Recipe: Easy Lentil Curry (Vegan)

This is a recipe which definitely has its origins in necessity, borne of a long day and a need for simplicity.

Being a food blogger means that I often expose myself to elaborate dishes with exotic ingredients and whilst I love trying new things, it can sometimes lead to culinary overkill.

Sometimes I just want something warm, delicious and filling, something which doesn't take 2 hours, a million ingredients and three separate stages.

Basically I'm being lazy and I just want to bung a load of ingredients in the pot, do a bit of stirring, then return a while later to my meal.

This is the recipe I go to in exactly this situation. I usually have most of the ingredients in the cupboard and even if I don't I can always substitute - adding more chickpeas, lentils or other legumes to make up a shortfall.

It is also wonderfully aromatic and packed full of spices and flavour - especially if you add the chilli, which rounds everything off with a pleasant zing.

The only warning I have before you go on is to make sure you have enough fridge space for leftovers... because this is the kind of curry you can make once and continue eating for several meals throughout the week. (this saving even more time and effort!!)

Easy Lentil Curry Recipe (Vegan) by Audacity of Food
Easy Lentil Curry Recipe (Vegan) by Audacity of Food

Ingredients

Makes 4 very large servings, 6 smaller ones.

1 tbsp Vegetable Oil to cook in

Spices

1 tsp Cumin Seed

1 tsp Ground Turmeric

2 tbsp Medium Curry Powder

1/2 tsp All Spice

1 tsp Chilli Flakes or 2 Red Chillies (alter this to taste)

Main Ingredients

1 Red Onion

200g Red Lentils

400g can of Chickpeas, drained

400g can of Red Kidney Beans, drained

400g can Chopped Tomatoes

400g can of Coconut Milk

250ml Veg Stock

To Serve

Plain Yogurt

Fresh Coriander, roughly chopped

Rice/Couscous/Naan Bread

Method

1. Heat the oil gently in a large stock pot/saucepan (you will need the lid), add the onions and fry for 1 minute on a medium heat.

2. Add all of the spices to the onion, stir well and continue frying for 2 minutes, you should notice an extremely aromatic scent coming off the pan!

3. Add in the rest of the main ingredients, order is not really an issue, making sure that you stir the pot well.

4. Add the lid, bring the curry to the boil, then reduce the heat down onto the lowest setting.

5. Leave the curry to simmer on this low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add an extra 5 minutes if the lentils are still tough to taste.

6. Serve with a dollop of natural yogurt and fresh coriander, add whatever accompaniments you like! We went for couscous, simply because it takes the least time and effort.

Easy Lentil Curry Recipe (Vegan) by Audacity of Food
Easy Lentil Curry Recipe (Vegan) by Audacity of Food
Easy Lentil Curry Recipe (Vegan) by Audacity of Food
Easy Lentil Curry Recipe (Vegan) by Audacity of Food

In other news; There's still chance to enter my competition to win a Taster Bundle of Vincent's (my!) Coffee

Find out more and enter

here

Audacity of Food

Cooking with Olives: An Evening with Olive It!

My experience of cooking with olives pretty much extends to putting them on top of a pizza....

Or eating them straight out of the jar, which usually means I am intercepting their journey to the top of pizza.

I was therefore intrigued when I received an invite from Olive It to come and try cooking with olives at the Cheshire Cookery School, as it was obvious that my olive repertoire could benefit from expansion!

It turned out that our introduction to oliveology (© Bethan Vincent, 2015) was to be led by Omar Allibhoy, founder of Tapas Revolution and burgeoning TV Chef!

Omar and chef José Pizarro have become involved in the campaign to spread awareness of innovative ways to cook olives through sharing family-trusted recipes that have passed down generations. 

Before we began cooking, Omar first explained to us why olives make an excellent addition to a meal and why he is trying to get more UK cooks to use them creatively!

So what did we learn about the humble olive?

