satay carrot slaw

ok, still chasing my own tail – last week friday night, couldn’t be bothered to cook and I had that found iceburg and too many carrots all staring at me accusingly – the following almost doesn’t count as a recipe, it is that simple. It’s a great way to get kids to chomp through copious amounts of veg – or indeed any of your dearly beloved who think that veg is spelt ‘forgetables’…and, if you squeeze the carrots of excess juice, it also makes a good sandwich filling for brown bread.

Ingredients per person
3-4 medium carrots, grated
1 tablespoon crunchy peanut butter
1 tablespoon Thai style sweet chilli sauce
adjust amount of both of these to your personal taste

Method
In a bowl, combine by hand 😉 yes, that’s it.

Serve with lettuce leaves – place a spoonful in the middle of a leaf and roll up like a cigar.

To squeeze the carrots before you combine everything together, sprinkle over a mean (1 finger and 1 thumb) pinch of salt and place in the middle of a clean cloth – I have an old T shirt I cut up for veg squeezing, as carrot and spinach can stain your best tea towel 😦 – pull all the corners up together and twist over a bowl, so you get a small glass of fresh carrot juice into the bargain. Do make sure whatever cloth you use hasn’t been washed in over perfumed laundry product, as it might taint the carrots and will certainly ruin the juice. It is worth doing this if you’re using it for sandwiches as the salt in the chilli sauce will otherwise draw out excess juice and make your bread pappy.

I use the budget bargain basement kind of peanut butter from the supermarket – it’s about half the price, 65p a jar – and while it does contain a little sugar and vegetable oil, this means you can spread it more easily and consequently use less. It is also much easier to mix with other ingredients as in this recipe.

When I ate this I actually added some grated Asian pears into the mix, which were super juicy, but this was more because they weren’t really nice enough to eat straight – no flavour – than any other reason. In the past, however, I have added grated sour (unripe) mango, and that worked really well.

Soup for a springcleaning day

A cheer-you-up-in-winter/nice-bright-spring-day-but-still-a-bit-nippy-outside soup

The first time I made this soup, I’d bought a reduced price 700g bag of winter casserole veg mix- which is sometimes called winter soup veg mix- and when I’d made it, it was nice but a bit bland, so I mixed in (reduced price!) bearnaise sauce, and the tarragon really did the trick….all supermarket veg is vastly overpriced, and it’s much cheaper to buy it on the market – so, now the recipe is vegan and it has evolved thus………

To make roughly 2 litres of finished soup

About 700g (pound and a half) of swede, carrot, leek and onion, in equal quantities – this translates as 1/2 a swede, 2 or 3 medium carrots, 1 leek, and 1 large onion or 2 small ones.

1 tablespoon cooking oil

1 level teaspoon dried tarragon

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

1.5 litres (generous 2 1/2 pints) water

salt to taste

Method -takes about 20-25 minutes to cook

Peel and chop the root veg into smallish cubes, slice and chop onion and leek finely – if your leek has a lot of dark green leafage, chop this off whole and either save it for veg stock or boil it whole in the soup for flavour and remove it before you blitz the soup, so your finished soup stays a bright and cheery apricot colour – the green will make it look too muddy.

In a small cup, immerse the dried tarragon in the lemon juice and set aside.

In a pan big enough for the finished soup, put all the chopped veg and the oil and stir to coat – set over a low to medium heat to sweat until the veg begins to soften – you can put a lid on to speed this up, but do check it and stir every couple of minutes, because you don’t want anything to go brown…this should take between 5 and 10 mins, depending on the size of your pan.

Add water and leek tops, if you’re using them, and a generous(thumb and two fingers) pinch of salt.

Bring to the boil, and then turn down and simmer for 15 -20 minutes – when you can squish a piece of carrot or swede easily against the side of the pan, it is done.

Remove leek tops if you’ve used them, add lemon and tarragon and blitz. If you haven’t got one of those handheld soup whizzers, I recommend you pour most of the liquid off into another clean pan before you either put it in a liquidiser or mash it by hand, then add it all back together.
Check for salt, and adjust to your taste – serve with fresh bread, or if you’ve only got horrid white sliced, then toast. If your lemon was unwaxed, toast can be zipped up a notch by rubbing first with the lemon skin, and then with a clove of garlic.

If you want to add cream (I don’t think it needs it, but..) or you too have a jar of bearnaise you can’t think what to do with, add it at the end and don’t let it boil when you bring it back up to heat, because it will curdle. Using bearnaise would mean that you leave out the lemon and tarragon. 😉

If you want to make more or less, it’s about 500g/1lb veg for every 1 litre/2 pints water you use, and adjust your lemon tarragon accordingly.

If only spring cleaning was so easy….