Friday, 21 November 2014

my #top10 store-cupboard ingredients



... I know that many people like a good cupboard clear-out in the Spring but for me, November marks the time when I like to pull everything out of my food cupboards and assess what's there... I guess i'm thinking about Christmas and ultimately planning for what what I'm going to need to get in and stock up on so that I don't have to be rushing to the shops over the festive period. It's quite amazing what you find when you root around in there, for instance this year I found a packet of chestnuts that I bought last year for Christmas (still miraculously in date) and believe it or not there was also one of those mini Heston Blumenthal Waitrose Christmas Puddings... just sitting on the bottom shelf!

Of course I always have my favourite store cupboard items, they're always in there and get refreshed as and when they run out... these are the key ingredients and items that I simply could not be without and we all have our favourites don't we?  Some, like the Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon stock, has been handed down to me by my mum and others such as the LittlePod Vanilla Extract have been recommended to me by blogger friends and then of course the very basics such as strong white bread flour have come from my keen love of baking home made bread... and it's funny how we are loyal to some brands (I could only ever use Maldon Sea Salt) but are not bothered about others, for instance I really don't care about my brand of Extra Virgin Olive Oil as long as it's a good quality single origin...

the good people at Tombola Times have created a survey to reveal the most popular store-cupboard food products worldwide and they need lots of response from foodies, bloggers, blog readers and general cooking fanatics to help reveal the ultimate top 10... everybody who takes part in the survey will be entered into a prize draw to win the contents of the Ultimate Store-Cupboard which will be delivered to you in the form of a hamper... so it's fun to take part and you could win a little something too.. what's not to like?


if you could choose only 10 kitchen store-cupboard must-haves, what would they be?
my list looks a little like this - although it's not a completely static list and in fact even compiling this list made me realise that my tastes change quite frequently... but enough of me waffling...

Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon
This is the original and the best... it goes into everything that I need stock for and if you read my recipes where I say stock this is what I use.  It also makes a very tasty quick cup-a-soup style drink if you're in a rush...

Maldon Sea Salt
The UK's best-selling and beloved sea salt flakes... I use it in all my cooking and go through it at an alarming rate...

Billingtons Golden Caster Sugar
Billington's just happens to be my current favourite brand but in fact there's always a packet of golden caster sugar in the house... I bake most of my cakes with it as I love the texture it gives and the whilst the golden taste is subtle I know it's there...

Arborio Rice
if all else fails I know I can whip up a damn fine risotto in 25 minutes for any friends who may have arrived suddenly in the darkness of the night... rice, wine, onions, stock, cheese and love is all you need to make a bowl of gloriousness...

Strong White Bread Flour
this is one of the products that whilst I probably should have a favourite brand, in fact I will use any strong white bread flour and have done to create gorgeous bread... I really think you can't be fussy about these staples... what if you were in a pickle and needed to bake bread... think of the impending apocalypse!

Fast Action Dried Yeast
Obviously to make the bread you need the yeast and I should take out shares in Allinson...

Lincolnshire Honey
I would eat this stuff with a spoon if I could and sometimes I do... it goes on toast, with cheese, in cakes, in sauces, with lamb and roasted with vegetables... it tastes of god.

LittlePod Pure Bourbon Vanilla Extract
this was a product that was reviewed widely on a few of my favourite blogs a number years back and I went out and purchased some immediately.  The stuff is by far the best tasting vanilla I have ever tried and it's just so handy, packed with seeds and easy to pour you just grab and shake... they do a mean coffee extract too!

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
again this is one of those products that I should probably think more about when I purchase and I do always ensure I go for a good quality single origin if I can.  I use this for most of my cooking; salads, roasting, frying... I know I shouldn't but I do.

Bisto Best Caramelised Onion Gravy Powder
and finally for me this is the ultimate guilty pleasure... it has its obvious original uses but it's also great to add to vegetarian stews for a bit of a richer, darker depth of taste plus it also helps thicken which can be very helpful... the flavour has much improved over the years so if you haven't tried it for a while I'd recommend it.


so what goodies are in your top ten?

eat and of course, enjoy!



