I don’t make soup that often (some soups are a little dull).
Anything with cheese in it gets my vote, and this is rich and satisfying.
Ideal for anyone following a low carb diet, this is also delicious with crusty bread. I made this with vegetable stock so it’s suitable for vegetarians but you can use chicken stock if you prefer.
You’ll need cream cheese and a stronger flavoured cheese. I used a mix of mature cheddar and parmigiana, blue cheese works really well too, but use what you have.
This rich creamy soup is even tastier topped with crunchy croutons, or crispy bacon (if you’re not vegetarian)
1 Large head of broccoli (roughly chopped)
1 Small onion, or 3-4 spring onions/scallions (chopped)
1 Tbsp Oil
750 ml Vegetable stock (I used a stock cube)
200 Grams Cream cheese
50 Grams Strong flavour cheese (grated)
Salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a large pot, and add the onion. Fry over a medium heat until soft but don’t brown
Add the broccoli and vegetable stock. Cover with a lid and simmer for 10 minutes or until the broccoli is soft
Add the cream cheese and stir until it has melted. Using a blender or hand held blender, blitz until the the soup it is smooth (how smooth you make it is up to you)
Return the soup to the pot and add the stronger flavoured cheese. Heat for a further 5 minutes and stir well to make sure all the cheese has melted. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed
Yep, we’re in bloody lockdown again and we’re all trying to limit how much we go out.
With this in mind, like last time I decided to have a look and use up food I already had at home. I first made this type of chilli years ago when I was a flat broke student. My Mum would sometimes send me home with a bag of tinned food. I came up with this version of chilli and it’s surprisingly flavoursome.
I know most people wouldn’t use corned beef in a chilli, but it works well. If you don’t want to use baked beans you can use whichever beans you like, just maybe add some vegetable stock to loosen up the mix. This is also a good dish to use up any vegetables that have been hanging around your fridge or freezer for a while.
It’s cold and miserable outside and while I’ll admit it’s not fine dining it’s quick, cheap and proper comfort food. This goes well with rice, or pasta, in a baked potato or with garlic bread.
340 Gram Tin of corned beef (cut into cubes)
500 Gram Carton of passata (or a tin of chopped tomatoes)
410 Gram Tin of baked beans
1 Tbsp Oil
1 Tbsp Tomato purée
1 Onion (chopped fairly finely)
1 Carrot (grated)
1 Red pepper (cut into 1 cm chunks)
1 Tsp salt
1 Tsp Ground cumin
1 Tsp Chilli powder
1 Tsp Ground coriander
3 cloves of garlic
Heat your oil in a large flat bottom pan. Fry the carrot, pepper, and onion over a medium heat until the the onion becomes translucent
Add the garlic, spices, tomato puree and corned beef, and stir through the vegetables and cook for 5 minutes until the corned beef starts to break down.
Stir in the passata, and baked beans, mixing well. Cook over a medium heat for a further 15 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking
Serve with your favourite carbs. This keeps in the fridge for 3-4 days
I love the flavours in a burrito bowl, and knocked this up one evening when I was craving some Tex Mex. You can adjust the chilli depending on how much heat you like.
This is full of great colours and flavours, and loads of protein. For vegetarians, this is also a super tasty meal without the chicken.
I topped this with some grated cheese, but it would also be fantastic topped with some avocado or sour cream (or all three if you’re straying into pure filth territory).
This is also a one pot dish, so less washing up is a win win.
