Category Archives: Light Lunch

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Winter Salads

Winter and salads aren’t usual companions. Wind howling outside and rain coming at the window in horizontal sheets, the Thames over-topping its banks and flooding houses, the Levels have been flooded since Christmas. It’s a miserable winter, and a salad isn’t the first thing that comes to mind as ‘comfort food’. But take a look at this.

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Warm salad. Roasted beet root, warm sliced potatoes, charred onions and roasted garlic – all tossed together while still hot in a whole-grain mustard vinaigrette dressing made from 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar, and a dollop of mustard (wholegrain). A pinch of salt (if required) and a grind of black pepper, too. Then I tossed some black beans across the top, hard-cooked eggs, some chopped green peppers and tomatoes, and stuck a few slices of moist, dense (Danish-style) rye bread into it.

It was quite delicious. And surprisingly filling. Just goes to show that salads aren’t just for summer!

Do you long for salads during the winter months?

Today’s Lunch: Tuna with Lots of Roughage

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Lunch’s today was healthy. I needed something like this because the weather has turned sluggish, and my body is following suit. If this was a game of cards, I’d call it ‘flushed’. The salad dressing is a tablespoon of mayonnaise thinned with the juice of half a lemon and some grated smoked garlic that I found at the Farmers’ Market. It’s good in salad dressing but I’ve not found a palatable use for it elsewhere. Don’t think I’ll buy it again. This salad is full of good-for-you fats, but it’s certainly not low calorie with the pecans and avocado. The egg was cooked for 7-minutes.

Today’s Lunch: Mushrooms on Toast

mushroomToast_7June13

There’s an electrical storm of impressive strength rattling the neighbourhood at the moment. It stalled here, and here it sits. We’ve been listening to thunder for well over an hour now. Time to shut-down the computer (power surges aren’t good for computers), and make lunch. I had a bag of brown closed-cup mushrooms, a swirlable amount of half-fat cream, fresh thyme, chives and parsley from the herb garden, and sliced sourdough in the freezer. I love that my toaster can do its thing to frozen bread, and I’d be none the wiser as to original state: frozen like a brick or fresh out of the oven.

So while the storm had its way with the Mother Nature, I sliced up the mushrooms and herbs, sautéed them in olive oil, toasted the bread, swished some cream around the mushroom mixture, and poured it over the toast.

This is comfort food for me. I love it. Any sort of sauce over toast makes me happy. I mean, lunch needn’t always be a sandwich, right?

Today’s Lunch: Colourful and Fresh

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With all the colour gone from the garden (new Home Improvement post tomorrow), I needed a light lunch with the brightness of early summer on a plate. I smashed up an avocado with a bit of piri-piri sauce and spring onions, dressed some lambs’ lettuce with lemon juice, pepper and olive oil, sliced up some large tomatoes, and then soft boiled a large egg for 7-minutes (slowly tempered into boiling water so it doesn’t crack). While the egg cooked, I toasted some frozen sourdough. A lovely light lunch that filled the gaps for a mere 3-hours … and then I was hungry again. This needed more protein. Tuna perhaps.

Today’s Lunch: Springtime in Bangkok

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This recipe has a hint of familiarity with Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks Ginger Coconut Milk Soup . It has grated ginger, noodles and a tin of coconut milk in common. Otherwise it’s not her recipe at all, but I reckon inspiration is 90% of the task done, so credit to her given for combining coconut milk and ginger. Coconut milk is very high in calories and fat solids, so be aware of that if you’re on a fat or calorie restricted diet. But it is quite tasty. Mr Misk says that this is reminiscent of Thai soup but without the inferno – he likes things hellishly hot. I call this soup Springtime in Bangkok, as surely it’s springtime somewhere in the world. It’s not here; snow on Dartmoor this morning, and it’s mid-May.

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Springtime in Bangkok

(serves 2 hungry people or 4 as a starter)

Ingredients: coconut milk, chicken stock, fresh ginger, onion, garlic, chilli flakes, asparagus, thin dried noodles, crab sticks, chives to garnish.

Method: In a large heavy-bottom pot add the following, stir, and bring to a simmer -

one tin coconut milk (note: this is high calorie and high fat)
500ml mild chicken stock from stock cube is fine
2T freshly grated ginger
¼ cup finely chopped onion
½ cup chopped/sliced mushrooms
2 garlic cloves grated
pinch of chilli flakes
zest of one lemon

In a separate large pan, bring salted water to a boil, and add:

8-10 asparagus spears, cut into bite-size pieces and blanched quickly in boiling water for maximum 2 minutes. Remove the asparagus with a slotted spoon, and chill in a bowl of iced water. Set aside.

Bring the pan of water back up to a boil, adding more water if needed, and add:

sufficient dried noodles for two people. Cook as per package instructions. I used wheat vermicelli noodles. Cook al dente as they’ll continue to cook in the coconut milk mixture later when all the ingredients are combined and warmed. When the noodles have finished cooking, drain and keep them in a bowl of iced water until needed. Set aside.

