Pasta with Cabbage and Chickpeas (v)

A really tasty and satisfying yet very quick supper dish, and one where the pasta doesn’t get cold even tho there’s no ‘wet’ sauce covering it. Everyone loved this, even the boy who porports to “hate cabbage”. I think the garlicky oil, flecked with spicy chilli heat, is what made him over come his cabbage consternation… This is another from River Cottage Veg Everyday.

For three portions you need
225g pasta, we used rigatoni 
1 can chickpeas, don’t bother to drain them
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 chilli, finely chopped
1 onion, finely sliced
5 tbsp olove oil
4-5 cavolo nero cabbage leaves, tough stems removed and finely shredded.
Cook the pasta. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion over a medium heat until lightly golden. Add the chilli and garlic and cook for a few mins longer.
3 mins before the pasta is done, lob in the chickpeas (juice an’ all) and the cabbage. Heat for 3 mins then drain. Toss into the onion pan and mix thoroughly. Serve in warmed bowls and add some cheese if you’re not vegan. Delicious. 

Banana Chocolate Chip Shortbread Bars (v)

This recipe is adapted from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible. It’s dead simple, very yummy and makes cooked banana taste nice (I usually can’t stand it cooked in anything unless it’s well and truly mushed up). It’s a bit crumbly and liable to disintegrate round the edges but it’s perfect with a morning coffee and is a reasonably healthy energy boost.

For about 8 bars you need
75g wholemeal flour
11/4 tsp baking powder
75g demerara sugar
75g porridge oats
100g vegan spread or butter if you’re not vegan
1 banana, sliced into 5mm slices
25g plain chocolate chips

Blitz everything apart from the chocolate chips in a food processor until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Line a 2lb loaf tin and put half the shortbread mix in the bottom. Press down. Lay the banana slices on top and then cover with the remaining shortbread. Press down firmly and scatter over the chocolate. Bake in a 180 degree oven for about 25 mins. Leave to cool and then carefully slice and scoff.

Carrot and Potato Soup with Ginger and Chilli (v)

A lovely friend made us a delicious bowl of soup to replenish our bellies after a walk round the Holmfirth countryside a few weeks ago, so I decided to recreate the flavours and use up some limp carrots from the bottom of the fridge. You can flavour this soup with whatever you like, but the warming ginger and chilli work well with the sweet carrot.

For 3-4 portions you need
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3-4 carrots, roughly chopped, no need to peel
2-3 potatoes, roughly chopped, no need to peel
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 small chilli, destalked and cut into a couple of sections.
1.5 litres vegetable stock
Fresh parsley and coriander to serve
Heat the oil in a pan and sautee the veggies for a few mins. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and then top up with the stock. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 15 mins until the potatoes are cooked.
Blitz to a smooth consistency, adding more water if necessary and then serve topped with chopped fresh herbs. Yummy.

Meal Plan

I’m having a fresh new start, and one of my aims is to actually plan meals on a weekly basis to ensure we eat healthily, don’t buy too much each week and use up everything we have. And I know other people are trying to do the same so along with recipes I am going to blog my meal plans too. If nothing else, it will provide a nice bank of foodie ideas to refer back to at a later date.

So, this week we are having the following…

w/c 6 Sept 2013
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner
Snacks
Friday
Cereal and Toast
Quinoa with Courgettes and Onions 
(p279 River Cottage Veg)
Home made fries with yogurt dip and salad
Courgette Cake
Saturday
Vendetta Eggs and Beans
Green Beans, Potatoes and Halloumi 
(p222 River Cottage Veg)
Pasta with Cabbage and Chickpeas 
(p261 River Cottage Veg)
Courgette Cake
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Sunday
Pancakes
Vegetable Soup and Bread
Cheesy Jacket Potatoes, Bean Stew and Salad
Courgette Cake
Flapjack
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Monday
Cereal and Toast
Peanut Vegetable Noodles 
(p261 Nigella Express)
Bean Stew and Rice and Salad
Courgette Cake
Flapjack
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Tuesday
Cereal and Toast
Peanut Vegetable Noodles 
(p261 Nigella Express)
Moroccan Roasted Vegetables with Cous Cous
Courgette Cake
Flapjack
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Wednesday
Cereal and Toast
Roasted Veg Soup and Bread
Spinach, Penne and Cheese Spouffle 
(p43 River Cottage Veg)
Courgette Cake
Flapjack
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Thursday
Cereal and Toast
Cheese and Chutney Sandwiches with Salad
Fuz Fried Rice
Courgette Cake
Flapjack
Chocolate Chip Cookies

Courgettes and Onions with Quinoa (v)

I have a large collection of cookery books. Some might argue too many. And often I admire them in my living room and then head to the kitchen to create something myself. But I am on a mission to cut my shopping bill in half, and to use up everything we buy along with getting out of the food rut we are currently in. My recipe book of choice at the moment is therefore River Cottage Veg Everyday as we are working our way through our weekly veg box and I am already bored with some of the contents (namely courgettes!!).

