Thursday, 4 April 2019

Turmeric & Carrot Soup from The Weeknight Cookbook by Justine Schofield

I got my ugg boots out of the cupboard this week and I've been wearing socks to bed. Autumn is finally here and I can't get enough of it. Cool nights, snuggles under the doona, kitty cuddles, the smell of a neighbours wood fire and best of all... the food. The chunky soups, the blended soups, the noodle soups, the stews, the curries, the slow cooker and alllll the pasta bakes. Self saucing baked chocolate puddings, vanilla rice pudding, jam topped college puddings and fruit crumbles. Excuse me while I wipe the drool off my chin. The cooler months are all about the food and I'm feeling it. (I do realise I have probably jinxed this and it's hot while you are now reading it).

To kick off my week, I prepped lunch for the week and cooked lentils to utter smoosh, proper smoosh to the point I could probably have made mashed lentils, is mashed lentils a thing? I didn't chuck them, I froze them to add to a soup or hide in bolognese or to be chucked out when I do a freezer clean out. I ended up cooking another batch and didn't turn the later into smoosh. Lunch prep for the week done. Tick. Now on to dinner...

Monday night's are a bit of a non-event evening. You survived the first day of the week at work, you started head-strong by heading to F45 (or you thought about it at least, thats sometimes enough), it occasionally includes some lunch prep if Sunday disappeared on you, and you are just happy to be at home back in pyjamas again. Ah *sigh* we survived Monday. Oh and dinner needs to be tummy-filling satisfying, easy and somewhat healthy. You know, starting the week off on the right foot and all.

This particular Monday I had mail, I love mail when it's not from the electricity company telling you that your direct debit failed and you still owe them $400. This was good mail though, very good mail indeed. I came home to a lovely gift of Justine Schofield's new cookbook, The Weeknight Cookbook (thank you!). While overcooking my lentils in my uggs and having a good nosey through it, I'd found dinner instantly. Turmeric and Carrot soup. And holy-moley did it hit the spot.

The turmeric works so well with the carrots and cuts through the sweetness, it's then topped with chopped parsley and shaved parmesan giving the whole soup a delicious freshness but also cheesiness from the parmesan. It's not just any old carrot soup, it's a serious gem and genius of a recipe. You fry your onions in a little olive oil till soft, add the turmeric then carrots then stock (I used a cube) and cook for 25-30 minutes until the carrots are cooked and soft. Blitz with a stick blender, taste for seasoning and serve topped with parsley, shaved parmesan and some freshly cracked black pepper. A perfect Monday night dinner. I added a hefty chunk (or two) of sourdough smothered in salty butter on the side because soup without bread is a crime.

Now, come at me week, I am ready!

So trusty friends, what gets you through your Monday?

Carrot and Turmeric Soup

recipe by Justine Schofield from The Weeknight Cookbook
Serves 4

1 tablespoon of olive oil, plus extra for drizzling (optional)
1 brown onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ground turmeric*
1kg carrots, peeled and cut into 2cm discs
1.8l chicken or vegetable stock or water
a small handful of flat leaf parsley leaves
3 tablespoons shaved parmesan
salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes to soften, then add the turmeric and stir to coat the onion.

Add the carrot to the pan and season with a small pinch of salt. Pour in the stock or water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and gently simmer for 25-30 minutes until the carrot is soft. Blend with a hand-held blender until silky smooth.

Serve with a sprinkle of parsley, parmesan and pepper and finish with a drizzle of olive oil.

*If you can get your hands on fresh turmeric, one teaspoon, finely grated, will take your soup to the next level.

Monday, 1 April 2019

Pasta alla Norma from Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi

Pasta alla Norma from Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi | salt sugar and i blog | Dani Elis

Last week I was stuck indoors with a virus that after going to the doctor I was told, had to run it's course and just to rest. I feel like I went slightly mad being stuck inside all day, waiting to feel better. Waiting to snap out of it.

Cooking dinner for myself helped. On Monday I felt so rotten I couldn't get off the couch so ordered Thai take away for one. Tuesday I escaped the house for dinner and had Chicken Curry at Kate's (sooo good!), Wednesday I made a one-pot mac and cheese from Hetty McKinnon's cookbook Family. That was the easiest and probably the tastiest mac and cheese I've ever made. It had sweet potato smooshed in it and I didn't have 100 pans to wash up after! I'll have to share the recipe for that when I make it again next time and can snap a photo or two. Thursday my fruit and veg box arrived which had a lovely eggplant in it just waiting for me to douse it in olive oil and add it to a pasta. Which I did and it was insanely good. Friday I made a vegetable curry of sorts... it was strange but it was comforting which was all I wanted.

But back to Thursday nights dinner.  Pasta alla Norma from Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi. Umm YUM. I'm pretty sure I've posted about and eggplant pasta dinner on the blog before but this recipe is too good not to share and I can't stop thinking about it. There was no faffing with salting the eggplant and letting it sit or frying eggplant then taking it out of the pan to only put it back in later on. Instead, you roast the eggplant slices which are tossed in a generous glug (or three) of olive oil and sprinkled with salt. It looks like you've overcooked the eggplant and that it's gone crispy but trust Yotam, it will be perfection when you add it in later on. You then make a simple tomato sauce with canned tomatoes, garlic, a touch of sugar and herbs and once your eggplant is roasted and golden, and your sauce is reduced a little you toss it all through hot spaghetti with a splash of pasta water.

The eggplant slices break up into the sauce and go silky and moorish. They add a lovely roasted caramelised flavour to the sauce which is finished off with torn fresh basil leaves and shaved parmesan. Oh my, I think I'm drooling as I type this. If you can be in love with a pasta sauce, this is it for me. I'm in love.

Just so happened an eggplant snuck into this weeks grocery shop... maybe this cheeky Pasta alla Norma will make an appearance this week too :)

Tell me lovely readers, have you even been in love with a recipe?

Pasta alla Norma

Recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi from Simple.
Serves 4

3 eggplants (900g)
120ml olive oil
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1-2 mild dried chillies (deseeded if you don't want the heat) - I used a pinch of dried flakes
2 x 400g tins of plum tomatoes
5 large oregano sprigs (8g) - I used a teaspoon of dried oregano
1 tsp caster sugar
300g spaghetti
45g mature pecorino romano (or ricotta salata), shaved
20g basil leaves, torn
salt & black pepper

Preheat the oven to 220C fan.

Using a peeler and working from top to bottom of each aubergine, shave off long alternating strips of peel so that they look striped, like zebras. Cut widthways into 1cm thick slices and place in a bowl with 75ml of oil, 3/4 teaspoon of salt and a generous grind of paper. Mix well, then spread out on two large baking paper-lined trays. Roast for 30-35 minutes, until dark golden-brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Put 2 tablespoons of oil into a frying pan or pot and place on a medium high heat. Add the garlic and chillies and fry for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the garlic is golden brown (but not burnt!). Add the tinned tomatoes, oregano, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a grind of pepper. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 10 minutes, until the sauce is thick. Remove the oregano sprigs and stir in the aubergine. Set aside.

Cook the pasta according to packet instructions and once al dente, drain and retain some cooking water.

Add the spaghetti to the sauce and mix well, adding two thirds of the pecorino and basil, add a few tablespoons of the cooking water if the sauce has become too thick.

Divide between four bowls, then top with the remaining pecorino and basil.