Rich Mushroom Soup


My husband is a proud Yorkshire man and was brought up on a diet of all things Yorkshire, all of which he was delighted to introduce me to when we started dating. One of the foodstuffs he most loves is Hendersons Relish. I’d never heard of this before I met him, so there’s a good chance you may not have either. It’s like Worcester Sauce (don’t hate me, Yorkshire people), in that has an intense, savoury richness which adds an incredible umami flavour to any dish. Yorkshire people particularly like their pies slathered with it – and with good reason.

When we decided to try out the plant based diet, deep, savoury flavours were the ones I thought I’d miss the most. However, on making a mushroom soup, I have discovered that this does not necessarily need to be the case. I found, quite by chance, that Hendersons Relish (unlike Worcester Sauce) is vegan friendly. Woo!

This earthy soup is a wonderful warmer for lunch, as a starter, or with a fat hunk of sour dough, a satisfying dinner. Enjoy!

Rich Mushroom Soup

Serves 4 – takes 30 minutes 

3tbsp olive oil

1 onion

4 cloves garlic

600g mushrooms 

1 vegan stock cube

600ml water

3 tbsp Hendersons Relish

2 slices whole grain bread

Handful chopped chives

1. Roughly chop the onion and add to a large casserole dish with two tablespoons of the olive oil. Sauté gently for 5 minutes.

2. Finely chop the garlic and add to the pan, then roughly slice the mushrooms and add these too. Cook (without stirring) for 3-4 minutes, then add the stock cube, water and seasoning and cover. Simmer for ten minutes.

3. Meanwhile, put your oven on to the highest temperature. Cut the bread up into rough squares and toss with the remaining oil and some salt. Put in the oven and cook for 5-10 minutes until golden and crisp.

4. Whizz your soup with a blender or food processor. If it’s too thin, add some more water to your liking, then add the Hendersons Relish. Check your seasoning and add more if necessary.

5. To serve, top each bowl with a handful of croutons and chopped chives. Yum!

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Black Forest Fruits and Beetroot Smoothie


Mornings can be rushed. Particularly weekday mornings. And when you’re trying to eat more healthily, it’s hard to avoid falling into the trap of grabbing something quick and instantly gratifying for breakfast (like a cereal bar). 

If you’ve got two minutes and a smoothie maker though, you have a healthy and nutritious breakfast at your fingertips.

When I first got my smoothie maker, I was a bit put off by the fruit and veg prep – if I’ve got to peel, slice, and de stone then it’s not exactly quick and easy. For this recipe, though, the extent of the prep is pouring – so easy and so delicious!


Black Forest Fruits and Beetroot Smoothie

Serve one

Ingredients 

1 handful frozen Black Forest Fruits

1 handful oats

250ml beetroot juice

1. Put all of the ingredients in the smoothie maker. Top up with water.

2. Whizz. Add more water if it’s too thick. 

You’re done! Simple, quick and so healthy.

Lentil Chilli with Roasted Sweet Potato


I have had a hiatus. It was supposed to be a two week hiatus – a little break to free up my crammed evenings. It turned into almost two and a half years! I have still been cooking; new recipes, old recipes. Some I’ve been keen to share, but I just didn’t have the momentum.

Then, things changed. Two things fell into place: a holiday, and a new outlook on food.

The holiday has left me with spare time I didn’t have before, and the new outlook came from watching a documentary called What The Health. A brief scour of the net tells us that, as with anything, the facts may not be entirely as presented in this documentary. However, it left me thinking that a plant based diet may be a good thing to try for a while, to see if there are any individual benefits for us.

I struggled though – where are the exciting, inventive vegan recipes? I’m not talking about making a chocolate cake from avocado, I’m talking about something quick, tasty and nourishing to fill you up on a week night. So, I decided to come back to log, mainly for myself, my plant based recipes. I’m hoping to aim for two a week – if I fall off the blogging wagon again, feel free to throw me back on it!

A couple of caveats – I’m aiming for plant based, not vegan, so there may be bits and pieces you’re not happy with if you’re vegan (check the ingredients list). Secondly, I’m not envisaging this to be an all consuming diet and I’m sure I’ll move away from it sometimes. We’ll see how it goes- this is the very beginning!

I have called this recipe a chilli for want of a better word although it has no spice (you could add some though); it is smoky and satisfying and very very easy!


