Super-fast, super-slimming chickpea soup

Soup is a total lifesaver when you can’t be bothered to really cook.

It’s one of the easiest meals to make and usually seems to keep hunger at bay for longer than most others, although I’m not sure there’s any science behind my claim.

Continue reading “Super-fast, super-slimming chickpea soup”


The Bomb – Lentil and Lamb Casserole

When the tough get tired, they make sure they put the slow cooker on before they go out to work.

It may not be true but hell, it should be! The slow cooker is one of the best ever timesavers. At 7am, you throw in whatever you feel like eating (it all gets churned up together in your belly anyway) and I swear it will be cooked and tasty at 6.30pm.
Perfect for those nightmarish days when you just can’t face cooking but you actually want some comfort.

Comfort food. Something to replenish your soul.

So, saute 1 large onion until transluscent. Add grated garlic. Add a handful of diced lamb and brown the meat. Pour in a couple of large handfuls of brown lentils,  a tin of chickpeas, chop up any old bits of chilli and/or peppers, quarter some mushrooms,  powder up a couple of bouillion cubes and throw in the lot. Stir in a few tablespoons of harissa and add plenty of water. About 1-1.5 litres.

Bring the slow cooker into play at this point.

5-9 hours later: butter some large wedges of french baguette and spoon the casserole into bowls. Depending on how much water you started with, and how long it cooked for, it could be a consistency similar to a chunky broth, or a gungy brown taste bomb. Either way, it’s brill.

Helpful Tip: Do not hover over your slow cooker, waiting for your casserole. 5 hours is a long, long time. I am unable to use my slow cooker unless I am out for the day. All I do is hang around the appliance.

Credit to my friend Angela Morritt for this idea.

Deep Fat Freedom

There’s a lot of joy to be had in frying food in the depths of glistening, bubbling oil. I’ve heard that organic, extra virgin coconut oil is the height of hedonist happiness, but my mum’s always said that coconut oil is more criminal than beef and I just can’t do it to myself. Suicide by organic oil. Sunflower is my effort to find a ‘healthy’ alternative – at least it’s low in chloresterol – though there’s little that’s healthy about deep fat frying.

But… If we can have everything in moderation, then we can still revel in the pleasure of deep frying. And to respect it as an act of cooking, it should be something worth eating. Not just leaden, breadcrumbed lumps of hybrid meat (some of them are mixed with fish) from a freezer bag, or frozen chips or scampi.

The orangey-yellow of aubergine halfmoons as they sizzle in spicy batter (curry powder, gram flour, water, salt); their warm flavour as they hit your mouth, slightly salted and too hot for your tongue; these joys are at the heart of deep fat frying.

Onion bhajis are also easy to make and have a strength of flavour and texture that you don’t get in commercial products. They are so pretty, spiky balls of dark terracotta contrasted with the white kitchen roll.

Falafels are pretty close to being healthy. Unlike battered foods, the oil doesn’t penetrate the whole piece and the chickpeas inside are cooked by heat. Freshly made falafels, still sizzling in the air can be greedily consumed with burned fingers and hot spices popping in your mouth. It doesn’t have to be as urgent, but it’s all about appreciation. And they are so full of fibre and protein that it doesn’t take many to fill you.

We’re so lucky in the U.K. Most of us don’t have to worry about whether or not we will eat. The least we can do is eat food worthy of the name and enjoy it.


250g dried chickpeas. Soak for at least 8 hours.
Take 1 tsp coriander seeds, 4 tsps cumin seeds, 2 tsps salt,  a large handful of parsley, 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1 small egg and mix with the uncooked, soaked chickpeas in a food processor until it resembles fine gravel.

Clag the gravel together in your fingers to shape an uneven croquet. If it doesn’t stay stuck together, add another egg and process the mix again to combine.

Heat the chosen oil in a large pan until it reaches the temperature that would brown a cube of bread on entry to the bubbling mass. Or guess. There’s nothing wrong with trial and error.

Form a series of croqettes, dropping them into the hot oil  one at a time. It’s easier if you fish them out in batches but safer if they go in one at a time.

Enjoy them however you see fit. It’s your duty.

Falafels, picante tomato sauce and green salad