Tag Archives: Recipes

Rainy Day Stew

The last few days have been absolutely dreary.  It might be summer, but the wind has been howling, the rain has been falling, and the temperature dropping more than it should during summer.  So it seemed like the perfect time to make a big pot of warm soup.  And man, was I ever right. This is technically vegetarian, although you can add meat in if you want. I top mine with either sour cream or yogurt. I adapted this recipe from the New Zealand Healthy Food Guide Magazine.

 

Curried Vege Stew

Serves: 8 or so

Time to make: 35 minutes

 

  • olive Oil or oil spray
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, scrubbed and cubed
  • 1 cup split red lentils, rinsed
  • 4 cups vegetable stock (i used 2 of the new Knorr brand gelled stock things)
  • 1 cup mashed sweet potato
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2-1 cup dried fruit (i use dried cranberries and dried apricots)
  • 1 tablespoon and 1/2 teaspoon mild curry powder, divided
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered cumin
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • sour cream or yogurt to serve

 

Spray your heavy based pan with your oil spray, or coat lightly in the olive oil and place over medium high heat.  fry your shallot and carrots until softened.  Add 1/2 teaspoon curry powder and 1/2 teaspoon chili powder. Sautee until fragrant.   Add in lentils, stock, and sweet potato mash, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

 

Add in the kidney beans, chickpeas, dried fruits, 1 tablespoon of curry powder, 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Stir well and simmer for 15 minutes until lentils are thoroughly cooked. Taste as you stir, and adjust seasoning as you desire.  I prefer mine to have a bit of a hot and sour kick, so I add in more lemon juice.  salt and pepper to taste.

 

serve immediately with sour cream, or yogurt.

 

Last night I topped mine off with a dollop of greek yogurt, some freshly chopped cucumber, and dashes of mint and dill.  For lunch today, I had mixed up a yogurt dip that was a cross between tzatziki and raita and I used that on top of the stew.  Served with rye bread, this is a meal that will leave you feeling full and very warm and toasty.

 

Great for chilly winter/autumn days, or dreary rainy days.  It does not look particularly tasty, but do not let your eyes fool you.

 

 

Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

 

peeled, seeded, and diced cucumber

greek yogurt

lemon juice

pinch of salt

2 pinches of sugar

dried dill

dried mint

 

Sadly, last night I did not measure.  But I took about 1/3 of a long hot house/english cucumber, peeled and seeded and chopped*.  I used about 3 large soup spoons of yogurt (let’s say about 1/3 cup), about 1 teaspoon lemon juice, pinch of salt, 2 pinches of sugar (maybe 1/2 tablespoon?), and then a tablespoon each of mint and dill.  Mixed it up well, tasted, adjusted the sugar and salt, and then covered and let sit in the fridge.

 

 

*While the sauce should be slightly runny, you don’t want it too watery.  A good trick is to take the chopped cucumbers, place them in a small strainer (or sifter), and coat them with a little salt. let this sit for at least 30 minutes, and then you can proceed with your recipe.  The salt draws some of the internal water from the cucumber, meaning that your end dip will be less runny.  This method is also used on other water-packed vegetables like eggplant in order to get a nice and crisp result.

 

 

Well there you go!  I hope that since most of my friends are in the northern hemisphere, that you find a use for this recipe soon!  The original in the magazine has half the size of this recipe, but since E loves soup so much, I always double soup recipes.  My additions to the recipe are the cumin, the sweet potato mash (i had some leftover from the other day), the chili powder.  The original calls for sultanas, but I didn’t have those on hand,  The recipe calls for lemon zest, but I only have lemon juice, the original calls for an onion, but I prefer to use shallots.  I also added in the step of toasting the curry powder and chili powder with the shallots, the original just has the spices being put in with the kidney beans and the chickpeas.

 

As Originally written, the authors in the magazine claim that the cost is $2.50 a serving.  That is, of course, in new Zealand Dollars, so it’s closer to approx $1.75 US.  Not bad for a tasty stick it to the ribs meal.

 

 

 

Lentils

I have long wanted to try these legumes.  Prided on for their nutrition, and their price, but cooking for one was never an option before and now i’m cooking for two, but two who are adventurous and willing to at least try new things.

 

So this week at the grocery store, I picked up two bags of lentils, one regular green lentils (maybe they’re brown?) and a bag of split red lentils.  Not alot, just under a Kilogram in weight.  So today the hunt was on!  what can I do with Lentils?