Wednesday, 19 November 2014

chestnut, mushroom and ale pie with homemade oven chips



... last weekend I had a funny couple of days developing Christmas recipes.  As always, my lovely editor from Lincolnshire Life Magazine allowed me to explore something a bit fun at this time of year but my deadline was last week - which is actually really late for many publications so I should count myself lucky I'm not baking festive treats in the middle of the summer - and so on Saturday and Sunday the house was filled with the aroma of three types of Christmas stuffing and oh how intoxicating the aroma of bacon, onions, sage and apples baking in the oven is... the recipes come out in the magazine later in the month and I will of course share them with you closer to the big event but all that cooking got me in the mood and had me thinking about that special something vegetarian for Christmas Day... a nice deep-filled pie with some thick and luscious all-butter pastry, some classic ingredients and plenty enough for seconds and left-overs...


and if Christmas baking wasn't enough our work at The Persuaders saw us in the Blue Water Shopping Centre working for Duracell and Barnardos on a really cute festive event with the Duracell Bunny and an interactive 'green-screen' sleigh-ride! You can check-out the fun videos we made on youtube and if anyone's in that area we're there until Sunday... I spent much of last night decorating Christmas trees and scattering fake snow and now I feel thoroughly Christmassy almost to the point of feeling like I don't need Christmas any more... but you know me, i'm bound to come around again eventually!

and on a final note, apologies for no internal pie shots... I have no idea what happened.  One moment it was out of the oven and the next moment it was gone!


chestnut, mushroom and ale pie with homemade oven chips
of course we couldn't have pie without chips... for some reason I had an overwhelming urge for some crispy oven chips, it was as though I was craving carbs and salt and the only way to satisfy this itch was to bake some chips... I like using big fat baking potatoes for my oven chips as you can get them nice and thick-cut and they hold their shape in the oven... plus the little round ends become so gloriously crispy it's hard not to resist!

for the pie filling I've used a vegetarian quorn mince which I really like but you could use regular mince or lentils

for the shortcrust pastry
360g plain flour
170g butter
1 egg - beaten
a pinch of salt
a little cold water to mix

for the pie filling
1 large onion - finely chopped
3 large flat field mushrooms - halved and then thickly sliced
300g quorn mince or vegetarian mince
150g cooked, peeled chestnuts - roughly chopped
1 pint of stock made up from 1/2 pint of dark ale and 1/2 pint good quality vegetable stock
1 tablespoon cornflour
fresh thyme
seasoning

for the oven-chips
3 large baking potatoes
olive oil
salt and pepper
fresh rosemary

you will need a metal pie dish 25cm round and roughly 5cm deep - butter it liberally.

start with the pastry... I used my classic shortcrust pastry which i've used before in many a quiche but added a little egg... place the flour and butter in a large bowl and crumble together into breadcrumbs, then add the egg and a tablespoon of water and bring it together with a knife, it should start to form a dough at which point use your hands to bring it into a ball, add a little more water if you feel it's a little dry.  Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for at least an hour.

make the pie filling in a deep heavy bottomed pan by gently sautéing the onions in a little olive oil and butter until they are soft and have a little bit of colour, then add the mushrooms and thyme and sauté for a further 8 minutes... add plenty of pepper, stir and add the quorn mince and chestnuts and let it cook off for another few minutes

make the stock and take out a cupful then add the stock to the filling in the pan, turn down the heat and let it gently bubble away for 15 minutes

add the cornflower to the cup of stock and stir to get a thick paste then stir this into the pie filling then set aside whilst you make your oven chips

