What I'm cooking and eating

17 September 2021

Chickpea and vegetable curry with red rice

1/2 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight and then cooked in a pressure cooker for 12-15 minutes
OR 1 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 red onion, peeled and chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 red or yellow pepper, chopped
chunk of butternut squash, peeled and diced
Either 1-2 small or 1/2 large courgette, diced
1 tin tomatoes
Sloosh tomato paste
2 tbs olive or other cooking oil
Curry powder, either your own blend or a proprietary one
Salt, pepper, etc

To serve: your choice of rice.  I used red rice, as I have recently come across it in a local vegan take-away, and it is utterly delicious - much nicer than brown, and quite a different thing to white.

Fry off the curry powder in the oil for a few minutes, then add the onion and other vegetables, which you stir well and leave to cook for a few minutes.  Then add the tomato paste, the tin of tomatoes, and any other seasoning you choose - I used salt with thyme (a blend from Brockwell Park), freshly ground mixed peppercorns, and a spoonful each of Dunn's River ginger/garlic/pimento and All-purpose seasoning.  I also added a teaspoonful of sugar, which is lovely with tomatoes - doesn't make it sweet, but does lift it. Allow to cook for 20-25 minutes until the vegetables are done, then serve with rice, and if liked, chutney, yoghurt, etc.

The red rice is cooked like any other kind - rinse, cook off in a little oil, add twice as much boiling water, stir, cover, leave on minimal heat for 45 minutes and then let sit for at least 10 minutes to absorb any remaining water.

10 September 2021

"Yelm", or home-made lemon squash. Updated 10 September 2021

It was my father, I think, who first called it "Yelm",  as a way of distinguishing it from other kinds of lemon drink.  Certainly my family have been making it for well over 50 years - I remember taking a supply to school in empty whisky bottles, which slightly disconcerted the House Mistress and Matron - it would have been a lot worse had I been bringing in whisky or gin in empty lemon squash bottles, of course.... Yelm, by the way, is very nice mixed with gin if you like gin.

Measurements are in Imperial, as that's what we used back in the day.  I'll put rough metric equivalents in brackets.

Rind and juice of 3 lemons
2 oz citric acid (approx 50g)
2 lbs sugar (a little less than 1 kg)
3 pints boiling water (1.75 litres)
Optionally, you could add elderflower blossoms or crushed mint (I love mint in lemon drinks so I used the latter).
Empty bottles - to take at least 2.25 litres

You can also use limes as well as, or instead of, lemons; if you use just limes, then use 4 as they are apt to be smaller.  Oranges work if mixed with lemons or limes, but render the finished drink too sweet on their own.   Today (September 2021) I am going to make lime and mint.

Mix everything together in a large jug or bowl and stir until the sugar and acid have dissolved.  Strain, and pour into bottles (if you don't strain, it doesn't last so long as the citrus peel is apt to go mouldy); keep in the fridge and dilute to taste.  I imagine that if you wanted lemon barley water, you could use this as a base instead of making from scratch......

30 August 2021

Pork and bean casserole

As it is a Bank Holiday, we went out for the afternoon, so for once I thought ahead and put a casserole in the slow cooker!

1/2 cup dried cannellini beans - I only had 1/4 cup, so made it up with flageolets, which I had more of.
4 rashers belly pork
4 rashers back bacon 
1 large onion
1 clove garlic
2 large carrots
3 potatoes
1/4 cabbage
1 tin chopped tomatoes
A little water
Seasoning, to taste - I used rosemary, sage, pepper, season-all and a little Worcestershire Sauce.

Soak the beans either overnight in cold water or for 2 hours in boiling water (at least, water that was boiling when you put the beans into it.  Cook in a pressure cooker for 10-12 minutes.

Meanwhile cut the pork and bacon into cubes, dice the onion, carrots and potatoes, crush the garlic and shred the cabbage.  Put the onion and garlic into a large pan in which you have put a little cooking oil, and cook until transparent.  Then add the meat and allow to cook for a bit, stirring frequently.  Once it has browned, add the rest of the vegetables and stir.  Allow to cook for a few minutes, then add the tinned tomatoes and a little water (not much).  Season, and then transfer to a slow cooker.

I put this back into the Instant Pot as it was out, and cooked it for 6 hours on medium, but it wasn't quite cooked (I don't think the Instant Pot is so good as a dedicated slow cooker; it is extremely wonderful as a pressure cooker and pressure steamer, but not so good as a slow cooker), so put it on to cook at high pressure for 6 minutes.  


22 August 2021

Healthy ice cream, aka frozen smoothie

I found this recipe when I first went on-line, over 25 years ago now.  I hadn't made it for ages, but we had some slightly over-ripe strawberries that weren't going to survive in the fridge and needed frozen, so.....

1 banana, sliced and frozen (open-freeze on a plate so the chunks don't stick together)
1/2 punnet ripe strawberries, frozen (or you could use pre-frozen strawberries)
1 standard tub, or 2 tbs thick Greek yoghurt
2 tsp honey (optional)
I found I'd too much yoghurt to fruit, so added some frozen raspberries.

Exact quantities are not important, nor, indeed, is the kind of fruit other than bananas!  I've also used fruit juice instead of yoghurt and honey (useful if you want it vegan) - you can always omit the honey if you prefer, too, but it does add a bit of sweetness that is necessary in a frozen dessert.  You could also use a fruit  yoghurt instead.... experiment!