 

I pulled out my newest old cookbook that my mom sent over to me (thanks mom!), the Soup Bible and went looking.  Mainly because if the word ‘soup’ is in the title, it’s difficult to get my boyfriend to NOT eat the food.  Or at least try it.  And so, we come across the recipe for Garlicky Lentil Soup.  Reading through the instructions it seems easy enough, ‘Dump ingredients into pot, cook for 1.5 hours, add vinegar at the end, enjoy.’

 

Who could mess that up?

 

Me, apparently.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

 

First step was to gather the ingredients (i had to walk down to the store for the onion which resulted in a twisted ankle and some bruised ego, but that’s another story)

 

Ingredients gathered!  Not pictured here is the pepper, curry powder, or red wine vinegar that were all added later.

 

Now, onto the mincing of the veggies!  If there is one thing that I wouldn’t mind going to some sort of cooking class for, it would be proper knife skills.  Those would be really nice to have.

 

After the vegetables were chopped, they went into the pot, along with the lentils, garlic, ginger, bay leaf and some stock.  Here is where I ran into trouble.  The original recipe called for more lentils than I had.  So instead of moving on, i decided to reduce.  so I halved and then halved again, taking it form 6 servings down to 2.  I did all my calculations and even double checked them.  Piece of easy peasy, Right?

Wrong.

 

I, again, have never cooked lentils before, so when the recipe said to dump it all in together and then leave to cook for an hour and a half, I did.  I started to hear some troubling sounds and I ran into the kitchen, the lentils had soaked up all the liquid!

 

Insert panic here.

 

I didn’t know if that was supposed to happen, so I went to the fridge and grabbed the canister of vegetable stock that i had used for this, and started adding.

 

This happened a few times and finally towards the end of coking time I had added in the original amount of stock that the recipe had called for.

 

The result did not look pretty, but it smelled heavenly.  Especially after I added in some black pepper and some curry powder (god I love curry powder) in the last half hour of cooking.

 

I have no idea what I ended up with, but I do not think that it could be called ‘soup’, it was more like what split pea soup is from the can, before diluting it with water.

 

What it was, however, was freaking delicious.  Served with cucumber slices (about 1/3 of an english cucumber each), and some hunks of herb & garlic focaccia bread, it was quite the tasty meal.

I’m still a little hungry, but I know that if I let my stomach settle, then everything will be full.

 

Again, I have no idea if I made the food right, I followed the instructions but reducing the portions seemed to make the soup go all crazy.  I do know, however, that the lentils end up cooked just fine, the meal tasted amazing, and E was sad that there weren’t any leftovers.  I call that, in all cases, a success.

 

yeah, I added some sour cream to mine.  Definitely a tasty addition.

 

Garlicky Lentil Soup

inspired by The Soup Bible

edited by Debra Mayhew

 

Serves 6

  • 1 1/3 cups red lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 2 onions, minced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 carrot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a generous pinch of dried marjoram or oregano
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • garnish
  • crusty rolls

 

  1. Put all ingredients, except for the vinegar, seasoning, garnish, and rolls, in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan.
  2. Bring to boil over Medium Heat.
  3. Lower the heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring the soup occasionally to prevent the lentils from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Remove the bay leaf and add in the red wine vinegar, with salt and pepper to taste.  If the soup is too thick, thin it with a little extra vegetable stock or water.
  5. Serve with hot crusty bread.

 

 

Chicken Little?

So, there was this chicken.  She didn’t seem too big really, maybe about 4 or 5 lbs.  But let me tell you, Little Miss Chicken can go a long long way.

I never really bought whole chicken in the states.  The ex boyfriend refused to eat chicken on the bone, and then so did my mother.  Mom just doesn’t like dark meat, he hated the feel of the bone on his teeth.

 

Whatever.

 

So last week was time for an experiment for me.  We had gone food shopping last sunday (21 march) and instead of picking up a packet of chicken breasts like usual, I figured we could go for the whole bird.  Now, there were some thoughts along with this, and I will share.

 

In the states, when you buy the boneless skinless chicken breasts, they usually come in just that one tear-drop shaped breast, down here, you get the entire thing.  Enough so that a package of 3 breasts can easily be made into 6 whole cuts of chicken.  If not more.  I can usually stretch that 1 package of chicken breasts into at least 3 meals for us.

So logic states, if I can do that with just the breasts, what can I do with more chicken meat!  Well, add onto this logic, plus the fact that E had a cold and was craving some soup, I talked him into getting a whole chicken.

 

Best thing ever!

