A Bowlful of Dreams: Sweet Potato, Lentil and Spinach Dhal

When I’m feeling a bit rubbishy I want a bowl full of something bright to look at, fragrant to smell and bursting with bold flavours to taste.  And if it’s chock full of veg and low fat protein then that’s a bonus. There is one meal that ticks all those boxes: A Bowlful of Dreams.

And it can be in a bowl and in your belly in about 25 minutes.

So if you’re feeling a little below par and need something to lift you up then maybe try this.

 

dhal2.jpeg

 

Serves 2, easily doubled.  Reheats nicely if stored in the fridge for 3 days.

Ingredients:

  • A glug of oil
  • One onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 -1 red chilli (start small! You can always add more later!)
  • 1tsp turmeric
  • 2tsp garam masala
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 100g red lentils
  • 500mls hot stock (veg is fine, but if you have some chicken stock that needs using, you could do so here)
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • As much handfuls of spinach as you can spare (about half a bag)

Nice bonus ingredients (the recipe will totally work without these, but they sort of elevate it if you have them to hand):

  • 2 tsp butter
  • juice of half a lime
  • a handful of coriander leaves.

Method:

  • Heat a glug of oil in a medium sized pan.
  • Finely chop your onion, garlic and chilli and add to the pan, turning the heat down nice and low.  Allow the onions to soften for about 5 minutes.
  • Chop your sweet potato.  (I rarely bother to peel mine, but you can if you choose.  If there are any ‘hairy bits’ on the sweet potato then do chop these off as they are touch to eat.)
  • Add your spices, stirring through the onion/garlic/chilli.
  • Add your lentils and chopped sweet potatoes.  Stir it all together so the spices and oil coats the lentils and sweet potatoes.
  • Pour the hot stock in and add the tbsp tomato puree, giving it all a good stir.
  • Bring to the boil, then pop a lid on the pan and turn the heat right down again.
  • Leave covered, stirring periodically (as lentils can catch really easily on the bottom of the pan), for about 15 minutes.
  • Check that the lentils and sweet potato are soft and ready to eat.
  • Throw in your spinach and stir through until it’s wilted.
  • Now you can add your bonus bits, if you want to.
  • Check for consistency and flavour.  If it’s too watery you can simply leave the dhal to bubble very gently on the hob with the lid off to reduce down a bit.  Depending on whether you’ve used stock cubes or homemade stock, you might want to add a little salt to really make the flavours sing.  Not spicy enough?  Add a little more chilli, cayenne pepper or even a bit of Tabasco to give it some kick.
  • Serve in deep bowls with a dollop of yoghurt, mango chutney and rice or naan (or both! I won’t tell anyone!).  I generally find this is a meal best eaten on the sofa, in your PJ’s, whilst watching something questionable on telly.  But that’s just me…

 

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Worth-the-Tears Caramelised Red Onion and Stilton Tart

The humble onion.  Sitting in the background.  Starting off every recipe but never given any credit.  Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.  Well, NO MORE.  This is a recipe that makes the humble onion a star.  A gorgeous, sticky, sweet star, nestled next to its supporting cast: a soft, salty Stilton and crumbly, buttery puff pastry.

This is not a quick recipe, but nor is it especially involved.  One could quite easily set the onions going and then set about doing other things nearby – the washing up, folding laundry, a small dance, perhaps – returning periodically to give the onions a spuddle before returning to the dance.

It is, however, not a recipe one can rush. Caramelising onions takes time.  Do not rush your onions.

For this reason, this meal tends to be one reserved for days off where the pace is a little slower and you want to savour the day.  Days when you don’t want to rush anything.

 (Unlike this photo, which was a little rushed because we just wanted to eat…#foodbloggerproblems)

tart1.jpeg

You can, of course, make your own pastry.  And if you do, not only will I admire you, but you can also run around saying you’ve made ‘A Rough Puff’, which is fun to do.  If you are so inclined, I would direct you to this video.  For now though, I’m sticking to shop bought.

Serves 2 hungry (greedy?) adults, or 3 less hungry

Ingredients:

  • 4 large red onions, or 6 small ones
  • a good glug of oil
  • a tablespoon of butter
  • a garlic clove
  • a small glass of red wine
  • a tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 200g ready made, ready rolled puff pastry (or buy a block and roll it out yourself – it’s more economical that way)
  • 60g stilton or other blue cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • to garnish: a few basil or parsley leaves, fresh rosemary or walnuts (entirely optional, but nice if you have them in)

Method:

