Archive for July, 2009

Rasam Soup

Rasam Soup

Thinking about it, you’d probably never guess from the recipes on my blog that I’m a huge fan of Indian food. I’ve been experimenting with soups recently, trying to find a way of working the great flavours of Indian food into a soup. I’ve consulted lots of websites and recipe books and none of them came up to the mark. After a couple of attempts, I’ve abandoned the idea of sambhar; I just can’t seem to get good results from red lentils.

Somewhere along the way, I came across rasam. It’s a spicy Indian soup, tempered with the usual suspects like cumin, coriander and tamarind. I was keen to try it, but I decided not to adopt any of the recipes I’d read. Instead, I adapted the recipe for my favourite soup, Moroccan Chickpea, and introduced ginger and some Indian spicing. I figured I could keep the lemon juice as a replacement for the more authentic tamarind. It works just as well I’m sure, creating a nice sour note.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 1 small courgette, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • root ginger, a thumb-sized piece, grated or minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 8 curry leaves, chopped, or broken if dried
  • 600 ml vegetable stock (Marigold is good)
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 400g can chickpeas
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • large handful chopped fresh coriander

Method

  1. Heat some olive oil in a large pot and gently fry onion, courgette, celery, ginger and garlic for 10 ten minutes until the onions are coloured and the celery is almost tender. Add the spices and curry leaves and fry for another minute.
  2. Turn up the heat and add the stock, tomatoes, chickpeas, and some freshly ground black pepper. Simmer for 8 mins.
  3. Add the lemon juice and cook for another minute.
  4. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, add the chopped fresh coriander, then serve.

Serves 3-4.

Bacon & Bean Soup

Right, I know I’m overdosing on soups at the moment. Must be the sudden change in the weather. This is tasty stuff. You could add any vegetables you like to this; some pasta would be nice too.

soup_3

Ingredients

  • 8 rashers smoked streaky bacon
  • 2 leeks, halved and sliced
  • 2 sticks of celery, chopped
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 400g can mixed beans
  • fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • parmesan cheese, grated

Method

  1. Dry-fry the streaky bacon in a non-stick pan, no need to add oil, until it’s golden.
  2. Add the leek and celery and fry on a moderate heat until almost tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the stock, beans, tomato purée, season well, and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  4. Before serving, season with freshly ground black pepper then mix in some chopped parsley and some grated parmesan cheese.

Serves 3-4.

Rocket – Harvest Time

As soon as my rocket started thriving I wasted no time and set about it with a scissors. I’ve made two massive salads from it already. It looks a little ‘hacked’ but there’s plenty of new growth coming through, so hopefully, plenty of rocket salads to come. The leaves tasted great but not as peppery as I was expecting; maybe I was too impatient and should have let them grow a little more. I think it needed thinning anyway.

rocket_3

Masala Omelette

I often make omelettes for an emergency brunch because I always seem to have eggs in the fridge. This spicy version is great because it consists mostly of store cupboard ingredients, or at least ingredients I always have to hand. Plus, I love any recipe that includes turmeric – very good for you, apparently.

Masala Omelette

I first came across this dish on one of Nigella Lawson’s programmes. (This was before she started using bottled lime juice. For shame!) I scoured the Wife‘s vast collection of Nigella books but I couldn’t find the recipe, but I think this is fairly accurate.

Ingredients

  • 5 eggs
  • a little milk
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 4 spring onions, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • salt & pepper

Method

  1. Preheat your grill. This is for cooking the top of the omelette.
  2. Beat the eggs in a bowl, season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. You could also add some finely chopped coriander at this point.
  3. Heat a little oil in a frying-pan and fry the spring onions, garlic, tomatoes and chilli until the onions soften.
  4. Add the ground spices to the onion and tomato mixture and fry for another minute.
  5. Add the seasoned eggs to the pan and cook until the omelette has set on the bottom.
  6. Finish off the top of the omelette under the grill.
  7. Turn the omelette out onto a wooden board and serve with a little salad.

Serves 2.

Caldo Verde – Portuguese Green Soup

Granted, the so-called “Portuguese  Green Soup” in the photo here looks more red than green. But you get the idea.

Caldo Verde

Ingredients

  • chorizo, 150g-200g, sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 litre hot chicken or vegetable stock
  • 400g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 head savoy cabbage, finely shredded

Method

  1. Fry the chorizo in a little oil until it starts to brown.
  2. Add the onion, celery & garlic and fry until the onions have coloured.
  3. Fry the chilli flakes and the paprika for a minute more.
  4. Add the stock, tomatoes, chickpeas and cabbage and simmer for about 8 minutes or until the cabbage is tender. Season with salt, freshly ground black pepper and a handful of chopped parsley.

Serves 2-3.

