Sweet Potatoe and Lentil Soup

Red Lentils

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.

Credit: EdinburghCook

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  1. Rinse and then soak the lentils in 500g/500ml or so in cold water for 30 mins
  2. Peel the sweet potatoes and chop into chunks, roast for 45 mins to an hour until soft
  3. Dice the onion
  4. Bring a tbsp of the oil to a soft heat in a heavy based pan that will hold a good 2litres of liquid.
  5. Add the onion and crushed garlic and soften until translucent
  6. Add the bouillon powder and stir in
  7. Add the coconut milk
  8. Then a litre of water, which I add boiled from the kettle, bring to a simmer and stir through
  9. You can add the lentils at this stage and cook in the broth
    1. Or cook separately in their own water to then add later
    2. I choose to do this as I didn’t want to blitz the lentils…preferring to keep them whole
  10. When the potatoes are ready, add into the broth mix and blitz using a hand blender
  11. Add the lentils if you cooked them separately.

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Doesn’t that just make you happy rice

Plain Basmati Rice

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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A cup of rice, with magic just waiting to happen

Rice is one of the worlds treasures, the magic that exists in a palm full of rice is amazing, simple and versatile and easy to unlock with a simple method.  Water and heat, but in which combination.   I grew up with the boil to death technique, sieve and pour over a kettle of water and hope that the rice has survived the process.  Then when I left for university I discovered and upgraded to brown rice, and this to my mind enjoys the boil to death technique, 30 mins should do it.  It was good, it was healthy but it didn’t quite have the magic that white basmati has when cooked to perfection.  The recipe below comes close to it!   When the time comes to take the lid off…….it will just make you happy!   

  • The key to this recipe is steam and warmth, a heavy pan with a tight fitting lid is essential to this process, it keeps the heat and steam to cook the rice through.
  • Do not lift the lid or you will miss all that heavenly glory!  (Sorry Bruce Lee quote coming through there)

Ingredients

  • 200g basmati Rice, or a teacup
  • 15 butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 400ml boiling water, or 1½ teacup full

Directions

  1. In a heavy pan melt the butter
  2. Add the rice to the butter and stir through, the rice will become slightly translucent and gasping for water
  3. Add a pinch of salt and then the water
  4. Bring to a simmer and then place the lid onto the pan.  Turn the heat down as low as possible.
  5. Leave to cook for 12 minutes…..without peaking!
  6. Take the pan off the heat and leave for another 10 minutes…..without peaking….have faith!
  7. Now you can lift the lid and carefully using a fork, fluff the rice up and serve
  8. Doesn’t that just make you happy?

Wholemeal Buttermilk Fruit Scone

A little over baked, buttermilk scones


We had a guests this weekend, a long time university friend of my wife’s (pre dating me) and her 13 year old son. One thing I’m sure of is that breakfast will be long and easy. The conversation flows like they’ve never been apart and the opportunity to add something different into the mix is not to be missed. Sunday morning and the two ladies had set themselves a goal of running before breakfast. It was raining and they went for it. Chance for me to cause some chaos in the kitchen and there was half a tub of buttermilk languishing in the fridge that needed using.


Credit: EdinburghCook

Ingredients


• 150g wholemeal plain flour
• 100g 00 grade Flour or plain white flour
• 50g unsalted butter
• 2½ teaspoons baking powder
• 3 tablespoons caster sugar
• 100g raisins
• 1 large egg
• 90g buttermilk or low fat plain yoghurt

Directions

  1. Set the oven up for success, 220°c.
  2. Get your baking tray ready lined with non-stick baking paper
  3. Weigh the flours sugar and baking powder together and pour into food processor
  4. Roughly cube and add to the processor and pulse until combined
  5. Steps 2 and 3 can be completed by hand (especially if you have could hands) by rubbing together with your finger tips
  6. Pour into a good sized mixing bowl and mix in the raisins
  7. Combine the egg and buttermilk together with a fork, a light beat
  8. Then stir into the flour, using your hands to bring it together into a ball of dough
  9. On a floured surface spread out the dough with a roller or your hands. 3-4cm thick
  10. Use a small cutter to stamp out the scones
  11. Gently gather the trimmings together to form another ball and repeat the cut out process
  12. Optionally brush a little buttermilk on top of the scones before popping in the oven
  13. Bake for 12 mins until risen and lightly coloured
  14. Transfer to a wire rack, covered with a tea towel

Chocolate Meringue Layer Cake

Chocolate Meringue Layer

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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The finishing touches. 3 layer. #Chocolate #meringuecake

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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.

