We were in Norfolk last weekend, to celebrate the 7th birthday of our grandson. A very nice time was had by all, and on our way home on Sunday afternoon, we kept an eye out for roadside stalls, looking for asparagus and strawberries. Nothing on the roadside, but we stopped at a huge farm shop somewhere … in the South Holland district in Lincolnshire, according to Foursquare.
Two bunches of asparagus at £1.50 each, and two caulis for a quid. So all that lot for £4.00!
One bunch of asparagus went into a quiche, with three eggs, some milk and some rather elderly brie, chopped up. Also a shallot fried off in a little butter, and some chopped chives. That did supper with some Jersey Royals, and lunch the following day.
The second bunch was stir fried with chilli and ginger, one of our absolutely favourite dishes.
One cauli was last night made into a veg curry, which will do at least two more days (if I can find some freezer space!), and the other will be enrobed in cheese sauce for tonight’s supper.
No strawberries (just a little bit too early, I guess), but all the same – that’s really cheap living (although I suppose it’s rather far to go if we weren’t passing …)
I love butternut squash. It has a lovely texture, and works in so many things: risotto, roast veg, Thai currys, soup, etc. But there’s no denying that it’s a faff to deal with due to the peel. So I did a little experiment.
I wanted some soup to come home to on Saturday, and astonishingly, there was no mongrel soup on the go (which I must address). And there was a squash in the fridge. I cut the top off the squash, and then chopped the rest in half, scooped out the seeds, and put it in the medium slow cooker with about ½” of wine (all there was left in that bottle, although obviously in this house, other bottles were available). I then added about 1″ further of water. Switched it on, went away. Returned after a couple of hours and added a diced and peeled Bramley, because it struck me that it would work rather well.
In the small slow cooker, I put a big onion, chopped, three cloves of garlic, and some chopped sage leaves from the garden. Half of this mixture went to make sage and onion tear and share bread (which I baked in the Remoska when we got home),
After four, or maybe five, hours, the squash seemed well cooked, so I scooped a bit out, and lo – even the skin was really soft. So I put it, the apple, the onion and sage mix, into the food processor and blitzed it all. Returned it to the pot with a bit more water, tasted it, and decided it needed some toasted cumin, which Pete obligingly provided. Switched the slow cooker onto medium, and it was all done and dusted when we got home, just half an hour to bake the bread. Splendid.
And then …
I had planned to make Anjum Anand’s Gujarati lamb on Sunday, and had removed half a shoulder of the relevant beast from the freezer. I usually add a squash to this, because the texture is so nice, but there was a bowlful of soup left and it seemed rude not to use that instead. So instead we had a kind of use it up Gujarati lamb, which went like this.
one shoulder of lamb, browned on all sides.
one onion, finely diced
some garlic (I used about six cloves) and a big piece of ginger, made into a paste with some water
a couple of handfuls of dessicated coconut
ground cumin, coriander, turmeric
some chilli flakes
leftover butternut squash soup (I accept that most of you won’t have this to hand)
some chickpeas (I always used dried, so had them cooking in the small slow cooker while this was going on)
lemon juice – about a tablespoon’s worth
salt and black pepper
Soften the onion in some vegetable oil, then add the garlic/ginger paste and fry for about three minutes. Tip in the spices (quantities here are very individual – we like our foot spicy). Fry a bit longer. Put the lamb in the slow cooker, tip the onion mix in, add the soup, and a little water if required – I wanted it to come about half way up the meat. I normally add sweet potatoes, but mine had gone mouldy (oh the shame).
Cooked it for about six hours (adding the previously cooked chickpeas about two hours from the end) and it was just beautiful. We gorged on it, and there was plenty left for today’s lunch. And indeed there’s still a fair bit of the sauce left, so I shall be adding red lentils and veg to that, and making it into this week’s mongrel soup.
So there you go – slow cook your squash, and no need to peel. Win win.
Well, it was meant to be a vegetable curry, but I’m not convinced it turned out like that.
I love pulses and beans, and keep serried ranks of jars in my cupboards, all containing various varieties of same. Last weekend, I thought I’d cook up some kidney beans, so I poured some into a bowl and covered them with water, left them to soak. Then on the Sunday, I cooked ’em up in the slow cooker. On Monday morning, I drained them into a colander, and thought “Gosh. That’s a lot of beans”. I do this regularly, and I really must learn how many cooked beans a given quantity of dried beans transmutes into. “Lots” seems to be the general answer.
In a “lets clear the fridge of all the old veg”, between us Pete and I chopped red onions, aubergine, butternut squash and sweet potato. And garlic and ginger was liquidised into a paste. I took the black Le Creuset out of the cupboard, looked at the bowl of beans, and got out the enormous faux Le Creuset that I bought in Sainsburys for about 45 quid (about ¼ of what a genuine one would cost).
In my ongoing attempts to lose weight, I’m using far less oil to cook, so I put about, oh, a dessert spoonful of groundnut oil, in which I softened the onions, then added quite a lot of garam masala and cooked it off. In went the garlic/ginger paste, then the cubed veg. Turned it all round to coat it, and get it started, then added passata, and sufficient water to cover the mix, and some seasoning. When the veg were almost cooked, we shoehorned in the kidney beans (not easy, I can assure you), and left it another 15 minutes or so.
