Lentil and Potato Salad


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It is winter and some comfort food never goes amiss.   This recipe comes from Smitten Kitchen, my go to blog for tasty recipes.    I didn’t change it up too much – except for substituting Coriander for Parsley – the Coriander in the garden looked much, much too good not to use.     And I also paired the salad with another Smitten Kitchen recipe – Chicken Skewers with Dukkah – though took Deb’s suggestion of omitting the skewers.   Next time I think I would halve the dukkah and sub panko crumbs.  They were still tasty though – and great with aioli and a home-made chilli tomato chutney.    In fact the aioli and chutney go great with the salad too.

Lentil & Potato Salad

Serves between 4 and 6

2 large shallots, 1 halved, 1 finely diced,
4 sprigs of thyme
1 small bay leaf
1 cup dry small green lentils (smaller keep their shape better)
Salt and pepper
500g small potatoes
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (my cupboard was bare, so used white wine vinegar with a splash of red wine that just happened to be open….)
1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced or smashed to a paste (your preference)
1 tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard
1/4 cup of olive oil
2 teaspoons capers, rinsed, drained and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons cornichons or other sour gherkins, roughly chopped
1 to 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped coriander

Cook lentils: Pick over and rinse lentils. Place them in a small/medium saucepan with the halved shallot, thyme, bay leaf, some salt and 4 cups of water. Simmer the lentils over medium heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until firm-tender. Drain (discarding shallot, thyme and bay leaf) and keep warm.

Meanwhile, cook potatoes: Either boil or steam – until they are tender, but not too soft. Drain and keep warm.

Make the dressing: Place the chopped shallot and red wine vinegar in the bottom of a small bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. Whisk in minced garlic, dijon, a pinch of salt, a few grinds of black pepper and olive oil. Stir in chopped capers, cornichon and scallions.

Assemble salad: Slice potatoes into small chunks and place in serving bowl. Add lentils, dressing and all but 1 tablespoon coriander and combine. Adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper if needed. Scatter salad with remaining coriander.

This can be a stand-alone lunch, maybe add a poached egg, or as a side.  Can be reheated – and keeps in fridge for up to 5 days. Enjoy!

Pork Empanadas with Cabbage


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Cabbage you say!  Yep,  I didn’t fancy currants, olives and capers as per the recipe I was looking at, and I knew for certain Mr MWCED was not going to want currants and olives, so I figured best substitution was something fresh from the garden, and cabbage it was.

Usually we make these in the winter, but it was a chilly evening so I thought they would be perfect. And they were.   This recipe is an amalgamation of a couple from the web – the filling (apart from the bits I didn’t use!) came from Emerils.com with the pastry from My Colombian Recipes  (and while you are there check out the amazing recipe for Columbian Black Cake – I am definitely going to try that!)

Search out my post from last year for Rustic Chicken Empanadas for another take.

Enjoy your Empanadas!


Pork Empanadas


2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
115 gms butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg
¼ cup ice cold water (or a little more if your mixture is too dry).

Mix flour and salt in the food processor then add butter, egg and cold water. Pulse until mixture comes together.   Shape into a ball, wrap and refrigerate for between 30 minutes to an hour (no panic if it is a bit longer).


350g pork mince
1-1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon dried oregano (or mixed herbs)
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (or chilli flakes)
½ cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced/chopped (whatever you prefer) garlic
Diced capsicum – about half a cup
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons cider vinegar (can substitute with rice vinegar)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 cup water
Chopped cabbage (we picked ours from the garden – use as much or as little as you like)

1 large egg, lightly beaten (for brushing finished pastries)

While the dough is chilling, prepare the filling.  In a medium frypan over high heat, combine the pork, cinnamon, cumin, allspice, oregano and crushed red pepper and cook until meat is golden brown and cooked through (about 6 minutes) – use a spoon to break meat up if it is forming clumps.  Add onion and cook until soft, about 4 minutes then add garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add the capsicum, tomato paste, vinegar, brown sugar and stir to thoroughly to combine.  Stir in the water and reduce the heat to medium.  Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is very thick and flavours have come together – about 15 minutes.   At about the 10 minute stage, add chopped cabbage.

