Lebkuchen: The German festive treat

Lebkuchen
Lebkuchen

Okay, it’s time to give in. The first of December is rapidly approaching, accompanied by Christmas adverts and festive Instagram posts. Soon, highstreets will be twinkling with jolly festive lights and Christmas trees will go on sale in Sainsbury’s – there’s no escape. So, we may as well get into the swing of things with a spot of festive baking, and what better way to get the Christmas juices flowing, than a batch of Lebkuchen. These traditional German Christmas biscuits are cakey in texture, gently spiced and make a great introduction to the festivities.


Lebkuchen
Makes 18-20 biscuits / Hands on time 20 mins / Total time 30 mins + cooling and icing / V
250g plain flour
80g ground almonds
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp all spice
2 tsp cocoa powder
Pinch of ground cloves
½ tsp bicarbonate soda
1 tsp baking powder
Zest of 1 lemon
150ml runny honey
50g dark brown muscovado sugar
80g unsalted butter
110g icing sugar


Method
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients together using a fork. Zest the lemon and add two thirds to the mixture, put the other third to one side to decorate with later.
2. In a small saucepan on a medium heat, melt the 150ml of honey, 80g of unsalted butter and 50g of dark brown muscovado sugar. Once melted take off the heat and pour straight into the dry mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon until you have a wet dough and then leave to cool for 10 minutes covered with a tea towel. Now is a good time to preheat your oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/gas mark 4.
3. The dough will still be warm but easy to work with now. Using your hands pick up around 35g of dough (about the size of a walnut) roll into a ball and divide between 2 lined baking trays, spacing out evenly to allow room for the biscuits to expand. Using the back of table spoon, flatten each ball slightly into a disk shape.
4. Bake in the oven for 10-12 mins. Once expanded and golden in colour, remove from the oven and leave to cool on the trays for a couple of minutes before twisting each biscuit carefully with your fingers to loosen it and then transferring to a wire rack. Leave to cool completely.
5. To ice, mix 160g of icing sugar with 10-12 tsp of water until you have a watery paste. Place a sheet of cling film under your wire rack before drizzling. Spoon over 1 tsp of icing over each biscuit and using the back of the spoon, push the icing to the edges using a circular motion (don’t worry if these drip, that’s the idea). Sprinkle over the last of the lemon zest and leave to set before serving.


For more Christmassy ideas visit my new Christmas page.


For more foodie blogs, recipes and courses, visit learningwithexperts.com.


 

A squash is for life, not just Halloween

On my daily stroll around the block (gotta’ get those lockdown steps in) my route is surprisingly still peppered with shrivelled decaying Halloween pumpkins. Staring at me with their empty eyes from windowsills and porches got me thinking. After the 31st of October, do pumpkins and squashes get a little forgotten about? A squash is for life not just for Halloween… Well perhaps not for life, but this versatile ingredient can be baked, curried, squashed (literally) and stuffed – which is my favourite method, especially when it involves cheese. I opted for an onion squash for this recipe but feel free to experiment as you’ll be spoilt for choice this time of year.

Mini Squash Fondues
Mini Squash Fondues

Mini squash fondues
Serves 2 / Hands on time 30 mins / Takes 1 hour
2 mini squashes (roughly 550g each) I used onion squash
75g vegetarian Emmental
75g Gruyere or medium cheddar cheese
50g Parmesan
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Handful of finely chopped fresh parsley
4 tbs white wine or prosecco
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Crusty bread and salad leaves to serve


