Chickpea and Sweet Potato Beta Bake


This dish comes courtesy of Dale Pinnock – The Medicinal Chef. Having worked pretty hard digging out and creating a new path in my mums garden I was pretty whacked. Even a lovely chicken roast dinner wasn’t enough. I needed more food.

When we got home I threw this together. It’s pretty straightforward – not dissimilar to a Shepherd’s Pie.

Under the mashed Sweet Potato (picture above) is your base of chickpeas, red onions, garlic, wilted spinach and some sun dried tomato paste. On top of the mash is some blue cheese.

In hindsight more cheese would have been awesome – but it was pretty late so I probably did the right thing.

 

Sweet Potato and Spinach Curry

  
I need to make a resolution to keep this food blog up to date. It’s been too long. Again ! What’s wrong with me. It’s not like I haven’t been cooking. If you saw the size of my belly lately you’d know this for sure!

April resolution – sort the blog out! So I apologise in advance if I over-blog during the next few days – clearing the backlog of food things I have made in the last 2 months!

This curry is from The Medicinal Chef. It’s incredibly easy and for once I under spiced it. Freya isn’t a hug fan of things with fresh ginger so I toned it down a bit and, although nice, I think it needed a bit more kick. 

I have a number of dishes planned from this book – mainly vegetarian – and am hoping that a combination of these very healthy meals and my return to the gym will help me lose a bit of weight so that I don’t look like the porker I did at Resistanz 2016 last week!

Green Mimosa Salad

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Brrrr…. it was chilly last night – and again this morning.

Living on a boat comes with its own share of fears. Sinking – obviously is the big one. But at this time of year flooding is another. You only have to watch the London Boaters forums to spot boats capsizing; boats becoming untied from their moorings and boat owners suffering thousands of pounds of damage due to the weather.

On Tuesday we had to have all our ropes loosened for fear of the boat being pulled over by the extraordinary rising tides. Yesterday, in response to the very high tides on the Thames, the Thames barrier was raised and the risk of flooding to areas of London was removed. For us. No damage and no issues. Phew!

Pleased that I’d come home to a safe boat I got the stove going, and set to making this very simple yet unusual dish for our dinner last night.

A traditional mimosa salad is a layered salad with a grated egg yolk base. This isn’t that. This really is quite different – much like the Quinoa risotto isn’t really a risotto!

Taken from Anna Jones – A Modern Way to Cook – this recipe uses the dressing that is usually made with the mimosa salad and dresses tenderstem broccoli and asparagus instead. The eggs are kept separate and don’t see the dressing until you eat it!

The dressing is simply a Chardonnay White Wine Vinegar, olive oil, dijon mustard and a finely chopped shallot, seasoned well. To this you add your lightly steamed broccoli and asparagus – and then some thickly sliced avocado.

Meanwhile, some hard boiled eggs are grated, seasoned, and mixed with creme fraiche and lemon zest. You can then either stir in some chopped dill – or keep it separate like I did.

There’s nothing else to this dish. It is very simple and very tasty. It’s visually very pleasing too.

Make sure it is seasoned well or it is in danger of being a bit bland. If you don’t have tasty enough avocados (they can be a bit tasteless this time of year) squeeze half a lemon over them to pep them up a bit.

I loved it – but didn’t feel as full up as I have from other meals. Maybe I was just cold. It was very cold last night!

This week has been a week of very simple dishes. This was done in less than 30 minutes. Tomorrow I have more time so I plan on spending a bit more time in the kitchen. I’ll be making the last three dishes I’ve chosen from Anna Jones’s book and then I’ll move onto something different.

Winter Root Soba Noodles with Pickled Greens

IMG_3887Last night was pretty hair raising wasn’t it. 50MPH winds! The boat was all over the place. But I still managed to make this for dinner. Fortunately the wind died down by bedtime so it wasn’t a frightening night.

Over a year ago I bought a load of Black Soba noodles from Amazon and when I saw this recipe in Anna Jones – A Modern Way to Cook – I figured this dish just had to be made.

Serving this I figured I really need some different coloured bowls. Black Soba Noodles in a black bowl isn’t the best way of showing off this dish. I’ll go on a little hunt for some nice big bowls of varying colours.

