Peanut, Sweet Potato and Chard Stew

Another recipe from April’s BBC Good Food magazine. Riverford had ever so kindly given us an extra ‘present’ of some chard. One of my most hated vegetables. But I saw this recipe and thought I’d give it a go to use up the interloper in a new way. It worked, sort of. N didn’t like it at all, but L ate the sweet potatoes and stew juice. I liked it all, but like so many Good Food recipes it was rather bland. If I make it again I’ll add some more flavours to it, and less water.

For 4 generous portions you need:
400g sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped into bite sized chunks
1 400g tin chopped toms
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp whole cumin
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp oil
175g roasted, salted peanuts
300ml water (the recipe states 750ml but this was waaaaaay too much imho, you need enough to help the potatoes cook but not enough to drown the flavours…)
250g chard, washed and chopped into 2cms chunks.

Begin by frying the onion over a high heat in the oil for about 10 mins until golden. Add the cumin seeds and chilli and fry for another couple of minutes to release the flavours. Then add the toms and water and sweet potatoes. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 mins. Blitz the peanuts till finely chopped, and add to the pan. After another 10 mins or so add the chard and heat for 5 mins till tender. Keep an eye on the water level to stop the stew from sticking and top up if you need some more liquid. Season to taste and serve with rice. Feel beyond virtuous for eating so healthily.

Pear and Vanilla Microwave Pudding

I was inspired for this by a recipe in BBC Good Food Magazine for a banana and cinnamon microwave cake pudding. I’ve had a tin of pears lurking at the back of the cupboard since forever and this seemed like a good time to use them us. Also the bananas I had got from the supermarket yesterday were far too green to work properly. The result was a lovely smelling, incredibly quick and easy pudding to make. Yumsome indeed.

For 4 portions you need:
1 tin pears, drained. Leave 4 halves whole and roughly chop the remaining pears into chunks.
100g each of soft brown sugar, butter and self raising flour
2 tbsp pear juice (make sure the pears are tinned in juice and not syrup!)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs

Begin by melting the butter in the microwave. Once melted add everything else, apart from the reserved whole halves. Mix well and put into a souffle dish. Sit the remaining halves in the batter and then microwave on high for 8 minutes. Serve with custard or ice cream or cream or whatever you fancy. These type of microwave cakes tend to go a bit hard the next day, but it is edible if this happens. Just smother in lots of custard before re-heating.

Pasta with Pesto, Mushrooms, Peas and Broccoli

A friend made something like this for me last week and it was delicious. I hardly ever use pesto as a pasta sauce, wrongly thinking it’s not something I like. But I really did like this! The original version used filled tortellini, baby corn and mange tout. But the version below was just as good.

For 2-3 portions you need:
200g pasta (I used spirlli)
1 tub pesto (I used fresh as I think it tastes nicer than a jar)
4-5 mushrooms, stalks chopped in to 2 and the cups cut into 4-6 pieces depending on how big they are
small head broccili, cut into small florets
1 cup frozen peas
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
watercress salad to serve.

Begin by cooking the pasta. Meanwhile sautee the mushrooms in a lidded pan with the oil for about 5 mins. Then add the broccoli and continue to cook over a fairly high heat, using the lid to retain the steam. Add a little water if you need to create more steam and cook the broccoli. Then add the frozen peas and pesto. Check the pasta is cooked and drain when done. Check the vegetables and pesto for seasoning and then combine the pasta with the sauce. Serve with salad. Yummy. The leftovers are nice cold for a salad lunch the next day.

Spicy Roasted Squash and Chick Peas with Bulgar Wheat

I saw a recipe for something similar to this in a food mag last month. And predictably, when I go to try and make it I can’t find the magazine… if anyone knows what it was I would be eternally grateful! It’ll either be BBC Good Food or Delicious.

Anyway. This was inspired by the lost recipe. And it was lovely. Lex really liked the spicy butternut squash and I liked the crunchy chickpeas!

For 3-4 portions you need:
1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and chopped into rough chunks
2 red onions, peeled and cut into sixths
1/2 punnet cherry toms, halved
1 tbsp ras-el-halout
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1 tin chickpeas, drained
1 cup bulgar wheat
1 tsp stock powder
just under 2 cups boiling water

Begin by placing the onions and squash on a baking sheet. Drizzle over the oil, salt and pepper and ras-el-halout. Roast in a hot oven for about 10 mins. Then add the chickpeas. After another 10 mins add the cherry toms and cook for a final 5-10 mins.

Meanwhile place the bulgar wheat in to a bowl with the stock and boiling water. Cover and leave to absorb for 30 mins.

Serve with chopped corriander and maybe some cooked haloumi if you don’t want it vegan. I did think about making a harissa and tahini dressing to go with it but ran out of time so that’s for another day!

