Kimchi mixed mushrooms and puy lentil casserole

It was a full-on week at work and I’m still getting to grips with how things run with my new employer.   I was in Sainsbury’s yesterday and really craved mushrooms.  Before long, my shopping basket had the following – shiitake, oyster and enoki mushrooms, a jar of kimchi and kale.

I made my go-to recipe for puy lentil casserole by Ina Garten (Barefoot in Paris) with the addition of kale, parsnips and ginger to boost the earthy flavours.

The mushrooms were cooked very simply as follows:

Kimchi mixed mushrooms (serves 2)

Prep and cooking time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 200g mixed mushrooms (trimmed, stemmed, cleaned)
  • 1 tbsp kimchi
  • 1/2 tsp herb de provence
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a non-stick pan
  2. Add the mushrooms and stir in the oil for a minute
  3. Add the kimchi and herb the provence.  Leave to cook for another minute
  4. Season with salt (be mindful that the kimchi is salty) and pepper

Serve up the puy lentil casserole in a bowl and top with the kimchi mushrooms.

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Baked brown rice risotto

I was a late bloomer where risotto was concerned.  My love for this dish was kindled after eating it at a dinner party hosted by a Maltese friend almost a decade ago.

These days, when I’ve an ankle-biter to contend with, oven-c0oking wins hands down.  This baked risotto dish is a keeper.  One that requires minimal prep or stirring.  I was unsure of using brown basmati rice but it turned out lovely, much like bulghur wheat in consistency.  Packed with veggies and ‘shrooms, the dish was declared a winner by Hubby. The Bear, on the other hand, insisted she didn’t like courgettes, but managed a few decent spoonfuls before giving up and asking for some milk before bed.

Serves 2, plus some leftovers.

Vegetables:

  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium courgettes, quartered and diced
  • a handful of kale, washed and trimmed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat
  2. Sauté the courgettes for 3 to 4 minutes
  3. Add the kale to the courgettes and cook for 2 minutes
  4. Season with salt and pepper
  5. Remove from the heat and leave to cool

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Risotto

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced
  • a spring of thyme
  • 140g basmati rice, washed and soaked in tepid water for 30 minutes, then drained
  • 2.5 cups of water
  • 3 frozen stock cubes (homemade stock, frozen)
  • a handful of dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes – reserve liquid
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Pre-heat the oven at 200 degrees celsius
  2. Heat oil in an oven-proof pot (I used a Dutch oven) over medium heat
  3. Sauté onion with a pinch of salt for a minute before adding the diced celery
  4. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes before adding the garlic and thyme.  Stir for 30 seconds
  5. Add the rice, stir gently for a minute
  6. Add in the water and stock
  7. Put the lid on and bake in the oven for 40 to 45 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated (if it hasn’t, leave it in the oven for a further 5 minutes)
  8. Remove the pot from the oven using oven gloves and place it on the stove over a medium heat
  9. Add the cooked kale, courgettes, porcini mushrooms and soaking liquid (mind the grit at the bottom of the bowl!) to the pot
  10. Stir to combine and cook for 2 to 3 minutes
  11. Season with salt and pepper
  12. Serve with grated parmesan and a good squeeze of lemon

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Veggie pasta

Unlike previous Easter weekends, we stayed home.   No fixed plans, just going with the flow, having friends over for tea and cakes and keeping meals simple and wholesome.

I’ve been putting off ordering groceries on Ocado for a variety of reasons, the main being that I’m off work for a few days therefore making it possible to pop into the shops if I needed something.  Alas, Easter Sunday morning came and a walk to my local butcher proved fruitless.  They were closed for the next few days.  It was akin to trying to buy a turkey on Christmas Day!  There was the option of M&S and Sainsbury’s.  But the weather has been awful all day.  Rain, wind, hailstorms, interspersed with sunshine, lulling you into a false sense that the worse of the weather had passed.   I wanted to cook a Malaysian dish. As I stepped out the door and felt a gust of wind, I retreated back in and declared it a possible take-away day.

Not willing to give up just yet, I browsed several blogs for inspiration and found this.

Thirty minutes later, the Bear, Hubby and I tucked into our delicious lunch.  We agreed that a traditional Easter roast could wait another day.

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Crumbed halloumi, homemade avocado salsa

An indulgent but satisfying lunch, one I wouldn’t normally add to a meal plan due to its high fat content.  Equally one I can never pass up on if it is on the menu.

Makes two:

Avocado salsa:

  • 4 small avocado, ripe
  • 1 small tomato, seeds removed, chopped
  • 1 spring onion – green part only, finely sliced
  • 1/2 green chilli, deseeded, finely chopped
  • a handful of coriander leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 lime
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Mash the avocado into chunks using the back of a fork
  2. Add the chopped tomatoes, spring onions, green chilli and coriander
  3. Squeeze the lime over the mixture, season with salt and pepper to taste
  4. One final mix before serving

Crumbed halloumi

  • 100ml sunflower oil (or more)
  • 250g low fat halloumi cheese, sliced into half in the middle
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup panko/regular breadcrumbs
  1. Heat oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat
  2. Place the flour, egg and breadcrumbs in three separate bowls forming an assembly line
  3. Start with one sliced halloumi, coat it with flour, then the egg and then cover in the breadcrumbs
  4. Gently place it onto the hot oil and leave to cook for 3 to 5 minutes on each side
  5. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain any excess oil
  6. Repeat with the other slice
  7. Once cooked, serve with avocado salsa plus some extra squeeze of lime

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Sweetcorn fritters re-visited

My colleagues and I went to Granger and Co, Clerkenwell twice in the last few months for breakfast.  My go-to breakfast at Bill’s has always been ricotta hotcakes, but I twisted a colleague’s arm to share some sweetcorn fritters on both occasions.