Method
1. Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/gas mark 6. Finely grate the cheeses and mix them together in a large bowl. Put to one side.
2. Using a sharp knife carefully cut the tops off the squashes to create the lids and put to one side. Carefully hollow out the squash by cutting a hole in the top and then scooping out the seeds with a spoon.
3. Once you’ve hollowed out the squash, check to see if each squash stands up on its own. If they’re uneven and tilt, carefully level off the bottom of your squash with a knife, taking care not to cut too deep (if you do accidently create a hole, pop the bottom back on and make a little foil coat for your squash to sit in to prevent it from leaking). Alternatively, use foil to create a stable bed for your squashes to sit in.
4. Crush a garlic clove into each squash, followed by a small sprinkle of parsley and 1 tablespoon of white wine into each. Season well with salt and pepper.
5. Fill each squash with half the cheese and then add another tablespoon of wine to each squash. Season again and stuff the squashes with the rest of the cheese. Top with the remaining parsley, season with salt and pepper and pop the individual squash lids on.
6. Put both squashes on a baking tray and bake them for 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven, remove the lids and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil. Serve immediately with a simple green salad and stale for dipping and scooping.

Mini Squash Fondues
Mini Squash Fondues

For more foodie blogs, recipes and courses, visit learningwithexperts.com.


If you’ve had a go at making any of my recipes, I’d love to hear from you. Follow me now @corrieheale and tag your recipe pictures using #corriesrabbitfood.

 



Is that an aubergine in your pocket or are you … Oh, it is an aubergine

Aubergine & Chickpea Stew

At their best from July to September, now is the perfect time to get your hands on the nations favourite emoji. The aubergine. With its glossy purple skin and spongy centre, this vegetable loves nothing more than to soak up flavours and I have just the recipe! This aubergine and chickpea stew is warm with cinnamon spice but fresh with mint and yogurt, perfect to see out the last of the Summer nights before welcoming Autumn in all her golden glory.


Aubergine & chickpea stew
Serves 4 / Hands on time 30 mins / Total time 1 hr / V Vn Gf Df 
1 tsp olive oil
1 white onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 aubergines, cut into large chunks
6 medium sized tomatoes, cut into eighths
1 can tinned chickpeas, drained
500ml vegetable stock, I use Knorr stock pots
3 bay leaves
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp dried parsley
100ml *vegan red wine
To serve 
Handful of fresh mint leaves
Greek or dairy free yogurt (optional)
Drizzle of Pomora extra virgin olive oil
Serve with crusty bread or couscous


Method

  1. Finely chop the onion and the garlic and add them to a large cooking pot with a teaspoon of oil. Over a medium heat, sweat the onions and garlic for around 5 minutes or until softened (if the onions are getting a little too much colour, add a dash of water to the pot to help them to steam).
  2. Add 1 tsp of cumin, turmeric, smoked paprika and 1 and a half tsp of cinnamon then give it a good stir. Add a little water to the mix if again it’s looking a little dry and to allow the spices to release their lovely aromas.
  3. Cook the spices for a couple of minutes before adding the freshly chopped tomatoes, 500ml of vegetable stock, 100ml red wine, the aubergine chunks, drained chickpeas, 3 bay leaves and 1 tsp of dried parsley. Give it a good mix and season well with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil.
  4. Turn the heat down to a simmer, pop the lid a jar and cook for 15 minutes stirring occasionally. After 15 minutes, take the lid off, give it another stir and continue to cook without the lid for a further 15 minutes (this allows the sauce to thicken). Meanwhile, use this time to prepare your chosen accompaniment – I like to serve it with couscous or with a loaf of crusty bread on warmer days and mashed potato on cooler ones.
  5. Take the stew off the heat and carefully pick out the bay leaves. Divide into bowls along your chosen accompaniment, a generously sprinkle of fresh mint, yogurt (optional), and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
    Aubergine & Chickpea Stew
    Aubergine & Chickpea Stew

    For more foodie blogs, recipes and courses, visit learningwithexperts.com.

Carrot cake loaf: A slice of seasonless happiness

Come rain or shine (and I think it’s fair to say we’ve had a lot of both recently) there is always a good time for carrot cake. Although bursting with vitamins, antioxidants and fibre we all know the healthiest thing about a carrot cake is its name and the minuscule amount of cardio that goes with grating carrots – which frankly is the worst part about making carrot cake. But there is a reason this sweet vegetable deserves its place in the cake hall of fame, and that’s because it’s utterly delicious and worth grating your finger nails for. So why not whip up this seasonless classic and enjoy slice after slice with numerous cups of tea, because that is how carrot cake should be gobbled up – by the wedge load. Although I’m pretty sure Bugs Bunny would have a few words to say about that and not all of them so savoury.