Ingredients

Cake Layers:

  • 225g Caster Sugar
  • 3 Large Eggs – separated….the whites for the Meringue, keep the yolks for the filling

Filling:

  • 3 Yolks
  • 50g Plain Chocolate
  • 50g Sugar
  • 125ml Milk
  • 175g Butter, at room temperature
  • 8+ Maltesers (Optional Topping)

Directions

The Cake Layers

  1. 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!
  2. Whisk the egg whites until stiff at which point gradually fold in the sugar
  3. Lay grease proof paper on 3 baking sheets and spread meringue in 20cm diameter circles
  4. Bake at 150c for 1 hour, leave to cool with the oven door open.  Then peel off the paper.

The Filling:

  1. Put the milk, the sugar, the chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of hot water. Melt the chocolate and stir
  2. Stir a little of the warm liquid into yolks and then pour back into the chocolate mixture
  3. Cook over simmering water. Stirring till thickened, patience is needed then remove and allow to become quite cold.
  4. 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!
  5. If using the maltesers, reserve 4 tablespoons of the chocolate cream for the top.
  6. Spread the rest on 2 meringues circles, then sandwich all three together
  7. Pipe reserved cream on the top circle in 8+ rosettes and top with Maltesers

 

Porridge

Breakfast of champions #porridge and kiwi #365 20/365

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My eldest is starting to eat us out of house and home…an example of this is breakfast, he’s started getting through 4 Weetabix a day!  Not really a problem apart from cost and the feeling of being visited by a locust as he inhales the buscuits.  I find breakfast cereals really annoying in terms of cost, actual nutritional content and the promise of keeping hunger at bay.  Porridge though, passed down through the generations, a warming soul food.  Not too expensive and a genuine life saver in terms of keeping my boys happy.

Oats have got to be one of this worlds gifts, a humble ingredient and so versatile especially in this simple recipe.  We are a hundred percent milk house, you can use a blend of water and milk and adjust to taste, a pinch of salt if needed, a drop of honey to add sweetness. I love chopped banana and blueberries. Easy to make this your own.

Credit: The Edinburgh Cook Recipe File

Ingredients

  • 50g porridge oats
  • 250g milk (or 150g milk/100g water)

Directions

  1. In a microwave bowl, weigh 50g of the oats
  2. In the same bowl pour in the milk to the 300g mark  (You could measure 250ml from jug).  Just easier on the scale to pour from the 2 litre bottles we buy
  3. Mix together and put in the fridge overnight (optional)
  4. Microwave for 1.5 mins, stir
  5. Microwave for 1 minute, stir
  6. Microwave for 30 seconds, stir

Alternatively bring to a simmer on the stove, stirring all the while, you want to it to barely speak to you with a plop and a burp.

I now leave my boys to it, they have adapted their technique to their own preference.  The youngest doesn’t like to soak overnight, and the eldest likes to soak and has changed his own  variables

Bolognese – Authentic Edinburgh Cook Style

Bolognese EdinburghCook Style

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
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Bolognese

Bolognese when I was a boy came from a Colman’s packet, a dry substance that was mixed with hot water and mince that had been browned for 5 minutes or so served with a bland starchy spaghetti. My sister and I desperately trying to convince my dad that it would be great idea, worth a change and add some variety to our menu. I can’t remember how we convinced him, but we did and it was horrible! Maybe it was us, we weren’t cooks, the sauce I remember was so watery and tasteless, we put a brave face on and made out it was great! We didn’t get to try again, probably a good thing!

As a student I moved onto jars of Dolmio probably buy 1 get 1 free and then later after graduation more sophisticated jars of pasta sauce with bake in the oven magic skills. At some point though I became aware that these jars came with sugar, salt and all manner of preservatives. I’m pretty sure they came with the word authentic across the label, or just like mama used to make. Somehow I became aware that all that was really needed was a tin of good quality tomatoes, some seasoning, good mince and some slow cook time.