Sausage & Bean Hotpot

This is serious comfort food. Passata works best here, but 2 cans of tomatoes and some tomato purée would work just as well. You can also substitute the harissa with 1/2 tsp chilli flakes or a fresh red chilli, finely chopped. You can also use whatever beans you like, as long as they’re robust.

bean_hotpot_1

Ingredients

  • 8-10 good quality butchers sausages
  • 1 medium courgette, diced
  • 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 400g cans flageolet beans
  • 1 400g can butter beans
  • 800g jar tomato passata
  • 2 tbsp grain mustard
  • 1 tsp English mustard powder
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds, crushed
  • dash of worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp harissa (or 1 tsp chilli flakes)
  • 4 tomatoes, halved
  • flat-leaf parsley

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 230°C.
  2. Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a fry pan. Gently fry the sausages until golden, but not too dark.
  3. In the residual oil, fry the courgette, celery onion and garlic. You need to get plenty of colour on the vegetables.
  4. Rinse and drain the beans and add to a large casserole. Add the fried vegetables, sausages and the rest of the ingredients, apart from the parsley. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Mix gently and tuck the sausages into the casserole. I like to cut the sausages in half before adding, especially if they’re large.
  6. Cook in the oven for 35 minutes until the top is browned. Stir through a handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley and serve with some crusty bread for mopping up sauce.

Serves 4.

Basil & Rocket Progress

The basil on my windowsill is flying, and the rocket is going positively mental with all this heat and rain. Blimey, if I had a garden… I’d be dangerous.

Rocket

Basil

Tagliatelle with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto & Mascarpone

It’s pasta time again. I’m hopelessly addicted to Italian Foodies’ sun-dried tomato pesto recipe. I’ve been making it pretty regularly of late, and for the first time today I found I had some left over. Shocking, I know. Happily, I also had some leftover mascarpone in the fridge, so I came up with this. You probably don’t need the can of tomatoes, just mix the pesto with the mascarpone, but I think it works rather well. Give it a try.

Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomato & Mascarpone

Ingredients

  • fresh tagliatelle, enough for 2 people
  • 400g can tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp balsamic vinegar
  • pinch of sugar
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 tbsp sun-dried tomato pesto
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 tbsp mascarpone cheese

Method

  1. Heat a little olive oil in a saucepan and add the minced garlic. Fry for a minute and add the tomatoes, oregano, sugar and vinegar. Season with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring to a bubble and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
  2. Cook your pasta according to the instructions on the packet.
  3. Add the pesto, parmesan and mascarpone and stir to melt the cheese into the sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  4. Add the hot pasta to the sauce and make sure the pasta is coated well. Serve with some grated parmesan and a twist of black pepper.

Serves 2.

Irish Griddle Bread Recipe

Bread making doesn’t get any simpler than this. (Oh dear, I’m starting to sound like those clowns on Masterchef). Griddle bread, as it’s known in my house, is a simple soda bread dough, but instead of being cooked in the oven, you cook it slowly on a non-stick frying pan or a cast-iron “griddle”. This is quite a traditional bread and is a great standby when you haven’t a scrap of granary left in the house. One warning though, once you cut this loaf you’ll keep going back to it until you’ve none left. It’s addictive!

I like my griddle bread “well done”. Cook gently until the surface of the bread is starting to blacken in places. As the bread cools, it gives off the most amazing toasty aromas. There’s something about it that reminds me of cream crackers. Surely not a bad thing?

For a traditional Irish bread that’s baked in the oven, try my Irish Soda Bread recipe.

griddle_bread_1

Ingredients

  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • buttermilk, enough to make a very soft dough (about 250ml-300ml, as a guide)

Method

Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl, then add the buttermilk and mix gently until you have a soft, wet dough, but be careful it is not too “sloppy”. Heat a dry frying pan, then turn down the heat low and dust the pan with plain flour. Wet your hands then add the doughto the pan. Gently smooth out the dough to cover the pan then cook slowly on both sides until brown patches start to develop. This should take at least 8 minutes on each side. Cool on a wire rack.

Coat with plenty of salty butter and enjoy, this is great with your Saturday morning fry-up.

griddle_bread_2

Moroccan Chickpea Soup

soup_1

I’m not sure how authentically ‘Moroccan’ this is, but it’s quite possibly the most delicious soup I’ve ever made; and that includes my potato and leek effort which requires a pint of cream. It’s hot, spicy, sweet and sour. I’d imagine this would be a fantastic soup to cure a hangover; protein, Vitamin C, chilli-heat. Like a Moroccan Alka-Seltzer.

The lemon juice and fresh coriander lift this soup into a different dimension so don’t be tempted to omit either. You can substitute the vegetables and pulses as you wish.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 600 ml vegetable stock (Marigold is good)
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 400g can chickpeas
  • 1 tbsp harissa (this will make the soup quite hot, so use less if you want)
  • 100g fine beans, chopped into 2cm lengths (or 100g frozen broad beans)
  • zest and juice of ½ lemon
  • large handful chopped fresh coriander

Method

  1. Heat some olive oil in a large pot and fry onion, celery and garlic for 10 ten minutes until the onions are coloured and the celery is almost tender. Add the ground cumin and fry for another minute.
  2. Turn up the heat and add the stock, tomatoes, green beans, chickpeas, harissa and some freshly ground black pepper. Simmer for 8 mins.
  3. Add the lemon juice and cook for another minute.
  4. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, add the lemon zest and fresh coriander, then serve.

Serves 3-4.