cut the potatoes into thick chips... I never peel my potatoes but feel free to do as you wish.  Par boil the potatoes for 4 mins just to soften them a teeny pit then lay them out on a baking sheet.  Season with plenty of salt and pepper and sprinkle with fresh rosemary, then drizzle with plenty of olive oil or use one of those clever oil sprays which makes the chips cook more easily

bake for 25 - 35mins on 170C

you should have enough pastry to roll out a lining for your pie dish and a lid with trimmings left for the layered star effect.  my pastry recipe is very short so be gentle with it and use plenty of flour... start by halving the pastry and rolling out the base which you line the pie tin with, then pour in the filling.  Roll out the lid and lay this on top, sealing the edges as you trim

so make the layered star effect you will need a star-shaped cutter... brush the pastry lid with a mixture of beaten egg and milk then started by placing the stars around the edge of the pie, letting them hang over slightly, then brush these stars before adding another ring of stars slightly overlapping the first.  Continue this way until you reach the middle... don't worry about it looking too neat, I always think a little lopsided pastry work looks more 'artisan'

bake on 170C for 20 mins until the pastry is golden and the filling is pipping hot


eats and of course, enjoy!


Monday, 17 November 2014

chilli chocolate and clementine marble cake with a chilli chocolate custard



... contrary to the contents of this and many recent blog posts i'm actually on a bit of a health kick at the moment.  With work being so busy recently I've found myself too exhausted at weekends to haul myself down to the gym, oh and the fact that our local gym burnt to the ground last month didn't help... but after running for the bus the other day and finding myself not able to breathe with my heart pounding against my chest it was a little bit of a wakeup call.  Even though i've spent my entire life slightly overweight i've always considered myself fairly fit and active but in the last few years I seem to have let this slip and if I want to continue eating cake and blogging about cake I need to balance this with some decent cardiovascular and a day or two with reduced calorie intake... probably the wrong time of year to start this kind of thing but then i've never been one for convention...


chilli chocolate and clementine marble cake with a chilli chocolate custard
i've always adored marble cake... neither my grandma or my mum made it but I had a girlfriend who's mum made it and it was the best.  Even though it's quite plain I think it's a really glamorous looking cake with the dark chocolate swirls twisting into the lighter vanilla sponge.  It is exceptionally easy to make and is quite robust which means you can play around with the flavours quite a bit and find complimentary additions to each bit.  I've gone for a classic orange flavour from the clementines with a hit of heat from the chilli... it's a great combination.  The chilli chocolate custard is an indulgent extra as the cake is perfectly good without it but the bonus (other than the fact that's it's custard and doesn't need any excuse for its existence) is that it turns the cake into a brilliant pudding which is fabulous served warm from the oven or gets even better after it's chilled in the fridge!

for the marble cake
225g butter, softened
225g caster sugar
4 eggs
225g self-raising flour
3 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
the zest of one clementine

for the chilli chocolate custard
4 egg yolks
350ml milk
2 tablespoons Total Greek Yoghurt
60g golden caster sugar
2 teaspoons cornflour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
vanilla extract

pre-heat the oven to 180C and grease and line a 20cm cake tin

to make the cake place the butter, sugar, eggs, flour and milk into a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 3 to 4 minutes until beautifully creamy then add the vanilla and mix again

halve the batter into a second bowl and add the cocoa powder and chilli powder to one bowl and mix well... to the other bowl grate in the clementine zest

using tablespoons, dollop alternate spoonfuls of batter into the bottom of the tin ensuring there are no air gaps and keep going with a second layer making sure you alternate the batter, then with a knife or skewer run it through the batters blending them in swirls

bake for 35-40 mins until well risen and firm to the touch - set aside to cool whilst you make the custard

in a large bowl beat the sugar and cornflour with the egg yolks until light and fluffy

heat the milk or cream in a pan and when it's just beginning to simmer take off the heat and whilst whisking the eggs and sugar, gently pour the milk onto the eggs in a steady stream

whisk in the cocoa powder, chilli powder and vanilla then place back on a very low heat and whisk for 5 minutes until it starts to thicken - pour over the cake whilst it's still warm before you serve.