Lentil Chilli with Roasted Sweet Potatoes 

Serves 4

Ingredients 

4 large sweet potatoes

3tbsp olive oil 

1 onion

400g chestnut mushrooms

400ml passata

2 x 250g packets of ready to eat lentils

2tsp smoked paprika

1tep dried oregano

2tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

Method

1. Put the sweet potatoes in a bag and pour over 2 tbsp of the oil. Add a generous pinch of salt and rub them well to make sure they’re coated. Tip onto a baking tray and slice a cross into the top of each one with a sharp knife. Put in the oven at 180 degrees for an hour (or longer – the longer the better in my opinion). They’re done when a knife cuts through them easily.

2. For the chilli, finely chop the onion. Heat the remaining oil in a saucepan and add the onion, stirring, for two minutes. 

3. Chop the mushrooms into chunks and add to the pan. Leave to cook until they are starting to turn golden.

4. Add the passata, lentils, smoked paprika and oregano. Cook gently for 5-10 minutes, then taste and season with salt and pepper.

5. Just before you are about to eat, add the chopped parsley to the chilli. Slice the sweet potatoes and dollop the chilli on top. We also had a spoonful of vio life vegan cream cheese on top for a little creaminess, but this is optional.

Enjoy!

Leek and Potato Soup


Everyone is cooking soup at the moment. It’s exactly what we crave when the temperature plummets. I wanted to make a veggie soup, but also wanted one which is wholesome and filling so, naturally, I went for leek and potato (brocolli and stilton would have been a close second).

I’m not going to try to sell this soup as a healthy option – it contains too much butter and cream for that sort of thing. But that’s what makes it so delicious! I think that we must use up so many calories trying to keep warm in this horrid weather that we deserve a little cream sometimes.

Leek and potato is a classic and will guarantee bowls licked clean. It’s a lovely colour and could easily be prettified for a dinner party.

This will take 30 minutes and will serve at least 4 (there will likely be leftovers which freeze beautifully!)

Leek and Potato Soup (1)

Leek and Potato Soup

50g unsalted butter

1 onion

450g potatoes

450g leeks

1 litre vegetable stock

140ml double cream

140ml milk

1. Peel your potatoes and chop them into 1 inch chunks. Trim the ends off the leeks and slice them. Chop your onion into 1 inch chunks.

2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan or casserole dish over a medium heat. When it starts to bubble, and the veg. Turn down the heat and put a lid on. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring fairly often so that the veg doesn’t stick or colour.

3. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Put the lid back on and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft.

4. Whizz your soup up with a blender until smooth then put back on the heat. Add the cream and milk and bring to a simmer, then season to taste with salt and plenty of black pepper.

5. Serve large bowls or mugs with thick wedges of warm bread. Delicious!

Leek and Potato Soup (2)

Honey Mustard Glazed Pork Chop with Mac ‘n’ Cheese and Sweetcorn


I saw a recipe online recently – I don’t remember where – which featured pork chop served with mac ‘n’ cheese on the side. Whenever I make macaroni cheese, I serve it as a main dish by itself (throwing a few veggies in there too to make it a bit healthier – see here). I think this is because the way I usually make it, it takes quite a long time and so I don’t want to over complicate matters.

I’ve changed the recipe this time, and I’ve used cream rather than making a bechamel which, although not particularly good for you, is quick, easy and delicious and is surely fine every now and then as a treat.

The pork chops are coated in a delicious sweet and spicy marinade which cuts through the mac ‘n’ cheese and, taking inspiration from the USA as this dish does, I decided to serve it with sweetcorn. I would have gone for full corn on the cobs, but couldn’t find any in my supermarket – so, a tin had to do and it did the job well! Frozen sweetcorn would be fine too.

This is the final of my first series of Cheap Eats – I hope you’ve been enjoying them and welcome any feedback you have!

This will serve 2 very greedy people and will take 45 minutes to make.

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Honey Mustard Glazed Pork Chop with Mac ‘n’ Cheese and Sweetcorn

For the pork:

2 pork chops

2 tbsps runny honey

2 tsps dijon mustard

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp olive oil

For the mac ‘n’ cheese:

250g macaroni

200g mature cheddar

150ml double cream

1 onion

1 small handful breadcrumbs

To serve:

300g tin of sweetcorn, cooked according to instructions

1. For the pork, mix together the honey, mustard, vinegar and oil in a bowl and drizzle over the pork chops on a plate, making sure they’re well coated. Put them in the fridge while you cook the mac ‘n’ cheese.

2. For the mac ‘n’ cheese, cook the macaroni in a pan of boiling water for 7-8 minutes. Grate the cheese and chop the onion.

3. Drain the macaroni and stir in most of the cheese, cream and onion. Season with salt and pepper, then tip into an oven proof dish. Top with the remaining cheese and the breadcrumbs. Either pop under a hot grill or bake in the oven at 200 degrees until golden and bubbling.

