Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Looking for a Christmas present?

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I get contacted by companies quite often asking me to review products or new food stuff that's on the market. I often decline, especially when it comes to food, as I'm not all that interested in shop-bought garlic butter or gourmet ready meals. When I was asked though if I wanted to review the nest of bowls and meassuring spoons by Joseph Joseph, I agreed without hesitation.


I had seen these in the kitchen department of a design shop before and liked their brightness. Also, if like me you have a tiny kitchen, but can't help buying cockery and other kitchen stuff all the time, anything that stacks easily and stores away nicely is always worth investing in. The bowls would also be ideal for a camper van or galley kitchen on a boat, as not only do you get two mixing bowls and meassuring spoons, but there is also a colander and a fine mesh sieve. Plus, as everything is made from plastic it would easily survive being taken on tour.


You might also want to check out the other christmas gifts available.

The photographs have been borrowed from the findmeagift.com website.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup

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After two weeks of many perfect sunny (and fairly mild) autumn days, today has been grey and pretty cold. The perfect kind of day for soup to warm the cockles of my heart.

I'm on an economy drive, which means making a meal plan for the week on Sundays and doing one big shop on Mondays, rather than loads of little daily shops which end up being expensive. So I sat down and flicked through some cookbooks for inspiration. Making meal plans also seems as good a reason as any to get back to cooking new recipes again and hopefully as a result getting back to weekly blogging.

On a summer holiday to Ireland a few years ago I was impressed by the food in the Avoca cafes and bought two of their cookbooks, one on baking and for soup. That's where I saw this recipe for Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup, full of goodness and warm spices and thick enough to be suitably substantial for dinner (I guess you could call it stoup). I added a little brown sugar to cut through the acidity of the tomtaoes and a few chilli flakes for a little extra heat, but below is the original recipe.


P.S.: When I reheated the left-overs for lunch today, they had thickened even more and reminded me of a dhal. I added some curry powder and it made it even better, so I'd probably do that straight away next time.

Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup (serves 4-6)

25g butter
2tbsp olive oil
2 onions, peeled and chopped
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, trimmed and chopped
150g Puy or brown lentils
1/2tsp tumeric
1tsp ground cumin
a pinch of ground cinnamon
3cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1/2 x 400g can tomatoes
1 litre chicken stock (I used vegetable stock)
1 lemon, juice of

In a large saucepan, heat the butter and oil over medium heat.

Add the onion and fry without colouring for about 10 mins till soft and transluscent.

Add the sweet potato, carrot, celery and lentils and stirr to coat in oil.

Add the spices, ginger and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes stirring occassionally.

Add the tomatoes and the stock.

Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper and cook for about 30 minutes until the potatoes and the lentils are soft and tender.

Using a stick blender , puree briefly, so everything is still chunky rather than smooth.

Check the seasoning, reheat and serve.


Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Mixed Tomato Chutney

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I didn't have much luck with growing tomatoes this year. Or maybe let me rephrase that, the tomatoes grew beautifully, but only a handful of them actually ripened enough to eat. I blame it on another rainy and cold summer. So, yesterday I finally went into the garden and picked all the fruit still left and decided that I'd make chutney with the last of the not-so-successful crop.


I found a recipe by Nigel Slater on the Guardian website and thought I couldn't really go wrong with it. The chutney turned out tasty but a little runny, so maybe I'd start with a little less vinegar next time and added more if needed later on in the cooking process. I got three and a half jam jars full, so there might even be a lucky person that'll get some for Christmas. Oh and I used about 3/4 green tomatoes to 1/4 ripe.


Mixed Tomato Chutney (makes about three jam jars)

900g tomatoes, mixed green and red
350g onions, chopped roughly
90g raisins
250g light muscovado sugar
1 medium hot red chilli, chopped finely
1 tsp salt
2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
300ml white wine vinegar (I'd start off with 3/4 of that)

Cut the tomatoes in half.

Put the green fruit together with the peeled and roughly chopped onions, into a large stainless- steel or enamelled pan.

Add the raisins, sugar, chilli, salt, mustard seeds and vinegar.

Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and leave to simmer for 25 minutes, giving the occasional stir to reduce the risk of the chutney sticking.

Add the ripe tomatoes and continue to simmer for another 35 minutes.

Then spoon into sterilized jars and seal.