Saturday Morning and the main shop was done yesterday and we are walking around Bruntsfield and Morningside after dropping our bikes off for a service. Waitrose, the foodies supermarket usually calls out to us, to grab those last minute items and a free paper when you spend over £10. I love the Guardian on Saturday Food Supplement! They sell an ideal sized bag of sweet potatoes in their essentials range and apart from the addition of the weight in my rucksack I see no reason to add them to our extra swag for soup making purposes.
This is a lovely creamy style soup, great for those autumn nights.
- 1.25kg bag of sweet potatoes
- 2 medium onions diced
- Olive or Rapeseed Oil
- 2 garlic cloves crushed
- 400g tin of coconut milk
- 200g split red lentils
- 1 tbsp bouillon powder
- Rinse and then soak the lentils in 500g/500ml or so in cold water for 30 mins
- Peel the sweet potatoes and chop into chunks, roast for 45 mins to an hour until soft
- Dice the onion
- Bring a tbsp of the oil to a soft heat in a heavy based pan that will hold a good 2litres of liquid.
- Add the onion and crushed garlic and soften until translucent
- Add the bouillon powder and stir in
- Add the coconut milk
- Then a litre of water, which I add boiled from the kettle, bring to a simmer and stir through
- You can add the lentils at this stage and cook in the broth
- Or cook separately in their own water to then add later
- I choose to do this as I didn’t want to blitz the lentils…preferring to keep them whole
- When the potatoes are ready, add into the broth mix and blitz using a hand blender
- Add the lentils if you cooked them separately.
Welcome into the kitchen, it’s Friday at last and I’ve poured us a glass of Beaujolais. A light and fruity wine made from the Gamay grape (I’ve just discovered). I left work early (around 4) and made it to the fish shop on the way home where they were clearing up for the day. Eddies fish market is always welcoming and they were very quick to ask me how my cookery course had gone on Tuesday (I’d bought fish then last thing!). I shouldn’t have been surprised this lady is the warmest lady you could ever wish to buy fish from and been tracking my boys progress through school like a long lost ant. She gives you feeling that your there only customer and always willing to find what you are looking for.
When it comes to fish, I’m not very knowledgeable or confident to experiment, the choice is immense. Things come with bones, eyes and with all manner of textures and methods and a broad range of costs depending on the fish. Then you need to think about the whole supply and demand thing. What was caught yesterday, what was in the net so to speak. So the whole confidence thing comes into play when you walk up to the counter with a specific cut that’s in a recipe. I usually look at the window and pick something very similar to what I had last time and it’s easy to point. This is what I did with the fish for my cookery course. I’d had Coley before and knew it would fit the bill.
For the Saturday night tea though I didn’t want to scrimp on price and I wanted to stay true to the recipe. So bold as brass I asked for a nice piece of white fish for roasting…..there was a pause and a look at the window….it was half empty or half full depending on your inclination….it was close to closing so I’m going the empty route. I was about to use the I can come back in the morning card….when she leaned over and fished(!) out 2 long fillets. Silver Hake….and then we went into a conversation about eating the skin and chicken feet!
The Nigel Challenge……well he’s got a new book coming out in a few days and I’ve almost got a full bookshelf dedicated to the guy….he was the one….the cook who turned my endeavours around in the kitchen and gave me hope! So the new book called Christmas Chronicles I believe covers the winter period with the run up to the main event in his foodie writing diary style. I already have Kitchen Diaries 1 through 3, with untried recipes, so how could I justify the next might tome, to add to bookshelf already creaking. So I’ve got myself a list of all the recipes in each diary for October through to December and I’m going to pick them off. A good 150 or so in all. There are some…that I’m just not going to attempt, most likely the game birds (see fear of fish shops and apply to butchers!) and a couple of repeats from KD1 and KD2 (pear chocolate crumble and ham with butter beans). I never really got into KD3, just felt different.
This weekend sees me tackling, Roast Haddock….(Except using Silver Hake) with bacon, Fennel, Watercress and Pear Salad (With addition of Kale!), English Apple Cake and then Orzo with Courgettes (Something the boys can take on for Sunday night tea)!
