Monthly Archives: January 2016

Heavenly Hot Chocolate Soufflés

Wow! Just wow! These chocolate soufflés are simply heavenly: light, pillowly outside and then delectably soft and melty inside. The first spoonful was tentative; after that, these soufflés were attacked with relish! If you have the time, give them a go: you won’t be disappointed.

What you need…

4 x 180ml ramekin dishes, lightly but thoroughly buttered

25g 70% dark chocolate, finely grated

for the ganache (a word that simply means whipped cream and chocolate)

4 tablespoons double cream

50g 70% dark chocolate, broken into pieces

1 tablespoon cocoa

for the crème patisserie (don’t be put off, this essentially is French for posh, flavoured custard)

2 tablespoons plain flour

2 teaspoons caster sugar

½ teaspoon cornflour

1 egg yolk

1 whole egg

4 tablespoons milk

1 tablespoon double cream

25g 70% dark chocolate, broken into pieces

for the egg whites

6 egg whites (freeze the yolks for a future Tiramisu!)

85g caster sugar

What to do…

For the ganache: gently warm the cream in a pan. Just before it boils, remove from the heat and tip in the chocolate. With a wooden spoon, stir vigorously to dissolve the chocolate, gradually adding in the cocoa to create a lovely velvety texture. Set aside to cool.

And now to the crème patisserie: mix together the flour, sugar and cornflour.

Put your egg and egg yolk into a large mixing bowl and, using a handheld electric whisk, whisk them together. Whilst whisking, add in half the flour mixture to create a smooth paste then, tip in the rest and whisk until fully incorporated. Set aside.

Pour the milk and cream into a saucepan and bring just to the boil. Remove from the heat, tip in the chocolate and, using a small balloon whisk, whisk until the chocolate is all melted and the mixture is smooth.

Gradually stir the melted chocolate mix into the flour paste. When mixed in return to the pan and cook over a moderate heat for 5 minutes, stirring continuously. Towards the end of the 5 minutes, you will notice that it is thickening up, turning into a smooth paste. Remove from the heat and set aside until cold, mixing occasionally with the balloon whisk.

Prepare your ramekin dishes by tipping some of the grated chocolate into each one, rolling the dish around and tilting it as you do to ensure that the dish is evenly coated in chocolate.

Preheat oven to 180c / 350 f / gas 4.

Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks using your electric hand whisk. Whilst still whisking, gradually sprinkle in the caster sugar and keep whisking to create stiff peaks (it’s this that will give the light volume to the soufflés)

In a large bowl, mix together the crème patisserie and ganache. With a spatula, stir in 2 tablespoons of egg white, then carefully fold in 1/3 of the rest, cutting through the mixture. Fold in another 1/3. Switch to a balloon whisk and fold in the remainder – don’t overwork it: you’ll lose the volume.

Spoon the mixture into the dishes, filling them up. Then bang the dishes on your work surface to make sure the mixture fills each ramekin evenly.

Sprinkle a little grated chocolate (left over from coating the ramekins) into the centre of each. Pop your soufflés onto a baking tray and bake for 18-20 minutes or until they are risen and are set on the top but wobble nicely when moved!

Serve on their own, with double cream or salted caramel ice cream (previously blogged). It doesn’t matter, these heavenly hot chocolate soufflés are divine!

Tips…

You could prepare the crème patisserie and ganache a couple of hours in advance, if you were having these little gorgeousnesses for dinner, leaving you very little to do just before serving. They would need to be kept somewhere cool but not as cold as the fridge.

Whenever I need good quality dark chocolate in baking, I use ‘Menier Chocolat Patissier’. It’s great chocolate, easily available and very easy to break up for the required weights listing in recipes. It also comes in 100g bars, which works perfectly for this pud.

Inspired by…

www.bbcgoodfood.com

How easy…

They’re not difficult but you need to have time on your hands to allow the ganache and the chocolate mixture for the crème patisserie to cool. There’s also quite a lot of clearing up to do. When I’d finished making them and was peering in the oven to see if they were going to rise to the occasion, I wasn’t sure that they were worth the time, effort and mess, but on tasting them, I concurred that they absolutely were!

 

Red Pepper and Herb Salmon Fillets with Spiralized Vegetables

We eat a lot of salmon and I have a variety of different approaches to cooking it, all of which we love. But when I saw this dish being prepared on Mary Berry’s Foolproof Cooking first episode, I thought that it would make an interesting change. She served hers with spiralized vegetables, which also fired my imagination, and the necessary spiralizer was duly ordered that night! The vegetables are a nice change (and might make for easier persuasion with little ones given their presentation) and the fish was quite delicious and stupendously easy – a great family supper.

