Cracked wheat, courgette and yoghurt soup

This took a bit of testing before I got the method and recipe I liked best. It is from Van, in the east of Turkey. The history of this area is full of conflict, with Anatolian Christians being persecuted. I used to go to the Lake Van monastery in exile in Edinburgh, not really a restaurant, more of a place of welcome with food and history; I learnt a bit about the history of the Lake Van monastery there from the monk that ran the place.  

Remember to start the night before. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 100g coarse bulgar wheat
  • 250g Greek-style yoghurt
  • 1 large courgette, diced
  • 1 tbsp plain white flour
  • 300g spinach, chopped
  • 100g coriander leaf, chopped, OR mint or savory leaves. 
  • 1.5 litres chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

METHOD:

  • Cook the bulgar wheat in 500ml water, simmer for five minutes and then leave overnight. 
  • The next day, drain the wheat
  • In a large pan, bring the chicken stock to a simmer, and add the wheat and the courgette, and cook gently for around 20 minutes. 
  • Mix the flour with a spoon of hot stock, and add to the soup, along with the spinach and salt to taste. Cook for another ten minutes
  • Add the fresh coriander and whisk in the yoghurt before serving. 

 

Chinese potato stew

This is a delicious vegetarian stew, it reheats well, and is very forgiving with variations on the vegetables. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 slices of fresh ginger, peeled and crushed
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 4cm cubes
  • 1 pack of green beans, sliced into 4cm lengths
  • 2 carrots, cut into 4cm batons
  • 1 punnet of mushrooms, cut into 4cm chunks (or whole if you picked the right size at the shop)
  • 4 tbsp dark soy sauce (Chinese Soy Sauce)
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp dry sherry or shaohsing wine

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a large pan, medium to high heat, and when it is hot, add the ginger and garlic, fry for around 15 seconds. 
  • Add the potatoes, beans and carrots, and stir for another minute.
  • Add the mushrooms, and fry for another minute.
  • Add around 500m boiling water, the soy sauce, sugar and wine, and bring back to the boil. Cover, turn the heat down low and simmer for around twenty minutes. 
  • Remove the cover and turn the heat up, boiling the sauce down, stirring gently as you go. You are aiming to get down to a thick gravy-like sauce which coats the vegetables. 
  • If you want to prep ahead and reheat for after work, leave a little more sauce, so that this boils down as you reheat it. 

Curried mutton pie

This is a recipe from ‘Original Flava’ – an excellent starter for West Indian cookery. I didn’t follow the recipe in the book (do I ever) but it reflects my own tastes and also what is available in the garden. I am looking out recipes to use up the last of the maincrop potatoes for last year, and this one fit the bill well. Also, who knew that adding creamed coconut or coconut milk to mashed potato was so good.

Remember to start the night before, and then allow a couple of hours cooking time on the day of eating.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1.2kg mutton, boned and diced
  • 1 tbsp West Indian curry powder (from seasoned pioneers)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • salt and pepper (approx 1 tsp salt and pepper to taste)
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • 125ml water
  • 1/2 tsp scotch bonnet pepper paste, or to taste
  • 2 carrots or 1 turnip, diced.
  • 6+ large maincrop potatoes, such as Maris Piper or Arran Victory, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 125ml coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • A pinch of thyme leaves

METHOD:

  • Put the mutton in a plastic container with the curry powder, dried thyme, ginger, allspice, salt and pepper, and leave in the fridge overnight. 
  • In a large cooking pot, heat the oil and then gently fry the onion and garlic until they are soft
  • Add the spiced mutton, and fry until browned. 
  • Add the 200m coconut milk, water, scotch bonnet and chopped carrots/turnip and mix. Cook on a low heat for a couple of hours until the meat is very tender. Adjust seasoning if required.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C – Gas 4
  • Steam the potatoes for around 15 minutes, until soft and cooked through
  • Mash the potatoes with 125ml coconut milk, butter, salt and pepper, and a pinch of thyme leaves. (The original recipe includes chilli flakes, but I think it is better to have the potato as a contrast, not so spicy)
  • Put the stewed mutton in a casserole dish or deep pie dish, top with the mashed potato, and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until the mashed potato is beginning to brown. 

I served this with sprouts. It would also be good with a spinach side dish.

 

Nargesi – spinach and eggs – Persian style

A delicious recipe from Maryam Sinaiee’s book Nightingales and Roses. If you have been living in Uist this last week, you’ll know that a combination of ferry break-downs and bad weather led to no food deliveries onto the islands for five days. I managed to get the last bag of spinach from the co-op, and I had duck eggs from Clair. This is just as good with hen’s eggs. 

