Sunday, 12 November 2017

Leek and potato soup in Thermione

I love leek and potato soup, especially home made.  Wonderful stuff.  I always make soups in my Thermomix but always have a bit of a problem with this one because to zizz it to the smoothness I like brings out the starchiness of the potatoes which makes the soup 'gloopy'. 

So I had a think and this is what I came up with
It makes enough for two very hungry people or four if you just want a smaller portion

one starchy potato (I used a 'jacket' potato), about 350g - ish
half a leek.  I used the top half as I think the greener leaves have more flavour than the whiter leaves in a soup.
half a medium onion
a chicken stock cube (or make it veg if you want a vegetarian friendly soup)
about 750 mls water, more or less - I'm afraid this is the one thing I failed to remember the measurement of.
a bay leaf (from the garden)
a good grating of black pepper
a sprinkle of salt
a heaped tsp marigold bouillon powder
about an eighth of a pack of lower fat soft cheese with garlic and herbs (Morrisons do it)

What I did
I peeled and chopped the potato and put it in the simmering basket
I cut the leek in half and ran it under the tap to clean, peeled and chopped the onion and placed both in the bowl with the water, the stock cube, bay leaf, black pepper and a sprinkle of salt.  I placed the simmering basket on top and boiled the lot at 100 for 20 mins, reverse speed 3 (because I didn't want to chop the bay leaf to pieces) until the potato was cooked.

Then I removed the potato cubes and mashed them really well using my ricer.  This was instead of a thermo-zizz which makes it gloopy.

Then I did something very stupid.  I forgot the bay leaf and gave the bowl contents a good zizz to puree the onion and leek.  Doh!

After that, I added the smoothly mashed potato and the soft cheese and mixed it in before tasting.  It just seemed to be lacking a little something so I added the marigold powder, mixed it in and tasted again and it was lovely.  Then I remembered the bay leaf so I poured the lot into a sieve and pushed it all through and I'm glad I did because I think the bay leaf did add to the flavour in a way that it wouldn't have done had I removed it after the boiling.

That was it really - I just reheated to 95C, served and enjoyed.  I shall do it just like that again, mistake and all.  Great, spicy flavour, lovely smooth and 'creamy' texture without a hint of gloop and really low in fat.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Smoked salmon pate

The idea came from a Readers Digest book, Low Fat: No Fat and I adapted it.  It's jolly nice and a great way to use up bits and bobs.

a few 'white beans' (e.g. cannelloni, haricot)
a bit of smoked salmon
lemon juice (from a bottle is fine)
titchy bit of light mayo - as little as you can get away with to get the texture
pepper and a bit of salt (maybe)

It also helps to have a mini chopper/blender

In the bowl put the beans, smoked salmon and some lemon juice.  Zizz it up together.  Add just a little bit of light mayo as it helps the texture.  Zizz and taste, adding more lemon juice if you like and a bit of pepper and, possibly, salt.  It depends on how salty the salmon is really.

If you have some fennel fronds or similar, that would be nice but I didn't.

Heap into a bowl and serve.  I had it with watercress and a couple of small slices of bread I baked in a coolish oven until crisp and crunchy.  It was delicious!

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Apple meringue

Not a pie, nothing so complicated, but I had an egg white to use up.

I stewed apple with just enough sugar until it was soft.  This can be done earlier.

I whisked up the egg white with a hand held electric whisk until it was white and soft peak-ish.  I added two tbsp caster sugar in small amounts while continuing to whisk.  Last of all I whisked in half tsp cornflour.  It took almost no time at all.

I put the apple in an ovenproof dish and spooned over the meringue, teasing it into peaks.
I baked it at 180C for about 30 mins-ish, turning the oven right down after about 20 mins.

Lovely!  Low fat (not low sugar though) and one of my five a day.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Creamy mushroom soup

I think I've posted about this before but it's worth another mention.

The original recipe requires cream which isn't something I keep in my fridge.  This is simple, dead easy and tasty, especially as I use chestnut mushrooms for more flavour.  It's not extremely frugal as chestnut mushrooms aren't the cheapest option but it's not too bad and if you use savers mushrooms, it becomes extremely frugal indeed (and they often have more flavour than the neat and tidy button mushrooms too)

If you have the knowledge and confidence to go mushroom foraging, it would be very cheap.  I don't!