 

I had intended on roasting the chicken and then just using the bones to make the broth and taking the meat and dividing it up for dinners, but my father suggested that I do it the other way,boiling the chicken in the water to make broth, and then salvaging the meat for further uses.  Excellent idea!

 

So the chicken went into the pot with some carrots and some spices, and she boiled away for about four hours.  A nice long hot bath.  She was definitely dead by now, but her legacy lived on.

I have about 3 cups of chicken broth frozen in the freezer for future use.  I made a big pot of chicken noodle soup that night for my E, and his cold. I have made 4 servings of curried chicken salad. I made a chicken pasta primavera bake thing. And I made chicken mushroom tomato sauce.  so let’s go over this again.  1 chicken has brought us

 

  • 3 servings chicken noodle soup
  • 4 servings curried chicken salad
  • 4 servings chicken pasta primavera bake
  • 4 servings chicken and mushroom spaghetti sauce
  • 6 (3) cups chicken broth (3 went into the soup)

From ONE chicken. that is, has been, (1+3+4+2=10) TEN meals from one chicken.

 

TEN.  MEALS.

The chicken cost just about $14NZD (that’s $10 USD).  And for the things that I used with it, I don’t even know.  The noodles from the soup and the primavera were about $1.50/bag.  The Tomato sauce was about $2.00, the frozen veggies were $3.00, the cheese was about $5.00…

 

I made a weeks worth of meals for under $40.  And that’s not even counting the beef that I mixed up on the same night as the chicken!

Taco Goop

  • 1lb ground beef
  • 2 cans mild chili beans
  • 1 can sweet corn, drained
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
  • 1 large slicing tomato, wedged
  • Water
  • Tomato sauce (ketchup)
  • 1 cup brown rice

 

  1. In my slow cooker i dumped in the meat, beans, and corn.  Added in the spices (the measurements are approximate and should be adjusted to what you think you can handle or what looks right), brown sugar, and the liquid.  I put in enough water to just cover the meat and other goodies.
  2. Put slow cooker on low.
  3. Now my slow cooker gets hot and stays that way, so I have to keep an eye on it.  I left it on low for about 5 hours, going back and stirring and tasting and adding more pepper or more cumin as I saw fit.  And adding more water or tomato sauce (which is like ketchup but it’s thinner.  It can be purchased in cans in the US) as it needed.
  4. I added the rice in about an hour before ‘dinner’, but seeing as it was brown rice I should have added it in about 2 hours prior as the hour cooking time did not give it enough time to cook through.  I also added more water at this point to keep the consistency loose like a chili and to give the rice more to drink.

 

There is a 3 cup container in my freezer filled with half of this mixture, the other half has been made into tacos earlier this week and will become the mix for stuffed peppers tonight.

 

 

I think what i’m trying to say is that buying whole foods seems to be the best way to go for economics.  And it doesn’t have to be whole pizza.  while nothing I’ve had this week has been necessarily ‘stellar’ on the health scale, I have had some really good food.  In smaller portions than normal.  And I haven’t felt bad.  And it’s all been very affordable.

 

Am I going to buy another whole chicken and do it again?  Oh heck yes.  I’m thinking chicken tacos, chicken pasties, chicken pot pie (E will approve of this one, i’m sure), and maybe some chicken croquettes.

 

Cooking for two people is one hell of a lot more adventurous than cooking for a family was.  Especially when E will eat my mistakes and still tell me that they’re tasty!

Challah

So, I’ve been toying with the idea of making this blog something of a food thing.  I talk about my food, I post pictures and recipes and make you all jealous.

 

But I thought that might be a bit cruel of me. Plus, I just can’t seem to get myself organized enough to make this blog look the way I want it to look.  At least, not just yet.  So, You are going to be subjected to my randomness while I try to make things work out.

 

that being said, today, we are going to make bread. Challah bread to be exact.  what is Challah?  Challah is a traditional Jewish egg bread.  My family version is made with honey and we often add raisins to the braids.  But the bread that we are making today is not the raisin kind.  Challah is traditionally braided for most normal occasions, like the Sabbath.  But on Rosh Hashanah the Challah is braided and then formed and baked into a circle to symbolize the never ending circle of life.  Challah is typically eaten plain, although it can be slathered in butter and drizzled with honey.  Some places will even use Challah as French toast!  Madness (delicious madness!)

 

So, now that the talky talky part is over, let’s start with making the ingredients!

 

 

What you need is flour, water (not pictured), sugar, yeast, eggs, salt, honey, and vegetable oil.  Don’t worry about the amounts yet, we’ll get to those in a little bit.

