Eintopf

I’m reading a fascinating book at the moment, borrowed from the library, naturally. It’s called Consider the Fork, by food writer and historian Bee Wilson. I’m only a couple of chapters in but this history into the nature of the tools intrinsic to our kitchen habits is fascinating. So far, Wilson has discussed pots and knives, two vital components in the modern kitchen, not necessarily the case in years gone by.

She was discussing one pot cookery and those paragraphs certainly leapt out at me. Food in a pot, bubbling away and smelling delicious is primal. Nothing is better in this wet, wet, wet November we’re currently experiencing than a hearty one pot meal. The best of the bunch? Soup. Hands down. In Autumn and Winter, soup becomes one of my main food groups, which also includes wine and roasted parsnips. Not to mention being incredibly cheap to make. My latest batch of curried vegetable and lentil soup, as seen above, probably costs around 30p per portion. And that’s for a decent sized bowlful.  My latest batch of soup was a good one, but they all follow the same basic principle.

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1) Dice vegetables. Add to pot.

2) Add stock to pot.

3) Add spice, seasonings and flavouring to pot.

4) Bring pot to boil.

5) Simmer for a nice long time.

6) Blitz to a creamy loveliness.

This isn’t fancy soup with crème fraiche or chopped fresh herbs or pre-cooked veg sautéed in bacon fat. That would be a delight, sure, but this is more basic, more instinctive, simple and delicious. That’s my favourite kind of food.

Chicken alla Frugal

When I think of stew, I think of beef stew, enriched with red wine and lots of parsnips. Casserole however, conjures up a different dinner, something lighter with more greenery. Am I wrong? Quite possibly, but I had a lone chicken thigh left in the freezer so casserole it was to be.

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Into my lovely crockpot went a chopped onion, a parsnip, four carrots and the ends of the asparagus that I bought last week. It’s absolutely delicious steamed, but the bottom part is a bit woody. So I tailed the stalks and threw the ends into the casserole. I ate steamed asparagus yesterday with sausages, and I saved the water leftover. This was the basis of my stock.

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The chicken thigh was nestled in the middle and the pot went into the oven at 150 degrees for an hour and a half. Then it was whisked out, the chicken was pulled away from the bones, the flour paste was stirred through and I added some kale to boot.

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After a final half an hour in the oven, my casserole was ready. It was truly delicious. Such a simple supper, it made three lunchtime-sized portions. Yes, there is very little meat, but when the vegetables are so fresh and tasty, it doesn’t make much of a difference to me. I’m looking forward to my lunch tomorrow already.

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PS The British strawberries I bought in Sainsbury’s this week are perfect. Ripe and sweet and delicious in porridge. Just thought I’d pass on the seasonal food love 🙂

Pretend like there’s no world outside

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There’s nothing I like more than a glut of bananas. I arrived home after a visit to the Chap to find four lovely, blemished bananas waiting patiently in my fruit bowl. Their brown spots told me that action was required sooner rather than later. My first thought, naturally, was Happy Dance muffins, but alas, my store cupboard holds no eggs. As I’m still sticking with a slim budget this month, I would have to use what I already had in stock. Cue a rifle through the kitchen cupboards. No eggs, no problem.

I know bananas can be used as an egg substitute in vegan cookery, so I decided if it was good enough for vegans, it would be good enough for me. I did slightly contradict this by adding cows’ milk, but there you go. I also added protein powder because I’ve started running regularly again and my body needs all the protein it can get.

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Banana Protein Pancakes

(Makes around 15 small pancakes)

1 very ripe banana, mashed

75g Doves gluten free flour

25g pea protein isolate

1/2 tsp Doves gluten free baking powder

200ml organic skimmed milk

 

Mash the banana in a large bowl. Sift in the flour, protein powder and baking powder and combine with the banana. Add milk and whisk with a fork to make a thick batter. Add spoonfulls of the mixture to a hot pancake pan. They are ready to flip when there is no longer any liquid on the surface.

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I ate them all and it was glorious! I served mine with a little (read: a lot) of honey drizzled on top and a large mug of tea on the side. It was a perfect Sunday lunch for me. Do let me know if you like the recipe or if you give them a go.

