Crushed puy lentils with tahini and cumin

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Stop. Start. But, start with a tradition: a lentil dish on the menu for the first post of the year. Of course it had to be a Yotam Ottolengi’s .  Quick, easy and totally delicious, this is a hearty dish that will warm you to the soul in a cold winter day.

Crushed puy lentils with tahini and cumin (adapted from Yotam Ottolengi’s column in The Guardian)

Ingredients

  • 200g puy lentils
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 medium tomatoes,  cut into 1cm dice
  • 25g coriander leaves, chopped
  • 4 tbsp tahini paste
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt and black pepper
  • ½ small red onion, peeled and sliced very thin
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered

Cook the lentils according to the instructions on the packet,until completely cooked. Then drain and set aside.

Put the butter and oil in a large frying pan and place on a medium-high heat. Once the butter melts, add the garlic and cumin, and cook for a minute. Add the tomatoes, 20g of coriander and the cooked lentils. Cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes,

Add the tahini, lemon juice, 70ml of water, a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Turn down the heat to medium and cook gently, stirring, for a few minutes more, until hot and thickened. Roughly mash the lentils with a potato masher, so that some are broken up and you get a thick, porridge consistency. Serve warm with the hard-boiled eggs alongside.

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Kale, chorizo and white beans soup

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Just what you need when you get back home on a Winter: a hot plate of hearty soup. But, please don’t say my Mother I this is I am having for dinner almost every other week… Officially, I am still allergic to soup.

Kale, chorizo and white beans soup (adapted from The Hairy Bikers website)

Ingredients 

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into 1,5cm chunks
  • 150g green beans, cut in 3cm pieces
  • 75g chorizo sausage, skinned and cut into 1cm slices
  • 1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon flaked sea salt, plus extra to season
  • 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1.5 litres chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 400g can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 150g curly kale, thickly shredded
  • freshly ground black pepper

Method

Heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan  Add the onion and garlic and fry gently for 5 minutes until softened but not coloured, stirring often.

Add the chorizo, paprika and carrots to the onion and cook over a low heat for 2 minutes, stirring until the chorizo begins to release its fat. Season with salt and lots of black pepper. Tip the tomatoes into the same pan, add the stock and sugar, then turn the heat up to medium.

Bring the liquid to the boil. Reduce the heat slightly and leave the soup to simmer for 12 minutes. Add the canned and fresh beans and the kale and bring it back to a gentle simmer. Cook for 10 minutes until all the vegetables are just tender, adding a little extra water if the soup is looking too thick. Season the soup with salt and black pepper and serve in deep bowls


Spiced lentils with cucumber yogurt, take 2

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It was one of the first posts of this blog,  long long time ago. Since then, an awful lot has happened: people have walked in and out of my life, some doors have shut and others have opened and Summer might have taken its time to arrive, but it alway did…  Yet, for whatever reason, I keep coming back to it, specially in the first days of Winter. Confort food doesn’t get much better than this… Seriously, it is quite easy to do. It requires minimum attention and preparation – just the odd bit of mixing suff here and there. Most of the ingredients are spices and the most sophisticated ones are actually optional.

Spiced lentils with cucumber yogurt (adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s column in The Guardian)

Ingredients

For the lentils

  • 200g split red lentils
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander
  • 1 small onion, peeled
  • 40g ginger, peeled
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 mild green chilli
  • half teaspoon of black mustard seeds
  • 4 tablespoons of sunflower oil
  • half teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • half teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • half teaspoon ground turmeric
  • half teaspoon paprika
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 300g ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 teaspoon caster sugar
  • half teaspoon fenugreek (optional)
  • 1 pinch asafoetida (optional)
  • Salt

For the cucumber yogurt

  • 150g Greek yogurt (I used regular lactose free yogurt)
  • 75g finely diced cucumber
  • half tablespoon of olive oil
  • 70g unsalted butter
  • lime juice

 Method

Wash the lentils in plenty of water, drain and soak in 350ml of fresh water for 30 minutes. Cut the coriander bunch somewhere around its centre to get a leafy top half and a stem/root bottom half. Roughly chop the leaves. Put the stem half in the bowl of a food processor, add the onion, ginger, garlic and chilli – all roughly broken – and pulse a few times to chop up without turning into a paste.

Put the mustard seeds in a heavy-based pot and place over medium heat. When they begin to pop, add the onion mix and sunflower oil, stir and cook on low heat for 10 minutes. Add the spices and curry leaves, and continue cooking and stirring for five minutes longer. Now add the lentils and their soaking water, the tomatoes, sugar, fenugreek, asafoetida and a pinch of salt. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the lentils are fully cooked.

