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.

 

Barley risotto with pistachios and raisins

Why do we call barley, cooked with vegetables, meat etc, ‘risotto’, when clearly ‘risotto’ refers to rice in Italian? Maybe it’s because ‘barley’ translates as ‘orzo’ in Italian, which the English speaking foodie world expects to be a very small version of pasta (made from durum wheat), which I have always seen described as ‘rice-like’. I think that probably answers the question!

This recipe is an adaptation of one appearing in the Guardian Cook Supplement on 31 January 2015. Enough for 3 people:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion (chopped)Barley_pistachio&raisin_risotto
  • 1/2 tbsp fennel seeds (toasted)
  • 1/2 tbsp sesame seeds (toasted)
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds (toasted)
  • 200g pot barley
  • 1000ml vegi stock
  • Juice and zest of 1 small unwaxed lemon
  • Small bunch mint and parsley (chopped)
  • 3 tbsp pistachios (toasted and roughly chopped)
  • 3 tbsp raisins
  • Black pepper to taste

For the dressing:

  • 1 tbsp tahini (mixed with 1 tbsp water until smooth)
  • 60g yogurt
  • A pinch of sumac
  • ½ tsp harissa

Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan. Add the seeds and cook for 1 minute. Turn down the heat and add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the barley. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 50 minutes until the barley is ‘al dente’ (add more water during the cooking, if necessary). Add the rest of the ingredients and season to taste.

Meanwhile, mix together the dressing ingredients.

Serve with roasted vegetables (I used some previously roasted butternut squash (reheated in the microwave)).

Asian salmon with brown rice and greens

I had some leftover cavolo nero and some salmon fillets in the freezer so I decided to make this – enough for 2:

For the salmon:Asian_salmon

  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp finely grated ginger
  • 2 salmon fillets

For the rice:

  • 100g brown long grain rice
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 small onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp finely grated ginger
  • 1 clove of garlic (chopped/crushed)
  • 5 leaves of cavolo nero (roughly chopped, with any tough stalks removed)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • A dash of sesame oil

Cook the rice as indicated on the packet.

Meanwhile, mix the soy sauce, lemon juice, honey and ginger, and the coat the salmon fillets, placing them in a dish that can be used under a grill.

Heat the grill and cook the salmon fillets for four minutes on each side, until the salmon is opaque and firm.

To finish the rice, heat the 1 tbsp of oil in a wok, and stir-fry the onion, ginger and garlic. After 1 minute, add the cavolo nero and stir fry for a further 2 minutes. Stir in the rice, together with the soy sauce and rice wine. When thoroughly hot, mix in the sesame seeds and the sesame oil.

Serve immediately, pouring any remaining liquid from grilling, over the salmon.

Paella

Paella-tile

For 2 generous portions:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 chicken breast cut into approx 1.5cm cubes
  • 1 onion (peeled and thinly sliced)
  • 1 medium red pepper (cored, deseeded and finely sliced)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped/crushed)
  • 3 cooking chorizos (sliced) – or equivalent of dried chorizo
  • 1 generous pinch of saffron (or you could use a small amount of turmeric – but it won’t taste the same (or leave it out altogether))
  • 120g of arborio or carnaroli rice
  • 1/2 chicken stock cube (crumbled)
  • Hot water
  • 100g frozen peas
  • 10 large raw frozen prawns
  • Lemon juice
  • Black pepper

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large, thick bottomed saucepan, metal casserole dish or paella pan. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and stir until brown. Remove the chicken.

Add 1 tbsp of oil and gently heat the pan. Add the onion and pepper. Stir and cover, leaving to cook very gently for 10 minutes (stirring occasionally). Stir in the garlic and cook for another 3 minutes. Turn up the heat and add the chorizo and stir for another 2 minutes. Add the chicken.

Add the remaining 1 tbsp of oil together with the saffron and rice. Stir to ensure the rice is coated with oil, and cook gently until the rice starts to go transparent.

Crumble in the stock cube and add enough hot water to cover the rice. Bring to the boil. Stir, turn down the heat, and cook very gently (covered) for about 25 minutes (or until the rice is almost cooked), stirring frequently and adding more hot water as necessary.

Mix in the frozen peas and ‘bury’ the prawns (it’s fine if they are still frozen) in the paella. Turn up the heat (to moderate) and continue cooking until the prawns have turned pink.

Season with lemon juice and black pepper to taste. Serve.

Salmon pasta

Salmon_pasta-tile

This is a very quick pasta dish – enough for 2:

  • 3 generous handfuls of fusilli (cooked according to the instructions on the packet)
  • 100g double cream
  • 100g creme fraiche
  • 150g cooked salmon (flaked) – I used Waitrose ‘Succulent and smoky kiln roasted Scottish salmon slices’ – you could also use a packet of smoked salmon off-cuts
  • Lemon juice
  • Black pepper

Drain the pasta when cooked, and reserve. Put the pan back on the heat and add the double cream. Cook gently until it begins to boil, then stir in the creme fraiche, and again bring to the boil. Stir in the salmon and allow to heat. Stir in the pasta. Make sure the mixture is piping hot and add lemon juice and black pepper to taste. Serve with a green salad.

