Posts tagged comfort food
Sweet Potato Curry

We've been in 'date mode' recently, with my new best friend the Date Syrup making an appearance. Don't worry he's not gone away for long- I have a couple more date inspired recipes for you next week...but for now I have a simple mid week winter warmer.

This dish is one of my go-to dishes and it never fails to please veggies and meaties alike.

I was one of the first meals I cooked for the Boy when I began to experiment with doing things the vegan way. I love it just as much today as I did back then. What’s not to love….it’s colourful, warm, creamy, comforting, lightly spiced and hints at the tropics. Close your eyes and maybe you’ll be taken to a far off land.

Ok, well maybe not that last sentence. But I guarantee this bowl of colourful curry will brighten your day.

It’s also a simple dish with few ingredients, easily adapted to other veggies/beans you may have, is thrown together in one pot and can be frozen for future speedy suppers.

Ok, so have I convinced you yet!  This would also work really well with my super simple flatbread as a healthy alternative to naan!

I also have another reason as to why this particular dish, or namely the photos, are making me happy. I’ve been trying to take decent ‘night shots’ of my meals for a while now, and up until recently I had been making slow progress. My research and investigations pointed me in the direction of two key props: a powerful light with good ‘white’ rendering (I’ve used a portable LED source) and a diffuser layer (I’ve used an old bed sheet over a wooden frame).

This shoot was a simple 5 minute experiment (before my dinner got cold), and I really wasn’t expecting much of an outcome. However, for such a quick first attempt I was really pleased with my efforts….well now to see if Food Gawker shared that same opinion!

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Recipe: Sweet potato curry

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tablespoons madras curry paste

  • 1 medium onion- diced

  • 3 medium (fist sized) sweet potatoes- approx. 800g (peeled and chopped into chunks)

  • 1 red pepper- sliced

  • 1 tin of chickpeas (or other white beans)

  • 200g bag of spinach

  • 1 can of coconut milk

Method:

In a large frying pan or wok, fry the onion for few minutes in olive oil till soft. Add curry paste and fry for 1 min. Add the coconut milk, sweet potato, pepper and chickpeas and simmer for approx. 15 minutes until potato is cooked. Add spinach (fold spinach through the mixture in handfuls) simmer for a couple more minutes until spinach is wilted. If not liquidy enough add a little water. Serve immediately with rice or naan bread as desired.

Freeze left over portions in individual bags.

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Spicy Lentil & Chickpea Soup

Time for more soup… and more flatbread! I think this flatbread recipe will become my go-to soup accompaniment- made fresh it’s just so good! This time I made it using spelt flour plus baking powder (use 3 tsp baking powder per 200g spelt flour) and it was so soft and fluffy with an amazingly crisp crust.

This spiced lentil soup was lovely and warming helped along by a chilli kick! The lentils and chickpeas also made for a great protein packed meal. If you wanted to bulk it up a little more or didn’t have any bread to hand you could top it with some cous-cous instead.

Soups are so easy to make and I always make sure I cook up a big portion and freeze leftovers for work day lunches. I make all my soups in my Thermomixas it’s perfect for the job as an all-in-one gadget, but I have given the more typical blender method below.

So, after such a virtuous first course….what is for dessert?  May be sticky toffee pudding or chocolate brownie torte?

Or if like me this will become lunch at the office, then keep your eyes peeled for my forthcoming granola bar experiments, the perfect fill-you-up, feel good snack to round things of just nicely!

Recipe: Spicy lentil and chickpea soup

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion (diced)
  • 150g red lentils
  • 900ml vegetable stock
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 200g cooked/canned chickpeas
  • Small handful of coriander
  • Dollop of or soy yoghurt or swirl of soy cream to serve

Method

Dry fry cumin and chilli flakes for 1-2 minutes. Add the oil and onion and fry for a further 5 minutes. Stir in lentils, vegetable stock and tomatoes then simmer for 15 minutes. Blend the soup with a hand blender to get a rough puree. Add the chickpeas and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Stir through the roughly chopped coriander and serve with a blob of yoghurt or a swirl or cream.

Left over portions can be frozen.


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Soup Glorious Soup - Courgette, Pea & Mint

I love soup, especially when teamed up with a warm home baked roll. This post is likely to be the first of many soup related recipes… now that the weather is beginning to turn autumnal and also since purchasing my Thermomix soup-making is so ridiculously easy (easy without one too I might add!)