Chicken thighs (8 small or 4 large)
1 Onion (sliced)
1 Red pepper (sliced)
400 Gram Tin of black beans
100 Gram Sweetcorn (I used frozen)
1 Tsp Smoked paprika
1 Tsp Chilli powder
1 Tsp Salt
2 Cloves of garlic (minced)
300 Grams Rice (I like basmati)
Handful of chopped coriander (optional)
Heat a large flat bottomed pan (you will need one with a lid or that you can cover)
Add the chicken thighs (skin side down first), cook until brown, turn and seal the other side
Add the onion and peppers and cook for another 5-10 minutes
Add the spices, garlic, corn and rice to the pan and stir well
Add the passata and a little water, cover with a lid and simmer for 5-10 minutes
Stir the mixture adding more water if it needs it (the rice should absorb all the liquid, so if the rice still isn’t cooked keep adding water (a little at a time, until its absorbed and the rice is cooked)
Stir in the coriander if you’re using it (I know some people detest it, so please yourself). Serve in bowls with your favourite topping or just as it is
I love soda bread, it’s super adaptable and works well with sweet or savoury ingredients.
Like everyone else, I was glued to the Great British Bake Off when the contestants were making various types of soda bread. I hadn’t made soda bread since I made my version with dulse (dried seaweed), and I thought I’d try a sweet version.
Usually I would use dried fruit in a soda bread, but I didn’t have any. I had a look at what I did have, and this was how I came up with blueberry and walnut soda bread.
As before, if you don’t have buttermilk you can add lemon juice to ordinary milk and let it sit for a few minutes to achieve the same result. I also tossed the blueberries in the flour before mixing them in. Apparently this stops them sinking to the bottom.
This loaf will live quite happily in an airtight box for 2-3 days. If you still have any left, can I suggest toasting it, it’s amazing. I also toasted some and topped it with cheese and this was so delicious the I forgot to take photos.
200 Grams Plain flour
200 Grams Wholemeal flour
25 Grams Butter
100 Grams Porridge oats
1 Tsp Bicarbonate of soda
100 Grams Fresh blueberries
50 Grams Walnuts
1 Tsp Salt
75 Grams Sugar
Rub butter into the porridge oats (you can use a food processor to do this, but really only takes a minute)
Add your dry ingredients to the porridge oats (remember to dust the blueberries in the flour before adding them)
Add the buttermilk to the bowl and mix lightly with a palette knife
Turn your mix onto a floured surface and gently form it into a ball. Try not to handle it too much, it should be a fairly soft dough
Transfer to a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Cut a cross onto your loaf. You should cut down about one third of the depth of the dough
Bake in an oven preheated to 180 degrees for 45-50 minutes (or until it sounds hollow when you tap it).
Whenever possible I like to eat seasonally, it’s usually cheaper, and usually better for you, and better for the planet. Autumn has some great fruit and vegetables. One of my favourites are plums. Usually inexpensive and really versatile. I love this plum cake, no only because its relatively straight forward to make, but the cinnamon and cardamon add a whole other level of flavour. The addition of sour cream adds a tenderness to the sponge. This will also live quite happily in a cake tin for 3-4 days. I love it with whipped cream, but it’s also perfect comfort food served with custard.
300 Grams Plain flour
1, 1/2 Tsps Baking powder
1 Tsp Ground cinnamon
1/2 Tsp Ground cardamon
1 Tsp Salt
100 Grams Butter
200 Grams Sugar
60 Grams Sour Cream
Mix the flour, salt, spices and baking powder together
In a separate bowl cream the eggs and sugar together with an electric whisk (hold back 2 tablespoons of sugar to top the plums with)
Add the eggs and sour cream to the butter and sugar and whisk until light and fluffy
Gradually whisk in the flour mixture until you have thick cake batter
Grease a 9 inch spring firm cake tin, and pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees
Transfer your cake batter to the cake tin and spread evenly.
Cut the plums in half, remove the stone and cut each half into quarters
Starting in the centre of the cake, arrange the slices of plum in a circle (or any type of pattern you like) and sprinkle with remaining sugar
Bake for 35 mins, or until a skewer comes out clean when stuck in the cake
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).
1 Potato (cut into cubes)
4 Carrots (sliced)
1 Stalk of celery (chopped)
1 Onion (chopped)
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
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
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
Simmer for another 5 minutes, and check the seasoning
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
This takes a bit longer than my normal recipes, but since we’re all stuck at home, time is the one thing we all have plenty of.