... I am of course entering this gorgeous cake into one of my favourite bloggers challenges - we should cocoa... founded by Choclette from the Chocolate Log Blog and hosted this month by Shaheen from Allotment 2 Kitchen as the theme is chilli!


eat and of course, enjoy!

Friday, 14 November 2014

hot smoked trout mac n cheese



... as a lover of food I often get asked about the kind of wines I like to drink with different meals and over the years, depending on who's doing the asking, I tend to fudge my way through what hopefully sounds like an intelligent answer. I dislike the fact that people assume you're a wine lover or have any wine knowledge just because you care about the food you make. As it happens many of my family and friends are quite knowledgable about wine but I always shy away from the conversation because I fear some kind of horrible wine-snobbery chat will ensue and I simply don't know enough. I am still quite naive when it comes to choosing wine but the best piece of advice ever given to me was by a sommelier at a chateau in France that we went to visit when staying with my aunt in Bordeaux. He asked me what I thought of his wine and I tried to answer as if I knew what I was talking about but after much fumbling with the ridiculousness of words such as 'gravel' and 'earthy' he simply asked me if I liked it or not. He said that the only reason for choosing a wine is if you like it. End of.

When the good people at Brancott Estate asked me to develop recipes to work alongside some of their most popular wines I was of course very excited about tasting the wine and then thinking about what food I could pair it with but my mantra was always 'keep it simple and make something you like' don't stray too far from what you know... I really don't want to alienate anyone with anything that makes me seem like a know-it-all. It has to be 'everyday' good quality, down to earth food, and perhaps adding my own unique Belleau Kitchen twist...


hot smoked trout mac n cheese
so to begin with, this month we have a delightful bottle of Sauvignon Gris. The Sauvignon Gris grape is actually an ancient variety brought over from Bordeaux and thanks to Brancott Estate, Sauvignon Gris has found a new home in Marlborough where, like Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, it is producing intriguing wines that are simultaneously fresh and rich, capturing the unique characteristics of the variety as well as the distinctive flavours of Marlborough.


The founders of Brancott Estate were true pioneers, the first to start as the pioneers of the Marlborough wine industry and so I wanted to create a dish that reflects not only the fresh citrus nature of the wine but the pioneering essence of the brand too. There just so happen to be three pioneering local producers close by to Belleau Cottage who I have proudly advocated on this blog in the past, The Belleau Bridge Trout Smokery, the Lincolnshire Poacher cheese company and the Cote Hill Cheese company and so I thought that bringing them together in this delicately creamy dish would be the perfect accompaniment to the wine...



…now as I mention above, I am no expert on wine but I found that my nice, cold glass of Sauvignon Gris worked really well alongside the mac n cheese. The smoked trout, whilst delicate, has a subtle deeper flavor which I thought was nicely complimented by the fresh fruitiness, almost pear-like quality of the wine plus the rich and creamy sauce was balanced well with a delightful zesty grapefruit hit….

for the mac n cheese
4oz Cote Hill Yellow – grated
4oz Vintage Lincolnshire Poacher – grated
350g penne or macaroni pasta
150g hot smoked trout
250g cream cheese or a tub of hot smoked trout pate
a bunch of chives – finely chopped
seasoning

for the béchamel
750ml full fat milk
75g unsalted butter
2oz plain flour
salt and freshly ground pepper

to make the béchamel sauce, heat the milk until hot but not boiling, then remove from the heat

in another saucepan, melt the butter, then remove from the heat and stir in the flour. Put the pan back on a gentle heat and cook the flour, stirring continuously for about a minute

take the pan off the heat again and add a little of the milk, continuing to stir. Adding the milk slowly and stirring like this will ensure no lumps form. Continue to add the milk a little at a time until it is al encorporated, then return the pan to the heat and cook until the sauce comes to the boil, season and gently cook for a few minutes more

now very gently, on the lowest heat, let the sauce bubble away for at least 20 minutes… it should begin to go a more golden colour but watch it like a hawk and stir regularly, then add the chesses and stir

cook the pasta in plenty of boiling, salted water until just soft and then drain thoroughly, stir in the tub of cream cheese or, preferably a tub of smoked trout pate.