 

 

Kedgeree

Kedgeree-long-vert

Traditionally a breakfast dish, I could eat this any time. Here’s my recipe for 2;

  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 1 clove garlic (chopped/crushed)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp curry powder (amount depends on personal preference and strength of the curry powder)
  • 1/2 tsp pilau rice seasoning (optional)
  • 120g brown long grain rice
  • 1/3 of a fish stock cube (or 1 tsp vegi-stock powder)
  • Hot water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 225g smoked haddock fillet (skinned and boned)
  • 1/2 a lemon (to squeeze)
  • 100g frozen peas
  • 1 tbsp mango chutney
  • A few torn coriander leaves
  • Black pepper

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the onion and cook gently for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and the spices and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir in the rice, so that it is coated in oil and begins to look a little transparent.

Add water to cover the rice mixture and stir in the crumbled stock cube (or stock powder). Bring to the boil, cover, and simmer very gently, stirring and topping up with hot water as necessary. The rice should be cooked in about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile boil the eggs for 12 minutes (starting from boiling). Drain, hit them with a spoon to crack the shells in a few places (this makes them easier to peel), and cool in cold water. When cold, peel and chop roughly.

Cook the fish (with a squeeze of lemon juice) in the microwave (or steam over a pan of water (you could steam it over the rice)), on ‘medium’ for about 2 minutes. When cooked, divide it into flakes, adding any liquid to the (now cooking) rice.

When the rice is just about cooked, stir in the frozen peas; increase the heat and cook for 2 minutes. Then stir in the mango chutney, the flaked fish and another squeeze of lemon juice (more if liked), and return to the heat to make sure the kedgeree is piping hot. Add black pepper to taste.

Serve sprinkled with the chopped hard boiled eggs and the torn coriander leaves.

Flat breads and baba ganoush

Flatbread_tile

The flat bread recipe is rather like pizza (but with water rather than milk) – this should make six large flat breads (which would be fine for 4 people – I served the left overs the following day with chilli):

  • 500g of half white and half wholemeal strong flour (sieved into a large (microwavable) bowl)
  • 300ml water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp active dried yeast
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Heat 100ml of the water (in a measuring jug in the microwave) to blood heat (c. 37C – or when you put your finger in it and it’s neither hot nor cold). About 350W for 10 seconds may achieve this, but it’s a bit hit and miss, and depends on the starting temperature for the water. If it’s too hot allow to cool for a bit to avoid killing the yeast.

Stir the sugar into the water and then sprinkle the yeast on top. Leave covered in a warm place (eg airing cupboard) for about 15 minutes (it should start foaming on top).

Heat the flour (microwave at 750C for 15 seconds) and microwave the remaining water to about 37C. Stir the oil into the yeast mixture, make a well in the middle of the flour and add the yeast mixture and most of the water and mix together with your hands. The aim is to create a ball of dough that sticks together but isn’t very sticky. Add more water as necessary.

Turn onto a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes.

Place the dough ball back in the bowl, cover (I find those charity clothes collection bags really useful here!) and place somewhere warm. You don’t need to use an airing cupboard, the dough will rise at any reasonable room temperature, but it will take longer. In an airing cupboard the dough should be ready within 1.5 hours.

When the dough has risen. Divide in to 6 balls. Flatten them out, and roll each on a floured surface until they are the size and shape of a large plate. Transfer to sheets of baking parchment, and allow to prove in a warm place for 30 minutes.

I cooked mine, by removing the parchment and placing them directly onto oiled baking sheets in the oven, at 260C (Gas mark 10), for about 3 minutes, and then for 1 minute on the other side. I think the result may have been better had I used the smooth side of griddle, or a heavy bottomed frying pan. Don’t try cooking too many flat breads in the oven at once, as they puff up a lot during cooking (I used two baking sheets).

Keep warm and serve with dips, such as hummus or baba ganoush.

For baba ganoush (for 2 people):

  • 1 medium sized aubergine
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 5 sprigs of parsley (chopped)

Wash the aubergine. Pierce the skin in several places with a fork. Place in the microwave and cook at 750C. Turn the aubergine over and cook for another 2 minutes. It will be cooked when it begins to look squashed. Remove from the microwave, wrap in a towel and allow to stand for 5 minutes.

Remove the stalk and peel away the skin from the aubergine, and then cut into small cubes.

Place all the ingredients except the parsley in a liquidiser or food processor, and blend until smooth. Turn out into a bowl and stir in the parsley.

Serve cold with flat bread.