Once finished take off heat and let cool.     Before you roll out the dough and fill the pies, heat oven to around 180 F.

Place the dough on a floured surface and sprinkle with flour.  Roll out to a circle about 1/8” thick.  Using a small saucer as a guide, cut as many rounds as you can.  Press scraps together and knead again to reform dough to cut more.  We got 9 from our pastry, enough for dinner and a couple of freezer meals (1-1/2 pastries each was plenty).

Using a tablespoon, top one side of dough with about 2 tablespoons of the cooled meat filling.  Using a pastry brush, brush the edges of one side of a round with some of the beaten egg, then fold the edges over so that the dough meets to form a half-circle shaped pie.  Using the tines of a fork, press the edges of the dough circle firmly to crimp.

Line a baking tray with baking paper (or use nonstick cooking spray) and place the pies on the tray.  Using the tip of a small knife, cut several small slits into the top of each empanada to allow air escape while baking.

Brush empanadas with leftover egg mixture.

Put tray into oven and bake for around 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

I served this with a fresh green salad: frilly lettuce from the garden; tomatoes; blanched asparagus and fresh herbs (mint and basil).   We also had an onion marmalade.


Thai Beef Salad


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it isn’t very often Mr MWCED or myself eat red meat.  Indeed it’s a rare occasion – and quite honestly I don’t think I have bought a piece of beef for many years (apart from the odd steak when lovely son comes home – just for him).  So interestingly it happened that we were both hankering for some red meat but not a lot of it,  and this salad seemed the perfect solution.

You could use a less expensive piece of steak, in which case I would marinate it overnight.  I wasn’t that organised and the meat was marinating for only a couple of hours.  I cooked the steak in the frying pan and once it was reasonably browned I then spooned some of the marinade over it until it was done.  The marinade caramelises and makes the outer part of the steak very tasty.



  • 1 ½-inch piece ginger, peeled, finely chopped, or 1 tablespoon pre-minced ginger
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder, garlic granules, or freshly chopped garlic
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 500g fillet steak (expensive, but absolutely the best for this dish – and you don’t really need a lot, if there are just 2 of you, you could use a bit less steak)
  • salt


  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup hot chilli paste (you could also use freshly chopped chilli)
  • ¼ cup peanut oil
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • Salt (optional)


  • Salad greens, enough for 2 (I used a mix of cos and curly lettuce from the garden)
  • 1 x carrot, grated
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • ½ cucumber, diced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup sprouts (we had some fresh mung bean sprouts on the windowsill, so in they went)
  • ½ cup chopped coriander
  • ½ cup torn basil leaves
  • ¼ cup torn mint leaves
  • ¼ cup finely chopped salted, roasted peanuts, plus more for serving
  • Lime wedges (for serving)


  • Whisk ginger, soy sauce, sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, pepper, and garlic in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved. Whisking constantly, gradually add olive oil, then sesame oil. Transfer to glass bowl and add steaks. If you can, chill at least 6 hours and up to 12 hours, but you can still do this with an hour or two of marinating.  (As noted above, tougher cuts of meat will do better with longer marinating).
  • Prepare a grill for medium-high heat. Remove steaks from marinade and pat dry. Season very lightly with salt. Grill, turning every 2 minutes, until lightly charred all over, and finished to your preference (i.e. medium rare, medium). Instead of grilling you could also cook quickly in a frying pan.  Transfer to a cutting board and let rest at least 10 minutes before cutting into 1″ pieces.


  • Whisk lime juice, chilli paste, peanut oil, fish sauce, sugar, honey, and garlic in a small bowl to combine. Taste and season with salt if desired.

Combine salad ingredients.   Pour 2/3 dressing over them, then add steak and peanuts and pour over rest of dressing.  Alternatively, you can keep some dressing to have on the side.   Garnish with extra coriander and mint.


This could also be served with noodles or rice.  Though it was excellent without and plenty for 2 of us.