heat the oven to 180C

take a shallow baking dish and spread a little of the cheesy sauce on the bottom, then add the pasta and finally pour over the rest of the sauce. Flake in the smoke trout, keeping the pieces of fish as large as possible. Bake for 30 minutes until the pasta at the top begin to turn a gorgeous golden cheesy colour


eat and of course, enjoy!

Monday, 10 November 2014

crusty white low-knead loaf



... just a quick post today as it's a crazy week of events for The Persuaders as all the pre-christmas madness kicks in...

crusty white low-knead loaf
as regular readers will know I'm forever struggling for that perfect loaf of bread... every Friday, without fail I knock up 2 loaves of bread and because i'm excessively lazy and once I find a technique that works I kind of like to stick to it, I tend to always use my low-knead method.  With that said, it's always nice to find new products created specifically to enhance my bread baking so when the good folk at Kitchen Craft offered me a selection of their Home Made, Bread Making Range who was I to refuse?  I opted for a few different shaped proving baskets and also a dough scoring lame.  The lame is totally practical and not only can I not fault it but I can't really understand how I lived without such a simple scoring tool - easy to use and clean, always a bonus... as for the proving baskets... what can I say? We're all a sucker for that artisan look right?  I mean who doesn't want their bread to look as though they've just cycled through the French countryside on a warm summer morning to pick up a loaf or two from the local boulangerie... and look at this beauty... light and fluffy, perfectly seasoned with that incredible crusty crunch revealing the white-as-a-cloud fluffy interior... if you haven't tried the low-knead method yet, well you simply must make this bread... follow the instructions to the letter and I promise you that you won't fail...


enough to make 2 loaves (why make one when you can make two with the same effort)
800g strong white bread flour
2 sachets or 2 heaped teaspoons of fast-action dried yeast
2 heaped teaspoons salt (very important - don't leave this out or your bread will not taste nice)
600ml regular tap water
olive oil and extra flour for dusting

place the flour, yeast and salt in a very large ceramic bowl and stir together, then pour in the water and bring together using a rubber spatula - scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix the dough until all the dry flour is gone and you're left with a sticky, shaggy mess - cover with a tea towel and set aside for 10 mins.  Wash and dry your spatula as you will need it clean for the next stage.

oil your work surface with a generous glut of olive oil and using your right hand, wipe the surface in a circular motion to coat the surface in oil.  Then, use your right hand to remove the dough from the bowl and place it on the oiled surface.

take the spatula and clean the bowl, then drizzle the bowl with a little olive oil and using your right hand wipe the inside of the bowl to coat it in oil.  Now knead the dough with your oiled hand 8 times... it doesn't even need to be a sophisticated knead, just a fold, push and quarter turn... you should, even at this stage be able to feel that the dough is soft and light... then place it back into the oiled bowl, cover in a tea towel and set aside for another 8 minutes. Repeat this twice more.

After the final quick knead, cover the bowl in cling film and set aside until the dough has proved to double the size... this should take roughly and hour but it depends on the warmth of the room

pre-heat the oven to 220C and place an empty baking tray at the bottom of the oven

oil your work surface and tip the dough out onto it.  Punch the dough down and make a rough oval shape... you're now going to do some folding and turning that will put air back into the dough and create layers which in turn should create a beautifully aerated loaf...

fold down the dough halfway from the top and then fold up the dough over from the bottom.  A classic 'gatefold.'  Give the dough a quarter turn and repeat the gatefold.  Then cut the dough into two halves.