This is a pretty simple dish. It can be done in 20 minutes easily – depending on your knife skills because the only real preparation is the julienning of the beetroot and the carrot and grating a bit of ginger.

Whenever I go to the shops I buy this big lump of ginger and throw 90% of it away once it’s changed to some weird blue colour. Yesterday I saw this tiny thumb sized piece and popped it on the scales in Morrisons – 3p! How cool is that!

If its fresh, buy it when you need it – and only what you need. It’s false economy otherwise.

Anyway, you fry a little grated ginger in some olive oil and then add your julienned beetroot and carrot and a little water. Wait for the water to be absorbed which softens the vegetables a little bit and then put to one side. That’s a five minute job.

Meanwhile cook the Soba Noodles as per the instruction. I just dunk mine in boiling water – leave for 5 minutes and drain them. They are pretty quick and it’s very easy to overdo them.

Also meanwhile, pick the stalks off some kale and shred it with your hands. As I’ve said before Morrisons already do bags of shredded kale, they just don’t take the stalks out – it makes all the difference to spend five minutes tidying it up. Over the kale pour some brown rice vinegar, maple syrup and a little salt. Scrunch it all up with your hands and leave it for 5 minutes. That’s your pickled greens done.

Finally you add a little more maple syrup, tamari (dark soy sauce), sesame oil, juice of a lime and some black sesame seeds to the winter vegetables and then throw in the Soba Noodles and give it all a good mix. And that’s it.

Serve it like I did with the pickled greens alongside the noodles (and a little chopped coriander garnish) and you have yourself one very tasty dish.

This dish is going to make it into my ‘make it regularly’ list. I love the simplicity and the contrasting textures. I kept my beetroot and carrot crunchy rather than over softening them – and the crunch of the vegetables is awesome alongside the noodles and the pickled kale.

The only real shame is the way the purple from the beetroot bleeds into the carrots making them a bright red. I guess this could be solved by doing them separately but them that’s more washing up! You could also have used normal soba noodles rather than black ones – but I think it is quite striking.

There are so many flavours in this dish and it is very filling and satisfying. I love kale. I really love beetroot. It’s a winner for me.

We chomped through ours whilst watching ‘Friday Night Dinner’. If you haven’t seen it – you must! You’ll wet yourself laughing. It certainly took our mind off the weather outside.

Quinoa Risotto with Mashed Peas and Greens

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I made this on Friday – another recipe from Anna Jones – A Modern Way to Cook.

I do love Quinoa and have made some pretty awesome things with it in the past. For me this wasn’t one of them.

The whole dish was lovely. The addition of the feta, parmesan, pine nuts and pea puree were the highlights of the dish – adding salty flavours (the cheeses), crunch (the nuts) and a sweet freshness (the peas). But the risotto was a bit of a let down. It was a little bit bland.

The quinoa is cooked in a similar way as a risotto – but not quite. After frying a couple of thinly sliced leaks in oil you add the quinoa until it start to pop. You then add white wine and lemon juice – let that absorb – and then finally add the stock until that is absorbed. The whole thing takes around 30 minutes. Sometimes that quinoa just refuses to budge.

Once you’ve got your gloopy porridge consistency your quinoa is done. Stir in some shredded greens until they wilt. Finally stir in some grated parmesan to give it a cheesy risotto feel.

While your waiting for your risotto you blitz some peas with some mint and basil until it’s smooth – then add seasoning and the juice of half a lemon. I could eat the puree on its own – maybe on toast or just as a dip – it was amazingly sweet and fresh.

Assembly is simply puddling your risotto in a bowl, crumbling some more parmesan and then some feta, some toasted pine nuts and of course the awesome peas puree.

All in all this is a good dish but you just expect a bit more. The greens and the leeks get lost – you just wouldn’t know they were there.

Making this again I’d have to give the quinoa more zing – it needs more citrus I think. It’s a shame to rely on the dressings to make the dish nice – the quinoa should have been the highlight and it wasn’t.

I’ll experiment and see if I can make it better.