  • Olives are in fact actually a fruit (this was one of those moments where I thought "how did I not know that!?")
  • The colour of an olive is not down to variety, but is due to ripeness! Black olives have been matured for longer, which is what gives them a different look and taste.
  • You can also get pink and brown olives due to this maturation process! They also have slightly different flavour profiles.
  • Olives are high in Oleic acid - a monounsaturated fat, which studies indicate is good for heart health
  • Depending on variety, there are on average 150 calories in 100g olives, which is great for those who are watching their waistline.
  • Olives are also high in Iron and vitamin E

After Omar had given us a solid background to olives and their benefits, he jumped straight in with a demonstration of what was decisively the most unusual recipe of the evening - 

Candied pitted olives and cherries in sweet sherry wine.

That's right, olive dessert.

Now this is the point where I suspect I will loose your faith in olives, bear with me here, this recipe actually worked!

Omar explained that the rich flavours of the olives could be softened and sweetened with sherry, then contrasted with a slight sharpness, which came in the form of cheese cream. 

Let me tell you, the result was delicious! 

We then went on to make our starters and mains, all of which used olives in ways that were new and pretty damn tasty, including olive tapenade and meatballs.

I have included all the recipes from the evening below - I really would urge you to give them a go! Even if you aren't a big olive fan, you might surprise yourself, as these are recipes which use olives in a subtle and harmonious way.

Omar and I with our finished dishes!

Coarse Pate of mixed olives, manchego cheese and pistachios

Coarse Pate of mixed olives, manchego cheese and pistachios
Coarse Pate of mixed olives, manchego cheese and pistachios

Ingredients

100g of pitted green and black olives

30g of manchego cheese

30g of pistachio kernels

50g of extra virgin olive oil

Juice of ½ a lemon

½ teaspoon of fennel seeds

A pinch of sweet pimento

Method

1.

Blend all of the ingredients into a coarse mix with the help of a food processor.

2.

Serve on toast with any other ingredient you like: piquillo peppers, tuna in oil… or use as a garnish for a pan-fried fillet of sea bass or even use it as a crust for a baked leg of lamb

Queen olive-stuffed beef meatballs with tomato and olive sauce

Queen olive-stuffed beef meatballs with tomato and olive sauce
Queen olive-stuffed beef meatballs with tomato and olive sauce

Ingredients

For the meatballs

100g of pitted queen green olives

3 slices white bread

100 ml milk

500g minced beef

¼ onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 tablespoon freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 egg, beaten

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce

50g of pitted black olives

5 tablespoons good-quality olive oil

¾ onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped

2 tablespoons freshly chopped thyme

1 tablespoon freshly chopped rosemary

1 teaspoon sugar

1 glass of white wine

1 x 400g tin chopped plum tomatoes

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

1.

To make the meatballs, soak the bread in the milk and leave for a few minutes. Put the minced beef in a large shallow dish or baking tray and add the onion, garlic, parsley and seasoning. Squeeze the excess milk from the bread and add to the mixture, along with the beaten egg

2.

Knead the mixture with clean hands for a couple of minutes until the ingredients are well combined (don’t over work it or the meatballs will become rubbery). Roll the minced mixture around each of the pitted queen olive to make balls and place in a shallow roasting tin. The traditional way of cooking these is to fry them in batches in a little olive oil over a medium heat but I prefer to do it the easy way and roast them. Simply drizzle with a little olive oil and cook for 10 minutes in the oven at 180°C/gas mark 4

3.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and add the onion, garlic and carrot and cook for a few minutes until the onion is translucent, but not coloured. Add the whole black pitted olives, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper, sugar and wine and flambé by setting light to the pan using a lighter or some long matches. Simmer until the wine has reduced by half and then add the chopped tomatoes.

4.

Cook for a further 5 minutes, then add the meatballs and cook together for another 15 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through

Tip:

If your pan is too wide, the tomato sauce may evaporate too quickly and become dry. If this happens, just add a little water to the pan.

Queen olive-stuffed beef meatballs with tomato and olive sauce
Queen olive-stuffed beef meatballs with tomato and olive sauce

My "please don't burn little meatballs" face

Candied pitted olives and cherries in sweet sherry wine

Candied pitted olives and cherries in sweet sherry wine
Candied pitted olives and cherries in sweet sherry wine

Ingredients

50g of pitted black olives

100g of cherries

1 cup of caster sugar

1 cup of water

1 glass of sweet sherry wine

For the cheese cream

400ml of double cream

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

50g of goat’s cheese

50g of sugar

2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

Method 

1.