  • Peel your onions, chop off the root and top, then slice them through the middle. Slice them as finely as you can, so that when the layers are separated they look like little crescents. (Don’t worry if you cry, you’ll be adding salt anyway.)
  • Heat a good glug (3tbsps) of olive oil and the butter in a large frying pan on a medium heat.
  • Add the onions to the pan, coat them in the oil and butter. Add a pinch of salt.
  • Turn the heat right down and cook the onions ever so gently, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes.  Do not rush your onions (this is when you can do the washing up or a little dance.  Don’t go too far away though because you need to make sure they don’t catch or burn)
  • After 30 mins they should have shrunk and they should be glossy and a little sticky.
  • Finely slice or press a clove of garlic and add this to the pan, giving a little stir.  Continue to cook on this low heat for a further 5 mins.
  • Now for the fun bit: turn up the heat to a medium heat.  Throw in your small glass of red wine and balsamic vinegar.  Give it a good stir and watch while the onions drink it all up.  (You’ve just deglazed a pan.  Get you!)
  • Once it’s all drunk up, turn the heat off entirely.
  • Preheat your oven to 180’C.
  • Prepare a baking tray by lining it with foil and lightly brushing the foil with oil.
  • If you are using a block of pastry, roll it out now into the shape you want your tart to be.  I make mine a rectangle, if only because my baking tray is a rectangle and ready-rolled pastry is too.  But you can do it in a circle.  Or a triangle.  Or go off-piste entirely. There are no rules.
  • We’re going to make the tart upside-down.  So arrange your onions on the prepared baking tray, remembering to leave a border that will form your crust.
  • Crumble and evenly distribute about two thirds of your cheese over your onions.
  • Now lie your pastry over your onions and cheese so that it covers them and leaves a little border for a crust.  You might want to tuck your edges in a little bit.
  • Pop it in the oven, with the pastry on the top for about 35 minutes, until the pastry is golden and beautiful.
  • When cooked, remove the tart from the oven. Carefully (use an oven glove or a teatowel) lightly put a chopping board on top of the pastry and then turn it all over (so the board is underneath and the baking tray on top).
  • Lie the board on a flat surface and carefully remove the baking tray.
  • Some of the onions might be stuck on the foil – that’s no big deal, just gently scrape them off and put them back on the tart.
  • Top with the remaining cheese and garnishes of your choice!

 

 

The step-by-step guide to making a Roast Chicken Dinner to Impress Your Mum and still have time to put on some make up and hoover the flat…

So I was going to post all of these with photos.  But it seems my SD card is corrupted…GAH!…I’m just posting the recipes for now and am setting about either rescuing the SD card, or just cooking everything again to photograph it.  So watch this space. 

So this post does not contain any new recipes.

It is, if you will, a synoptic that gives timings for how you would put together all the various elements of the Roast Chicken to Impress Your Mum series so that you can really impress her.

A lot of people (The Boy, I’m looking at you) find that timing things is the most stressful part of cooking, and with so many elements in an impressive roast, that is a valid concern. But fear not.  I’ve done it all for you.

The following is based on a roast made with a 2kg chicken and eaten at roughly 2pm  and gives you time to pop a bit of make up on and send your beloved running around the flat with a hoover and a duster.  Of course if you want to eat at a different time just add or subtract the timings accordingly.  (So if you’re eating at 1pm subtract an hour from each time.  If you want to eat at 3pm, add an hour.  You’re not an idiot.  You don’t really need me to tell you that.)

The roast includes the following recipes (with links to their stand-alone page):

Boursin Roast Chicken

Beaumont’s Signature Roast Potatoes

Thyme and time Roast Carrots and Onions

Barely-needs-a-recipe Leek Confit

Courgettes with Lemon and Chilli

 

SO! On y vas!

Ingredients:

For the chicken:

  • One chicken, free range, 2kg
  • One lump of Boursin cheese (or half a tub of Garlic and Herb cream cheese)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • A lemon

For the Carrots and Onions:

  • 4 good sized carrots
  • 3 white onions
  • 1tsp dried thyme
  • Olive oil
  • salt and pepper

For the Courgettes:

  • 2 courgettes
  • Olive oil
  • Two cloves of garlic, crushed.
  • A good shake of chilli flakes
  • 3-4 tomatoes, sliced in half or quarters depending on size (optional)
  • Half a lemon
  • Salt

For the Potatoes:

  • 1kg new potatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • Sea salt
  • Olive oil
  • Parsley, a handful

For the Leek Confit:

  • 3 big leeks or 4 smaller ones (not baby leeks though, obvs)
  • 2 tbsps butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

 

Method:

To eat at 2pm:

10:30 Take the chicken out the fridge.

