Friday, 5 November 2010

Smug mode, on!

Wow, has it really been over 3 months since I last posted? I wasn't intending to quit, but it's been hard to find the inspiration. I was rather annoyingly sick over a lot of winter, and also away on holiday for nearly a month and then immediately sick again when I got back. I did write a birthday cake post back in October, but it was so full of whining that I never got round to editing it to a fit state for publication. But now the weather is warming up and I'm feeling some inspiration at last!

Tonight I'm feeling VERY smug indeed. I got home from work about 6.30pm, and while The Bloke was off helping B1 with a dodgy internet connection, I managed to whip up a lentil and chorizo soup and a "spinach and cheese" damper made with silverbeet from the garden - and have dinner basically ready for 8pm when they came back. And to top it all off, we can have homemade gingerbread for dessert. A three part meal with all parts cooked from scratch! Not bad for a school night, if I do say so myself!

The soup was a recipe from AB, with some slight variation. The damper was a generic damper tweaked around. I'd picked the silverbeet on the weekend, as it was running to seed, and cleaned and steamed it and chucked it in the fridge, thinking of perhaps a mid-week frittata. The gingerbread I made on the weekend, to take in for a work morning tea. It's a recipe from an old favourite book, Elisabeth Ayrton's Cookery of England. A gorgeous fat Penguin paperback from 1977 full of regional and historical recipes; it was the first cookbook I ever had with history. And it has a recipe for home made crumpets which now that I think of it, I must do again sometime.

But first, here is tonight's menu:

Recipe 1: Red Lentil and Chorizo Soup
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
olive oil
1 tsp sweet paprika
3/4 tsp cumin
1 bay leaf
1 cup red lentils
120g pre-cooked chorizo, chopped
1 litre chicken stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 - 2 tsp balsamic vinegar, to taste.

  1. Finely chop the onions and garlic, and fry in the oil until golden.
  2. Add spices and fry for another minute, then add the lentils and stock and all other ingredients except the balsamic.
  3. Simmer for 35 minutes, then mix well and taste.
  4. Add the balsamic half a teaspoon at a time, stir, taste and continue until you are happy with the result.

Note: You could fry chorizo slices with the onion if you don't have it pre-cooked on hand. Balsamic vinegar varies a lot in strength so it's best not to overdo it. Also, AB's recipe has 2 finely chopped celery sticks and specifies 800ml homemade stock. I used a tetrapack of Campbells, sorry AB!

Recipe 2: Silverbeet and Cheese Damper
300g white self-raising flour
150g wholemeal self-raising flour
90g butter
300g cooked, cooled, chopped silverbeet or spinach
120g sharp cheddar, grated
about 100ml milk
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 200C
  2. Cube the butter and rub it into the flour.
  3. Add the cheese and silverbeet and mix well.
  4. Add the milk bit by bit, stirring well, until it comes together in a soft, but not sticky, dough.
  5. Dollop onto a baking sheet
  6. Bake 30-40 minutes, until golden and a skewer comes out clean.

Notes: Drain the spinach really well after cooking. Squish it down hard to get as much water out as possible. Also, this would be good with fetta and some spring onions, but I didn't have any.

Recipe 3: Yorkshire Gingerbread
300g self-raising flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
120g chopped dates
150g treacle or golden syrup
120g dark brown sugar
90g butter
1 egg
3/4 tsp bicarb soda, dissolved in 3 tsp milk

  1. Preheat oven to 160C
  2. Heat the butter and syrup in a small saucepan until the butter is melted. Set aside to cool a little.
  3. Grease and flour a 25cm square cake tin.
  4. Sieve flour, salt and spices together.
  5. Add dates and mix well.
  6. Beat together the egg and sugar.
  7. Add the butter/syrup mix in dollops, to the flour, mixing as you go and alternating with dollops of the egg/sugar mix.
  8. Stir in the bicarb/milk mix, and add water if the dough needs a little softening. It should be soft but not sloppy.
  9. Dollop into cake tin and smooth out top.
  10. Bake for 1.5 hours or until skewer comes out clean.
  11. Cool on a rack.

Notes: This is quite a dry
gingerbread, and goes very well sliced thin, and buttered. I used a mix of 100g golden syrup and 50g treacle. I varied it by adding 30g of finely chopped glace ginger to the mix, which I definitely recommend.


Fiona said...

That soup looks so warming! Perfect for this weekend :\

Lizzi said...

I'm complete giddy over all these things. With the rather...underwhelming spring weather we've had lately, it all sounds absolutely perfect. Gingerbread is one of the greatest loves of my life (and something I don't eat often enough, sadly!), and anything with chorizo is a big thumbs up in my book. Great to see you posting again! :)

(ps. I've been reading your blog for years -- and only just this week made the connection that we work at the same place...tis a very small world)

Cath said...

Hi Lizzi, I've only worked at the Institute since December last year, and I've been very slow blogging, so that's not too surprising.