Chilled Asparagus and Pea Soup

If you’ve read Coco’s weaning diary, you’ll know I love asparagus: green and white. It would be one of my desert island foods!  I do get slightly upset when I have to break off the ends and discard them – it seems like such a waste. If Mr Coco&Lentil gets his hands on the asparagus, half the stalks end up in the bin! I decided to put the woody ends to good use by making a stock for soup before I retire them to the bin.

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The what:

400g asparagus (ends snapped off & set aside & remaining asparagus roughly chopped)

300g fresh or frozen peas

a large handful of fresh mint (about 30 leaves)

2 garlic cloves, one finely chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped

60ml (4 tbsp) cream fraiche

black pepper to season

a squeeze of lime

Tip:

You can retain the asparagus and pea pulp (heaven forbid we through anymore asparagus out!) you get when you pass the soup through a sieve and mix it with some sweet potato and a little milk for babies.  For children over one year you can add some toasted pine nuts (assuming there are no family allergies and you have ground the nuts to avoid any risk of choking) and mix with some spaghetti or other pasta.

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The how:

Add the broken off asparagus ends (retaining the chopped asparagus for later) and one whole garlic clove to a saucepan and cover with 1000ml of water.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 25 minutes.  Drain the asparagus stock and discard the asparagus ends and garlic Set aside.

Meanwhile saute the onion, chopped garlic in the butter until the onions are soft (2-3 minutes).  Add the asparagus stock and bring to the boil.  Next add the chopped asparagus and peas and cook until tender (about 5 minutes).

Remove from the heat and stir in the cream fraiche and mint leaves and season with pepper.  Blend the soup in batches, passing each batch through a sieve into a large bowl as you go.

Chill in the fridge.  Add a squeeze of lime and mix the soup well before serving.

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Beet, Carrot and Barley Salad

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The beetroot of my childhood was the pickled variety out of a jar. I thought that was the only way to eat beetroot and I was not a fan!

Thanks to the superfood revolution, fresh beetroot has become very popular again having found favour with chefs and food writers alike. According to an article by Khaleda Rahman in Mailonline weekly sales of beetroot in the UK now exceed £1 million.

I had a lovely beetroot and lentil salad in Gail’s cafe recently, which prompted me to have a go at creating my own salad with this purple taproot of the beet plant. I’ve never cooked beetroot before so had to refer to my trusty “Vegetable Book” by Grigson to learn how!

It takes a while to cook the ingredients for this salad, but you can do everything in advance.  The beetroot and carrots are oven baked so once you set the timer you don’t need to watch over them.  Of course, I also think the flavours in this yummy salad are worth the cooking time and I hope you’ll agree.

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The what:

4 beetroot, gently washed (see below)

400g Chantenay carrots, washed

160g Barley (pearl barley is fine, but hulled barley is supposed to retain more nutrients although can be harder to find).

100g Feta cheese

a handful of blanched hazelnuts

a handful of spinach or mixed leaves

squeeze of lemon juice

a handful of mint, finely chopped

for the dressing:

1 tbsp mirin

1 1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1cm ginger, finely sliced

3 tbsp olive oil

pepper to season

Tip: 

I usually make my dressings in an old jam jar so I can close the lid and give it a good shake to mix it well.  Always taste your dressing too with a piece of fruit or veg from the salad before adding to the rest of the salad and adjust, if necessary.

The how:

Gently wash the beetroot to remove any dirt, place in a baking tray and cover with tinfoil.  Bake the beetroot in oven for about 3 -3 1/2 hours at 150 (130 fan).  To test if the beetroot is cooked Grigson suggests wrinkling the skin and if it easily comes away from the root it is cooked.  Leave to cool, peel and chop.

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Meanwhile add the carrots to boiling water and boil for about 10 minutes to soften.  Then drain and place in a baking tray.  Drizzle with some olive oil and lemon juice and sprinkle with the mint.  Cook in the oven for one hour at the same temperature as the beetroot.  Remove and leave to cool.  Remove the ends and chop.

To cook the barley, first rinse it in cold water, place in a large saucepan and cover with cold water.  Bring to the boil, drain, return to the saucepan and cover again with about 300 ml cold water.  Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for about 1 hour (until tender), stirring occasionally.

To make the dressing add all the ingredients except the olive oil to a jar, close the lid and shake well to combine.  Then add the olive oil, close and shake again.  Test the flavour with a carrot or piece of beetroot.

To construct the salad, arrange the spinach / mixed leaves at the bottom of your bowl.  Place the barley, beetroot and carrots on top.  Then break in the feta cheese and add the hazelnuts.  Drizzle with the dressing or serve on the side.

Enjoy!

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Spinach and butter bean burgers

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It is thanks to Lorraine Pascal that we first ate homemade veggie burgers in our house. Her Spicy been burgers are full of flavour and really quite substantial: “meaty” springs to mind, although obviously they are entirely meat-free!  We try to have a couple of meat-free days a week and as Lorraine’s burgers are a tried and tested formula we make them quite regularly.  To mix things up a little I decided, last week, to try out a few combinations of my own. I was really chuffed that my first creation was an instant success: we all loved them, little Coco included!  I’ve decided it’s probably very difficult to go wrong with veggie burgers.  I haven’t suddenly acquired that illusive culinary goodness status, there is simply a fantastic range of fresh veg available these days, it’s hard to go wrong!

