Posts Tagged With: chilli

CCC Intinery Update

I’ve not been very adventurous in the kitchen the last couple of weeks. The first week it was intentional, my big pasta bake from my last post, was meant to see me through my week of early shifts and it did. Then I was able to make a surprise visit to my parents for the weekend, and this week while I’ve been on annual leave it has, honestly been mostly too hot to cook anything complicated. I made myself a nice giant couscous and beetroot salad – with sprouting broccoli and baby sweet corn alongside the essential feta cheese – and some tasty beetroot hummus to use up the rest of the beetroot, and those lurking flat breads.

I was thinking about what I could make for the coming week – perhaps a stir-fry? – and I wasn’t feeling inspired, so I decided to look to my cupboards for inspiration and remembered that I had actually documented what was in there so I looked up my list and updated with some new acquisitions. While I was off work I’d given my kitchen a good tidy out, re-organised some cupboards and sorted out some better storage solutions. It seemed a waste to just throw that empty box that the Christmas crackers – the kind you have with cheese, not the kind you pull – came in, it’s a good sturdy plastic box, so now it’s keeping all the less usual dried ingredients I’ve picked up lately for one recipe or another and haven’t got round to trying. (There’s two different kinds of flour, both loose and pre-made polenta, split yellow peas, pinto beans and randomly a bag of caster sugar – spot who intended to bake lots this week before the heatwave hit…) Hopefully having them all in one place will encourage me to actually use them up!

First up we have a can of jackfruit, I dug up a recipe for a bean chilli with jackfruit, because a) I love chilli and lately my chilli has felt a bit uninspired so that seemed a good option for trying out a new ingredient and b) that’s an ideal bulk cook meal for the week ahead. Also, lately I seem to have lost the ability to leave the supermarket without at least one can of some variety of beans or another and this recipe uses several different kinds.

At some point I found a flat-bread recipe that called for corn flour – in the American sense of maize flour, rather than in the UK sense of the starchy stuff you use to thicken sauces – and went to the effort of tracking it down. The recipe book in question had a bunch of recipes that used it so it seemed a good plan at the time. However the recipe book has long been back at the library – and for obvious reasons I can’t get it back out – and most other recipes that I would expect to use it, give substitutions for the sensible reason that it’s actually a weirdly specialist ingredient here, I eventually tracked it down a health food shop, I guess because it’s gluten free? Anyway, eventually I’ve tracked down a tortilla recipe that at least uses some maize flour so that seems a fun accompaniment to my chilli.

That’ll still leave quite a lot of maize flour, so I had the bright idea of making cornbread or at least cornbread muffins, but all the UK recipes I’ve come across seem to use polenta rather than maize flour – and frankly a lot of chefs seem to treat the two as interchangeable, heck the BBC Food website, usually my ally in these matters, offers ‘maize’ recipes that use both polenta and cornmeal interchangeably. I am a terribly confused penguin.

(More importantly, if you’re a vegetarian and therefore don’t put bacon in your cornbread, what do you put in…? Spring onions maybe?)

Finally, given how nice the weather has been lately, it seems like a good time to take another run at making Bubble Tea. After the success of my tapioca pudding, I feel like I have a better grasp of how long to cook my pearls for now, so I have a more realistic view of the time investment required.

I’ve got a few more ideas lurking about, but I think that’s quite adventurous enough for one week…

Categories: being veggie, challenges, covid cookup | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cooking the Book – June Edition

I thought I might have trouble meeting my targets for this month as I was away from home for a substantial chunk of the month. However, it turned out that the spells away from home would end up acting as motivators, as I ended up cooking both my target items out of the need to use up food I had in the house before I went away for a week.

