Sunday, May 04, 2008

Moral Fibre

The first recipe today uses ingredients we should all have in store. But first some tips:
The advantage with lentils is that unlike other pulses, they do not need a pre-soak before use.
Although using the juice from a fresh orange is best, we could use the juice sold in cartons. Once opened, juice in the carton has a short shelf life, so always worth decanting any surplus into small tubs so that it can be frozen for later use. As mentioned previously, orange zest can also be frozen.
In many recipes it doesn't matter too much if more orange juice is used than specified, as it will give more flavour, but in some instances (when making cakes), we may need keep the balance by adjusting the amount of other liquids used.
When adding orange juice to soups etc. add at the end, not allowing it to boil, or it will damage the flavour of the orange.
Canned plum tomatoes are used as these have more flavour than a can of chopped tomatoes.
If no home-made vegetable stock is around, then the Marigold bouillon powder is the best to use, dissolved in water. For non-vegetarians, a light chicken stock could be used instead.
For best flavour use sea or rock salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Lentil, Tomato and Orange Soup: serves 4 - 6
1 onion, finely chopped or grated
1 tblsp sunflower oil
grated zest and juice of 1 large orange
4 oz (100g) red lentils
400g can plum tomatoes
1.5 pints (750ml) good vegetable stock
salt and pepper
Put the oil in a saucepan and fry the onions until softened. Stir in the orange zest and lentils, then stir in the plum tomatoes including the liquid from the pan and break them up using a wooden spoon. Pour in the stock and season to taste. Once the soup has begun to boil, reduce heat and simmer for half an hour or until the lentils have softened.
Cool slightly then blitz in a blender or processor, then return the soup to the pan, add the orange juice and reheat gently, but do not boil. Add more seasoning if required, then serve with chunks of crusty bread.

tomato and red pepper salsa:
half a red bell pepper, chopped
3" (8cm) piece cucumber, chopped
half small red (or white) onion, chopped
1 tomato, de-seeded and chopped
1 dash Tabasco sauce
1 tblsp coarsely chopped coriander leaves
zest and juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1 tblsp creme fraiche (opt)
Excluding the creme fraiche, mix the remaining ingredients together and leave to stand for half to one hour to allow the flavours to develop. Only when serving with soup, stir/blend in the creme fraiche. Otherwise leave it out.

This recipe for salad is really colourful. Both the pasta and vegetable contain plenty of fibre, so although an economical dish to make, it will really make you feel you have eaten a lot. The sweetcorn and red beans can be canned, or the beans can be previously home-cooked and the sweetcorn could come from the freezer. Gruyere cheese goes well with this dish, but any hard cheese could be substituted. Even a softer Feta cheese could be used, or maybe hot grilled slices of Halloumi could be served with it. We should always feel able to adapt a recipe according to ingredients we have in store.
The dressing, being made with yogurt and/or curd cheese, can also be mainly a D.I.Y. job.
Pasta and Bean Salad: serves 4 (main course), 8 (starter).
6 oz (175g) wholewheat pasta shapes
half a large red bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 oz (50g) button mushrooms, halved
3" (8cm) piece cucumber, diced
3 oz (75g) canned or cooked sweetcorn
3 spring onions, sliced
7 oz (approx half a 425g can) cooked red beans
2 oz (50g) diced Gruyere or other cheese
salt and pepper
Cook the pasta until tender, then drain, rinse in cold water, drain again and leave to cool completely (to prevent it sticking together when cold, a very little olive oil can be drizzled over the drained pasta and the pasta then tossed).
Rinse the red beans if canned, then mix these with the rest of the vegetables, seasoning to taste. Layer the pasta and vegetables in a large bowl and pour over the dressing. When ready to serve, toss everything together. Serve with a green salad.
yogurt dressing:
6oz (175g) thick yogurt or soft yogurt cheese
4 oz (100g) mayo
salt and pepper
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 tblsp chopped chives
salt and pepper
Mix everything together, adding seasoning to taste. If not using immediately, keep chilled. If too thick, add a very little water until of the consistency you require.