Carrot cake loaf
Carrot cake loaf

Carrot cake loaf
Make 1 loaf / Hands on time 35 mins / Total time 1 hr 45 mins / V
You’ll need: 2 lb loaf tin, electric hand whisk
Juice of 1 orange
45g sultanas
150g carrots, peeled and grated
150g soft brown sugar
80g self-raising flour
80g wholemeal flour
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp ground ginger
50g pecans, roughly chopped
Pinch of salt
150ml rapeseed oil
2 eggs
For the icing:
130g cream cheese
30g soft unsalted butter
65g icing sugar


Method
1. In a small saucepan, heat the juice of an orange over a low to medium heat and add the sultanas. Warm through for 10 minutes before putting to one side to cool.
2. Meanwhile, grease the base and sides of a loaf tin with a bit of extra rapeseed oil and line the bottom with baking paper. Put to one side and preheat an oven to 180°C/160°C fan/ 350°F/gas mark 4.
3. Peel and grate the carrot before weighing out the sugar, self-raising flour, wholemeal flour, cinnamon, ginger, mixed spice, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and a pinch of salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the roughly chopped pecans and give it a good mix before incorporating in the grated carrots using a wooden spoon.
4. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together the rapeseed oil and the eggs until combined. Pour into the carrot mixture and mix thoroughly. Spoon into the loaf tin and bake on the middle shelf for 1 hr or until a skewer comes out clean.
5. While the cake is baking, make the cream cheese icing by whisking the butter and the cream cheese together in a bowl with an electric whisk. Fold in the icing sugar with a spoon before whisking again for a couple of minutes. Cover loosely with cling film and refrigerate.
6. Allow the carrot cake to cool completely in the tin before turning out and topping with lashings of cream cheese icing.
7. To store, keep the cake refrigerated for up to 3 days in an airtight container or wrapped in cling film. Ideally, allow the cake to come up to room temperature before serving.

Carrot cake loaf
Carrot cake loaf

If you’ve had a go at making any of my recipes, I’d love to hear from you. Follow me now @corrieheale and tag your recipe pictures using #corriesrabbitfood.


 

Broccoli fusilli with kale & walnut pesto

Broccoli fusilli with kale & walnut pesto

In the back of the vegetable crisper it waits patiently. Its bushy green head turning ever so slightly yellow, it’s pine coloured leaves wilt and shrivel whilst its branches begin to soften. But it doesn’t have to be this way! Liberate your head of broccoli by chopping it up (stalk and all) and serving it al dente stirred through wholemeal pasta with a vibrant kale and walnut pesto. Delish! Alternatively, leave the dish to cool fully before refrigerating and serving as a summery accompaniment to any barbecue. Adding crumbled feta or parmesan shavings add a bit of extra indulgence or leave it as it is to please any plant-based guests you may be entertaining.


Broccoli fusilli with kale and walnut pesto
Serves 2 / Hands on time 15 mins / Total time 20 mins / V Vn Df
You’ll need: A food processor
50g walnuts (about 2 handfuls)
½ regular sized garlic clove, peeled and roughly sliced
1 handful of kale, heavier stems removed and discarded
20-30g fresh basil
4 tbs Pomora extra virgin olive oil
150g wholemeal brown fusilli
1 head of broccoli