You essentially now have your two loaves and can do with them what you like.  One half could go into a classic loaf tin or you could form them into round balls to bake, it's up to you.

If you're using the proving baskets like me you need to generously flour the basket interior, then prepare a large bowl with a little flour in it... form your dough into a ball, pick it up from its base and dip it into the flour, rolling it a little to coat as much of the sides as possible, then place it face down into the proving basket and set aside for 30 minutes

once you're ready to bake, place a baking tray over the proving basket and invert the basket onto it, the dough should slip out easily

quickly open the oven and pour a jug of water into the baking tray in the bottom and then pace your loaves into the oven... bake on 220C for 10 minutes and then reduce the heat to 180C for a further 20 minutes... the bottom of the loves should sound hollow when tapped... hard as it may be, set aside to cool completely before eating!


eat and of course, enjoy!

Sunday, 9 November 2014

slow-cooked cinnamon-spiced buns



... I always find early November a very strange time of year.  Working in the heart of London is like being both front of house and back stage at the worlds most extravagant theatrical production of Christmas... if you hang around late enough you see the set-dressers arrive with their cranes and cherry-pickers and cable spools of fairy-lights and then when you arrive back in town the next day it's as though Santa's little helpers have sprinkled their magic over the streets.  The only problem I have is that it's not quite Christmas yet and even though November has Bonfire Night at the start of the month, which has been completely superseded by an Americanised Halloween, it seems to hang around at the back row of the chorus not doing much, waiting for December to push its way to the front of the stage in all it's peacock finery... and it's different for our US cousins who have Thanksgiving to break up tedium... perhaps we need to invent our own new mid-season festival before the big show-stopper arrives.  Or maybe not, i'm not sure any of us could handle any more cake...


slow-cooked cinnamon-spiced buns
yes, you couldn't keep e away for long but here I am, back to the slow-cooker once more. This time with something a little different... when I saw this recipe in Miss South's brilliant book Slow Cooked I was so intrigued I just had to have a go.  The dough is very easy to make with barely a knead in sight and the only slightly tricky part is the rolling out and spreading of the filling but because this recipe makes double the amount you need you're rewarded for you hard efforts by the joy of knowing you can freeze half and make these glorious buns again without the hassle.  The texture is exceptionally light which is mainly due to the fact that the gradual heating of the slow cooker rises the buns as they bake... you quite simply have to bake these buns!

for the dough
450g plain flour
75g sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 sachets of fast action dried yeast
75g butter - melted
200g milk
1 egg - beaten

for the filling
100g softened butter
100g soft brown sugar
11/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon honey - warmed

sift the flour into a large bowl and add the sugar, salt and yeast.  Gently melt the butter then add it to the milk and beaten egg and pour it into the flour.  Bring it together (I use a rubber spatula) and then once combined use your hands.  It will be sticky and look a little ragged.

tip it out onto a floured surface and oil the bowl.  Knead the dough for a few minutes until the surface becomes smooth and the while dough becomes a little drier.  Place it back into the bowl, cover with a tea towel and allow it to rise for at least 30 minutes

whilst the dough is proving make the filling... mix the soft butter with the brown sugar and add the spices and set aside

once the dough is proved, lift it out of the bowl and onto a floured surface.  Roll it out to a rectangle 45cm long by 20cm wide... this sounds quite daunting but actually the dough is very pliable and rolls into shape nicely.

use the back of a spoon the spread the filling out onto the dough ensuring you go all the way to the edges, then carefully roll the long end of the dough up towards you to create a tight roll.


line the base and sides of your slow cooker with some greaseproof paper, then cut the long roll in half (wrap one half in cling film and freeze) then cut the remaining into 3cm thick spirals and place them into the slow cooker, one in the centre and the rest around it in a flower pattern

place 4 sheets of kitchen paper on top of the slow cooker and pop the lid on (the paper will absorb any moisture) and set the slow cooker on high for 1 1/2 hours... after 1 hour, take the lid off and brush the top of the buns with warm honey, then place the paper and lid back on and continue to slow cook until the timer is finished.

if you don't have a slow cooker these can be baked in a 20cm round greased and lined cake tin... I would suggest 170C for 30-40 minutes but check they don't burn!

