Sweet potato, carrot and chickpea soup

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It is cold in Zurich, and this is all I want to eat. It is warming, filling and packed with different flavours – what is not to like about this soup?

Sweet potato, carrot and chickpea soup (recipe found in taste.com.au)

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large brown onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 600g orange sweet potato, peeled, diced
  • 500g carrots, peeled, sliced
  • 1.5L chicken stock
  • 300g can chickpeas, drained, rinsed
  • 1/2 small lemon, juiced

Method

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Stir in coriander, cumin and chilli powder. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add sweet potato and carrot. let them sweat stirring often, for 5 minutes until they are all covered with the spices and onion.

Add stock. Cover and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.

Add chickpeas to soup and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes or until chickpeas are tender.

Remove from the heat and blend the soup with an hand held mixer, until smooth.

Return to saucepan over medium-low heat. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Heat, stirring until it gets to a soft boil. Serve.

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Beef and apple tajine

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After last Easter’s lamb tajine cook off, it seemed right to give it a try to a different kind of meat,  now that Winter is on its way. For the same price, Si and Dave, on their Hairy Bikers version,  also got an opportunity redeem themselves from the least favourite tajine of the cook off.  It is slow food at it very slowest food. But, the result is a pure comfort food, packed with different flavours and textures, with sweet and spice notes.  Perfect for a cold Winter day… A word of warning, though:  it is a very heavy and filling dish. Most likely, it is also a caloric bomb…

Beef and apple tajine  (adapted from a recipe by Hairy Bikers found in BBC Goodfood)

Ingredients

  • 750g of  braising steak
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 onions, halved and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tbsp clear honey
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 medium sweet potato (around 400g)
  • 2 large apples
  • 25g bunch fresh coriander
  • 75g no-soak dried prunes, halved
  • flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the garnish
  • 1 large red-skinned  apple
  • 15g butter
  • 1 tbsp clear honey

Method

If not using a tajine, preheat the oven to 180oC.

Trim the beef of any hard fat and cut into roughly 3cm chunks. Season all over with salt and pepper.

Heat one tablespoon of the oil in the tagine (or in a large non-stick frying pan, you are not using the tajine). Fry the beef in three batches over a high heat until lightly browned on all sides, adding a little more oil to the pan when needed.  Reserve or transfer each batch to a large flameproof casserole once browned.

Reduce the heat and add two tablespoons more oil to the tajine (or the frying pan). Fry the onions for five minutes, or until softened and lightly coloured, stirring regularly. Add the garlic and sprinkle with the cumin, coriander and chilli powder. Cook for 1-2 minutes more, stirring constantly.

Put the brown meat back to the tajine (or tip the onions and spices into the casserole with the beef). Add about 50ml of cold water to the tagine and mix well to lift the sediment from the bottom. In case you are not using the tajine, add 150mL of water to the frying pan and stir until the sediment is gone. Pour the water into the casserole.

Add about 150mL of water, the tomatoes and chickpeas to the casserole and stir in the honey. Crumble the stock cube over the top, add the cinnamon stick and stir well. Bring to a simmer on the hob, stirring a couple of times. Cover with the tajine and let cook for about 1½ hours. In case you are not using a tajine, you will have to use a bit more water (about 350mL), let it boil. Then cover the dish with a lid, transfer to the oven and cook for 1½ hours.

Ten minutes before the time is up, peel the sweet potato and cut into roughly 2.5cm chunks. Peel the apples, cut into quarters and remove the cores. Cut the apples into 2cm chunks. Trim the coriander and roughly chop half of the leaves.

If you are not using the tajine, carefully take the casserole out of the oven and remove the lid. Stir in the sweet potato, apples, prunes and chopped coriander. Cover once more and return to the oven. If you are using a tajine, just add the remaining ingredients and give it a good stir. In both cases,  cook for a further 45-60 minutes, or until the beef is very tender.

