Lentil Stoup with Italian Sausage

This is a take on Italian Cotechino with lentils, a dish traditionally eaten during Christmas time. It is believed to bring good luck to those that eat it in the year to come. I said it is ‘our take’ because the original version is more like a thick stew, but our came out something between stew and soup, so stoup it is. In any way I love both versions and it is really up to you to make as thick or thin as you like. You can easily double or triple the recipe and make ahead too.

  • It isn’t necessary to soak the lentils, you can even use canned lentils too, but if you have time, please try soaking it overnight prior to cooking, as it’s worth it. It becomes much more tender and absorbs all flavours even more.
  • Also, when you cook lentils, remember to salt them at the end of cooking, rather than the beginning, so that they don’t remain hard.

Lentil Stoup with Italian Sausage

PUY LENTIL STOUP WITH ITALIAN SAUSAGE

Ingredients:

1 onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon dry thyme

1 bay leaf

2-3 large carrots, chopped

2-3 large ribs celery, chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

400 g brown or green dry lentils, preferably soaked overnight (optional)

1 tomato (chopped)

3 cups water

3 cups chicken stock or water

1/2 pound Italian sausage (mild, sweet, or spicy, your choice)

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

Method:

1. Heat a large, thick-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add a little olive oil and, once hot, add the onion, thyme and bay leaf. Once the onion is translucent, but not yet brown, add the carrots, celery, cook further for about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse the lentils, and add them also. Saute for 30 seconds, then add the tomato. Mix well and cover with stock.

2. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and cook for 20 to 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft, but aren’t falling apart.

3.  While the lentils are cooking, heat a frying pan on medium heat. Add the Italian sausage (you can fry whole sausages and cut onto the smaller chunks later, but I removed the outer skin of the sausage and broke into smaller pieces by hand). Gently cook, browning pieces all over, until just cooked through. Remove from pan and add to stew for the last 10 minutes of cooking.

4. At the end of the cooking, add a splash of vinegar, season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

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Celery and Cashew Nut Soup

Many years ago, I had the privilege to share a house with the most wonderful lady – Vicky, whom I’m honoured to call my friend. She is an incredible baker/cook, that can make a proper feast form a few leftovers. Her quiches, pies and lamb roasts are the stuff of legends, but for me there is another thing which I am very fond of. It is a celery and cashew nut soup! The first time I tried this soup of hers I was completely smitten. I never thought of cooking with celery and to be honest, 15 years ago, I maybe wasn’t very familiar of it either! For me, it wasn’t on my shopping list back then and the same goes for cashew nuts. They were more of a rare treat. However the combination of the two is a surprise match made in heaven, and is both creamy and wonderful.

Vicky would normally cook it based on a vegetarian stock if I remember it right, but I had a really nice chicken stock I made earlier, so I used it.

Mark also hadn’t heard of this soup before either, but now he’s a big fan! 🙂

Thank you, Vicky!

Celery and Cashew nuts Soup

CELERY AND CASHEW NUTS SOUP

Ingredients:

1 onion, peeled and chopped

2 medium sized potatoes, peeled and chopped

300g celery, washed and chopped

2 tablespoons butter

50g cashew nuts

1 1/4 pints chicken (or vegetable) stock

3/4 pint milk

salt & pepper

Method:

  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan.
  2. Saute the prepared vegetables gently until the onion is transparent.
  3. Add the cashews and continue cooking for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add the stock, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Add the milk and allow to cool slightly.
  6. Tip the soup mix into a blender and purée until smooth.
  7. Season with the salt and pepper and serve.

Stir-fry with Paneer and Peppers

This is one of the simplest and fastest Indian dishes you can do with homemade Paneer.

I will often vary the vegetables depending on what’s available and what we are in the mood for.

This recipe is versatile!

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STIR-FRY WITH PANEER AND PEPPERS

Ingredients:

5 tablespoons clarified butter or vegetable oil

1 1/2 tablespoons coriander seed, toasted and ground

1 teaspoon paprika

2 medium onions, finely diced or grated

1 fresh green chilli, chopped, with or without seeds

2 large yellow bell pepper, cut into cubes/thin strips

2 courgette, cut in halves

200g cherry tomatoes, cut in halves

1 tablespoon fenugreek powder (or fresh leaves, if you wish)

250g paneer, cut into cubes

Juice of 1-2 limes, to taste

Method:

  1. In a saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of ghee on medium heat. Add coriander seed and paprika. Stir and cook for thirty seconds.
  2. Add the onions and green chilli and fry for 5–6 minutes, or until the onions are just softening but not browned and still have a little crunch. Add the peppers, courgette, salt and fenugreek powder, and fry for a further 3–4 minutes.
  3. Lower the heat, add the paneer to the pan and gently stir everything together for about five minutes, then add the tomatoes and heat through. Stir in the lime juice, check seasoning and serve immediately.

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Walnut Cake

Walnut Cake
It’s the ‘British Bake Off’ time again! I’m so excited! I can’t wait to see what new things they are going to introduce this year, what sort of technical challenges to expect, what trends will arise? But, as always, as soon as you watch the episode, you’re just itching to get in the kitchen and bake something. So I did. Inspired by their bakes of Classical Walnut Cake, I’ve made a less traditional, simpler, but never the less, delicious version of Walnut Cake. This recipe came from one of my absolute favourite blogger Mimi Thorisson. Her blog Manger is amazing and inspiring. So is she. I’ve been her faithful fan for years and am so pleased that she has her book out now, and her pop-up restaurant is just about to open its door. I doubt I’ll be able to visit her restaurant just yet, but I look forward to continue to cook her delicious, unfussy and proper French recipes. This cake is one of those recipe – simple, modest, flavoursome, perfect!

