tagine1-horz

This is my version of lamb tagine. Sainsburys had a special offer on butterflyed (boned) lamb legs.  Mine weighed about 750g and I used half of it (diced) for this meal for 2 or 3 people (more with more vegetables and some couscous). I will slow roast the other half of the meat within the next day or so:

  • Oil
  • 375g diced lamb (could use leg, shoulder, fillet – cooking times will vary)
  • 2 smallish onions (cut into narrow wedges)
  • 4 dates (stoned and roughly chopped)
  • 3 semi-dried apricots (roughly chopped – dried apricots will need soaking)
  • a small handful of raisins
  • 1 clove of garlic (finely chopped or crushed)
  • 1 red chilli (deseeded and finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 small piece of cinnamon
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 1/3 of a 400g tin of chopped tomatoes (the remaining tomatoes can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container (should last at least a week))
  • 1/2 stock cube (crumbled) – I used a mix of chicken and beef
  • Hot water
  • 1 large sweet potato (peeled, cut in quarters lengthways and cut into 2.5cm lengths)
  • 1 400g tin of chickpeas (drained)

Heat a little oil in a large saucepan (or a casserole dish that can go on the hob). Tip the lamb pieces into the pan and stir until they brown. Remove the meat.

Turn down the heat and add the onions to the pan and gently cook (stirring occasionally) for 5 minutes. Add the dates, apricots, raisins, garlic, chilli, cumin and cinnamon. Stir and continue to cook for another 3 minutes.

Return the meat the the pan. Add the bay leaf, the tomatoes, the stock cube and enough hot water to cover the meat mixture. Bring to the boil and simmer for about an hour (longer if you are using tougher cuts of meat).

Add the sweet potatoes. Bring back to the boil and simmer for another 25 minutes. Add the chickpeas. Bring back to the boil and simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve.

This tasted very good and I did wonder if the absence of meat would have made a lot of difference. So you could try a vegetarian version, using vegi-stock powder, without the lamb and with some more vegetables – I think adding pieces of parsnip along with the sweet potatoes might be the answer. I will try it soon and blog the results.

Porridge

Porridge

I always make mine in the microwave, as it’s much easier to wash-up afterwards. I use a large Pyrex casserole dish with a lid. This recipe is plenty for 2 people (I suspect that the portion sizes are far larger than shown on the packet, but then with a bowl of this inside you, you won’t feel hungry for a long time!). This recipe is measured by volume – this somehow seems much easier first thing in the morning:

  • 450ml of rolled oats (I’ve used ‘basics’ ranges and they seem just as good as more expensive rolled oats)
  • 500ml milk (you can vary the proportions of milk and water, as you like)
  • 500ml water

Put the rolled oats into a large non-metallic dish. Stir in the milk and water.

Cover and microwave at 850W for 7 minutes. Remove from microwave, stir, and cook for another 2 minutes and 15 seconds at 350W.

Remove from microwave, stir, and leave to stand for a minute. Serve.

Serving suggestions:

  • ground cinnamon; or
  • sliced banana, raisins and maple syrup.