Spicy Carrot Soup

I’m challenging myself to try and make better versions of stuff I haven’t been 100% happy with before, and use what’s in the house, (yes, I’m going stir crazy already).

I tried to make spicy carrot soups before and always thought the consistency was a bit weird. I think I have now cracked it. Adding a potato to the soup helps make it a much nicer creamier consistency. It’s still really healthy, and delicious served with big slabs of buttered soda bread (not as healthy given how much I enjoy butter).

Ingredients

1 Potato (cut into cubes)

4 Carrots (sliced)

1 Stalk of celery (chopped)

1 Onion (chopped)

1Tbsp Oil

1 Stock cube

1 Clove of garlic

1 Tsp Ground cumin

4-5 cm Piece of fresh ginger (grated), or 1 Tsp of ground ginger

1/2 Tsp Chilli powder (optional)

750 ml water

Salt & pepper

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a pot, and add the vegetables and dried spices, cook over a medium heat until the onion begin to turn clear
  2. Crumble in the stock cube and add the water. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, add the garlic and fresh ginger if you are using it
  3. Simmer for another 5 minutes, and check the seasoning
  4. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a blender, or do what I did and use a hand blender to blitz the soup until you have a smooth soup

Keema Curry

It was the week before payday, and I was scanning round the kitchen for what I could make for dinner. I was lucky enough to find some minced lamb and frozen peas in the freezer.

This is may not be 100% authentic, but tasted great. It was even better the next day. A good spice cupboard can transform anything into a brilliant meal.

Serves 4-6

500 Grams Lamb mince

400ml Tin of tomatoes

250 Grams Frozen peas

1 Onion (Finely sliced)

2 Cloves of garlic (Minced)

4cm Piece of ginger (Grated)

1Tsp Salt

1 Tsp Cinnamon

1 Tsp Cumin

1Tsp Chilli powder (optional)

1 Tsp Ground Coriander

1 Tsp Gram Masala

1 Tsp Nigella (onion) seeds

1 Tbsp Oil (flavourless, like sunflower)

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the sliced onion, cook for about 15 minutes, stir as needed until caramelised (this adds loads of flavour)
  2. Take onions out of the pan and set to one side. Add the Nigella seeds to the pan cook for a for 2 minutes or until you hear them popping. Take care not to let them burn. Remove from the pan and a side with the cooked onions
  3. Add the lamb to the pan along with the other spices, and continue cooking and stirring until the lamb is browned
  4. Add the peas, tomatoes and onion and Nigella seeds to the pan
  5. Simmer for 15 minutes, adding some water if it’s getting too dry.
  6. Serve with rice or flat breads

Rumbledethumps

This recipe comes from one of my co-workers Ruth. She knows I love a good recipe and was kind enough to share this. It’s one of the things I like about food. Everyone needs to eat, and everyone has a favourite food. Many of my recipes come from people who just wanted to share something they really enjoyed.

This is a traditional Scottish recipe, and was probably developed to use up left over vegetables. I wasn’t that organised so I made this from scratch, but if you plan ahead and have left over veggies then this can be really quick to make. The name supposedly comes from the fact that cabbage and turnip can make some people a bit “windy”. Rumbledethump refers to the noises they may make. Thankfully this wasn’t my experience.

Rumbledethumps are traditionally fried, I oven baked these to make them a little healthier.

These make a great side dish or are delicious served with a fried egg.

Makes 8

Ingredients

500 Grams Potatoes (peeled and cubed)

200 Grams Turnip (peeled and cubed) – in England this is known as swede, but in NI we call it turnip)

1/2 Onion (finely sliced)

125 Grams Cabbage (finely sliced)

1 Egg yolk

50 Grams Cheddar cheese (grated)

2 Tbsps Oil

Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Cook the potatoes and turnip until soft, drain and mash roughly before allowing to cool
  2. Add 1 Tbsp of oil to a pan and gently fry until soft, allow to cool
  3. Combine all the ingredients (except the remaining oil), in a bowl. Check the seasoning, I found this recipe needed quite a lot.
  4. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Get your hands into the mixture, and make 8 equal sized patties.
  5. Set the patties onto a greased baking sheet. Brush with the remaining oil and bake for 25-30mins

Walnut Skordalia

This is a traditional Greek dip and is super easy to make and super delicious. I made this as part of a meze at our February supper club, and it was the most popular dish of the night.

While you can use it as a dip, I’ve also used this as filling in wraps and sandwiches along with salad and chopped vegetables and it was amazingly tasty. It’s also really good drizzled across roast vegetables. To be honest you could spread this on a flip flop and I’d eat it, it tastes that good. This is also vegan, so you can keep all the non meat eaters in your life happy with something totally scrumptious.