I’ve seen a few versions online, adding leeks and za’atar. I think I have an Ottolenghi recipe with that combination. Here is Maryam’s version:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500g fresh spinach
  • 50g butter
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • juice of half a lemon
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 eggs
  • Extra lemon wedges

METHOD:

  • Rinse and roughly chop the spinach, and put them into a very large pan over a medium heat. Cook until the leaves have wilted. 
  • Meanwhile, in a frying pan, melt the butter and cook the sliced onions over a medium heat until they are turning golden. Add the garlic and continue to cook. 
  • When the garlic looks cooked, add the spinach and the lemon juice, along with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer for a couple of minutes, then uncover and simmer until the mixture is nearly dry. 
  • Make four wells in the mixture, add an egg to each well, cover and cook for three or four minutes on a low heat, until the eggs are cooked to your taste. 

Serve with flatbread, and a squeeze of lemon. 

 

Mutton Paprika

This stew is so tender, so tasty, and so simple. Tonight we served it with mashed potatoes, but it is also great with dumplings. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1.5 kg neck of mutton or lamb, chopped
  • 3 tbsp mild paprika
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 500ml stock
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • chopped parsley 

METHOD:

  • Check the meat over, remove any excess fat or loose bits of splintered bone. I leave the neck chops with the bone in. 
  • Mix the spices, salt and pepper, flour and meat together in a container, seal it and keep it in the fridge until you are ready to cook; this could be overnight, but don’t worry if you forget and don’t have so much time. 
  • Heat the olive oil in a large casserole pan, and gently fry the onions until they are soft. 
  • Add the meat and heat through, before adding the stock. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 2 hours or so. This can be done in the oven, temp 130 C
  • Once it is cooked, add the lemon juice (which is optional) and serve garnished with chopped parsley. 
  • If you want dumplings, mix 225g self-raising flour with 110g suet and chopped parsley, and add enough ice-cold water to make a loose dough. Make balls of dough about the size of walnuts, and drop them into the stew. Let them cook for around 20 minutes. 

Delicious. Also, adaptable. You can swap around the stock, add wine, add a few herbs such as bay leaves and oregano, add sliced potatoes for the last hour of cooking instead of dumplings. 

Sprout soup

This recipe is very forgiving; you can vary the stock base, the proportions of the vegetables or the herbs you use, whether or not to include chestnuts or cream. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large onion
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 4 tbsp sherry (subst wine if no sherry available)
  • 250g brussels sprouts
  • 500ml stock (increase if you are not using chestnuts)
  • pinch of dried tarragon
  • 200g chestnut puree
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 tbsp single cream

METHOD:

  • Chop the onion, and fry gently in the butter and vegetable oil, for around 5 minutes, so that it starts to soften without browning.
  • Add the sherry, bring to the boil and when the alcohol has boiled off, add the sprouts, stock, tarragon and pureed chestnuts, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for around 15 minutes. 
  • Use a soup blender and whiz until smooth. Season and add the cream, if using. 

 

Mutton Curry, Jamaican style

I made this with some odd cuts of mutton from the freezer, I had about 1kg of meat, including some ribs and other odds and ends. I started with a recipe from Original Flava for Curry Goat, and scaled up the ingredients. There’s actually several versions on their website, so I didn’t feel so bad adjusting it to fit what I had. I made the main part of the stew the night before I needed it, but because the ingredients needed marinaded, I actually started the prep on Tuesday for a meal on Thursday. The actual cooking part is very easy, and the end result is very very tasty, and quite hot. 

The other thing that would be good to get ahead of starting is some scotch bonnet pepper paste, ground allspice and Caribbean curry powder, which is quite mild. They are all available online. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1kg mutton, cut into chunks about 3cm across
  • Caribbean curry powder – around 3 tbsp
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2cm ginger, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3 cm ginger root, chopped
  • 1 can of coconut milk (I only had around 300ml, not a full can, it was still delicious)
  • 300ml vegetable stock or water
  • 3 spring onions, chopped
  • 1 heaped tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 6 small waxy potatoes, cleaned and cut into chunks
  • 1/3 tsp scotch bonnet chilli paste
  • If you wish, add chopped tomatoes. I added two ripe tomatoes that were minding their own business in the vegetable rack.