Put everything in a food processor - a blender isn't sturdy enough - and work until it comes out as really smooth and delicious ice-cream.

If there is more than you want to eat in one sitting, put it in a freezer-proof container and put in the freezer.  It will freeze rather hard, but you can take it out of the freezer a little before you want to eat it.

11 August 2021

Sandwich fillings: Hummus and fishpaste

These are two separate things, you understand!  I always thought I didn't really like home-made hummus, but discovered recently that you should take the skins off the cooked chickpeas, and believe me, it is well worth spending five minutes or so doing that.

So, hummus:

1 tin chickpeas (one of the rare occasions I'll use a tin!)
1 large tbs tahini
1 tsp garlic paste (or crush a couple of cloves of garlic, up to you)
2 tbs lemon juice
Scant tbs olive oil
Seasoning as liked.

Drain the chickpeas and rinse well.  Now put into a bowl and cover with cold water.  Using your hands, rub at them until the skins come off, which float to the surface and you can discard.  You don't have to get absolutely every skin, of course, but it's worth repeating a couple of times until you are fairly confident you have the vast majority of them.

Now put the peas, and everything else, into a food processor and work until smooth, and then go on working for awhile until it is really smooth and creamy.  Adjust seasoning as necessary.


I tin salmon - pink or red, your choice
1/2 tub cream cheese
Scant tbs lemon juice, wine vinegar, or, if you have some pickled vegetables (I see I haven't yet posted my recipe for those, but am still experimenting.  If you want a recipe, google "Bread and butter pickles"), the juice from the jar.
Seasoning as liked
Maybe a small sloosh of tomato paste, for colour?  Up to you.  I didn't.

Drain the salmon and, if you can be bothered, remove most of the skin and bone.  Put it, and all the other ingredients, into a food processor and work until smooth-ish.  

05 July 2021

Cauliflower Cheese for Beginners

The Swan Whisperer volunteered to make cauliflower cheese for supper, and then said he hadn't the faintest idea how to do it!  So I said I would write out the basic recipe, step by step, so he could have a go.  Here it is!

You will need:

1/2 cauliflower, outer leaves removed, cut into chunks.  
1 small tin sweetcorn, drained
Roughly 3-4 oz cheddar, grated
About 25 g butter
1 cup (250 ml) milk
2 heaped tsp plain flour 
A little salt
A little black pepper
1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
2 hard-boiled eggs, shells removed
1 large tomato, sliced except I don't think there is one (never mind!)/  
2 slices bread
A few sprigs of fresh parsley

Microwave steamer
Cheese grater (and plate to put grated cheese on)
Small saucepan
Oven-proof dish (small casserole dish is fine, or one of the pyrex ones)
Sharp knife
Cappuccino whisk (or ordinary egg whisk)
Wooden or plastic stirring spoon
Small food processor

Boil the eggs for 10 minutes from cold, unless you already have hard-boiled eggs in the fridge.  Cool them at once under cold running water.  Put the cauliflower into the microwave steamer and add 250 ml boiling water.  Microwave for 5-6 minutes.  Grate the cheese and leave it on a plate.  Open and drain the tin of sweetcorn. Peel the eggs.

Put the butter into a small non-stick saucepan and allow to melt.

Meanwhile, put the milk, flour, salt, pepper and mustard into a jug, and whisk with the cappucino whisk until it's mixed and frothy.  Pour this over the butter in the saucepan, and stir continuously until it boils.  When it is boiling and has thickened nicely, take it off the heat and put in about 2/3 of the grated cheese and the contents of the tin of sweetcorn.  Stir well.

Put the cauliflower, which should have finished steaming by now, into the ovenproof dish, and tuck a hard-boiled egg each side (I usually put these by the handles, so I can find them again).  Pour the sauce over the top, and flatten it off as best you can.

Now, if there is a tomato, slice it and place the slices on the top.  If not, don't bother.  Put the slices of bread, the parsley, and the grated cheese into the food processor and blitz until it is breadcrumbs.  Spread this on top of the cauliflower mixture.

If you make this earlier in the day, cover it and refrigerate it until about 45 minutes before it's wanted.  Preheat the oven to Mark 5, uncover the dish and put it in the oven for 30-45 minutes, until bubbling and crisp.  Serve with new potatoes.

27 May 2021

Quick lunch rolls

1 small carton natural yoghurt
The empty carton full of self-raising flour (I prefer wholemeal)
Pinch of salt
Other seasonings as liked.

Before you start, place a lid frying pan on the stove on a very low heat. Now put the yoghurt into a bowl, wash and wipe the container and fill it with flour. You may need a little more, depending on the consistency of the yoghurt and the type of flour. Add seasonings - I used a pinch of mixed herbs and a spoonful of dukkah, but didn't really notice them. Pumpkin  or sunflower seeds would work well, I think.

Stir it all together, and then knead it until you can form it into balls which you then flatten into little cakes. You can make flatbreads, if you prefer.
Now place these into the pan that has been heating on the low heat all this time. No oil or anything. Cover, and cook for 5 minutes, then turn and cook the other side for 5 minutes.  Split and serve hot!