What I'm cooking and eating

Friday, 15 April 2011

More variations - Farmyard Macaroni

The French call toasted goats' cheese "Hot Goat", so I thought of calling this "Macaroni goat", but with the addition of the bacon, it turned into a farmyard medley! Serves 2.

100 g macaroni or similar pasta
1 packet (180 g) lardons
1 large leek
1-2 tomatoes
330 ml goats' milk
1 tbs plain flour
1 small goats' cheese (Le Petit Chebra, from Lidl)

Cook the macaroni according to the instructions on the packet. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a saucepan (no need to add fat), then add the chopped leek and a couple of spoonsful of water, cover, and leave to cook in its own steam for a few minutes. Whisk the flour into the milk, together with some mustard or pepper (no need to add salt), then pour this mix on to the leeks/bacon, and bring to the boil, stirring all the time. Add the cooked pasta, and transfer to an oven-proof dish. Topped with sliced tomato and slices of goats' cheese, and bake in a moderately hot oven for about 30-45 minutes (it's pretty forgiving).

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Lentil Curry

I hadn't been planning on having curry tonight, but my day was upset by a failure of UPS to deliver - was unable to get to the supermarket! So two vegan meals two days running (last night was a vegetable stew served with Tesco's quinoa/bulghur mix with tahini dressing stirred through).

2 tbs olive oil
2 tsp hot curry powder
1/2 tsp each garam marsala, turmeric and asafoetida
1 large onion
1 apple
1 banana
1 green pepper
1 courgette
1 carrot
1 tin tomatoes
About 3/4 cup red lentils (dhal)
350 ml vegetable stock
1 tbs coconut milk powder
1 tbs each sultanas and dried cranberries

Fry the spices in the olive oil for a minute or two, then add the fresh fruit and vegetables which you have previously chopped into small pieces. Stir well, and allow to cook until they almost burn, at which point add the rest of the ingredients. Season to taste - if it lacks umami, add a bit of soya sauce - and allow to simmer for an hour or so. Serve with rice, and natural yoghurt if liked (but obvs it's not vegan unless you use soya yoghurt!).

Friday, 8 April 2011

Variations on a theme

I thought this would be nice, but it was even nicer than I thought it was going to be!
Serves 2

1 small leek
1 small head cauliflower
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
2 "skinless, boneless" coley fillets
250 ml milk
2 tsp plain flour
1/4 tsp mustard powder
Salt and pepper to taste
About 30 g grated Cheddar cheese
100 g tagliatelli or other pasta

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. Separate the cauliflower head into florets and steam. Chop the leek, and cook in about 1/2 tbs olive oil (I added 2 tbs water from the pasta when it was hot). Thaw the fish until you can dice it, and chop the hard-boiled eggs. Whisk the flour, milk, mustard, salt and pepper together, and pour on to the leeks. Bring to the boil, stirring all the time. Add the fish and allow to cook for a minute or two. Then add the eggs and the drained pasta, and the cauliflower if there's room. If not, put the cauliflower into an ovenproof dish, and pour the rest of it over it. Stir well to mix. Top with grated cheese and bake in a moderately hot oven for 30 minutes.

Thursday, 7 April 2011


When you haven't got what you need, you need to make do with what you have! This is probably not risotto as Italians know it, but it is good!
Serves 4.

A little butter
1 large onion
1/2 pack chestnut mushrooms
1/2 small butternut squash
1 cupful arborio rice
Dregs of a bottle of red wine (about 1/2 glass, I think)
Roughly 1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
1 packet Feta cheese

Chop the vegetables and cook in the butter for a few minutes. Add the rice and stir until everything is well mixed. Add the red wine and stir, then add all the stock, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Then stir, and if it's still rather liquidy, reset timer for a further 10 minutes. Meanwhile, chop up the Feta. Once the liquid is all absorbed, stir again, and stir in the Feta cheese.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Etta's Seafood Restaurant, "Brixton Village"

I clearly fail as a food blogger, as I so seldom have my camera with me.

The Swan Whisperer was taking me out for dinner to celebrate our wedding anniversary, and after much discussion and wandering round, we ended up at Etta's Seafood Restaurant in what is now poncily called Brixton Village, but always used to be Granville Arcade. The Arcades stay open late on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, and there is no shortage of choice about what to eat. We could have had Japanese curry, or Thai, or several kinds of Italian, or general foodie-English, or vegetarian.... but in the end we chose fish. Most places appeared to charge between £7.00 and £10.00 for main courses, and this was no exception.

We were warmly welcomed - even though it is a fine Friday evening, the arcades were very quiet; I suppose Brixton just isn't used to eating there on a Friday night yet, as they've only recently started late night opening any time other than Thursdays. The caf√© isn't licensed, but does operate a BYO policy, although as we hadn't known where we were going to eat we were unable to take advantage of this. So I drank fizzy water, and the Swan Whisperer had what was called tropical fruit juice but he said he thought was squash. Starters were £4.95 each - I ordered crab fitters and he ordered calamari rings, but as we had said we were going to mix and match, they came all on one plate, with mayonnaise and sweet chilli sauce for dipping. The batter was absolutely gorgeous - really light and crisp and delicious and seriously fattening.

I then opted for plain fish and chips, which were equally good - I did manage to leave some of the batter, which I thought was incredibly self-controlled of me, and the chips were lovely, thick cut, delicious. I couldn't eat them all, alas. The plate was garnished with what I always think of as West-Indian style salad - shredded lettuce, grated carrot and slices of cucumber (I think I have seen it at too many Church buffets, which is why I think of it as West-Indian style). And rather more coriander than I like - I don't exactly dislike it, I just find it rather overpowers everything else.

The SW ordered a mixed seafood linguine, which looked lovely if you like mussels and prawns and crab claws. I don't eat prawns, and only quite like mussels. The SW was quite convinced he had never had them before, but I'm sure he has. Anyway, he enjoyed it and cleaned his plate, although he was nearly as messy as The Boy by the time he was done.

All this came to about £30 for the two of us, with excellent and friendly service.

And on the way home we stopped off at the new ice-cream parlour in Market Row, which does a scoop of ice-cream for £1.75 with a cone for an extra 25p. And a topping, if you like. I had rum'n'raisin, and the SW had mint choc chip, both with caramel sauce. Very, very nice.... I do like rum'n'raisin!

Lentil Pie

This is a very old friend - an adaptation of a Rose Elliottrecipe.

1/2 cup red lentils (125 ml by volume)
1 onion, peeled and chopped
300 ml water or (preferably) vegetable stock
1 tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp Marmite or 2 tsp soya sauce
1/2 pack mushrooms, sliced
2 large tomatoes, peeled and sliced
2 slices wholemeal bread
60 g cheese
(optional) 1 tbs sesame seeds

Cook the lentils and the onions in the stock for 20 minutes, or until tender. Meanwhile put the sliced mushrooms and tomatoes in the bottom of an oven-proof casserole, and sprinkle with salt and pepper, and perhaps some herbes de provence. Whizz the bread and cheese together until breadcrumbed, and stir in the sesame seeds, if using.

When the lentils are cooked whizz with the lemon juice and Marmite/soya sauce, and any other seasonings you fancy. Pour this mixture over the top of the tomato/mushroom mixture, and top with the breadcrumbs/cheese. Bake in a moderate oven for about 40 minutes.

Serve with salad or a green vegetable or two, according to taste.