Serves 4

What you need…

1 x baking tray, lined with Bake O Glide or parchment paper

140g full fat cream cheese

20g Parmesan, finely grated

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 heaped tablespoon chives, chopped

4 chunky salmon fillets

Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon

1 handful fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 roasted red pepper from a jar, finely sliced

Sea salt and black pepper

for the spiralized vegetables

1 x spiralizer (I bought my online for £13)

2 large courgettes, topped and tailed

3 large carrots, topped, tailed and peeled

Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon parsley

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

Preheat oven to 200c / 400f / gas 6.

In a bowl, mix together the cream cheese, Parmesan, garlic, chives, salt and pepper.

Pop the salmon fillets onto your baking tray and then season with salt and pepper. Spread over the cream cheese mixture equally over each fillet.

In a small bowl, mix together the lemon zest and parsley and then sprinkle over the fillets. Arrange the red pepper slices in an ‘X’ over the top of the salmon fillets.

Pop in the oven and cook for 15 – 20 minutes or until the salmon is cooked through. Put one fillet on each serving plate.

Meanwhile, feed each of your vegetables through the spiralizer, adopting a ‘pencil-sharpening’ action to produce long spaghetti-like strands.

Pour the oil into a wok or deep frying pan on a moderate heat. Tip in your vegetable strands, season with salt and pepper and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest and parsley and divide onto each serving plate with the fish.

Squeeze the lemon juice over the fish and vegetables and serve your red pepper and herb salmon fillets with spiralized vegetables: light, delightful and quite a different turn on cooking salmon. Enjoy!

Tips…

I use Waitrose Cooks’ Ingredients frozen, chopped garlic and just shake in a rough amount rather than peeling and chopping garlic cloves – it’s the little things that make life easier!

I’m rubbish at chopping herbs, so instead use a clean pair of sharp kitchen scissors – works a treat.

When you choose your carrots and courgettes, make sure they are big, fat ones – they work much better with the spiralizer.

Inspired by…

Mary Berry, Foolproof Cooking

How easy…

Really simple and hardly any clearing up

 

 

Panfried Scallops with Black Pudding and Ginger Palm Sugar Chutney

Ooooooooh, what a treat! The scallops and the black pudding are a marriage made in heaven; a little of each together with a forkful of streaky bacon and then just a tad of ginger chutney – just sublime! This would make an incredible starter. For us, I used enough ingredients for just two and then four of us grabbed forks and just dived in. A great way of experimenting and this one is a dish that will definitely be repeated……a proper portion each next time! The ginger chutney, by the way, is divine – fresh and piquant – and there is enough here to keep the left over in the fridge to serve as a foil for other really savoury dishes.

Serves 2

What you need…

1 x baking tray, lined with Bake O Glide or greaseproof paper

Splash olive/rapeseed oil

6 scallops

6 slices black pudding

2 rashers good quality streaky bacon

100g baby spinach

for the ginger and palm sugar chutney

100g fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

100ml water

2 cloves

100ml palm sugar

What to do…

Starting with the chutney, pop the ginger into a small saucepan with the water and cloves. Bring to the boil and then turn down and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half. Remove the cloves and add the sugar and dissolve. Set aside until cool. Tip into your blender and whizz until the ginger is reduced to small chunks. Job done – put into a screw-top jar – you’ll have loads left over after you’ve assembled your dish – which can be stored in the fridge for an accompaniment to other dishes

Put your slices of black pudding onto the baking tray and pop under a hot grill, cooking for 4 minutes. Flip them and cook for a further four minutes.

Whilst that’s going on, in a medium-sized frying pan, heat the oil over a moderate heat and add the scallops, cooking for 2 minutes on one side before turning over for another 2 minutes. When you turn over the scallops, add your rashers of bacon to the pan, keeping your scallops to one side of the pan and your bacon to the other. Using a fork, keep flipping the bacon until its cooked and crispy on both sides – about 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, tip in a tablespoon of water and a pinch of salt as well as the spinach. Pop on the lid, whack up the heat to high and wilt the spinach – it should take no longer than 5 minutes to come to temperature and wilt (maybe quicker if you have a gas hob). Remove from the heat and set aside until ready to assemble the dish.

