Turkey mince and vegetable pasta bake

I had planned to make vegetable enchiladas for last night’s tea, but when I went to Karstadt, I discovered that they had turkey mince in (something that has happened so few times I would only need the fingers of one hand to count!) so I decided to grab some while I could. At home, after a quick look at what I had in the cupboards/fridge, I decided to make a pasta bake with turkey and vegetables.

To make this, you will need:
Turkey mince (obviously) – 500g was what I had
An onion, chopped
Garlic – 1 or 2 cloves, depending on how big they are and how you like it
Any vegetables you fancy/want to use up – I had a courgette, 2 carrots and a small tin of peas
A tin of tomatoes or tomato passata (I would have preferred the tin of tomatoes, but it turned out I had none left…)
Pasta of your choice (small ones, like farfalle, will work best) – 300g went into mine to use up a packet

Garlic and onions
Garlic and onions

Start by frying the garlic and onion together in a frying pan, then add the mince and fry until it’s cooked through. In the meantime, boil some water for the pasta.

Add the vegetables to the pan, putting in those that take longest first (in my case, courgettes and carrots – peas went in after a few minutes). Also add the pasta to the water once it’s boiled.

Turkey mince and veg
Turkey mince and veg

When the vegetables are starting to get soft, pour in the tomatoes and stir everything in together. Continue cooking until the pasta is ready (you’ll want to cook the pasta for slightly less time than usual).

Place the pasta and turkey/vegetables mixture in an oven-proof dish and stir everything in together.

Almost ready for the oven...
Almost ready for the oven…

Now grate some cheese over the top of the pasta mixture – I’m trying to be healthy, so I used much less than I usually would. (Even better would have been to use low fat cheese, but the shop I went to didn’t have any so I stuck with ordinary Cheddar).

Cheeese! Now it's ready for the oven...
Cheeese! Now it’s ready for the oven…

Place the dish in the oven and leave it until the cheese is melted – roughly 20-30 minutes should do, depending on your oven.

Fresh out of the oven
Fresh out of the oven

And there you have it… a healthy and fairly simple meal. The amounts here were enough for Jan and I plus and extra portion for me to take to work today.
Apologies for the crapness of some of my photos by the way… there’s a reason this is not a recipe blog!

Turkey and Coconut Milk Risotto

I made a risotto for tea last night that came out pretty well, so I thought I’d share it with you. Unfortunately, I have no photos of the actual cooking process because it wasn’t until I sat down to eat it that I thought “Wow, this is good. I should share it on my blog!”. I did take a picture of the end product though, so at least can see how it looked once it was finished! 😀

Bevchen’s Turkey and Coconut Milk Risotto

 

My risotto
My risotto

Ingredients (This amount served 2 of us)

About 20-30 g butter
Olive oil, for frying
150 g risotto rice
Around 350 ml chicken stock
Around 500 g bite-sized pieces of turkey breast
One tin of coconut milk
One red onion
A handful of green beans (the long ones… Prinzessbohnen in German), roughly chopped
Two garlic cloves, crushed or chopped
Dried chilli flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
Pine nuts (optional), for decoration

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan and use it to sautee the red onion
  2. At the same time, heat some olive oil in a frying pan and use that to fry the garlic
  3. Add the rice to the saucepan with the onion and stir until coated with butter, then add about 100 ml of the chicken stock and stir. Wait until all the stock is absorbed before adding another 100 ml. Continue like this until you’ve used all the stock.
  4. Meanwhile, stir some ginger into the pan with the garlic then add the turkey and fry until almost cooked through. Close to the end of the cooking time, add the beans
  5. Once all the stock is soaked up, remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in some chilli flakes and black pepper, then pour in the coconut milk and return to a low heat to warm through
  6. Ad the chicken mixture to the rice/coconut milk pan and stir everything together, then give the mixture a tate to see if any more seasoning is needed. I added extra chilli flakes and black pepper. The chicken stock provided enough salt, in my opinion, but you could add extra salt if you like
  7. Dish the risotto out into bowls and sprinkle pine nuts on top to decorate (and because they taste gooood!)

Voila! A simple yet healthy (ish) meal!
It would probably taste even better if it had fresh ginger and chillis in, but as it was a “what can I make with the things I currently have in the flat?” meal and I hadn’t been shopping, I had neither of those things to work with.

Whole green beans in a carton.
These are like the type of beans I mean, except mine were thinner (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sooooup!

I bought myself a hand blender just after we came back from our New Year’s trip and I was dying to try it out, so yesterday I decided to make this Creamy curried carrot and butter bean soup from the BBC Good Food website.