This next makes either a good starter, or just something to nibble on whilst watching TV. This most unusual way to serve tortillas could have numerous fillings, this recipe is just a suggestion. For extra fibre, make your own tortillas using half whole-wheat and half plain flour.
Mexican Rolls: serves 6 - 8
8 flour tortillas
5 oz (150g) cream cheese
1 medium green chilli, seeded and chopped
1 tblsp chopped coriander
4 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
4 oz (100g) grated Cheddar or other hard cheese
salt and pepper
Beat the cream cheese until smooth then, excluding the tortillas, mix in the rest of the ingredients, and seaon to taste.
Place the tortillas on a flat surface, slicing off some of the curve on the left and right to give straight sides. Spread the mixture evenly over each tortilla, then stack two together (4 stacks in all), rolling up each tightly. Wrap each in clingfilm or foil, twisting ends to keep them in place, then chill for a couple of hours or so.
To cook: remove the wrapping and slice each roll into eight. Place flat onto baking sheets and bake for 15 - 20 mins at 200C, 400F, gas 6 or until nicely browned. Serve hot with salsa.

Millet, in this country once believed to be just bird-seed, does come in different varieties, and although classed often ground into a coarse flour and classed as a carbohydrate, does contain around 12% protein.
Whole ears of millet are sometimes sold to hang up in bird-cages and the seeds from these are said to sprout easily when thrown onto waste ground, and will even ripen in a good year - so why not have a go at growing your own.
But until then, buy a bag of millet from the supermarket and have a go at making these rissoles. As far as I am concerned, the more flavour you can get into a rissole the better, so feel free to add a variety of herbs, spices, even grated cheese the to recipe below. Instead of just plain milk, add a mixture of milk and stock, or use all stock with some milk powder stirred in. As the saying goes: "every penny saved is a penny earned"'
Millet Rissoles: serves 4
5 oz (150g) raw millet
5 fl.oz (150ml) milk
1 tblsp butter
1 heaped tblsp wholewheat flour
salt and pepper
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 - 2 tblsp finely chopped dill
4 oz (100g) wholewheat bread crumbs
Put the millet into a pan with plenty of water and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until softened. While this is cooking, put the butter and flour into a pan, heat until the butter has melted, stirring all the time to incorporate the flour, then whisk in the milk/stock, stirring until thickened. Once it has begun to boil/bubble, stop stirring, reduce heat and cook on for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat, season to taste and set aside.
When the millet is ready, drain this, cool slightly then add to the sauce together with the shallot, dill and breadcrumbs. Mix well together and chill until cold.
Form the mixure into 12 and roll into rounds, flattening them like burgers, or roll into rissoles (sausage shapes). Dip each of these firstly into flour, then into beaten egg, then into more breadcrumbs. Repeat with a further dip into egg and crumbs to give a firm coating when frying. Chill again to keep them firm.
Fry in shallow hot oil for 10 or so minutes, turning or rolling until brown all over. Serve with ketchup, brown sauce or a yogurt dressing.

Bran is a well-known source of fibre, but instead of buying bran by the packet, use a breakfast cereal such as crushed up bran flakes or All Bran. Here is a recipe for a quick tea-bread. No spices included but as orange marmalade is an ingredient, I think a tsp of ginger would be preferable to using the mixed spice. Up to you.
Bran Teabread: makes 1 loaf
6 oz (150g) mixed dried fruit
8 fl.oz (225ml) cold tea
3 oz (75g) soft brown sugar
2 oz (50g) butter or margarine
3 tblsp orange marmalade
6 oz (150g) wholewheat flour
2 oz (50g) All-Bran
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarb. soda
1 tsp mixed spice
pinch salt
1 egg, beaten
Put the fruit, tea, sugar, fat and marmalade into a pan, heat gently until the sugar and marmalade have dissolved. Stir to mix well, then remove from the heat and leave to cool*. Sift the baking powder, bicarb , spice and flour together into a bowl, then stir in the All-Bran and salt. Make a welll in the centre.
Stir the egg into the fruit mixture then pour all this into the dry ingredients and mix together as speedily as possible. The mixture will be sloppy and starting to froth. Pour this immediately into a lightly greased 2 lb loaf tin and bake at 175c, 350F, gas 4 for around about an hour, or until a skewer or toothpick stuck into the centre of the loaf comes out clean. Turn out and cool on a wire rack and serve sliced spread with butter.

*Note: when something is left to get cool, this does not mean leave to get cold, for if this happens, any solid fats used will set again (one reason why pasta etc is tossed in oil, and not butter before cooling). Cooling something down just makes it easier to handle, and prevents eggs starting to cook when adding, although some heat can start raising agents working, so this is why speed is of the essence when preparing ready to bake.

Not including any specific high-fibre dessert recipes today, but worth a mention that a tblsp of oat, chopped nut, even muesli, folded into a made meringue mixture and baked (or rather dried off) in the normal way will make the meringue even more crunchy. Baked circles of high-fibre meringues, once crisp and cold can be sandwiched together with cream chees into which has been folded peeled and chopped orange segments.