Split Pea & Vegetable Soup (with ham stock)
Chicken & Bacon Not-A-Tagine
Recipes! 'Cos I really like everything I made, and I'm gonna bore you all.
Bacon & Lentil Soup.
1 pack smoked back bacon (8 rashers)
1 pack lentils (500grams)
2 or 3 ham stock cubes
2 cloves garlic
salt, pepper, oregano
A lot of water (about 6 pints I used)
Olive oil (not extra virgin, unless it's all you have)
Before you start, check if your lentils need to be soaked. Mine didn't but some do need to be rinsed in cold water and soaked overnight - follow instructions on the pack. It could take up to 12 hours to soak. (When I have to soak pulses, I tend to put a dish cloth over the bowl rather than cling film/seran wrap - it's what my mum did and in my head it lets the badness out through the fabric. I know, it makes *no* sense, but hey - this is one of my cooking tips!)
So, finely chop the onion and garlic, taking care not to slice open your fingers - seriously, tip: use a wide-bladed knife and when you're holding the onion, have your knuckles brushing the top (blunt) edge of the blade and your finger-tips curled underneath. That should cut down on accidents. (I was taught this by a chef, who was a tad strange and I wouldn't choose to hang out with him, but he did know his way around a kitchen.) Also chop the bacon - smallish pieces is best.
Sweat off the onions until slightly translucent (sweating basically means gently shallow frying in a very little olive oil). Add the garlic and some more oil (garlic burns incredibly easily so you need to keep it lubricated. Minds out of the gutter guys.) and the bacon. Turn up the heat and let the bacon cook through. (Keep moving it so the garlic doesn't burn, but you're not stir-frying. If you have more patience than me you could cook it on a lower heat, but I like to cook bacon fast so it *almost* chars.)
Boil up two pints water (kettle's fine) and make up the two or three (I used three) ham stock cubes with that. Add this to the cooked onions, bacons and garlic. Make sure you stir this in (over a high heat at this point). Add the lentils (again, because the heat is high make sure nothing's burning - turn the heat down if you've got more patience than me). Now add the rest of the water, a handful of oregano (if you're using dry I'd say about a teaspoon full for this amount) and a little pepper (*I don’t use a lot of salt in cooking, and since I had Knor stock cubes in the cupboard I didn't need to add any here, but if you want to, you could add some more here). (not something I'm fond of, but a lot of people also put carrots and celery in at this point - if that's your thing, add them with the water. 1 or 2 sticks of celery should be plenty, 2 or 3 decent sized carrots. I would grate them rather than chop them up but since I don't put them in this soup myself, it's entirely up to you!)
Bring the lot up to the boil and then reduce the heat and let it simmer for at the very least 40 minutes.
When you're cooking lentils like this, you often get a foamy scum forming on the top before it boils. It's nothing to worry about (so long as you've followed the instructions on the pack and rinsed the lentils before you added 'em) but you can scoop it off if you want.
And that? Is that! Check for seasoning - you might want to add more salt and pepper at this point if needed - and that's your lot!
Split Pea & Vegetable Soup
500g dried Split Peas (pre-soaked)
4 medium carrots
1 small swede/turnip
2 medium parsnips
2 small onions
2 ham stock cubes
1 veg stock cube
3-4 pints water
mixed herbs (thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil, whatever takes your fancy!)
Get a big bowl, put your split peas in, add at least double that amount of cold water. Put a dishtowel over it. Leave it overnight.
Seriously, these things *need* to be soaked. They can be toxic if they aren't.
Next morning, empty the bowl into a sieve and rinse them well. Like, really well. If you think you've rinsed them enough? Rinse them some more.
Okay, point made! Now, those of you who are lucky enough to have a food processor, stick the grating blade in and throw all the veggies in. If you don't have one, grate 'em by hand - chop the onions rather than grate them - and then promise yourself that one of these days you will get yourself a food processor.
Throw the lot - veggies and split peas - into a large pot and add the made-up stock and herbs with a little bit of salt.
Bring it to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Again, I would cook this for at least 40 minutes (and I would maybe even say longer to soften the split-peas). With this kind of soup I've never gone wrong by leaving it simmering away on the hob - just keep checking on it and don't let it boil dry. You could leave it on all day if you're there. (Hmm, I should try this in the slow cooker one of these days.)
Once the veggies are cooked through, check for seasoning. Now you can add the pepper If needed. (You might not.)
Chicken and Bacon Not-A-Tagine
I know. A Tagine with a pork product. I'm sorry. (And actually, it's not really a tagine because I don't have a tagine, I have a bunch of casserole dishes though.)
