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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Tales from the table – October Challenge

2017-10-17 08.45.30

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)!

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

Back to School – Indian Cookery

Back to school for me this evening, adult cookery class

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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.

Garlic

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.

Chillies

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.

 

 

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