 

PS Who knows the song that my title is derived from? It’s not a tricky one 🙂

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Rebecca’s Recipes: Sweet Potato and Lentil Curry

It was mid-morning on Saturday. A late breakfast meant that lunch was some way off in the distance, but I still wanted to be in the kitchen. I planned to bake. But to start my kitchen adventure, I made a batch of one of my favourite meals. I make Sweet Potato Curry normally once a fortnight. Most of the time, I add red lentils, but I have been known to add a can of chickpeas instead. The wonderful thing about this dish is its available options. I always add an additional vegetable to the sweet potato base. Most of the time, it’s either carrot or parsnip. For this batch, I added finely sliced broccoli stalk. I aim for no food wastage in this house! Plus, I think the stalk has the strongest taste, in a good way. It takes a fair amount of cooking though, which is why I sliced it thinly.

This made three portions for my freezer drawer. I would imagine it would serve two for dinner.

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Ingredients:

1 onion, chopped

1 sweet potato, diced

1 broccoli stalk, finely sliced

2tsp curry paste (I use Patak’s Tikka Masala paste)

500ml vegetable stock

60g red split lentils

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1) Sweat the onion until it is soft.

2) Turn up the heat and add the other vegetables. Keep stirring on the high heat until the vegetables take on some colour.

3) Add the curry paste and stir through.

4) Add the stock and bring to the boil.

5) Add the red split lentil, turn heat down to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.

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Whilst my curry was bubbling away nicely, I was browsing through a recipe book. My housemate entered the kitchen and asked if I was baking. I said I was thinking about making rock buns.

“Well, I’ve got some brown bananas upstairs if you can make use of them.”

Naturally, I nearly bit her hand off. The rock buns will have to wait for another day, because there is only one thing to make when your housemate hands you four, perfectly good, very ripe bananas – Happy Dance Muffins!

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It was pleasant to spend a couple of hours pottering around the kitchen. It was also good to see the culmination of my efforts. The freezer drawer is looking very healthy now I must say. The same can’t be said for the cake tin. The muffins seem to be disappearing rapidly, but the smile on my face isn’t going anywhere. Banana muffins make me too happy!

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Do let me know if you try out either recipe, I’d love to hear your feedback.

Rebecca’s Recipes: Mama’s Brownies

Recipes that have been passed down through the generations are often tried and tested favourites. My mother is very good at baking. Some might even call her a master of the art. Even when I threw down the gauntlet of being gluten-free, she performed majestically to create the best gluten-free Swiss roll I have ever tasted. That’s right, she made gluten-free cake batter ROLL. Cake-making alchemy at its finest.

I am a novice compared to my mother, but I do have a few tricks up my sleeve. I will admit to learning most of them from her though. I’m here to share a recipe that flew from her recipe book to mine, taking the gluten free route. Chocolate brownies. Just saying that prompts a goofy grin from almost everyone. I couldn’t wait to road test my new scales – which work like a dream by the way. Plus, I bought a block of dark chocolate for my sweetie ration just for such a baking occasion.

(Side note, I haven’t had any other sweeties outside of my ration so far this month. I think this is worth a mention, as sweets were always my downfall in previous rationing challenges. I have had crisps on occasions; does anyone know the rationing value of this snack? Thanks!)

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DSCN2276My baking uniform is not complete with my CK apron and obligatory fluffy slippers.

            I have been doing a serious amount of writing today to make up for yesterday’s awol behaviour. I took a baking break just after lunch. These are motivational brownies, trust me.

Gluten-free brownies

Ingredients:

110g butter

110g dark or plain chocolate

225g caster sugar

2 eggs

Splash of milk

110g GF plain flour (I use Doves Farm)

½ tsp GF baking powder (again, Doves Farm)

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a rectangular tin with baking parchment.

Melt the butter and chocolate together using the Bain Marie method (saucepan and hot water – you got it.)

Combine the sugar, flour and baking powder in a large bowl.

Whisk the eggs together with a fork and add the milk.

Add the eggs to the flour mix, then the melted chocolate. Stir to make your brownie batter.

Pour into the tin and bake for 20 – 25 minutes. I like my brownies on the gooey side (who doesn’t?) so I took mine out after 22mins.

