Tuesday, December 28, 2010

An Onion and Cream cheese Curry

Continuing my current obsession with onions how about a sweet and interesting curry, not the usual curry flavour and probably one of the cheapest dishes out there . . .

- Put some oil in a frying pan to heat on high.
- Peel and slice some onions into biggish slices. You’ll need lots, for myself I used four smallish onions.
- Pop the onions into the hot pan and cook stirring now and then until the slices start to brown and blacken at edges.
- Turn the heat down low and add the spices - a teaspoon each of dried thyme and mint, half a teaspoon of turmeric, a pinch or two of chilli flakes and a couple of teaspoons of cumin seeds.
- let the spices cook for a minute or two (take the pan off the heat if they look like burning) then add a slice of butter.
- Leave to sizzle gently until the onions are well cooked and have gone a honeyed brown.
- season with a pinch of salt.

Serve with some lumps or splodges of cheese, say feta (careful with the salt) or cottage cheese or as I did some philadelphia (cream cheese). And some bread or rice of course or roll it up in a pancake like I did.

I like it quite dry but for rice it might need more of a sauce so I would add some water or yoghurt or even cream at the end.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Roast Onion and Thyme soup with Feta

Intensely savoury, dark and interesting this one, quite salty from the feta and with a depth that if you look into it for too long will show you your future . . .

- Put the oven on to hot, say 200 centigrade.
- Peel and slice some onions. Mine were a little bit smaller than an apple so for a pint of soup ( 2 peoples worth ) I used 5. Slice them to the size you want in the soup.
- Put the onions into a roasting dish and add in a clove of garlic crushed, peeled and chopped, the leaves and tips from a handfull of fresh thyme sprigs and a tespoonful of whole cumin seeds.
- Pour over enough olive oil to coat everything and lob in a tablespoonful of butter and some ground black pepper.
- Place in the oven and cook, stirring occasionally until the onions start to blacken and char at edges. Ten to twenty minutes probably.
- Turn the oven down low, maybe 130 centigrade so that it is just bubbling and leave to cook nice and slowly until the onions are soft and honey coloured. This will take a while, another twenty minutes to half an hour or more even. The slower the cooking the more the sweetness of the onions will come out.
- Once cooked transfer into a saucepan, oil and everything and top up with a pint and a quarter of vegetable stock.
- Simmer gently for ten minutes or so to allow the flavours to blend check for seasoning and serve with some creamy feta crumbled in.

I had the oven on at the time so roasted the onions but there is no reason you cannot cook them in a frying pan on the stove. Just keep the heat down low and watch that they do not burn,

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Leek, Cheese and Walnut Pie with Wholemeal Cumin Pastry

I had a vision. A vision of leeks slowly cooked in butter and mixed with cheese, fragrantly relaxing onto my plate like a hippy earth mother at peace with the world. So I made a pie.

- Make some pastry. Take a cup of plain flour, a cup of wholemeal flour and 4 ounces of butter and a pinch of salt and rub them together with your fingertips until they resemble breadcrumbs. Mix in a teaspoon of ground cumin seeds and half a teaspoon of whole seeds then mix in just enough cold water to make it all stick together, 4 tablespoonsful in my case.
- Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and pop into the fridge for the time being.
- Now the filling. Put a frying pan on to heat with a iittle oil and a slice of butter.
- Peel and chop an onion and four or five leeks and put them in the pan top cook slowly for a good fifteen or twenty minutes.
- Turn the oven on to hot, say 200 celcius.
- once the leeks are nearly cooked, they should be translucent and turning honey coloured, drop in a handfull of walnut pieces and then stir in a dessertspoonful of plain flour.
- Roll out the pastry and line a deep dish with it, I could only find a flan dish so used a 7” cake tin. I think the metal tin helps keep the pastry crisp with the wet filling. Cut off the excess and roll it out again for the top.
- Now mix a handful or so of a nice cheese with some taste to it, cheddar in my case, into the leeks and themn spoon it all into the pastry case.
- Put the top on, squash the edges and cut a notch in the middle to let the steam out and put in the oven until golden brown on top.
- If you are lucky and allow the pie to cool a little you can turn it out onto a plate to reveal it’s full glory.

I served ours with some boiled and fried potatoes and a green salad of well . . . lettuce leaves and a honey mustard dressing.

