Archive for January, 2023

Lentil coconut dal with garam masala stir-fried strips of beef

January 31, 2023


  • 1 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 piece of ginger
  • 2 chillies – add to taste
  • 100g red lentils
  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes
  • 1 pice pot no. 8
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tin light coconut milk
  • beef escalope
  • coriander
  • baby spinach
  • garam masala – add to taste
  • lime (or lemon)


Slosh of olive oil in a hot pan. Thin strips of beef. Cook until brown. Add garam masala halfway. Remove beef strips and set aside, to be used later.

Halve, peel, slice the onion. Peel and finely grate or chop the garlic and ginger. Chop one chilli – deseed or leave the seeds in for more heat, depending on taste.

Fry the onion on a low-medium heat for two minutes in the pan vacated by the beef, stirring now and then.

Halve (or quarter if large) the cherry tomatoes.

Add the garlic, ginger, spice pot, curry powder, cinnamon stick and some chilli too, if you like heat. Stir continuously for one minute. Add a little splash of water, if the spices look like they’re catching.

Stir in the lentils and cherry tomatoes. Shake the coconut milk tin well before you open it. Add the tin of coconut milk. Season with a little pepper, bring to a low boil and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring now and then. Keep an eye on the liquid , dals are subjective, you can have it as runny or as thick as you like, so you might need to add a little extra water as they cook, particularly towards the end. The dal can very quickly turn from runny to very thick.

Chop the coriander, stalks and all.

When the dal is about five minutes from being ready, remove the cinnamon stick, then stir in the spinach leaves.

Stir half the coriander into the lentil dal. Season the dal with salt, pepper and add lime (or lemon) juice to taste. Serve it topped with the beef, scattered with remaining coriander and some chopped remaining chilli too, if you like, to your taste.


Very tasty dish.

I never do a good job cooking beef. This was perfect, tasty and tender.

Hot tip: The coconut milk will probably be solid. Pop in a warm oven. It will then pour easily. If need more liquid, wash out the tin with boiling water and add to the lentil dal.

I used lemon instead of lime. I already had a lemon cut in half, I wished the lime for a cocktail.

Hot tip: Roll the lime (or lemon) with applied pressure from palm of hand. This will rupture internally and enable more juice to be squeezed out.

Vegan tip: If omit the stir-fried beef, will have a very tasty vegan dish.


January 30, 2023

What a difference the ice cream makes.

Previously I had tried Carte D’Ore vanilla ice cream. Cheap crap industrial ice cream.

Today Blyton vanilla ice cream.

I cannot though get the perfect affogato.

What I want, the espresso to run down the side in little rivulets. Not drill through the ice cream or run off down the side.

Chicken and sheep’s cheese orzo

January 30, 2023

A Greek pasta-based dish.

Orzo, also known as risoni, a Greek pasta, tiny rice-like grains.


  • sheep’s cheese
  • 1 red onion
  • 250g diced chicken leg
  • 30g black olives
  • 10g sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • spice pot no. 6
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • 1/2 tbsp bouillon powder
  • tomato purée
  • cherry tomatoes
  • head pf black kale
  • fresh parsley
  • 150g orzo pasta


Before you start, take cheese out of the fridge. The same applies to the diced chicken. Allow to reach room temprature.

Fan oven 180C.

Halve, peel and dice the onion.

Season the chicken with a little salt and pepper. A splash of oil in an ovenproof casserole, one with a lid (or use a frying pan now and transfer to a baking dish with foil or a baking tray to cover it later). Fry the chicken to brown it, turning it now and then (leave it be at first, so it gets a little colour), then transfer to a plate for later.

Add the onion to the same pan. Turn the heat down and gently fry, stirring now and then, adding a splash of water if needed, for 8 minutes

Slice the olives and sun-dried tomatoes. Roll the lemon applying pressure from the palm of the hand. This will rupture inside the lemon enabling more juice to be extracted when squeezed. .

Peel and finely slice the garlic. Use one or two cloves, according to taste

Add the chicken back to the pan, stirring in the garlic for 30 seconds.

Add the spice pot, half the pot of dried mint, the bouillon powder, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, tomato purée, cherry tomatoes (whole) and 400ml of boiling water.

Bring to a simmer. Transfer to a baking dish at this point if needed. Cover the casserole pan (or baking dish).

Transfer to fan oven 180C for 10 minutes.

Strip the kale stalks away from the leaves, roll and slice. Chop the parsley, stalks and all.

Uncover the chicken, stir in the orzo and recover the pan. Cook for 25 minutes fan oven 180C. Check the pan halfway through – you shouldn’t need more liquid, but see how the pan looks at this stage, as a lot will depend on your own oven and exactly what sort of pan you’re using.

Add the kale leaves on top of the orzo (no need to stir it in at this stage) uncovered, fan oven 180C 5 minutes.

Remove from the oven, stir, add half the parsley, season with salt and pepper, add a good squeeze of lemon and more dried mint too if you like.


Break up the cheese and sprinkle over the top. Squeeze the lemon. Sprinkle the chopped parsley as garnish.


Very tasty.

More than enough for three people.

