Sweet potato, chickpea and spinach curry

Saturday 2nd October, started as a pretty miserable day, in terms of the weather at least. I thought that this day was as good as any to harvest some of the plants I’ve been growing. There appears to be a lone spinach patch and a fulsome patch of coriander.

Every-time I have looked out of the kitchen windows, I’ve been wondering what I’m going to do with the spinach. Then I remembered a curry I used to make a few years which I thought might be nice to eat again. The recipe is from Leon Happy Curries and normally would be made with butternut squash and kale but I had sweet potatoes and spinach.

Freshly washed spinach harvested from my vegetable patch
Freshly washed coriander 🌿 harvested from garden
Sweet potatoes 🍠 straight from Tesco!
Rice made in the instant pot

Ingredients 

2 tablespoons neutral cooking oil

 1 teaspoon mustard seeds 

2 teaspoons cumin seeds 

1 teaspoon dried red chilli flakes 

1 teaspoon coriander seeds 

6 cloves 

6 green Cardamon pods 

2 onions finely diced 

3 cloves of garlic crushed 

4 cm piece of ginger peeled and finely grated 

2 tablespoons tomato purée 

750 g butternut squash peeled deseeded and cut into 2 cm chunks

400 g canned cooked chickpeas drained 

400 ml hot water or enough to cover 

250 g of kale or Cavolo Nero stems removed leaves finely shredded

freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste

salt and freshly ground pepper 

a handful of fresh coriander to garnish 

rice to serve

Methods

Heat the oil in a large, deep pan with a lid, set over a medium heat.

Add the mustard seeds and,  when they start to pop reduce the heat and add the cumin, chilli flakes, coriander seeds, cloves, cardamom pods and onions.

Cook for about 8 minutes stirring until the spices are very fragrant and the onions are soft.

Add the garlic ginger and tomato purée and cook for about 3 minutes stirring until the raw smell is cooked out.

Add a pinch of salt, the butternut squash chickpeas and enough hot water to cover.

Cover with a lid and gently simmer for 25 to 30 minutes until the squash is tender.

 Remove the lid and stir well letting the squash break down a little to thicken the source.

Add the kale or Cavalo Nero to the pan pushing it down to submerge it in the sauce. increase the heat and simmer for five minutes.

Squeeze over a little lemon juice then taste for salt and pepper.

Serve with rice scattered with a handful of fresh coriander leaves.

Comfort food for a grey and miserable day 🌧

Tabula rasa

Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and just start again.

My delicious breakfast, French toast with brioche and some slices of smoked salmon, washed down with a glass of juice. This was an attempt at self-care on a weekend. Also time to think about the past few weeks and months and what was going to change in the future.

I’ve had a some experiences in the past few weeks and months that I just don’t want to relive again in any form. At the moment it’s all a bit too much.

Randomly calculating how much butter to add to the small amount of icing sugar that I had left, to make a butter icing topping and filling for my Sunday morning carrot 🥕 cake

However as I know, I cannot erase the past, there is no blank slate scenario that ends well. So I’ll have to take ownership for the things that are under my control and reflect on and modify my reactions to the other situations.

In the meantime, I continue to bake for its soul soothing properties.

I made a carrot cake for a much loved friend and her family. I hope they liked it as much as I loved making it.

Preparing a tea party for my friend and her family

My friend is British Chinese and brought with her a lovely moon cake 🥮 which she cut in tiny slices that we all shared. I’m not quite sure why I didn’t take a picture, maybe I was enjoying the moment too much! It warmed my heart for her to bring and share this cake with me and this one act seemed to neutralise all the bad things that have been happening over the past few weeks.

So I’m going to view the bumpy ride I’ve just had, the uncomfortable season I’ve just experienced as fodder and fertiliser for new growth, the wake up call for a new way of being.

Onwards and upwards Francesca.

For the Carrot Cake:

* I used real eggs in this recipe

Buttercream icing

200g icing sugar

100g butter

1 tablespoon orange juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Recipe from:

Lime and coconut cupcakes

I decided that it was time to use up the coconut cream that has been languishing about in my fridge. So I adapted a Waitrose recipe I had come across a few months ago. Converting kiwi upside cakes into lime and coconut cupcakes.