It was lovely by the way . . .

ps the photo has the 70's retro look because it was getting dark at teatime and my photo had that bright orange look of artificial light. Come to think of it the cookery books in the 70's tended to have very colour saturated photos anyway so maybe it was appropriate after all.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pumkin and Lentil Korma

Vegetable boxes are great. Delivered to your door, you never quite know what will be in there until you open it, a birthday every week ! As well as the joy of finding unknown vegetables I find it also encourages me to use up what is there as well, if only to make room for the next lot. Like the big green pumpkin (well squash to be strictly correct) that has been in the larder for a week. But what to do with it ? Well how about a mild and warming pumpkin korma using some of those big green lentils waving at me from another shelf. Add in some onions and spices and simmer it all in coconut milk and . . . my idea of Winter heaven really!

- Peel and slice up a couple of onions and fry slowly in some oil and butter along with a chopped up clove of garlic.
- Meanwhile peel the squash (maybe a third of a big one), scoop out the seeds and chop into bite sized chunks.
Then look through your spices - I kind of new what I was after but usually open a few jars and smell them until I find a few that go together.
- Once the onions are soft, sweet and turning honey coloured tip them out into a bowl
- Bring the heat up and pop in the squash and cook on a high heat until they brown at the edges and soften a bit.
-Lower the heat again, put the onions back in along with the spices. I used a teaspoonful of ginger root (grated out of the freezer) the same of ground cumin along with half a teaspoon of whole seeds a teaspoonful of ground coriander seeds. Next comes half a teaspoonful each of of turmeric for colour and earthyness, ground cardamon for fragrance and the same of cinnamon because it goes well with all squashes and says Winter to me. Finally a pinch of chilli powder adds a little warmth.
- Add in a couple af handfuls of lentils, a handfull of blanched almonds, the same of cashews and stir it all around to mix the flavours for a minute or two.
- Pour in a can of coconut milk (400ml) and enough water to cover everything and leave to simmer softly until the lentils are cooked, twenty minutes to half an hour probably. Add more water if it gets a bit dry looking and stir every now and then to stop it sticking.
- Finally squeeze in the juice of a lemon and add salt if it needs it.

Serve just as it is with a big splodge of creamy sour cream, more sliced almonds and lots of coriander and mint leaves for freshness.

Yummy ;-)

Oh and this is the sort of dish that reheats well, so make it the day before and have it when you come in tired and cold . . .

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bread, Chilli oil, Salt and Nutella

Sometimes your tastebuds need comforting, like sitting too close to the fire on a frosty day.

I have a terrible habit. When I clear up after mealtimes I dispose of any leftovers. Into my mouth usually. This could be my upbringing (“think of the starving Africans”) but is more likely because I am a bit of a greedy pig. But when you have leftover bread cooked with crunchy sea salt and chilli oil, and there is a jar of Nutella in the larder . . . well.

The salt brings out the nuttiness of the hazelnuts, the chewiness of the bread complements the waxy softness of the chocolate spread and afterwards you are left with a pleasant burning sensation on your lips, almost too hot but just not quite . . .

Life is for living.

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Banana, Cardammon, and Orange muffins

Kiwis love banana loaf. I can’t say I do - to be honest it comes a close second to pasta salad as a pointless use for leftovers. But I am not a kiwi and that many of them cannot be wrong, and . . . I quite often make a Nigel Slater recipe of bananas roasted with cardamom, sugar, butter and orange juice ( which is delicious ) and . . . I had some ripe bananas and . . . needed to make something to take to my meditation class, so after a quick google search for vegan muffins I sort of put them all together and this was the result.

- Put the oven on to heat - 150 c (because my oven is on the hot side, probably 175 c normally).
- Put two cups of self raising flour in a bowl along with a pinch of salt, half a cup of sugar and half to one teaspoons of ground cardomom seeds ( I like to crush my own in a pestle and mortar because they taste better and I like all the different sized bits you get)
- Add in the grated zest of a couple of tangarines or an orange.
- Peel three ripe bananas and squash them with your hands to mash roughly mash them ( great fun! ) and add to the bowl along with a quarter cup of oil.
- Then squeeze the juice out of you tangarines or orange and make it up to one cupful with more orange juice from a carton ( or more oranges if you have them )
- Pour this into the bowl, quickly mix, and spoon into a muffin tin.
- Cook for 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown.

