Thursday, 21 May 2015

this week in my kitchen :: ...well more like a few weeks ago in my kitchen catch-up...Mint and thyme guacamole

I hold my hands up to not much cooking again this week. I've been rescued by forethought, or maybe thrift...

I can't bear to throw food away. So secreted in my fridge you may often find little bowls or zip lock bags containing indecipherable items that I've carefully reserved after over-estimating how much to make. I don't always label them, so it's a bit like dietary Russian roulette. I quite like the pot-luck element. The dish that I thought was wild mushroom barley risotto, once defrosted turned out to be butternut squash with puy lentils.  The red contents of a Pyrex box, wasn't Bolognese but Ghemeh, Persian beef, tomato and lentil stew that with steamed rice made a hearty supper for meat eaters. On tired evenings, I'm very glad of my prudence...

also in the kitchen:

  • A stolen moment Sunday morning read. 
  • Window ledge clutter: Seed catalogues and packets with the contents falling out. Plant markers and my scrap book. Fat with ideas, made when the rain turned torrential and sent me dashing inside from the garden with soggy seed packets to make a rough sketch. Treasures found in the soil, a fragment of glass from a medicine bottle, and tiny bits of blue and white china.
  • A butterfly spied through the window. I'm so glad they are returning even though we've lost two, of the three butterfly bushes.
  • Ahmad's medicinal prescription for a lack of vitamin B. He was genuinely advised to drink beer! Fortunately there are lots of great local beers made with amazing ingredients. Sometimes I can't resist joining him for a dram. Like when choosing books, I'm swayed by a cool label or intriguing title...They get me every time, the nicer the label the more expensive...But you can taste all that goodness...
  • Speedy lunch. Rye crisp bread with crunchy fennel and salty sardines.
  • Guacamole made with herbs from the garden and crunchy Cornish sea salt  
  • Chick pea, honey, olive oil and rosewater face mask 

To make my mint and thyme guacamole you will need:
  • A ripe avocado
  • The juice of half a lemon
  • A small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • One small, or half a large ripe tomato, chopped finely. I like to use a flavourful beef tomato that has plenty of flesh
  • Sea salt. I like to use crunchy Cornish sea salt for this recipe
  • Chili flakes
  • Fresh thyme and mint
  1. Cut the avocado in half and remove the stone. Scoop out the ripe flesh and place in a bowl. Add all the sea salt and lemon juice and mix well until the texture is spreadable but not too smooth.
  2. Add the diced vegetables and a little of the chili flakes. Remove the tiny leaves from the thyme and chop the mint and add these too. I also used chive tops. Mix again check the seasoning and adjust if necessary. 
This is lovely served on top of crunchy toasted sour dough bread or crisp bread. It is my most favourite spring lunch...very more-ish.  We don't produce avocados in the Uk so I make sure that all the other ingredients are as local as possible.  Probably that's why I enjoy it so guilty treat... you have any guilty lunchtime treats that you'd like to share too?

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Fridge Forage Friday :: Sweet Potato, Caramelised Onion, Goat's Cheese and Thyme Tortilla

Sweet potatoes, like butternut squash are one of my all time favourite staple ingredients. Along with a little fridge and store cupboard foraging, and some herbs from the garden I can soon manage to  rustle up an easy lunch or supper, like this hearty tortilla.  

Sweet Potato, Caramelised Onion, Goat's Cheese and Thyme Tortilla

Ingredients for one medium sized tortilla/omelette :
  • A medium sized sweet potato
  • Two small or one medium sized red onions
  • Olive oil 
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Two fresh or roasted garlic cloves 
  • Four large eggs or equivalent
  • One small goats cheese or any salty/sour cheese. Blue veined cheese would also work well.
  • A sprig or two of fresh thyme 
  • Chilli flake (optional)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Scrub the sweet potato well and place on a baking try in the centre of a moderate oven. Cook for about thirty or forty minutes or so, depending on the size of the potato; until it's still tender but firm enough to slice. Sweet potatoes contain more water then regular ones so cook much more quickly.
  2. Whilst the potato is cooking pop a couple cloves of garlic on the tray leaving the outer papery skin and drizzle with olive oil, these will roast until soft and sweet.
  3. Meanwhile, pour a little olive oil into a frying/omelette pan and add the sliced onions. Allow to cook slowly until soft and sweetly caramelised. Season with a little sea salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.
  4. When the potato and garlic cloves are cooked, remove from the oven and set aside to cool for a few minutes. 
  5. Squeeze the sweet paste from the cooked garlic cloves and pour in a few drops of balsamic vinegar and mix with the onions. Ensure that the onions cover the base of the pan evenly.
  6. When the potatoes are cooled, carefully peel off the skin, slice and then pop on top of the onions. Season.
  7. Slice or break up the cheese into small chunks.
  8. Crack the eggs into a small bowl, season, add a sprinkle of chilli flakes and beat with a fork. Remove the leaves from the sprigs of thyme and add to the bowl.
  9. Return the pan with the onions and potatoes to the heat adding a little more oil if necessary. When hot, pour the beaten eggs over the other ingredients. Allow the eggs to begin to set and then reduce the heat a little and place chunks of the cheese evenly on top to melt into the tortilla.
  10. You may like to cover with a lid at this stage to ensure the top sets or if using an oven proof pan place in the oven or grill for a crunchy golden brown topping or you may prefer the cheese to be gooey and's up to you.
  11. Leave to cool down a little and then cut into wedges and serve with salad.