But, as typical British weather has it, on the first day I sit down to lunch with a bowl of hot comforting soup- the sun is hot and shining outside! Oh well, that didn’t stop me.

Soups are good for the soul in so many ways and so endlessly versatile. I can’t imagine many better ways to enjoy a such a healthy boost that tastes so comforting, refreshing and moreish in one bowl. Bumped up with pasta, bread or rice and there you have a quick simple meal for all times of day (and all weathers!) As with many of my recipes, this soup is also a great freezer companion- so whip up a big batch!

This soup was a full on ‘veg patch lunch’ as I used one of the last of the courgettes from my vegetable patch (summer is more definitely coming to an end) and also some fresh veg patch peas (mixed with some frozen ones as I didn’t have enough fresh ones) and last but not least some fresh mint leaves that are trying their best to take over the whole area!

Recipe: Courgette, pea and mint soup

serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 20g coconut oil
  • 10g olive oil
  • 1 medium onion- diced finely
  • 300g courgette chopped finely
  • 150g peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 400g hot vegetable stock
  • Handful of fresh mint leaves
  • 150g soy yoghurt (soy milk or other milk alternatives could also work but be slightly runnier)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Heat coconut and olive oil in a large sauce pan and sauté onion until softened. Add the courgette and sauté for another 5 minutes before adding the stock, mint and peas. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add the soy yoghurt/milk and stir through before pouring the soup into a blender or food processor and blitzing until smooth. (you could also use a hand blender but I haven’t tried this as I make the entire thing in my Thermomix)

Serve will a warm roll or two… and pretend its cold and windy outside whilst you’re all warm inside!


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Spicy polenta with greens and beans

First up- polenta! 

I was pretty happy with my first attempt yesterday so feel it justifies its place on my blog. Simple, versatile, healthy food… what more could I want?

So polenta, or more appropriately cornmeal as that is what it is. Having never cooked this stuff before I set about my research. From what I gather traditional polenta is made from coarse cornmeal stirred slooowly and continuously for a long time, ( about 30 minutes) however the product I came across was instant polenta, by Merchant Gourmet, which cooks in 5 minutes ( however still arm-ache inducing!). For a first timer like me this approach appealed.  From reading various reviews it seems that many now opt for the instant variety (even the Italians to whom it is their tradition), however the texture and richness may not compare but I guess this largely comes down to personal choice. I will give it a go one of these days with the real thing.

The options for serving polenta seem almost endless, another good reason it appealed to me and is sure to succumb to further experimentation:

  • Soft and creamy like mash potato or porridge
  • Formed into a firm loaf and sliced
  • Cubed and used as ‘croutons’
  • Spread thinly and sliced into ‘crackers’
  • Used as a base for Italian bruschettas
  • Served as pancakes for a sweet or savoury topping

….Then to serve: baked, grilled, fried…. with herbs or a marinade.

Choices choices!

Recipe: Spicy polenta with greens and beans

Serves 2 but can easily be doubled

I decided to spoon the polenta (once cooked as per packet instructions in a large sauce pan stirring for 5 minutes in 4 times the amount of vegetable stock to polenta) into a loaf tin. Once chilled I cut this into thick slices, sprinkled it with chilli powder and paprika for a bit of a kick and then oven baked the slices laid out on baking parchment for approximately 15 minutes, flipping over half way through. Yummy!  I served this up with a fusion of tomatoes, onion, beans  and spinach.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbs oil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can of red kidney beans
  • 2 large handfuls spinach (or other leafy greens)
  • Handful of fresh chopped basil (optional)
  • 1tsp mild chilli powder (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

In a large saucepan or wok (I always seem to use a wok for everything as I find it more forgiving for eager stirring of the contents!) heat 1 tbs oil and fry the onion and garlic for 5 minutes until softened. Add the spice (if using), tomatoes and kidney beans and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the spinach and simmer and str fry for 2 mins or until wilted. To serve, arrange the polenta slices around the edge of a shallow bowl (again my favourite form of dish due to practicality!) and spoon the tomato mixture into the centre. Garnish with chopped basil and seasoning.

P.S you can also make a larger batch of polenta and store the cooked (but unbaked) leftovers in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.


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Day to day you can always find me hanging out in these places:

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