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).
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;
- 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.
I had most of a bunch of John Hurd’s excellent watercress leftover so I made this pesto. Based on a recipe from watercress.co.uk – it serves four people with pasta, and according to the recipe, freezes well. So half of it is now in the freezer, and I shall discover if really does freeze well when I use it! I used my Cuisinart Mini-processor to make this (or you could just chop the watercress really finely, using a sharp knife and the grind the almonds and garlic with a pestle and mortar, and then mix all the ingredients together):
- 1 bunch watercress (wash thoroughly)
- 1 clove of garlic
- 20 almonds (blanched)
- 50ml olive oil
- 50g finely grated parmesan
- Black pepper and a fairly generous squeeze of lemon juice.
Puree the watercress, garlic and almonds (blanched by steeping in boiling water for about a minute and the peeling away the skins – they have a better flavour than pre-blanched, flaked or ground almonds) in a processor. Add the oil and the parmesan and process until well blended. Add black pepper and lemon juice to taste.
Served here with pasta.
This is based on a recipe in the February 2015 edition of Waitrose Kitchen magazine. For 2 people:
- 10g dried porcini mushrooms
- 130ml boiling water
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 shallot (or equivalent amount of onion – finely chopped)
- 130g chestnut mushrooms
- 1 clove garlic (crushed)
- Leaves picked from 4 thyme sprigs
- 1.5 tbsp port
- 1 tbsp ricotta
- 4 large leaves of filo pastry
- Extra olive oil for brushing the pastry
- 15g grated parmesan
- 2 tbsp double cream
- 1 tsp brandy
- Black pepper to taste
Place the dried porcini in a small bowl, and pour on the boiling water. Cover, and leave to stand for 20 minutes. Then drain and squeeze the porcini, reserving the liquid. Chop the porcini.
Gently heat the oil in a pan, and cook the shallot for 5 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and the porcini, and cook (covered) over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and thyme, and cook for 1 minute. Increase the heat, add the port, and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Leave to cool and stir in the ricotta.
Cut the filo pastry sheets in half widthways, and store under a damp cloth.
Layer the sheets of pastry into two lots of four, brushing each sheet with olive oil. Divide the mushroom mixture in half, and arrange each portion on a pile of pastry. Wrap each portion in the pastry, tucking in the edges, and place on a baking tray, so that the edges are underneath. Brush with oil and sprinkle with parmesan.
Cook in the oven at 200C (Gas Mark 6) for about 20 minutes, until golden.
Meanwhile boil the liquid from the porcini until it has reduced by 2/3rds. Stir in the cream and brandy, and heat to just below boiling point, and season with black pepper.
Serve with the porcini sauce.
This is the ultimate in comfort food. The recipe is based on one from Waitrose Kitchen magazine for March 2015. This is a very simple dish, which can be eaten on its own. But it would also go well with poached eggs or sausages. Enough for 2 people:
- 100ml milk
- 3 thyme sprigs
- 500g potatoes (peeled and cut into 2cm chunks)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 clove of garlic (peeled and thinly sliced)
- 20g butter
- black pepper
- 100g shredded kale (with tough stalks removed)
- 4 spring onions (cut into 2cm lengths, and split in half lengthways)
- 50g brie (thinly sliced)
- 20g cheddar (grated)
Heat the milk, to boiling, with the thyme. Cover, and leave to infuse.
In a saucepan, cover the potatoes, bay leaves and garlic with cold water. Bring to the boil, and simmer until the potatoes are cooked. Drain, remove the bay leaves, and return to the pan. Leave, uncovered, over a very low heat, for about 5 minutes, to dry the potatoes.
Mash together the potatoes, garlic, 10g of butter and the milk (having removed the thyme), and season with black pepper. Keep warm.
Heat the remaining butter in a large pan. Add the kale and spring onions and stir fry for about 3 minutes, until the kale is just about cooked. Stir in the mashed potato and the cheeses.
This is very quick (and also cheap) to make.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small shallot (finely chopped)
- 1 clove garlic (crushed)
- 3 sprigs of thyme (leaves only)
- 250g chicken livers (veins removed, and roughly chopped)
- 1 tbsp brandy
- 45g butter
- Black pepper
Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Stir in the shallot and cook gently for 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and the thyme and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Turn up the heat, add the chicken liver, and stir-fry until cooked through (about 2.5 minutes).
Take off the heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes.
Tip the mixture into a food processor, together with the brandy, 20g of the butter and black pepper. Process until smooth.
Transfer the paté to a shallow dish, and smooth the surface.
Melt the remaining butter and pour over the paté. Allow to cool, before storing in the fridge.
I served mine with soda bread.
I made a large batch of this, which provided:
- 1 portion with added kale (cooked for 3 minutes in the stew);
- 2 portions of pancakes (with 4 large pancakes, bechamel sauce, and grated parmesan; baked for about 25 minutes at 180C (Gas Mark 4);
- 2 portions of ‘shepherds’ pie (with mashed potato); baked for about 25 minutes at 180C (Gas Mark 4).
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 large onion (chopped)
- 1 large carrot (chopped)
- 2 sticks celery (chopped)
- 1 red pepper (cored, deseeded and chopped)
- 150g mushrooms (chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
- A large pinch of dried oregano
- 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
- 120g green lentils
- 400ml vegi-stock
- Black pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Stir in the onion, carrot, celery and red pepper, and cook gently for 10 minutes. Turn up the heat, and stir in the mushrooms and garlic, and stir-cook for two minutes.
Stir in the oregano, tomatoes, lentils and stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 40 minutes, until the lentils are cooked. Season with black pepper to taste.
If not all used immediately, allow to cool and store in the fridge (using within the next few days).