I made a list of the ingredients I didn’t already have at home and headed to the shops directly from work. Once home, I logged on to the computer to print out the recipe only to find… no Internet! (I’ve since found it was a larger problem that affected 150,000 customers).  I was already planning to improvise as the place I went shopping didn’t sell butter beans so I bought a tin of something calling itself “white beans” instead (they looked like haricot beans to me). I still wanted my soup – and of course to use my new blender – so I decided to make my own version, based very loosely on what I could remember of the recipe. And so I bring you my own personal Curried Carrot and Bean Soup.

Curried carrot and bean soup
Curried carrot and bean soup, by me

For this recipe, you will need:
1 small onion, chopped
1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic, chopped or crushed
Some dried chilli flakes or a fresh chilli chopped small
400g of carrots, half of them sliced, the other half grated
1 large or a few small potatoes, diced
400g tin of white beans (haricot or cannellini)
About 200 ml vegetable stock
Curry powder
Ground turmeric
Ground cumin
200 ml tub of cream
(This amount served 2 of us as a main meal with plenty of bread. As a starter, it will probably do for 4-6 people)

Method
1. Fry the onions and garlic in some oil (I used olive oil) for about a minute
2. Add the chilli flakes (or fresh chilli if you have one – I didn’t) and fry for about another minute or 2
3. Add around 1-1.5 teaspoons each of curry powder, turmeric and cumin, depending on how spicy you like it, and stir well until everything’s mixed together

Onions, garlic and spices
Onions, garlic and spices

4. If the spices have soaked up all the oil, put a little more in the pan then add the chopped carrots and potato and fry for about 2-3 minutes, stirring once in a while
6. Add half of the tin of beans, stir in and fry for another minute or so

Vegetables
Vegetables

5. Boil the kettle and before making the vegetable stock pour a little boiling water onto any onion/spice mixture that’s stuck to the bottom of the pan. The stuck on stuff will come off and you can stir it in. Now make up around 200 ml of vegetable stock and leave everything to simmer for about 5-7 minutes until the vegetables have softened and most of the water has gone (I grated the remaining carrots while I was waiting)
6. Blend the vegetable and stock mixture to form a puree then return the pan to the heat (if you used a real blender, obviously return the mush to the pan first) and add just enough water to make it slightly runny again, although not completely liquid (about 30ml should do it)
7. Stir the grated carrots and the rest of the beans into the mixture then gradually add the cream until it reaches the consitency you want. I used all my cream, but you might not want to

Gradually add the cream...
Gradually add the cream…

8. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper (and salt, if you like. I didn’t bother as I thought vegetable stock would be salty enough). At this point, you might want to add more of the spices (turmeric, cumin, curry powder) if the cream has taken away too much of the heat. Add some chilli powder too, if you like.
9. Heat the soup through completely, stirring frequently then serve with buttered crusty bread (or if, like me, you forgot to buy decent crusty bread, with toast…)

Ready to serve
Ready to serve

This ended up being a really tasty meal. I liked the way the grated carrots and non-pureed beans gave it some texture while the blended ingredients and the stock/cream gave it a soupy consistency in the background. Also, I was rather proud of myself for inventing my own soup recipe (albeit loosely based on someone else’s – looking at the Good Food recipe, it seems I didn’t actually remember much though…).

Science and Sunday dinner

I made a sort of Sunday dinner yesterday. Why “sort of” you ask? Well, there werre no Yorkshire puddings and the meat (pork steaks) was fried rather than roasted because I don’t trust my oven at all (there’s something wrong with the thermostat – no matter how high a setting you put it on it always claims to be at most 150°C. And I really don’t want to risk putting meat in an oven that I don’t actually know the temperature of…). We did have both roast and mashed potatoes though. And after my recent trip to England I have actual proper gravy granules. German “Bratensosse” is just not the same. Sure, it goes well enough with wild boar or Schnitzel but for a proper Sunday dinner you’ve gotta have English gravy!
We had a starter as well. I’m currently doing an Open University short course called Science Starts Here and this weekend I had to do an experiment which involved putting sliced potatoes in the oven and weighing them every hour to find out what percentage of a potato is water. The end result was something that looked a lot like those potato skins you get as a starter in restaurants so we covered them in salt and pepper and ate them. I also dipped mine in allioli (garlic sauce) which was dee-licious. While we were waiting for the main course to finish cooking I happened to mention to Jan what a shame it was I had no dessert to offer him. You see, one of the things on my 101 things list is to cook a three course meal for my boyfriend (3 times!) and as I had done all the work with dinner I thought if I had dessert I could let this count (even if the starter was originally a science experiment). Having had the thought I naturally couldn’t rest until I’d at least tried to carry it out, so I got onto Google and started looking up recipes that only use ingredients I actually had in the house. It being a Sunday in German I would have had no chance of getting anything that was missing – only the petrol stations and the tiny little shop at the train station are open. Luckily I found a recipe for golden syrup dumplings, so I made that. Mine looked nothing like the picture on the website but they tasted good and that’s all that matters, right?

