What I'm cooking and eating

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Well, duh!

There are times when I really think I am a bear of very little brain, and long words bother me!  I have been cooking for - what - the best part of 60 years, and I always, but always, made a béchamel sauce to go with cauliflower, especially if I was going to make it into a cauliflower cheese bake.

But we have been travelling, and space in our motor home is limited.  So it occurred to me - when I make nachos, I just melt the grated cheese in a little milk - what would happen if I poured the result over the cauliflower?

And, of course, it worked splendidly!  I didn't realise quite how dim I was not to have thought of that that long since....

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Barley Salad

I had been making lemon barley water this morning, so had some cooked barley.  It has been very hot, although it is cooler today, so I decided to use the barley as I would have used rice in a salad.  I think, in hindsight, I should have rinsed the cooked barley, but it's not a bad fault.

c. 100 g barley (I used 1/2 measuring cup - 125 ml by volume)
1 litre water
1 large clove garlic
1 tbs olive oil
2 tbs lemon juice
1 large or 2 small avocados
1 large or 2 small tomatoes

Rinse the barley, then put it in your pressure cooker with the water and cook on high pressure for 15 minutes.  I used my lovely Instant Pot for this, which was marvellous, as I could put the barley on and then go and shower and dress without having to hover over it!  If you don't have a pressure cooker, then use 1.5 litres of water and cook for 40 minutes on the stove.  Drain, and use the resulting liquid for barley water.  This, then is what you do with the barley itself!

Put in a large bowl, and crush the garlic clove over it, ideally while it is still warm.  Stir in the olive oil and lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.  Now add the chopped avocado and the peeled and chopped tomato, and stir thoroughly.  Allow to chill before serving.

I love this with cold chicken, but the original recipe that inspired it was from a vegetarian cookbook, Rose Elliott's "Not just a load of old lentils".

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Bean Casserole

I recently bought an Instant Pot, which is a gadget that combines the functions of a pressure cooker, sauté pan, slow cooker, yoghurt maker and rice cooker.  So, of course, I have been using it quite a lot - it is a great deal easier to use than my conventional pressure cooker, which will be retired from active service now.  I tended only to use it for the occasional pot of beans, and for cooking the oranges when making marmalade.  I rather think I shall use this electric one more often!  I have yet to try the yoghurt maker or the rice cooker, and doubt I shall (although I did have a yoghurt maker at one stage; I am not quite sure where it is). 

Anyway, this bean casserole is very versatile; you can use whatever vegetables you have around. Makes masses - enough for at least four people.

½ cup each (dry volume) red kidney beans, cannellini beans and those pink ones (or any other sort you like), soaked overnight in cold water to which you have added a little bicarbonate of soda.
1 tbs cooking oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ chilli pepper, deseeded and chopped (it was going to be a whole one, but I dropped half of it into the bin and couldn't find it again!)
Neck of a butternut squash, cubed
1/2 punnet of mushrooms, sliced
1 tin chopped tomatoes
A little extra water,  if needed (it shouldn't be)
Seasoning as liked.

When you have soaked the beans, drain them and rinse them well, then place into the cooker with about 2 litres of cold water.  Cook at high pressure for 10 minutes, and allow the pressure to come down at room temperature, if possible.  Drain, and set aside.

Using the sauté function of the cooker, add the oil, then the various fresh vegetables.  Allow to cook, stirring frequently, just as you would if you were cooking them on a normal stove.  Then add the tomatoes and the beans and stir very well.  Add a scrap more water if you think it needs it, but don't forget the mushrooms and the courgettes will yield quite a lot.  Season as liked, and then, using the slow cooker function, cook on low for about 6 hours.  I put it on the timer so it sat for 2½ hours before it started to cook.  If you aren't going to be out all day, of course, you can cook it using the pressure cooker function, probably for about 10-15 minutes.

Serve with grated cheese.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Fried spätzle

When we were travelling in France I noticed that they sold, in the supermarkets, gnocchi which one was intended to fry, rather than the normal boil.  I bought some, and very delicious they were, too.  Then when we were in Germany last month, I saw packets of obviously pre-cooked spätzle (noodles) that were intended to be fried, and, again, they were very good. 

One can buy spätzle in this country, and I sometimes do, but nothing really beats fresh pasta, so I thought that I would try to replicate these German offerings at home.  And again, they were very good with a chicken casserole.  You do need a noodle maker, although if you don't have one you could try rolling out the dough very thin, rolling it up, and cutting it in thin strips to make noodles that way.

1/2 cup white flour (strong, if you have it)
1 egg
Enough water to make a dough
Salt, pepper, dried parsley or other herbs to taste.

