Sunday, 31 August 2014

Carrot and Lentil Soup

This is a recipe we adapted from BBC's Good Food. We've made this version vegan because we are demonstrating it at the NBEX tonight.Chicken stock could be used to replace the vegetable stock.

Unless you're a real cumin lover, consider cutting the cumin in half for this recipe. We found that the flavour "bloomed" when the soup sat for a bit. The soup is quite thick, so be prepared to thin it out with a little additional stock.

Makes 2.5 litres or about 7 generous servings 

  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • pinch chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 250 ml - 1 cup onion, diced finely
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 600g carrots, washed and coarsely grated (no need to peel) – about 8-10 carrots
  • 200 g split red lentils – about a cup
  • 2 litre – 8 cups vegetable stock (from a cube is fine)
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt to taste
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • plain yogurt to serve 

  1. Heat a large saucepan and dry-fry the cumin seeds and chilli flakes for 1 min, or until they start to jump around the pan and release their aromas. Scoop out about half of the seeds with a spoon and set aside.
  2. Add the oil, onion and garlic and sauté for a few minutes until the onion is soft.
  3. Add carrots, lentils and stock to the pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 mins until the lentils have swollen and softened. Add the nutmeg.
  4. Whizz the soup with a stick blender until smooth (or leave it chunky if you prefer).
  5. Season to taste and finish with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkling of the reserved toasted spices. Serve with warmed naan breads

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Poached chicken -- Kitchen style

Image courtesy Creative Commons 
Poaching chicken is a wonderful way of cooking chicken that keeps it moist and flavourful. We use poached chicken a lot here in the Kitchen when we are catering events. The meat can be used in sandwiches, soups, casseroles, salads or sliced by itself. This recipe gives a delicate flavour to the meat. 

Most important -- don't throw out that cooking liquid. This is an extremely flavourful soup base. Freeze it in gallon sized freezer bags and use for soups or stews. We always keep 4 or 5 litres of it on hand at all times because once this broth is made, a kettle of fresh homemade soup needs very little work -- and about 45 minutes to the table. 


  • 3-4 lb whole chicken (or chicken parts). Legs and thighs are preferred over breast meat if using parts. 
  • 3 litres chicken stock (either in ready to use box or bouillon powder) 
  • 1 large onion, chopped -- include the yellow skins if possible 
  • 1 large / 2 medium sized carrots, scrubbed and chopped 
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped including leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped or 1/4 teaspoon dried garlic powder (not salt) 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 10 black peppercorns 
  • sprig of rosemary or 1/4 teaspoon of dried rosemary
  • sprig of thyme or 1/4 teaspoon of dried thyme 
  • 2 clove buds or pinch of ground cloves 
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil for sauteing 


  1. Using medium high heat, heat the oil in a large heavy bottom pot 
  2. Add chopped onion, carrots, celery and cook for 5 minutes. Stir frequently. 
  3. Add fresh garlic and stir well, cook for an additional minute. If using dried, skip this step. 
  4. Add spices (powder garlic, bay leaf, peppercorns, rosemary, thyme and cloves) 
  5. Place the whole chicken (or chicken parts) on top of the sauteed vegetables and add enough stock to cover half of the chicken (about mid way up the thigh). Don't cover the chicken. 
  6. Bring the pot contents to a boil and immediately reduce to a slow simmer. Cover the pot. 
  7. Cook for 1 to 1-1/2 hours, until meat is falling off the bones 
  8. Separate the meat from the carcass, discarding bones, cartilage and skin. Reserve for later use. 
  9. Strain vegetables from the remaining broth and refrigerator for a maximum of 3 days or freeze for up to six months. 

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Cholent, the meatless version

Image courtesy of Creative Commons
Cholent is a Jewish stew that was made for the Sabbath. Traditionally, Jewish people did not cook on their Sabbath and this stew was simmered overnight to be eaten at noon on Saturday.  Originally, this would have been done in a big community baker's oven. The "Crock Pot" itself was invented by Irving Naxon to replicate this process in the home. Although this dish is frequently made with a tough cut of beef, like brisket, it is also frequently done without meat. This recipe was adapted from Judith Finlayson's great cookbook  -- The Vegetarian Slow Cooker. It's really a great book for anyone wanting to explore meatless cooking.

1 cup dried white navy beans
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 stalks celery diced
2 parsnips, peeled and diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp minced ginger root
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
4 cups vegetable stock
2 potatoes cut into cubes
4 large (12 oz/375 g) Portobello mushroom caps, cut into large pieces
1 cup pearl barley rinsed.

  1. Soak beans either overnight or put in a pot with at least 3 cups of water, bring to a boil, turn off heat and allow to sit for 2 hours. Drain, rinse
  2. In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, celery, carrots, and parsnips. Cook until softened.
  3. Add ginger, garlic, paprika, salt, pepper corns and cook for about a minute.
  4. Put half the contents of the skillet in slow cooker.
  5. Spread potatoes over the mixture.
  6. Layer the cut mushrooms
  7. Spread barley over the mushroom layer
  8. Spread the presoaked beans over the barley layer
  9. Top with the remaining onion/vegetable mix.
  10. Pour vegetable stock over the contents.
  11. Cover and cook on Low for 10-12 hours or high for 5 to 7 hours.