WALNUT CAKE /Gâteau aux noix

(Originally came from here)

Ingredients:

150 g/ 1 cup walnuts, chopped finely + at least 5 walnuts halves for decorating the cake
3 tablespoons dark rum
80 g unsalted butter
130 g sugar
1 tablespoon honey
40 g plain flour
30 g cornstarch
3 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
A pinch of fine salt

Dash of icing sugar & honey

Whipped cream for serving (optional)

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Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180°C.

2. Chop walnuts finely (alternatively place walnuts in a food processor and pulse until you get coarse crumbs).

3. In a large bowl, combine sugar, walnuts, and mix well. Add the butter, honey, eggs and rum. Add a pinch of salt and vanilla extract.

4. In another bowl, combine sifted flour, cornstarch and 1 teaspoon baking powder. Mix well.
Fold in dry ingredients into walnut mixture.

5. Butter the baking tin and line it with baking parchment, pour in the batter. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes (you can test-knife and check – if it comes out clean it’s ready).

6. When cake is cool, sprinkle it with the icing sugar and decorate with the walnuts halves, securing each of them with a dash of honey.

7. Serve with whipped cream (optional).

This one I baked earlier for a Friend

This one I baked earlier for a Friend

Gazpacho

Apparently the ‘real’ Gazpacho has bread in it, but I prefer the ‘clean’ version with fresh bread or other bread things on the side. Easy to modify to suit your taste. Even better the next day!

Gaspacho

GAZPACHO

(Recipe adapted from Ina Garten)

Ingredients:
1 medium cucumber, halved and seeded
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
4 plum tomatoes
1 red onion

1 red chilly
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups tomato juice
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup good olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Method:

1. Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onion and chilli. Put all vegetables into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process it until the mixture appears creamy.

2. Transfer the mixture into large bowl or saucepan and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer gazpacho sits, the tastier it gets. To garnish you can add finely chopped onion, tomato, cucumber or small croutons on top. I’ve just splash extra olive oil on top before serving. We had it with Empanadas on a side, the combination of flavours, cold and hot was wonderful!

Cuban Chicken Pie

I’ve never been to Cuba or even to a Cuban restaurant, so I can’t claim that this dish tasted like an authentic one. Also I used the left overs from our roast chicken the day before instead of cooking a whole chicken like the original recipe asks for. But this recipe is great and I can’t recommend it enough. The filling inside the pie which includes capers, olives, raisins, fresh tomatoes and many other ingredients is so vibrant and provides a flavoursome contrast to the crisp corn topping.
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CUBAN CHICKEN PIE

Ingredients:

Approx 500 g cooked chicken meat

30 ml olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 hard-boiled eggs, roughly chopped

2 tomatoes, roughly chopped

50 g pitted green olives, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon bottled capers

50 g raisins

salt & pepper

For the topping:

500 g drained canned or thawed frozen corn kennels

90 g butter

2 teaspoons sugar

3 eggs, lightly beaten

salt & pepper

Method:

1. Make the topping. Put the corn kennels into the food processor/blender and purée until smooth. Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat. Stir in the puréed corn and sugar. Season generously with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes, until the mixture thickens and comes away from the sides of the pan.

2. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes, then slowly stir in the beaten eggs, a little at the time. Set the topping mixture aside.

3. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and stir in the chopped onion. Cook gently for 5 minutes, until soft and translucent, season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Stir in the chopped hard-boiled eggs, chopped tomatoes, olives, capers and raisins. Fold in the shredded chicken, make sure that it is well distributed throughout the mixture.

5. Spoon the pie filling into a 25 x 20 cm baking dish (or its’ equivalent). Using a spoon, spread the corn topping evenly over the top of the chicken filing and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown. Leave to stand for about 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with good crusty bread on the side and chilled white wine 🙂

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Cheesy Leek and Potato Soup

There was a program on TV this morning, explaining the origin of St. David’t Day and traditional Welsh food. They had laverbread (unfortunately, I’ve never tried it yet 😦 ), Glamorgam Sausages (which I’ve tried once and I loved it!), Cawl (it is a Welsh stew with lamb and leeks), Welsh cakes and many other delicious and authentic food. I thought I have to make something today at least remotely close to Welsh cuisine. As I had a nice looking couple of leeks in the fridge and recently saw a recipe for Potato and Leek soup on Andrea’s blog here, decision was made quickly 🙂 I also made dinner rolls, based on stout and honey, to go with the soup. Although, in her recipe Andrea uses Stilton, which I love but we had only Cheddar today and it paired well too. Also, I didn’t have cream and I could supplement with some milk but after blending I had a taste and it was perfect as it was.

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CHEESY LEEK AND POTATO SOUP

(Based on Andrea’s recipe taken from her blog Ten More Bites)

Ingredients:

2 tab spoons of butter

2 medium leeks or 1 huge one (in my case), sliced

4 potatoes, peeled and cubed,

1 stalk celery, chopped

1.5 litres vegetables stock

salt & pepper to taste

grated Cheddar to serve

Method:

1. Heat the butter in a large pan and add the leeks. Cook for 3-4 minutes until starting to soften, add the potatoes and sauté for a few more minutes, after add vegetable stock, season well with salt and pepper.

2. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, for about 20-25 minutes.

3. Remove from the heat, whizz with a hand blender or in a blender until smooth. Serve with grated Cheddar (or Stilton, or any other your favourite cheese) on top, with some fresh crusty bread.

Happy St. David’s Day! 🙂