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Carrot and red lentils creamy soup

After having bright green soup for lunch and dinner over the past 2 days, it was time to change a colour. One of my favourite soup is carrot soup, and it is definitely a different colour to green, so, great!

Instead of the usual carrot coriander soup I make, I added some impromptu ingredients that made the soup creamier and with a bit more substance, not to mention higher nutritional value.

Makes: 4 regular portions

Ingredients:
3 shallots – roughly chopped
1 medium potato -peeled and diced into large cubes
3 medium carrots – peeled and roughly chopped
1 heaped Tbsp butter
4 – 5 Tbsp red lentils – rinsed
1 bowl of water
Juice of half orange
Large slice of ginger
Some fresh thyme leaves
salt to taste
Topping: coconut cream or coconut milk

Method:
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan.
2. Keep the stove on medium heat. Add onions and fry for 2 -3 minutes, add potatoes and fry for another 5 minutes.
3. Add carrots and thyme, and fry for 5 minutes.
4. Add water, orange and ginger slice
5. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
6. Add red lentils and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes.
7. Add salt to taste.
8. Transfer to a blender and blend till smooth.

Stir in a 1 tsp of coconut milk/cream and serve hot with buttered toast. Oh so tasty, filling and healthy.

Carrot and lentils soup.JPG

 

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15-min Chickpea mint houmous

There are certain foods which if you’ve made it once, you never buy from shops again… for me chickpea houmous is one of them. Another is custard, which reminds me, it has been a while since I made custard for Zuppa Inglese or crumbles…next on my list.

I still have my jar of opened Tahini so finally bought a can of chickpeas last weekend. I also had some fresh mint which I bought for my spinach and mint pea soup, and because they go off so quickly, I added them to my houmous for a bit a variety.

Makes a bowl (fills 2 x 350g jam jars)

Ingredients:
1 can of chickpeas (drained weight ~240g)- I don’t bother removing the skins
2 heaped Tbsp tahini (Sesame paste)
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
Fresh mint leaves ~2 tsp
A small clove of garlic
Salt to taste

Method:
1. Rinse the chickpeas 2 – 3 times and tip into a saucepan.
2. Add enough water to cover 2 inches above the chickpeas and boil for about 8 min.
3. Drain and transfer to the blender.
4. Add the mint leaves and garlic.
5. Blend till smooth.
6. Transfer to a big bowl, add lemon juice, olive oil and tahini. Stir to mix.
7. Add salt and stir well.

I have stored 1 jar in the freezer, they keep well. If stored in the fridge, they should be eaten within 3-4 days.

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Lunch for tomorrow with homemade bread, super healthy high in proteins, fibre and folate.

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Spinach and mint pea soup

Recipe adapted from ‘Delicious Soups’ by Belinda Williams.
Serves: 4 -6

Ingredients

2 Tbsp butter
1 onion, diced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced to about 1 inch cubes
800ml homemade vegetable stock or water
300g (2 cups) frozen peas
260g fresh spinach – washed ( original recipe called for 400g)
small bunch of fresh mint leaves (about a tbsp)
2 Tbs chopped coriander / cilantro optional
optional – 2/3 cups double/heavy cream
sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
topped with grated parmigiano or pan-roasted cherry tomatoes

Method:
1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat.
2. Add onions and potatoes and cook for a few minutes until the onions have softened.
3. Pour in the stock and simmer until the potatoes are soft.
4. Add the peas and simmer for another few minutes until the peas are just soft. – don’t overcook the peas
5. Add fresh spinach and immediately remove the pan from the heat.
6. Blend the soup till roughly smooth, then add fresh herbs and continue to blend until smooth.
7. Stir salt and pepper.
8. Top with grated parmigiana

Spinach and mint pea soup.JPG

Lovely healthy tasty green soup, full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients. Packed and ready for tomorrow’s lunch, matched with my homemade toast bread. For some information on the benefits of spinach, here’s the BBC good food link.

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Condensed milk soft toast – 1 proofing

I had some sweet condensed milk (still have!) and itching to make some bread. I really like the 1-proof method to make Asian breads that are a slightly different texture to European bread.

For the original recipe click here.

Ingredients:
300g strong white bread flour
2 Tbsp caster sugar
2 Tbsp sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp instant yeast
large pinch of salt
200g full cream milk

2 Tbsp softened butter (I used Kerry’s Butter/vegetable oil blend)

1 tsp cocoa powder set aside (original recipe called for 2 tsp)

Method:
1. Place flour, sugar, condensed milk, yeast, salt in a large mixing bowl
2. Add milk gradually and mix ingredients together.
3. Start kneading until you get a slightly less sticky dough.
4. Add the butter and continue to knead vigorously until the dough is elastic.
5. Separate into one large and one small portion.
6. To the smaller portion add the cocoa powder and continue to knead to blend in the cocoa powder.
7. Roll and flatten the larger (non-cocoa) dough.
8. Roll and flatten the smaller cocoa dough and place the cocoa dough on top of the non-cocoa dough.
9. Roll both dough together.
10. Place in a loaf tin and leave in a warm place to rise till double in size. Cover with a clean tea towel.
11. When the dough is well-risen, pre-heat the oven to 150deg C with a small tray of water in the oven.
12. Bake for about 40mins.