Makes 2 large and 2-3 small burgers

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The what:

160g sweetcorn (frozen, or of course fresh).  If using frozen, cook for 2-3 minutes.

60g spinach leaves

100g feta cheese

400g butter beans

3 large spring onions, chopped

a handful (ca. 1 tbsp) basil, chopped

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

1 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped

1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped

50g panko (or fresh breadcrumbs if you don’t have panko)

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tbsp olive oil

Tip: As we were making these for Coco and her three teeth too, I blended all of the ingredients in blender.  It makes the burgers a little wet, so you need to fry them lightly in the pan before baking so they don’t fall apart.  But for more texture mash the butter beans and mix in the beans, feta and the sweetcorn after you have blended the other ingredients.

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The how:

In a food processor combine the basil, coriander, parsley and spinach and garlic.  Next add the butter beans, spring onions, sweetcorn and pulse a little further.  Finally add the feta, egg and panko and blend to combine.  Season with a little pepper.

For more texture (see tip above) just blend the basil, coriander, parsley, spinach and garlic. Mash the butter beans and add along with the sweetcorn, spring onions, feta, panko and mix well.  Beat the egg, pour into the mixture and stir well to combine.  Season with pepper.

Shape the mixture into the burgers.

Either grill the burgers on each side until lightly browning and cooked through or fry on each side in a little olive oil. Serve with some cream fraiche and a salad.

Enjoy!

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Blueberry and Oat Muffins

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I’ve become quite a fan of the blueberry over the last 18 months, mainly because we have a permanent stash in the fridge: they are one of Lentil’s favourite fruits along with grapes (fresh or dried). I can’t recall how the blueberry craving started. I suspect they appealed as they are small, soft, don’t have any pips or stones, don’t require peeling and are therefore convenient and an unlikely choking hazard!

As one of the original superfoods, blueberries have many additional benefits.  They are a good source of vitamin K, manganese, dietary fibre and vitamin C.  These perennial plants are also recommended for their anti-inflammatory properties and, (believe it or not!), are apparently one of the richest sources of proanthocyanidins, which can decrease free radicals linked to wrinkles!!  So not just good for the kiddies!

If, like me, you were horrified to realise your memory isn’t as good as it used to be post-kids you’ll be delighted to hear that, according to the World’s Healthiest Foods, studies indicate regular blueberry consumption is also great for your memory!

Here is a healthy mini muffin recipe packed full of these little blue berries, or if you prefer to drink your fruit check out our blueberry smoothie recipe here.  xx

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Makes 12 mini muffins

The what:

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100g blueberries

170g wholemeal flour

1 vanilla pod (or you can use 1/2 tsp of vanilla essence)

30g oats (plus a few extra for sprinkling on top)

1 egg

75ml buttermilk

60ml milk

55g unsalted butter

1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda

mini cupcake cases

The how:

Preheat oven to 200 (180 fan) and place the cupcake cases in a mini cupcake baking tray

Melt the unsalted butter in a small saute pan and set aside to cool.

Mix the wholemeal flour, bicarbonate of soda, oats and vanilla in a large bowl. Next make a well in the centre of the bowl and add the buttermilk, milk, egg and butter to the well and stir quickly with a fork to combine.  Add the blueberries and fold in the flour mixture, mixing until well combined.

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Divide the mixture between the cupcake cases and bake in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes.  Insert a cocktail stick into the centre to ensure they are cooked.  The cocktail stick should come out clean.

Place on a rack to cool and then let the kids tuck in!

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Aubergine, goat’s cheese & squash salad

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Despite rather cloudy, overcast days, the sun has been making a consistent appearance in the evenings of late providing a great opportunity for some al fresco evening dining!  I’ve been experimenting with a few different salads to have on their own or as an accompaniment to a barbecue.  Here is the recipe for one that passed the Lentil and Papa Lentil test (after a few goes at the dressing!).

Brown, green or puy lentils are usually best for salads as they retain their shape and texture after cooking.  However, I had run out of all of the above and only had split-red left in the cupboard.  The colour actually works well with the butternut squash!  Although they do go a little mushy when cooked: good for Coco and her three front teeth!

The What:

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1 aubergine, chopped into chunks

1/2 butternut squash, seeds removed

40g lentils (brown, green or puy – see above)

100g hard goat’s cheese (or you can use feta as an alternative)

1 red onion, sliced

a knob of unsalted butter

Olive oil for drizzling

Some spinach leaves (optional)

For the dressing:

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp honey

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

5 tbsp olive oil

a little black pepper

Tip: I usually make my dressings in an old jam jar so I can close the lid and give it a good shake to mix it well.

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The how:

Preheat the oven to 200 (180 fan).

Place the butternut squash on a baking tray and brush with the melted unsalted butter.  Bake in the oven for 10 minutes initially.

Meanwhile, place the aubergine chunks on another baking tray and drizzle with olive oil.  When the butternut squash has cooked for 10 minutes, add the aubergine to the oven and cook both for a further 25 minutes.