Method
1. Put a full kettle on to boil and pour the pasta into a large saucepan (big enough to accommodate an entire chopped head broccoli).
2. Meanwhile, make the pesto by peeling and roughly chopping the garlic before adding it to a food processor, along with the walnuts and a handful of kale (heavier stems removed). Blitz on full for about 10 seconds or until you have a rough paste.
2. Add the fresh basil, a good sprinkle of salt and pepper and give it another blitz – this time for a bit longer until you have a slightly smoother paste.
3. Lastly, add 3 tbs of extra virgin olive oil before blending for a final time (how long you blend is up to you depending on how smooth you like your pesto). Put to one side.
4. Pour the boiling water from the kettle over the pasta and add a half a tsp of salt to the water. Use more water than you would usually as you will need to boil the broccoli in it too. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions until 4 mins before the end of the cooking time. Meanwhile, pull he florets off the broccoli with your fingers and chop into big chunks include the stalk and the leaves.
5. Four minutes before the pasta is cooked add the broccoli florets to the pasta pan and boil for the remaining cooking time.
6. Strain the pasta and the broccoli well before transferring back into the saucepan off the heat. Add the pesto and stir well until evenly distributed. Divide onto plates and serve immediately with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a crack of black pepper.

Broccoli fusilli with kale & walnut pesto

If you’ve had a go at making any of my recipes, I’d love to hear from you. Follow me now @corrieheale and tag your recipe pictures using #corriesrabbitfood.


V – Vegetarian    Vn – Vegan     Df – Dairy free



Better feta

Feta isn’t just for crumbling over salads, this ewe’s cheese is much more versatile than you may have originally thought. Softly brined, tangy, salty and ever so slightly sour and sweet in flavour, feta can add a welcome depth and texture to a number of dishes. Whipped, baked or even fried, this pleasing block of ‘white gold’ deserves to be centre stage to bring the taste of Greece to your dinner table.


Whipped feta and avocado dip

Whipped feta and avocado dip
Add 100g of feta to a food processor and blitz until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add a handful of fresh mint leaves and blitz again until combined. Add the flesh of a whole avocado along with 2 tbs of extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Blitz for a final time until you have a smooth creamy consistency. Serves 2.


Fried feta on toast with honey & thyme

Fried feta on toast with thyme and honey
On a small side plate, add a heaped tbs of flour. Slice 100g of feta into two even slices and dust well in the flour. Beat an egg in a small bowl, season well with salt and pepper and pour onto a plate. Dip the cheese into the egg and cover evenly. In a small frying pan on a medium heat, add a tbs of oil. Once hot, carefully place the cheese in and fry gently on each side for a couple of minutes or until golden. Serve on a piece of toasted sourdough, drizzled in good quality honey and sprinkled with fresh thyme leaves. Serves 1.


Baked Feta

Baked Mediterranean feta
Preheat an oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400F/gas mark 6. Slice 1 red pepper along with half a red onion, 8 cherry tomatoes (halved) and 2 handfuls of black olives (halved). Smooth out 2 large pieces of kitchen foil and divide the chopped red pepper and arrange in the centre of each piece of foil. Season well with salt and pepper. Slice 200g of feta in half and pop each slice on top of the bed of sliced peppers. Top the feta with the onions and the cherry tomatoes (it doesn’t matter if a few fall off, just leave them at the side). Scatter over the olives and sprinkle with dried oregano. Season with salt and pepper before folding up the sides of each parcel and scrunching the top until sealed. Place both on a baking tray. Bake in the oven for 20 mins. Once cooked, carefully remove from the oven and open the parcels up just enough to drain away any excess liquid before sliding onto plates. Serve with warm pita bread and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.


Jamie’s Feta & Cherry Tomato Rigatoni

Feta and cherry tomato pasta sauce
Half 20 cherry tomatoes and put in a large saucepan with 1tsp olive oil and 1 tsp of oregano. Cook on a medium heat for 5 mins until softened. Add 3 tbs tomato purée, 3 chopped garlic cloves, 1 grated courgette and season with salt and pepper. Cook on a medium to low heat with the lid on for a further 10 mins. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water (follow packet instructions). Drain the pasta and pour straight into the sauce. Stir well before adding the chopped basil and 150g of crumbled feta. Stir again until combined and the cheese begins to melt. Serve topped with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a good crack of pepper.