A success. Light, coconutty with just the right balance of lime to give it a delicious citrusy edge.

Ingredients

75g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
115g light brown sugar
160ml can coconut cream
1 lime, zest, plus extra to serve (optional)
2 large Free Range Eggs
50g desiccated coconut
175g self-raising flour

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 170˚C, gas mark 3. Place 12 cupcake holders into a 12-hole muffin tin.

2. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar using electric beaters until light, about 3-4 minutes. Beat in the coconut cream and lime zest, then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the desiccated coconut and flour to make a smooth batter.

3. Divide the batter between the cupcake holders and bake for 20 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes, then from from the muffin tin. Scatter with extra lime zest, if liked. Lovely served warm with a dollop of coconut yogurt or ice cream, if liked, or cooled to room temperature and served with tea.

Vanilla clotted cream, a perfect accompaniment

Original recipe:

Soul soothing

Thursday night found me baking again. It soothes my soul. And at the moment I have a soul that does need soothing.

I made some madeleines a few weeks ago and I thought they were delicious. So it seemed like a good idea to make them again. Also I had a meeting with my trainee on Friday morning, face to face rather than virtual and I thought it would be nice to eat these while we worked through personal development plans (PDPs) and other necessary topics.

They came out nice. For some reason these ones seemed sweeter and stickier than I remember from the very first batch. Nevertheless they still retain their orangey 🍊 goodness. They went down well at my meeting and were a nice little afternoon snack before I drove home.

As I write, it’s Saturday and I’m back to feeling out of kilter again. A result of two days of commuting which is exhausting and other mini disasters that are happening in my life right now. Things that are making me question my very existence, who I am and how I am, what I say, what do, what I don’t say, what I don’t do. It is deeply unpleasant and unsettling. I did all that in my 20’s and 30’s but I suppose you are never too old to reflect on your place and space in the world. I also ought to remember the good things in life, of which there are many. Just need to look and stand and sit in gratitude.

This morning after a much needed lie-in , I decided that I’d better get up and try and make the best of the day. I came downstairs to find just one, just one (!) madeleine left on the plate – seems Ignacio took the rest for his lunch at work today. That’s OK, I’m glad he is enjoying them. It did mean that I needed find something else to eat, as in my head I had planned a breakfast of 2 madeleines and a pot of tea. Instead I had a small apple and orange and a bowl of cornflakes with the pot of tea. It was quite filling and fuelled me up for the morning.

My friend from Australia bought me a copy of Middlemarch for my birthday and I have just this week started reading it. I think he enjoyed the book and being lost in another world and thought it might do me good to do the same. He was not wrong. I have enjoyed going back in time to another place and society all the while enjoying the peace of my garden.

And so the madeleines have gone, until the next time I feel like grating oranges!

Au revoir…

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 85 g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp clear honey
  • 4 cardamom pods, seeds only, ground finely using a pestle and mortar
  • 2 unwaxed oranges, finely grated zest only
  • 90 g unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
  • 90 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 100 g ground almonds
  • 1 pinch fine sea salt
  • 0.5 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar), for dusting (optional)

Method

  1. Put the eggs and sugar into a large mixing bowl and beat together until pale and creamy.
  2. Add the honey, ground cardamom and orange zest, and mix well.
  3. Incorporate the melted butter, followed by the flour, ground almonds, salt and baking powder. Mix until evenly combined, then stir in the milk.
  4. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and refrigerate for 1 hour (or overnight, if you wish).
  5. Preheat the oven to 200°C/392°F/gas mark 6.
  6. Melt a little butter and, using a pastry brush, brush the recesses of a madeleine mould generously with it, then dust with a little flour, shaking off any excess.
  7. Transfer 1 tablespoon (not too heaped) of the batter into each of the mould’s recesses.
  8. Bake for 10–12 minutes, until nicely golden brown.
  9. Once cool enough to touch, remove from the moulds. Repeat with any remaining batter.
  10.  Dust the madeleines with a little icing sugar, if desired, and serve immediately.

Reference: Sabrina Ghayour – Bazaar