For each person, arrange on the plate a line of spinach leaves. Top with a row of black pudding slices and scallops, alternating them as you go. On the very top, lay a rasher of streaky bacon. In front, or around your scallops and black pudding drizzle the fabulous ginger and palm sugar chutney. Serve your panfried scallops with black pudding and ginger palm sugar chutney and watch the faces of delight! Gorgeous!

Inspired by…

James Martin, Home Comforts

How Easy…

Really easy, especially as the dish looks and tastes so spectacular!

 

 

Delectable Orange Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

A lovely cake exuding the zestiness of fresh orange, this gorgeous cake uses rapeseed oil instead of butter as well as almonds in the ‘sponge’ to create a dense, moist cake that keeps for ages or would do if we weren’t tempted to cut just one more slice! Topped with a frosting that is the perfect foil to the luscious cake and decorated with crispy, homemade candied orange peel, this is a sweet revelation!

Serves 8-10

What you need…

1 x 23cm spring form cake tin, lightly buttered

5 large oranges

100ml rapeseed oil

4 large eggs

450g caster sugar

125g self-raising flour

125g ground almonds

2 teaspoons baking powder

150g full fat cream cheese

150g crème fraiche

25g icing sugar

150ml cold water

What to do…

Preheat oven to 170°c / 325°f / gas 3.

Grate zest of 3 oranges into a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

Cut out the remaining flesh from the 3 oranges, chop roughly and chuck into your blender. Whizz, gradually adding the rapeseed oil until it is all thoroughly blended. Set aside.

Add 250g of the caster sugar and your eggs to the orange zest and, using a handheld electric whisk, whisk until the mixture is pale, thick and creamy.

In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, ground almonds and baking powder.

Carefully fold in half the puréed orange mixture into the egg mixture. Then fold in all of the flour mix before folding in the remaining orange purée.

Pour the cake mixture into your cake tin and pop it into the oven to bake for 1 hour or until the cake is golden brown and risen. Check it’s cooked by inserting a clean skewer into the centre: if it comes out clean, it’s done; if not, pop it back in for another 5 minutes and then check again.

Meanwhile, to make the frosting, whisk together the cream cheese, crème fraiche and icing sugar in a bowl and then pop it in the fridge until it’s needed.

For the homemade candied peel: using a vegetable peeler, peel the remaining two oranges and then julienne the zest finely (I forgot to do this last bit so my candied peel was chunky!)

Pour the water into a saucepan and stir in 150g of the remaining caster sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, stir in the julienned orange peel, then bring the mixture to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes to reduce the liquid and make a light syrup.

Strain the zest. Don’t chuck the syrup down the sink – it would be great for an orange drizzle cake or popped in the fridge ready for those fruity cocktails that require sugar syrup!

Sprinkle the remaining caster sugar into a shallow bowl, chuck in the zest and toss it about until it’s all coated with glistening, crunchy sugar.

Retrieve your cake from the oven and cool slightly in the tin before releasing from spring form and cooling completely on a wire rack.

When the cake is cold, spread the frosting over the top and then scatter over the candied peel. Simple but absolutely lovely! Indulge in your first slice of delectable orange cake with cream cheese frosting and candied peel and enjoy as your taste buds dance for joy!

Inspired by…

James Martin, Home Comforts

How easy…

Very easy and also very relaxed because the cake is in the oven for an hour, leaving you loads of time to do the frosting and candied peel in a leisurely fashion.

 

 

 

 

Haggis, Neeps and Tatties with Whisky Sauce and Asparagus Parcels

Burns Night Supper! Over the years, we’ve been to many a Burns night bash and the food has ranged from appalling to mediocre – rarely better than that. And until this evening, I always thought that whisky was harsh and horrible: a horror that needed to be dispensed with in the name of tradition as fast as possible. Tonight however, we stayed in and did this fabulous take on the Burns Night fare. The haggis dish was waaaaaaay better than I could possibly have hoped for and met with considerable enthusiasm all around the table. We are DEFINITELY having this again – I would recommend it highly, Burns Night or not. And then there was the whisky. I unearthed a bottle that has remained untouched since John’s 60th birthday and WOW! sheer nectar. That said, it was a Knockando Single Malt, aged 12 years. It was a gift – I’m not looking up the cost but it finished off this delightful meal perfectly!

