Thursday, 3 January 2013

Carrying on in the same vein as before, I've been doing some cooking that involves more fruit, veg and pulses. We've enjoyed orange scented poached pears for breakfast with yoghurt and granola. We've slurped carrot and coriander soup and munched herb buttermilk soda bread. We've had chickpea curry and last night I cooked spiced lentils with cream and ginger (a Nigel Slater recipe) which went down a treat with Naan bread. The children are in two minds about all this- Mide especially finds it all "disgusting" but then who listens to a four year old?

Poached Pears
500g plums, stoned and halved
juice and zest of one orange
75g caster sugar
star anise or teaspoon cinnamon 

Put the plums, orange juice and zest, sugar and star anise or cinnamon in a saucepan and cook gently over a medium heat until the plums are soft.If using the star anise pick it out before serving. We eat this with Greek yoghurt sprinkled with granola and I've tried it with porridge, as seen in the photo below. 

Soda Bread
Makes 1 loaf
450g plain flour
1 level teaspoon caster sugar
1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon salt
400ml approx buttermilk – you may need a little more
1 tablespoon finely chopped mixed herbs- I used parsley and thyme 

1.      Pre-heat the oven to 220C/ gas mark 8. Line a loaf tin with parchment paper.
2.      Using a large bowl sift the flour, sugar, bicarbonate of soda and salt together.
3.      Make a hole in the middle of these dry ingredients and pour in the buttermilk.
4.      Using a fork or your fingers mix the buttermilk into the flour. Add more buttermilk if the mixture seems too dry. Try not over-mix the dough- it should be soft but not sticky.
5.      Sprinkle a little flour on your work surface and put your dough onto this. Then gently bring the dough together. Now put it into the lined loaf tin and pop into the oven. After about 15 minutes turn the oven down to 200C/Gas mark 6 and continue to cook for about 25 minutes more.
6.      To check if your bread is ready put on your oven gloves and remove the loaf from the oven. Slide a skewer into it – it should come out clean. Or take the bread out of the tin and tap its bottom, it should have a hollow sound. Cool on a wire rack.

Spiced Lentils
200g green lentils
medium onion, finely diced
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
50g butter
thumb sized piece fresh ginger, grated
2 tomatoes
1 chilli, seeds removed and chopped or a good pinch chilli flakes
100ml cream
teaspoon garam masala

Rinse the lentils and cook in simmering water until tender, approx 30 minutes. Peel and slice the onion finely and cook it gently in the butter, adding the crushed garlic. When the onion is soft and slightly coloured add the grated fresh ginger and sweat for a minute. Then chop the tomatoes and add them to the onions along with the chilli. Continue cooking on a gentle heat for another five minutes. Pour in the cream and stir in the garam masala. Cook on a gentle heat for a further five minutes or so and then season with salt and pepper to taste. Drain the lentils when cooked and add these to the creamy, onion-y mixture. Stir the lentils through the spicy sauce and serve with naan bread.

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