METHOD:

  • Chop the meat, leave bones in. In a large container with a lid, mix the mutton with 1 tbsp curry powder, salt, pepper, allspice and turmeric, and leave to marinade in the fridge overnight. 
  • The next day, heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil in a large pan and add a tablespoonful of curry powder. Fry the meat in batches, and set the browned meat aside in a bowl. 
  • Check there is enough oil in the pan, and the fry the onion over a medium to high heat, until it is beginning to brown, and then add the ginger and garlic. Continue to cook for another couple of minutes
  • Add a little coconut milk and the scotch bonnet paste, mix it in and then add the mutton back into the pan. Stir it all together and then add the rest of the coconut milk, tomatoes, another 2 tbsp of curry powder, thyme and stock, and then cook the stew in a slow oven, around 150C for 2 hours. Once this step is complete, you could freeze the stew or put it in the fridge ready to finish the cooking later. 
  • Add the potatoes and the sliced spring onions, and simmer for another 30 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked. 

    This stew is one of those that benefits from being eaten the day after, as the flavours mingle together. Serve with rice. 

Celery and bean soup

Delicious, cheap, easy, vegan, quick, filling. Not much more to say. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 small onions
  • 1 head of celery
  • Olive oil for frying
  • Olive oil for serving (best quality that you can get)
  • 1 400g borlotti beans, drained (this can be substituted, but I love borlotti beans)
  • 1 litre stock
  • salt and black pepper, freshly ground

METHOD:

  • Chop the onions and celery, and fry in olive oil in a large pan over a low heat, until soft; don’t brown the vegetables
  • Add the other ingredients, bring to the boil, and then cover to simmer for 20 minutes
  • Season, and roughly blend with a soup wand. Add a little water if the soup is too thick. 

Serve with a swirl of posh olive oil to each bowl, and a slice of brown bread on the side. 

Caribbean roasted vegetable curry

There are lots of delicious vegan and vegetarian dishes on Original Flava, introduced to me by my daughter’s mother-in-law. Some of the ingredients used are not readily available locally, but there are some substitutions and good options still. I have ordered some scotch bonnet paste online, and for the rest, I’ve stuck to recipes that I can adapt to local ingredients. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 200g butternut squash, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 200g sweet potatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 200g small potatoes, with the skin on
  • Olive oil
  • 2 onions (preferably one red onion, one white onion)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • A 2cm piece of ginger root, peeled and chopped
  • 3 spring onions
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp curry powder (you can buy West Indian curry powder online at Seasoned Pioneers
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 100ml coconut milk
  • 100ml vegetable stock
  • A good handful of spinach or homegrown Japanese kale
  • 1/4 tsp scotch bonnet paste
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Heat the oven to 180C
  • Cut the vegetables to 3 cm chunks. You don’t need to peel anything, but I’m not a fan of butternut squash rind. Onion squash rind is softer and is a good alternative. Put the vegetables onto a baking tray, and add about 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for at least 30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. 
  • Heat another tbsp oil in a pan, and gently fry the onions, garlic, ginger, spring onions and chopped tomatoes until they are soft.
  • Add a pinch of salt, 2 tsp ground black pepper, curry powder and paprika. Mix together and cook for a minute, and then stir in the coconut milk so that you have a thick paste. 
  • Take the roasted vegetables, and add these to the pan, along with the stock, thyme, spinach and scotch bonnet. Bring to a simmer, check for seasoning, and then keep simmering until the spinach is cooked. 

 

Wild goose Jamaican style

The flavour of wild goose goes well with peppers. This spicy stew is adapted from a recipe for beef stew from ‘Original Flava’

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 goose breasts, around 450g meat, cut into 3cm chunks
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green pepper, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp scotch bonnet pepper paste
  • 150ml stock
  • 150ml Guinness or other stout
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 large carrots, thickly sliced
  • 250g baby potatoes, cleaned. Cut large potatoes into chunks. 

METHOD:

  • Put 1 tbsp olive oil in a plastic container with the diced goose breasts, salt and pepper, the allspice and soy sauce and mix together. Leave in the fridge overnight. 
  • In the morning, stir in 1 tbsp flour, and let that soak up any spare liquid. 
  • Heat olive oil in a casserole pan, and fry the meat until it is browned. Remove from the pot and set aside. 
  • If necessary, add another splash of oil and fry the onion, garlic and peppers until they are really soft. 
  • Add the Guinness and stir, to get anything stuck from the bottom of the pot mixed in. 
  • Add the beef, beef stock, scotch bonnet paste, thyme and simmer for around 1 1/2 hours. I do this in a low oven, around 150C.
  • Add the potatoes and carrots, and simmer for another 20 minutes, until the potatoes and carrots are cooked. 

Serve with white rice. The first time of trying, I added extra potatoes and didn’t add the rice, and it was a full meal in one pot.