Curried squash and roasted chickpea soup

I appreciate it’s a verbose title, but “Curried Soup” didn’t do it justice. I can’t even begin to tell you how good this smells, let alone tastes. Each stage of the process creates a new fragrant layer and the end bowl smells truly sensational. It is a gloriously golden and extremely inviting bowl of soup.

Curried soup_5

For the soup I used:

  • 1 x white onion
  • 3 x garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons curry powder (mine was a hot powder and I used a generous teaspoon, for medium powder use 2)
  • 250g carrot
  • 700g butternut squash
  • 700 – 800 ml vegetable stock
  • 3 teaspoons oil
  • Seasoning

For the chickpeas I used:

  • 250g chickpeas
  • 4 – 5 teaspoons cumin
  • 3 teaspoons oil
  • Seasoning

The process is simple:

  1. Chop the vegetables and fry the onion and garlic for 2 minutes till covered in the oil.
  2. Add the spices and dry fry them for 3 minutes before adding the vegetables and stock (just enough stock to cover – no more or it will be too thin).
  3. Cover and simmer for around 20 – 25 minutes till the vegetables are soft enough to blitz.
  4. Whilst cooking, pop the chickpeas, cumin and oil into a pre-heated oven for 20 minutes until they brown slightly (I had the fan oven on 150 degrees Celsius).
  5. Blitz the soup and top your bowl with the crispy cumin and chickpea mix.

This makes around 1500 ml, giving 5 servings each with approximately 175 calories per serving.

The chickpeas pre and post cooking (yes minus a few I tasted along the way):

Curried soup_1    Curried soup_3

Check your spices

Have a quick check on your spice dates and/or how long they’ve roughly been open. Just because they have long dates, spices still fade and deteriorate once opened. There are also differing intensities to spices depending on where sourced. I have a spice tray that we bought from a lady called Prett Tejura. I sent Alex on an indian cookery course last year as a Christmas present. He came back armed with a tummy filled with curry, loads of new tips and techniques, a cookery book and an amazing spice pot. They are the best spices we’ve ever had.

Curried soup_2

Choosing an oil

One tip when cooking Indian food is be careful on the oil you pick. Don’t automatically pick up the olive oil. Olive oil is derived from olives – not at all relevant to Indian cuisine. Try safflower oil, sunflower oil or failing that vegetable oil.

Final word on the squash that keeps on giving

I used up the last of the giant butternut squash from the weekend for this soup. Further to the original salad, it made an appearance in a sticky salmon bake, some chicken stock and today’s fragrant soup.

Salmon - sticky stock

This soup is such a must to try, it is simply divine.

Enjoy.

Super seedies – Clean bake

I’m hot on the heels of the Ginger nutters I posted last week. I’m not sure these surpass, but they’re certainly in the running. These ones are really crunchy and nutty, a completely different flavour impact to the previous.

superseedy1

I like the whole ball concept – they’re more of a little nibble than an actual snack. They’re also a bit more guest friendly and look pretty cool in a glass jar or bowl.

I’ve increased the nut ratio and combined with both prunes and flaxseed (linseed), making them a good digestive aid if that’s in order.

Prunes are really high in fibre and a great source of vitamin k and beta carotene. I’m not sure these small little balls of loveliness alone can help u-turn our ageing, but a diet high in beta carotene can only be a good thing. It protects and fixes the damage of free radicals on our cells.

Linseed is renowned for its wondrous ways. It too has anti-oxidant qualities, it is rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids (the ‘good’ fats) and is packed with fibre.

At the end of the day these balls offer a better type of snacking. They are good for you and keep you fuller longer than an equivalent empty calorie option.

superseedy3

To make 9 20g balls will need:

  • 40g prunes
  • 30g dried unsulphered apricots
  • 30g raisins
  • 20g almonds
  • 20g brazil nuts
  • 40g cashews
  • 10g linseeds
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup

What to do:

  • This time I just whizzed everything up at once rather than the dry ingredients first. The balls are far more textured this time. I think it’s down to personal preference.
  • Once blitzed you can weigh out (or guesstimate) 20g balls and shape.
  • Then pop in the fridge for a couple of hours. I keep these in a jar in the fridge.

Each 20g ball contains around 90 calories.

Hope you enjoy

Butternut squash sticky salad

I’ve had another super-sized vegetable to deal with. This towering butternut squash was at least 3 times the standard you see in the vegetable aisle.