If serve two, leave the caserolle dish to cool, chill, save for enother day. Slightly more for one person, not enough for two. Reheat later, suggest fan oven 170C 35 minutes. May need to add a little wate and stir.

Cottage pie goes slightly wrong

January 28, 2023

Shepherd’s pie, a great British classic — Gordon Ramsey

Sometimes we learn more when something goes wrong, at least if we step back and wonder why.

I have tried many variants of this dish, carrots and onions first, add the minced beef; minced beef beef first, add the carrots and onions. I have settled on Gordon Ramsey method for shepherd’s pie. [see video below]

  • cottage pie – beef
  • shepherd’s pie – lamb

Basic ingredients: minced beef, vegetables, mashed potatoes.

A little olive oil in a hot pan. Add minced beef. Cook until brown. Add colour, add flavour.

Sliced onion, three small carrots, garlic clove, in pan. Season with salt and pepper. Chopped leaves from thyme and rosemary. Add a pinch of herbes de Provence.

Cook for a further two minutes.

A little splash of red wine. Oops, as soon as I poured in the wine, what was left in the bottle, I realised too much.

Add stock. Simmer.

Add peas (I forgot).

Empty contents of pan into an oven proof casserole dish.

Top with mashed potato. Fluff up the potato with a fork. Season with salt and pepper.

Two year old barrel aged Lincolnshire Poacher cheese added on top.

Fan oven 200C for 35 minutes. Remove lid last ten minutes to brown the potatoes.

Serve on a plate.

Accompanied by El Martillo red wine from Mendoza, Argentina.

What is left, allow to cool, pop in the fridge. Re-heat in a few days time, fan oven 175C for 35 minutes, remove lid last ten minutes.

A big big mistake. There was more wine in the bottom of the bottle than I realised. Too much liquid.

When I took the cottage pie out of the oven, I could see the result of my mistake. The mash floating on top of what was bubbling away below.

When I spooned it out onto a plate, more like a casserole or a stew than a cottage pie. It did not look good.

The taste. The taste was amazing.

It is ok to cheat. The mash from M&S. Usually I slice a couple of carrots, add peas at the end. From M&S a pot of sliced carrots and peas (only because it was reduced), the butter added to the pan. I did though have a problem fishing out the carrots. The peas add at the end when simmering (only I forgot).

Coffee Aroma cappuccino

January 27, 2023

Pop in Coffee Aroma.


Remain chatting.

Just in time for a bus, only to find cancelled.

Olé Olé lunch

January 27, 2023

Walk through Lincoln Castle to Olé Olé. Just make if for lunch. My last visit to late.

I know what I want. Albondigas. I look at the specials, change my mind, I order tortilla.

I am still hungry. I order albondigas. But now too full. I save for later.

After lunch, i look in Stokes at the Lawn. I am surprised at the changes. Turned into a cocktail bar. Typical of what I would find in Athens. Beginning in February, cocktails in a Friday and Saturday evening.

Seven Districts Bailgate revisit

January 27, 2023

Late into Lincoln. Hop on a bus from Lincoln Central Bus Station to Lincoln Cathedral. Walk to Seven Districts.

I am disappointed. Oh what a difference a barista makes. And noisy.

Last visit, almost empty, and quiet. Today busy and noisy.

Last visit, excellent cappuccino. Today barely drinkable.

Lincoln cold damp afternoon

January 27, 2023

Late into Lincoln. Hop on a bus to Lincoln Cathedral. Walk to Seven Districts.

Very disappointed me t visit to Seven Districts. No oisy and poor quality cappuccino. They have a problem with consistency.

Walk to Bailgate, then through Lincoln Castle to Olé Olé for lunch. Tortilla, still hungry, I order albondigas.

I look in Stokes at the Lawn. Major transformation since my last visit. A cocktail bar, typical of Athens. Beginning of February, serving cocktails Friday and Saturday evening.

Make it down Steep Hill in time to pick up a tub of ice cream from Blyton ice cream parlour.

Cappuccino at Coffee Aroma.

Make bus station in time for a bus, to find cancelled.


January 26, 2023

I tried substituting Fever Tree with M&S tonic water. A waste of good Cocchi.

Using Fever Tree reinforced M&S a big mistake.

-25ml Cocchi sweet vermouth

– 25ml Campari

– 50ml Fever Tree Premium Indian tonic water

– ice

– slice of orange

Pour sweet vermouth and Campari into a crystal rock glass, top up with tonic, add ice, stir, add a slice of orange.

Spicy leak potato parsnips pear soup reheated

January 26, 2023

Prepared a few days ago, two bowls of soup, leftovers chilled for another day.

Carrot, leak, celery stick, garlic clove, finely chopped, dry fried for a few minutes until soft , a knob of butter, fried for a few more minutes, boiling water added, season with salt and pepper, add boullion powder, a slosh of balsamic vinegar, simmer.

Empty into the soup pan. Wash out with boiling water, add to the soup pan, repeat as necessary.

Bring soup pot to the boil, leave to simmer for a couple of hours.

This soup was better than the original.

I decided not to repeat the exercise a third time.

Allowed to cool. Drain off what is left as vegetable stock, leftover vegetables empty into the compost heap.

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