Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Stuck pot rice with lentils and yogurt

I've been trying out more vegetarian dishes lately - while A and I both enjoy meat, it helps to have some more vegetable based meals here and there for variety and health's sake. Plus our friend AB has gone vegetarian recently so when he's over for meals it makes sense to just find a tasty vegetarian dish that everyone can enjoy. This recipe called out to me as soon as I saw it, and it was a hit, even if the crusty bit didn't quite turn out as expected. This may be due to me messing around with proportions and not being so precise at measuring out yogurt, but who cares when it tastes good?

Stuck Pot Rice with Lentils and Yogurt
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Serves 6 generously (a main dish)


1 1/2 cup green lentils, rinsed
1 1/2 cups white basmati rice, rinsed well
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion (or 5 small ones in my case), thinly sliced
1/4 cup plain yogurt, I used low-fat, plus additional for serving
2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus additional lemon wedges for serving
1/3 cup water
2 teaspoons ground cumin
Freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish


Bring a medium-sized heavy pot with a tight fitting lid (so you can use one pot for all the steps) of salted water to a boil. Add lentils and rice and return to a boil. Simmer the mixture for five minutes without stirring. Drain mixture and transfer to a large bowl.

Heat the same pot over medium-high heat. Once heated, add 2 tablespoons oil; one oil is warm, add onions and a couple pinches of salt and cover with a lid. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly caramelized and brown, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Add onions to bowl with rice and lentils. Stir in yogurt, lemon juice, water, cumin and pepper, plus additional salt to taste.

Heat pot again over medium-high heat. Once fully hot, add remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Once that is hot, return rice mixture to pot, pressing it in. (It will sizzle.) Wrap clean kitchen towel around lid of pot so it completely covers inside of lid; gather corners on top so they do not fall anywhere near stove. Place lid on pot, sealing tightly. Reduce heat to very low. Cook undisturbed about 30 minutes; rice should smell toasty but not burned and you might need to check on it once or twice if you’re making it for the first time. Remove from heat, and let sit 5 minutes more.

Carefully remove lid and cloth, and turn pot upside down over a platter. If rice comes out in a single crust, terrific. If not, use a spatula to scrape crisp pieces out of pan and onto remaining rice. (I'll confess I didn't even really get crisp pieces, more like crisp bits - there was no crust, just crispy rice, but it was delicious anyway.) Garnish with chopped cilantro, and serve with lemon wedges and additional plain yogurt.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Duke of Cornwall

48 Fulham Palace Road
London W6 9PH
S and I met up with some of her friends before a gig at the Hammersmith Apollo (this guy, if you're curious). While wandering the area looking for a place to have a drink and a bite to eat, we stumbled across the Duke of Cornwall. Its menu is not that promising - the pictures of the food are terrible and we were all a bit concerned, but when you're hungry and pressed for time you're willing to take a chance. Turns out, we're all happy we did - my pad thai (boring, I know) was actually delicious, if a little on the sweet side - it came with proper crushed peanut and chilli garnishes and was an absolutely enormous portion for under £7. We scarfed our food, along with some wine, and then hopped across the road for a wonderful evening of music.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Shepherd's Pie


Shepherd's pie is a dish that I've been meaning to try to make since I moved to the UK. It's basically the same thing as cottage pie (which is made with beef instead of lamb). And while it's called a pie, it's only topped with mashed potato - there's no pie crust needed. On a cold night, it makes the perfect warm dish to fill you up - and this could have easily served six people, which meant A and I had plenty of extra meals out of it.

Shepherd's Pie
Adapted from Jamie and Nigel


1 onion
2 carrots
2 sticks of celery

handful of button mushrooms, chopped (optional)
2 cloves of garlic
a small bunch of fresh rosemary (I used dried)

Worcestershire sauce
olive oil
500g good-quality minced lamb
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
250ml lamb or vegetable stock

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 kg potatoes
100ml semi-skimmed milk


Boil and mash 1kg of big, floury potatoes, adding a thick slice of butter as you mash (or, if you're me, skip the butter and just add some milk until the mash is the consistency you like). Soften the onion, peeled and chopped in a little butter. (You can add a few diced carrots and celery at this point, and the mushrooms if you're using them.) When the vegetables are softened a bit, add 500g minced lamb, letting it brown thoroughly. Now add your salt, pepper, rosemary and a shake or two of Worcestershire sauce, the tomatoes, and about 250ml of stock. Let the mixture simmer gently for 30 minutes. Tip the lamb into a shallow baking dish, top with the mash, use a fork to rake the top so that you get extra crispy bits, then bake for 35-40 minutes in a hot oven till the surface is crisp. Serves 6.