”Supper” is one of those words which has a slightly different interpretation depending on where you live. Hours spent trawling through Nigel Slater’s books has led me to believe that in England “supper” means a light dinner/evening meal. In the the north-east of Scotland, however, ”supper” covers evening meals regardless of how light or heavy they are. And in the central belt of Scotland (where my parents were brought up) ”supper” means a little snack (usually something bready) immediately before going to bed.
My parents are still big fans of this latter habit and, more often than not, have a slice of toast and a cup of tea before snuggling down for the night. As a child I would not have been able to conceive going to bed without a wee nibble first but I’m no longer in the routine of doing so. Just as well. I can never eat only one slice of toast and, being hyper-sensitive to caffine, would undoubtably be awake for most of the ensuing night after a cup of tea.
The following is a supper in the Slater/English sense: a quick, light dinner. Though I would never naturally use the word “supper” in this way, I did so tonight because it meant my post title would be alliterative.
P.S. I had intended on including the tomato sauce recipe in this post but am no longer going to do so. In the last half hour, D (the bugger) has whipped up a beautiful tomato pizza base sauce which, frankly, kicks my version’s bum. Will post it later in the week. If he let’s me in on his secret, that is.
A Simple Sausage Supper
2 sausages per person
Big handful of spinach per person
Tomato sauce (as in pasta sauce not ketchup)
1-2 slices of crusty bread per person (we used Irish soda bread this time – yum)
I’m home. It’s been two weeks since I was last in my own wee kitchen and two weeks since I was in a situation to cook whatever I liked. Before I even unlocked my front door, I knew what I wanted make. For days I’d been dreaming about a warming, veggie packed curry served with plain rice and yogurt. And that’s exactly what I made.
Golden Vegetable Curry
(serves 4 with rice)
2 small onions
3 garlic cloves
Thumb of ginger
3 tbspn ghee or vegetable oil
2 tspn coriander powder
2 tspn cumin
1 tspn turmeric
1 tspn mustard seeds
5 cardamon seeds
1/2 tspn cinnamon
1/2 tspn cayenne pepper
1/2 tspn salt
400 ml tin of coconut milk
1 small squash or pumpkin, peeled and cut into chunks
5 medium carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
3 medium parsnips, peeled, quartered lengthways, woody centres removed and cut into chunks
Spring onion, finely chopped
In a food processor, whizz up the onion, garlic and ginger to form a lumpy paste.
Heat the oil over a medium heat in a large pan. Add the oniony paste and fry for 8-10 mins until the mixture colours slightly.
Add the spices and cook for a couple more minutes.
Add all of the vegetables, the coconut milk and the water. Stir to combine. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 30 mins or until vegetables are almost tender. Check seasoning.
Ladle approximately 300ml of the curry (liquid and vegetables) into a food processor and blitz until all the chunks have been liquidized. Return this to the curry and cook for five more minutes.
Serve topped with plain yogurt and chopped spring onion.
Recently Antonia and Megan tagged me for a “Seven Things Meme”. I’ve completed this one a couple of times before but memes are great for weeks like this. They’re fun and they don’t require a lot of thought. So here I go again.
1. As I’ve said before, I sleep walk fairly regularly. In my most recent sleep walking event a tortoise scuttled out from under my pillow snapping its jaws at me angrily. I leapt out of bed and began shouting on D to come help me deal with the creature. He did so but then had to go back into the livingroom and explain to his beer-drinking, ski-DVD-watching friends why his psycho girlfriend was screaming about reptiles in the middle of the night.
2. I once deeply offended a stranger at a wedding. I’d had too much champagne and when the farmer sitting across from me at the table declared that his grandfather was a Westie I almost wet myself laughing. He meant “from the western isles of Scotland”; I couldn’t stop thinking ”West Highland Terrier”.
3. Whilst living in a small town in northern Japan, strangers (mostly teenage girls) used to shout “chisai kao” at me in the street. Chisai kao means small face. It was odd but I quite liked it for a while. Then I got irritated that I couldn’t go anywhere without being shouted at in the street. Being called “small face” was one of the reasons I left Japan.
4. Another time in Japan I went to a nearby lake, Shikotsuko, and asked another foreigner to take a photo of me and my friend. After he’d had done so we chatted and I discovered that, not only was he also Scottish, he was my best friend’s boyfriend’s next door neighbour back in Aberdeenshire!
5. I’ve been 5″10 (178 cm) since I was 13. In my teenage years I hated it and used to read medical journals hoping to discover an operation to make me shorter. I now love being tall as, being very nosey, it enables me to see more of what’s going on.
6. My best friend’s brother is called Matt and he’s married to a girl called Kat and they used to have a couple of lodgers called Nat and Matt. AND three out of the four of them had birthdays on February 14th. Really.
7. Eating dinner together every night is helping my family through a tough period. Last night I made macaroni cheese for the first time since Home Economics class in High School and we ate it with toasted white bread. It took me right back to my childhood.
Last year I posted a picture of a strange onion growing in my Dad’s garden. He’d got the seeds from someone who’d got the seeds from someone who’d got the seeds from someone. Neither Dad or his seed friend knew what they were but were happy to grow and eat them.
The above is my new mystery vegetable. It’s not growing in any of our gardens this time. Rather, I found several of them in a takeaway Thai red curry. What is it? It’s the size of a large pea and contains lots of little bitter seeds in a gooey liquid. Any ideas?
I asked Rosie but she doesn’t know and she doesn’t care.