This is s substantial omelette. The potato and onions are sweet and the balsamic vinegar helps to cut the sweetness. The goats or blue cheese give a welcome salty sourness. I served this with peppery wild rocket (arugula) leaves and a radish and red onion salad. The two finely sliced give a crisp freshness when seasoned and dressed with lemon juice and a little oil. I wouldn't use a honey or maple syrup based dressing as this dish has enough sweetness and benefits from the sharp balance of the lemon juice. 

cooks tip: Any time that you are using the oven for about an hour, pop in a little parcel of foil or baking parchment with a whole head of garlic. Once cooked the cloves become much more mellow than raw garlic and you can keep them in the fridge for a couple of weeks. They are amazing for all sorts of things, like to add to soups or stews, mashed parsnips or potatoes, with sandwich spreads or when warm from the oven to simply spread over crusty bread...yummy...

I'm joining Tracey today for a recipe swap...wan't to come too?

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Spring greens fair and Puy Lentil Coconut Milk Soup

 "Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May..." 18th Sonnet, William Shakespeare

May rushed in and the weather changed bringing March winds, April showers and a visiting friend. It was bank holiday weekend, the River festival in Hereford and the Spring Greens Fair at the Court of Noke. Cold rain couldn't quell a cheeky Charleston down the hidden fairy paths as the band played. Soup cooked in smoky cauldrons warmed us up as we huddled by the fire-pit making new friends and spooning up scrumptious mouthfuls from enamel bowls. Then the sun came out, we climbed up to the ancient Shobdon arches and surveyed the countryside and listened to light aircraft and bees buzzing in true magical May fashion. That was until we ran back home for supper and to watch a million old episodes of the Darling Bud's of May, that I'm sure was the prod that induced me to buy a vintage 1940's skirt next day. (I'll show you later) I learned to follow a crochet pattern thanks to my sweet friend/sister-in-law as she crocheted a basket for me from twine that we bought here. I'll tell you about there later too. You may not believe this reading my blog but there are a million things I would rather do than go shopping, unless it happens to be to that amazing shop

Here's my version of the soup that we ate at the spring green fair:

Puy lentil and coconut milk 
  • One white onion peeled and finely chopped
  • A cup of washed Puy lentils
  • Two crushed garlic cloves
  • Two finely sliced sticks of celery
  • Three of four mushrooms, finely chopped
  • One peeled and grated carrot
  • A small piece of ginger root, grated finely
  • A little ground cumin, coriander, turmeric
  • A teaspoon of tomato puree
  • A can of coconut milk
  • Vegetable stock. 
  • Sea salt
  1. Warm a tablespoon of coconut oil or alternative in a heavy bottomed saucepan, add the onions and cook until caremelised. 
  2. Add the garlic and spices and cook out for a few minutes, stirring to ensure that they don't burn.
  3. Add the vegetables and a teaspoon of tomato puree, stir well, cook for a few minutes stirring all the time.
  4. Add hot stock or water and the lentils, bring to the boil then reduce the heat. Cover and cook for about twenty minutes or so until the lentils and vegetables are tender.
  5. Add the coconut milk in the last ten minutes. I like to use one that has coconut cream at the top to add extra creaminess to the soup.  
  6. Check the seasoning and then serve with a sprinkle of fresh coriander.
I love this creamy mellow soup but if you like a little more heat you could always spice it up with a good hit of chilli. 

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hope your weekend was just as good...