... these taste amazing served warm but even though they only lasted until the afternoon, tasted just as good cold...


I am entering this into this months Cooking with Herbs bloggers group hosted by Karen from Lavender and Lovage as the theme is Sugar and Spice


eat and of course, enjoy!

Friday, 7 November 2014

tired veg thai coconut curry



... it seems i'm a little obsessed with the slow-cooker so I thought i'd set it aside for a moment and have a go at actual cooking today, although to be honest this curry could have been made just as easily in the slow-cooker but sometimes the thing about creating your own curries is the culinary elegance of toasting spices and frying onions and this depth of flavour creates such an incredibly intense base for a curry which you simply cannot create short-hand... for some reason I seem to have an awful lot of tired looking vegetables in the fridge this week.  I think that because we've been up and down between Belleau and London a lot recently I tend to panic buy when I get the chance to go to the supermarket and the vegetables get part-used and then tend to either languish in the fridge or travel up and down the A1 with us.  The point is, it's no life for a carrot but I hate throwing stuff out so a strongly flavoured curry seems to be a great way to use them up and makes a dying wish for a turnip come true.


tired vegetable thai coconut curry
whilst i've found the gorgeous Whole Foods pastes and sauces really easy and stress-free for a quick meal, I do love experimenting with spices and I adore making my own... it's a great way to use up store cupboard spices and if you want your home to have that glorious aroma of toasted spices there is nothing that compares to making your own and to be honest, it really isn't that complicated, it's just a long list of spices a frying pan and a whizzer... the recipe is my take on the classic massaman curry paste which is quite strong but the addition of the coconut milk makes it creamier and mellower... and yes I do realise this is another stew with lentils but i'm really trying to eat less meat but still make some nice hearty, filling and warming meals and this just hit the spot so perfectly.

for the thai paste
15 dried chopped red chillies
1 tbsp coriander seeds, ground
1 tsp cumin seeds, ground
1 stick cinnamon, ground
3 cloves, ground
4 peppercorns, ground
4 tbsp garlic, chopped
4 tbsp shallots, chopped
1 - 2 sticks lemongrass, chopped
1 tsp galangal root, chopped
1 tsp vegetarian worcester sauce (or soy sauce if you can't find)

for the curry
1 medium onion - finely chopped
150g fine green beans
1 carrot - diced
1 turnip - diced
2 sticks of celery - chopped
100g green lentils
1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 350g tin of coconut milk
1/2 pint of good quality veg stock
4 tablespoons thai curry paste as made above

to make the paste, gently heat a large frying pan and then dry-fry the dry spices to release the flavours, be careful not to burn the spices,  then carefully tip into a pestle and grind to a powder  - this can also be done in a processor/blender.

then add add all the other paste ingredients and grind or blitz to a fine paste which you can now use or store in the fridge for up to a month - again, this takes seconds in a processor.

to make the curry I use a large casserole pot with a lid that can be used on the hob and in the oven and I start by gently melting a little butter and olive oil then sautéing the onions for about 5 mins till they become translucent, then turn up the heat, add a tablespoon of the paste and let it bubble away with the onions unit they begin to catch a little

turn down the heat to low, add the rest of the veg, stir and pop the lid on for about 8 mins for the veg to sweat.  Once the veg starts to soften, add the tinned tomatoes, coconut milk, stock, lentils and 2 or 3 more tablespoons of curry paste depending on how strong a flavour you want, then pop the lid back on and either let it simmer away on very low for about 45 mins or in the oven on 160C



i'm entering this curry into the brilliant no waste food challenge run by Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary and hosted this month by Manjirichitnis from Slice of Me

eat and of course, enjoy!


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