For more foodie blogs, recipes and course, visit learningwithexperts.com.

Fresh cherry & lemon drizzle

Fresh cherry drizzle cake

I love cherries but hate cherry cake. Nearly always made with horrid glacé cherries and with an amaretto after-taste I can’t think of anything worse. But I  do love fresh cherries and guess what? Cherries are currently in season and I’m in the mood for something sweet so I thought I’d have a go at making a fresh version with added lemon drizzle – because who doesn’t love a lemon drizzle? This cake is sweet,  fruity and perfect for yet another wet July afternoon – seriously what is up with the weather? I’m wearing a wooly jumper!


Fresh Cherry & lemon drizzle
Serves 8-10 / Hands on time 25 min / Total time 1hr 30 mins + cooling / V
You’ll need: 20cm cake tin, tin foil, electric hand whisk, cherry pitter (optional)
250g pitted fresh cherries
225g caster sugar
2 eggs
115g unsalted butter + extra for greasing
140ml semi-skimmed or whole milk
½ tsp vanilla essence
185g plain flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
Drizzle
85g caster sugar
1 lemon


Method
1. Preheat an oven to 180°C/160°C fan/ 350°F/gas mark 4. Grease the cake tin and line the bottom with baking paper. Put to one side.
2. Pit and de-stork the fresh cherries. If you have a cherry pitter (lucky you) keep the cherries whole. If you don’t (like me) you can click here to watch a very smug man pit cherries using a chopstick and bottle – which is what I’ll do next time. However, I didn’t know this at the time, so I used a sharp knife to cut the cherry all the way around from top to bottom, then twist the two halves apart in opposite directions – like you would with an avocado. If the cherry pit doesn’t pull away neatly from one half (mine didn’t) just roughly cut around the stone. You’ll be left with a mixture of cherry halves and smaller chopped cherry pieces which is fine.
3. Put the butter and the milk in a small saucepan over a low heat until the butter has melted. Once melted take off the heat to cool slightly.
4. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and the caster sugar for at least 2 mins until you have a very pale, creamy mixture and the whisk leaves a trail behind it.
5. Add the vanilla essence and the melted butter and milk slowly to the egg mixture and mix well with the electric whisk until combined.
6. Measure out the flour and the baking powder in a seperate bowl before sieving over the top. Fold in with a wooden spoon until just combined with minimal lumps – be careful not to overwork the mixture.
7. Pour into your cake tin (the mixture will be quite runny) and sprinkle all the cherries over on top – don’t worry, they will sink durning baking.
8. Bake in the oven for 35 mins. At this stage the cake will have formed a crust on the top. Carefully top the cake with a loose sheet of foil whilst still in the oven and continue to bake for a further 25-30 mins or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
9. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 30 mins Meanwhile, make the drizzle by combining the juice of one lemon and the caster sugar.  Turn the cake out, prick all over with a skewer and evenly pour over the drizzle whilst still warm. Leave to set and cool fully before serving. This cake will last up to 5 days wrapped up in the fridge.

Fresh cherry drizzle cake

If you’ve had a go at making any of my recipes, I’d love to hear from you. Follow me now @corrieheale and tag your recipe pictures using #corriesrabbitfood.


V – Vegetarian


 

Roasted miso aubergine salad

Roasted Miso Aubergine Salad

Oh look, a recipe! Sorry for the lack of recipe blogs in recent weeks chums, but like everyone, I’ve had to cut back and tighten my belt. So instead of choosing a recipe to create, I let the recipe choose me and before I knew it, this little blighter jumped up and kissed me full on the mouth – figuratively speaking.

Armed with two aubergines and a giant bag of salad, I raided my fridge and small jar of miso gave me a suggestive wink and a wave. Blushing (and feeling slightly delusional), I emerged with this rather delightful salad recipe… Has anyone else found themselves flirting with inanimate objects/condiments? Yeah me neither… I need a lie down.


