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.

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Cheese, onion and potato hotpot

Hotpot_side

We’d just got back from a long weekend and there wasn’t much to eat in the house. I fancied something warming, so I made this – enough for 2:

  • 3 medium sized onions (finely sliced)
  • 3 fairly large potatoes (peeled and sliced (2-3cm)
  • 100g grated cheddar
  • 800ml vegetable stock
  • Black pepper
  • 15g butter
  • Grated nutmeg

Take 1/4 of the potatoes and make a layer at the base of an ovenproof dish. Cover with 1/3rd of the onions and then 1/3rd of the cheese. Grate over a little black pepper.

Repeat the above (potatoes, onions, cheese etc), twice; and then add the final layer of potatoes.

Dot the final layer of potatoes with butter and lightly dust with pepper and nutmeg.

Gently add the stock at the edge of the dish.

Cover (either with the lid or aluminium foil) and cook at 180C (Gas Mark 4) for 2 hours. Then turn up the heat to 200C (Gas mark 6),  uncover and cook for a further 15-20 minutes to crispen the top layer of potatoes.

Serve with a salad (if liked). I used baby leaf salad with cherry tomatoes and spring onions, with a honey and mustard dressing.

Potato, cheese and onion pie

Potato_Pie_Tile

This is a variation on the classic Pomme Dauphinoise. The recipe is based on one in Jean Conil’s Cuisine Vegetarienne Francaise (published in 1985). Enough for 2 as a main meal:

  • 2 largish onions (finely sliced)
  • 50g butter
  • 500g potatoes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 large egg (beaten)
  • 150ml double cream
  • Black pepper
  • Nutmeg
  • 80g grated Cheddar

Heat half the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Stir in the onions and leave to cook very gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Rub a shallow dish (large enough to accommodate the ingredients) with garlic (cut in half). Retain the garlic. Butter the dish with the remaining butter.

Peel the potatoes and cut into rounds about 5mm thick. Place in a pan of cold water. Bring the boil and drain.

Beat together the cream, the egg and garlic (crushed). Season with black pepper and grated nutmeg.

Arrange half the potato slices in the bottom of the shallow dish. Pour over half the egg and cream mixture, and sprinkle with half of the cheese. Then arrange the onions on top. Layer the remaining potatoes, pour over the remaining cream and egg mix, and then sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Bake in the oven (180C/Gas Mark 4) for an hour, or until the potatoes are cooked through.

Caramelised onion and goats cheese pizza

Onion_pizza_tile

I had some goats cheese which needed to be eaten, so I decided to make a ‘pizza’. This pizza topping is based on a Delia Smith recipe for Caramelised Balsamic and Red Onion Tarts with Goats Cheese.

I made a large rectangular pizza (27cm x 39cm), using my pizza recipe, with 300g of flour. This will feed up to 4 people.

For the topping:

  • 15g butter
  • 500g onions (red if you have them – peeled and sliced)
  • 1 tsp finely chopped sage leaves
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 200g of goats cheese (the small ‘log’ sort – sliced)
  • Extra sage leaves
  • Black pepper

Melt the butter in a large heavy bottomed pan. Add the onions and the sage, and stir to incorporate the butter. Stir in the balsamic vinegar.

Cook, very gently, uncovered, for about 45 minutes, or until the onions are really soft. Leave to cool.

When the pizza has been rolled out and placed on its baking sheet, cover the top with the onions. Place the sliced cheese on top of the onions, decorate with sage leaves and season with black pepper.

I baked this more slowly than usual (at 190C (Gas Mark 5)) for about 20 minutes.

Ham and pea soup

Ham-tile

If you’re after some good, hearty comfort food.  One of my favourites is ham and pea soup.

I often think that supermarket bacon joints are extremely overpriced.  But Sainburys’ Basics range comes to the rescue here.  They do 670gm packs of ‘Cooking Bacon’ for £1.10.  You need to be selective about the pack you buy as some of them consist of a number of small pieces of bacon and sometimes even slices.

Soak about 150gms of split peas in water overnight.  These are usually yellow split peas, you can find green ones in health food stores, but both colours seem to taste the same.

Put the bacon in a large saucepan/stockpot with about two litres of water, an onion (quartered), a leek, a stick of celery (all roughly sliced); add some parsley, thyme, pepper corns and bay leaf.  I usually add a sliced carrot, but on this occasion I didn’t have any. Bring to the boil and very gently simmer (until the bacon is really well cooked – so that it falls apart – I cooked mine for about 4 hours (barely simmering)).

When ready, remove the bacon and pull apart into small pieces using two forks.

Strain the stock (throwing away the cooked vegetables).  Drain the peas.  Chop another onion, and gently fry until soft in a clean pan along with a carrot, a leek and a celery stick (all sliced).  Add the peas and the stock, bring to the boil and simmer until the peas are cooked (probably about 1.5 hours).  If it looks too thick just add some more boiling water.  Blend and return to the pan along with some of the pulled bacon.  Serve piping hot:

Ham and pea soup

What to do with rest of the ham?

CelereiacCeleriac remoulade – grated raw celeriac mixed with mayonnaise (with added whole grain mustard, low fat yogurt and lemon juice to taste); scatter with pulled ham – a good starter:

 

 

 

 

Ham and kale colcannon – mashed potato, sliced leeks cooked in butter, kale (shredded and briefly boiled) and pulled bacon:

Colcannon

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.

Spicy lentil soup

lentil-soup

Served here with croutons and fresh coriander.

This quantity will feed at least four people and with hunks of wholemeal bread makes a excellent supper:

  • 2 tbs cooking oil
  • 1 large onion (sliced)
  • 1 medium carrot (sliced)
  • 1 large celery stick (sliced)
  • 1 clove of garlic (sliced/roughly chopped)
  • a good pinch of chilli flakes (more if you like it hot)
  • a piece of fresh ginger (about 2cm square – chopped)
  • a good pinch of mixed herbs (or oregano or something similar)
  • 1 tsp of turmeric
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes (plus twice as much water)
  • 1 tsp vegetable stock powder (or stock cube equivalent)
  • 150g orange split lentils (washed under the cold tap in a sieve)
  • 2 tbs double cream
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • freshly ground black pepper

Heat the cooking oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, chilli, ginger, herbs and turmeric. Mix the ingredients well, turn down the heat and stir frequently over a lowish heat for about five minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes, the water, the 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.

Stir in the cream and heat the soup until it just starts to boil. Add  the lemon juice and pepper to taste. At this point the soup is still 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, it saves space).