Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tropical trifle

Here's the last 'festive' dish of the holiday season. Normal (ie healthier) service will resume soon. Anyway, in case you're looking for some indulgence before grim January gets under way, I can recommend this trifle.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Festive veggie lunch

Here's my Christmas dinner - a fantastic squash and blue cheese Wellington. I hasten to add that I didn't make it (my talented mother-in-law did that).

You can make it ahead and freeze it, so it's ideal for entertaining when you've got lots of other things to sort out. Served with roast potatoes, parsnips, carrots and the obligatory Brussels sprouts, it was extremely good.

The filling is quite firm when cold...

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Simple, smoky broccoli and tomatoes

Here's an easy, healthy dish which is just the sort of thing I fancy in the run-up to Christmas, when there are too many other demands on your time to allow for elaborate cooking. And even if you haven't already been overindulging in mince pies, it's good to have something healthy and packed with veg now before the excesses that lie ahead.

If broccoli is the sort of thing you tend to have in the freezer, then you can throw the rest of it together from store-cupboard ingredients - so no need for extra shopping.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Pumpkin part 2 - pumpkin and bean curry

Perhaps not surprisingly, I hadn't managed to use a whole pumpkin in my previous pumpkin tagine. So I had some leftover cooked pumpkin to use up, and this Indian-inspired dish turned out to be the answer.

I was actually planning something quite different, but I discovered at the start of the cooking process that I'd left the tin opener at work (don't ask...) So I couldn't open most of the tins in the cupboard. Luckily the tins of kidney beans turned out to have ring pulls on them. (I usually save kidney beans for chilli rather than curry, but I couldn't see any reason not to put them in curry, and I didn't have too many other options.)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Pumpkin part 1 - preparing a pumpkin the easy way, and pumpkin and chick pea tagine

My love for a bargain is alive and well, and in the days or weeks after Halloween you can usually pick up pumpkins for not much money. It's lucky that they keep quite well (especially if you store them somewhere cool) because it's taken me until now to cook something with it.

Peeling a pumpkin and removing the seeds and fibres from the middle can seem like a bit of a faff. My labour-saving tip for cooking a pumpkin is to cut it in half, take out all the seeds, and cut the whole thing into large wedges. Put the wedges on an oven tray (or two), skin side down, and bake in a medium-hot oven until the flesh feels soft when pierced with a fork (possibly 30-45 minutes, depending on the thickness of the wedges and the temperature of your oven).

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Split pea bolognaise

My meals seem to have taken a frugal turn recently (see also this chilli). Not for any particular reason (I've always taken the view that if you can make something delicious and it's inexpensive too, so much the better). Perhaps it's the cold weather that makes hearty dishes based on pulses seem particularly appropriate. And more often than not pulse-based dishes tend to work out pretty cheap. (Even if you buy beluga lentils, which are the caviar of the lentil world, the price still compares well to a lamb chop.)

This is a cheap and super-healthy pasta sauce. I made it with split peas, which keep more of their shape and texture, but you could make a quicker, slightly smoother version with red lentils.

This quantity should easily serve six. You could halve it if you like, but I like to make more than I need on the basis that it freezes well, or will keep in the fridge for a couple of days. And while it's not really any effort to soak split peas, the cooking time involved means I feel I may as well make a big pot of it.