Monday, 29 December 2014

Green Kitchen Travels 'Sopa de Legumes Portuguese' with a Bacon and Chilli Flair

I was a happy sister when I received the Green Kitchen Travels cookbook for Christmas. What a beautiful book, full of wonderful traveling pictures and exciting simple recipes from around the world. For someone who rarely uses recipe books, it was very inspirational, and it's lovely to see a book with character and charm. This certainly doesn't mean I'm becoming GF, DF, Vegan or Vegetarian, but I'll stick to my motto of everything in moderation. I substituted a few things in the original recipe...beans for lentils, sage leaves for bay leaves, water for fresh turkey stock and cabbage for a chilli and bacon topping. 

Ingredients (serves 5-6 as a main)

for the soup -

- 3 potatoes (450g), peeled and chopped
- 1 small/medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped
- 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 leeks, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 bay leaves (or 10 fresh sage leaves as the original recipe requests)

- turkey stock (chicken or vegetable as a substitute)
- boiling water

- juice of 1 lemon

for the topping -

- 100g lentils
- 250g chopped bacon bits (I buy them already chopped from Lidl as they're cheap and easy)
- 1 chilli, deseeded and chopped

1. In a large saucepan start by frying the onion, garlic and leek in a little oil for a few minutes. Then add the chopped potatoes, carrot, and sweet potato. Stir for a few minutes and then cover the vegetables with 3/4 fresh stock and 1/4 boiling water (roughly 2 inches above the veggies); and finally add the bay leaves. 

2. Bring the soup to the boil with a lid on, then turn down the heat and simmer until the vegetables are soft (about 20/25 minutes). 

3. While the soup is cooking, boil the lentils in a saucepan according to the pack instructions. It doesn't matter if they're overcooked, as they'll get mixed into the soup anyway.

4. The lentils should cook quicker than the soup. When they are ready, drain and leave them to one side. Rinse the saucepan briefly and then use it to cook the bacon and chopped chilli. No oil is needed as the bacon will give off it's own. 

5. By this time, the vegetables should be soft and ready to be blitzed. Whack the soup mixture into a food processor (be careful as it'll be hot and might explode! Better to do it little by little) and blitz to form a smooth creamy consistency. Pour in the lemon juice and set aside. 

6. When the bacon is cooked (about 4 minutes), you can start to serve up. Simply spoon a little lentils and chilli bacon on top of the soup and finish off with chopped fresh parsley or coriander. 

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Sugar Free - Date and Banana Flapjacks

A post that will hopefully make you feel even more festive the day before Christmas. If you're struggling with a few presents, why not cook these super quick flapjacks, wrap them up, and make someone smile tomorrow - there's still time! I found this recipe online a couple of months ago and have made a couple of batches of flapjacks since. Both of which were extremely delicious, super easy, and very quick.

Ingredients (makes 9 rectangles)

- 180g oats (gluten free if intolerant)
- 175g dates, chopped
- 2 very ripe bananas
- 80ml vegetable oil
- 1 tsp vanilla essence

1. Start by turning your oven to 175°c. Mash the bananas well in a large bowl and then add the chopped dates and oil.

2. Next stir in the oats and vanilla essence, and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes so that the oats absorb the oil.

3. Place the mixture into a suitable greased baking dish/tray (I used a rectangular glass one) and flatten it down. Cook for 25-30 minutes, until golden.