Allow to cool and dust with icing sugar for prettiness.

I liked them, and so did the meditators, but at work today feelings were mixed - perhaps a bit too strange for them ? I suppose you have to be careful playing around with old childhood favourites.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Kumara and Ginger soup with Wilted Spinach

It is wet, wet, wet here in Hawkes Bay, it has been raining for what seems like weeks now. Cold as well or at least what we call cold here - 5 degrees C . . . a day then for sitting inside by the fire watcting the world outside with a good book to hand. And very much a day for soup. The shops here are full with huge piles of fat Kumara so what better than Kumara soup served with bright green spinach, because spring will be back again before long.

- In a saucepan with some oil and butter gently fry a small onion, peeled and chopped with a couple of cloves of garlic.
- Peel a piece of ginger the size of you thumb, finely grate it and add to the pan, leave to cook until the onion is soft and transparent.
- Peel and chop a big Kumara or a couple of little ones and add to the pan along with a pint and a quarter of vegetable stock made from boullion powder.
- Leave to simmer gently until the Kumara is soft enough to squash against the side of the pan then blend or mash (with a potato masher) smooth.
- Reheat adding salt if required.
- Meanwhile pop another saucepan on to heat, rinse some spinach in cold water, shake off the water and pop into the hot pan.
- the spinach will hiss and gently wilt in less than a matter of minutes, take off the heat and squeeze in some lemon juice.

Pour some soup into a bowl, top with a little pile of spinach and squeeze over more lemon juice and perhaps a drop or two of chilli oil if you have some.

Quietly interesting this one, well worth getting to know better . . .

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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Parsnip, Apple and Chorizo soup

Wintertime is almost here and what is one of the best things about Winter? Parsnips. Yet while I love the taste, it is so distinctive that I find a whole bowlful or dish of it just too much. So here I have married together the beautiful compination of parsnips and apples whilst keeping the flavours seperate as well. And as there was a chorizo looking at me from the fridge, left over from earlier in the week, and as Winter vegetables usually go well with bacon I popped the sausage in there as well (smoked bacon would be nice as well I magine).

- Roughly chop a white onion and let it cook gently i some olive oil whilst you prepare the rest of the ingredients. You want the onions to cook without burning until they start to turn honey coloured, so let them take their time, a good ten minutes should do it.
- Peel and chop an apple and chop up the chorizo into pieces the size you would like to find in your soup bowl.
- Scoop out the onions into a bowl and put to one side.
- Turn up the heat and pop in the chorizo followed by the apple and let them cook until browning or charring on the edges.
- Peel and roughly chop two or three parsnips, I used two but it depends how big they are.
- Scoop out the apples and chorizo into another bowl and keeping the heat up pop in the parsnips, adding a little oil if neccesary (I usually pour in the oil that collects at the bottom of the onion bowl).
- Once the parsnips have browned at the edges lower the heat, pop the onions back in along with a pint and a quarter of half strength vegetable stock from a powder.
- Leave to gently boil until the parsnip is soft enough to squash against the side of the pan with a wooden spoon.
- Liquidise or blend the soup smooth and return to the pan to reheat adding in the reserved apple and chorizo.
- Mine needed some ground black pepper and a little salt.
- Serve with some big chunks of buttered white bread and some chopped parsley if you have some.

The amounts here are plenty for two people (as all my recipes are).

I often use whole spices in my cooking and baking because I love the way that thay give a sudden burst of flavour when biting one and it is the same in this soup, so use a dessert or eating apple rather than a cooking one so that the chunks don’t turn to mush and if you cook them quick and hot the insides will remain crunchy and almost raw.


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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Salmon, Cumin and Coriander soup

We don’t eat a lot of fish in our house, mainly because I am the only one that relly likes it. So when we do have fish it either comes in batter from the fish and chip shop or I will spice it up a bit - there is a lovely fish curry in Appetite by Nigel Slater. Mostly though it is just me that gets a sudden craving for fishyness and so I’ll make something just for myself for lunch perhaps.
This recipe is a bit of both, a mildly spiced soup made for my lunch. Fresh salmon would have been nice but I am at home all achy and headachy with a virus and didn’t have the energy to go out, so tinned salmon it was.

