Posts Tagged ‘sweet potato.’

Not a recipe that normally springs to mind in the middle of June but this isn’t a normal June.

Perhaps it’s new normal June!

Normally (!) we would be eating supper outside–sun going down–cats on the wall–cows in the field–pale blue sky streaked with high-flying plane tracers–and remarking on how lucky we are!

Instead we enjoyed this in the warmth of the kitchen, in nodding agreement that this was indeed not normal.


1 onion–chopped small

2 garlic cloves–chopped

2 tbs olive oil

1 tsp black mustard seeds

1 tsp (each) turmeric, cumin powder, powdered ginger

1/2 tsp (each)  coriander powder, cayenne powder

8oz tinned [canned] or fresh tomatoes–chopped

1 pint/500 ml stock (You probably won’t need it all!)

2 celery sticks–sliced in small (wine cork) size

1 smallish sweet potato–peeled and cubed

3 fennel bulbs–outer leaves removed, cored, cut in half vertically and each half cut thrice (i.e. six pieces in all–the ones in the photo are a tad too large)

3 tbs cooked chickpeas

salt to taste–bearing in mind there is salt in the stock

3 tbs coconut cream* or whisked smooth low fat yogurt

  • Heat the oil in a medium pan and add the mustard seeds.
  • When they start to pop add the onions and garlic, mix them in and sweat them until they soften and begin to colour.


  • Add the rest of the spices, the salt and mix in.


  • Add the tomatoes and cook on for five minutes to let them form a sauce.


  • Add half the stock and cook on for 5 minutes.


  • Add the cut up vegetables and mix in.
  • Cover and cook for 30 minutes–checking now and then that it doesn’t dry up (as it very nearly did for me!).
  • Add more stock as you need and cook on.
  • Turn off the heat and let it cool down.
  • When you are ready to eat, stir in three tablespoons coconut cream or whisked low fat yogurt and gently reheat.


*The difference between coconut milk/cream and cream of coconut is fully explained here: 


It looks like milk, it is NOT sweetened and it does NOT taste of coconut!


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I’m keen to try simple meal-in-a-pot recipes that can be prepared in advance.

This is one inspired by a Nigel Slater recipe from an old newspaper clipping.

We found it hard not to finish it off last night–impossible in fact!


“Well it’s just one medium sweet potato, a single fennel bulb and some chickpeas.”

(I added smoked paprika and halved the amount of smoked bacon in the original.)

“Oh–go on then!”

So much for moderation.

For 2/3

1 onion–chopped

2 sticks of celery–chopped

2 tblsps olive oil

3 garlic cloves–pulped with a teaspoon of salt

1 tsp rosemary spears–chopped fine

2oz/50gms smoked bacon–cubed

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 medium sweet potato–peeled, sliced into thick rounds and these halved

1 fennel bulb–outer leaves removed and sliced thick on the vertical

1/2 pint stock–I use organic vegetable stock cubes

250gms cooked chickpeas

200ml coconut cream*

2 tblsps breadcrumbs

2 tblsps parmesan cheese–grated

  • set the oven to 190C/360F
  • Heat the oil in a medium size, shallow sauté pan.
  • Fry the onion and the celery for a couple of minutes over a medium heat–


  • then add the garlic, rosemary and bacon and paprika.


  • Stir these together and continue cooking and stirring as the vegetables begin to soften and the bacon colours–about ten minutes.
  • Turn the chickpeas into the pan and mix them in.


  • Add the sweet potato half-rounds and the fennel slices and mix them in.


  • Ease in the stock and the coconut cream.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Bring it to the boil and sprinkle over the parmesan and breadcrumb mixture.


  • Place in the middle of the oven for about thirty minutes.
  • From oven to plate and tuck in!


*The difference between coconut milk/cream and cream of coconut is fully explained here: 


It looks like milk, it is NOT sweetened and it does NOT taste of coconut!


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I was later to the market than usual on Saturday and my favorite chicken stall had sold out of medium sized birds. There remained very large ones to feed a family or these neat little numbers she called coquelets. 

coquelet is a small chicken, aka a poussin–(though I read that an American poussin is larger*).

The one I bought on Saturday morning weighed two pounds, perfect for the recipe I remembered in Diana Henry’s lovely and unusual book Crazy Water and Pickled Lemons.

A simple marinade and a quick roast made this an agreeable and easy supper for the two of us–a treat in fact, with the oranges and lemon/lime twist in the marinade.

for 2

*1 small chickencoquelet-poussin–(if you can’t find a small chicken, a larger one could be spatchcocked to cut the cooking time)

2 oranges–quartered and then each quarter, halved

1 sweet potato--sliced in rounds (optional)

the marinade:

juice of 2 oranges + the rind of one**

juice of a lemon or lime + the rind

2 tblsps balsamic vinegar

2 garlic cloves–peeled and crushed

2 tblsps olive oil

2 tblsps dried oregano

a few thyme sprigs

salt and pepper

Mix the marinade ingredients together in a bowl.