Before serving, whisk together the yogurt, cucumber, oil and some salt. Stir into the lentils the butter, lime juice and chopped coriander leaves, taste and season generously with salt. Divide into bowls, spoon yogurt on top and garnish with coriander.


Cottage pie

light cottage pie

 

I could be writing about lovely Spring dishes, with plenty of asparagus, rhubarb and green stuff all around. But not – cottage pie it is. No Spring, no Spring food. Anyway, it is either this or start a monumental rant about the weather on Facebook… The pie itself, is delicious, warming and comforting.

Cottage pie (adapted from Dave Myers and Si King’s The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight)

Ingredients

Filling

  • 400g of lean minced beef
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoon of tomato purée
  • 500mL beefstock, made with 1 beef stock cube
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Leeky potato topping

  • 750g of floury potatoes
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 2 slender leeks, timed and cut into 1cm slices
  • 150mL of low fat milk
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method 

Place a large non stick sauce pan or casserole dish over a medium heat. No need to add olive oil – it is a non stick pan, after all. Put in the minced meat and cook it  together with the onions, celery and carrots for about 10min, until lightly coloured. Use a couple of wooden spoons to break up the meat as it cooks

Stir in the tomatoes, the tomato purée, the beef stock, the Worcestershire sauce and the mixed herbs. Season with a generous pinch of  salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat. Cover loosely and simmer gently for about 40min, stirring occasionally until the meat is tender.

You can start preparing the potato topping. Peel the potatoes and cut them into rough 4cm chunks. Put them in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then down the heat slightly and simmer for 18-20min or until the potatoes are very tender. Heat the oil in a non stick frying pan and fry the leeks for 5min until softened but not coloured, stirring often. Drain the potatoes, then tip them back into the pan, season to taste and mash with the milk (and a little butter) until smooth. Stir in the sautéed leeks and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 220oC. When the beef has been simmering for 40min, mix the cornflour with the cold flour to make a smooth paste. Stir this into the beef and cook for another 1-2min or until the sauce is thickened, stirring often.

Poor the beef mixture into a 2-liter shallow ovenproof dish. Using a large spoon, top the beef with the mash potatoes and leeks. Spoon the mixture all around the edge of the dish before heading into the middle, then fluff it up with a fork.

Bake for 30min until the topping is golden and the filling is bubbling.


Rich beef and ale casserole with leeks and potato mash

guiness beef stew and mash potatoes ok

The calendar claims Spring will be here in a few days, but the weather man (and the knees) say otherwise.  As snow starts falling again, it seems Winter will be here forever.  It is definitely time for another comforting stew…. Believe it or not, each portion has less than 500 calories.

Rich beef and ale casserole with mash potato (adapted from Dave Myers and Si King’s The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight)

Ingredients 

Beef stew 

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 medium onions chopped
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons mixed herbs
  • 1 kg lean braising beef, trimmed from hard fat and cut in 3cm chunks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 500 mL of dark ale or stout
  • 250 mL of beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puréee
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 5 carrots (about 275g), peeled and thickly sliced
  • 2 parsnips (about 300g) peeled, halved lengthways and sliced
  • freshly ground black pepper

Leeky potato mash

  • 750g floury potato, peeled and cut in 4cm chunks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 leeks thinly sliced
  • 100 mL low fat milk
  • Salt and pepper

Method

Beef stew 

Preheat the oven to 180oC

Put the flour and dried herbs in a large bowl. Season with salt and lots of freshly ground pepper. Fold in the beef chunks and toss in until they evenly coated.

Heat the oil in a oven- and flame- proof casserole dish.When the oil is pipping hot, drop in the onions and season then with salt and pepper. Fry them over medium heat until they are lightly browned (about 5min).

Tip in the beef and mix until coated.

Add the bay leaf, ale, stock, tomato purée and sugar. Stir well and bring to boil. Cover with the lid.

Transfer the casserole from to the oven and cook for 1 1/2 hours. At the end of this time,  take the casserole out of the oven and stir in the parsnips and carrots. Put the lid again, and return to the over for about 45min until the vegetables are tender.

Leeky potato mash

Put the potato chunks in  a large sauce pan and cover them with cold water. Bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and let boil for about 20min, until the potatoes are very tender.

In the meanwhile, put the oil in a frying pan and heat. When is hot, drop in the sliced leeks and sautée until soft and tender, stirring often.

Drain the potatoes, and put them back in the sauce pan. Season with salt and pepper and mash with the milk until smooth.

Stir in the sautéeed leeks. Mix until they are well incorporated.