Friday, 20 November 2009

Nice and Spicy Tomato and Red Lentil Soup

Nice and spicy tomato and red lentil soup. The Cayenne pepper and crushed chillies really make this soup - don't try to make it without!

To make about 6 bowls you will need:

340g red lentils - get the ones that have no need to soak first

a good glug of olive oil
2 medium onions - diced
1 celery stalk - diced
4 cloves garlic - chopped finely
1 x 400g can of good quality tinned tomatoes
900 ml vegetable stock - made from 2 Knorr vegetable stock cubes
2 teaspoons of Tabasco sauce
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 and a half teaspoons cayenne pepper
1teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
a good pinch or two of crushed chillies - depending on your taste
Double cream to serve - if you want to be all fancy that is

How to do it:
Put the lentils and 900ml of water into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Now turn off the heat.
Put a lid ob the saucepan an leave the lentils covered for about 20 minutes to absorb some of the water.

While that's happening, heat the olive oil in big stockpot or large saucepan.
Add the onions, and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes, until they are nice and soft. But be careful not to let them brown.

Now add the celery and garlic and cook for 5 minutes until soft.
Stir in the Tabasco, turmeric, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper and crushed chillies. Let it cook just for 30 seconds whilst stirring so nothing burns. Now pour in the tomatoes along with their juice and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the vegetable stock and 250ml of water.
Cover and bring to a simmer - if you think the soup is too thick add a little more water.

Drain the lentils, discarding the water and add just over half of the lentils to the pot. Using a (stick) blender or a jug blender, puree the soup till nice and smooth.
Now you can add the remaining lentils to the pot.

Turn the heat back on and simmer for about 20 minutes till nice and hot.

Serve with a drizzle of double cream and a few chilli flakes and nice crusty bread.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Minced Beef Hotpot

Best quality minced beef cooked in gravy with onions, carrots, swede and peas then topped with wafer thin potatoes and baked in the oven until golden and crispy.
I didn't have a recipe for this and have never made it before. I made it much like I would a Shepherds or cottage pie but topped it with very thinly sliced potatoes instead of the usual mash.
Although I'm not a huge fan of Oxo cubes, the only time I use them is in Shepherds pie or beef stew - just my preference, but nothing else seems to work in these dishes. So in this I used a beef Oxo cube.

Print Recipe
Serves two greedy people:

You will need:

500g minced beef - with low fat content
2 medium onions - sliced thinly

1 x 400g good quality tinned tomatoes
2 carrots - peeled and sliced

1/2 of a small swede - peeled and diced

a good handful of cooked peas

Bisto gravy powder
1 x Beef Oxo cube
a good shake of Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons of Colman's English mustard

a good squirt of tomato puree
4 potatoes - peeled and sliced very thinly using a mandolin slicer
melted butter
and black pepper to season

Preheat your oven to 200C 400F or Gas 6

How to do it:
Put the minced beef into a large saucepan and add only enough cold water to only just about cover the meat. Add the onion and partly cover with a lid and bring to a boil.
In another pan cook the carrots and swede in slightly salted water until nice and tender. Drain and set aside.
Also cook the peas in slightly salted water, drain and set aside.

When the meat and onions have started to boil, crumble the Oxo cube in along with a good splash of Worcestershire sauce and the tin of tomatoes.
Bring to the boil again and then turn the heat down low and let it cook for a good while until the meat is cooked and the onions are tender.

Now, in a cup add two good sized heaped teaspoons of Bisto along with a teeny bit of cold water and mix together. Pour this into the pan with the meat and onions in, stirring so you don't get lumps.
Add the tomato puree and mustard. Cook for a while over a low heat. Add the precooked carrots and swede.

If the gravy isn't thick enough add a little more Bisto.
Taste to check for seasoning adding a little more Worcestershire sauce or English mustard if you fancy it needs it.

Once your happy with the taste - drain the gravy into another saucepan and for goodness sake don't throw it away - keep it for later!
Spoon the meat and vegetable mixture into an oven proof dish and gently stir in the precooked peas.

Using a mandolin (otherwise you will not get the potatoes sliced thin enough) the plan is they are so thin you can almost see through them.
Add a couple of layers of sliced potato and then very lightly season with salt and pepper.
Now brush with a little melted butter and add another good few layers (you won't need to season every layer or it will be too salty). Brush again with a little melted butter and repeat - remembering to season but go careful with the salt.
You can carry on till you think you have enough potato but the final layer must have melted butter on.

Pop into your preheated oven for about 45 minutes to an hour - or until the potatoes are nicely cooked, crispy and golden brown. If your potatoes are too thick they will take an age to cook and everything else will be dried up.
Heat up the gravy you saved from earlier and serve on a plate with a little gravy.