Put in the chicken, breast side down and let it rest in the mixture, for 3 or 4 hours in our case–overnight if you can.

set the oven to 180C/350F

  • Put the chicken in a roasting tin surrounded snugly by the orange pieces and sweet potato slices (if using).
  • Pour a little of the marinade over the chicken.
  • Roast in the oven for an hour or more–depending on the size of the chicken.
  • Baste with the marinade two or three times.
  • Let the chicken rest a little, keeping it warm under a sheet of foil.
  • Halve the bird from front to back, along the breast bone and the back bone–best done with kitchen sheers.
  • Remove the orange slices and the sweet potato slices to a warm dish.
  • Deglaze the pan with a couple of tablespoons of water, scraping off the sticky bits to dissolve them in the liquid.
  • Heat the gravy through gently, while stirring.
  • Pour over the plated half-a-chicken and sweet potatoes.

**(Meredith wasn’t sure what the rind is and how it differs from the pith.  Same thing but the first is solid and obtained by carefully running a knife under the skin/rind, lifting it from the orange with as little of the white as you can. The second (pith) is scraped from the orange with a scraper/pither or a  call- it- what-you-willer!)

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We tasted this new soup for lunch.

When Dianne P. from New Hampshire posted her memorable photos taken 33 years ago, in autumn of 1978 on the set of The Europeans in New Ipswich, New Hampshire on Flikr last night, it put me in mind of the late Ismael Merchant’s cooking.

He was the producer half of  Merchant/Ivory productions–Jim Ivory is the director of their movies.

I played the frustratingly “unable to commit” Robert Acton, opposite the much lamented and talented Lee Remick, in their film of Henry James’ novella.

Ismael was a wonderful cook and would sometimes use his talent to smooth the ruffled feathers of nervous creditors when the film threatened to overrun.

One of his curry feasts, I remember, bought us enough time to finish the film!

There’s a soup in his book Indian Cuisine called “Claverack Carrot Soup“.

We used to have it often, but after I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, it came “off the menu”, because of the potatoes and carrots in it.

I had some fennel and a sweet potato I wanted to use and a nobly piece of ginger–and autumn has  arrived with the clocks going back;  so I thought I’d experiment–with a nod to Ismael and thanks again to Dianne!

1 medium onion–chopped roughly

1 tablespoon of olive oil

12 oz of cleaned and chopped fennel

12 oz of peeled and chopped sweet potato

1 clove of garlic–chopped fine

a thumb-nail size piece of  fresh ginger–peeled and chopped fine

1.5 pints of stock–I use organic vegetable stock

a little single cream or yogurt to swirl on top in each bowl

Salt and pepper

for 4

  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onion.
  • Soften it for 10 minutes without browning it.
  • Add the fennel and the garlic, mix it in with the onion and gently sweat the mixture–covered–for 15 minutes.
  • Add the sweet potato and the ginger, mix it in and sweat–covered–for a further 15 minutes.
  • Season the mixture–keeping in mind that the stock will have salt in it.
  • Add the stock and cook it for another 10 minutes–uncovered.
  • Let the soup cool for a few minutes before liquidising it.
  • I use a hand-held liquidiser/blender.
  • Serve hot with a swirl of cream or yogurt on top.
  • Meredith thought a single piece of crispy bacon for each bowl would be good too–we’ll try that next time.

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The last few days have been unbelievably beautiful — warm, with soft golden light, and the leaves which have just begun to color slowly drifting to the ground. More of the same is predicted for tomorrow and the next day. Not really soup weather at all. However, cold and rainy weather is out there somewhere in our not too distant future and I look forward to making this again.

Exactly how I’m feeling–I found this quote by chance on a lovely looking site called Kitchenography– Life in my Kitchen.


Soup is what I’m feeling like tonight.

The days are summer days–the evenings and nights are autumn.

So that’s why I have a yen for soup–I understand–often you have to put it into words and then it becomes clear.

I’d bought some leeks and fennel and I’m starting with an onion.

for 2

1 medium onion–peeled and chopped

1lb/450 gms leeks–cleaned and chopped

1 medium fennel bulb–cleaned and chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pint/525 ml vegetable stock–I use an organic stock cube

  • Sweat the onion for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the leeks and fennel and sweat all three for ten minutes, covered, until they soften.
  • Season well with pepper and a little salt.
  • Add a pint of vegetable stock.
  • Simmer gently for twenty minutes.
  • Liquidise the soup and check the seasoning.
  • If you feel the soup is to thick add a little extra water.
  • Serve hot.

I topped it tonight with sautéed onion:

1 tablespoon olive oil

Half a medium onion–peeled and sliced thin

  • Sauté the onion in the oil until it is nicely browned.
  • Twirl a little on each bowlful of soup.

I put a sweet potato in the oven and we  had a half each after the soup with some new season broccoli.

[Which makes it a five vegetable meal to boot!!]

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