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I do hope you enjoy the recipe. I shall put the link with the others on my “Rebecca’s Recipes” page. Please let me know if you try it out, I’d love to hear what you think.

Happy Dance Muffins

When you’ve finally handed in your last assignment and the world is your oyster, do you:

a)      Go out and get drunk.

b)      Keep writing on regardless.

c)      See how much batch cooking you can accomplish in one afternoon.

This storyteller took a well deserved break from writing and indulged in some time in the kitchen. It’s one of my favourite places to be.

Using some of my 24p bargain bag of parsnips, I made and sweet potato, parsnip and lentil curry that is bubbling away in the slow cooker as I type. It’s got enough vegetables in there to make 4 portions.

The rest of the parsnips simmered happily with some stock and curry paste before being blitzed. I added milk like the recipe said, but I think this thinned out the soup too much. No milk next time. Still, I’ve got 5 portions of Curried Parsnip soup tucked away in the freezer.

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And to round off the day nicely, I finished up with some baking. These are Gluten Free banana muffins, or Happy Dance muffins as I have christened them. Because I have finished all of my Uni work, summer is on the horizon and long days spent in the kitchen await. That’s deserving of a dance in my book!

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Happy Dance Muffins

(makes 12)

75g butter

150g caster sugar

1 medium egg

3 medium bananas, mashed

200g GF plain flour

½ tsp GF baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

100ml milk

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a muffin tray with cases. Melt the butter in a small saucepan.

Combine sugar, mashed bananas, egg, milk and melted butter in a large bowl.

Sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. Fold everything together until smooth.

Spoon into cases using a tablespoon.

Bake for 20 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.

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These muffins fit in nicely with my using-what-I’ve-got challenge. No more nipping out to the shop to spend pennies on pudding. There may be no bananas left for muesli, but lots of muffins in the freezer. Success!

PS Just realised, if I have stocked my freezer section full of parsnip soup and muffins (which I have), where am I going to put the leftover curry? :S Oh the woes of being a student!

(Not so) Typical Student

I was dressed for battle this morning. My uniform consisted of black leggings, an oversized jumper and a pair of purple thick socks. My mission was to write 1500 words on status quo within Angela Carter’s The Lady of the House of Love. Armed with my laptop and reams of notes and quotes, I locked horns with my essay.

I don’t mind writing essays, really, I don’t. I do like them to be quick and painless though, which is why I invest time in preparing my research before I start to type. Two and a half hours was all it took to get a first draft of 1400 words. Lunch beckoned but I felt I needed a longer break before the mountainous task of proofreading loomed. What to do on a grey March afternoon, with a (nearly) empty house?

I baked. I baked triple chocolate cookies and it was wonderful. I delighted in wearing my apron, weighing out each ingredient and mixing with a wooden spoon. The whole house smelt of cocoa. To spend time with oneself in the kitchen is, for me, sheer joy. Maybe you could whip up a batch for your own joyous “me” time?

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Triple Chocolate Cookies

Makes 9

Ingredients:

65g margarine or butter (I use Stork in baking and probably always will)

50g caster sugar

25g light brown sugar

1 egg

Few drops of vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon of baking powder (GF)

60g Doves Farm Gluten-free plain flour

30g cocoa powder

40g white chocolate buttons

40g milk chocolate buttons

1)      Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper.

2)      Gently melt the margarine in a saucepan on a low heat. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine both sugars. Then add the melted marg.

3)      Using a fork, beat the egg with the vanilla in a small bowl until thoroughly combined, then stir into the margarine and sugar.

4)      Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder into the bowl and stir. When thoroughly combined, add your chocolate buttons.

5)      Using a tablespoon, scoop the mixture onto the lined baking tray, setting the cookies well apart to allow for spreading.

6)      Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes until the cookies are just firm.

7)      Leave to cool on the tray for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

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Is there a lovelier sight at 4 o’ clock in the afternoon?

I shall simply have to squeeze more time in for cooking, I really do love it. After visiting Carluccio’s, I bought the Simple Cooking recipe book from Amazon. I’m hoping it arrives before the next Farmer’s Market on Sunday. Just think of all the dishes I could create with the abundance of fresh produce available. I must have another cookie to stop my salivating mouth!