Sunday, 22 July 2012

Eating Through the Pantry – IV

This week’s ingredients—a McCormick chilli package and around 50g of red lentils (except it ended up only being red lentils...):

Monday: Spicy Tomato & Red Lentil Soup with homemade cheesy biscuits

It's the middle of July and here I am, making soup. I think today reached a high of 17, and it's been as rainy and gray as November. This is not the best summer to be in England. The good news, however, is that the tomatoes I had delivered seem to be delightfully ripe & sweet, if yesterday's fresh tomato relish is anything to go by. So it is a good time for trying out a fresh tomato soup. Those of you who know my cooking habits should be somewhat surprised to see me using a weight-watchers recipe, as they are somewhat notorious for using artificially low fat ingredients, which I am opposed to. So I swapped out the low-fat cooking spray (can't easily get it in England anyway) for a teaspoon or so of olive oil which eases my conscience. And besides, what is more delicious in a tomato-based soup than a garlic & olive oil base? Other swaps--as mentioned I used fresh tomatoes instead of canned and I've used catsup instead of tomato puree/paste since I have a massive bottle of catsup to use up. As for the biscuits, they are made with my go-to biscuit recipe (so easy) and the addition of a fair quantity (I was aiming for 1/4 cup and probably overshot) of grated mature cheddar. 

Verdict: Not bad at all, although not the best tomato soup recipe I have (my favourite remains a creamy tomato soup recipe from the CNIB cookbook). At the last minute I chucked in a dried cayenne pepper (we have tonnes from our plants) and I swirled in about 75mls of single cream which was hanging out in the fridge from last week's mashed potato feast. The soup definitely benefited from both of these additions, as it was certainly not spicy and the cream helped give it some depth of flavor. As for the biscuits, the cheese didn't really make an impact so I likely won't do it again with that recipe. Over all, it was a quick, easy, and surprisingly filling meal.

We never did get around to our chilli and cornbread. It was supposed to be for supper on Wednesday, so the meat was out thawing, when the Cambridge bus system decided to cancel it's busses between 4:30 & 5, and thus I had to pick up something for supper before my evening class. And by the time I was able to make the chilli (Thursday I wasn't well enough to cook and we don't eat meat on Fridays) the meat had turned an unappetizing colour of greyish brown. We both feel that we there's enough on our plates without risking a bit of food poisoning, so as I see it the bus company owes me the cost of a pack of mince...


Easy Baking Powder Drop Biscuits
(these biscuits are actually easier to make than using a "just add liquid" mix)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 beaten egg (optional)
            Put flour, baking powder, salt and sugar into a mixing bowl and give a few quick stirs with a whisk to blend the ingredients. Crack an egg into a measuring cup (or anything else that pours easily) and give it a quick whisk. Then add the oil and whisk with the egg to form a simple egg-oil emulsion (ie the egg & oil are combined--it's like doing a really bad job of making fresh mayonnaise). Add milk and whisk again, then pour into flour mixture and stir until combined. Drop by spoonfuls onto a buttered cookie sheet.  Bake in a 450° oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Because of the egg-oil emulsion, these don't need butter when served. They are also delicious when cold & topped with jam!

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