Butternut Squash and Pea Curry

This is an easy, healthy curry that even the most ardent meat lovers can enjoy.

Don’t be put off, if it seems that there are a lot of ingredients.  I know I prattle on about how good Asian supermarkets are, but you can build up a good stock of cheap spices that will help change how you cook.

Ingredients

500gms Butternut Squash (peeled, deseeded, and diced)

200gms Frozen Peas

150gms Red Lentils

1 Large onion (chopped)

2 Tbsp Coconut or other oil

1 Red chilli pepper

4 Cloves of garlic

1 Tsp Fennel seeds

1 Thumb sized piece of ginger

2 Tsp Garam Masala

2 Cardamom pods

500ml Vegetable stock

2 Tbsp Chopped coriander

Serves 4

Method

  1. Add the fennel seeds and cardamom pods to a dry pan and toast until you can spell the spices.
  2. Add the coconut oil and once heated add the onion and cook over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The onions should be cooked gently until they caramelise and turn brown.  Taking the time to do this might seem like a bit of a faff, but it does help improve the depth of flavour
  3. Add the butternut squash (which has been diced in 1.5cm cubes), and continue to cook over a gentle heat for 5 minutes
  4. Grate the ginger and add to the pan along with finely chopped chilli, garam masala, red lentils, and vegetable stock, cook for a further 10 minutes
  5. Add finely chopped garlic to the pan, along with frozen peas, and cook 5 more minutes
  6. Check that the butternut squash is tender, and check the seasoning and adjust to your taste. (I usually go easy when adding chilli, as it’s always easier to add more, but if you like a super hot then go nuts)
  7. Serve with basmati rice or naan bread (or both if you’re a total carb junkie like me).  This curry reheats really well, and will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days

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Breakfast Burritos

A remedy for over indulging the night before, or if you just feel like you need a good breakfast.  They’re also pretty good at any time of day.

This how a breakfast burrito starts life

These freeze really well and I usually freeze a couple for days when I’m on the go, it takes a few minutes to microwave these once they’re defrosted.  This is a vegetarian recipe and is tasty as it is, but meat eaters can add bacon or chorizo if they feel they need to.

All rolled up and ready to devour.

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 Large potatoes

1 Large onion

2 Bell peppers

1 Chilli pepper

Handful of chopped parsley or coriander (or a mixture of both if you have them)

4 Flour tortillas

8 eggs

3 Tbsp. Olive oil

50 gm Grated Cheese (I use cheddar, but use what you have at hand)

Salt and pepper to taste                 

Method

  1. Wash potatoes and chop into 1cm squares, heat 2 Tbsp. of oil in a large frying pan, and potatoes and cook over a medium heat.  Turn every 5 minutes, or whenever they are starting to brown
  2. Chop onion and peppers, and add to the potatoes after the potatoes have started to brown
  3. When the potatoes have browned and the onions and peppers have softened add the herbs and season with salt and pepper
  4. In another pan, heat the remaining 1 Tbsp. of olive oil, in a bowl whisk the 8 eggs and add to the pan. Scramble until light and fluffy and season with salt and pepper if needed
  5. Lay out a tortilla, add one quarter of the potato mixture, the scrambled egg, and grated cheese along the middle of the tortilla.  Using the edge closest to you, fold this side over, tucking the two outside edges and the tortilla to make the burrito.
  6. Serve immediately, or allow cool, then wrap and freeze (you can double these quantities if you want to make a larger batch to freeze)

Coastal Food Foraging

I’m fortunate enough to live in a part of the world where you are never far from the sea. Despite this as a nation we don’t eat enough sea food. We definitely don’t take advantage of the absolute heaps of sea vegetables and edible coastal plants we have access to

On a mild but rainy day, the immensely knowledgeable David (former National Trust Ranger, with a passion for coastal flora and fauna), was kind enough to share a small portion of his encyclopedic knowledge with me and a small bunch of other food nerds.

To make things even better David’s partner Celia, an extremely talented and well known chef in her own right, treated us to a fabulous meal centered around foraged food.

Who knew that trendy foods like sea purslane can be collected for free!, and scurvy grass was used as far back as the Romans to give sailors a massive hit of vitamin C on long voyages, (it also tastes like wasabi).

Other top discoveries were pepper dulse, which tastes somewhere between an oyster and black truffle, OMG it tastes so good.

All sorts of terrestrial plants such as sea spinach, sea radish, wild peas and orach all make amazing salad vegetables, and sea vegetables like channel wrack, and sea spaghetti are super tasty when lightly steamed and are bursting full of iodine, and other trace elements that are really good for you.

Who would have thought of baking fish in sea weed. Celia treated us to hake wrapped in sugar kelp and it was properly delicious. She also made us a feast of breads seasoned with seaweeds, dulse butter, wild garlic pesto, and great salads.

Get out and get foraging, make sure you check what you are picking, and don’t be a d’ck and over pick plants that are scarce. Other than that, go forage!

Red pepper and cannellini bean dip

I love dips, along with crudités, oat cakes, tortilla chips etc. (usually with something alcoholic).