If we were having coffee it would be served with a fresh batch of buttermilk scones. You might have just come in from the rain, you may have done a 3 mile run and have the runners glow about you despite what the elements have thrown against you.
I’ve had the luxury of time to throw the scones together, random flours in the cupboard, amid of wholemeal and some 00 pasta flour just past it’s sell by and the buttermilk crying out from the fridge.
The week has seen us move well into autumn, the early morning starts are now in the dark and the idea of getting out and running before work is a real struggle. I left it a week and I noticed that I was starting to feel dark with my mood dipping. Friday I broke the mould and got out after watching a programme the night before on body age versus birth age.
I love autumn because of the hunkering down, the comfort food and the harvesting spoils. I’m determined though to keep the exercise up and face the blues that winter brings by being in the right place mentally.
Back to School for me this evening for an Indian Cookery class. Mainly to chum a pal who spotted this under adult education for Edinburgh. This evening mainly a demo and orientation session. The teacher covered a Chilli Dip, Yogurt Mango and Lime Relish,
Poppadum’s, Chicken Chaat and Vegetable Pakoras.
Throughout there was good chat on a few topics:
Spices – left in the cupboard
- If you don’t recognise them, can’t tell what they are, throw them away
- If they are past their sell by date, throw them away
- Smell them, if they don’t give off an aroma, probably have passed their best, throw them away
- Buying big bags although cheaper by weight is usually a false economy as you won’t use that amount overall. Use your judgement. Turmeric and Paprika might be an exception to this rule for me. Although I prefer using fresher ingredients so it’s a good consideration.
Apparently Garlic is easier to crush if fresher and the teacher attributed an upset stomach to using garlic that doesn’t have the green stalk removed. I looked this up further as I know Anna Del Conte recommended that you remove the stalk as it’s bitter. My view, about the sprout. It’s called the germ and when garlic is young, the germ is pale, small and tender and you don’t need to worry about it. Likewise if you are slow cooking you don’t need to worry. For an older garlic clove where the germ is green and you are using fresh, or quick frying you may wish to remove the green using your thumb or pairing knife.
Smaller varieties usually have more kick/heat. Not everyone likes a seed, can impart unwanted heat in a mouthful! You can use whole chillies and take them out later as a way of adding fragrance.
Chocolate Meringue Layer
Granny liked a Meringue and the youngest is asking for a Meringue recipe for his contribution to tea. As it so happens he likes chocolate and got very excited about making layers.
Credit: Granny’s Recipe File
Prep: 3 Baking trays with grease proof paper, and a 20cm circle drawn on each. This needs a long lead in. Easy to make through the day, around the jobs.
- 225g Caster Sugar
- 3 Large Eggs – separated….the whites for the Meringue, keep the yolks for the filling
- 3 Yolks
- 50g Plain Chocolate
- 50g Sugar
- 125ml Milk
- 175g Butter, at room temperature
- 8+ Maltesers (Optional Topping)
The Cake Layers
- Separate the eggs reserving yolks for the filing. I do this into a jug one at a time, after each separation I put the egg white into a large clean bowl for whisking. I’ve had accidents in the past where I’ve been over zealous with the crack and broke a yoke contaminating the lot!
- Whisk the egg whites until stiff at which point gradually fold in the sugar
- Lay grease proof paper on 3 baking sheets and spread meringue in 20cm diameter circles
- Bake at 150c for 1 hour, leave to cool with the oven door open. Then peel off the paper.
- Put the milk, the sugar, the chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of hot water. Melt the chocolate and stir
- Stir a little of the warm liquid into yolks and then pour back into the chocolate mixture
- Cook over simmering water. Stirring till thickened, patience is needed then remove and allow to become quite cold.
- Cream the butter by beating for a 2 mins, add the cold chocolate mixture till it becomes a soft cream….dare you not to have a taste!
- If using the maltesers, reserve 4 tablespoons of the chocolate cream for the top.
- Spread the rest on 2 meringues circles, then sandwich all three together
- Pipe reserved cream on the top circle in 8+ rosettes and top with Maltesers