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?

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

Roasted Squash, Bacon and Spinach Risotto

#squash #spinach #bacon #risotto

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Week 5 of the re-wire and at last the sparkies have finished.  They were a great couple of guys but the house has been turned up side down.  It feels like we’ve moved house and this time we don’t know where anything is.  Throughout though we’ve managed to keep the veggie box going and this week we were topically (Halloween) re-warded with a small squash.

When I saw it I knew immediately what I wanted to make and my mind sprung to getting my eldest in on the act, away from his screen with a lesson in the dark art of absorption.

Roasting a squash might feel like a faff.  Once in the oven though, you crack on with the risotto and the squash takes care of itself.

  • Small Squash
  • 225g Smoked Bacon, chopped into pieces
  • 300g Arborio rice
  • Onion diced
  • Garlic Clove, crushed
  • 1.2 Litre of stock (we used bouillon)
  • 1 teaspoon Paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • Olive or Rapeseed Oil
  • 4 Tablespoons Creme Fraiche
  • Spinach 200g or so

Peel the squash, half it and scoop out the seeds.   Dice both halves into good bite sized cubes.  Place on a roasting tray drizzle with some oil and place into the oven for 30 mins or so on 180°C.

Once your squash is in the oven, crack on with Risotto.

A good sized pan is needed for this as basically everything is going to end-up in it!

Fry the bacon in some oil, scoop out once cooked and put to one side, try to leave as much as the oil as possible.

Then soften the onion, crushed garlic in the oil on a gentle heat.  Add the spices at this point and cook for another minute.

Add the Arborio rice at this point.  I joke with my son here that the rice will start to talk to you when it’s ready for some liquid.

Add a ladle of stock.  Simmer and stir until absorbed and keep doing this until all the stock has gone.   The rice should be soft to the bite, you might need a little less liquid or a little more.  Use your judgement.  Stir in the creme fraiche and the bacon.  Add the spinach, this will wilt down which is a surprise in itself.

Finally fold in the roasted squash.

 

Autumn Term and a Warming Stew

Enjoying the colours!

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There is a definite change in the air, the turning of the colour on the leaves and the last few days has seen an omni present dewy dampness in the morning that is burnt off in the September sun.

This is one of my favourite times of the year from a cooks perspective.  The foodie will notice the change on the cover of magazines, long gone are the healthy salads ready to make you virtuous before the day is out ready to hit the beach in your skimpy speedos.  Now is the time to hit the comforting autumn bounty, the central heating is on after all.  With squashes and apple delights adorning the magazine racks.  To pick one up makes you feel comfortable just to the touch.

The weekend saw me caught between the headlights on so many fronts and trying to cope and keep the family nurished is a priority.  If you find yourself in this situation then putting something in a slow cooker is ideal with minimum stress.  This version completely disregards sealing the meat, a faff at the best of times!  Although I can hear a million voices cry out in anger…..I just didn’t have the time.

  • 2 medium sized onions diced
  • 1kg Stewing Lamb
  • 2 tins of pulses (Chefs choice, I use chick peas and canneloni)
  • 250g chopped mushrooms (I quarter them)
  • 1-2 tsp smoked paprika (or a spice mix that gives a little warmth)
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes
  • 50 grams red split lentils
  • 50 grams brown split lentils
  1. Soften the onions in a glug of olive oil
  2. Add the spice to the onions and stir in for a minute or so
  3. Put everything in the slow cooker at this point, except the split lentils
  4. High heat for a good 2 hours
  5. At this point give it a good stir and use your judgement.  Think about how you like your stew, I find a good hundred grams of lentils at this point is the ideal thing to both soak up and thinken the juices.
  6. I leave in the slow cooker for another hour or so on low heat in order to cook the lentils

This easily does the four of us two meals, great for freezing and good for a quick reheat mid week. Serve with potatoes or couscous. Or as a chunky soup with a big chunky slice of bread.

Monday

AutumnChoked up with cold this morning, a sign of the November cold nights or the close encounters of messing around with my 2 year old nephew!

I had a productive weekend in the kitchen, set my self a recipe list on Friday evening and by in large made my way through it.

Finally got myself organised and tried Nigel Slaters Christmas cake. Hoping for an early December tasting. We typically go for a good house keeping recipe, year in year out and never fails us…always room to try something new. The addition of ground almonds, hazelnuts and an orange twist will be adding to the excitement.

I was also going to try Nigel’s no nonsense brownie…..however the boss sidetracked me and suggested I try Green and Blacks version. If your looking for a good sized brownie to feed the masses, this is the one. None of your little square baking tins, this one fills the battleship roasting tin!

On the savoury side, I made a new soup inspired by Peter Jackson and a variation of Nigel’s Osso Bucco that just hit the spot for a Saturday night meal for two.

Set my eldest a challenge on the Sunday night tea front. I was browsing through the options when his eyes lit up on spaghetti carbonara, I thought I’d tap into this excitement with a shopping challenge. Gave him his list, a mere 4 ingredients and whilst I did my messages he hunter gathered bacon, eggs, mushrooms and a packet of spaghetti. The mushrooms were my idea to try and make it a little more healthier.

I also got around to writing last weeks recipe up Lamb Topside Stew