Friday, 27 February 2009

It's all so quiet....

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I know things have been quiet here. I'm sorry. I will be back. Soon.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Potato and Bean Enchilada

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Some people are of the (misguided) opinion that potatoes are boring, but they are so not. I love them, they are filling and versatile and go with with just about anything.

Since moving into a flat on my own last summer I have found that I eat less and less meat. I guess there are two reasons for that. Firstly, good meat is expensive and I refuse to buy cheap reconstituted, saline injected or poorly-treated-whilst-alive meat and secondly a lot of my favourite meat dishes, such as roasts, stews, and pies are obviously not really that single friendly, especially since I only have a minute freezer.

So, that's were this recipe comes in. I love Mexican/Tex-Mex food, but of course many of the popular dishes contain, beef, minced beef or chicken, which I don't always have around. Kidney beans, potatoes, onions, passata, fresh coriander and flour tortillas however are usually to be found somewhere in my store cupboards and they make this great dish. I promise that even the biggest carnivore won't really miss the meat in this one. I scale the recipe down of course, but I have posted the original, which serves four people.


Potato and Bean Enchilada (serves 4)

1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 cup vegetable stock
2 cups passata
2 teaspoons cornflour
1 large tomato, cubed
1 (14 ounce) can red beans, drained
4 large potatoes, boiled, skin on, cubed
2 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped
1 cup grated cheese
8-12 flour tortillas

In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and fry the onion, until beginning to soften.

Add the garlic, cayenne pepper and cumin and fry for a further two minutes.

Add the vegetable stock and passata,and let simmer for 5 minutes.

Mix the cornflour with a bit of cold water and add to the sauce while stirring. Continue to simmer for a minute or so and allow to thicken. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a bowl, mix the tomato, beans, potatoes, coriander and cheese.

Divide this mixture between the tortillas, cover with a large tablespoon of the sauce and roll up.

Place the enchiladas, seam side down in a lightly oiled large square oven dish.

Pour the rest of the sauce over the top of the enchiladas (if you want you can add a little more cheese too) and cook in the oven at 180C/Gas 4 for 20 minutes.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

French Pear and Almond Tart

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It was my friend J's birthday on Monday and for a while now I seem to have been established in the role of the birthday cake baker at work. So of course I baked a cake for J. I wanted to try something different and new, which can be a bit risky if you're baking for somebody else, especially for somebody who loves baking themselves, and who is very good at it. I didn't let that put me off though.

Trawling my cookbooks and the web for inspiration I came across Dorie Greenspan's recipe for French Pear and Almond Tart, which had gotten rave reviews from all the Tuesday with Dorie Bakers, so I figured that I couldn't really go wrong with it. I didn't (go wrong with it, that is).

I like pears and I like almonds and as far as I knew so did J., so combining them in a tart seemed like a clever idea. The result was really good. Sweet but not overly so. Moist from the frangipane filling. Crumbly around the outside, because of the rich buttery pastry. But why don't you try it for yourself. You can find the recipe here.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Spicy Bean and Potato Soup

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Today is my research day, which in today's case meant some cooking and baking to fill the morning, before burying my head in some books this afternoon.

I know I said in my last post that I was going to cook something that wasn't orange, but it turns out that by cleaning my fridge out and cooking with the things that need using, I ended up with another orange coloured meal. Well, at least this time it has specks of colour in it, and it is certainly bordering on red.


There isn't really a recipe for this, as I just threw ingredients into a pot that I thought would go well together. They did indeed, and the result was a very thick slightly spicy bean and potato soup. If I thickened it with some cornflour I could probably call it a stew.

I used some dried mixed beans that I had soaked overnight, boiled them until tender and then added one chopped potato, half a red onion, some red and yellow pepper, one Mettendchen*, 2 minced cloves of garlic, covered the whole lot with water and brought it to a simmer. For further flavouring I added some vegetable stock powder, plenty of sweet paprika, some chili powder, cumin, corriander, a bayleaf, some tomato puree, salt and freshly ground black pepper. I gave it a good stir and let it simmer until the potatoes were done.

*Mettendchen are a German smoked sausage that is great in stews. I had some that I brought back from my Berlin trip, but you could just leave them out or use smoked Polish sausage.


If you really don't want to cook without a recipe and need measurements, you can have a look at a very similar recipe that I have posted here.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Orzotto con Zucca (Pumkin and Barley Risotto)

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The cold weather continues, so does the need for comfort (food).


Orzotto is a risotto made with barley instead of rice, it is also a lot easier as there is no need for constant watching, stirring and adding stock. It all just goes in at once and then cooks until done, with only the occassional peek and stir. Zucca is Italian for pumpkin, but I usually use butternut squash at it is more widely available. You don't even need to peel it, just clean it and remove the seeds cook it and eat it, skin and all. If you need meat with your meal to be fully satisfied, just add some shreeded chicken or beef at the end. It's also good with added mushrooms.

My friend J. made a similar and delicious recipe from the Nigella Christmas Cookbook when she invited me round a few weeks ago. Nigellas version is very rich, due to having loads of mascarpone cheese added. This one is far more low-fat, with only some parmesan stirred in at the end. One thing I really did like about Nigella's recipe though (don't get me wrong it was all good, but just a little too rich for everyday use), is that she keeps some of the butternut squash in chunks, rather than pureeing all of it. So, that's what I did this time round, I just kept some of the roasted butternut squash aside, and pureed the rest. However, below you find the original recipe by Matthew Fort, as I found it Guardian Weekend magazine quite a few years ago, without the chunks.


I just realised, whilst uploading the pictures, that I have been eating a lot of orange food lately. I better go and make something a little more colourful next.

Orzotto con Zucca (serves 2-3 as a main or 4 as a side)

140 g barley
2 liters vegetable stock or chicken stock or game stock
600 g pumpkin or butternut squash, cut into chunks
30 g butter
30 g grated parmesan cheese
salt, to taste
fresh ground black pepper, to taste

In a large pan bring the stock to a boil, add the barley and simmer until done. It should take about 40 minutes. Drain.

If you want you can add some chopped mushrooms to this for the last 5-10 minutes.

Microwave, boil or roast the pumpkin until soft. (Roasting is my favourite method.)

Put the cooked pumpkin and the butter into a blender and puree.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the puree to the barley and season again with salt and pepper.

Just before serving mix the parmesan into the 'risotto'.

Serve hot with fresh crusty bread.


Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Turkish Red Lentil Soup

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As some of you who read this blog regularly will know, I really do like soup and I also really like potatoes. Therefor a soup that is made with potatoes just has to be good in my opinion and when I saw that this month's No Croutons Required challenge is to post about a soup or salad containing potatoes I knew I'd be up for it. Thanks Holler from Tinned Tomatoes for choosing such a great ingredient.

This Turkish Red Lentil Soup is one of the easiest soups I know, with very few and simple store cupboard ingredients, but the end results is so full of flavour that it's hard to believe that there is nothing else in it. (Lucy, if you're reading, this is one to make at your hermitage.)


Turkish Red Lentil Soup (serves 4)

1 cup red lentils, washed and cleaned
4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup onions, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup white potato, peeled and diced
2 tsp paprika
salt (to taste)
pepper (to taste)

Place the washed and cleaned lentils into a soup pot together with with the stock, potatoes, onions, garlic and paprika.

Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Loosely place a lid on the pan. Cook for 40-40 minutes until the lentils are tender.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Place all but 1 cup of the soup into a blender or food processor and blend briefly. Return blended soup to the pan with the un-blended soup and briefly heat through again before serving.