 

In one bowl, you take your sugar, lukewarm water and your yeast, and you combine them in a process called ‘blooming’.  I learned that from watching Emeril.  A long time ago.  Basically, you make certain the sugar is dissolved and the yeast is well mixed in. Let it bubble and double until the combination looks frothy and foamy. Like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, in another mixing bowl, combine your hot water, salt, oil, and honey.  let it cool down just slightly and then add in your eggs.  Beat until well combined.  It will be a bit frothy.    And look like this:

 

 

Once this is done, your yeast (if you did it right) should be bubbly and frothy and yummy.  Just pour the yeast into the liquids and combine.  Then, you start adding your flour, 1 cup at a time.

 

Eventually, your dough will start to form.

 

 

From there, turn your dough out onto a floured surface and knead until elastic and fun.  Yes, you will need more flour.  I never really use all of the flour that the recipe calls for, but I do use most of it.  I’ve found that hand mixing the dough uses less flour than when I used to make this in a mixer.

 

Your dough should be elastic and smooth.  At this point, take another bowl (yes there are a lot of bowls used in this. I’m up to four total) and grease it up. I use vegetable oil.  Place your ball of dough into the bowl and make sure that all sides of the dough are also covered in oil.

 

 

At this point, I cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel and set it up to rise.  Usually on top of the microwave near the oven.  The oven which I’ve had warming up to about 100C.  That’s not going to be the baking temperature, but I wanted the kitchen to be nice and warm.

 

 

Leave the bread to rise for about an hour or until double in bulk.  Now comes the fun part.

 

On your still floured surface, knead out your dough one more time for about five minutes.  Then, you split your dough into 3 equal parts.  Or as equal as you can get them.

 

 

No, they’re not really even or equal.  Nobody’s perfect.  I like to divide the dough naturally, but I suppose you could slice it into three equal parts. I just don’t like to be mean like that.

 

Prepare to braid!

 

 

I am anticipating any and all jokes and finding none of them to be funny.

 

Braid away!  Just like you would braid hair. If you’re a guy and trying to do this and you don’t know how to braid hair? Well, I am unfortunately not the best tutor for that type of instruction. Youtube might help?

 

 

Now, once again you let your bread rest for an hour, or until double in size.  What happens then?  Well for me, I like to use a milk wash, but most recipes will tell you to use an egg wash.  Either way is up to you.  But you wash your bread.  And then you put it into the oven at 325 F ( I don’t know my conversions very well) for about 45 minutes.  The bread should be golden brown and sound hollow when it comes out of the oven.

 

 

And that, my loves, Is how to make Challah.  And now, the Recipe!

 

 

Honey Challah (all measurements are in US terms)

4.5-5 cups of flour

1/4 cup lukewarm water

1.5 packets of yeast, or 1.5 tbsp yeast

1 cup hot water, not boiling

1 tsp salt

3 eggs

3 tbsp honey

2 tbsp oil

 

–In a small bowl combine lukewarm water, sugar, and yeast together. Set aside until doubled, about ten minutes.

–Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine hot water, salt, honey, and oil together. Let cool slightly. Add in eggs. Beat to combine.

–Stir yeast mixture into liquid mixture until just combined.

–Begin adding flour into liquids one cup at a time.  Dough should form easily and begin to pull away from sides of the bowl like a sticky mess. Add more flour until stirring with anything other than your hands is not an option.

–Flour a clean surface and turn out dough onto flour.  Continue to add flour to dough as necessary, kneading as you go.

–Knead until dough is smooth and elastic.  time vary but approximately 6 minutes.

–You will most likely have flour leftover, do not worry, this is normal, save it to the side.

–Oil a large mixing bowl and place your doughball inside the bowl, coating it all over with oil.  Cover with a damn cloth and let rise for one hour in a warm place.

–Dough should be double in volume. gently knock it down and turn out onto the still floured surface.  Knead for about five minutes more and then divide into three equal (or as equal as possible) portions.

–Shape three portions into long rolls, lay them out side by side on your counter and pinch one end together.  Braid and pinch the final end.

–Place braid onto your cookie sheet and cover once again with a damn towel. allow to rise another hour or until double in bulk. Preheat your oven at this time to 325 F.

–top with a wash. Egg and water, egg and milk, just milk, whatever you desire.

–Place bread into the oven for 45 minute, or until golden. Bread should sound hollow when tapped.

–Slice, butter, honey drizzle, enjoy. Share with family and friends, if you feel like it.

 

 

There are variations with raisin filling, but that will come at a later point.  For now, enjoy your challah!