Serves 4

What you need…

for the asparagus parcels

One flat baking tray, lightly oiled

8 asparagus spears, trimmed

2 slices prosciutto di parma

Sea salt and black Pepper

Just a little Parmesan cheese, grated

for the whisky sauce

Knob butter

1 shallot, finely chopped

2 tablespoons whisky (any old blended, not the Knockando!!!)

2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard

200ml water

1 beef stock pot (I use Knorr)

80ml double cream

Sea salt and black pepper for seasoning

for the haggis

1 x cookie cutter (slightly larger than the diametre of the haggis) lightly oiled

1 Haggis (I love the ‘Simon Howie, the Scottish Butcher’, it’s slightly spicy and very yummy).

8 potatoes, peeled and halved

125g butter

Splash milk

4 turnips, peeled and halved

6 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

What to do…

To prepare the asparagus parcels, poach the asparagus in boiling, salted water for 2 minutes. Drain and cool to the point that they are easy to handle.

Lay out one slice of Parma ham. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and Parmesan and then cut in half lengthways.

Using one ‘half slice’ of Parma ham, place two asparagus spears at one end and roll up so the Parma ham is the wrapping around your asparagus. Place on your baking tray. Repeat with the remaining asparagus and Parma ham so that you have four asparagus bundles – one each – they’re just a garnish, really.

Pop them in the fridge until you are nearly ready to serve.

You can also pre-prepare the sauce. Using a balloon whisk dissolve the stock pot into the water. Set aside. Melt the butter over a moderate heat and gently fry the shallots for 10 minutes. Add the wholegrain mustard and mix in well. Pour in the beef stock and bring to the boil. Add the whisky, boil for another minute to remove the alcohol and then turn the heat down and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then gradually stir in the cream. Set aside until nearly ready to serve.

To cook the haggis, follow the boiling instruction that comes with it. In my case, it is simply to pop the haggis into a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 45 minutes – couldn’t be easier.

Preheat your oven to 200°c / 400°f / gas 6.

In one saucepan, bring your potatoes to the boil in salted water and then simmer for 20 minutes or until soft. Likewise, in another saucepan, bring your turnips and carrots to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes or until soft.

To the potatoes, add 75g butter and the splash of milk and either mash or use a handheld electric whisk to cream the potatoes. Taste and season until it suits you. Pop the lid on to keep warm.

To the turnips and carrot, add 50g butter and similarly, mash or cream with a whisk. Taste and season until it suits you. Pop the lid on to keep warm.

Pop your asparagus in the oven for 4-5 minutes whilst you assemble the dish.

Put your whisky sauce on a moderate heat to warm through.

Drain the haggis and cut it into nice chunky slices.

For each serving, place your cookie cutter, in the centre of the plate and squash into it the creamed potato, filling the cookie cutter two thirds of the way up. Top up with the turnip and carrot mixture. Gently lift the cookie cutter away, wipe over with kitchen roll and run olive oil around the inside again with your finger and repeat the process for each of the other servings. Top your stacks with a chunky slice of haggis and then an asparagus parcel.

Pour the sauce into a jug and serve at the table. Enjoy this wonderful dish of haggis, neeps and tatties with whisky sauce and asparagus parcels with or without any of the other traditions. We just needed an excuse to find a great haggis recipe – enjoy!

Tip…

Rather than finely chopping shallots, I use Cooks’ Ingredients Handful of Chopped Shallots. Frozen and in a foil bag, I just shake into the saucepan roughly the right quantity – dead easy!

Inspired by…

Well…. a bit of a collection of ideas thrown together. I saw an image of one version of the ‘stack’ on the Ocado website and that was enough to get me going. I already had the recipe for the asparagus parcels (previously blogged as a canapé) and the sauce is my own – made up on the spur of the moment and I have to say, rather lovely!

How easy…

Very easy! All the elements kinda cook themselves. I like that the prep on the asparagus and sauce can be done in advance so you’re not juggling like crazy at the end.

Oozy Focaccia Bread with Cheeses, Spinach and Tomato

Warm bread straight from the oven is always a winner but this loaf, stuffed with melted cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach as well as a hint of rosemary is just scrumptious! Ideal as a tearing and sharing starter or as part of a ‘fridge-raid’ supper (where we dump onto the table cheeses, patés and salads and just dive in), Oozy Focaccia bread with Cheeses, Spinach and Tomato is easy enough to ensure it has a regular place at the table.