In my bid to use up what’s been hanging around my cupboards I found some pearl barley. I was craving carbs and since selfish wingnuts have cleared the super market shelves of rice and pasta this made a nice change. It takes a bit longer to cook, but is worth the time.
I used chicken thighs with the bones left in, and removed the skin to make “chicken crackling” . I know this is probably not especially healthy but sometimes a little indulgence does no harm, it’s not like you’re going to eat it everyday. If you want to give it s miss, this still makes a really delicious and satisfying meal.
150 Grams Pearl barley
4 Large chicken thighs
10 Grams Dried mushrooms
100 Grams Fresh mushrooms
250 Grams Spring greens (you can use broccoli, spinach or any other green vegetables you like)
250 ml White wine
250 ml Chicken stock
Large sprig of rosemary (finely chopped)
2 Cloves of garlic (minced)
1 Tbsp Oil
Large knob of butter
Salt and pepper
Soak the dried mushrooms in a small amount of warm water
Heat the oil and butter in a pan
Roughly chop the onions and mushrooms. Add to the pan and fry until soft. Remove from the pan and set to one side
Remove the skin from the chicken, and set to one side
Add the chicken thighs to the pan and seal on both sides
Add the barley, dried mushrooms and the water they soaked in, wine and stock to the pan. Cover with a lid, bring to boil and simmer over s low heat for 30-40 minutes (check the cooking instructions on the packet of barley, and cook for the recommended time
Trim the chicken skin and flatten on a baking sheet before sprinkle with salt. Place another baking tin on top of the chicken skin to keep it flat and bake in an oven pre-heated to 200 degrees for 20-30minutes, or until golden brown
if using Spring greens, remove the stalks and roll up the leaves, cut these into 2cm strips
After 30 minutes of cooking, check on the barley, adding more water if necessary
Add the garlic, rosemary, and spring greens to the pan, cover again and cook for a further 10 minutes until the barley is tender and has a creamy consistency, and check the seasoning (a bit like a risotto)
Serve chicken and barley with shards of the chicken crackling, you can also crumble it across the dish
Like everyone else I’m trying to limit how much I go out at the minute. Also because some people are being eejits and stripping supermarket shelves, I’m trying to work with ingredients I already have at home.
While having a look around the cupboard I found some polenta. I bought it to try a recipe for the Italian supper club and was not really a fan of how the Italian’s use it. However, it works well in the Soul Food staple of corn bread. The American version is too sweet for my taste, so I reduced the amount of sugar.
The recipe also calls for butter milk, which I didn’t have. No problem, just add a good squeeze of lemon juice to ordinary milk for the same effect (the acid in the butter milk/lemon juice helps the chemical reaction that makes the bread rise)
I serve this with chilli, but it’s also good served alongside soups. An American friend of mine also uses left over corn bread, crumbled up over casseroles to make a crunchy topping when baked in the oven. This also freezes really well.
115 Grams Cornmeal/fine polenta
150 Grams Plain flour
1 Tsp Sugar
1 Tsp Salt
1.5 Tsp Baking powder
0.5 Tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
350 ml Butter milk (or semi skimmed milk, with a good squeeze of lemon)
50 Grams Butter
1 Onion (finely sliced)
Extra butter to grease the baking tin
Preheat the oven to 210 degrees, grease a round 23cm cake tin
Melt the butter in a frying pan, and fry the onion until translucent, and allow to cool
Add all the dry ingredients to a bowl
In a separate bowl combine the the eggs, butter milk, and fried onions (including the butter the cooked in)
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir well until any large lumps are gone. It’s quite a wet mixture so don’t panic
Pour the mix into your greased baking tin, and bake for 25-30 minutes. Check with a skewer or toothpick and when it comes out clean, remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes