What I'm cooking and eating

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Very quick lentil curry

Serves 2-4

1/2 punnet mushrooms
1/2 courgette
Any other vegetables you may have that using - spinach is great, and can just be folded in at the end.,
1 tin tomatoes with onion and garlic (or plain, and add the onion and garlic separately)
1/2 cup red lentils
1/2 cup basmati rice
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock (from a cube is fine)
2 tbs sultanas or currants (or a mixture)
Curry powder and other spices as liked (I used asafoetida, to make up for the lack of onion and garlic)
1 tbs cooking oil

Cook the spices in the oil over a low heat until fragrant.  Add the vegetables, stir to coat, and let cook for a minute or two.  Or not, if you can't be bothered!  Add the rest of the ingredients, cover and simmer for 18 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Serve at once, perhaps with chutney.

Friday, 3 May 2019

Vegetarian Lasagne

Please note that the not-bolognese sauce was adapted from a Rose Elliott recipe in Not just a load of old lentils.

6-8 lasagne sheets, as needed
Grated parmesan cheese (or vegan substitute), to taste

A little cooking oil
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 punnet mushrooms 
1 small tub (I think 50g) walnuts
2 slices bread
1 packet passata
Salt, pepper, mixed herbs, mushroom ketchup

300 ml milk (or vegan substitute)
About 20g butter or cooking oil
1 heaped tsp plain flour
Salt, pepper, mustard powder
Grated Emmenthal, Cheddar, or vegan substitute to taste

Peel and chop the onion; peel and crush the garlic.  Put into a saucepan with the oil and allow to cook for a few minutes while you chop the mushrooms.  Add these, and continue cooking.  Meanwhile blitz the bread and walnuts in a food processor.  When the mushrooms are more-or-less cooked, turn off the heat, add the bread/walnut crumbs, the passata and seasonings to the mix and stir well.  Leave to soak for a bit while you make the bechamel sauce.  I added a spoonful of sunflower seeds to this, just because they were sitting there, looking at me!

For the Bechamel sauce, put the milk, flour and seasonings into a jug and whisk very thoroughly while the butter melts in another saucepan (or the oil heats up); pour this on to the melted fat, and continue to cook, stirring all the time, until it thickens and the mixture boils.  Turn off the heat and add the Emmenthal cheese.  Stir well.

To assemble: Make layers of not-Bolognese, lasagne sheets and Bechamel in a lasagne dish, finishing with Bechamel sauce, and top the lot with grated Parmesan or similar. 

Place on a baking tray in the centre of an oven which you have heated to 200° C (180° fan), Mark 6, and allow to cook for about 30 minutes. 

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Bärlauchsuppe (Ramsons soup)

Mum and I went to a farm shop yesterday, and I bought a huge bag of ramsons.  About 250g, I think, but it's like spinach - huge leaves that weigh very little.

125 g (roughly) of ramsons (wild garlic), either bought or foraged
1 onion
1 clove smoked garlic (or ordinary, or omit)
4-5 potatoes
1 litre vegetable stock (a cube is fine!)
1 tbs creme fraiche (optional)

Peel and chop the onion and potato, crush the garlic, put it all in the soup maker with the stock.  Cook on "pureed soup".  When it bleeps, add the roughly-chopped ramsons, and blend until it is smooth.  Add the cream, if using, and check the seasoning. 

If you don't have a soup maker, sweat the veg in a little oil, then add the stock and cook until the potatoes are done, blend it, add the ramsons, and blend again.  Finish as above.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Asparagus risotto

This is the second of my favourite main-course ways of eating asparagus.

1 tbs olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup (125 ml by volume) risotto rice
250 ml cooking white wine
500 ml stock (chicken, if you're not vegetarian, or vegetable if you are; cube is fine, although fresh always nicer)
About 25g butter
A nice amount of Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tray asparagus + any tough stalk ends you saved from previous recipe

Cut the tough stalks of the asparagus, and put them into a saucepan with the stock; bring to the boil and simmer while the rest of this is happening. 

Put the olive oil, onion and garlic into a pan and cook gently until transparent.  Now add the rice and stir well, and then add the wine.  Bring back to the boil and simmer for 5-8 minutes until it is all absorbed, stirring frequently.  Now add half the stock and continue.  Meanwhile, cook the asparagus - steaming is easiest, but however you prefer.
When the stock has been absorbed, add the rest of it.  Put the now-cooked stems into a food processor and blitz with a little water (or retained stock) until you have a very smooth puree.
  Now continue cooking the rice until all the stock has been absorbed, and then add the asparagus puree, the butter and the cheese, and beat vigorously until all is smooth and gloopy and delicious.

Serve topped with the steamed asparagus.
Serves 2

Asparagus with pasta and pine nuts

The asparagus season is finally here!  Actually, strictly speaking it starts next week, on 23 April, but British asparagus is already beginning to be found in the supermarkets, and I treated us to two trays thereof (only 6-7 spears in each tray, and they were expensive, but worth it).   1Some people just want to eat it as a starter, steamed with Hollandaise sauce, and why not?  Very delicious.  But sometimes you want it as a main meal, and this post and the next are two of my favourite ways of having it.

