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Posts Tagged ‘lunch’

It’s turned rather chilly this week. We’ve started lighting the wood burning stove in the evenings, but during the day the Vicarage can be a bit nippy. My usual lunch solution in cold weather is a bowl of soup. But recently I have been branching out into hot salads. I’m not sure if that’s the correct technical term, but I’ve been frying and roasting veg in various combinations, to warm firstly the kitchen, and secondly the Vicar and me. This recipe is easily constructed from ingredients I almost always have in the fridge and pantry.

Today’s combination was a fried option because we only had half an hour to spare before the Vicar had a meeting scheduled. It was prepared and cooked in fewer than 15 minutes, and consumed in even less time than that.

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Ingredients (serves 2)

1 red onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic, sliced

2/3 rashers bacon, sliced into strips

a handful of cherry tomatoes, chopped in half

1 tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

2/3 tbspn cream or creme fraiche

Fry the onion and garlic gently in olive oil until softened. Then add the bacon and cook, then the tomatoes. Once the tomatoes are soft and juicy add the beans and the cream and grind some pepper over. Heat through and serve, with crusty bread if you’re really hungry, but this is very filling without.

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Another day, another minor declutter. Three items today, although I had to search again for the third, as the Queen vetoed the disposal of a Snoopy bag thing that she’s had for years but never uses. Are hoarding tendencies passed down through the maternal line? My friend who is organising our declutter challenge has posted some great thoughts about why it’s a good idea, where the idea came from – and what it might make us think about.

Also today: men on the Vicarage roof, having a nose about. They weren’t burglars but builders, trying to locate the source of the damp on the attic walls. Seems that there was a bit of a bodge job around some replaced roof tiles, plus some missing flashing round the chimney. They’re back tomorrow to try and fix it and I might manage a photo. Getting on our roof is a bit of a project – three storeys of Victorian vicarage takes you quite high in the air.

And I have been cooking like a mad thing. Tomorrow is our Lunch Club Lite. We used to have a proper Lunch Club, run by a brilliant team who produced fabulous home cooked roast dinners for about forty people every month. However, the team were feeling the strain and retired after much good service. I wasn’t able to commit to the work required for such a big project but offered to cook soup and fetch rolls and fruit, and so Lunch Club Lite was born.

So I was in the church kitchen with three big pans this afternoon whilst the toddlers toddled and listened to The Gruffalo. The menu includes soups of the broccoli and blue cheese, Melrose lentil and leek and potato varieties and there are three trays of flapjack just out of the Vicarage oven. We’re looking forward to getting together with some of the church family and neighbours from the parish and chatting over a meal. And then we have the exciting prospect of the Queen’s GCSE options evening. How on earth did she get that old (and tall – taller than me now)?

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This recipe is the favourite of Surfer, who is Godfather to the Joker. I used to make it when he came to pray with the Vicar back in the relaxed days of theological college. It’s loosely based on minestrone, but without the pasta. Pasta is a pain in soup cos it goes revoltingly soggy if you have leftovers, or want to freeze it. So this has beans instead and is easily made from things I normally have in the fridge and pantry.

Ingredients

  • 4 rashers bacon, finely chopped, or small pack lardons
  • Medium onion, diced
  • 2 sticks celery, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 leek, quartered lengthwise and then finely sliced
  • Tin of beans – haricot, borlotti or canellini
  • Tin of chopped tomatoes or jar/tetrapak of passata (sieved tomatoes)
  • Olive (or other) oil, mixed herbs

Fry your onion in a little olive oil and then add the bacon and cook until the fat begins to crisp. Then add other veggies, fry a little and add tomatoes and tinful of water or more to dilute to a soupy consistency.

Bring it to the boil and simmer for 10-15mins until the vegetables are tender. Rinse the beans and add to the soup, along with a smattering of mixed herbs or just oregano. Heat through and serve with crusty bread. This is good for May lunches, given the temperatures this year!

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This recipe is cheeky because it involves minimal scone faffing ie rolling and cutting. And it’s cheekily zingy with strong cheese and a dose of spice. It’s also cheeky because it’s not that square, but I liked the alliteration for the title.

Ingredients

  • 1lb/450g self-raising flour
  • 2tspns baking powder
  • 1tspn salt
  • 1tspn smoked paprika (or paprika, or 1/2tspn chilli powder)
  • 4oz/100g butter
  • 7oz/200g grated cheddar (preferably mature) or other strong hard cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • Milk

Place flour, baking powder, salt and paprika in a mixing bowl. Add chopped butter and rub in until butter chunks are the size of smallish gravel. Stir in grated cheddar. Break eggs into a measuring jug and whisk, then add milk to make up 10floz/300ml of liquid. Add to the flour and stir in to make a soft dough.

Place dough in lined or greased small roasting tin (around 12″x9″/30cmx23cm). I just press it in lightly and it doesn’t always become a perfect rectangle and is often square-ish (hence the recipe title). Cook in a preheated oven at 230ºC (Gas 8, Fan 220ºC) for 15-20mins until the scone is golden, well risen and no longer doughy. It sometimes looks a little crisp on top but that’s fine. Turn out to cool on a wire rack then cut off squares or rectangles to eat as you like.

Didn't manage to get a pic of this before most was consumed!

This scone is fabulous on its own as a snack, but is also delicious served with soup or cold meats. It keeps 4-5 days in an air tight tin and is also very good toasted (which is how we ate up the remainder yesterday). It’s extremely fast to make so is a very useful recipe to have up your sleeve if you have only half an hour’s notice before lunch guests show up.

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Things in parish have been a bit crazy since the new school term began and my blogging habit has rather dried up. But today I’ve just about got my act together and thought I’d share a great recipe for autumn – my mother-in-law’s lentil soup. The Vicar comes from a small town in the Scottish borders with views over heather clad hills and a high street of family run shops. This warming soup is very inexpensive and simple to make and feels like a little slice of old fashioned rural life. Lentils are especially great for those on low GI diets and for diabetics as they are low in carbohydrates and release their energy slowly.

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 or 2 leeks, sliced
  • 2 or 3 carrots, sliced
  • Other diced vegetables such as swede, butternut squash or potatoes, even leftover veg from Sunday lunch such as mashed potato or runner beans can also be used
  • 1 cup (250ml) orange lentils
  • Ham stockcube (or genuine ham stock if you’ve cooked a ham recently, but usually I haven’t, or the ham’s been cooked in coke, which isn’t so great in soup)
  • Approx 1.5l boiling water

Gently fry the veg until softened, then add the lentils, stock cube and hot water. Simmer for about 20minutes until veggies and lentils are soft. Then use a stick blender to create a smooth soup. If you don’t have a blender, a potato masher will give you a slightly chunkier soup. The Vicar likes to add a lot of pepper – no need for salt because of the ham stock.

Serve with crusty brown bread if you remember to pick some up. This soup is very filling. I often make a double batch, which fills a casserole dish and keeps us going for Vicarage lunches for most of the week. Lentil soup has the strange property of thickening every time it is cooled, so you may have to add a little water on reheating or after freezing. It freezes brilliantly.

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