B Squash 2

So yes, there’s a medley of squash on the food board this week. The exact dishes depend on how creative I’m feeling as the week goes on. The starter for ten features the usual suspects of butternut squash soup, butternut squash risotto and roasted squash. I’d like to think the end plates feature a bit more excitement than these initial working titles.

First up though, the squash had it’s first outing yesterday, in the form of a big bold salad. We had friends over for lunch and enjoyed this as a side dish to the main event.

I am leaving out the exacting measures on this recipe. There’s no way to go wrong, you won’t break it if you dial up certain flavours or pare down depending on your preference. Just aim for a variety of textures on your leaves and make sure you keep tasting the dressing till it’s spot on.

I used a simple balsamic dressing for this one. I think you should always buy the best balsamic you can – or just not bother. The cheap stuff tastes tart and too vinegary, a negative input rather than a sweet and rounded addition to the salad.

For the salad I used:

  • A butternut squash – or in this case around a third of the squash
  • A big sprinkle of pumpkin seeds
  • Lots of fresh rosemary
  • Lambs lettuce
  • Crispy gem lettuce chopped quite finely (just adding for extra crunch)
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Dijon mustard
  • Fresh mint
  • Crumbled feta
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Pre-heat the oven to around 150 degrees Celsius
  2. Firstly chop the butternut up into cubes and lay in single layer on a roasting tin, sprinkle over the rosemary and a little even drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of seasoning.
  3. Whilst cooking make a simple dressing with a 3:1 ratio of oil to balsamic. Add a little dijon mustard and some seasoning. Keep tasting and tweak the oil / balsamic to get it exactly as you like. My dressing was quite thick and rather sweet in taste. It only needed to be used sparingly to add plenty of flavour to the leaves.
  4. Roast the vegetables for 20 minutes then add the pumpkin seeds, leaving in the oven for another 15 minutes until the squash is sticky and soft and starting to brown a little. The rosemary should snap easily when you pick it up. By this point the smell will be so inviting. It’s worth making just to welcome people in to your home.
  5. Leave the squash to cool and dress the salad. Always remember to dress the leaves not the whole assembled salad. I always get my hands in to make sure there is an even covering. Don’t drown the leaves, your plate shouldn’t be greasy and soggy.
  6. Assemble the salad in a clean bowl scraping in any sticky crunchy bits from the roasting tin.
  7. You can then crumble over some feta and mint or leave just as it stands. If I were eating this on my own I would be just as happy without the dressing and feta.. But food is about the audience as much as the cook. I wanted to make this a massive crowd pleaser.

B Squash 3

B Squash 4

B Squash 5

There was a little bit left which I kept in the fridge and enjoyed with fresh leaves for lunch today. It would have tasted pretty good with some brown or wild rice too.

Hope you enjoy this or something similar soon.

Big red pepper and tomato soup

Pimiento rojo grande!

I picked up some fabulous peppers yesterday. I’ve made a gorgeous soup, BIG ingredients and BIG on flavour. It’s both incredibly tangy and deliciously sweet.

This soup really does live or die on the ingredients. I think tomato soup in particular is pretty disappointing with watery, flavourless tomatoes.

Red pepper 6

To make the soup I used:

  • 3 large red peppers
  • 3 large beef tomatoes
  • Lots of fresh rosemary – as much as you like, I used about 2 very large sprigs
  • Lots of fresh basil – I used about 10 large leaves
  • A splash of balsamic
  • A splash of olive oil (up to a tablespoon)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • Small white onion
  • Seasoning
  • A little stock – volume depends on how much liquid your vegetables creates and how thick you like the soup, I added around 200 ml.

Red pepper soup_3

To make:

  1. Place the peppers on an oven tray and pop into the oven as they are, at around 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Also put in a separate tray of sliced tomatoes with a drizzle of balsamic, some seasoning and lots of fresh herbs.
  3. Remove from the oven after about 20 / 25 minutes when the peppers are starting to char a little.
  4. While cooling fry up the onion and chopped garlic in a splash (maybe 3 teaspoons of olive oil).
  5. Then remove the pepper skins and seeds. The skin should just slide off.
  6. Add all the flesh, the tomatoes and any juices into your onions and garlic, add a little stock to cover the vegetables and keep on the heat (with a lid) for around 20 minutes until everything is soft (and smelling by this point delicious).
  7. Then simply blitz up, taste and season as you like.
  8. I serve mine with a ruck load more chopped herbs on top and very very hot.