4. For the chops, put a griddle pan on a high heat. When hot, place the pork chops in the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, then tip in any remaining marinade from the plate. Let it boil up, then remove from the heat.

5. To serve, pop the chops on plates and drizzle over the glaze from the griddle pan. Pile mac ‘n’ cheese and sweetcorn on the side. Delicious!

Vegetable Chilli


This is another recipe for when you’re craving something comforting and warm but don’t want to over indulge. I love meat chilli, but only when it’s slow- slow-cooked and melty. This chilli has just the same favours without the long cooking, is much better for you, and costs barely anything to put together a huge potful!

I don’t think chillies should be hot – I think they should contain lovely warm flavours without any real spice and so this is what I’ve done here. Feel free to add a few dried chilli flakes if you prefer some spice!

Of course, I topped mine with cheese and soured cream, and served it with white rice, but you could just as easily miss off those elements to make it seriously healthy and low in calories.

Give this a go – it’s packed full of smoky flavours and I guarantee you’ll love it.

This is another of my Cheap Eats recipes – make sure you check out the rest here if you haven’t already!

This will make enough to serve 6 – freeze any extra, or have it for lunch (it gets better the next day!) and will take 30 minutes to make.

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Vegetable Chilli

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion

2 cloves garlic

1 large bunch coriander

1 tsp dried cinnamon

1 tsp smoked paprika

2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes

1 x 400g tin chickpeas

1 x 400g tin borlotti beans

1 courgette

1 red pepper

200g white rice, cooked, per person to serve, plus cheddar cheese and soured cream to dollop on top

1. Finely chop your onion, garlic and the stalks of the coriander. Put in a large pan with the oil and cook over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon and smoked paprika, then tip in the chopped tomatoes, chickpeas and borlotti beans.

2. Chop the courgette and add this to the pan too. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Finely chop the red pepper and coriander leaves and stir these into the chilli. Taste, and season with salt and pepper, and add more cinnamon and smoked paprika if it needs it too.

4. Serve on a pile of white rice, topped with grated cheese and soured cream. Yum!

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Pan Fried Cod with Luxury Peas and Baby Potatoes


It’s early January, so everyone is on a health kick. However, for many, it’s also the first day back to work after a long and wonderful festive holiday. And when you down tools at the end of what feels like the longest day ever, what do you crave? Comfort food is my guess – I certainly did today. And when I walked past the fish and chip shop on the way home, it was as though it was calling out to me.

But I resisted, because I knew I had some delicious ingredients lined up for this lovely meal at home. It’s basically got all of the ingredients of fish, chips and mushy peas, so it tastes great, and it’s just that little bit better for you, so you can eat it and feel (a little) angelic at the same time!

This will serve 2 (the peas and potatoes are enough for 4, but as usual we’ll have the leftovers for lunch as a glorified potato salad. You can easily expand it to serve 4 by increasing the amount of fish), and will take about 30 minutes to make.

This recipe is also part of my Cheap Eats project.

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Pan Fried Cod with Luxury Peas and Baby Potatoes

2 boneless cod fillets

2 tbsps olive oil

1 tbsp plain flour

160g cubed pancetta

1 onion

1 small glass of white wine (optional – only if you have the dregs of a bottle in the fridge)

75ml single cream

300g frozen peas

600g baby potatoes

10g butter

Small handful fresh chopped parsley, or 1 tsp dried parsley

1. For the potatoes, put a large pan of water on to boil. Halve any large potatoes and add them all to the pan, put a lid on and simmer over a medium heat for 15-20 minutes. When cooked, drain and add the butter and parsley. Mix well.

2. For the peas, tip the pancetta into a saucepan. Cook over a high heat until they start to crisp, then add the chopped onion and turn the heat down to medium. After 2 minutes, tip in the wine, if using, and allow to boil down. Then tip in the cream and peas and cook for another 3-4 minutes, until the peas are cooked. Season with salt and pepper.

3. For the fish, heat the oil in a frying pan. Season the fish with a little salt and pepper and dust with the flour. When the oil is hot, add the fish and cook for about 3 minutes on each side, until golden and flaky.

4. Serve a portion of the fish with a mountain of potato and a mound of peas. Enjoy!

Curried Rack of Lamb with Pilau Rice


This is a delicious twist on a Sunday roast and is the first in my series of Cheap Eats; simple, quick recipes where you can cook fresh, tasty food for up to four people, all for under £50 per week.

Rack of lamb is a lovely cut and always looks tasty. The fatty layer on top is perfect for rubbing in spices, and the lamb works beautifully well with the Indian spice mix.

I chose to serve this with pilau rice, and if you’ve never made your own then forget the sweet, multi-coloured stuff you’ll find in supermarkets – real pilau rice is fragrant, delicious and a dish in its own right.