Roasted miso aubergine salad
Serves 2 / Hands on time 15 mins / Total time 45 mins / Df V Vn 
50g bulgur wheat
125ml cold water
½ vegetable stock pot/cube
1 medium aubergine, sliced into 4 quarters lengthways
Dressing
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbs miso paste
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 garlic clove, peeled, grated or chopped
Salad
2 large handfuls salad leaves
2 spring onions, finely sliced lengthways
1 medium red chill, deseeded and sliced (optional)
Handful cashews, whole or roughly chopped
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzle


Method
1. Preheat an oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400F/gas mark 6. Line a baking tray with baking paper and put to one side.
2. Measure out the bulgur wheat and pour into a small saucepan along with 125ml of cold water and half a vegetable stock pot/cube. Place over a medium to high heat until boiling before turning down and simmering for 4 mins. Once the water has absorbed, remove from the heat, give it a quick stir and cover with a lid. Put to one side.
3. Slice the aubergine lengthways into 4 quarters and criss cross the flesh. In a small bowl, make the miso glaze by combining the miso, maple syrup, soy sauce, sesame oil and crushed garlic together (if the miso paste you’re using is quite firm, add a small dash of boiling water to it first to help it loosen).
4. Brush the aubergines generously with all of the marinade, all over. Place skin side down, before covering the tray loosely with foil. Roast for 20 mins.
5. Meanwhile, finely slice the chilli, spring onions and roughly chop the cashews. After 20 mins, remove the foil from the aubergines, give them a turn and roast uncovered for a further 10 mins. Turn the aubergines one final time and add the cashews (I like to keep mine whole). Continue to roast for a further 5 mins.
6. Once the aubergines have softened, turn the oven off but leave the aubergines inside while you assemble the salad. Dress the leaves lightly in extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Divide between two large plates and sprinkle over the bulgur wheat, spring onion and chilli. Finally, remove the aubergines from the oven and add to the salad along with any remaining sticky miso residue from the baking tray and roasted cashews. Delish.

Roasted Miso Aubergine Salad

If you’ve had a go at making any of my recipes, I’d love to hear from you. Follow me now @corrieheale and tag your recipe pictures using #corriesrabbitfood.


V – Vegetarian.    Vn – Vegan     Df – Dairy free



Do the can can – Part 2

Now we’re all stocked up and bored of beans on toast, it’s time to have a look in the cupboard and create something a bit more inspiring with those cans.


Sweetcorn and black bean nachos

Healthy-ish loaded nachos

Believe it or not, you don’t need nachos to make nachos. Full of salt and deep fried, I prefer to make my own out of a few sliced tortillas. Preheat an oven to 200°C/180°C fan before stacking up 4 flour tortilla and slicing them down the middle into eighths. Spread over 2 baking trays, sprinkle with smoked paprika, season and spray with oil. Bake for 10 mins, turning halfway through. Put to one side. Meanwhile sweat 1 chopped onion and 2 garlic cloves in a saucepan in 1 tsp of oil. Cook over a medium heat for 5 mins before adding ½ tsp of cumin, ½ tsp smoked paprika. Add a dash of water and cook for a further 2 mins before adding 1 can of drained sweetcorn, 1 tin of black beans and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Put a grill on a medium to high heat and continue to cook the beans for 5 mins. Transfer the tortilla chips into a deep casserole dish and top with the bean mixture along with a handful of sliced cherry tomatoes, 2 chopped spring onions and sprinkling of grated cheese. Place under the grill for 3-5 mins before serving topped with fresh coriander, avocado slices and jalapenos. Serve with a squeeze of lime and plain yogurt.


Kidney bean and tomatoes eggs

Spicy Bean & Tomato Eggs

A bit of beany twist on shakshuka, this healthy breakfast is filling, delicious and a great way to get a bit of a fibre boost. In a frying pan, fry sliced 2 spring onions in tsp of oil over a medium heat for 2 mins. Add 2 freshly chopped tomatoes, ¼ tsp of smoked paprika along with a couple of drops of Tabasco (optional). Season well and add ½ a can of drained kidney beans. After a few minutes of cooking, make 2 wells in the mixture and crack an egg into each. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for 2-4 mins or until the eggs are set but with a runny yolk. Serve in the pan drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and toast for dunking.


