Cucumber and Pineapple Smoothie

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I love this flavour combination, which I happened upon accidentally while creating Riata for my chickpea and sweet potato curry (click here in case you missed it!).  I don’t know why I never thought of cucumber and pineapple before, but I’m sure glad I’ve found it now!!

Lentil loves smoothies and now regularly asks for them, so I’m constantly on the lookout for new concoctions and this one definitely seems to be a winner. Smoothies are also a great way to use up that leftover bit of cucumber in the fridge that would otherwise end up in the bin.

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The what:

a think slice of pineapple, peeled and chopped

1/3 cucumber, peeled and sliced

handful fresh mint

4 tbsp natural yoghurt

1 tsp honey

The how:

Blend the pineapple, cucumber and mint in a food processor, then add the yoghurt and honey and blend until well combined.  You can either serve as a textured smoothie, or pass through a sieve if you prefer a drinkable smoothie without any “bits”.  Personally, I prefer the former, but some kids might be put off by the “bits”.

Have a smoooooothie day!

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Chickpea, Orka and Sweet Potato Curry

IMG_5552bWe got a little peckish while at Kew Gardens (so beautiful!) recently and headed to the Pavilion expecting to tuck into one of their summer favourites from the grill and barbecue.  But despite the warm English sunshine there was sadly no barbecue.  We didn’t go hungry though: Peyton and Byrne’s indoor restaurant was serving.  I went for the Indian veggie curry, which was really quite delicious and inspired me to try out my own.  My version has more of a Thai than Indian influence, but its quick and easy to make.  I’ll have to go back for the Full of Spice festival for further inspiration!

As well as being beautiful and great for picnics in this weather, there is also lots of fun for the kids.  Following lunch we wandered along the Xstrata Treetop Walkway to view all the trees from above.  A small warning: the walkway does sway quite a bit in the breeze so probably best avoided by those with Acrophobia!  Next we headed to the Treehouse Towers playground: Lentil had a swell time climbing, sliding, walking ropes and of course getting very dirty in the process.  Thank goodness for washing machines!

Anyway, back to the curry……here is my veggie version:

 

The what:

400g chickpeas, rinsed and drained

2 medium-sized sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

80g peas

80g okra

4 shallots, peeled and sliced

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

400ml coconut milk

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp turmeric

1cm ginger, finely chopped

200ml stock

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For the Riata:

1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped

1 slice pineapple, chopped

4 tbsp natural / greek style yoghurt

1/4 tsp of ground cumin (optional)

a handful of mint, finely chopped

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The how:

Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan and saute the cumin seeds, onion and garlic for a minute.  Then add the remaining spices except the turmeric and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk, turmeric and sweet potato, cover and simmer for 20 minutes until the sweet potato is cooked.  Add the chickpeas, peas and okra and cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetables are cooked, but still have a bite to them.

To make the Riata:

Put the cucumber, pineapple and mint in a food processor and pulse a couple of times so you have small chunks.  Transfer to a bowl and mix in the yoghurt and cumin.

Serve the curry and Riata with some rice.  I used brown basmati and wild rice, which works well, but any rice will do.

Enjoy!

 

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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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Moussaka with Courgette

Moussaka with courgette

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Moussaka with courgette?? It’s my take on a traditional Moussaka: a Moussaka in disguise if you will.  My recipe doesn’t use the traditional aubergine – I simply wasn’t feeling the aubergine love the day I made this – but you can of course add it if you’re a traditionalist!  Instead I use courgette. It passed the Lentil taste test and I actually used a mix of aubergine and courgette when I last made it for us parent people.  Of course I’m going to say I think it’s nicer with the courgette addition….but I really do!

Continue reading

Homemade Lamb Burgers

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These little burgers are incredibly easy to make and you can freeze them individually in freezer bags and defrost and cook when your little tot is hungry! You can also shape them into koftes using wooden skewers, although strictly speaking they aren’t a kofte!  That’s a recipe for another day…..

Makes 6 mini burgers / koftes or 2 large and 2 mini burgers. Continue reading