Red pepper and cannellini bean dip

Most shop bought dips are pretty awful, and this dips is quick, and, easy to make and tastes so much nicer than the gloop most supermarkets try to pass off as dip.  If you’re having friends round, it’s also something you can give the poor vegan who has to miss out on the cheese based scrumptiousness that usually goes so well with drinks.

Ingredients

400gm Can of cannellini beans

Juice of half a lemon

2 Roasted red peppers (I use the ones in jar, but you can roast your own peppers if you prefer)

1 Clove garlic

1 tbsp Olive oil

Salt

Method

  1. Drain the beans, and retain some of the water the beans came with.
  2. In a blender or food mixer, add the beans, peppers, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic and blitz until the mixture is smooth
  3. If the mixture is too dry, add a little of the water the beans came in.
  4. Taste the mixture and season with salt if necessary

Sweet potato, green lentil, and feta salad

Sweet Potato, green lentil, and feta cheese salad

The salty creamy feta, the earthiness of the lentils is balanced by the sweet potatoes and is damned delicious.

This makes a good vegetarian lunch served with some greens and because of all the protein is pretty satisfying.  It also goes really well alongside barbequed chicken.  But as always, put it with what suits you.

Ingredients

200 Grams Feta Cheese (see food hack)

200 Grams Cooked Green Lentils (I used dried lentils because that was what I had in the cupboard, but you can also use pouches or cans of lentils if you don’t have time).

4 Sweet Potatoes

3 Tbsps. Olive Oil

1 Tbsp. White Wine Vinegar

Salt and Pepper

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius, and add Tbsp. of oil to a baking sheet.
  2. Dice the sweet potatoes into 2 cm squares and add to the baking sheet, bake for 30 minutes or until tender.
  3. Dice the feta cheese into 2 cm squares.
  4. Add the remaining olive oil and vinegar to the lentils and combine with the sweet potatoes and feta cheese.
  5. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

(Food hack; use supermarket own Greek salad cheese, it costs less than ”feta” and is exactly the same thing).

Sunshine in a Bowl

Don’t freak out if you see ingredients here. My advice is, find an Asian supermarket close to you.  They sell spices and some exotic fruit and veg at a fraction of the price of large super market chains. You’ll never look back.

This soup is a great way to clear out your fridge.  I rarely use the same vegetables twice.  Basically use what you have, it’s also fine to use frozen vegetables like green beans or spinach.

I call this soup sunshine in a bowl, not just because of the cheery yellow colour but it’s so tasty and wholesome it’ll make you feel good.  I’m not vegan but I really enjoy this, especially with some toasted cashews, and deep fried shallots (who has time to make these, I buy them ready made in the Asian supermarket, they’re also really good sprinkled over salad, you can also use the tubs of fried onions sold at a certain large Swedish furniture store)

Serves 4 -6

Ingredients

100 grams Green beans

1 Red pepper

1 Courgette

250 grams Bok Choi, or other green leafy vegetable (I’ve used broccoli before and it works well too)

400ml Can of coconut milk

4 Kaffir lime leaves

1 Stalk of lemon grass

3 Cloves garlic

1 Tsp. Turmeric

1 inch Piece of ginger (I keep ginger in the freezer, this stops it going off and makes it easier to grate)

1 Red chilli pepper

1 Handful of chopped coriander

Juice of 1 lime or ½  a lemon

2 Cups of vegetable stock

Salt to taste

1 Tbsp Vegetable/coconut oil

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a pot, and chop the vegetables into bite sized pieces, bruise the stalk of lemon grass (I usually do this by bashing it with the base of a pot), and add to the vegetables along with the turmeric and kaffir lime leaves
  2. Gently fry the vegetables until they start to soften
  3. Grate the ginger, chop the garlic and chilli finely before adding the vegetables
  4. Add the can of coconut milk and vegetable stock (I use a vegetable stock cube, because who has time to make the real deal)
  5. Simmer for 10 minutes, and add half the lime juice and taste.  This is the time to adjust seasoning, so check if you want some more lime juice or salt.
  6. Stir in the shopped coriander and serve

Quail’s eggs with rock salt and roasted cumin

These beautiful speckled little eggs may sound posh, but they can be bought pretty cheaply (I get mine from an Asian supermarket).

This is a really simple canapé if you want to impress dinner guests, or go down pretty well with a few cold beers. They can also be made well in advance so that you’re not running around like a crazy person. (Just remember to leave an extra dish out for your guests to throw their discarded egg shells in).

Method

  1. Put a medium sized pan of water on to boil
  2. Put a small frying pan on to heat
  3. When the water is boiling, add the quail’s eggs and boil for 4 minutes. 
  4. After the 4 minutes, take the eggs out of the boiling water with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl of iced water to stop the cooking
  5. In the frying pan add the cumin seeds and toast until you can smell the cumin, remove from the heat and mix with the salt
  6. Serve with eggs in a dish, with the cumin and salt alongside to dip the eggs in