Monthly Archives: February 2014

Spicy Lentils

When we arrived home from our holiday and found the place rearranged by the wild weather we were surprised to find how much had moved. The beach was re-organised as was the view with several trees missing and the tunnels in our garden were no more. We opened the garden gate and saw sad looking skeletons with plastic flapping in the wind. It was quite a comeback and the sunny memories went into shock.

I have to say that I’m now enjoying the new view and we do have lots of firewood. The tunnels will be fantastic when they are re-covered as new plastic lets in lots of light and we will also be able see out of them. We’re just waiting for a clear calm day so that we can get cracking. This means that the garden is going to be late kicking off this year but considering the dire weather it probably won’t set us back too much. I have plugged in the propagator and all going well we should have seeds germinating within a couple of weeks.

Here is an easy warming recipe for lentils

It’s a recipe we’ve been making for years and it originated in the Quaglino cook book.

I recently discovered that I don’t follow the recipe at all. I have my own madey up version. It was only when I watched Con make it for dinner one night that I realised. I thought he had some fancy pants angle on it when in fact he was following the recipe. It doesn’t seem to make much difference though as both versions are equally delicious.

Here’s my method

300g puy lentils

50g butter or 50mls oil

2-3 red onions, peeled and chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

3cm ginger, peeled and chopped

2 red chillies, chopped

1 tsp turmeric

4 cardamoms

2 star anise

3-4 tomatoes, chopped

600mls vegetable stock

1-2 tbs fish sauce

100mls cream

a handful of fresh coriander, chopped

Heat a saucepan, add the oil or butter and the onions. Cook on a medium heat stirring from time to time until the onions begin to melt down a little.

Add the chillies, garlic and ginger and cook for a couple of minutes then stir in the cardamoms, star anise and turmeric.


Chop the tomatoes and add to the pan. Keep cooking until the tomatoes begin to break down then add the lentils and stock. Bring to the boil and then cover with a lid and simmer for about forty minutes or until the lentils are tender.

Season with the fish sauce and then stir in the cream .

Our current favourite for eating this dish is the Toonsbridge Haulomi cheese, which we grill and pile on top.


To do this simply cut the haulomi into slices, season with black pepper and a few drops of olive oil and put on a grill pan or under the grill. Be stingy with the olive oil, you don’t need much.

Power Cut Dinner


You know the weather’s bad when you have to get a chainsaw out before you can move the car.

Yesterdays wild storm wiped out our electricity and uprooted our trees. We could see the trees lift from the ground from the security of our kitchen and land in odd places. It wasn’t the kind of day to go anywhere if at all possible but I did go up to our garden to check the chickens hadn’t blown away and give them some food. I couldn’t get to the shops but we still have a few tatty looking veg in the garden. There are leeks that have the green blown off, skeletal kale, the odd beetroot and some quite robust celeriac – robust mainly because they are growing underground!.

I gathered all the beetroots that I could find, half a dozen leeks and some celeriac and headed back to the house to try to get the dinner going before it was totally dark. I made a stew based on recipe for ‘Beet Bourguignon” from the Green Kitchen Stories. This was partly to get rid of a half bottle of red wine that was sitting around on the kitchen counter. I know you’re not meant to cook with rubbish wine but it’s difficult to pour it down the sink when it’s so expensive. It actually did an excellent job , certainly tasted better in the stew than the glass. This take on boeuf bourguigon is very clever. I made it with beetroots, leeks and carrots. The earthy vegetables tasted sweet and unctuous after braising in the wine. I cooked some puy lentils and fried some mushrooms which I stirred in at the end. We ate this with ‘vegetable basket’ mash, that being the celeric from the garden, a parsnip, half a sweet potato, a chunk of pumpkin and a couple of spuds.When they were cooked i put them through the potato ricer which worked perfectly. Who needs electricity! I whisked in some olive oil and we ate it with the ‘bourguigon ‘ on top .It made a delicious dinner  – all the better eaten in the candlelight.


Jens’ Broccoli Salad


I was given this recipe on a beach in Thailand. We were sitting around, as you do, discussing this,  that, and a little bit about food with a Danish guy called Jens.

He suddenly leapt up and rushed off to get a pen and paper so that he could give me the best ever broccoli salad – all the rage in Denmark he said and seriously good. I wrote his instructions down and carefully stashed the recipe to try when I got home. It’s pretty good and salads are so welcome in this wild weather. They keep the antibodies alert!

The original recipe is made with Miracle Whip – which I reckon must be a kind of salad cream/mayonnaisy affair. I substituted the Miracle Whip with mayonnaise and stirred in a tablespoon of red wine vinegar and a couple of tablespoons of sour cream. It tasted good. The original salad was also topped with a scattering of crispy bacon bits which would probably be a good addition if you’re into  meat.

Jens Broccoli Salad

1 head broccoli

1 medium red onion

1 handful raisins

1 handful pinenuts

1 egg yolk

1 tsp Dijon mustard

about 200mls rapeseed or sunflower oil

50mls olive oil

1 tbs red wine vinegar

2tbs sour cream

Heat a small pan and gently toast the pine nuts. Empty them out of the pan as soon as they are lightly golden and leave to cool then make the dressing.

Put the egg yolk and mustard into a bowl and whisk together. Slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking continuously so that they emulsify. If the oil is visible stop drizzling the oil and whisk until it’s incorporated then continue. Add the tablespoon of red wine vinegar and the sour cream. Season with salt and pepper.

If it is very thick thin by whisking in a little warm water. Stir the pine nuts and raisins into the dressing and put aside for about one hour.


Peel the onion, cut it in half then slice thinly. Sprinkle with a little salt and give them a quick rub.

Wash the broccoli , drain well then chop it into roughly 2cm florets.


Put the broccoli and onion into a big bowl then pour the dressing over and mix well. Leave for an hour if you can.

I was hungry so I mixed it and ate it. It would probably be even better if left to marinate before eating.