For the last week I’ve been cooking for children as well as adults. This has been a new challenge for me and it hasn’t been straightforward. Everything unusual has been viewed with deep suspicion and many of my staple dishes have been rejected in the planning stages.
If this were long term I could work on making the kids less fussy eaters perhaps, but it’s not and I need to come up new ideas that won’t involve a battle of wills at the dinner table.
Tell me, what do you cook for kids?
I can’t believe how much I’ve come to rely on this blog and on being in the kitchen. Life is not being kind at the moment and a couple of days ago I assumed I’d be taking a break from blogging for a few weeks. Just didn’t think I’d have the inclination or energy to cook or post or read. But in fact, the opposite has been true. Planning and cooking simple meals has helped me both relax and feel useful, whilst grabbing five minutes to check in with this blog or read yours has cheered me up.
The following technique for making potato wedges was discovered entirely by accident. One evening I had planned on having a simple baked potato with cheddar cheese for dinner. The tattie was baked and on a plate ready to be sliced open and sprinkled with cheese when suddenly the phone rang. It was Sarah and, my goodness!, did she have gossip. An hour or more went by sitting on the sofa ooooh-ing and ahhhh-ing at all the news before my rumbling stomach forced me off the phone and back into the kitchen to salvage my dinner. These wedges were the result and I wouldn’t make them any other way now.
1 large floury potato per person
Wet the potatoes and rub with salt. Prick with a fork and bake in a 200oC oven for 45mins or until almost cooked through.
Remove from oven and leave to cool slightly or completely. This part could be done a day or so in advance.
Slice the potatoes into 8 wedges. Place on a baking tray, brush with olive oil and sprinke with a little paprika and cayenne.
Roast in a 200oC oven until golden, approximately 20 minutes.
It’s the start of a four day weekend and I’m more than ready for it. Until Tuesday I am not going to think about classes and I’m not going to open the cupboard where I’ve stashed my pile of marking. Instead, I’m jumping in the car and heading down to the Borders to spend the weekend with good friends, good wine and a slobbery dog. Great!
Before I leave I want to share this recipe. I tried it out for the first time the other evening and was thrilled with the results. I generally prefer to eat salad as a side rather than as a lone dish but this was so very robust and flavoursome, I didn’t need anything else.
Leave out the anchovy dresssing if it’s not to your taste.
Winter Salad with Roasted Squash and Goats Cheese (adapted from Delicious, Jan 2008)
1 small squash (e.g. carnival), peeled and cut into slices
4 medium tomatoes, quartered (at this time of year, these will obviously be bland hothouse tomatoes but when seasoned and roasted they will become tasty)
100g calvo nero or other green, roughly chopped
60g goats cheese, crumbled
2 anchovy fillets
Preheat oven to 190oC. Brush the pumpkin with a little olive oil and season well. Roast for 30 mins turning occasionally. Add the tomatoes to the roasting tray, brush with oil, season well and roast for a further 20 minutes.
Meanwhile make the dressing. Add 3-4 tblspn olive oil and the anchovy fillets to a frying pan. Heat the oil over a medium-low heat until the fillets melt. Pour into a small dish and whisk well with a fork. Add lemon juice and seasoning to taste.
5 minutes before the roasting vegetables are ready bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Throw in the calvo nero and cook for 3 minutes. Drain thoroughly.
Add the calvo nero and roasted vegetables to a big bowl and toss with the dressing.
Divide between two plates and sprinkle with the goats cheese.
It seems a little early for another soup post but then I am eating a lot of the stuff these nippy winter days. Especially for lunch. The following has recently been my favourite soup to make on a Sunday afternoon and to see me through the weekday lunches in the staffroom. It’s not fancy but it’s nutritious and tasty and I usually have all of the ingredients ready and waiting in my cupboards.
This is my submission for the new blogging event, No Croutons Necessary, hosted by Holler and Lisa.
Carrot and Red Lentil Soup
1 onion, chopped
2 sticks of celery, chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
4 large carrots, peeled and grated
200g red lentils
1 – 1.5 litre stock (vegetable or chicken)
Fresh coriander leaves
Gently soften the onion and celery in a little oil in a medium pan. Add the garlic and spices and fry for 2 minutes more.
Stir in the carrots and lentils. Add a litre of the stock to cover the veg and lentils. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until the lentils are soft (approximately 25 minutes) adding extra stock if necessary.
Season carefully and serve topped with fresh coriander leaves.
I’m still working on my New Years resolution, eating breakfast at home. Can’t say it has been a daily success but I’m still trying! Weekend breakfasts with their lack of time constraints are an entirely different matter, of course. Eggs (sorry Johanna) tend to feature quite heavily at these meals. Poached, fried, boiled, scrambled - I love them all. Perhaps my favourite way of eating them in the morning is by making what the Finns call munavoi and D calls “egg in a cup”. Munavoi translates as egg-butter and that’s exactly what it is: hard boiled eggs mixed well with softened butter to create a smooth, velvety eggy spread. Yum!
It is, however, very buttery. I generally prefer to eat lighter than this and so came up with an alternative which I now actually prefer to original munavoi. The following is less of a recipe than an idea but it makes a lovely, fresh egg spread which is perfect on wholewheat bagels or rye bread.
A Lighter Egg Spread
(enough for one bagel)
1 hard boiled egg
2 heaped tablespoons cottage cheese
Salt and pepper
PS We’ve had a little snow recently. Not quite enough for snow angels but exciting nevertheless!