Rinse the lentils and then put the lentils in a saucepan and cover with cold water.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes (until soft).

Heat a little olive oil in a saute pan and cook the onion on medium heat until caramelised.  Set aside to cool.

Once the butternut squash is cooked, chop into chunks and place in a salad bowl along with the aubergine, lentils, onions and spinach leaves (if using). Break up the goat’s cheese and place on top.

For the dressing add the balsamic vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard and pepper to the jar (or a bowl) and mix well.  Next add the olive oil, close and shake well to fully combine. Drizzle the salad with the dressing or serve on the side.

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For the adults a chilled glass of fruity white wine is a good accompaniment to this salad!

Wedding photos - Carlo Gorgio 582

xx

Who moved my cheese?

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You may have noticed a few changes to the Mummyummygoodness blog, not least a change of name!  I appreciate not everyone likes change: Mr Mummyummygoodness didn’t until I suggested he read “who moved my cheese” by Spencer Johnson! However, as we know change is inevitable and often positive.

Now that I’m a little more familiar with this wonderfully creative and inspiring weblog genre, I thought it was time for a little reflection.  If you’ve read my About page, you’ll know that Coco and Lentil inspired me to start this blog, so I thought they deserved a little credit not least for their brutally honest feedback (sometimes resulting in food being spat back onto the plate, table or the floor!) on all the recipes on this blog and those that didn’t make it. And so with a little nostalgia I leave Mummyummygoodness behind and continue this exciting adventure under the banner “Coco & Lentil”.

My Twitter account has been changed over so you can continue to follow (or start following!) me on under Twitter handle @cocoandlentil.com.  My Facebook page is taking a little longer to transfer over so for the moment you can still follow me at https://www.facebook.com/Mummyummygoodness

Thanks to everyone who has joined and supported me on this journey thus far. I hope you’ll continue to follow Coco & Lentil and have as much fun as we do cooking and eating our recipes.

Sarah xx

Chicken and sweet potato in tomato sauce

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Little Coco got her first tooth recently:  a central incisor.  Judging by growing sparkle when she smiles it looks like this little tooth will shortly be joined by another two.  In the meantime we still need to blend certain foods for her (can’t wait be rid of the blender!), although I am gradually introducing more texture. It’s amazing how strong and sharp baby gums can be!

If you chop the vegetables finely, you won’t need to blend this dish much, if at all.  The sweet potato can be mashed and the chicken shredded with a knife and fork once cooked.

Makes 6 portions

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The what:

250g sweet potato, peeled and chopped

150g carrots, peeled and finely chopped

150g chicken fillets, diced

2 spring onions, finely sliced

200g plum tomatoes in natural juice

5 basil leaves, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely sliced

1/4 tbsp olive oil

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The how:

Place the sweet potato and carrots in a saucepan of boiling water. Bring back to the boil and simmer for 8-10 minutes, until soft.  Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a pan and sauté the garlic and onions for 1-2 minutes.  They should be soft but not browning.  Then add the tomatoes and cook for 8 minutes stirring occasionally.

Remove the sweet potato and carrots from the saucepan using a slotted spoon and set aside.  Add the chicken to the cooking water in the saucepan and poach for 2-3 minutes.  Check the chicken is cooked through before removing from the heat.

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Mash the sweet potato and carrots and add the shredded chicken (or alternatively mix all three together and puree using a hand-held blender).  If blending, gradually add the tomato sauce – to minimise “splashage”. You may also want to wear an apron for this bit!.  Otherwise just stir the sauce into the mashed potato and chicken.  Coco loves this dish, although there isn’t much she doesn’t like!  Her tastes aren’t quite as selective or sophisticated yet…..

Happy weaning xx

 

Seared tuna with courgette and carrot salad

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I’m a big fan of mouth-wateringly, succulent seared tuna!  It’s quick to cook so ideal for midweek dinner and great with this summery veg salad.  It just peachy when something so healthy and simple tastes so great!  Luckily Lentil loves fish too – I just cook the tuna a little longer for him.

Makes 2 adult & 1-2 little portions

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The what:

3 sustainably caught tuna steaks

1 courgette, peeled and finely sliced with a mandolin or potato peeler

2 large carrots, peeled and finely sliced with mandolin or potato peeler

60 – 70g sesame seeds

3 tbsp dark soy sauce

1 tbsp mirin

1 tbsp honey

2 tbsp pure sesame oil

olive oil

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The how:

To make the sauce mix together the mirin, soy sauce and honey in a large bowl.  Once combined, add the sesame oil and stir well.

Pour about 1/2 into a separate bowl / sauce-boat and set aside to drizzle over the tuna and salad once cooked.

Heat some olive oil in a griddle pan and grill the courgette slices in batches. About 30 seconds on each side.  Then set aside on some kitchen paper.

Pour the sesame seeds onto a plate / flat surface. Dip each side of the tuna in the large bowl of sauce and then coat in sesame seeds.  Sear in the griddle pan for about 1 – 2 minutes each side.

Serve with the courgette and carrots, drizzle with a little sauce and enjoy!

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