Since the turn of the year, I have not stopped. The demand for the Expo Chef show within schools appears to be on the increase, and with thousands of children up and down the country to teach, that means that my colleague Mark and I are running around at 100 mph.
I'm well aware that when I am like this, my creative juices within the kitchen environment don't flow as easily as I'd like them to. And that means that new recipes are few and far between. In a discussion about this last night, I realised that all I was making this year were typical family meals; meals that that I would think aren't good enough for the Blog. And then I realised that I was talking nonsense. Why would they not be good enough? After all, in my daily job of helping to educate children and their parents, there is never enough information for people who just need a little inspiration, to show them how easy this cooking lark can be.
So I've decided that I am going to keep it even more simple than usual until I find the time to start inventing new dishes. The food I cook for my family, be it a Shepherds Pie or a simple pasta sauce, will all feature. And I'm even going to start a new category called, 'Easy Family Meals'. Happy days!
Today I'm starting with a good old soup. This soup references the wonderful Joanna of Joanna's Food and Heart Of The Matter. Joanna started a Blog after experiencing the pain of heart attack within her family. I can relate to that as my mother's husband had a heart attack just over a year ago, and although he has recovered, I'm constantly plying them with recipes that will aid recovery and ensure that it hopefully does not come back.
More importantly, I suspect that Joanna has realised through the need to adapt a diet that simple and healthy food can be utterly delicious. A bonus all round. Ensure you read her entertaining Blog and indulge in some of her top notch tasty heart healthy food. Oh, and enjoy this heart healthy filling soup.
Brown Lentil, Smoked Bacon and Swede Soup
1 onion, chopped
2 sticks of celery, diced
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
4 rashers of lean smoked bacon, rind removed
2 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
A pinch of chilli flakes
A few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed, or 1 tbsp dried thyme
1 small swede, peeled and cut into small cubes
250g brown lentils
A good splash of Worcester Sauce
500ml hot vegetable stock, fresh or from cube (if cubed, ensure it is the low salt variety)
1 - In a large pan, heat up the oil. Add the onion, celery, garlic and bacon and cook for 5-10 minutes until softened and beginning to colour.
2 - Add the thyme and chilli flakes and stir for 1 minute. Then add the turnip, Worcester Sauce, lentil and stock. Bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer with the lid on for 25-30 minutes. Check to ensure that it isn't boiling dry.
3 - Serve with good a swirl of yoghurt, heart shaped if you like.