Mix this all up to form a stiff dough, then press through a potato ricer/noodle maker (on the disc with the fewest holes) into boiling salted water.  Bring back to the boil, stir, and drain very well.  Now melt a knob of butter in a frying pan and fry the noodles on one side until golden (it doesn't matter if they clot into a sort of pancake), then turn and fry the other side.  Serve at once.

Monday, 6 March 2017

"Indian" cauliflower cheese

Well I was bored of our usual cauliflower cheese bake and I had half a packet of paneer that wanted using, left over from last week's mattar paneer. So, I thought, well, why not?

Spice mix:
Roughly 1 teaspoon each of
coriander seeds
cumin seeds
garam marsala
ground ginger
ground chillis
mustard seeds

Or you could just use curry powder, of course

½ large cauliflower, cut into florets
3 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 chilli pepper, deseeded and chopped
1 tin tomatoes + 2/3 tin of water (rinse out the tin!)
1 small tin sweetcorn
1 tablespoonful coconut milk powder
½ packet paneer, diced
2 tsp coconut oil

Grind the coriander and cumin seeds in a pestle and mortar, and then add the rest of the spices, except the mustard seeds.  Melt the coconut oil in a large sauté pan or casserole dish, and add the mustard seeds.  When they start to pop, add the rest of the spices, stir well, cover, lower the heat and allow to fry for a minute or two while you chop the potatoes into bite-sized chunks.  Add these and stir well, cover and allow to cook for a few minutes while you chop the cauliflower and chilli.  Add these, then add the rest of the ingredients.  Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for about 25-30 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked, stirring occasionally.  Taste, and adjust the salt if necessary.

This made enough for 4, although I'd only intended it to serve 2!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Ash Wednesday Casserole, revisited

Some years ago now, I posted my recipe for what I call Ash Wednesday Casserole, or Ash Wednesday Stew.  I have always made it in my slow cooker, as if there was an Ash Wednesday service in the evening, one could go, and it would be ready to eat on one's return.  However, this year, the services were in the morning, and what with one thing and another, I didn't have time to put it in the slow cooker.  And we reckon we like this version even better! 

1/2 cup of your favourite beans, soaked for at least 1 hour in boiling water, or overnight in cold
1 onion
1-2 cloves garlic
1 large leek (it is St David's Day, after all!)
1 chilli pepper
1 sweet red pepper
1-2 sweet potatoes, depending on size
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1/2 tinful water (rinse out the tin so you don't waste any tomato juice)
Seasoning to taste - I used salt, pepper, a little soya sauce and some chilli-garlic sauce.  You could use a vegetable stock cube of some kind, but I forgot!

To serve: 1 tbs peanut butter; peanuts or cashew nuts to sprinkle (apologies if you have a peanut allergy - either use some other kind of nut butter, or tahini, or I expect you could use grated cheese, but this is essentially a vegan dish).

Rinse the beans and cook in fresh water - if you use red kidney beans, make sure they boil hard for at least ten minutes.  Or you could use a tin of beans, drained and rinsed, but I prefer dried.  Traditionally the recipe uses red beans, but you could use any kind you like.

Chop onions and leeks and fry very gently in a little oil until they don't look raw.  Add the chopped chilli, red pepper and sweet potatoes (which you will have peeled and cut into chunks).  Stir well, then add the beans, tomatoes and water, and season to taste.  Bring to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes.  Stir in the peanut butter and serve with nuts sprinkled on the top.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Mattar Paneer

Last week the Swan Whisperer and I took our grandsons to a local cookery course (they are regular attenders with one or other parent when it's on a Saturday, but as it was half-term the course was on a Thursday).  Normally the Walthamstow tutors use their own recipes, but this time, the recipe was taken from Bags of Taste, an organisation that teaches people how to cook cheap, nutritious and delicious meals for less than £1 a head.  We made a fish curry, but the vegetarians on the course made this delicious recipe, and I tried to replicate it tonight.

1 tsp coconut oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tin chopped tomatoes
Spice mix, as follows:
      1 tsp garam marsala
      1 tsp turmeric
      1 tsp ground fenugreek
      1/2 tsp each ground ginger and hot paprika
      Pinch of salt
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp sugar (optional)
1/2 packet paneer
Nice amount of frozen peas
1/2 cup raw rice, to cook however you normally would.

Put the coconut oil in a deep frying-pan and add the onion.  Cook very gently for several minutes, until beginning to be transparent, then add the spice mix and crushed garlic (you can also use fresh ginger, but for a variety of reasons I chose not to this evening).  Stir vigorously, and then add the chopped tomatoes.  Bring to a simmer and leave to cook  while you cook the rice, adding a little water if it looks like drying out.  Just before the rice is ready, add the cubed paneer and frozen peas, and bring back to the boil before serving.