1lb chicken thighs (cheap cut and really tasty!)
2-3 rashers smoked bacon
2 small onions
4 cloves garlic
200(ish)g cous cous
handful black olives (not in brine)
Punnet chestnut mushrooms
Veggie Oxo cube made up in 80ml boiling water
Hot pepper sauce (Tobasco or similar)
Seasoning to taste
If you want to do this properly, then you should seal off the chicken, sweat off the onions and garlic and do all sorts of pre-cooking prep.
Me? I hate washing dishes so I do it all in the casserole dish (and tell myself that I'll get a proper tagine sometime… probably at the same time I get the food processor). Put the oven on to around 180degC. Chop the onions roughly, put these in the base of the casserole dish. Lay the chicken thighs on top of these. Smash the garlic cloves (in a casserole I tend to put them in more or less whole - I just bruise them and then take them out before serving) and scatter them around. Sprinkle over some smoked paprika and add a splash of olive oil (don't use a huge amount of oil, just make sure all of the thighs have a little dribbled on them. Add in the sliced up bacon bits (lardons would be good but they cost more) and chestnut mushrooms (doesn't have to be chestnut mushrooms - I just like 'em better than button mushrooms and can't afford any better ones).
Make up your veggie stock in boiling water and *to this* add a very small squeeze of tomato puree and however much hot sauce you want (I shake the bottle four or five times). Mix this up together then pour over the casserole. Season to tasate.
Put the lid on, put it in the pre-heated oven and leave it for about three quarters of an hour.
After this time, take it out, pour your (uncooked) cous cous over the top and then stir it through (gently, 'cos the chicken might start to break up at this point). Put it back into the oven and turn the heat down to about 150degC.
Leave it at least ten minutes.
Try not to eat it all at once.
500g minced beef (lean, Scottish)
1 small onion
1 bay leaf
1 tin chopped tomatoes
(and this is where Italians start shuddering)
½ jalapeno pepper
dried chilli flakes
frozen spinach. Three blocks.
Heat your (non-stick) pan. Honest, I don't know why, there's no doubt some complicated reason, but it does make a difference. Put your minced beef in (please use lean, it's better for you and you don't have to drain off the excess fat!) and start shoogling it on the heat. Keep it moving, but make sure you keep it on the heat. Add a good pinch of ground sea salt, a fair amount of fresh ground black pepper and a good bunch of fresh thyme. Let the mince brown through and then add more Worcester sauce than you would think you would ever use. (Thank you Jamie Oliver for this one - it's a fantastic tip and makes such a difference.) Jamie recommended six tablespoons in a different recipe but I found that just a bit too much when I tried it in this recipe. And I don't use measurements like that normally. I would say, five slow shakes? Three or four tblsps probably.
Let that all cook out (still on the high heat) until all the resulting liquid is absorbed (keep it moving). Once this is done, turn the heat down and add the onions and garlic. Let the onions go translucent and then add *all* the rest of the ingredients. I would add the chopped tomatoes first, just because I'm a coward and wanted to add liquid before I did anything else. Make sure the jalapeno is chopped nice and small because it's purely there to add flavour and kick - you don't want to suddenly find a piece of chilli pepper skin in there.
And yes, I do add frozen spinach. I realised a while back that I was guilty of not eating enough vegetables, and since that was all the veg I had in the house at the time, I added it to an earlier incarnation of this recipe. It was a very happy accident, as it were, and I've added it to every incarnation since and never regretted it. *g*
Turn the heat down. Let it simmer for a while (it won't take long, maybe 15-20 minutes) and serve with pasta!
Could not be easier. Put about three or four tblspns vegetable oil into a large bowl, add some oregano, rosemary, basil, parsley, ground black pepper (and I add smoked paprika). Mix it all up together and throw in four or five potatoes sliced into wedges.
Toss the lot, get your hands in there, and make sure they're all coated.
Put 'em on a non-stick tray and stick 'em in the oven (around 190-200 degC) for about 15-20 minutes (depending on how thick your wedges are).
Serve with garlic mayo or sour cream dip.
Probably even more simple than the wedges. Peel and cube potatoes and boil in slightly salted water. Drain them well (I have a steel colander which is awesome for making mash - the more you shake it, the fluffier the tatties get!) then put them back into the warm pot. Add a knife load of butter and a splash of milk. And a teaspoon full of wholegrain mustard.
For best results, serve with really good Cumberland sausages and gravy.