It was really, really nice, but not very curryish. No matter. And it made 10 portions for really not very much money at all.
We had a cauli in the fridge last week. Now, I like cauli, and we make cauli cheese, or a cauli and lentil curry. Sometimes we even just have it as a side veg. But none of them appealed, so I went rummaging through the books, and came up with Satyamma’s cauliflower curry. I didn’t follow the recipe precisely – they’re guidelines, is all.
We added sweet potato rather than “ordinary”, and adjusted the spices a bit (but not enough – needs about twice as much as the recipe, to my mind), and added a can of chickpeas*; it was absolutely lovely, and I reckoned it at about 190 calories a serving, without rice or whatever. We had roasted peanuts left in from the festive season, and everything else was in the house already, so that was a win too.
I really must go through that book more, because I’m currently in a bit of a rut with cooking.
Also, note to self: take photographs!
*Yes, I know, but I do keep a few tins of pulses in for such occasions; normally I would have soaked and boiled. Mea culpa.
We had a meal in the local Malaysian restaurant last week, and it was utterly delicious, so I thought I’d have a bash at creating my own. I didn’t bother looking up recipes – it’s more fun to try to recreate a dish, in my opinion.
In the fridge veg drawers was a load of stuff that really needed eating up, so I chopped up:
a bunch of lovely sweet carrots from my sister-in-law’s garden
half a yellow pepper
a butternut squash that was actually starting to go mouldy – oh the shame …
These were all hurled into the slow cooker. Then I fried off finely chopped garlic and ginger, and a chopped onion. Into the frying pan went a tin of chopped tonatoes, two dessert spoonfuls of smooth peanut butter (I think this might have been too much), some tamarind paste, cumin, coriander, allspice and cinnamon, black pepper. Cooked the sauce down a bit, then left it to cool.
This morning, I heated it up again, then lobbed it on top of the veg and switched the slow cooker on while we were out for the day at Driffield County Show (cracking day out!). There is a Smell from the kitchen, and I’m just about to put some rice on to accompany it for our supper.
The veg box brought us a pair of sweet potatoes, and we had a cauliflower left over.
Not wanting to cook too much in the heat, I peeled the sweet potatoes and cut them into 2cm-ish chunks. They were simmered for about 18 minutes, and I put the cauliflower florets in the steamer basket for the last 7 minutes.
I chopped an onion and a red pepper, and minced ginger and garlic, and fried that lot off in some olive oil, while Pete ground some spices with a Morrocan twist (including pomegranate seeds), and I put them in the frying pan with the onion mixture for a couple of minutes.
Tipped everything into the slow cooker, and added the rest of the broad bean stock. Cooked on low for about 8 hours, and ate with rice, but cous cous would have worked too.
I bought some aubergines from the farm shop last weekend – they were a bit tired, but when I looked at them on Tuesday they really did need cooking. So I bunged in some chickpeas to soak, boiled them yesterday morning, and off we went.
First off, I cubed the sweet potato and boiled it for five minutes to get it started.
Then chopped two red onions, three aubergines, a shallot.
Pete made a paste with six cloves of garlic, and coriander, cumin, dry ginger, allspice, cinnamon, pomegranate seeds and black pepper, and a bit of water.
Fried the onion in some groundnut oil, then added the spice mix and fried for a couple of minutes. Put in the aubergines, courgette and sweet potato and stirred it all around til the veg were coated in oil. Added a tin of tomatoes, and about half a can of water (rinsing the tin round with the water to extract the last tomatoey goodness). Sprinkled with a little salt, added the chickpeas and the juice of half a lemon.
Put it on a low heat with a lid on for about 35 minutes, while we prepped and cooked some rice. I put three tubfuls into the freezer this morning – it were really very nice.
Using up: butternut squash, green beans, courgette
This is vaguely based on a recipe I saw on Come Dine With Me, a television programme here in the UK. I was very struck by the potato element, which is:
One potato, boiled then cut into dice and deep fried. Set aside for now.
Made a paste by blitzing a chopped onion, 3 cloves of garlic, about a square inch of ginger, a stalk of lemongrass, a dried chilli, half a teaspoon of salt, and a tablespooon each of lime juice and olive oil in a blender, and pureéd until it was transformed into a smooth paste.
Peeled the butternut squash that had been lurking in the fridge for a couple of weeks, removed and discarded the seeds, looked at it and realised it was *way* too much for this curry and returned half to the fridge. Watch this space to see what I decide to do with the rest! Chopped the flesh of the remaining half into 1/2 inch cubes. The green beans had been topped and tailed on Friday, and I chopped the courgette into smallish chunks too.
Put the paste into a large pan or wok and fried it gently for a couple of minutes, stirring all the while.
Added the veg, and stirred them about a bit, to coat them with the paste, then hurled in a tin of coconut milk. Put a lid on it, and simmered it for about 20 minutes, then uncovered it and cooked for about another 10. I added the fried spud a few minutes before the end (crystal ball job).
Ate accompanied by noodles cooked with a few drops of sesame oil. I cannot begin to tell you how nice it was – it was ambrosial, utterly lovely. The squash had started to break down, and had a texture that I can hardly describe.
This made enough to feed the two of us, with another meal’s worth gone into the freezer.