Thursday, 23 August 2007

Red Lentil and Cauliflower Soup

You can always tell I think when either someone is skint or trying to use up things lurking in cupboards before going on holiday...hence last nights invention of lentil and cauliflower soup!! It was actually quite good and almost 'nursery food' in texture.

Serves 2:

1/2 a cauliflower
4 tbsp approx of red lentils
1 pint light veg stock (I used 1 heaped tsp of marigold boullion)
1 onion finely diced
1 clove garlic finely chopped
1 pinch of chili powder
1 pinch cumin seeds
1 tsp butter
2 tsp olive oil
Black pepper to taste
1 tbsp cream cheese (optional)

1) Cut off all the cauliflower florets and reserve, with the remaining stalks and any good leaves finely chop, then heat the butter and olive oil together and add the chopped stalky bits, onion garlic, cumin and chili powder, simmer for about 5 mins gently being careful not to burn anything.

2) Add the florets and mix well, pour in stock until veg is about 1 cm over the liquid, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until soft and the lentils are cooked through

3) Remove from heat and blitz with your tool of choice, stir in the cream cheese and season to taste.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Chocolate Orange Panna cotta

Well, these can be simply described as YUM!! A very well turned out experiment! Easy to make and very impressive!

Makes 8 ramekins


175g Caster Sugar
568ml Double Cream
200 ml Semi skimmed milk
2 oranges
4 sheets costa fine leaf gelatine
100g aprox 70% cocoa chocolate

1) Finely grate the zest of both oranges and reserve. Juice the oranges and place the gelatine leaves in the juice and soak for 5 minutes whilst you do step 2 & 3

2) Heat the cream, milk and sugar to boiling point, ensuring the sugar has fully melted

3) Gently melt the chocolate in a heavy pan or in a bain-marie

4) Rinse the moulds in cold water - do not dry!

5) Remove the milk mix from the heat and gently stir in the drained gelatine leaves with a wooden spoon, now constantly stirring slowly pour in the melted chocolate, then add 3/4 of the zest, pour into the moulds and allow to cool, sprinkle over the remaining zest and chill for a minimum of 4 hours.

Note: Whilst you need to distribute the melted chocolate evenly, do not overmix as if left to its own devices the chocolate creates little pockets of yum and give it a bit of texture.

My recipe is adapted from vanilla panna cotta recipe (which also happens to be rather scrumptcious!)

Friday, 10 August 2007

Lemon Topping

Now I wasnt sure where to post this but guess 'desserts' kinda falls into the category...

I recently made the lemon cheesecake recipe from Margurite Patten, however after making I fancied topping it with something...what resulted was a lovely zangy topping which complimented the cheesecake perfectly:

2 lemons
4 tbsp caster sugar
1 sheet gelatine leaf

1) Firstly, zest both of the lemons into cm strips and reserve, then halve both lemons and juice, place the juice in a small saucepan with the sugar

2) Place the gelatine in a bowl with a little water and leave for 4-5 mins, then drain well

3) Heat the lemon juice, zest and sugar together and boil for about 2 minutes, allow to cool then stir in the drained gelatine, stir well until melted, cool a little longer then pour over the cheesecake, refrigerate and allow to set (about two hours)

'Dirty' Potatoes

Now I felt compelled to publish this after a recent conversation with the dearest other half..'so do you want dirty potatoes or crushed potatoes tonight' ....erm crushed?? okay...30 minutes later and we are sitting down to eat 'so darling how are your potatoes' ... 'erm not what I expected, thought we having the creamy ones' ah so you meant dirty potatoes...'erm yes I guess so....' and soo.... (and if you are wondering about the unusual name, try it and hopefully you will agree!!)

All quantities are a loose guide!

Requires a lidded wide heavy based pan! Very easy and seriously yummy!

Ingredients for two greedy portions:

Apx 500g charlotte or new littleish potatoes
2 tsp marigold stock powder
4 tbsp cream (any will do!!)
Freshly ground black pepper
Sea Salt
1/2 pint hot water
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp apx butter

1) Wash and slice the potatoes long ways and thinly, removing any gnarly bits!

2) Heat the butter and olive oil, add the potatoes, mix well and cover

3) Boil the water and combine with the marigold powder

4) Add about half the mixture to the potatoes and reduce to a gentle simmer, keeping a casual eye on the potatoes, top up with the remaining marigold mixture as required but do not bathe them!! Keep relatively dry, you do not want to be draining lquid at the end!!

5) After about 18-20 mins test to see if they are done by piercing with a knife, when softened remove from heat, stir in cream and season well and serve!!

Match made in heaven with chicken and cabbage or any other green lush vegetable!!

(For a lighter option simply slice the potatoes and cook in water and marigold stock - equally delicious and less sinful!)

Kitchen Cupboard

Whilst I love cooking from fresh, sometimes its handy to have a few standbys! Here is an ongoing list of recommendations:

13/04/08- Lidl's jar of bratwurst (like hotdogs but less cr&p in!) - great mixed with pasta and cheese sauce for an easy supper

10/04/08 - Tikka Marinade from the new provender co, is light and tomatoey and not spicy, was nice with turkey steaks

12/12/07 - Erm not quite 'standby' item but we have fallen deeply in love with 'Poppycock' cashew nut popcorn! It has a gorgeous sweet glaze and crunchy cashews and perfect popcorn! Heaven in a tin!!

November - Lidls' Tikka Masala Sauce - we had this with chicken thighs and was a really lovely, nicely spiced sauce, I normally dislike tikka masala as tends to be a bit sweet but this is really yummy! Have now stocked up the cupboard for cheating! Also tried this with lamb mince and chickpeas and is lush!

09/08/07 - Running late with a hungry mother to get to tends to confuse the mind so after a trip to sainsburys enroute I am surprised I ended up with something decent! Fancying something sweet, slightly creamy but full flavoured I picked up a bottle of Seeds Of change organic Coconut and Coriander Korma - boy were we in for a treat! The sauce was nicely spiced and perfectly balanced and married well with a pack of king prawns and pan fried baby courgettes, yum yum!!

Ongoing - 'Frank Coopers' Superior Mincemeat with Cranberries, Ruby port and Winte spices' Blimey - this is like one of the BEST mincemeats ever!! The fruit is divine and has a healthy dose of booze!! Reconmend ten times over!!

Kallo Organic bouilion cubes, great for gravy and soups

Creme Fraiche - so many uses for the lighter and normal verions

Good Bacon - defrosts quickly and great for salads/ sandwiches/ pasta etc

Free range and organic Eggs are a must and refuse to use or eat battery eggs

Fresly ground sea salt - used in all my recipes where salt or 's' is stated, currently using Lidl's which is very good value, also Maldon is good when you need larger crystals

Freshly ground black pepper - like above where my recipes state BP or S&P, using
Tescos grinder currently, good value and quality consistent.

Natural Meats butcher in Staines stocks the best Lamb and Sausagemeat I have ever tasted! Its expensive but worth it as an occasional treat

Chili infused Olive Oil - great for boosting tomato based dishes

Recently discovered choc chip brioche...where have you been all my life you lovely lovely things!! ;-)

Lidls balsamic pickled onions - heaven in a jar!!
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