Monthly Archives: June 2014

slow-cooked vegetable curry with little lamb meatballs

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This one couldn’t be easier (& it helped to slightly reduce our pumpkin supply).

Halve and slice one brown onion & start it cooking gently in a few Tblsp of olive oil. Finely slice & chop a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger & add to the pan along with 4-5 finely sliced cloves of garlic. (We’ve just planted our garlic – 2 & 1/2 of our 2-m long raised beds. Should be a great crop.)  Continue to cook until the onion is softening & turning translucent, then add 2 tsp ground coriander, 2 tsp ground cumin, as much chili as takes your fancy (I used 1/4 tsp) and 1/2 tsp salt). Cook a little longer, stirring, until the mix is fragrant, and then tip it into the bowl of your slow-cooker where you have already placed

1 butternut squash, peeled & de-seeded & cut into 2cm chunks; 3 medium potatoes, cut into 2cm chunks; a couple of red peppers, cut into strips; and a can of drained chickpeas – or, in my case, cannellini beans on account of I didn’t check the label before opening the can. Add 5oo mL of chicken stock, cover, & leave to cook on a low setting for about 5 hours.

At this point I tasted the curry & decided that although it smelled great it needed coconut; with no little cans of coconut milk in the pantry I added a couple of Tblsp of desiccated coconut instead 🙂 Plus 3 Tblsp of tomato paste to thicken the mix. Pretty much anything goes in this recipe! (If we hadn’t eaten a lot of spinach the previous night – spinach galettes with tomato passata – I’d have sliced some thinly & added towards the end of the cooking time.)

Stir everything well and then add your meatballs. I used a cup of nice soft fresh breadcrumbs from yesterday’s loaf of beer bread, & added 1 egg, 2 Tblsp of finely chopped fresh mint, 2 tsp of garam masala, 1 Tblsp dark soy sauce & 300g of lamb mince. Mix this together really, really well & shape into small balls about the size of a walnut. They’ll be quite soft. Place them carefully in the curry & leave everything for another hour or so until the meatballs are cooked through.

You could serve with rice but we ate it on its own, with a little chopped fresh coriander sprinkled on top.

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beer bread (in which i attempt to emulate the fine cooks at ‘good neighbour’)

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We”ve got a new pub in our neighbourhood: “Good Neighbour“, & by George it’s good! We rocked on down there the day after it opened – the place was buzzing, the service & food were great, & I am now a fan of their plum cider! And of the beer bread, which we devoured while waiting for our (equally delicious) mains to arrive.

In fact, I’ve been trying to come up with a similar loaf at home. The first time I made it, the beer was probably too ‘light’ (in colour & flavour, but then I am not a beer connoisseur), so the next time I used a ‘hoppier’ version that gave a lovely flavoursome loaf, slightly sweet & pleasantly chewy without losing softness. In fact, I’ve got another lot rising at the moment, & this time I’ve used the pub’s own sparkling ale, so we’re really looking forward to it coming out of the oven! What follows is the kneaded-by-breadmaker version – if making by hand then make a ‘sponge’ with the yeast, sugar, about a cup of flour & some of the liquid, then add the rest of the flour & the softened butter & knead away.

Into the pan of the breadmaker, measure: 4 tsp ‘surebake’ (red-top) yeast, 2 Tblsp honey or brown sugar, 1 c wholemeal flour, 3 c white flour, 3/4 tsp salt, 50 g softened butter, and 1 & 1/2 c of the beer of your choice. Set the machine to ‘dough’ & leave it to work its magic – you might want to stay within earshot just to check the consistency once it starts kneading, as I’ve found that I’ve needed to add perhaps another 1/8 c warm water to the mix.

Once the machine goes ‘beep’, then shape the dough as you desire. I made buns the first time, but second time round I knocked the dough back, divided it in half & then split each half into three pieces that I rolled into long sausages (about 30 cm long). This gave me 2 plaited rolls, which I put to rise on the baking sheet before baking at 180 C for about 25 minutes. But it would be yummy in loaf tins as well.

a sort of cassoulet

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Yesterday, when we did the shopping, there were nice meaty pork bones in the supermarket butchery. So I bought them, along with a packet of 3 chorizo sausages & also the things that were actually on the shopping list. And today I made a sort of cassoulet. It’s based on a recipe in Alison Holst’s collection of crockpot & slow=cooker dishes, but as usual I tweaked it a bit to suit what was in the herb garden & pantry.

You’ll need to start this off in the morning if using a slow cooker as it takes 6-8 hours on ‘low’ to get the meat nice & toothsome & the sauce thick & rich.

First I sliced a couple of brown onions & softened them in olive oil on a medium heat, along with 4 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced. Then I tipped them into the bowl of my trusty slow-cooker, and added a tin of chopped tomatoes in juice, a tin of cannellini beans, 3 Tblsp of tomato paste, the leaves of several sprigs of time, a couple of Tblsp of chopped fresh marjoram, 1/2 tsp salt and a couple of bay leaves, & mixed everything together. (The original recipe calls for sage, but I haven’t had a lot of success with sage. If we enlarge the courtyard garden I’ll try growing it there as it doesn’t seem to like life in pots. Not at our place, anyway.) The chorizos I sliced about 1cm thick before adding them to the dish, and then the pork bones, and mixed again so the meat was well covered in sauce. Then I left it all to its own devices.

After a couple of hours I gave it all a stir. The mix looked a bit dry so I dropped in the half-dozen small tomatoes from the bowl on the bench, added about half a cup of water, & went away again.

A little before dinner time I fished out the pork bones & separated the now meltingly-soft meat from the bones & skin, popping the meat back in the cooker bowl & wrapping the other bits for the rubbish. Check to see if it needs seasoning – ours didn’t as the chorizos were pleasantly spicy – before sprinkling with chopped parsley & serving. Or you could use gremolata. The dish would go well with steamed greens and baked potatoes (or mash), but we had it with slices of beer bread (the recipe for which I will provide shortly 🙂 ).

It might not have been authentic, but it was certainly tasty.