11:00 The chicken:

  • Snip the string holding the chicken‘s legs together and unhook her legs.
  • Pop half a lemon in the cavity.
  •  Now for the stuffing.  Take off your rings, unless you want your diamonds encrusted with Boursin or raw chicken. Trust me.  Gently prise the skin from the chicken’s breast, starting at the neck end.  You may need to use a sharp knife to snip the membrane slightly.  Make sure you can slide your hand all the way to the other end.
  • Take about a sixth if the lump of Boursin in you hand and slide it between the skin and the breast,  getting it as far down towards the end as you can.
  • Keep adding the cheese until you’ve used it all, or you can’t possibly get any more in.  It’s not the nicest sensation ever, but it’s worth it.  Trust.
  •  Once it’s all in, smooth it out by sliding your hand over the skin, towards the legs, to really smooth the cheese into the end if the breast.
  • Drizzle the top of the breast and legs in olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and give it all a good rub in.
  • Pop in a roasting tray and preheat your oven to 200’C ready to put her in at 12:00.

11:30 Leeks:

  • Run your leeks under the tap to ensure there’s not grit left on them.
  • Slice the end off each leek and then slice the white and light green bits as thinly as you can. Save the dark green tops for stock.
  • Melt the butter and olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. When melted add your leeks to the pan and give them a good stir until they are all covered in the butter and oil. Season with a good pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Turn the heat right down and cook the leeks for around 45 mins, stirring frequently to stop them sticking or colouring too much.

When the leeks are done (12:20), turn off the heat, ready to reheat later.

11:45 Courgettes: (your leeks will still be cooking, but will only need minimal stirring now, so you can totally do this simultaneously.)

  • Slice your courgettes lengthways, and then on a diagonal slice them into 5mm thick slices
  • Heat a good slug of oil in a pan on a medium high heat.
  • Add your courgettes, garlic, salt and shake of chilli flakes to the pan.
  • Cook them on a medium high heat to give them some colour and then turn down the heat a little to soften the courgettes.  This takes about 20 mins.
  • If you’re adding tomatoes add them now, stir through and heat gently until they soften.
  • Once you have reached this stage, squeeze in half the juice of a lemon, stir then turn off the heat and leave to one side to reheat later at the same time as your leeks.

 

12:00 Put your stuffed chicken in the oven at 200’C.  

 

12:20 Turn the oven down to 180’C, the leeks and courgettes should be cooked by now, so turn off the heat.  We’ll reheat them later.

12:40 Potatoes

Pour about 3 tablespoons of oil into the roasting tray that you will cook them in.  Put the tray in the oven to get the oil nice and hot.

12:45 Meanwhile have a little look at your potatoes. You’ll want them all to be roughly the same size, so you may need to cut some of the bigger ones in half. Do not peel your spuds.

  • Pop them in a large pan with a good sprinkle of salt and pour over the kettle of boiling water.
  • Whack a lid on your pan and bring to the boil for 5 mins max.
  • After 5 mins drain your spuds.  You will be putting them in the hot oil in the oven in a few minutes.

12:50 Carrots and onions

  • Cut your carrots into batons: halve each carrot both vertically and horizontally. Cut each chunk into about three or four batons.
  • Peel your onions and cut each onion into six, keeping the layers of each segment as best as you can.
  • Arrange your carrots and onions on a baking tray. Drizzle over a good glug of oil. Squiggle your veg around on the tray to help coat it in the oil.
  • Sprinkle over some thyme and season with salt and pepper.

13:00 Put your carrots and onions in the oven, towards the bottom.

Take the tray with the hot oil in out of the oven and put in your spuds.  Give it a gentle shake to coat all the potatoes in the oil.  Whack straight back in the oven.  They need about an hour. You are going to throw in 4 cloves of garlic about 20 mins before the end.

13:05 There’s about 35 mins of down time here, where you don’t have to do anything, except maybe keep an eye on the bits in the oven.  This is when to put your make up on and run around cleaning the flat and setting the table.

13:40 Take your chicken out the and test for doneness by pricking the thigh and checking that the juices run clear (by clear we mean no sign on blood, no red, no pink).

Put the chicken on a plate and cover with foil.

13:42 (after taking chicken out) pop your garlic cloves in with the potatoes and give the tray a good shake to redistribute.

13:55 Ask someone to carve the chicken (or do it yourself if you feel confident to do it whilst reheating your other bits) and pop the slices on a plate.  Take the plate to the table.

13:57 Reheat your courgettes and leeks on a medium heat for 3 – 5 minutes.  You might want to take a few spoonfuls of the chicken juice out of the chicken roasting pan and add them to the leeks.  When warmed through, transfer them to attractive bowls (or ugly ones, there are no rules) and take them to the table.

14:00 Take the potatoes and carrots and onions out the oven. Pop them in an attractive bowl.  Garnish your spuds with sea salt and parsley and take them to the table.

14:02 You’ve done it! Hurrah! Have a glass of wine.  Sit down at the table and just look at how impressed your mum is.  Eat.  I bet you’re hungry.

