Spinach & Potato Bake


Lentil & Potato risotto

I know it sounds odd but it was really tasty.

For 2 generous portions.

1/2 a glass of rice
3 tablespoons of lentils
1 large potato
1 onion
2 large cloves of garlic
A knorr chicken stock cube or vegetable if you are not a meat eater
A large tomato
2 long hot green peppers
1 sweet red pepper
Spices: 1/2 teaspoon of each ginger, curry powder, cummin, coriander, cinnamon, hot pepper flakes. Good shake of salt & black pepper.
1 tablespoon of desiccated coconut.

4 hard boiled eggs & an onion for garnish.

Wash the rice and drain. Wash the lentils and drain. Peel the potato.

To speed things up I chopped the potato into very small cubes. Put it in a microwave proof dish with a little bit of water in the bottom and cooked on full for 5 minutes.

Ditto the lentils…..some water in the bottom….cook on full for 5 minutes. Stir and add some more water and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Peel and chop your onion, garlic and peppers. Keep the garlic separate.

Add a good slug of oil to a large frying pan. Add your onions and peppers and fry until your onions start to look opaque. Add your rice. Give it a good stir. Chop your tomato and add the spices to it. Add your salt and pepper to the potato. Just sprinkle it on top.

Add the garlic to the pan and keep stirring. Once the garlic begins to smell add the tomato and spices to the mix. Keep stirring. Add the stock cube. Some can be crumbled and some are more the melt in the pot ones. Make sure it has dissolved.

Add the lentils and give it a good mix. Finally add the potatoes. Add enough hot water to cover the pan contents with about 1cm of water on top. Put the lid on and leave it to cook on a low heat. Every so often just check it’s not sticking. If it is starting to stick…taste it. Is there anything still chewy in there. If there is add a little bit more water. You want the end result to be moist but not swimming in liquid. It takes about 15 minutes.

Once the rice is cooked. Turn the heat off. Put a sheet of news paper or a clean tea towel over the pan and replace the lid. Leave it to sit for 5-10 minutes. This will allow the last of the excess liquid to be absorbed into the rice.

I serve it in big pasta bowls with crusty bread and slices of hard boiled egg and raw onion.


Food Shopping

I love living in Turkey but have over the last 5 years had to get used to a whole new way of shopping.

In the UK am I worked full time. If I ran out of food mid week I ate take always until I could get to the supermarket again. Sunday mornings were shopping time….. I’d meet my friends at the supermarket of our choice, eat a full cooked breakfast…after all it’s bad to shop when you are hungry, and then do the weeks shopping. Trying to think of things that wouldn’t go bad, or take to long to cook after a hard day at work. Lots of things in boxes that could get zapped in the microwave.

Here we shop for fresh fruit and veg at the local markets. Meat and fish is purchased as we want it at the cheapest place we locate. At the moment we are paying 1.50tl each for trout…. that’s about .45p. I had a good deal on some lamb shanks last week 23.50tl for 2 that’s less than £6 and they were huge. But it’s all very spontaneous…… We have the “what shall we eat for dinner?” conversation everyday at about 6pm. I come up with an idea and my husband goes and buys the ingredients.

It all sounds wonderful…right? Healthy fresh home cooked food. Fresh meat and vegetables. Nothing in the freezer. But there is always a but……

Today we have been really busy. We have a long 4 day bank holiday weekend coming up so we had bills to pay and errands to run. We got home exhausted. My lovely husband and a little nap, we drank tea and watched television and then realised we were hungry with not much in the house.

Neither of us fancied going out….and the supermarket certainly didn’t appeal. So tonight was the store cupboard challenge. What could I produce for dinner using only things we already had in the house?

I ended up cooking a potato and lentil risotto and topped it with hard boiled egg and raw onion. My husband was very unenthusiastic about it when I described it. But he did agree to try it……. He loved it…he ate two big bowls full and asked why I hadn’t cooked it before. No answer to that….except I am a true domestic goddess.

I have added the recipe in the recipes section. But thought a bit of an explanation might be needed before you were tempted to try it.

Cauliflower soup

If anyone has ever been round the markets in Turkey you’ll know that we have some exceptionally large vegetables. A cauliflower is cheap but big enough to feed about 10 people. So soup it is……..

For 8 people

A kilo of cauliflower
A large onion
3 large potatoes
6 large cloves of garlic
1/2 teaspoon cummin
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons of sugar
Good shake of black pepper
2 knor chicken stock cubes
Olive oil or butter for starting it off.

Peel and chop the onion and garlic.
Fry in oil until the onions are clear and then add the sugar and spices
When the smell is filling the kitchen add the potato and coat with the mixture. Add the cauliflower. Boiling water and 2 stock cubes.
Stir well, bring to boil and simmer until the potatoes and cauliflower are soft.

I do mine in the pressure cooker and it takes about 30 minutes.

Leave to cool for 10 minutes then using a hand held blender purée the vegetables. Mix well and serve with fresh bread.