Pulses

Week 44: Polenta, Beans, Kale

So the other day my lover turned to me and said “you know I will actually eat soup, just not from a mug like my parents” this after 9 years or solid meals. So I set out to make a thick soup to lull him into soup-ness before making something runny.

The recipe I chose was from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Three Good Things on a Plate, it looked lovely, I had everything except the beans and kale in already, and I could finally try making something with Kale after years of people telling me it’s a super-food. Word to the wise: kale definitely gives you certain super-human abilities, which aren’t for demonstrating in polite company.

Hugh says this is his take on a traditional Tuscan Peasant dish, without wanting to give away the ending, if I gave what I made to a Tuscan Peasant I’d wake up with a horse’s head in my bed.  Unlike most of the other recipes  that have gone wrong this year, I’m not entirely sure what I happened this time.

To serve four you will need olive oil (Hugh says normal oil and some really top-notch oil to drizzle afterwards), an onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 200g Kale, 850ml vegetable or chicken stock (Hugh recommends home-made stock or really good quality shop bought stock, but I used oxo cubes haha), 400g tine cannellini beans, 100g quick-cooking polenta, sea salt and black pepper.

Chop the onion and the garlic, drain the beans, and strip the kale from the tough stalks; you can cut the leafs into ribbons but I didn’t.  Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan, sweat the onions on a medium heat for 10 minutes until soft and golden.

polentakale3

Add the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes.  Add the stock and the beans and bring to a simmer.  Add the kale and return to a simmer for 5 minutes until it is tender.  Stir the polenta in and return to a simmer (stir well and the polenta wont go lumpy).  Simmer for another 3 minutes until it has thickened.

polentakale5

I’m pretty sure this is where I went wrong.  Maybe my polenta was too quick cooking?  Anyway, I was expecting it to be somewhere between a stew and a soup and its not what I turned out with… my lover had got bowls and spoons out, came over to look into the pan and said “well we can have that on plates” and went to get some forks.  To serve spoon it into a warmed bowl and drizzle with your good olive oil.  Et Voila:

polentakale7

Not much like soup… It wasn’t very nice.  I don’t know if it was the not top-notch stock that I used, or maybe I had faulty Kale, or maybe it was just too delicately flavoured for our burly pallettes?  It’s not a dish that I’ll make again.  Sorry Hugh.

But wait, there’s more…  I didn’t fancy having half a bag of kale hanging around in case I didn’t like it, so I cooked for four.  In the book Hugh says that to re-heat this add some more stock or boiling water to break up the polenta and heat in a pan until piping hot.

polentakale1

After 2 days in the fridge I didn’t do that, I broke it into chunks and heated it in a frying pan with a knob of butter, and when it was cooked all the way through I served it up with some cooked chicken from the supermarket and a big dollop of Dijon mustard.

polentakale2

 

Hugh’s Three Good Things on a Plate by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Bloomsbury 2012, ISBN 9781408828588)

three good things on a plate

Week 20: Lentils, Spinach, Potato

Three is the magic number, yes it is, it’s the magic number.  This is also Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s mantra for his latest book: “Hugh’s Three Good Things on a Plate”.  For my twentieth week of new recipes (although it’s my 22nd new recipe) I decided to use a new book, rather than cook something fancy from one of the books I’d already used; so I reached for Hugh!

three good things on a plate

The recipe uses lentils, vegetable stock, cooked potatoes, garlic, curry powder, spinach and a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, and as usual it provided a number of firsts for me.

The first first, I had never cooked more than 25g of lentils before in one go.  My second first, I had never wilted anything – other than a bunch of flowers in my life.  It’s all go here.

I got the lentils on and they soon broke down into what the book calls a “dhal”.  I didn’t know what one was before cooking this – but I’ve got my eye on a few others already!  I fried the potatoes, added the garlic and curry powder and then added these to the lentils.

Then before serving, I wilted the spinach in batches and added it to the rest and stirred it round with some lemon juice (the second time I made it I used lime and I think I preferred lemon)

Served on some wholemeal pittas (as usual I completely forgot to buy in any salad) it was delicious.  I never though I’d like a plate full of lentils, but I wolfed it down.

lentilspinachpotato05

There is a sting in the tail though… it’s a really smelly dish to cook.  Casa-del-Crump is only a little apartment, and the whole place smelled of fried potatoes. I had to scrub everything down, febreze the soft furnishings and wash the towels to get rid of the smell.

Obviously it needs the crispiness of the fried potatoes, otherwise it would be like eating a strange leafy porridge, and suffer from “risotto syndrome”, which would be a shame.  Maybe I could sauté the potatoes instead, or use a different oil?  Until I’ve worked out a solution I’m not cooking it again, even though I really want to!

Hugh’s Three Good Things on a Plate by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Bloomsbury 2012, ISBN 9781408828588)

Week 15a: Thai Chickpea Curry

Those darn waxy potatoes taunting me again!

After the vegetable cutlets debacle (http://wp.me/p42Dr4-X) I went online to find out which potatoes were waxy and which weren’t – I was surprised to learn that there are so many!  Unfortunately, I was looking on the run up to Christmas, and the already limited choice of potatoes in Hammersmith was distinctly floury.

Then, I chanced upon a pack of Maris Peer potatoes in M&S Foodhall.  I pounced on them, and then bought them to avoid the angry stares of security.  Not wanting to try feeding my lover the cutlets again I remembered a different recipe in the Cupboard Love book:  Thai Chickpea Curry!

This curry uses garlic, fresh ginger, black pepper, vegetable oil, a medium sized waxy potato, madras curry powder, coconut milk, a tin of chickpeas, tomatoes, soy sauce, salt and sugar.  For once, I had most of the ingredients in, and the others weren’t hard to find.

Then I hit my only hurdle.  The recipe asked me to pound or blitz the ginger, pepper and ginger into a paste.  I didn’t have  pounder or a blitzer, but the waxy potatoes were mocking me, so I had to improvise:

My rolling pin and tin foil blitz-pounding-extravaganza!  It didn’t turn very paste-like, more like lumpy dust actually, but I had to improvise…

Like all wok-cooked curries, everything else gets lobbed in pretty quickly, and then it boils and simmers down, from this:

To this:

The tomatoes get put in for the last few minutes.  The recipe said to put in basil or coriander, but I didn’t have either (and it was the night before I escaped north for Christmas so I wasn’t going to get any in specially) so I left it out.

I have to say, it turned out delicious.

Thai Chickpea 5

I’ve made it three times now, and its turned out slightly differently every time.  The only problem I have with this curry is that what my body does to cheap eggs is nothing compared to what it can do to half a can of chickpeas.

I canvassed my friends and the various suggestions for making chickpeas less gassy included peeling the chickpeas (which I don’t fancy doing for a whole tin of them) adding parsley (which either stops the gas or makes it smell like parsley…?) or either cooking the chickpeas for longer or shorter (but my friend couldn’t remember which)

If anyone knows how to make chickpeas less ‘trumpy’ or knows a substitute that’s as tasty and comes in a handy 400g tin, please do not hesitate to post a comment below (No, seriously, please do – I can’t open my bedroom windows, I need a solution before I make it again)

But to end on a nicer note, I bought myself a little present before I cracked open the tinfoil to make it a third time:

My kitchen’s becoming high-tech!

(I meant to post this Christmas week, and I completely forgot – and now its the end of January… So Slack!)

Cupboard Love by Tom Norrington-Davies (Hodder & Stoughton 2005 ISBN 0 340 83525 5)