I’ve come across many variations of a Bolognese recipe all claiming to be authentic and I’ve tried a few of them, hoping to come across the secret sauce, the be all and end all of all Bolognese recipes to end them all. I’ve come to realise that the authentic Bolognese is your own recipe…the one that works for you and your family.

Mine, I adapt for the mood, it’s always made with view of having enough to freeze, use up the onions and the carrots from the veg box, even the odd chilli and then I add kidney beans as well…..please don’t shoot me….I know it’s not traditional authentic…..it works for us though! I hope you get something from my recipe!


Credit: The Edinburgh Cook Recipe File
Prep: This roughly covers 12 portions, we get 3 meals for 4 in terms of freezer prep. Good sized casserole dish, heavy based pan.

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp Olive oil
  • 100g pancetta or bacon (I use ham ends from the butcher), diced
  • 2 Onions, finely chopped
  • 2 Cloves garlic
  • 2-3 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1kg mince (Our butcher now does minced pork, so I use 500g of pork and 500g beef)
  • 1 tblsp dried oregano
  • 300ml red wine (could use white)
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 100g split red lentils (controversial! Optional)
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 150ml whole milk

To serve, up until recently we were big fans of Spaghetti or Fusilli. My recent discovery being that Spaghetti is a British/American take on the dish. More traditional would be Tagliatelle or Pappardelle and mixed into the pasta rather than served on top in a big dollop.

Goes without saying freshly grated parmesan adds that true authentic taste!

Directions

  1. Heat the oil, and gently brown the bacon
  2. With the heat at a gentle setting, add the veg to this and soften the onions, garlic, carrots and celery with the idea of creating a Soffrito, a soft base of veg
  3. At this point I tip this into a bowl and put to a side….just so I can really get stuck in with the meat. You can crumble the mince straight into the pan if you like.
  4. Turn the heat up slightly and using a wooden spoon break the mince down, browning it as you go. The mince needs to have lost all its colour.
  5. Once browned throw the veg back in if you went for the separate bowl option.
  6. Add the Oregano, stir through.
  7. Add a pinch of salt and a grinding of black pepper
  8. Add the Wine and stir through, bring to a simmer.
  9. Add the tomatoes and the purée, stir through and bring to a simmer then lower the heat and pop the lid on for an 1hr 30mins. You just want the ragu to talk to itself for an hour so. Keep an eye on it…I like to nurture it.
  10. At this point I stir in the milk….some people add a bit of dark chocolate. The milk adds a subtle creaminess that I like
  11. At this point I gage whether it’s too runny and add the lentils in, simmer and stir for 30 mins. This both soaks up the liquid at the same time as bulking out the meal for the boys who just seem to be eating more and more! You could just take the lid off and simmer slowly for 30 mins to thicken up

Chicken Potatoes & Rosemary

Chicken Pot Roast

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Chicken Pot Roast for 2

A dreich weekend, a head cold to boot and looking after our nephews called for a simple bang in the oven treat. Chicken was the staple of my youth, but there was not a herb in site let alone garlic, just bisto! 

Credit: Granny’s Recipe File

Prep: You’ll need a large bowl for tossing the ingredients together and a lidded roasting dish.  The recipe will scale easily, so chose an appropriate roasting dish. This is perfect for 2 in a small le Creuset

Ingredients

  • 4 Chicken Thighs
  • 3 medium roasting potatoes cut into chunks
  • 100g Bacon Pieces/diced streaky
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 Onion Quartered and then chopped again
  • 2 Sprigs of Rosemary, or few sprigs of thyme
  • Olive Oil
  • Juice of a Lemon
  • 2 tbsp Crème Fraiche

The recipe card recommends serving with a green salad, or braised cabbage like I did.

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°c
  2. In a large bowl, mix/turn over the potatoes with
    • Chopped onions
    • Diced bacon
    • Finely sliced garlic
    • Finely chopped rosemary or thyme
    • Good glug of olive oil
  3. Once everything coated with the oil tip into the casserole dish
  4. Place the chicken pieces on top, brush with a little oil if you want the skin to colour
  5. Place in the oven with the lid on for 40 mins
  6. After this make a judgement call,
    1. I took the lid off and placed back in the oven to colour the skin
    2. Could have taken the chicken out and roasted separately if the veg was well on its way.
  7. Take the chicken out and place on a plate
  8. Add the lemon juice and the crème fraiche to the potatoes and turn over