Ingredients to make enough for one.
100g mushrooms, chopped
170g water
60g milk (whole is nicest)
12g flour
pinch of salt
1/4 veg stock cube or 1/4 tsp stock powder such as marigold
30g soft cheese
pepper if wanted

In a saucepan, add everything but the soft cheese, whisk it all together so that the flour is incorporated, bring to a boil, stirring regularly and simmer for about ten mins until the mushroom is cooked and the 'floury' taster has been cooked out, stirring now and again.
Add the soft cheese and stir it in.
Zizz to smooth using a stick blender.
Check seasonings and adjust if necessary.  I add some pepper at this stage.
Serve piping hot.

For those of us with a Thermomix, the recipe can be found in the Basic Cookbook.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Home made potato wedges

These are a doddle.  In fact, they are so easy, so tasty and so frugal, I don't know why I ever bother buying frozen ones.  Well, I do, it's idleness, but I really shouldn't.

You need a floury potato, I think.  Anything that makes a good roastie will be fine for wedges.  One medium sized spud is fine, a large one will make far too many for me.

I just scrub the skin, if necessary, I don't peel, as I like the skin.  However, you can peel it, if you like.  Some like to par-boil the wedges.  Again, I don't, but you can.

So, the simplest way is to wash the potato, cut into wedges (long, triangular shapes - my chips are just the same but are rectangular shaped instead and they are also very tasty).  I then soak them in cold water for a little while.

When ready to cook them, I drain them and dry them thoroughly on a tea towel or a muslin.  Then I pop them in a poly bag and add some veg oil, squidging them around to completely coat them.  This is quite good because you can control how much oil you add: a little does go a long way when you use this method.  Sometimes I add herbs and/or spices too (see below).

Then I tip them onto a non-stick baking tray with parchment inserted (the parchment stops any sticking whatsoever and the tray has sides, in case the oil runs off), spread them out and pop them into a preheated oven at 180C fan or 200C if not fan.

Then just bake them, turning once or twice, until they are cooked through and lovely and brown all over.  It takes around half an hour so not much longer than cooking from frozen.
I don't have one of those air fryers, but I bet they'd be fine done that way too.  Or in a halogen oven, come to that.

Serve straight away with a sprinkle of salt if you haven't already added some.  Delicious!

Some nice spice ideas are . . .
tandoori curry powder
jerk seasoning
garlic and onion powders/granules with dried herbs
garlic granules and smoked paprika
salt and black pepper

. . . in fact, any mixture of herbs and/or spices that you fancy!

Ham and lentil soup

Another soup, made with the water I boiled an unsmoked ham in.  I think a smoked ham would make a stock that would be too salty for this soup.

Ingredients for one filling portion
half a smallish onion, peeled and chopped
half a medium carrot, washed and chopped
some celery, chopped - I cut across the top and used two thin 'slices'
250mls ham stock - make sure it is not too salty and don't add any more salt.
20g red lentils
(I don't add any other flavourings to this but you could - herbs or spices)

some milk
any seasoning needed - I added a bit of pepper when serving
some shreds of ham

Place the vegetables, stock and lentils in a pan, bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until everything is soft.
Zizz either in a blender or using a stick blender until it is how you want it.

Before serving, add some milk and reheat to just under boiling.  The milk works well with the earthy flavour of the lentils and gives it a 'creamy' feel.  Add some shreds of ham, if you have any.  Taste and season as needed.

Or you could cut up your veg really small and not zizz it as the lentils will cook to mush.  Adding some finely chopped potato would be good.  In fact, I might do that tomorrow as I have stock left.

Given the lentils, the veg and the ham, this really is the equivalent of a meal in soup form.  Definitely some of your five a day in this and frugal as well.  Win-win.

(I used Thermione.  I bunged in the first lot of ingredients, cooked on 100/speed 3/20 mins, then zizzed.

When reheating, I added the milk and heated it to 95.  I added the ham shreds right at the end so they weren't bashed up by the blades.)

Tomato and lentil soup

This was jolly nice, jolly filling and made enough for three.

half a medium onion
half a smallish carrot
a squeeze of garlic puree
a can of chopped tomatoes (or plum tomatoes)
some dried herbs
a stock cube
20g red/orange lentils
some sun dried tomato in oil (optional but recommended, especially if using value chopped tomatoes)

soft cheese (optional but nice)

Chop up the onion and carrot and add to a saucepan with the garlic, chopped tomatoes and a can full of water, dried herbs, stock cube (I used a vegetable cube), lentils and a few bits of sundried tomato.  I didn't add salt and pepper because of the stock.

Bring to a boil, cover and let it summer until the carrot is soft and the lentils cooked (15 to 20 mins).

Blend to a smooth consistency using a blender or a stick blender.  Return it to the pan, add some milk and some soft cheese, stir it in and reheat to just under boiling.  Taste, season if necessary and serve.