Recipe 34: warm lentil salad for a prayer triplet

September 26, 2010 at 9:24 pm | Posted in savoury | 1 Comment
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Despite the impression given by this blog, I don’t always cook recipes from books. I also have my variations on themes adapted and developed from other people’s recipes. These adapted recipes/guidelines are what forms the basis of my everyday cooking… because really, who can be bothered to faithfully follow a recipe every night. Also I  don’t plan ahead for my week of cooking, so often there is adaptation of recipes to take into account what I’ve got in the cupboards.

On Wednesday night, I was delighted to have the opportunity to meet with Nush and Audrey to discuss and pray together – catching Audrey in between her return to London from studying and disappearing off on a well-deserved holiday. We were meeting at Nush’s house, as she needed to be around for the children (strangely you can’t leave two small children home on their own!) but as Nush had already cooked dinner for me once that week, I thought it should be my turn to cook! So I needed to provide dinner that was yummy, but could be assembled in someone else’s kitchen… so clearly a moment for salad! But as it has clearly turned to autumn, it needed to be a warm salad…. and although I wanted to be healthy, I didn’t want to feel too virtuous… so it was time for a warm lentil salad with parma ham!

Making it: I managed to get home from work in time to cook some puy lentils in stock… and once they were cooked they were coated in the salad dressing which was 2 parts garlic olive oil to one part balsamic vinegar and a pinch of mustard powder. Balsamic vinegar works incredibly well with lentils – there is something wonderful and deep in the combination. Then once we had all assembled at Nush’s – this was put into a big bowl, and mixed with salad leaves, some yummy baby tomatoes, green beans and parma ham.

Eating it: this was a new combination of ingredients (which is why it is allowed to be blogged) but it really worked. The residual heat in the lentils and green beans made the parma ham melt slightly, so even more yummy! I had guessed the quantities about right, so there was enough dressing (from memory I cooked about 180g of lentils and made about 120ml of dressing)

Next time: who knows… it will depend on what is in the cupboard/fridge!

By the way – for a super-simple pudding, we had lemon creams – which are from the Vicar’s Wife’s cookbook – it’s just lemon curd, greek yoghurt and lemon juice and zest… utterly delicious and tasting much more complicated and rich that they actually are (I use 0% fat greek yoghurt!)

Recipe 33: Blondies

September 11, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Posted in baking | 1 Comment
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To accompany the quite frankly healthy soup, we needed some serious cake! I thought I might try out the blondies, as much as I love brownies, a slightly lighter treat is also good, and visually its great to be able to serve a mixture  when there is a crowd – previously I have relied on a fantastic mocha-pecan blondie, but I thought I would try out Nigella’s version. Kath and Anna are always willing tasters of new cake!

Making it: The ingredients list is interesting – a can of condensed milk,  flour  and  porridge oats as well to give more texture. But its a simple mixture to throw together in the mixer as basically it is mixing each ingredient in turn. Nigella advises, that like brownies, this is a cake to take out when it looks cooked on top, but still squidgy within. I think I gave mine a couple of extra minutes on top of Nigella’s timings, because it didn’t quite look there after the alloted 35 minutes. Once they came out of the oven, as they cooled, they sunk quite a lot.

Eating it: Kath said (over the course of the afternoon) “mmmmmm”….. “confusing… but good” (referring to the textural effect of the porridge oats making it slightly like a flapjack) and then finally “those blondies are evil” as she contemplated eating another! They are VERY sweet, but VERY more-ish. I think we all ate more of them, than is strictly necessary! I sent some of the left-overs home with Kath and Anna so their husbands didn’t feel left out (and so I didn’t have too many of them hanging around begging to be eaten).

Next time: I’m wondering if I could reduce the amount of sugar, just to take the edge off them slightly – while they were good, they packed a serious sugar punch.

Recipe 32: Sunshine Soup from Nigella’s Kitchen

September 11, 2010 at 6:19 pm | Posted in savoury | 3 Comments
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I am having a wonderful time reading through Kitchen, and there are definitely lots of yummy recipes in there. The book is beautiful, but interestingly the food being photographed is not always perfect:  some of the cakes are wonky, which is encouraging to someone who doesn’t always produce perfect looking cake! I’ve been adding to the list of the things I want to try from the book, but I have also had the opportunity today to start cooking from it! Today was “Kath and Anna day”, which is when I hang out with two of my dearest friends for good chats about the world and our situations then we  pray about it. I’ve had the privilege of sharing my life with them for the last 11 years and I hope to be travelling with them through life for many years to come. In cooking for Anna and Kath it is an opportunity to show them love and care… so I love it when I get to host – as I did today. Life has been a hard work for us all since we last met in May, so when I spotted a recipe called “Sunshine Soup” I thought this might be the way to bring some sunshine into lives that are a little bleak!

Making it: A doddle! I am discovering that soup is a fundamentally easy thing to make… this required roasting some peppers,  cooking some sweetcorn in stock (and I used vegetable stock bouillon powder for that) and then using my wonderful hand blender to whizz it all into a smooth  soup.

Eating it: Delicious! The roasted peppers gave an earthy depth to the soup and stopped from being too sweet. The texture was really good – not too loose, and while it was a smooth soup it hadn’t all amalgamated into a bland liquid. The quantities were spot on for 3 people for lunch with some bread (the recipe suggested it served 2 people as a main or 4 as a starter)

Next time: I’m going to see how well it freezes – and then I can take it to work for lunch in the cold winter months for a shot of sunshine! It might have been good with a little garnish of parsley too.

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