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Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Old Mother Hubbard

I was away last weekend and, when I returned on Monday, I wanted something quick, healthy and tasty.

Having been away my cupboards were pretty bare so I thought that dinner was going to be a bit of a write off. Happily however, I was able to scrape together some pretty basic ingredients to make what turned out to be a wonderful dinner: sweet potato and lentil soup served with homemade Irish soda bread.

All the bread ingredients were lying around in the fridge and on my shelves, and although I didn't have any butter milk, I got round this by making my own. I simply stirred 2 tsp of white wine vinegar into 500ml of milk and sat back and watched the miraculous chemical reaction take place (it takes around 10 minutes).

Sweet potato and lentil soup - serves 2

I really can't recommend this recipe enough - the soup is silky smooth and incredibly healthy and filling owing the inclusion of the red lentils.

800g sweet potatoes
1.2L vegetable stock - a stock cube works just fine
100g red lentil
1 onion, chopped
300ml milk
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 tsp vegetable oil
Salt and pepper

1. Start by peeling the sweet potatoes using a potato peeler and cutting them up into large chunks. Place into a large microwaveable bowl with 3 tbsp of water and cover in cling film. Microwave on high for around 15 minutes or until the sweet potato is very soft.
2. Meanwhile sauté the onion and garlic off in a little oil until soft. Stir in the lentil and vegetable stock, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Season to taste.
3. Add the sweet potatoes to the rest of the soup mixture and blend with a stick blender.

This Irish soda bread recipe is lifted straight from the BBC Good Food website and produces fresh bread from start to finish in less than an hour. The absence of yeast and use of bicarbonate of soda speeds up the rising process.

250g plain white flour
250g plain wholemeal flour
100g porridge oats
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp salt
25g butter, cut into pieces
500ml buttermilk (shop bought or made using the technique above)

1. Preheat the oven to 200C and dust a baking sheet with flour.

2. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl, then rub in the butter. Pour in the buttermilk and mix it together quickly with a table knife, then bring the dough together very lightly with your fingertips.

3. Shape it into a flat, round load and place it on to the baking sheet. Score a deep cross in it to help the bread to cook through properly.

3. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow. Serve warm with lashings of butter melting all over.

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