Place a small sauce pan over high heat and add the sugar, water and olives. Let it all form a syrup and reduce down to a golden caramel

2.

At this point add the glass of sweet sherry and the pitted cherries and let it all boil together for an extra 5 minutes. This will keep in a tight container for more than a month

Cheese cream

1.

Bring all ingredients to the boil while whisking until fully dissolved. Chilled for a couple hours and whip with the help of a whisk.

an evening with olive it
an evening with olive it

I would like to thank the team at Olive It and Omar for what was an extremely enjoyable and very educational evening! We have actually gone on to making the recipes again at home with great success.

To view the full Olive recipe book, go to the www.oliveit.eu website!

You can also follow the campaign on Twitter and Facebook:

@Oliveit_UK

www.facebook.com/oliveit_uk

Audacity of Food

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Recipe: Blue Cheese & Bacon Twists

I'm not going to lie, I feel pretty duplicitous calling this a recipe... 

I would say that what lies below is more of a loose set of guidelines to combine three very tasty things - pastry, bacon and cheese.

Lets say you get invited to a party last minute - you know the kind where there is an expectation to bring food, homemade food.

Inevitably, there will be some kind of unspoken competition regarding who has made the best quinoa-kale-tabbouleh-harissa cake (N.B. I love and use all of those things, though maybe not combined in a cake...)

I'm all for low stress when it comes to cooking for others, which I why I always stick to simple and fuss free recipes that most people will enjoy.

The thing is, making something tasty isn't hard when you have good quality ingredients to start with! Barring total disaster - Blue cheese and bacon twists fall exactly into this remit. You're simply adding a few good things into another good thing, then twisting!

A few weeks ago, this recipe really came to my rescue when I was invited to a friends party and had literally no time to make anything. I actually ended up making them half an hour before I was due to leave for said party!

I can also confirm that is is an easy recipe to make whilst 2 (ok maybe 3) glasses into a bottle of red!

Any type of hard/ish cheese can be used here, especially as you and sandwiching it firmly into the pastry, which means it can't escape!

I actually had a small block of Yorkshire made

Shepherd's Purse Yorkshire Blue

in the fridge, which worked perfectly all crumbled up!

Blue cheese and bacon twists recipe
Blue cheese and bacon twists recipe

All you need is:

A 500g pack of puff pastry

Approximately 1 pack of streaky bacon, preferably from high welfare sources (6-8 rashers, this can also be omitted for a veggie cheese twist!)

100g Blue Cheese, chopped up into small chunks.

A little plain flour for dusting

1 free range egg to glaze (can be omitted)

The "method" couldn't be simpler!

1. Roll out your pastry into a rectangle approximately 1/2cm thick. This should be easy as it is already a square block!

2. Cover this rectangle of pastry evenly with the blue cheese, just sprinkle it on right over, don't be worried about getting a perfectly even coverage.

Blue cheese and bacon twists recipe
Blue cheese and bacon twists recipe

3. Fold the pastry in half, trapping the blue cheese in the centre, then roll it out again to another rectangle 1/2 cm thick.

4. With the long side facing you, lay out strips of bacon across horizontally, covering the entire surface.

Blue cheese and bacon twists recipe
Blue cheese and bacon twists recipe

5. Cut the pastry into strips between each bacon slice, as seen above. If you want shorter, "party size," twists, cut them in half again horizontally.

6. Pull each strip off and twist until each one is tightly curled.

7. Place the twists onto baking sheets lined with greaseproof paper (you may need 2 or even 3 trays!.)

Blue cheese and bacon twists
Blue cheese and bacon twists

8. Glaze with the beaten egg and bake in a 200C oven for 20/25 minutes, until the twists are golden brown.

Blue cheese and bacon twists
Blue cheese and bacon twists

Once out of the oven, the only thing left to do is resist the urge to eat them all before you get to the party....

Oh and they will also handily keep for 3-4 days in a sealed container in the fridge!

I hope you enjoy! Do let me know if you try them at home, especially after wine ;)

Audacity of Food

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