This recipe is very easy to do and tastes delicious hot, warm or cold. It makes a lovely light lunch on its own, or a yummy side dish. If you’re not vegan, add some feta to it for a salty tang. It’d also be delicious served up alongside a lamb cutlet or similar.

For two people you need
2 medium courgettes, sliced on the diagonal in 5mm thick slices
2 red onions, finely sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2-3 sprigs of thyme leaves (not the stalks!)
juice 1/2 lemon
100g quinoa
25g pine nuts
salt and pepper
large handful of roughly chopped flat leaf parsley

Begin by sauteeing the thyme leaves, onions and courgettes in a pan with the oil. Keep the heat medium so that after 20 minutes or so the onions and courgettes are nicely golden. Add the garlic at this stage and cook for another 2-3 mins.

Meanwhile cook the quinoa in 200ml of water. Bring to the boil and then simmer gently for about 8 mins. Turn off the heat and leave to steam until all the water is absorbed (about another 10 mins).

Toast the pine nuts until golden.

Toss everything together in a large bowl, season to taste and then eat hot, warm or cold. Nom nom nom.

Broccoli with Rice Noodles (v)

It’s the start of a new term and I am on a new regime again. To blog again, now the horror of being really ill is behind me, and to revive my go-to recipes again and cook more interesting things with vegetables. The River Cottage Veg Everyday book gave me inspiration for broccoli.

For 2-3 people you need
One large head broccoli
Handful rice noodles
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tsp soya sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
freshly ground pepper
3 spring onions, finely sliced
2 tbsp sesame seeds

Cook the broccoli and noodles in boiling water for about 5 mins. Drain and leave to steam for a few minutes to get rid of any excess water.

Gently toast the sesame seeds until lightly golden.

Place everything in a large bowl and toss to mix. Scoff.

Rice and Peas (v)

This is proper Indian kichiri, with none of the Anglo-Indian trimmings. Just rice and peas and spices. It’s a fab side dish to any curry and the pulses in boost the protein content making it a good whole meal in itself.

For 6 portions you need
1/2 cup moong dhal, rinsed clean and soaked in cold water for 4 hours
2 cups basmati rice, rinsed clean and soaked for an hour in cold water
3 tbsp butter or oil
2 indian bay leaves
2 cloves
1 tsp whole coriander
1 tsp whole cumin
3 cardamon pods, crushed to release the seeds
1″ piece of cinnamon bark
1 medium onion, finely sliced
1 tsp salt

Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the spices for 2-3 mins until the aromas are released. Add the onion and cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes until browned and crispy. Add the drained rice and peas and stir fry to coat in the oil and spices.

Add 2 and 2/3 cups of water and bring to the boil. Cover with a tightly fitting lid and reduce the heat to very low. Cook for 20-25 mins until the rice is light and fluffy and the peas are cooked.

Mixed Vegetable Makhanawala (v)

I am slowly working my way through Rick Stein’s India, a very fine book on curries and Indian food. This recipe caught my eye as I was meal planning over the weekend, and Abel and Cole obliged by providing most of the ingredients for it in their weekly box this week. The curry is delicious, rich and creamy but not heavy. Spiced and fragrant with a little kick of heat but not searingly hot. It might look complicated but it’s not, it was very easy to make and was definitely worth the effort.

For 4-6 portions you need
800g mixed vegetables – I used potatoes, carrots, cauliflower and french beans
50g butter or oil
1 medium onion, sliced
5 large garlic cloves, finely minced
5cm stick of ginger, finely grated
400g fresh tomatoes pulverised to make passata (don’t use tinned or a jar, you want the lightness of fresh tomatoes)
1 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp each of ground cumin, ground coriander, ground cinnamon, garam masala and tumeric
1 tsp desiccated coconut
1.5 tsp salt
25g cashew nuts
1/2 tsp sugar
75ml yogurt/soya yogurt
4 tbsp double cream/soya cream (or coconut cream)
Handful of fresh coriander leaves to finish

Begin by boiling the carrots and potatoes until just cooked. Drain and leave to one side.

