Sunday, February 18, 2007

Who needs Meat?

Costings for this week have been mainly to stock up with more vegetables: Chinese leaves (95p), which will last much longer than an Iceberg lettuce. A stick of celery (68p), one (large) value pack of mushrooms (£1.18p), 1 value pack of 6 lemons (48p), 1 pack of 'eat me keep me' bananas (£1.49p), 4 large parsnips (£1.48p), and one 2kg bag of carrots (97p). Plus one pack of pasta penne for 37p. Total: £7.60. As I still have a couple of carrots left from the last pack, I certainly won't be needing many of the new batch to get me through the next three weeks.

With guests arriving for this weekend, yesterday afternoon I made a granary loaf and - as I had an hour and a half to spare before leaving for our evening meal - then made several pots of orange and ginger marmalade - a favourite of one of my guests who will be taking some home with him.

Lentil dishes have been requested . There is a good recipe on this site for Cheese and Lentil burgers (Oct. 7th), and also worth a mention is Pearly Risotto (using pearl barley (Oct. 8th).

A great favourite in the Goode household is the Lentil Samosa. I make quite a lot in one go and then freeze them to cook (either shallow fry or bake) as needed. Briefly, I cook up a batch of red lentils, then drain well. Meanwhile in a frying pan I fry some finely chopped onions in a little oil or butter, then stir in a tsp. of curry paste. After a minute or two I add some finely diced (cooked) carrot and a handful of frozen peas. When these have been stirred the lentils are added and cooked until any excess moisture has been driven off. Leave to get cold then use as a filling for samosas - which I make using filo pastry.

Here are more lentil recipes which you might like to try:
Lentils with Apricots: to serve four
8 oz (250g) red lentils, cooked and drained
2 oz (50g) dried apricots, soaked for 15 mins, then drained
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 - 2 oz butter (40g)
4 shelled walnuts, chopped
2 tblsp. chopped parsley or coriander
salt and pepper
Fry the apricots in the butter until they soften, season to taste. Add the apricots and the walnuts to the cooked lentils and heat through for about 10 minutes, making sure the lentils do not dry out. Serve sprinkled with the fresh herbs.
Tip: Using the no-soak apricots, still soak for a few minutes in hot water to plump them up further then chop in half.

Sauteed Lentils: to serve four
12 oz (350g) Puy lentils
approx 1 litre (or 1 1/2 pints) boiling salted water
2 oz (50g) butter
4 tblsp chopped parsley
juice of one lemon
4 hardboiled eggs, sliced
8 rashers streaky bacon, crisply grilled
Boil the lentils in the salted water for about 1 hour or until tender. Drain. Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the lentils and cook until they begin to colour. Add the parsley, lemon juice and season with black pepper. Cook until the lentils are browning. Serve garnished with the croutons, egg and bacon.
Tip: Instead of the Puy lentils, use green lentils (which will need soaking for a few hours before cooking).

'Choose your Stock' Lentil Soup: serves 4-6
This can be made using either vegetable stock, chicken stock, beef stock, or the stock from boiling a gammon. It is possible to buy ham stock cubes. If using the latter, enrich the flavour by adding 1 tlevel sp. brown sugar, 1 tsp. vinegar to the water and flavour with a bay leaf. Remove the bay leaf before continuing with the recipe.
1 large onion, finely chopped
8 oz (210g) carrots, grated
4 oz (100g) red lentils
2 - 3 pints stock (see above)
Put everything into a saucepan, cover and simmer for about half an hour until the vegetables and lentils are cooked and softened. Cool slightly then blitz in a blender or food processor until smooth. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper, then reheat and serve with a sprinkle of chopped parsley.

Curried Lentil and Tomato Soup: to serve four
1 tblsp. olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. mild curry paste
9 oz (250g) red lentils
1 1/2 pints ( just under a litre) of vegetable stock*
half to one tin of chopped tomatoes
fresh coriander leaves
salt and pepper
Put the oil in a saucepan and gently fry the onion for a few minutes until transparent. Stir in the curry paste and cook for a further couple of minutes. Add lentils and stock, bring to the boil, cover and simmer until the lentils are tender (roughly 20 - 30 minutes). Add the tomatoes and continue cooking for a further 10 minutes. Cool slightly, season to taste then blitz in a blender/processor. Add the coriander leaves when blitzing or leave to use as garnish.
*A good vegetable stock requires using good fresh vegetables: whole sticks of celery, a whole head of lettuce, several carrots, onions and leeks, and a handful of mixed fresh herbs. Personally, because I can find better used for whole fresh vegetables, I always use Marigold Bouillon granules which make an excellent vegetable stock (Delia Smith agrees with me - in truth that should read the other way round, but the only way I'm ever going to get noticed is if I name-drop), however canny cooks can make a good veggie stock using the parts of vegetables we might normally throw away. It's your choice, your money.

Cooked red lentils have a consistency very similar to mashed potato. Worth blending the two together to use as a base for rissoles, as a topping for Cottage Pie, for making something similar to Hash Browns.