Reuse – Peanut sauce

One of the things that makes me feel good as a household cook is when I am organised enough to use something for several different meals over the course of a week. First because it makes the prep for the additional meals easier and secondly because it saves waste and means I’m not chucking food away uneaten.

The peanut sauce I blogged last week has done particularly good service – as a dip for raw vegetables for several meals, including a sunny picnic at the local city farm and finally today to add flavour to the reheated chicken and rice I had for my lunch.  If I was a little more organised I’d try to have some in the fridge at all times, though I suppose in a month or two I might tire of peanutty umami.  Right now that seems hard to believe, though.

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Peanut Sauce


The advantage of feeding the kids early on a Tuesday is I get to have this for dinner. Noodles, sliced veg and peanut sauce. Tasty vegan goodness.

The recipe came from a relative so I’m not sure where it originated.

Peanut Sauce

Crushed garlic
Grated ginger
Juice of a lemon
100 ml sunflower oil
25 ml soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
2 tablespoons peanut butter
25 ml water

Blend together, pour over the veg and noodles or use as a dip.

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2 Ways to Use Roast Vegetables

Sometimes it can feel like post December winter veg is just a succession of bland mash, especially if you don’t cook with butter.  But this week I’ve been on a roasting kick and it has significantly improved my opinion of swede, parsnip and butternut squash.

Winter Veg Stew with Lamb

One of the differences between myself and 18saughtonmains is our view of winter stew. I like stew to be meat heavy, with vegetables for taste and texture but the meat definitely the star of the show.  He likes lots of vegetables and the meat to provide flavour.  This week he made sure the stew was his style by only buying a small amount of lamb and I have to admit the end result was lovely.

300g lamb pieces
Assorted winter veg – this time I used half a butternut squash, a swede, a sweet potato, 4 carrots and a parsnip, but whatever is around will work – chopped into approximately even pieces
2 onions
minced garlic
some flour
glass of red wine
herbs – thyme and rosemary
a tin of tomatoes
tomato puree
Worcestershire Sauce
half a cup of pearl barley

Heat the oven to 180 C and put the vegetables in to roast. You want them to soften and sweeten, but not soften all the way through, so about twenty minutes should do it. Which is about how long the rest should take, luckily.

Slice and fry the onions until they are translucent. Add the garlic and stir for a minute Add the meat and brown.  Once the pieces are nicely coloured, chuck in some flour, stir until all the pieces are covered, then add the glass of wine.  Stir to get the flavours well melded. Add the herbs, tomato puree and Worcestershire sauce.  Pour in the tomatoes and about a tin full of water (you could use stock but I didn’t have suitable stock about – if you used stock, you could probably skip the Worcestershire sauce).  Add the roasted vegetables.  Finally, pour in the pearl barley and bring the mixture to the boil. Season with salt and pepper.

Move to the oven and cook for an hour and a half or so. You’ll be able to tell when it is done as the barley will suddenly suck all the liquid up.

Eat with baked potatoes. Or by itself, to be honest – with that much veg you don’t really need much additional starch.

Roast butternut squash and tomato soup

Slightly old tomatoes found in the veg drawer
The other half of the butternut squash
Herbs – rosemary and thyme
5 garlic cloves
stock – chicken or veg

Heat the oven to 200 C.

Quarter the tomatoes, peel the garlic cloves and chop the squash.  Pour some oil over them and roast for 45 or so minutes – this time you want them to be soft and almost burnt.  Once they are ready, take the pan out of the oven, pour the stock into the pan and use a stick blender to gently blend the soup.  I like it with lots of squash pieces, but go with your preference.  Also, this time I put loads of stock in to make a tasty thin soup with chunks, but if you used less stock and blended it more it would be beautifully thick.

I think this was the tastiest soup I’ve ever made. The vegetables’ taste stayed sweet and distinct.

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Recipe: Tomato Tarte Tatin


The recipe is from Design Sponge and I loved how it turned out. The tomatoes turned sweet, intense and concentrated in the oven and the pastry was a crumbly contrast note.

But enough of talking like a Masterchef judge, as eldest calls it. My absolute favourite part of this recipe is this – while I prepped the tomatoes, eldest made the pastry by herself, following my directions. I almost didn’t notice it had happened, it felt natural to direct her while doing the tomatoes but I think turning marg, flour and an egg into pastry all by yourself counts as actual solo cooking rather than helping. I am so proud. I’m also planning to get her making an evening meal a week by the time she is 8.