 Serves 8

 What you need…

1 x lightly oiled baking sheet

500g packet garlic and rosemary focaccia bread mix (I use Wright’s)

300ml hand-hot water

3 tablespoons oil

100g dolcelatte

125g mozzarella

75g baby spinach leaves

55g sun-dried tomatoes

10 rosemary sprigs

1 tablespoon rock salt

What to do…

Tip the bread mix into a large bowl. Stir in the water and 2 tablespoons of oil to form a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured worktop and knead for 2 – 3 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Rinse and dry your large bowl and lightly oil it. Pop the bread dough into the bowl, cling film it and leave it in a warm place (next to a radiator or in the airing cupboard in my case) for 30 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto your floured work surface again and knead for a another two minutes.

Divide the dough into two and press each into circles of roughly 20cm. Lay one circle onto your baking sheet and scatter over the cheeses, tomatoes and spinach. Wet the rim and then cover with the remaining circle. Pinch the edges to seal. Leave in a warm place for 30 minutes until slightly risen.

Preheat oven to 200c / 400f / gas 6.

Push your fingers into the top of the bread to dimple the dough and push small springs of rosemary into the bread. Scatter with rock salt and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Pop in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown and risen. Serve warm, gooey slices and enjoy!

Inspired by…

No idea! Another one of those recipes torn from a magazine and kept in a file for several years!

How easy…

Very easy and there is something wonderfully satisfying about kneading bread dough. The only concern, if there is one at all, is to remember before you get going that time is required for the two 30 minute proofings.

Dairy-Free Mango Lassi

 

I’m not sure how authentic this is – Lassi heralds from India as a cooling yogurt drink and I know that you can get both salty and sweet varieties, both of which I believe contain spice – but for me this is a little bit of lusciousness in a glass and sometimes we swap this out for the usual breakfast smoothie with chia seeds (see previous blog). One of my favourite fruits, I love the way the mango in this ‘milkshake’ exudes its soft, fresh flavour – delicious!

Serves 4

What you need…

250ml Alpro Simply Plain yogurt

100ml Alpro Almond milk

300g fresh mango (buy it ready-prepared: saves a lot of faffing about)

1 dessertspoon runny honey (Manuka if you’re wearing a particularly healthy halo)

What to do…

Chuck the lot in your food process blender and whizz for about 1 minute, give or take!!!! Serve your dairy-free mango lassi and enjoy – feelin’ good!!!

Inspired by…

Jamie Oliver, Happy Days with the Naked Chef

How easy…

Wop the ingredients in the blender – that’s it!

 

Old English Port Wine Jellies with Frosted Grapes

If, like me, you grew up in the 1970s you will probably remember the regular arrival of jelly and Carnation Cream as a pudding. I can recall with relish, gently mashing up the jelly and watching with fascination as the yellow-white ‘cream’ filtered through the jelly’s cracks. These days, jelly has fallen out of fashion, but I came across this recipe in one of Delia’s books and had to give it a go! It bears no resemblance to the 1970s versions, happily!!!!

Especially after a heavy main course, this dessert is simply delightful! An oldie but a goodie, it is light, fragrant and cool, not at all what you’d expect when you see that the ingredients include port and wine.

I didn’t ruin it with the addition of Carnation (that’s got to be spectacularly bad for you!) but tried it with and without a little cream and both versions work really well. Jelly is definitely back in fashion in this house!

Serves 4

What you need…

for the jellies

Four pretty stemmed glasses to serve

75g granulated sugar

285 ml water

1 stick cinnamon

3 cloves

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

1½ 12g packets powdered gelatine

210ml port (nothing too expensive)

75ml light red wine (I used a cheap Pinot Noir)

for the frosted grapes

Bunch seedless grapes, washed and dried

1 egg white

Caster Sugar

Bake O Glide/greaseproof paper

What to do…

Tip the sugar into a saucepan together with the water, cinnamon stick, cloves, lemon zest and juice. Cover the pan bring to the boil, then remove from the heat. Sprinkle in the gelatine and, using a balloon whisk. Gently whisk to dissolve. Let it cool for 15 minutes, gently whisking occasionally.

Strain the spices and zest from the syrup, pouring it into a jug. Stir in the port and wine and then taste. The flavour should be strong and rather sweeter than you might like but the sweetness lessens once the mixture is chilled and set, so add a little more sugar if you think it needs it (I added another 2 teaspoons) and stir it in until it dissolves. Pour the jelly syrup into your four stemmed glasses and pop in the fridge to set.

Meanwhile, onto your frosted grapes. Take two small bowls and in one, whisk up the egg white using a fork. In the other, tip in some caster sugar.

