Smoky Lentil Soup

Ingredients

75 ml Olive Oil

2 small onions, finely chopped

4 carrots, diced

2 stalks of celery, finely sliced

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or minced

1.5 teaspoons of dried oregano

1.5 teaspoons of dried basil

2 Bay leaves

1 tin chopped tomatoes (400g)

2 litres of vegetable stock (I use Marigold Swiss Boulion Powder)

300g dry green or brown lentils

150g kale, stalks removed and finely sliced (or spinach)

1.5 teaspoons of liquid smoke

2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar (or your favourite vinegar)

Pinch of salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the carrots, onions and celery and cook on a medium heat, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. You want the vegetables to soften and sweeten and the onions to go transparent but you don’t want them to stick to the pot and burn.
  2. Add the garlic, dried oregano, dried basil and bay leaves and cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, the stock and the lentils and stir. Bring it to a boil then turn down to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes
  4. After 45 minutes add the kale, liquid smoke, vinegar, salt and pepper and add for 15 minutes until the kale is softened (spinach will cook in less than 15 minutes). Taste and adjust seasoning if required.
  5. You’re good to go! If you prefer a thick soup you can take a couple of ladles of the soup and blend it, then add it back to the pot of soup and stir.  Serve hot with a thick slice of sourdough bread and butter.

 

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Easy Granola

Easy GranolaVery quick, very easy to make, very adaptable and very tasty.

Ingredients

200 g Jumbo Oats

110 g Sultanas

100 g Pecans, roughly chopped

90 g Mixed Seeds (I use a premade mix of pumpkin, sunflower and sesame)

50 g Coconut Oil

45 ml (3 tablespoons) Maple Syrup

5 ml (1 teaspoon) Vanilla Extract

2.5 ml (0.5 teaspoon) Salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 150 C.

Put the coconut oil in a large bowl and microwave for 40 seconds to melt it.

When it is completely melted stir in the maple syrup, vanilla and salt and mix well.

Stir in the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly

Spread mix thinly on a large baking tray

Bake for 8 minutes then stir and bake for a further 4 minutes (12 minutes total baking time)

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Delicious served with natural yogurt (or any yogurt of your choice) and blueberry sauce.

 

Mammy’s Chicken Curry

This recipe has been a stalwart of my parents’ catering repertoire for many years.  Its fed many family dinners and big gatherings.  It’s quite quick and easy to prepare and scales up pretty well if you’re feeding a party. It also ‘stove matures’ well, so you can prepare it ages in advance which is very handy for entertaining. In fact I think its flavour improves if it’s prepared ahead.

When I flew the nest (many, many moons ago) I took the recipe with me, scribbled on a scrap of notepaper.  I still refer to that scrap of paper to this day when I’m cooking this.  I’m recording it here for posterity (and in case I lose that piece of paper).

I have made a small variation of my own:  I add peas (petit pois to precise) which didn’t form part of the original recipe (’twas far from petit pois I was reared!!). So, strictly speaking this should probably be Mammy’s Chicken Curry 2.0.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

(makes 4 big servings, 10 minutes preparation, 45 minutes cooking time)

  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil or other vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 3 carrots, washed and sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 4 chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons mango chutney
  • 1 stock cube (vegetable or chicken), crumbled
  • 200 g/ 7 oz frozen peas or frozen petit pois.

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan.  Fry the onions over a medium heat until they are soft but not browned.
  2. Add the garlic and fry for one minute.
  3. Mix the curry powder and flour in a mug.  Add a small amount of hot water and mix to a paste.  Fill the rest of the mug with water and mix.  Add this curry powder mix to the onions and garlic.  Add an extra mug of water.
  4. Add the carrots, chicken, cider vinegar, mango chutney and stock cube.
  5. Bring the curry to the boil then turn down the head to a gentle simmer, cover and cook for 45 minutes until the chicken is cooked and the carrots are tender.
  6. Add the peas and cook long enough to defrost them and heat them through (add the peas just before serving as they don’t cope well with being cooked for a long time).
  7. Serve with rice and/or naan bread.  If you’re feeling adventurous add slices of banana on top.