1 tray British (or local to you) asparagus
40-50 g pine nuts (Lidl sells them in 40g sachets, which is what I used)
100-120 g pasta of your choice
About 50g butter
About - well- a nice amount of Parmesan cheese, grated.

Put the pasta on to cook, and while this is happening, fry the pine nuts in half the butter, stirring all the time, until everything is nicely browned.
Then you can add the rest of the butter and fry the asparagus in the same pan, turning it frequently.  Or, if you prefer, you can steam it - up to you.  I fried ours yesterday, and it was lush.  NB, if you cut off the tough ends of the asparagus, save them for the next recipe!

Mix the pine nuts, cheese and drained pasta together, and top with the cooked asparagus.  Yummy.

Serves 2.

Friday, 12 April 2019

Stewed squid

The thing about squid is that either you need to just barely show it the stove, as in a stir-fry or battered squid rings, or else you need to stew it thoroughly.  Anything in between and you have india-rubber!

This was a concatenation of several recipes, but I used too much liquid and it came out more like soup than stew - none the worse for that, I may say.  I thought the beans would absorb more than they did.

About 250 g squid - whole, if possible, but rings is fine if that's what you have.
1 large onion
2 carrots
1 leek
1 chili pepper (optional)
1/2 courgette (this would have been a whole one, but I found a half in the fridge that wanted using)
Several small potatoes
1 sloosh tomato paste
1 tin tomatoes or passata
200 ml cooking wine (I used white, as there was some open)
1/2 cup dried pinto beans, soaked overnight
A little cooking oil
Stock cube and other seasoning, as liked.

Peel and chop the vegetables - I didn't peel the potatoes, but did slice them - and do feel free to substitute any or all of them.  Many recipes include celery, but we are not fans of cooked celery, so I tend to substitute leek.  I did think of using a "casserole mix" as Lidl sells pre-prepared vegetables you can use in a casserole, and which make very good soup, too, but had too many vegetables in the fridge to justify doing that.

Sweat the vegetables in the cooking oil,
then add the rest of the ingredients.
I then added 500 ml water, which turned out to be far too much as I was using my Instant Pot for this.  I think probably 200 ml would have been ample, maybe even less, but I hadn't pre-cooked the beans (if I had, I probably wouldn't have added any extra water).  Then cook on high pressure for 20 minutes, or, if you are not using a pressure cooker, simmer for about an hour. 

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Braised lamb heart

This was really rather good! No photos, I'm afraid.
 1 packet lamb hearts (Tesco sells packs of 2)
1 tbs plain flour
1/2 cup flageolets
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
2 large tomatoes
1/2 punnet mushrooms
1 chili pepper
1/2 red sweet pepper
1/2 packet "soup mix" vegetables - a mixture of chopped leeks, swede and carrot sold by my local Lidl
1/2 cup pearl barley
1 tbs mint jelly
about 250 ml water
Salt and pepper

Cook the flageolet beans (use any beans you like, but I do like flageolets) - I just put them in the Instant Pot with a bit of bicarbonate of soda, and cooked for 20 minutes, letting them cool naturally. You could use a tin of beans that you have drained and rinsed instead.

Peel and chop all the vegetables, then fry in a little oil until beginning to be soft. Transfer to slow cooker.  Cut the hearts in half and slice them, removing any tuby bits. Fry these in the same pan you have just cooked the vegetables in, adding a little more oil if necessary, and sprinkling them with the flour. Stir vigorously. Then transfer this to the slow cooker, plus the barley.

Deglaze the pan with the mint jelly and water, and season with salt and pepper and any other seasoning you like. Pour this into the slow cooker, stir well, and then cook on auto for about 7-8 hours.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Microwave lemon curd

I find this quicker and easier than the way I used to make it, on the stovetop.  Citrus fruit is in season at this time of year - look out for the Sevilles for your marmalade - so it's a perfect time to make lemon curd and bring a bit of sunshine into dull January!

4 medium unwaxed lemons
450 g sugar
4 eggs
120 g butter

Sterilise a couple of jamjars by washing them in hot water, rinsing, and then putting them into the oven (on low) for at least 10 minutes - do this before you start the rest of the preparation.  This has the great advantage that you then have a large bowlful of clean washing-up water that you can use to wash up as you go along!

I find the easiest way of doing things is to put everything except the butter into a food processor - quite apart from anything else, you can put the lemon zest in in strips and don't have to use a microplane grater, which is boring!  So lemon zest, juice, sugar and eggs go in the food processor and you whizz this while melting the butter in a large microwave-proof bowl.

Then you mix the two together, stir really thoroughly and microwave for about a minute at a time until it begins to thicken, at which time reduce the time to 30 seconds at a time.  Stir vigorously between each bout of microwaving.  When it is thick and delicious, pot it up and enjoy!

It should be kept in the fridge, so I don't bother with cellophane and/or waxed paper, but you can if you prefer.