Cut up crab sticks into bite-sized pieces, and add to the simmering pot of coconut milk/stock. Drain the noodles; add to the pot. Drain the asparagus; add to the pot. Slowly bring the soup back up to a simmer, and heat until all ingredients are hot.

Taste and adjust seasonings if required. I added more chilli pepper, as a pinch wasn’t enough. Garnish with fresh chives or chopped parsley – something green.

Mr Misk liked it ….. ‘nuff said.

Why Do We Peel Portobello Mushrooms?

Well, it beats me. I don’t know why. Facts are facts though, and every chef on telly peels their Portobello mushrooms. Even Jamie peels his. The contestants on Master Chef do, too.

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So I decided to try it both ways. One peeled, and the other not. Same ingredients. Both on the same tray, baked at the same temperature for the same length of time.

Guess what? No difference whatsoever. If anything the unpeeled one held its shape a bit better. Now I don’t know why the professionals bother, and I wondering what’s up with it. Do you peel your large, flat mushrooms? Is there a benefit?

By the way, these were really yummy. A drizzle of olive oil, then topped with the chopped up stems, sautéed chopped garlic, fresh chives, and thin shavings of cheddar cheese and lots of pepper. We like pepper. Baked in a medium oven for about 12-minutes until the cheese blistered. I’ve also made these with pesto smeared into the dark gills, then sautéed garlic, chives and parmesan shavings. That’s good too.

I’d be very interested hearing if you peel your mushrooms!

Today’s Lunch–A Bit of Salad

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It’s the beginning of May, which means that it’s salad season again. Hurrah! I love salads. I love creating colour from bits of mixed and matched stuff hiding in the fridge, and since the house is crawling with workmen again, a salad was the easiest solution.

This salad was lunch today, and it had a coddled egg, 1/2 an avocado, lambs lettuce, spinach, romaine, two cooked beet roots, a tin of tuna in spring water (the empty tin didn’t go into the salad), cherry tomatoes, grated parmesan cheese, and a smashed-up nutty mixture of pine nuts, walnuts, lots of garlic, chopped dates, parmesan and olive oil tossed into a food processor until it’s chopped roughly and then flash fried in a hot frying pan until warmed through. That same mixture is also good mixed through cooked pasta. Salads – love them!

What did you have for lunch today? I’d love to share lunch ideas with you!

How-To Make Celeriac and Apple Soup

The Frugal Feeding’s recent post about celeriac soup reminded me that I haven’t made this bowl of fragrant warm comfort in a long time. Frugal’s soup looks wonderfully rich and creamy. Mine benefits from a subtle hint of sweetness and tartness from the apple. Some crumbled bacon also goes nicely on top with the toasted walnuts and bread cubes.

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So, having decided what was for lunch, I was off to the supermarket in hope of finding celeriac. It’s a pity that this root vegetable isn’t as commonly used as other veg. Can you image only 4 carrots available in the produce bin? – that was the fate of the celeriac at the supermarket. Wedged in a tiny space, squeezed between two bins of curly greens – there sat two shrink-wrapped balls of celeriac. I grabbed the roundest and least scabby one. And a Granny Smith apple. And a large sweet onion. And I was ready to cook lunch.

Celeriac and Apple Soup

Ingredients

30g butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
500g celeriac, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 firm, tart apple, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
750ml hot chicken or vegetable stock (from cubes is okay)
handful walnuts or pecans, chopped in chunky bits
a handful of cubed bread
Salt and white pepper
Celery salt, optional

Method

Prep all the ingredients beforehand: peel/cube the celeriac, slice the onion, peel and cube the apple (I used a Granny Smith), make the veg stock from a cube, chop the walnuts and cube the bread. This recipe moves fast, so it’s helpful to have everything ready.

If you need help peeling the celeriac, refer to this very good tutorial.

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Heat the butter and oil in a pan until it sizzles, then add the sliced onion, stir, reduce the heat to low, clap on the lid, and sweat until softened. This takes about three minutes. Then add the celeriac, stir and clap the lip back on, and sweat for five minutes. Now pour in enough hot stock to cover the celeriac and onion. Reserve any leftover to thin the soup (if needed) when blitzing the soup smooth with your hand-blender.

Keep the pot covered and simmer for 15 minutes until the celeriac is soft. Add the cubed apple and cook for another two minutes. Turn off the heat and blend using a stick blender/hand-blender until the ingredients are smooth. If the soup is too thick, add a bit of the reserved stock. Taste, and adjust salt if required.

For the garnish, melt a nob of butter in a small frying pan, toss in the walnuts, and then add the cubed bread. Sauté them until the bread is golden and crisp. Place on top of the soup, and serve.

Based on a recipe by Angela Hartnett (as shown on telly, UK Food)