Lentil & Chorizo Bolognese

The London Marathon is only 12 weeks away and I’m training hard.  Up to 13 miles at the weekend now along with dark weeknight runs.  Between this, wedding preparations and challenging times at work, life is pretty full on right now.  Enjoying it all but it’s keeping me away from the kitchen, especially during the week.  Hooray for Sundays!  Sundays are for soup making, bread baking and stocking piling the freezer with food for quick weeknight meals.  The following lentil bologese/ragu/pasta sauce/whatever you want to call it is one of my current favourites.

Lentil & Chorizo Bolognese

(serves 5-6)

200g chorizo, skinned and chopped into 1cm cubes

A little olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped

1 stick of celery, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tspn oregano

250g green lentils

1 tin of tomatoes

Chicken or vegetable stock

Parmesan cheese

  • Warm a little olive oil in a medium pan.  Add the chorizo and fry gently until the paprika-y fat has been release and the sausage is crisp.  Remove using a slotted spoon and put aside.
  • Fry the onions, carrot and celery in the oil for 5 minutes or until softened slightly.  Stir in the garlic and oregano and cook for a minute more.
  • Add the chorizo back to the pan along with the lentils, bay leaves and tin of tomatoes.  Stir well to combine then add enough stock to just cover the lentils.
  • Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes.  Add more stock during the first 30 mins to keep the lentils just covered in liquid.  Once the lentils are almost cooked, stop adding stock and let the liquid reduce to a thick sauce.
  • Serve tossed with tagliatelle and grated parmesan cheese.

Selkirk Bannock

Selkirk is a town somewhere in the Scottish Borders.  I’m not entirely sure where.  I’ve heard it’s lovely but I’ve never been there and I know only two things about it.  1.)  It’s the home-town of my friend and the artist who designed my banner, Faye Anderson.  She’s an extremely talented artist.  Animal lovers, you may want to check out her work here.  And 2.) I have this town to thank for my favourite tea loaf.

Selkirk Bannocks are enormous fruit loaves which were traditionally made with leftover bread dough.  In Scotland (and possibly the rest of the UK?) we call this type of enriched, sweet bread a “tea loaf”.   I’m guessing this is because a slice of this spread with butter or jam or both would typically be eaten with a cup of tea mid-morning or afternoon.   It makes a lovely breakfast too though.

I tend to make a smaller loaf than is traditional as there are only two of us in the house.  That said, it keeps well for a couple of days and can be eaten toasted for a good few days after that.

Selkirk Bannock

450g bread flour

Pinch of salt

1 tspn dried active yeast 

30g caster sugar

250ml luke warm milk

75g butter, cut into cubes and softened

200g sultanas

1 small egg, beaten

  • Add the yeast and sugar to the warm milk and stir.  Leave for 15 mins until yeast froths slightly.
  • Meanwhile, add flour and salt to a large bowl.
  • Stir the yeasty milk into the flour and stir to form a sticky dough.  Knead well for 10 mins adding a little more flour if necessary.
  • Place dough in an oiled bowl and leave to rise in a warm place for at least an hour or until dough has doubled in size.
  • Remove dough from the bowl and pull out into a flat shape.  Gradually add a little of the butter and some of the sultanas and knead through thoroughly.  Repeat until all the butter has been amalgamated and the sultanas and evenly spread through the dough. This is a sticky, greasy process.  It does amalgamate eventually, I promise!
  • Shape dough into a ball and place on a floured baking sheet.  Cover with a big bowl that won’t touch the dough and leave in a warm place to double in size again.
  • Meanwhile heat the oven to 180oC.
  • When dough is risen, brush generously with the egg glaze.  Place in the oven and bake for 45 mins or until golden all over and hollow sounding.
  • Cool and serve sliced and smeared with butter and/or jam.

Salted Rosemary Bread (and some more good news)

My second piece of good news is that I got a place in the 2014 London Marathon.   Delighted!  I’ve ran this distance twice before in the Loch Ness Marathon, a great race with beautiful, peaceful route and a fantastic atmosphere amongst the runners.  It’s one I’ll most definitely do again (and maybe again after that) but, for now, I am looking forward to next year where I’ll be running a route with far less climbs (man, I hate the Dores hill) and more shouts and cheers from crowds the whole way along.  I’ll be fundraising nearer the time for the MS Society and Brain Tumour Research.  If you’d like to sponsor me,  keep an eye on this space in early spring for details.

Today’s recipe is a loaf.  The basic bread recipe is one I’ve published on these pages.   The addition of rosemary to the dough and the sprinkle of sea salt on top makes this a real treat of a snack.  It needs nothing more than a smearing of good quality butter.

Salted Rosemary Bread

(Makes one big loaf)

300ml warm water

1 tspn dry active yeast

400g strong white flour

1 tspn salt

1 tspn chopped fresh rosemary

Olive oil

1 tspn sea salt crystals 

Extra flour

  • Add the yeast to the warm water and set aside until the yeast foams a little (around 10 mins).
  • In a large bowl stir together the flour, salt, and rosemary.  Add the yeasty water and stir to create a wet dough.  Leave for 5 mins.
  • Smear a little olive oil onto your work surface and plop the dough out onto it.  Knead for a couple of minutes.  (You might need to add a tiny bit more flour if the dough is really too sticky to do anything with but don’t add much.  I just dip my hands in flour a couple of times if need be.)
  • Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a teatowel.  Leave in a warm (not too hot!) place for 30 mins until doubled in sized.
  • Knead the dough for a couple of minutes again and place back in the bowl for another 30mins.
  • Final stage.  Line a baking tray with baking paper and dust with flour.  Place dough onto work surface and pull into a flattish rectangular shape.  Roll dough up lengthways and tuck the ends underneath.   Place seam side down and cover with the tea towel again.  Leave to double in size in the same warm place.
  • Meanwhile, heat your oven to 210 oC (or 200 oC if fan assisted).   When oven reaches the right temperature place a cake tin of hot water in the bottom of the oven.  Leave for 10 mins to let the oven get steamy.
  • Brush the risen dough lightly with water then sprinkle with the sea salt.  Dust lightly with flour then use a serrated  knife to make 3 slits across the top of the loaf.  Place in the oven and bake for 40 mins until golden.
  • Leave to cool on a rack before eating.