14 October 2012

Peppers stuffed with curried lentils


It is getting a little late in the year but our garden still produces vegetables, most notably yellow peppers, courgettes and chillies. A few weeks ago we had my cousin Mitzi and her friend Sally staying with us and they cooked us peppers stuffed with lentils so this is my attempt to do what Sally did.

What you need

  • 1-2 peppers per person, deseeded and cut in half
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 200 g green lentils, cooked in 250 ml water and 150 ml red wine (20-25 mins)
  • 1 small courgette, diced
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 cm fresh ginger, mashed
  • ½ red chilli, deseeded if you don’t like your food too hot
  • 1 tsp jeera (ground cumin)
  • 1 tbsp madras curry powder
  •  ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 4 tbsp tomato purée or 100g chopped tomatoes
  • salt to taste
  • 150 g goats cheese in thin slices
  • ½ tub crème fraîche or double cream

What you do

  1. Stir fry the onions, garlic, chilli and the ginger in rape seed or sunflower oil.
  2. Add the ground spices and allow them to go slightly brown
  3. Add the carrots and the lentils, a splash of water and the tomato (purée or chopped).
  4. Simmer until the ingredients are well blended (about 5 mins), add more water if it gets too dry. Season with salt.
  5. Take off the head and stir in the courgettes. Spoon the mixture into the halved peppers.
  6. Lay a slice of goats cheese on the lentils and add a dollop of cream.
  7. Bake in the oven (200°) or under a grill until the cheese is melted and a light brown crust has formed, about ten minutes. 

08 October 2012

Polenta Slices with Chantarelles and Boletus in Port (and Cream) Sauce

This weekend I am looking after my Dad again. He likes his food, but a real compliment is when he says he’d like to lick the plate.
Polenta is not everyone’s favourite dish, partly because to make a good one is time consuming business, partly because some like it runny and others firm enough to form slabs, partly because there are so many different kinds of polenta meal, from something not unlike semolina to a fine flour. I have used the rough-ground type.

How to make polenta

Again, many different views exist, from simply using salted water, to a broth or even a broth with a shot of dry sherry or white wine. In the end, it is a matter of taste.
It is easy to freeze in handy portions, especially if you make a dry polenta. As it takes a fair bit of work, I tend to make enough for about three helpings (300 g to start with can go a long way).
Bring water or broth to the boil; it should be 4 parts liquid to 1 part of the polenta flour (200g would mean about 800 ml liquid). If you want a dry polenta, add little to no liquid later on…
Pour in the polenta flour and stir until the liquid has been absorbed. If you have a slow-cooker, put it in there for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally. If you haven’t, turn the heat all the way down and stir regularly for at the very least 30 minutes. The longer you heat it, the smother it becomes. Leave to stand for a bit.
For the slices spread the polenta on a wet wooden board, smoothing it with a wet wooden spatula or a knife, the leave it to cool.  

What you need

  • 2 polenta slices per person
  • 1 knob of butter and a dash of olive oil for frying the polenta
  • 1 knob of butter and a dash of olive oil for the fungi.
  • 300 g of chanterelles and boletus, cleaned with a (dry!) brush, sliced
  • 1 shallot finely cut
  • ½ red chilli diced small
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp hot paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 100 ml Port (possibly mixed with red vermouth)
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 100 ml double cream or 50% crème fraîche if you find the mixture with the port too sweet; for vegans, obviously leave this out.

What you do

  1. Fry the polenta slices with the butter and olive oil on a medium until they are golden and have a nice crust on the outside.
  2. Heat the oil and butter, add the shallots, then the garlic and last the chilli. Don’t let them take colour.
  3. Add the chanterelles and the boletus and sauté. Season with paprika, salt and pepper.
  4. Pour in the port, add the tomato purée and reduce till it is a bit thicker. You may want to remove the fungi before reducing and add them again before serving.
  5. Last, add the cream and reduce. (Put in the fungi again, warm up)
  6. Pour over the polenta slices and serve with a salad.