We were going to go to the cinema after dinner to see the German film Der Weisse Band (The White Ribbon – read about it here) but Jan decided he was too tired, so we stayed home and watched two episodes of ER instead. We’re up to season 3 now. I love the old ones – Noah Wyle (Carter) looks so young!

And now for something completely different…

Finally some good news from the employment agency. They have agreed to give me 70 euros of the money I spent on train tickets to job interviews back. That means I now have a whole 100 euros for the month of September instead of a mere 30. Maybe I won’t be reduced to a diet of tinned tomatoes on toast after all (baked beans being ridiculously overpriced in this country).

Anyway, since I have absolutely nothing to talk about today and because Sleepyjane specifically requested it, I’m going to do something I don’t think I’ve ever done on Confuzzledom before and give you a recipe. For chilli con carne. The amounts given here are what I use for two people. For those of you with actual families it shouldn’t be too difficult to adapt.

Basic Chilli con Carne

You will need:
A packet of mince (here that’s 500g) – for any American readers, I believe that would be ground meat
Garlic cloves – how many depends on how you like it. I normally use 2-3
An onion
Dried chilli flakes or chilli powder (but not that horrible ready-made chilli con carne spice stuff). You can also add a fresh chilli if you want.
Tin of chopped tomatoes
Tin of kidney beans
Optional: oregano and tomato puree

Method:
1. Chop up the onion so it’s fairly small. Either crush the garlic or chop it up as small as you can. If you’re using a fresh chilli you should chop that up into small pieces at this point as well.
2. Heat a small amount of oil in a large frying pan (or a saucepan if you don’t have a big enough frying pan). Put some of the dried chilli flakes or chilli powder into the oil and stir it around a bit. Once the oil is hot enough add the onion, garlic ad fresh chilli (if you’re using one) and fry for about 1-2 minutes.
3. Add the mince and fry until all if it has gone brown. While it’s frying season it with salt and pepper. At this point you can also put oregano in if you want. The last two times I haven’t (because I didn’t have any) and it still turned out nice so it’s really up to you.
4. Once all of the mince is brown I usually add about a tablespoon of tomato puree. This will make your chilli more red later, you don’t have to do this though, it tastes just as good if you only use the tinned tomatoes
5. Add the tin of chopped tomatoes and the tin of kidney beans (don’t forget to drain the weird sugary-water liquid from the kidney neans first!), stir the chilli well and heat though.
6. The chilli is now basically ready. All that’s left to be done is for you to taste and decide whether it needs more of anything… chilli powder, salt etc.
7. Serve the chilli with rice. Or some of those crispy taco shells. Or inside a jacket potato. It’s entirely up to you.

That’s it. Easy, no?

Spring cleaning in July

After spending ages trying desperately to ignore it, this afternoon I finally got tired of living in a pigsty and decided to tidy my room. Now with me “tidying my room” doesn’t just mean clearing the desk, putting a couple of things away and hoovering the floor. Oh no, it has to be done properly (which is probably why I don’t do it very often). So out came the cleaning stuff, the broom, the dustpan and brush and I started to tidy. Clothes were folded and put away in the wardrobe. The bag we took to Jan’s parents with us in June(!!) was finally unpacked and put away. The floor was swept and mopped. I even cleaned the radiator! Now I’m hot, exhausted and feel all dusty, but it’s worth it. My room is all sparkly and clean and hopefully I won’t need to do it again for a long, long time.

Other than cleaning I haven’t done much today. Sunday isn’t a day for doing things really, is it? Especially not when it’s raining, as it was today. Jan stayed last night so he was here all morning and most of the afternoon. We ate tomato soup with croutons and watched a programme about a baby who wouldn’t stop crying. After he left I spent ages searching the internet for an easy recipe for cottage pie.Half an hour later I realised that I hadn’t actually looked in any of my recipe books yet, so I went and picked up the student cook book that my Grandma got me and lo and behold… a recipe for cottage pie. In case anyone’s wondering it’s “The Really Useful Ultimate Student Cook Book” by Silvana Franco and it really is very useful.
Having finally found my cottage pie recipe Istarted tidying up, all the while wondering what typically English dessert I can serve to my floor on Wednesday. Trifle is too complicated (and I’m not sure I’ll get all the right ingredients in Germany anyway). Apple crumble is easy but needs to go in the oven, which is where the cottage pie will be. Yorkshire Parkin is yummy but takes too long. Victoria Sponge cake is too boring. At this rate I’m just going to end up serving them jelly and icecream! Unless anyone has a better idea for me. Answers on the back of a postcard… or you could just post them in the comments box below 😉