Chorizo and Chick Pea Jambalaya

Jambalaya Ingredients

Step 1: Gather the Ingredients

This is a Tweatfeast tweaking of an excellent recipe from http://www.bbcgoodfood.com.    Its a lovely one-pot dish that is pretty easy to prepare.  Pure comfort food.

Fry the onions and chorizo

Fry the onions and chorizo

Ingredients (Serves 6-ish):

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 100g chorizo, finely sliced
  • 2 peppers (any colours), deseeded and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 400g tinned tomatoes
  • 250g easy cook brown rice
  • 500ml chicken stock (made from a cube is fine)
  • 400g tin of chick peas, drained
  • 100g frozen peas
  • 1 tin sweetcorn, drained
add peppers

Add the pepper and fry until they begin to soften

Method:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a on a medium heat in a wide-bottomed pan with a lid.   Fry the chorizo and onion.  The chorizo will quickly start to release some of its fat and the onion will fry in this.  Fry for about 5 minutes until the chorizo is cooked and the onion is soft and sweet.
  2. Add the chopped peppers and cook for further 5 minutes until they begin to soften.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for a minute.
  4. Add the smoked paprika and Cajun seasoning and cook for one minute.
  5. Add the chick peas, tomatoes, rice and stock.  Stir to mix.  Cover and cook over a low heat for 30 minutes.   Check the rice after 30 minutes.  If its not quite cooked, replace the lid and cook for another 10 minutes (you may need to add a little water if its drying out)
  6. Once the rice is cooked stir in the frozen peas and sweetcorn and cook for about 5 minutes until heated through.
  7. Serve and enjoy!
add spices

Add the spices and cook for a minute

add tomoatoes

Add the chopped tomatoes

add stock chick peas and rice

Add the stock, chick peas, and rice

add corn and frozen peas

Once the rice is cooked add corn and frozen peas and heat through

chick pea and chorizo jambalaya

It’s ready! Chick pea and chorizo jambalaya – Dig in!

 

Beef and Stout Stew

Ingredients for Beef and Stout Stew

Step 1 – Gather the Ingredients for Beef and Stout Stew

Oh it’s just bitterly cold today!  The beautiful blue skies outside belie the necessity of hats and gloves and warm woolly jumpers. It’s perfect weather for a warming winter stew.  This beef and stout stew is a recipe I’ve tweaked and adapted over the years.  I think I’ve just about got it right now.  It’s a rich stew that is pretty forgiving and will accommodate a few extra veg if you have them knocking about and in need of use (though avoid more delicate veg that will struggle to withstand the long cooking time).

Chopped Veg

Step 2 – Chop the Veg

A word of warning:  this is a very straightforward recipe but its essential secret ingredient is time!  It takes less than twenty minutes to prepare but hours to cook. Cook it for as long as possible (ideally 4 hours) in a very low oven for a delicious, tender stew.

Browning the Beef

Step 3 – Browning the Beef

Ingredients:

  • 450 g / 1 lb Stewing beef – a cheaper cut with a bit of fat that makes for a rich and tender end product
  • 2 tablespoons of plain flour
  • 3 medium onions, coarsely chopped (this is a rustic recipe, no need for delicate knife skills here)
  • 4 – 5 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 200 g / 8 oz button mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 3 sticks of celery, coarsely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves (give them a squeeze to break them a little to release the flavour)
  • 3 beef stock cubes, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 litre / 2 pints stout (I used Aldi’s Irish Stout.  Guinness works well too.  Let me know if you have success with other brands of stout.  Do choose a rich, flavoursome beer – it needs to be able to stand up to the other flavours)
Adding the Veg and Seasoning

Step 4 – Adding the Veg and Seasoning

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 150 C/ 300 F
  2. Brown the beef in a large oven-proof roaster/casserole dish with a lid. Don’t over-do it – you just want to brown the meat, not cook it through.  The less you cook here the more tender the stew will be.  You may need a drop of oil depending on how fatty your beef is.
  3. Once the beef is just browned take the pot off the heat and stir in flour
  4. Add the chopped onion, celery, carrots and mushrooms.
  5. Add the thyme, mustard, salt, pepper, beef stock cubes and bay leaves
  6. Add the stout. Stir it all about.  You may need to add a bit of water to just barely cover the ingredients.
  7. Put the lid on and put in the pre-heated oven for four hours. Check every hour or so to make sure its not drying out. You may need to give a it a stir.  If its still very liquidy after three hours leave the lid off for the rest of the cooking, checking every 20 minutes or so just to be sure its not drying out too much.
  8. Serve hot.  This stew is delicious with buttery mashed potato and peas or green beans.  Its also lovely with crusty bread.  Or even just on its own.  Mmm.  It also keeps well for a few days (cover and refrigerate it as soon as it cools to room temperature)
Add the Stout

