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Cauliflower, potato, pea and red lentil curry

Cooked this tonight. Found the recipe I used before but as usual, I made the recipe my own.

God it was a good brew.

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Bunch of coriander
  • Curry. I used two or three teaspoons of Keans curry powder, a generous sprinkling of ground coriander, and even more garum masala
  • 1 cup and bit of dried red lentils
  • 4 cups of vegetable stock. I use Campbell's real stock
  • Whole cauliflower, cut up into florets
  • 3 or 4 small potatoes, peeled and chopped into quarters
  • Tin of chopped tomatoes
  • Big squirt of tomato paste, about 2 or 3 tablespoons
  • Several handfuls of frozen peas
  • I also used left over and wilting celery, finely chopped so it would disappear because Mr S doesn't like it. But he picked it straight away. OK, I didn't chop very finely.
  • Natural yoghurt, to serve

Method

  1. Heat oil in large pan. Add onion, garlic, and celery. (The latter is optional.) Fry for a bit until onions soften. About 5 minutes.
  2. Add curry powder. Fry up a bit.
  3. Add lentils and stir so lentils are coated in all the curry goodness.
  4. Add stock, cauliflower, potatoes, tomato paste, tin tomatoes l.
  5. Simmer for about 25 minutes with lid on.
  6. Add peas and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  7. I turned off the heat and took off lid so it would thicken.

It has to be served sprinkled with chopped coriander leaves and thick Greek yoghurt.

I wish we had some Naan bread. That would have improved on perfection.

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My minestrone 

This soup was divine. Mr S had two bowls straight up when I made it. He loved it too.

I combined two recipes: from my mate, Jamie, and the Australian Woman's Weekly and tweaked it myself.

Ingredients

  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 leek
  • 2 carrots
  • Celery – a few bits
  • Fennel bulb. Try it. Adds great subtle flavour to the soup. I forgot to put it on the shopping list so didn't get it for this week's pot. Sad. 😦
  • stalks from a bunch of parsley  (I often have parsley for something else and don't want to waste the stalks.)
  • dried rosemary 
  • tin of chopped tomatoes 
  • tomato paste
  • tin of cannellini beans or whatever beans you like
  • 1 litre Campbell's real beef stock
  • fresh grated Parmesan
  • Some pasta – shell usually but sometimes whatever

Method

  1. Heat a big saucepan with olive oil. Chop garlic and leek. And put in pan. While this fries…..
  2. Chop carrots, celery, fennel bulb and parsley stalks. Put in pan and sprinkle with as much rosemary as you want. Stir and let fry for a bit. I put in a few celery leaves too. They disappeared but no doubt added depth of flavour.
  3. Pour in 400g tin chopped tomatoes and squeeze of tomato paste. Maybe just over 1 tablespoon or more. Mix up. I put some water in the tin and squish it around and pour in pan so I get all the dregs of tomato flavour.
  4. Pour in stock. I half filled the stock container with water, squished around and poured the water onto the saucepan so I got all the flavour out. (I can't abide waste!!!) Pour the tin of beans and the liquid from the tin as well. (I used to rinse beans but Jamie says to use the liquid. For some reason I thought it was bad for you. Don't know where I got that thought. Anyway I don't bother rinsing now and have suffered no ill effect.) Add some extra water as needed.
  5. Simmered for 45 min.
  6. Added some shell pasta and cooked for further 10 min.

When you serve the soup, sprinkled some grated Parmesan over the soup. It gives the soup piquancy. 

Yummo!!!!

Jamie Oliver burnt chicken san fran salad

This was the best salad ever. I’ve never been a fan of the quinoa (not only because I can’t say it, but because the few times I’ve had it, it has dominated the salad or been used in a salad so sparse in other ingredients and so bland, it has been boring and gluggy.)

I was given the Jamie Oliver 15 Minute book and DVDs years ago but have never got around to cooking anything. A chance watching on free to air TV, had this recipe featured. I had to give it a try. 

I’ve also never been a fan of smoky paprika, preferring the sweet, so if it wasn’t for the show on TV, I never would have cooked this. 