 

 

Boursin Roast Chicken

So I was going to post all of these with photos.  But it seems my SD card is corrupted…GAH!…I’m just posting the recipes for now and am setting about either rescuing the SD card, or just cooking everything again to photograph it.  So watch this space. 

The Boy and I had been living together for two years before I got round to making any semblance of a roast dinner.  I know, I know.  Poor show, Beaumont.

Being the fussy individual that I am, I wanted something that was a bit different.  Enter: The Boursin Roast Chicken.

The first time I made a roast for my mum it was this. And it impressed her. And as a result we have the Roast Chicken to Impress Your Mum series.

The idea is really simple – a lump of Boursin cheese stuffed between the skin and the breast of the chicken.  The effect is really lovely – the breast is moist and subtly flavoured by the garlic and herbs in the cheese.  But you still get a gloriously crispy skin that you can snaffle in secret whilst carving.

There’s hardly anything to it. And it looks and smells pretty amazing too.

Ingredients:
One chicken, free range – (this recipe is for a 2kg chicken, which will feed 6 people with leftovers.  For a bigger or smaller chicken just adjust the timings. The BBC Good Food website has a good calculator for this.)
One lump of Boursin cheese (or half a tub of Garlic and Herb cream cheese)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
A lemon

Method:
– Take the chicken out the fridge about an hour before you want to cook her.
– Preheat your oven to 200’C.
– Snip the string holding the chicken’s legs together and unhook her legs.
– Pop half a lemon in the cavity.
– Now for the stuffing.  Take off your rings, unless you want your diamonds encrusted with Boursin or raw chicken. Trust me.  Gently prise the skin from the chicken’s breast, starting at the neck end.  You may need to use a sharp knife to snip the membrane slightly.  Make sure you can slide your hand all the way to the other end.
– Take about a sixth if the lump of Boursin in you hand and slide it between the skin and the breast,  getting it as far down towards the end as you can.
– Keep adding the cheese until you’ve used it all, or you can’t possibly get any more in.  It’s not the nicest sensation ever, but it’s worth it.  Trust.
– Once it’s all in, smooth it out by sliding your hand over the skin, towards the legs, to really smooth the cheese into the end if the breast.
– Drizzle the top of the breast and legs in olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and give it all a good rub in.
– Pop in a roasting tray and pop in the oven for 20mins at 200’C.
– After 20 mins turn the oven down to 180’C for 1hr20mins.
– Test the chicken for doneness by pricking the thick part of the thigh and checking that the juices run clear.
– Leave to rest for about 20 mins before carving (or in my case attempting to carve, failing, getting frustrated and then sort of hacking away at it.)
– Eat.

 

 

– Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for 3 or 4 days for scrummy chicken sandwiches or any number of leftover chicken recipes.
– Don’t forget to make stock with the bones.

Barely-requires-a-recipe Leek Confit

So I was going to post all of these with photos.  But it seems my SD card is corrupted…GAH!…I’m just posting the recipes for now and am setting about either rescuing the SD card, or just cooking everything again to photograph it.  So watch this space. 

This, as the title may suggest, is barely even a recipe, as this is pretty much as simple as it gets. But as with most things in food, if not in life in general,  the simplicity is phenomenonally satisfying.

These are leeks cooked ever so slowly in butter and oil to bring out the natural sweetness, seasoned with plenty of salt and pepper to create a ruch, flavourful, glorious accompaniment to just about any meal.

Do bear in mind though that this is a recipe that takes time.  You cannot rush a confit.

It forms part of the Roast Chicken to Impress Your Mum series. When I made it for my mum she asked for the recipe.  And here it is:

Serves 4-6, as an accompaniment
Ingredients:
3 big leeks or 4 smaller ones (not baby leeks though, obvs)
2 tbsps butter
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
Optional: a drizzle of cream or a splash of chicken stock or roast chicken juices.

Method
– Run your leeks under the tap to ensure there’s not grit left on them.
– Slice the end off each leek and then slice the white and light green bits as thinly as you can. Save the dark green tops for stock.
– Melt the butter and olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. When melted add your leeks to the pan and give them a good stir until they are all covered in the butter and oil. Season with a good pinch of
– Turn the heat right down and cook the leeks for around 45 mins, stirring frequently to stop them sticking or colouring too much.
– The leeks are done when they are soft and silky and have shrunk down considerably. Check your seasoning and prepared to add a little more salt and pepper.
– If adding stock or roast chicken juices do this just before the end to ‘loosen’ the confit and add a further savoury hit.
– If adding cream, take the leeks off the heat and leave to cool ever so slightly so the cream doesn’t split.  Stir the cream in, around a tablespoon and a half, slowly slowly.  The cream will add a further luxurious silkiness to the leeks.