What I'm cooking and eating

Thursday, 17 March 2016

St Patrick's Day Casserole

Drat it, I keep forgetting to take photos of what I cook until all there is left is an empty plate....

The American-Irish may eat corned beef and cabbage on St Patrick's Day, but the Irish at home traditionally ate bacon - this turned out to be either unobtainable or desperately expensive when they arrived in New York, so they turned to beef as a good second-best, and now have forgotten they ever ate anything else! 

But here it is bacon, and this is my take on the tradition.  As I said to the Swan Whisperer, I could have just served grilled rashers alongside steamed potato and cabbage, but I thought this would be tastier - and it was!  Enough for 2.

1 packet lardons
1 onion
5 small potatoes
¼ green Savoy-type cabbage

Cook the lardons gently until the juice and fat run, then add the rest of the vegetables which you have peeled, chopped and shredded, as appropriate (leave the potatoes in dice, chop the onions and shred the cabbage).  Season with pepper - it does not need extra salt - and stir several times while you leave it to cook on a gentle heat for about 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016


I had been going to make minestrone soup for lunch, but somehow the morning got away from me and it didn't happen.  And I hadn't the least idea what to make for supper.  And then I thought that a minestrone soup isn't that different to the large vegetable stews I so often make, and what if I made it more stew-like that soup-like..... so I did, and it was really rather delicious.  Enough for 4 people.

 1/2 cup dried cannelini beans (or 1 400g tin, drained and rinsed)

1 tbs olive oil

A few basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1 chilli pepper

1 onion
1 carrot
1 small parsnip
A chunk of swede (rutabaga)
2 small potatoes
1 leek
1 courgette (zucchini)

 ½ punnet mushrooms

1 400g tin tomatoes + ½ tinful boiling water

Salt, pepper, marjoram, oregano, thyme, 1 vegetable "Stock pot"

100g small pasta

Parmesan cheese, to serve.

Soak the beans for several hours, then drain and rinse, and boil in fresh water for about 30 minutes, until cooked.   Meanwhile, blitz the garlic, chilli and basil together in a food processor.  Then grate the rest of the vegetables, except the mushrooms.  As the drum of the food processor gets full (you didn't think I meant you should grate them by hand, did you?), empty it into a heavy-based casserole dish into which you have put the olive oil.

Slice the mushrooms and add them to the vegetables, and finally add the tomatoes, water and seasonings.  Stir thoroughly, then bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes.  Then add the beans and the pasta, and cook for a further 9-10 minutes, until the pasta is cooked.

Serve with masses of Parmesan or other grated cheese.

Friday, 4 March 2016


This was going to be shakshuka, and then it sort of morphed into a tortilla.  So Shaksilla, no?

1tsp coconut oil
1 onion
½ large red pepper
3 small potatoes
½ pack Lidl small sausages (Nurnberg bratwurst)
1 large tomato
4 eggs
Seasoning as you would season shakshuka - harissa or Lebanese seasoning or chilli or what you use.

Peel and chop the potatoes and onion, and cook gently in a covered pan in the coconut oil.  Chop the peppers, and cut the sausages into 3 pieces each, and add to the pan.  Season, and allow to cook for 5-10 minutes.  Chop the tomato and add that.  Cook for a further few minutes, stirring occasionally, until all the vegetables are cooked.  Now whisk the eggs until they are all one texture, and then pour over the vegetable/sausage mix.  Cover again and cook on a gentle heat for another 5 minutes, until the eggs are set. 

Monday, 29 February 2016

Home made noodle bake

I thought that, as an experiment, I'd try using home-made noodles in my usual leek and broccoli pasta bake.  They worked very well indeed.

The quickest and easiest way to make noodles is to use a potato ricer like this one, and use the disk with the fewest holes.  However, if you don't have one, you can always rest the dough in the fridge for a bit, then roll it out as thinly as possible, flour it, roll it up gently and then cut the resulting cylinder into strips, as Becca does over at Amuse your Bouche.  If I were making it that way, I'd use a strong flour, but in a ricer, any flour will do.  I did once try making noodles with gram flour and binding them with tahini, but this was a dismal failure! 

Anyway these ones were made with a mixture of buckwheat flour (which is gluten free, so if you needed to you could make them with 100% buckwheat) and ordinary plain flour.

So.  To the recipe.  Apologies for lack of photos, but it might not have worked well.....

Serves 2.

1 leek
1/2 head broccoli
250 ml milk
2 tsp plain flour
25 g butter
Salt, pepper and mustard powder to season
2 large handfuls grated cheese (probably about 100g each, but maybe less)
1 large tomato
125 ml (1/4 cup) buckwheat flour
125 ml (1/4 cup) plain flour
1 egg
A little water

Cut the broccoli into florets and steam them until al dente.  Chop the leek very finely and cook gently in the butter until soft. It saves time if you can do this in an oven-proof dish that will also go on the hob.