Step 5 – Add the Stout

Beef and Stout Stew Finished

The Finished Stew

Hill of Beans

Veggie Chili

Veggie Chili

On my ‘it’s not a diet’ drive at the moment I’ve been determined to try new, healthy recipes.   I’ve found a useful source of recipes on the ‘Operation Transformation’ website.   ‘Operation Transformation’ is RTE’s (Irish TV) answer to the internationally franchised ‘Biggest Loser’ shows.

I’ve tried a number of the ‘Operation Transformation’ recipes over the past few weeks and have found them pretty reliable (with a few minor tweaks), very straightforward and, for the most part, tasty.  Each of their recipes is designed to provide about 500 calories.

Here’s my adaptation of their vegetarian chili.  It makes a substantial, satisfying and flavourful dinner.  The main changes I made to the original recipe were in the method and to the seasoning.

Vegetarian Chili

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • Generous pinch of salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled & diced
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled & crushed
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded & chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato puree
  • 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • 3 teaspoons of chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 400g can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 100g of red lentils
  • 400g of mushrooms, chopped
  • 250 ml vegetable stock

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan.
  2. Add the onion, peppers and mushrooms and saute for 5 minutes
  3. Add the garlic and saute for a further 2 mins (adding the garlic later prevents the garlic becoming bitter)
  4. Stir in tomato puree, canned chopped tomatoes, chilli powder, oregano, paprika, and cumin. Stir and cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the stock, kidney beans and lentils and stir.  Simmer for 20 minutes or until the red lentils are tender and beginning to break down.  (You may need to add a little water if the mix is becoming too dry but remember it is supposed to be a thick stew, not a runny soup)
  6. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with wholegrain rice (50g uncooked per person to stick within the c. 500 calorie limit), cous cous or tortillas.

Mushroom, Pea and Spinach Risotto

Mushroom, Pea and Spinach Risotto

Mushroom, Pea and Spinach Risotto

Another one-pot wonder, risotto is a great staple recipe.  However, risotto seems to have a bit of reputation of being tricky.  Not at all!  If you can stir and have a bit of patience you can make risotto.  The beauty of this recipe is that it can be made almost entirely from store cupboard ingredients.

Ingredients (serves 4, or 2 very hungry piggies)

  • 50 g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 20 g butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 200 g risotto rice (yep, it has to be risotto rice – no substitutes)
  • 150 ml white wine (anything drinkable will do – if you wouldn’t drink with it don’t cook with it though)
  • 150 ml vegetable stock
  • 150 g frozen peas
  • 150 g frozen spinach, defrosted
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • grated Parmesan cheese to serve

Method

  1. Place the mushrooms in a bowl and pour over boiling water to more than cover the mushrooms (this water will rehydrate the mushrooms and will become your stock for the rest of the recipe).  Let them sit to rehydrate (about 15 minutes) while you get on with the next steps…
  2. Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the onion and celery. Sauté until soft and sweet.
  3. Add the garlic, stir and cook for another minute
  4. Add the risotto rice and stir to coat all the grains – they should be glistening
  5. Add the white wine and stir frequently until the wine has been absorbed
  6. Add a ladle of the water from the mushrooms to the rice and keep stirring until it has completely absorbed.  Repeat this process adding a ladle at a time until the mushroom water is used up.  At this stage, if the rice is not cooked (it should still have some ‘bite’ but no ‘chalkiness’ in the middle of the grains), add the vegetable stock, again stirring until its absorbed.  You may need to add more stock or less stock than is mentioned in this recipe – it depends on how thirsty your rice is.
  7. Rinse off the mushrooms (to flush away any grit) and chop them up coarsely
  8. Stir the mushrooms into the risotto along with the peas and the defrosted spinach and allow all ingredients to heat through.  Season well and stir in the grated Parmesan.
  9. Serve hot and enjoy!