First up I made what turned out to be a massive pot of veggie chilli. The recipe in question was actually Baked Sweet Potatoes with veggie chilli, which was utterly delicious, but I did end up making a variety of other dishes with the leftover chilli. (Or to give the dish its full name – Baked sweet potatoes stuffed with a hot bean and lentil chilli with red peppers and port. Except it was cheap red wine rather than port.) I think I’ve almost mastered the art of successfully spicing my chilli without the aid of one of those packet spice mixes. I’ve been a bit disappointed in some of Lorraine’s other takes on ‘chilli’ but this one is pretty good, though I heartily recommend adding a few large mushrooms and draining your chopped tomatoes before adding to the chilli wouldn’t go amiss. Also the recipe suggests fresh parsley if you don’t have any coriander – or like me, you’re one of those people for which it tastes like soap – and having a glut of the same in my herb garden I was delighted to find that works extremely well.
Baked Sweet Potatoes with Chilli
June’s monthly bake was once again brownies. This time they were pear and dark chocolate. It was an adaption of a raspberry and chocolate brownie recipe. Last month I bought some small pears and though they took a couple of weeks to ripen, once they did they were delicious and I absolutely didn’t mind heating two a day for a week when they all ripened at once. So I bought another bag of the exact same pears and, naturally, after 3 weeks – including one with a bunch of bananas sitting on top of them – they remained brick hard. Unfortunately a lot of recipes that involve pears state silly things like ‘use two perfectly ripe pears’ as though everyone I know who cooks pears is only cooking them because they won’t ripen! So I gave up and poached them (Japanese-style in mirin with star anise) and stuck the poached pears into the brownie mix. I like this brownie recipe better than the one for the beetroot brownies, because you melt everything in a pot rather than trying to blend the room temperature ingredients in a blender – eminently more sensible in my opinion. Though if I make them again I think I’ll add cinnamon – I’d normally use cinnamon sticks when poaching the pears but I couldn’t find any until I turned up a box hiding behind the brown sugar and by then it was too late.
Pear and Dark Chocolate Brownies

They are particularly nice warm with a generous spoonful of leftover crème freche…

Categories: bake more often, being veggie, challenges, cooking the book | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Can’t Cook, Election Will Eat Me

It’s been that sort of few weeks. You know its bad when your go to de-stress activity is too stressful to contemplate. (Also my laptop broke down and was out of commission for about three weeks, adding a whole extra level of unnecessary stress.) However, I have almost been keeping up with my cooking challenges

In February I hit both my targets, making something from my new cookbook and baking something. On the baking front I made a pie, before there are few things more comforting on cold winter nights than a pie. This was a mushroom and chestnut pie, for which I finally got round to buying an actual pie tin, so I managed to actually get the pastry ratio right to give it a full lid! Though I did end up making too much filling for the pie due to it not being my usual ‘deep-dish’ pie, and I found the filling to be a little dry – I think it would have benefited from a bit of spinach of to keep it moist, or made just a more runny sauce. I have the fear of ending up with a ‘soggy bottom’ but I think my insistence on blind baking my pie before-hand probably means I’m safe on that front.

Mushroom & Chestnut Pie

From my new cookbook I made a variation of the ‘Carribean cups’. One of the alternate versions Lorraine suggests is to fill the cups with chilli con carne and I happened to have some leftover veggie chilli in the fridge needing used up. These are a slightly fiddly but delightful little dish. They make a fun lunch, the kind of thing that with a bit of practice would make a good way to turn leftovers into something a bit different when you unexpectedly have guests for lunch. Though probably only the kind of guests that don’t mind getting a little messy.

Carribean Cups

I was somewhat less successful in March, but nonetheless I managed some other successes. I discovered I had a bag of pearl barley in the cupboard, that had clearly been bought for a particular recipe many moons before and then forgotten about, as it needed used up that month. So I did a bulk cook of the pearl barley and attempted to fork my way through one of the Guardian’s four ways with a bag of what have you articles. In the end I only made two of the recipes but I made the sausage casserole several times and it’s a thing of gloriousness. Finally I’ve found an effective and tasty way to cook quorn sausages so that they a) taste nice and b) actually successfully quash my occasional bouts of sausage cravings. It’s a really satisfying and filling comfort food this dish and I recommend adding a couple of sticks of celery to it if you have them. Add them just before the spinach, so they get nice and tender but still retain a bit of bite to give the casserole more texture. I only used them because I found some lurking under the spinach in the salad box but I now can’t imagine the dish without it.

Sausage Casserole

In April, despite best intentions involving muffins, no baking actually happened. However, I did actually cook something from my cookbook adapting a chilli con carne recipe for quorn mince. Which was, fine. Over the years I’ve evolved my own veggie chilli recipe that I make a few variations on, depending on what I have in the fridge and this recipe couldn’t hold a candle to it. I mean, how much can you truly believe in a chilli con carne recipe that doesn’t involve kidney beans anyway? Perfectly edible, just a bit disappointing.

Categories: bake more often, being veggie, challenges, cooking the book | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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