- Start by finely slicing a small onion and a clove of garlic and gently fry until translucent.
- Add the spices, half a teaspoon each of ground cumin, ground coriander and chilli flakes. Follow that with a teaspoon of cumin seeds and the same of black mustard seeds. Allow to fry gently for a few minutes, just relax and enjoy the aroma . . .
- Turn the heat back up and pour in half a pint of vegetable stock ( I like Rapunzel organic vegetable boullion because I always make it half strength) simmer gently for a few more minutes to blend the flavours together .
- Now take the soup off the heat and allow to cool a little, then pour in one of those tiny tins of coconut milk (165ml).
- Open a small tin of salmon, pour off the oil or water and add the chunks to the soup discarding any bones or skin as you go.
- Reheat again gently until nce and warm but do not allow to boil because the coconut milk might go all bitty and the salmon will break up into a mush. (if it did I would probably blend the whole lot smooth and serve it anyway!)
- Serve with some chopped coriander leaves scattered over.

Because it was just for myself the quantities here are reduced - this amount will just serve two people one bowl each, or in my case two bowls for me and several spoonfuls out of the saucepan for Nicola who just arrived back from work as I was reheating it.


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Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Fresh Tomato soup

Born and brought up as I was in the 60’s, tomato soup for me has always come from a can. And even recipes I have tried have that same thick creamyness to them. But it does not have to be. Tomatoes are after all a fruit - you can eat them raw, and it is quite easy to quickly put together a simple fresh tomato soup. Like this one . . .

- Peel and chop a small onion and a clove of garlic into smallish pieces.
- Put them in a saucepan in a little olive oil over a low heat and cook gently until the onion goes translucent.
- Meanwhile peel some tomatoes (I used 7 biggish ones)- make a small cross shaped cut at the end oppsite the stalk end, put them in a bowl and pour boiling water over to cover them. Leave them a few minutes then take out of the water and the skin should easiliy peel off.
- Roughly chop the tomatoes, you could remove the seeds at this point but I never do, I just cut out and remove the tougher stalk parts.
- Put the tomatoes into the saucepan along with maybe 3/4 of a pint of vegetable stock and a small handfull of chopped parsley.
- Bring to a gentle boil and cook until the tomato breaks down, 15 minutes or so.

And that is all there is to it. Serve with some more chopped parsley and a generous sprinkling of coursely ground black pepper.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Chicken, Lemon and Basil Soup

Sometimes what I need is a pure and simple soup to revive the soul, and that is when I turn to an Asian style of soup. I have mentioned before that I see two different ways to make soup. One, the western way involves cooking your ingredients together slowly until deep complex flavours develop. The other, what I would call the asian way involves quickly heating stock with added flavourings and adding a few fresh ingredients at the end. Cooking quickly and lightly produces a light healthy soup preserving much more of the vitamins in the fresh ingredients, and if you are organised is very quick and easy to make. This soup is my take on an asian style soup but using western flavourings - chicken lemon and fresh basil.

- Turn the grill (or broiler) on full to heat up (and turn on the extractor fan as well - you’ll need it!)
- Put a little olive oil in a saucepan over a low heat and pop in a crushed and sliced clove of garlic to cook slowly.
- Peel an onion and slice it end to end to make pointy slices.
- Take a piece of aluminium foil and fold up the edges to make a shallow tray. You could use a tray but this way there is less washing up.
- Put a chicken breast and the onion in the foil, pour over a little olive oil, salt and ground pepper and the juice of half a lemon and mix together.
- Pop it under the hot grill to cook.
- Pour about 3/4 of a pint of chicken stock in with the garlic, throw in the squeezed lemon half and bring slowly to the boil. The stock features large in this type of soup so a homemade stock is best but, hey, use whatever you have.
- Keep checking the chicken and onions - you want them cooked and just blackening at the edges but the chicken will take longer so remove the onions into a bowl as soon as they are done
- Once all is cooked roughly slice the chicken breast and pour the juices from the little tray into the stock.
-To serve place the chicken in a couple of soup bowls along with onions, pour over the stock and finally top with a handfull of basil leaves. Basil does not need cooking so goes in right at the end. Mine needed a little salt but that depends on the stock so taste it first.

A very pretty soup I think but not one for entertaining as there is too much to do at the preparation stage. No this is one to keep for a solitary but luxurious lunch or supper just for one (or two, if you really like them) . . .

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