Chocolate Pudding with Chilli and Cinnamon

A Nigella staple this one, and very quick to throw together to fix that chocolate craving when it strikes. It can also be vegan if you use soya milk. Make sure you use a dish that’s deep enough and sit it on a baking tray as the pudding has a tendency to erupt over the sides when it cooks… The recipe is on p229 of her Feast book.

For 4 large portions you need:
150g flour
2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp chilli powder
50g cocoa powder
200g vanilla sugar
125ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
60ml vegetable oil
100g light soft brown sugar
175ml boiling water
60ml dark brandy

Begin by putting all the dry ingredients except for 25g of cocoa and the brown sugar into a bowl. Add the oil, milk and vanilla and mix to a batter. Pour into a 2 litre dish. Mix the remaining 25g cocoa and the brown sugar together and sprinkle over the batter. Pour over the brandy and boiling water and bake for about 25-30 mins. The pudding will cook into a cake on the top with a rich chocolate sauce on the bottom. Delish.

Stuffed, Baked Mushrooms with Basil and Tomato Sauce

I fancied some stuffed mushrooms today, and a rummage through the fridge showed a tub of ricotta that really needed to be used so I created this. N ate it, and he doesn’t really like mushrooms so I have to assume it was a success!

For 2 portions you need:
4 large portabello mushrooms, preferably ones that form a saucer to contain the filling
250g ricotta
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bag spinach
salt and pepper
good grating of nutmeg
1 egg

For the basil and tomato sauce:
1 tin cherry toms in tom juice
large handful shredded basil leaves
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp stock powder
100ml white wine
1/2 tsp sugar
3 tbsp olive oil

Begin by nuking the spinach to wilt it – place in a covered bowl and nuke on high for 2 mins, then leave to stand for 1 min. Chop finely. Place the ricotta in a bowl and add the spinach, seasoning, egg and nutmeg. Add a good grating of parmesan (about 1/3 cup). Mix thoroughly. Place the mushrooms into an oven proof dish (peel if you want and trim the stalks). Spoon the filling on top and then bake at 180 degrees for about 30 mins.

Meanwhile make the sauce. Place all the ingredients in a pan and heat gently. Reduce the sauce by about half until thickened.

Serve with crusty bread to mop up the yummy juices.

Quorn and Vegetable Stew

A last minute throw-it-all-in-the-pan-and-see-what-happens dish this one. And the end result wasn’t bad. Lex ate it!

For 3 generous portions you need:
3 carrots, sliced
3 leeks, thinly sliced
2 onions, chopped
1 packet quorn chunks
1 can larger
1 tsp sugar
2 stock cubes
1 tsp dried herbs (I used oregano)
salt and pepper to taste

Begin by frying the veggies in a little olive oil. Then add everything else, bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 mins till the carrots are cooked. We served it with giant cous cous which was frankly *bizarre*. I’d recommend mash or pasta or rice next time!

Vegan Chocolate Cookies

Also known as Granny Boyd’s biscuits a la Nigella (from Domestic Goddess). I’m not that keen on these but Lex likes them and they store well so they’re a great lunchbox staple.

For about 20 cookies you need:
250g vegan marge
300g self raising flour
30g cocoa
125g sugar

Whizz it all together in a food processor and then roll into balls (about the size of walnuts). Squish down with a fork and bake for 15 mins. Cool and store in an airtight container till needed. Sorted.

Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Blondies

Lex and I watched peanut butter being made on How do they do it this morning and decided to have a peanut butter themed food day. I’ve been meaning to try this recipe for a while and this is the perfect opportunity to do so. It’s another Rachel Allen recipe from her Bake cook book.

For about 18 small bite sized portions you need:
125g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g soft butter
150g crunchy peanut butter
175g soft brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
75g chopped white choc or white choc drops

Begin by creaming together the butter, peanut butter and sugar. Then add the egg and vanilla extract. Mix in the flour and baking powder (by this time you will have a stiff dough) and then finally add the white chocolate. You can turn the dough into a small, lined and greased baking tin if you want, but I used a mini muffin tin instead to save having to cut it up. Bake for about 25 mins till risen, golden brown and almost firm in the middle. Leave to cool then try and save for the week’s lunch boxes. Fail miserably and make another batch mwahh!!

Orange Suprise Pudding

I usually make this with lemons but didn’t have any today so substituted oranges instead. Lex declared this nicer than the lemon one as it’s less sharp. Personally I thought it was a bit sweet, so have reduced the sugar for the recipe below.

For 3 portions (or 4 if you’re not as greedy as us…) you need:
25g butter
75g caster sugar
juice and zest of 1 orange
25g plain flour
2 eggs, separated
100ml milk

Grease a souffle dish. Cream the butter with 25g of the sugar. Then add the egg yolks, orange juice, orange zest, milk and flour. Whisk the egg whites till stiff then fold in. Pour the batter in to the greased dish and bake at 140 degrees for about 30-40 mins. You can use a bain marie if you can be bothered. The mix separates in to a light sponge and a sauce forms at the bottom. Yum yum yum.