From your bunch of grapes, choose little bunches of two or three, ensuring that you leave them attached to their stalks as you separate them from the main bunch. Simply dip them into the egg yolk and then into the caster sugar, ensuring that they are evenly covered with the sugar, providing them with a frosted look. When you lift them out of the egg white, make sure there are no globules of egg white hanging off – they don’t look attractive when covered with caster sugar! Sit your bunches of frosted grapes onto a strip of Bake O Glide or greaseproof paper and set them somewhere cool and dry for a couple of hours (or overnight).

When you’re ready to serve your old English port wine jellies with frosted grapes, simply retrieve the jellies from the fridge and pop the frosted grapes on the top – so easy, so elegant, so delicious! Enjoy!

Serving suggestion…

A little jug of double cream with a teaspoon of caster sugar mixed in.

Inspired by…

Delia Smith (her Christmas book but I think this is a winner throughout the winter)

How easy…

Extremely easy, very quick and next to no mess!

 

 

 

 

Roasted Fish with Lemon, Anchovies, Capers and Rosemary

A lovely family supper dish, this fish dish ticks all the boxes in terms of taste, ease of preparation, minimal washing up and being really quite healthy! The combination of the soft rosemary, zingy lemon, edgy anchovies and sharp capers works brilliantly to jazz up even the most mundane of fish – I use whatever fish is hanging about in the freezer, sometimes mixing up three different types – it doesn’t matter – it’s still great!

Serves 4

What you need…

1 x baking dish, lightly buttered (mine is 26 x 17 x 7cms deep)

Handful rosemary, leaves picked

4 tablespoons olive oil

4 – 6 x fish fillets, both hake and cod work well (quantity depends on how hungry you are!)

Sea salt and black pepper, for seasoning

2 large unwaxed lemons, thinly sliced

Handful capers

8 anchovy fillets

What to do…

Preheat oven to 200°c / 400°f / gas 6.

Bruise the rosemary in a pestle and mortar to bring out the flavour. Add the olive oil and squash the rosemary some more to flavour the oil.

Wodge your fish into the baking dish and then pour over half the rosemary/oil mixture, spreading it evenly over the fish. Season with salt and pepper.

Cover the fish in the lemon slices, scatter over the capers and then drape over the anchovies.

Drizzle over the remaining rosemary/oil mixture and pop in the oven for 20 minutes. That’s it – done – a really quick, healthy and tasty family supper – we enjoy our roasted fish with lemon, anchovies, capers and rosemary with steamed mixed cabbage and either Parmentier or buttery new potatoes.

Inspired by…

Jamie Oliver, Happy Days with the Naked Chef

How easy…

Very easy, just an assembly job really!

Red Lentil, Chickpea and Chilli Soup

This is a really wonderful soup, especially when it’s soooo cold out there! The spice provided by the cumin seeds and chilli make you feel all warm inside and give the soup a hint of the Middle-East; then there’s the contrasting fresh kick of the coriander. It’s robust, thick, filling and packed with flavour, it’s also really cheap, very fast and simple. And finally, no naughty ingredients so if you’re doing that whole January dieting thing, this fits in perfectly but tastes fantastic!

Serves 4 – 6

What you need…

850ml water, boiled, straight from the kettle

2 vegetable stock pots (I use Knorr)

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

Pinch of hot chilli powder

Splash rapeseed oil

1 red onion, roughly chopped

140g red lentils

400g can chopped tomatoes

½ 400g can chickpeas (drain and freeze the rest for another time)

Handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped plus some to scatter over the top

What to do…

Make vegetable stock by filling a large jug up to 850ml with boiling water and drop in the two vegetable stock pots. Use a balloon whisk to dissolve and mix in the stock pots.

In a large saucepan, dry-fry the cumin seeds for about a minute or until they start jumping around the pan! Add the chilli powder and give it a quick stir. Then, splash in some rapeseed oil together with the onion and cook for a further 5 minutes on a moderate heat. Stir in the lentils, stock and tomatoes, then bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Chuck in the chickpeas and coriander and then put all the soup ingredients into the blender jug of your food processor. Whizz until the soup is a lovely thick and smooth purée.

Pour into soup bowls or mugs and enjoy the heat and sunshine that emanates from your red lentil, chickpea and chilli soup – lovely.

Inspired by…

www.bbcgoodfood.com

How easy…

Childs’ Play!