Red pepper 3

This makes around a litre. I pour around 300 ml servings (each with around 100 calories) into jars, so that I can just pull out one at a time when I want to eat. If you don’t want to eat them all in the same week, just pop a jar or two in the freezer.

Red pepper soup

It’s incredibly good for you and seriously makes you want to lick the bowl.

Enjoy

Ginger nutters – Clean bake

It’s raining here in Gibraltar today. It doesn’t happen very often, so I quite like it. I’ve been for a wet run with Finn Dog, collected the boys from rugby and then turned into Debbie Domestic in the kitchen.

I’m all over the ginger at the minute. I’ve made the boys a ginger, carrot and apple loaf for later and made some clean eating raw food balls, packed with raw ginger.

ginger balls_2

So first the cake…

Is the cake clean eating? No, it’s got vegetables, fruit and good spices in which is pretty wholesome, but it is made with wheat flour and lashings of butter. However the kitchen smells amazing right now and I’d rather them eat that than open a boxed cake later on or a soulless frozen desert. There’s some conditioned and deep rooted maternal desire to get the approval of your brood with food. This kind of pudding warms hearts and makes me feel good to give.

Will I feel like I am missing out? Will I secretly cry inside as they crack into the ginger loaf and ladle with custard? I honestly won’t. It’s been so many years now since I ate anything like that, I just don’t want, need or miss if from my life. I am not depriving myself. I made choices that ultimately make me feel good not just when I eat or after I eat, but each and every day for life.

Here’s a link to the cake recipe

And now the Clean eating Ginger nutters

For 9 20g balls, you will need:

  • 70g dates
  • 30g dried cranberries
  • 40g dried coconut
  • 40g cashew nuts
  • 20g fresh grated ginger
  • A teaspoon honey
  1. Whizz up the nuts then remove from the processor
  2. Blitz up the remaining ingredients
  3. Remove and then with your hands work together the ingredients
  4. I then weighed out the 20g balls and shaped on a board
  5. They need an hour in the fridge to firm up
  6. Each 20g bar contains approximately 55 calories

ginger balls_1

I promise you these are gorgeous. They are a perfect sweet and spicy nibble.

Ginger, carrot and apple loaf

I think ginger is such a special soulful ingredient. This slightly spicy cake loaf smells amazing and because of the moisture in the apples and the sticky molasses, it’s got a lovely rich texture. It’s a bit like parkin that’s been left to develop for a couple of days. Of course this is also even better when it’s been left for a day or so, but chances are it won’t make it in time. My boys like this with custard on, but it looks great naked as a nice slice to go with a cup of tea.

ginger loaf 2

Ingredients:

  1. 100g unsalted butter
  2. 100g light brown sugar
  3. 50g molasses (or black treacle if you don’t have)
  4. 50g golden syrup
  5. zest 1 lime
  6. 1 carrot, grated
  7. Half an apple grated
  8. Tablespoon of raw grated ginger
  9. 175g self-raising flour
  10. ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  11. 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  12. 1 tsp ground ginger
  13. 2 eggs

To make this:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 160 degrees celsius (fan oven, 180 degrees C for others)
  2. Grease a 900g loaf tin
  3. Melt the butter in a pan and add everything except the flour, bicarbonate and eggs
  4. Once melted in remove from the heat, add the flour and then the eggs (it’s best not to add the eggs on the heat as they may scramble, not good!)
  5. Bake for 40 minutes – until a skewer comes out dry

You can sprinkle with a little icing sugar to make it look really pretty.

I hope you enjoy.

ginger

Date and Berry Frubars

God damn delicious.

Last week I posted the recipe for Apricot and Cashew raw food bars. They were really good, but I’m pretty sure that these ones are better.

Date and Berry_1

Date and Berry_2

To make 5 bars you’ll need:
80g dates
55g cashew nuts
30g raisins
5g dried cranberries

Each bar contains around 125 calories (between 30 – 35g)

  1. Blend up the nuts in a processor until fine.
  2. Take them out and whizz up the fruit.
  3. Then mix them both together. You need to get your hands in and mix them up properly.
  4. Press into a loaf tin or just shape them on a board using a pallette knife. (I just shape them on a board).
  5. Refrigerate them for a couple of hours, then chop into 5 and wrap each individually in cling film. Pop back in the fridge.

Fab, I’ll get some more of these up next week.