I’ve tested Bill’s recipe for Sweetcorn Fritters previously and it was rather underwhelming (it was too stody), but I woke up craving it one recent Sunday.   I had to make do with frozen sweetcorn and basil instead of coriander, and just winged it really.  There is something to be said for going with your instinct.  The sweetcorn fritters were lovely and light, served with cumin tomatoes, avocado and spinach.

Ingredients: (serves 2)

  • 3 tbsp organic plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 50ml milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 red pepper, de-seeded and diced
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, de-seeded and diced
  • 2 tbsp sweetcorn kernels (I used frozen, but best use fresh)
  • a handful of chopped basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil (or more if you fancy, I didn’t)

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven at 200 degrees and line a baking tray with baking paper
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder, paprika, milk and egg in a medium bowl and mix well
  3. Mix in the peppers, sweetcorn, basil and season well with salt and pepper
  4. Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan
  5. Once hot, spoon the sweetcorn and pepper mixture into the oil (2 tbsp per fritter) and leave to fry for 3 to 4 minutes on each side over medium heat
  6. Remove the cooked fritters from the oil and drain on kitchen paper
  7. Remove the baking tray from the oven and carefully transfer each fritter onto the tray
  8. Cook in the oven for 5 minutes (I found this helped cook the innards as I only shallow fried the fritters on the hob)
  9. Serve with cumin (grilled) tomato, spinach and avocado

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Chickpea curry

Necessity is indeed the mother of invention.  Post holiday, I’ve ordered groceries online, which will be delivered later this evening.  Whilst I did a quick shop on Saturday morning to sort us out for the weekend, in my haste, I didn’t think too far ahead to today.    I raided my pantry last night before pulling together a meal plan for the week.  A can of chickpeas, aubergine from the garden, courgettes and some potatoes – a quick, easy curry came to mind.  This curry doesn’t have much gravy, but is full of flavour.  Serve with brown basmati rice, aubergine pickle (I used Patak’s brand) and poppadoms for crunch.  Perfect for Meatless Monday.

Ingredients:

  • Fry lite spray
  • 2 shallot, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 inch ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • a handful of curry leaves
  • a 400g can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp puy lentils, rinsed
  • 1 small aubergine, cut into chunks
  • 1 courgette, diced
  • 3 new potatoes, diced
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp tomato pureé
  • 2 cups of water
  • salt to taste
  • a handful of chopped coriander for garnish

Method:

  1. Heat a heavy-based pan on the stove
  2. Spray some Fry Lite onto the pan and sauté the shallots for a minute, followed by the garlic and ginger for 30 seconds
  3. Add the mustard seeds and curry leaves to the pan and sauté until fragrant (about 30 seconds)
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the coriander) into the pan and leave to cook for 30 minutes over medium heat
  5. Once cooked, check for seasoning and take the pan off the heat.  Garnish with freshly chopped coriander before serving

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Sweet potato and carrot soup

It is 18 degrees outside and the sun is shining.  Summer is upon us this week (and knowing the weather here, it could be a one-off appearance by the strange, bright orange thing in the sky).  I should be whipping up a salad for lunch, but I’ve some sweet potatoes and carrots in the fridge which need using up soon.  In any case, having grown up eating rice and noodles three times a day in hot and humid temperatures, I’m never one to opt for a light lunch during summer (or ever).

The bear and I have been sharing food on my plate recently.  She still isn’t reaching for food on her own, so I’ve been offering her small (gummy) bites of cucumber, Jersey potatoes, salmon, yoghurt, banana and bread.  I wanted her to have a taste of my sweet potato and carrot soup today, and with her in mind, made it sans salt.    To be honest, the soup has plenty of natural flavourings from onions, garlic, celery, leeks and the two main ingredients, and it is lovely as it is.  Unfortunately, the bear wasn’t overly keen, but having said that, she’s also just had her 1pm feed and may not be hungry.  Plenty leftover for lunch tomorrow, we might get her to try it again then.

Ingredients: (serves 3 to 4)

  • Fry lite spray
  • 1 brown onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 leek, trimmed and sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 litre water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Heat a stock pot on the stove and spray some Fry lite.  Sauté the onions for 2 minutes over medium heat
  2. Add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds before adding the rest of the vegetables.  Leave them to colour for a minute, stirring every now and again
  3. Add the water, partially close with a lid and leave to simmer for 30 to 40 minutes until the vegetables are soft
  4. Take the pot off the heat and leave to cool for 15 minutes
  5. Blitz the soup using a blender (leave as chunky or blend to a fine soup to suit your preference)
  6. Transfer the soup back into the pot and bring to a simmer again, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste
  7. Enjoy with bread rolls or buttered toast

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