Ingredients

80 Grams Walnuts

40 Grams Breadcrumbs (I know I bang on about it, but one of my favourite kitchen hacks is making a big batch of bread crumbs to keep in the freezer, it makes recipes like this a 2 minute job)

1-2 Cloves of garlic, roughly chopped (I used 2 and it was pretty garlicky which I don’t mind, but adjust to your own taste)

2 Tbsp Red wine vinegar (Again adjust to your own taste, the first time I tried a the recipe out it was a bit too sharp for me, so I’ve reduced the amount of vinegar but have a taste and you can always add more)

100ml Olive oil

Method

  1. Add the walnuts to a food processor and blitz for a couple of minutes until the nuts are finely ground
  2. Add the breadcrumbs, garlic, oil and vinegar and blitz again. The mix is meant to be quite thick, but if it is too thick for you, you can a small amount of water and and blitz until you get the consistency you like

Chicken with Leeks and Mushrooms

Perfect week night dinner.

Sometimes all you want after a long day at work, when you arrive home cold and wet is a tasty chicken dinner.

This a straight forward, easy to make dinner with plenty of vegetables. I usually serve this with mashed potatoes, or crusty bread to mop up all the delicious juices.

Serves 4

8 Small chicken thighs or 4 Large chicken thighs (I prefer to use chicken thighs that still have bone in because I think the flavour is better)

2 Leeks

250 Grams Mushrooms

250ml Chicken stock

125 Grams Half fat creme fraiche

1 Large sprig of thyme (fresh parsley also works well)

Brown chicken thighs before adding the vegetables

Method

  • Add the chicken thighs skinside down (you can remove the skin if you prefer) to large deep pan with a lid
  • Seal the chicken thighs on both side, and add sliced leeks and mushrooms
  • Cook for 5 minutes and then add the chicken stock
  • Cover the pan and simmer of 15 minutes (if you’re using large chicken thighs, give them another 5-10 minutes)
  • Remove the lid and cook for a further minutes to let the sauce thicken a little
  • Stir in the creme fraiche and remove from the heat before serving

Green Eggs and Ham Fritatta

Super tasty way to use up leftovers

I hate food waste. So when I see stuff has been hanging about the fridge for a couple days I try to find a way to use it up.

I had some lardons left from another dish I had made. I also had some feta cheese and vegetables. I decided to make a fritatta, which is great to slice up and use from breakfast or brunch, and makes a great lunch box filler.

Fritatta packed full of green veggies, salty bacon and feta cheese.

Ingredients

8 Eggs

100 Grams Feta cheese

100 Grams Lardons (cut up streaky bacon would also work)

1 Onion (finely chopped)

100 Grams Kale (cooked)

100 Grams Frozen peas (thawed)

1 Tbsp Chopped parsley (optional)

Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Heat a large pan, and add the lardons
  2. Fry until crispy, and then remove from the pan
  3. Add the onion to the pan, cook over a low heat until soft
  4. The kale, parsley and peas, and crumble the Feta cheese into the oan
  5. In a separate bowl, crack 8 eggs and beat, before adding to the frying pan.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat and mix all the ingredients well
  7. Transfer to a 8 inch x 12 inch baking tin. Bake for 15-20 minutes in an oven pre heated to 200 degrees. Cook until just firm and allow to set in the tin

Date and Walnut Wheaten Bread

Tell me whats not to like about bread still warm from the oven, and smeared with butter.

One of my favourite places to visit in Northern Ireland is Newcastle Co. Down. There are lots of things to love, breathtaking scenery, amusement arcades, seaweed baths, a lovely promenade, and the world class Tollymore forest Park. I visited recently and tried to find a little bakery that used to sell the most amazing date and walnut wheaten bread. Sadly the shop is gone but the visit inspired me to come up with a version of it which isn’t half bad.

The perfect mix of sweet and savoury.

This bread is great just sliced and slavered in butter/jam. It’s also savoury enough to taste great when topped with cheese, or along side soup. You can also devide the bread mix into eight to make little wheaten rolls.

Ingredients

275 Grams Plain flour

200 Grams Wholemeal flour

175 Grams Dates (chopped)

75 Grams Walnuts (chopped)

50 Grams Butter (melted)

1 Egg

1 Tsp Baking soda

1/4 Tsp Salt

250ml Buttermilk (I didn’t have buttermilk, so you can improvise as I did. I used normal milk and added 1 Tbsp of lemon juice and left it to sit for 10 minutes)

Simple round loaf with a cross cut across the centre

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees
  2. Add the flours, walnuts, dates, salt and baking soda to a bowl and combine
  3. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture, add the egg, and melted butter. Add the milk a little at a time until you have quiet a moist dough.I like to use my hands to mix the ingredients, but you can also use a wooden spoon.
  4. Turn the dough onto a floured surface, and shape into a circle, around 14-16cm in diameter
  5. Put the loaf onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cut a cross across the loaf, about a third of the depth of the loaf
  6. Bake for 45 minutes, check the loaf is ready by tapping the bottom to makes it sounds hollow