The flavours, the colours, the smells. Heaven. 

When I had started preparing the salsa and put the spices on the chicken, Dreamer came in and said the smells were making him hungry. The smell was divine!

I’m not going to list the steps if the recipe as I largely followed Jamie Oliver. But here’s some pointers. 

Of course it doesn’t take 15 minutes. But that’s OK. It really wasn’t that long, though I can’t say exactly how long. I didn’t time it as I prepared some bits before my guests arrived and, as luck would have it, had a power outage for two hours just before the guests came and then I was socialising while cooking.  You do need a food processor to moosh up the baby spinach, coriander, mint and spring onions. This spread through the quinoa, makes the quinoa edible. My salsa was a bit dry to I added a teeny little bit of water.

I used chicken thigh fillers not breast because they were on special. Also being smaller, they were quicker to cook and I am always worried about under cooking chicken. 

No cress in our fruit and veg shop, so I used snow pea sprouts instead. Like them better than the peppery cress anyway. 

Didn’t use chilli because one friend doesn’t eat it. 

I served some limes on the side, for extra juice. I didn’t have enough avo because they were not ripe so could only use half a large one which is a shame as more avo would have been better. 

The salad doesn’t really last or maybe we were left with too much quinoa. Anyway, it is nicer when the chicken and capsicum are warm. So eat it up quickly. 

Truely, this is a great one to serve with friends. It looks so impressive. I’ll be putting this one out again this summer before the mango season finishes. 

My chicken soup

I am going through posts I have written but not got round to posting this year. (Hence the rush of blog posts.) And here’s a gem for those needing a simple soup. I wrote it in winter. Not much use in summer now. Oh well. 

I’ve previously posted my favourite, and oh so easy, pumpkin soup recipe. Here’s my chicken soup recipe. 

It’s quite versatile. You can serve it with toast, bread, rice, noodles. More meat, less meat. Take out the meat and use the meat for salad or sandwiches, leaving the broth. I give a leg to a hungry son to make him happy. 

Ingredients

  • One whole chicken
  • Litre of Campbell’s Real Chicken stock and extra water
  • Chopped veggies of choice – I use couple of big carrots, an onion or leek or spring onions, celery. I have used wilting stalks of celery. Great to use up past-their-best veggies. Make sure you use things that don’t ruin the clear broth and hold their shape in long cooking. So no mushrooms. 
  • Bay leaves (about three or four) 
  • Whole pepper corns
  • Water 

Method

I have cooked this in a slow cooker. (Good because it cannot boil over or burn but takes ages to get going.) I’ve cooked this on the stove top. Same same. 

  1. Put chicken in pot with Campbell’s real stock and some extra water. I just do it not look. 
  2. Add herbs and vegetables. 
  3. Add water to cover. 
  4. Bring to boil and simmer for hours in the slow cooker or one and a half to two hours on stove top. 
  5. Remove chicken, shred meat and add as much as you want back. 

Schimple. Why did I take so long to realise it was so easy?

Mimi’s refried beans

Mimi is a cook on a forum I belong to. She comes up with wonderful and often cheap recipes.

This was wonderful, quick, yummy, cheap and healthy. Mimi put smoky paprika but I prefer sweet.

Ingredients

2 cups dried red kidney beans
1 cup red lentils
3/4 cup olive oil
6 cups water
1 onion diced
6 cloves of garlic, sprinkled with a touch of oil and roasted for 15 minutes in a moderate oven (more or less according to your love of garlic! I make extra to use in other dishes, eg salsa.)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 Bay Leaf

Method

1. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of it’s papery shell.

2. Combine everything in the crock pot, and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. You can also simmer this on the stove top for 2-3 hours.

3. Remove the Bay Leaf.

4. Empty into a food processor and blend until smooth.

How to serve?

1. Soft tacos
I made guacamole – mashed an avocado with a fork, squeeze of lemon, spoonful of Greek yoghurt (I make my own yoghurt with Easiyo).

And I made salsa – chopped cherry tomatoes, chopped coriander, couple of roasted garlic, half a cooked onion.