Coconut milk dhal

Coconut Dhal with Homemade Flatbreads

What could be better than curling up on the sofa with a hearty bowl of fragrant dhal in front of your favourite boxset? Exactly. Start by chopping 1 white onion, 3 garlic cloves and adding it to a large cooking pot with a tsp of oil. Stir in a knob of grated ginger and sweat over a medium heat with the lid on for 5-8 minutes. Meanwhile break open 4 cardamom pods, discard the shells and add the seeds to the onions along with ½ tsp mustard seeds, ½ tsp garam masala, ½ tsp cumin, ½ tsp turmeric and a pinch of chilli flakes. Add a dash of water and cook the spices for 2 mins. Add 1 can of coconut milk along with 1 litre of vegetable stock and 300g of red lentils. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer for 25 – 30 mins, stirring regularly. Serve on its own or dressed up with charred corn, wilted spinach and brown rice.


Bean burgers

Cannellini bean burgers

Cannellini beans, kidney beans, chickpeas or even butterbeans make an excellent bean burger. So, grab a can and treat yourself to a ‘stay at home barbecue’. Preheat an oven to 220°C/200°C fan and fry 1 chopped onion and 2 garlic cloves in a tsp of oil, along with ½ tsp smoked paprika, ¼ tsp mild chilli powder and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Sweat over a medium heat for 10 mins until soft – adding a dash of water to help the onions steam if the onions start to catch. Meanwhile blitz 2 slices of bread in a food processor to make breadcrumbs. In a bowl, add the drained can of beans along with a handful of fresh coriander. Blitz with a hand blender to a firm paste before stirring in the breadcrumbs, fried onions and 1 tbs of plain flour. Scoop up a half the mixture with your hands and mould into a patty before transferring to a lined baking tray. Repeat until you have 2 large or 4 small burgers. Bake in the oven for 20 mins, flipping halfway through. Serve in buns topped with your favourite burger sauces and relish.


Thai green lentil soup

Thai green lentil soup

Another hug in a bowl but this time using green lentils and fragrant Thai flavours. Sweat 1 chopped onion in a tsp of oil in a big pot over a medium to low heat for 10 mins with the lid on. Once soft, add a knob of grated ginger, 2 chopped garlic cloves, a 50g of Thai green curry paste and cook for a couple of minutes. Add 150g of chopped sweet potato, a can of coconut milk, 1 litre of vegetable stock, 150g dried green lentils and a bashed lemon grass (optional). Bring to the boil before turning the heat down and simmering for 20 mins, stirring occasionally. Cut the storks of a handful of coriander before adding to the soup and cooking for a further 5 minutes. Finally, fish out the lemon grass and blend the soup with a hand blender until smooth. Serve topped with the remaining coriander leaves.


So keep calm and carry on cooking in these strange uncertain times. For more foodie blogs visit learningwithexperts.com.



Do the can can – Part 1

It’s all very well stocking up on canned goods, but they’ll be of little use unless you know how to get the best out of them – because watery pasta sauce and stew is going to get old pretty fast.


Roasted vegetable hummus bowl

Chickpea hummus bowls with roasted vegetables

A can of chickpeas can be thrown into pretty much anything. They’re great for bulking out recipes and adding additional plant-based protein to meals. However, chickpeas are rarely celebrated as the star ingredient, so wanted to push the humble chickpea centre stage. My recipe for hummus bowls not only encourages the use of surplus vegetables, but it’s easy to throw together and tastes delicious. In a large roasting tin, add a mixture of surplus veg, sprinkle with smoked paprika and season well with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes at 200°C/180°C fan. Meanwhile make the hummus, by blending 1 can of drained chickpeas, 1 chopped garlic clove, 1.5 tbs of tahini, the juice of half a lemon, 1 tbs of water and 1 tbs of extra virgin olive oil. Once blended, spoon generously into bowls and top with the roasted vegetables, along with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve with toasted pita bread.