Melt the butter in a large heavy based pan and add the onion. Cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes until the onions are soft and golden. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a further 5 mins. Add the tomatoes, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 mins. Add the spices, salt, coconut and 100ml of water and cook for a further 10 mins.

In a mini food processor blitz the cashew nuts with a little water until smooth. Add this to the pan along with all the vegetables apart from the potatoes. Add another 100ml of water and simmer for 10 minutes until the veggies are cooked. Add the yogurt, cream and potatoes and heat through for 2-3 mins. Serve garnished with the coriander. It’s truly delicious.

Goldilocks Tarka Dhal (v)

So called because I have made it three times… The first time we used scotch bonnet chillies and it was too cold. The second time I used thai chillies in quantities as per the recipe and it was too hot. The third time I used Indian chillies and it was juuuuuuust riiiiiiiight. You do need to soak the chana dhal for a good couple of hours beforehand or it will take ages to cook. This recipe is from the very fine Rick Stein’s India, a fabulous book about Indian food!

For 4-6 portions you need
For the dhal
200g chana dhal, rinsed and soaked in cold water for 1-2 hours
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 whole cloves garlic, peeled
1 onion, chopped
2 green chillies, left whole and slit, seeds left in
1tsp salt
1/2 tsp tumeric

For the tarka
1 onion, thinly sliced
large knob of butter/vegan spread
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp asafoetida
Small handful of fresh curry leaves
Fresh coriander leave to serve

Place the soaked chana dhal in a pan with the rest of the dhal ingredients. Cover with water to about 2cms above the level of the chana. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about an hour until the chana is cooked. Mash a little to break up some of the dhal but leave some texture in.

For the tarka heat the oil and butter/spread until hot. Add the mustard seeds and asafoetida and cook until the seeds pop. Add the onion and cook over a medium heat until brown and crispy, but take care not to burn it!

Pour the tarka into the dhal and serve with bread or rice or whatever you fancy.

Celebration Chocolate Cake

This cake has done the rounds on an internet forum I am a member of, and I book marked it as one to make to welcome Lex home after he’d spent the summer with his dad this year. It looks impressive but is actually a doddle to make and decorate, and any kid (or adult for that matter!!) that sees it can’t resist breaking out into a huge grin. You can put whatever you want round the sides and on the top. I was under strict orders from the boy with what I included but let your imagination run wild!

Our cake is a chocolate orange marble cake with chocolate orange buttercream icing and milk and orange chocolate kitkats. For other flavours, amend the recipes below to suit your tastes 🙂

For 8-12 slices you need
Orange cake batter
3 eggs
zest and juice of one orange
6oz self raising flour
6oz caster sugar
6oz vitalite

Chocolate orange cake batter
3 eggs
zest and juice of one orange
4oz self raising flour
2oz cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
6oz caster sugar
6oz vitalite

Chocolate Orange Buttercream Icing
225g vitalite
475g icing sugar
50g cocoa powder
zest of one orange

To Decorate
1 pack of 8 x 2 finger orange kitkats
1 pack of 8 x 2 finger milk chocolate kitkats
1 packet peanut M&Ms
1 packet yorkie chocolate drops
Jelly stars
Edible silver stars

You will also need
A ribbon to decorate
2 x 8 inch round cake tins, lined and greased
Cake stand or plate

Begin by making the cake batters. In separate bowls cream together the vitalite and sugar, beating for 10 mins until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, alternating with the flour or flour and cocoa mixture. Finally add the zest and juice and thoroughly incorporate.

Dollop spoonfuls of each mixture across both tins, and once all the batter is in, swirl to mix lightly for the marbled effect.

Bake at 170 degrees for about 25-30 mins until the cakes are well risen, starting to shrink away from the sides of the tin and fully cooked. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto a cake rack to finish cooling completely.

Beat the icing ingredients together for 10 mins until light and fluffy. Use to sandwich the cakes together and then cover the outside of both cakes with a good layer of icing. Once you have done this, start to stick your kitkats (or chocolate finger biscuits or whatever else you have chosen!) to the outside.

Then add your decoration of choice. Some people like to just cover with maltesers or other sweets, but my cakes were very deep, and there wasn’t a lot of overspill room above the kitkats so I used giant chocolate buttons and then filled the inside with other sweets.

Finally, tie the ribbon around the outside of the cake (this helps to ensure the kitkats don’t fall off as well as giving an extra wow factor ;-)) and scoff. I recommend palming the children off on to grandparents once the sugar rush hits mwahahahaha!