 

 

 

 

Bacon Granola

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I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve made this – and many thanks too to Nigel Slater. This recipe comes from his latest book ‘A Year of Good Eating’.

Ordinarily I would probably have missed this recipe – but chance brought me to it. Previously I had not owned any of his cookbooks – I just wasn’t drawn to them – I think I was put off by the long narratives and story telling – but how foolish I had been.

I happened to buy a cookbook from an actual shop (rather than Amazon) as a last minute Christmas present but decided after I got home that the cookbook was totally inappropriate and not suitable for human consumption. The book seemed to be popular simply because the authors thought it best to swear their way through every recipe. Anyway I took it back – got store credit – and chose the Nigel Slater book instead.

What a great decision that was!

As luck would have it I had a spare couple of hours to kill one day while picking up my daughter. I sat in a pub with a pint and worked my way through this book, page by page, checking out every single recipe.

If I’m honest I think I will probably make everything from this book – excluding maybe a small handful of fish dishes that don’t interest me – but this was the very first recipe in the book.

Sounds weird doesn’t it – bacon granola!

In fairness it isn’t granola at all. But who cares. We have it at least once a week. It fulfils Freya’s desire to have a bacon sandwich – but she doesn’t get the bread and she’s still satisfied.

It’s so easy to make – and you can modify the recipe based on what you have to hand – that said I rarely deviate unless I run out of almonds.

Simply buy a packet of smoked streaky bacon, cut it into little pieces and fry it in a pan with a good chunk of butter until it gets crispy (but not too much). Having the pan up high helps this – and means you get it made a lot quicker. There’s nothing worse than making this when it’s only 1 degree on the boat and you’re wearing little more than a dinosaur onesie!

Once the bacon is done you throw in some rolled porridge oats. Stir these in so that soak up the juices from the butter and the bacon and then add whatever makes you happy. Here I’ve added cranberries, skin on almonds, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and sesame seeds.

I’ve added other nuts with equal success; I’ve also added popped quinoa and used up pots of those ‘pour over the top of salad’ nut and seed pot things that people sometimes buy you. I reckon you could tip pretty much anything from a Graze box into this (excluding the chocolatey things!).

Give it a good old stir to warm it through. I’ve usually turned the pan off before I add all the other stuff but I use cast iron cookware and it keeps its heat for ages.

Serve it with a dollop of really good creme fraiche.

I don’t think you’ll ever have a better breakfast – although we’ve also had it for lunch and probably at least once for dinner!

It’s so easy – really quick – all in one pan – and give you a warm tummy and lots of energy to keep you going through the day.

 

Smoky Beans and Sweet Potato Hash Browns

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This dinner was a game of two halves. The beans – awesome; the fritters – not so good.

This recipe is taken from Anna Jones – A Modern Way to Cook, and was one of those where I kind of figured what the result would be before I made it. In fairness even the author doesn’t sing its praises; simply saying ‘a good quick dinner’ – I should have known better!

On one side we had a homemade take on baked beans, only so much better than what you get in a tin – while on the other side we had hash browns which ended up being more like mini frittatas.

A lot of recipes substitute potato for sweet potato and hope it will work. Unfortunately it doesn’t work here. The sweet potato is flavoured only with a small amount of cumin seeds and is bound together with egg. It didn’t take a lot of working out to realise these patties were going to be eggy and generally lacking in taste. For me they were a bit of a fail.

I’ve made fritters with sweet potatoes before and they have been better because the potato has been roasted first and the flavours have been developed by adding spring onion or soy sauce. Blitzing the roasted veg with other ingredients and then forming the patties seems more successful. These raw ones are disappointing. You can’t really get enough flavour into them, they don’t tend to keep their shape unless you are very careful with them and they tend to lose their integrity as you eat them.

Perhaps a pinch of chilli flakes would have woken them up a bit. I might try that some other time.

The beans on the other hand were excellent. Having fried a shallot with some smoked paprika and adding some really tasty cherry tomatoes you add cannellini beans, a little thyme and a dash of balsamic vinegar. These are super tasty and would be a great side. I could see myself whipping up a big batch of these and having them with burgers and fries or something like that.

Not such a successful dinner – but very healthy and a great bean discovery.