Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Curried Lentil & Coconut Soup

It is definitely September, on the first day of the month the weather seemed to take a turn for the autumnal. Suddenly, a t-shirt was not enough in the sunshine, jumpers were looked out, boots come to the front of the wardrobe... hats and scarves don't seem too far away, and in the middle of all this wind, rain and cool temperatures, Now despite being later in the month and the nights drawing in, I am planning a camping trip. It seemed like a great idea a few weeks ago, now I'm not too sure. A flask of soup and a flask of rich beef stew will be coming with us just in case the wind blows out the flame of the camping stove.

My round-up of camping food will come next week but this recipe fits more into the planning stage as I am making it before we leave and eating it after we pitch on friday night.

So so so easy, this is the most beautiful smooth, creamy and light flavoured soup,child-friendly in its spiciness though easy to heat up if you add a teaspoon of chilli with the tikka masala paste. No-one has tried it without asking for the recipe and almost no-one believes there are only 4 main ingredients.

Curried Lentil & Coconut Soup
1 onion, finely chopped
1tbsp olive oil
2tbsp tikka masala paste
2 large handfuls of orange lentils
1 tin of low fat coconut milk

Warm the olive oil in a heavy based saucepan.
Saute the onion until transluscent, don't allow it to brown.
Add tikka masala paste, and saute a minute longer to allow the spices to warm up.
Throw in the lentils, coconut milk and a cupful of water.
Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes until the lentils have cooked and broken down.
Blend until smooth.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Green Apple Cafe Rocky Road

My very favourite treat at the Green Apple Cafe (and the one most likely to run out in the space of one hour due to people buying extra to take away!) is our Rocky Road. Some people think of this as more of a chocolate biscuit cake or no-bake cake, and almost everyone has a verision of this in their repertoire but this is my favourite. It is a great treat to make with children (especially if you use the microwave version for safety) and left at room temperature for a few minutes, tastes almost like chocolate fudge.... delicious.

Green Apple Cafe Rocky Road
125g  butter
75g golden syrup
200g dark chocolate,  broken into pieces
1 egg
50g chocolate digestive biscuits
50g walnuts or hazelnuts
50g mini marshmallows
50g cranberries
50g glacé cherries

Line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper then set aside.
Melt the butter and syrup together in a small saucepan over a gentle heat until they begin to boil. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl suspended over a saucepan of barely simmering water (or in the microwave) , add to the butter and golden syrup.
Add the egg very slowly to the hot chocolate mixture (it needs to amalgamate well not turn into chocolatey scrambled egg) and stir well.
Break up the biscuits into good sized chunks and add to the chocolate with the marshmallows, nuts, cranberries and the cherries.
Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and leave to set in the fridge overnight (or around 4 hours if you can't bear to wait). Remove from the fridge and cut into slices.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Late Summer Meals in Ten Minutes or Less

This post should be labelled Very Late Recipes for Summer... I've been thinking about it for weeks now... Does your day-to-day cooking need a shake-up? Mine really does, I feel like I have started to rely on a few recipes for my weekday family food and I am getting bored and stuck in a rut. I've spent the last couple of weeks combing my notebooks, scraps of paper with ideas written on, cookbooks with yellow sticky notes popping out the top and have tried to come up with a week of fresh new ideas.

This blog is less formal recipe - more a bit of inspiration and some fresh ideas to bounce around the kitchen. There is a big myth about eating well that it has to take a lot of thought to shop for and ages to prepare... This is my next week's worth of dinners: I'll add some salad and crusty bread and hopefully these will feed a famished family after a day in the late summer sun.
  • Tomato Bread Salad (pictured above) - sprinkle some cubes of day old crusty bread with a few glugs of olive oil and put them in the oven to crisp while you throw a salad together of fresh tomatoes, cucumber, red onions, basil and feta cheese. Top with the croutons and toss with a vinegarette of olive oil, salt and pepper and red wine vinegar. Defininitely substantial enough for a main course. You can also throw everything but the feta in a blender and make a mean gazpacho, top it with the crumbled feta to make it a little more filling.
  • Take a bag of fresh mussels, throw in a big pot with a glass of white wine, two chopped fresh tomatoes and a pinch of chilli flakes. Bring to the boil and steam until the mussels are open. Sprinkle with parsley and serve over spaghetti.
  • Open up some good quality sausage skins (I used spicy pork) with scissors, stir-fry the meat a couple of minutes till cooked through. Add a glug of cream, a tablespoon of mustard and bubble for a minute or two. Serve over a baked potato with a green salad on the side. 
  • Cook up a big pan of scrambled eggs, season with salt and pepper. While they are cooking, chop a salad of  fresh tomato, feta or grated cheddar cheese and fresh chilli. Serve the eggs and salad on a wrap topped with a little sour cream and coriander. 
  • Take some giant Portabello mushrooms, top with blue cheese and a drizzle of cream. Grill for a few minutes until golden and served ontop thick toast to soak up the lovely juices.
  • Open a tin of cannelinni beans, toss with some crushed garlic, the juice of a lemon, a glug of olive oil and some freshly chopped parsley...  then dollop on some crusty bread and top with a little smoked salmon.
  • Cook pasta bows and toss with with good pesto, peas and parmesan... ooh and you can add some cooked prawns for added protein.
  • Mackerel pate - blitz in a blender a pack of cooked peppered mackerel fillets, a 250g tub of cream cheese and the juice of a lemon. Spread the pate on toast and serve with cornichons, pickled onions and a side salad. 
  • In a pan, throw a packet of instant noodles, cook for a few minutes in chicken or vegetable stock then stir in a tablespoon of Tom Yam paste (Thai spicy soup paste) and half a bag of baby spinach leaves then bubble for a minute or two until the leaves have wilted. Toss in a handful of cooked chicken or prawns if you have some lying around.