Roasted butterbean traybake

Sweet Potato & Butterbean Traybake

Butterbeans are often overlooked by shoppers, but this kidney shaped pulse generally makes itself at home in a big hearty stew. These mealy yet mild flavoured beans, can be tossed into soups, casseroles and even blended into mash. However, I prefer to roast them in a bit of stock along with sweet potatoes, to make a hearty traybake for two. Preheat an oven to 200°C/180°C fan. In large casserole dish, add a roughly chopped sweet potato along with a can of drained butterbeans and half a sliced red pepper. Pour over 175ml of stock and season well with salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Give it a good stir and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Once cooked, remove from the oven and make two wells using a spoon. Crack a free-range egg into each well and bake for a further 6-8 minutes, depending on how you like your eggs. Finish by topping with chopped fresh coriander and serve with Greek yogurt and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.


Tinned plum tomato sauce al’arrabiata

Penne al’arrabiata

Pasta sauce is a great way to eat tinned tomatoes but to avoid a watery disappointment, follow my simple pasta sauce recipe. I often opt for tinned plum tomatoes, as I prefer the chunkier texture they bring, but ordinary will also work. Add 2 chopped garlic cloves to a tbs of warm (not hot) oil in a large saucepan along with a pinch of chilli flakes. Allow to infuse over a low/medium heat for a few minutes. Add one can of plum­ tinned tomatoes and a tbs of tomato puree. Break the plum tomatoes up with a spoon and stir. Season well with salt and pepper, up the heat and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes and your sauce is ready. Serve with your choice of pasta and top with either mozzarella or Parmesan.


Black bean tostada bowls

Mexican Tostada Salad

A can of black beans in my house inevitably ends up either in a smoky chill, wrapped up in a burrito or squashed into a quesadilla. Although as the weather heats up over the coming months, I’m more likely to throw them into Mexican tostada salad. To make the tortilla bowls, simply place each tortilla into a heatproof bowl each, with a ball of foil in the centre to prevent them from falling in on themselves. Bake in an oven for 15 minutes at 200°C/180°C fan. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine 1 can of drained black beans with, 1 can or drained sweetcorn, half a chopped cucumber, 3 chopped spring onions, 2 handful of cherry tomatoes, 1 chopped cos lettuce, half a deseeded chilli (finely diced) and 50g of grated cheddar. Mix well and put to one side. To make the dressing, combine 1 tsp of homey, 1 tsp of Tabasco, the juice of 1 lime and 1 tbs of extra virgin olive oil. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well, before spooning into the edible tortilla bowls.


Thai green lentil soup

Thai green lentil soup

Okay so not a canned good, but still a store cupboard staple that could do with a creative injection. Red and green lentils are superhero’s when it comes to adding a bit of bulk to stews, soups and even Bolognese. My Thai green lentil soup not only adds a bit of fragrant flare to the humble lentil, but it’s a hearty meal that will see you through self-isolation. In a large cooking pot with a lid, sweat 1 chopped onion in a tsp of oil, over a medium to low heat for 10 mins. Once soft, add a piece of grated ginger, 2 chopped garlic cloves and 50g of Thai green curry paste. Give it a good stir and cook for 2 minutes. Add 150g of chopped sweet potato, 1 can of coconut milk, 1 litre of stock, 150g of dried green lentils and a bashed lemon grass stork (optional). Turn down the heat and simmer for 20 mins, stirring occasionally. Cut the storks off a large handful of coriander and add them to the soup. Cook for 5 more minutes. Finally take off the heat, fish out the lemon grass and blend. Serve topped with the remaining chopped coriander leaves.


Join me next time for part 2. In the meantime, visit learningwithexperts.com for more foodie blogs.