Warm tortillas, put small spread of refried beans, some lettuce, salsa, guacamole, sweet chilli sauce. Wrap and eat!

2. Dip
Serve as a dip layered with salsa and guacamole with corn chips.

3. Wraps
Heat a heaped tablespoon of refried beans and a stalk of broccolini in microwave for a minute. Place two pieces of Mountain Bread on board. Spread beans thinly down middle of slice, put on broccolini and grated cheese. Roll bread and put in sandwich press until cheese slightly melts.

Of course you could use it for nachos, hard tacos etc but these were the three ways I served it. Yum!

Do you menu plan?

Time for a post on frugal living. The need for this will become more obvious in a future post. (Oh, dear readers, I’ve been bad!)

The expenditure that households can save the most money on is the regular grocery shopping.

How so?

Well, we waste so much food. Buying too much and letting it rot before cooking or eating. Cooking more than we need, putting the left-overs in the fridge until the mould growth makes you feel OK about tossing it. Even a very little bit too much leftover adds up over the year. Dishing up servings that are too large is another way we waste food.

There’s plenty of information on food waste. Google and be shocked. Here’s one report.

And food waste is definitely not good for the environment. All that water and energy used in growing produce and raising life stock; processing; transporting.

My first step in reducing the waste, and hence my grocery bill, was menu planning for the week. It also helped as Mr S and I both work, so knowing what we were to cook at night, and whose turn it was, reduced the stress of the evening. We always had a couple of “catch-and-kill-yourself” evenings, otherwise known as left-overs. There was always leftovers in our house, because of cooking too much. And as my boys got older, they asked for left-overs so they could eat them as snacks or for lunch.

Our menu planning wasn’t strict, in that we always had some tins of things and other staples for quick meals, if we didn’t feel like our planned meal or ran short of time. (Cowboy cooking, Mr S calls it. Throw in a tin of this and a tin of that with some chopped onions and some meat and some curry paste or the like.) And we move the meals around depending on evening schedules. I actually use to only write 1 to 7 to make sure I had enough meals.

Once you’ve menu planned, the next step is to write out the shopping list for what you actually need.

These simple steps cut our waste and grocery bill significantly.

After a couple of years of this I made the next jump to fortnightly supermarket and butcher shopping.

How does this save money?

Going less frequently to the supermarket means you are not tempted to buy so much junk and all the impulse buys that jump out at you. And knowing you’re not going to buy more biscuits or other junk the next week, means you make them last a little longer rather than gutsing them in one go. For some reason instead of buying double biscuits, I bought the same amount (who wants to go through the checkout with more than 10 packets of biscuits?) My family didn’t notice, and definitely didn’t feel deprived. Really we were buying and eating too much junk.

And just recently I have lasted three weeks between supermarket visits. Mainly because we have eaten out a bit but also by using up things in the fridge and pantry. My family are so used to having excess in the pantry that a normal pantry looks empty to them. “You better go shopping. There’s nothing to cook.” Oh, just watch – as I made several more dinners. And now with adult children, there will be nights they are not home so dinner for one night becomes dinner for two nights.

All round menu planning is a time saving, money saving, environment saving, sanity saving hint. We also like dishes that can be cooked in double quantities so you get a night off!

Here’s the last and our current menu plan stuck on our fridge. They say only two weeks worth, but I generally extended them by a night or two.

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Spaghetti Marinara

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Apparently seafood divides the masses.

At the Sans we are fans of prawns, octopuses/octopodes, muscles, calamari.

No recipe for tonight’s feast, Spaghetti Marinara, as Mr Sans cooked it. (Actually, he is the cooker of most seafood in the house.) Onions, garlic, tomatoes, carrots. Cook them altogether. Add seafood for a little bit. Sounds about it.

We are spoilt. Australian prawns and muscles. (OK, our black muscles are not as good as Kiwi Green-lipped ones.) We eschew prawns from China and Vietnam; they lack flavour and there are too many horror stories of how they are farmed.

But if I had my druthers, I’d have stir-fried sweet chilli octopus. Too good!