Try it out – this looks so impressive!

This will serve 4 and take up to 40 minutes to make.

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Curried Rack of Lamb with Pilau Rice

For the spice rub:

4 cardamon pods

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp tumeric

1 tsp medium curry powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp vegetable oil

For the pilau rice:

450g basmati rice

1 onion

15g butter

1 cinammon stick

4 cardamon pods

8 cloves

2 bay leaves

1 small pinch saffron

Additional:

1 rack of lamb (approx 500g)

200ml natural yoghurt

1/2 cucumber

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

2. To make the spice rub, crush the cardamon pods in a pestle and mortar and remove the seeds. Discard the outside shell and keep the seeds in the mortar. Crush them as much as you can, then tip in the rest of the spices. Stir, and add the oil. Stir to create a paste, then rub this into the fatty side of your rack of lamb. Place in a roasting dish in the oven. Cook for 15-30 minutes, depending on the size of your lamb and how rare you like it (you can tell how well done it is by checking the sides, but remember the inside will always be rarer). Leave to rest for 5 minutes when it’s cooked.

3. To make your rice, chop the onion. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the onion. Gently soften over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes, then add the spices, bay leaves and saffron. Stir, then add the rice. Coat the rice in the butter, then tip in 650ml water. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat, cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave to stand for 5 minutes.

4. Slice your cucumber and mix with the yoghurt and a pinch of salt in a bowl. You can serve this alongside your rack of lamb and rice. Enjoy!

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Mussels with Cider Broth


Mussels are in the peak of their season at the moment (in the Northern hemisphere, anyway), so what better time to enjoy them. They’re cheap, and tasty, so pick some up when you next see them.

We went for a long walk in the wet and cold today, and what better way to recuperate than with a steaming bowl of mussels cooked in broth. I love mussels cooked any way really, but I prefer the traditional French/English versions where there is a big bowl of moreish sauce to mop up with a doorstep of bread.

Some people are squeamish about preparing mussels, but they’re very easy. They take some time, because you want to take care that you’re not eating any that are off, but if you don’t rush them it’s actually quite a relaxing job.

I hope you enjoy and if you have any questions about preparing mussels, just comment below.

This will take approximately 45 minutes to make and will serve 3-4.

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Mussels with Cider Broth

1kg mussels

160g cubed pancetta

1 onion

500ml cider

150ml single cream

1 large handful parsley

Bread, to serve

1. Start by frying the pancetta in a large casserole dish over a high heat. Finely chop the onion, and when the pancetta is starting to turn golden, add the onion to the dish. Turn the heat down and sweat the onion for 2-3 minutes.

2. Pour in the cider and 200ml water, turn the heat to low and allow it to simmer while you prepare the mussels.

3. To prepare your mussels, take each mussel from the bag one at a time. If the mussel is closed, pull off the ‘beard’ (the hairy strands which poke out from the shell) and gently scrape off any barnacles. Place in a large colander. If any are open, tap them gently. If they don’t close, discard them. If they close, again remove the beard and add to the colander. If there are any with smashed or cracked shells, discard them.

4. When you have sorted the mussels, rinse the ones in the colander under the tap.

5. Chop the parsley and add it, along with the cream, to the cider sauce. Gently tip in the mussels, stir gently, then put a lid on and turn up the heat. After 2-3 minutes, remove the lid – the mussels are cooked when they have opened.

6. To serve, ladle into bowls and serve with bread on the side. If any mussels haven’t opened during cooking, don’t eat them.

Enjoy this delicious winter warmer!

Leek and Chorizo Fusili


We’re having a New Year’s Eve party tomorrow and so this is an ’empty the fridge to make way for the booze’ recipe.

I’ve spent lots of the day in the kitchen preparing the food we’re having tomorrow night, so something quick and uncomplicated was a must. This recipe is so, so straightforward and you can throw in any meat or vegetable you have in your fridge.

I hope you all have a lovely New Year’s Eve!

Leek and Chorizo Fusili

250g fresh fusili

10g butter

25g chorizo

1 leek

200g half fat creme fraiche

150g frozen peas

1 handful fresh parsley

Cheese, to serve (parmesan or any other hard cheese would work)

1. Boil a pan of water and cook the pasta according to packet instructions.

2. Meanwhile, thinly slice the chorizo and put in a large saute pan over a medium high heat. When it starts to crisp, add the butter.

3. Slice the leek and add this to the pan. When it starts to soften, stir in the creme fraiche and frozen peas. Turn down the heat and allow to cook gently until the peas are cooked.

4. Stir in the chopped parsley and cooked pasta. It’s as easy as that!