Tomato Tatin

100g marg
200g plain flour
1 egg

Tomatoes, ideally ripe late summer ones, but I’m sure this will make the best of winter tomatoes too. I used a mix of cherry and large because that’s what we had. Enough to cover your dish. I wish I’d used a little more, but as long as it covers your dish you’ll be fine.
A large onion, finely slices
Mixed dried herbs
Olive oil

Make the pastry by chopping the marg into small pieces, then rubbing it into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Beat the egg to break up the yoke and then mix it into the flour mixture until it comes together. If the egg isn’t quite enough to do this, add water teaspoon by teaspoon. If you want vegan pastry, don’t use the egg at all. Put in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Cut the tomatoes in half and deseed them. Place them skin side down in your dish, add salt and pepper and the mixed herbs and drizzle over some olive oil. Roast in a 175 C oven for about 30 minutes or until they are soft and melty.

Fry the sliced onions on a low heat until they are caramelised and put aside until the tomatoes are ready.

Roll the pastry to approximately the size of your dish. Take the tomatoes out of the oven, place the pastry over the top and pick with a fork to let steam out. Put back in the oven for another 30 minutes or so, until the pastry is done.

Eat hot with salad and cold out of the fridge the next day if you manage to leave leftovers.

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Snapshot: Toad in The Hole, or Going Native


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Recipe: Armenian Lentil Soup


I’ve been messing about with this recipe for a while but this was finally the right version. Thick, while still being a little soupy, strong lemon taste and warming enough for the confused weather of early spring. I swear that in the last 5 minutes it has both snowy and been sunny outside our living room window.

Before I get to the recipe, I’m not going to apologise for the lack of blogging recently, because that’s boring, but I will say we are moving house soon and I hope a kitchen with a south facing window (or a window at all) will help me take better pictures so I feel like I am doing the food justice. I also need the kids to get through their fussy phase, so I get to make more varied food, but that will come with time.

Armenian Lentil Soup

1 small onion
1 small carrot
Garlic glove
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried dill
A cup of lentils – I mixed green and red as red alone made it too mushy.
A half cup of rice.
1 litre of veg stock (from a powder/cube is fine)
Lemon juice

Slice the onion and carrot finely. Fry in some oil until softened. Add crushed garlic and bay leaves. Swish around until you can smell the aromatics. Add the lentils and rice and stir. Throw in the herbs and then add the stock. Bring to the boil and start simmering. Add the lemon juice – I had a very juicy lemon so 1 was enough, but you really want this to taste of the lemon, so use 2 if necessary. Simmer until the rice and lentils are tender – about 30 minutes is enough though longer won’t hurt. Eat while wishing the weather would make up its mind.

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Hummus, my way


It seems weird I haven’t done a hummus recipe yet, but 18saughtonmains is the default hummus maker around here and although he has promised to post his recipe, he hasn’t got around to it yet. So here is mine, inspired by one I found in Jerusalem, my new favourite recipe book. In fact, I seem to be on a total Med trip over the last few years – anything Southern Spanish, Middle Eastern or Magreb seems to make me happy – the kids bought me a North African cook book for Christmas and I’m looking forward to working through it as well.

There seem to be two axis that hummus recipes vary on. The first is the amount of tahini. 18saughtonmains likes his hummus tahini heavy, whereas I like it more garlicky. The second axis is if you put oil in it. Again, this is source of family argument – I like the oil light versions, he likes it with a fair amount of oil. But since I made this version, I got to have it my way. Btw, the book version uses dried chickpeas, I used a can. Also, half the tahini.

Creamy Hummus

A can of chickpeas, drained and washed.
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons tahini
Juice of a lemon and a half

Put the chickpeas in a food processor (I have one of the small chopper things that comes with a stick blender, seems to work) and blend until it is an evenly textured paste. Now add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic and salt and whizz again until the mixture is even. Taste and add more salt or lemon juice if required. Then add a small amount of water and mix. Keep slowly adding water until you are happy with the texture. Eat at room temp, but keep in a fridge.

We ate this in a bowl with fried marinated lamb, toasted pine nuts and a lemony herby sauce. On the side was some of the olive oil bread I have been experimenting with. I would love to eat like this every day.

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