Result:
I like the result very much! Soft, just a hint of sweetness. Doesn’t look as pretty as xingfuzhiwei’s product but still cute I think 🙂

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Simple breakfast I – oats with banana

It is Saturday (yay) and I have violin lesson at 9am. This involves a 45min cycle and it is cold, grey and drizzling… The photo is a bit deceiving, the sky looks clear but actually its white and covered with clouds.

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I need some solid healthy breakfast! I have also run out of cold milk, bread and limited time, so!

Serves: 1
Time needed to prepare and cook: 5 min

Ingredients:
1/2 cup quick easy oats
1 cup water

Toppings:
Condensed milk
Nutella
Banana

Method:
1. Place oats and water in a saucepan
2. Bring to a boil
3. Reduce heat to simmer for 1.2 – 2 min
4. Transfer to a bowl, top with whatever you like. I had sliced banana, drizzled with just a teaspoon of condensed milk and a teaspoon of nutella (to keep the sugar low).

Variations: try with fresh or dried fruits, honey or maple syrup, chopped nuts!

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Tasty and healthy!

 

 

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Carrot orange raisin muffins

Everytime my bf visits I have to make something healthy for him to bring back, usually muffins as they keep better, I usually freeze them. His flight is so early in the morning and the muffins make a nice breakfast for him whilst he waits for his flight.

I am still aiming for the ‘1 tsp of (added) sugar only / muffin’. This time I had carrots and oranges left over so I thought making muffins with them would be perfect.

Ingredients:
DRY ingredients
280g plain flour – about 2 cups
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 tsp caster sugar (for 12 muffins)

WET ingredients
1 egg beaten
2 small carrots grated
fresh orange juice 240 ml – ** not mandarins, but the big juicy oranges
zest of 1 orange – avoid the bitter white pith
A handful of raisins soaked in the orange juice
90 ml vegetable oil

1. Line a muffin tray with muffin cups.
2. Preheat the oven to 180deg C.
3. Prepare the dry ingredients in a big bowl.
4. Mix all the wet ingredients together.
5. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the well.
6. Using a spatula, fold the dry into the wet – fold until just combined, do not over mix, I did this step in 30 strokes.
7. Spoon the batter into each muffin cup. Fill to 3/4 of the cup.
8. Bake in the preheated oven for 25min middle shelf.

Result:
My friends liked them very much, my bf loved them, had 1 at tea time then 2 after dinner. They were soft, moist with just a hint of sweetness. And because its made with carrots and fresh orange juice, and just that little sugar, I could eat them guilt-free!img-20170205-wa0002

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Pandan toast – 1 proof only

I had some frozen pandan leaves and was itching to make some pandan bread. I am so happy to find this simple recipe, manage to start with getting the dough ready, leave it to rise whilst I went off to teach tuition, and bake it when I got back!

I found the initial killer toast recipe from Victoria Bakes and have tried that too. This pandan one came from Bake with Paws with slight modification. – Thanks both!

INGREDIENTS:

260g bread flour
1 teaspoons instant dry yeast
2 Tablespoons caster sugar
½ teaspoon salt
180g — made up of 2 small eggs + full cream milk blended with 6-8 green parts of pandan leaves to get the extract
30g butter (room temperature)

Method:
1. Mix flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a big mixing bowl.
2. Add eggs and pandan milk mixture. **I would recommend adding half first and work to get a dry dough, then add the rest gradually. I added all at once and the dough was very sticky and difficult to work with.
3. When dough is slightly easier to work with, add butter.
4. Knead vigorously till you get an elastic smooth dough. Check with the ‘windowpane test’. It took me a good 30min — the initial difficulty was because the dough was so sticky. THen it was probably because I got a bit tired!
5. When the dough is well kneaded, separate into 2 or 3 portions.
6. Roughly flatten and roll each portion like a mat.
7. Place in a loaf tin and leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour or till doubled in size.
8. Preheat the oven to 180deg C with a small tray of water in the oven. Bake for 25 – 30min in the middle rack of the oven, until the top is nicely browned and bread sounds hollow when tapped at the botton.

Results:
I love it, and my boyfriend too! pandan-toast-one-fermentation-1We had it for breakfast the next day and a big 1/3 was gone.It the first time too that I managed to bake a pandan – something and getting such a lovely green. Very pleased.