Meanwhile, make the noodles by mixing the last 4 ingredients in the list together until a stiff dough is formed.  I seasoned with salt, pepper and mustard, just as I did the sauce.  Press through potato ricer into boiling water, and when the water comes back to the boil, drain and reserve.

Put the 2tsp flour and the seasoning into the milk and whisk well until combined.  Pour this over the leeks and butter, and bring to the boil, stirring all the time.  When the sauce thickens and boils, remove from heat and stir in half the cheese, and all the broccoli and noodles.  If it's already in an oven-proof container, smooth it down, if it's not, transfer it into one (another pan to wash!) and smooth it down.

Top with thin slices of tomato and more grated cheese.  Bake in a moderate oven for 35 minutes or so. 

Monday, 1 February 2016

Kidney bean, cauliflower and peanut curry

When you have a meeting at 7:30 and need a quick supper..... I had been going to make ratatouille with beans, but had neither courgettes nor aubergine and hadn't got round to going to Lidl to get some!  But the kidney beans had been soaking all afternoon, and needed to be used.  So it was a matter of finding what to cook with what I had - and the end result was surprisingly delicious!

1/2 cup red kidney beans (or you can use a tin of)
1 tsp coconut oil
2 tsp curry powder
Additional spices if liked - I used asafoetida and turmeric and some dried garlic powder
1 onion, chopped
1/2 small cauliflower, chopped
1 tin tomatoes
1/2 tinful water
2 tbs salted peanuts
1 tbs sultanas
1 tbs coconut milk powder
Vegetable "Stock pot" (optional)

1/2 cup long-grain rice

To serve: mango chutney

Soak the beans in water with a teaspoonful of bicarbonate of soda for a few hours.  Then drain and rinse, and cook in fresh water, making sure they boil hard for at least ten minutes before you turn the heat down.  They'll probably take 30-45 minutes to cook, depending on how old they are.

Meanwhile, fry the spices in the coconut oil for a couple of minutes, then add the onions and stir well.  Add the rest of the ingredients (except the rice, but including the cooked beans), bring to the boil, and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes while you cook the rice.

Serve with the cooked rice and with some mango chutney (spicy or not, as liked) on the top.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Mum's cheese biscuits

Until this year, Mummy made these every week in the shooting season, and very good they are too.  I have just found the recipe again, so thought I'd post it here where I can find it again!

This makes a baking trayful:

2 slices bread, and the same weight of flour, cheese and butter. Any kind of bread; plain flour (wholemeal is fine) and any kind of cheese, but the stronger-tasting the better.

Whizz in food processor until beginning to come together, knead lightly and roll out. Stamp out with cookie cutter, bake on greased baking tray at Mark 5, 180 (fan oven) or 190 (non fan) for 15 minutes.

Edited to add: Forgot to say you can season this with Tabasco and/or dried chilli flakes, 1/4 tsp dry mustard powder, and a sprinkle of dried mixed herbs. And, of course, you can scale up the quantities really easily - the idea is equal quantities of bread, flour, butter and cheese!

Friday, 20 November 2015

Douceur de courgettes au Vache qui Rit

I first came across this rather odd-sounding soup in a Tetrapak in a French supermarket, and liked it.  These days they seem to do it with goats' cheese, instead, but when I wanted to make soup for our lunch the other day, I thought I'd have a go.  And it is very good, although I used too much garlic (but we both have viruses, so I did that on purpose) - more than the recipe says.

1 tbs coconut oil
1 smallish onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed (optional)
2 small potatoes, peeled and chopped
About 750g courgettes (zucchini, to my American friends), chopped
1 Knorr (or supermarket own brand) vegetable Stock Pot
1 litre boiling water
 2 Vache qui Rit (Laughing Cow) triangles
1 tbs crème fraîche
Salt and pepper to taste.
1 small tin sweetcorn (optional, but if you like a bit of crunch in your soups, as I do....).

Place the oil, and all the chopped vegetables, in a heavy-based pan, and allow to sweat for a bout 10-15 minutes, stirring cocasionally.  Then add the water and stock, bring to the boil and simmer for around 20 minutes. 

Blend until smooth, then return to pan and add the crème fraîche, cheese triangles and sweetcorn, if using.  Bring back to the boil, stirring, until the cheese has melted.  Serve at once. 

You could, of course, use grated Emmenthal or Cheddar instead of the cheese triangles, in which case I would add them to the soup bowl, rather than to the main body of the soup.  Or as well as.....