To make the garnish, cut the apple into quarters and remove the core. Slice each apple quarter lengthways into five. Season with ground black pepper. Melt the butter in a large non-stick frying pan and fry the apple slices over a high heat for 3-4 minutes, or until lightly browned, turning occasionally. Remove from the heat, drizzle with the honey and toss lightly.

Scatter the fried apples over the tajine in the casserole, scatter with roughly chopped coriander and serve.


Roasted chicken with sweet potato

I had done dishes by Mafalda Pinto Leite before (here and here), and I knew she has good hand with combining different tastes and textures. Last time I was in Lisbon, I bought her book Cozinha Para Quem Não Tem Tempo [Cooking for those who have no time], to give it a try. Now that I have a regular office job again, it seemed like a good idea to have a bunch of recipes that are easy, quick and good all together. This was my first dish out of that book, and I have to say it seems I only got the last one right…. It is indeed an excellent combination of flavors and it  warms your soul. However, it actually took way longer than she claimed and the recipe was a bit confusing. Nothing a good cook cannot fix, but nevertheless, a bit lame…  Still worthwhile redoing and eating for as long as the Winter is here. Mind you, I ate it all and scrapped the Pyrex.

Roasted chicken with sweet potato

Ingredients

  •  4 pieces of chicken (either breast or thighs)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup of chopped coriander
  • 3 baby leeks, finely sliced (or 2 regular leeks, only white parts)
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons of grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of runny honey
  • 1/3 water cup
  • 200g sweet potato, peeled and sliced
  • Olive oil to brush

Method

Pre-heat the oven griller to medium-high

Put the garlic, coriander, baby leeks, lemon zest, ginger, soy sauce, honey and water in a tall jug or beaker. Blend in with a mixer for about 2 minutes, until is chopped but still with pieces. Poor this sauce on top of the chicken and spread well. Reserve.

Brush the sweet potato with olive oil.

Put the chicken and the sweet potatoes on an oven proof dish and grill until it is golden and cooked.

You can serve this dish with a green salad.


Roasted sweet potatoes pan fried with roasted red onions, pine nuts and feta cheese

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I have already mentioned it a few times: Tapas – Simple Flavours, Striking Combinations, by Carlos Horrillo and Patrick Morcas, is one of my favorite cookbooks. And, the  roasted sweet potatoes is one of my favorite dishes. It looks a bit laborious, but most of the roasting can be done in advance.

Roasted sweet potatoes pan fried with roasted red onions, pine nuts and feta cheese

Ingredients

  • 3 large sweet potatoes cut in 3 cm slices
  • garlic infused oil (I normally out 4 crushed cloves in 100ml olive oil and let it rest for a while)
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 red onions cut into quarters
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of pine nuts
  • 75g of feta cheese

Method

The stove goes at 200oC (mark 6).

Put the sweet potatoes in roasting tray and drizzle generously with garlic oil until they are well coated. 2 pinches of salt and 3 pinches of pepper and then mix well. Put in the middle of the stove for about 1h, and mix every now and again to ensure they don’t burn.

Put the onion quarters in a small roasting tray and drizzle with garlic oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place them at the bottom of the stove and cook for 20min.

For the pine nuts, get a small frying pan and put it at low heat. Do not add oil. Drop in the pine nuts and fry gently stirring constantly until they are golden brown. Reserve.

When the onions and sweet potatoes are ready, place a large heavy based non sticky frying pan on a medium to high heat and put enough garlic oil to cover the bottom Drop in half the roasted sweet potatoes and fry until they start to break. Add half the roasted onions and give everything a good stir. Cook for 5min, stirring the whole time to avoid burning. Take it out from the pan and keep it hot. Repeat with the remaining roasted potatoes and onions.

When the second batch is almost ready, add the first batch to the pan and reduce the heat to low. Carefully stir in the feta cheese and the pine nuts and continue cooking until the feta is almost melting. Serve straight away.