Tag Archives: soup

Recipe | Pappa al pomodoro

If you are enjoying a glut of tomatoes, as many smug garden-owning people seem to be, you could do a lot worse than make a cauldron of this for supper. Being so simple it relies on the best ingredients – juicy, sweet, and almost too-ripe tomatoes, decent sourdough bread that is a day or two old, and some good, grassy olive oil. If you try it with a loaf of Warburton’s and a tin of chopped tomatoes you’ll end up with an insipid mess. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Recipes

Valentine’s week – the perfect couples

Valentine’s Day is somewhat like Christmas – a holiday of great, blundering clichés, and a chance for the loveless and the cynical to mine every orifice of Scroogian misery for reasons to hate it. While this is understandable (after all, let’s face it, Valentine’s is about as palatable as one of Jordan’s boonies), the point has been made ad nauseam.

So instead of whingeing about the evanescence of love, I’ve decided to embrace some of the couples that will be together forever. Because while the most seemingly perfect relationships can disintegrate inexplicably, there are certain pairings that are eternal.

I am, of course, talking about food. Some things just seem to have been made for each other. Beetroot and goat’s cheese; beef and horseradish (and smoked fish and horseradish, come to think of it); pork pies and pickled walnuts (if you haven’t tried this you must); ginger and honey; apple and cinnamon. No amount of tabloid scandal can tear these apart (what? Haven’t you ever seen a paparazzo chasing a Melton Mowbray down the street?) They are more perfectly married then any human could ever be.

To celebrate Valentine’s Day I’m going to spend the week cooking with these perfect pairings, with perhaps the odd cheeky threesome thrown in if I’m lucky.

Potatoes and cream – Cullen Skink


Cullen skink is, I believe, traditionally made with mashed potato, but I much prefer it with chunks.

Serves 2

1 fillet of undyed smoked haddock

200ml double cream

200ml whole milk

A bay leaf

Olive oil

1 small onion, peeled and chopped

1 stick celery, finely chopped

1 large potato, chopped

White wine

Parsley

–       Put the smoked haddock, cream and milk in a saucepan with the bay leaf. Place over a medium heat, bring to a simmer and cook gently for 5 minutes. Leave to cool.

–       Heat a little olive oil in a separate saucepan and sweat the onion and celery until soft and translucent.

–       Add the potato, season with salt and pepper, cover, and cook for a further 15 minutes.

–       Take the fish out of the saucepan and remove the skin and any bones.

–       Add white wine to the potato and onion pan, simmer for 1 minute, and then add the cream.

–       Cook very gently until the potato is completely soft, before flaking in the fish. Cook for a further few minutes, check for seasoning, and serve with chopped parsley.

6 Comments

Filed under Recipes

New Year’s Eve

Whether you like it or not, new year’s eve is pretty much the one night of the year when it’s imperative that, above all else, you have a really good time. OK? It’s undoubtedly this ‘forced fun’ element that makes so many people resent the annual ralf-fest. It doesn’t help that it comes at the end of a solid week of over-eating and drinking, but we can’t blame the baby Jesus for being born exactly one week before the turn of the millennium.

Anyway, to steal a joke from Ali G, I digest. The point is, if we are to concentrate fully on having a really good time, it’s important that 1) we get to eat something that is special and delicious, and 2) that it is entirely fuss free. For example, I could write three completely new recipes. But, uh, hello, it’s new year’s eve. I’m too busy necking sherry and being a rude boy. So instead here are two recipes from the archives for starter and main, along with a new invention which really is a knock-out for pudding. And of course a new year playlist to shake your ass to whilst you cook. Happy New Year!

[See below for the magnificent Fiona Beckett’s wine suggestions].

Chestnut soup with chorizo and saffron cream

I know I only just posted this, but I can honestly say it’s one of my proudest cooking moments, and as far as NYE goes it’s ideal – you can do the soup ahead before reheating and doing the saffron cream at the last minute.

M3NVHKZNQEZJ

Serves 6

200g whole Chorizo, cut into cubes

1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 stick celery, finely chopped

1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

1 dried red chilli, finely chopped

1 tsp finely chopped rosemary

1 tsp cumin seeds, crushed

400-500g cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped

1 tin tomatoes

1 litre chicken stock

2ooml double cream

a pinch of saffron

Olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and fry the chorizo until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon, reserving the oil.

Add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic and fry over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes, until lightly caramelised and soft.

Next add the chopped rosemary, chilli and cumin and stir for a minute or so, before adding the chestnuts, chopped tomatoes and chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, gently heat the cream and saffron together until the threads have dissolved. Set aside and blend the soup until smooth.

Whisk the saffron cream over a medium heat until it is a little lighter, then serve the soup with a few chunks of chorizo and some of the cream.

Rolled shoulder of pork with pommes dauphinoises and red cabbage

You could equally do roast tatties here, but the beauty of these spuds are that you can cook them ahead and simply reheat. The red cabbage also benefits from being done ahead.

For the pork

1 rolled, boned, shoulder of pork, about 1.4kg

250ml cider

500ml stock

Salt, pepper and olive oil

Red cabbage

1 head of red cabbage

1 bottle cider

200ml balsamic vinegar

1 cinnamon stick

Butter

For the potatoes

6 Maris Piper or King Edward potatoes

300ml double cream

300ml whole milk

1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed

A few thyme leaves

A bay leaf

Nutmeg

Salt and pepper

Butter

You can do the cabbage and spuds a day ahead:

The cabbage then. Quarter the cabbage and remove the thick stalk from the centre. Slice the cabbage as finely as you can manage and sling in a saucepan with the cider, vinegar, cinnamon stick, a few knobs of butter and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to as low as you can, cover and simmer for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid and simmer for another half hour until dark and sticky.

The spuds. In a saucepan whisk the milk, cream, garlic and thyme. Grate in a little nutmeg, season and add the bay leaf. Heat until almost boiling, turn off the heat and leave to infuse for half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Wash the potatoes (don’t peel them). Butter an ovenproof dish. Slice the potatoes into discs and start to layer in the dish. Pour a little of the cream mix on each layer, before tipping whatever you have left over the top once you have finished. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour.

Four hours before dinner, preheat the oven to full whack. Score the skin with a sharp knife several at 1 inch intervals or so. This helps to render the fat and get really good crackling. Season the joint copiously with salt and pepper and rub with olive oil. Put in the oven and turn the heat down immediately to 170C. Cook for 3 hours.

Remove from the oven and pop on a warm plate to rest while you make your gravy. Degrease the pan by pouring off any excess fat, then put it over a fairly rigorous heat. Pour in the cider and the stock and simmer.

Pop the potatoes in the oven to reheat for half an hour, and warm the cabbage over a medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Taste the gravy for seasoning and serve with the pork, crackling, and vegetables.

Homemade Snickers ice cream

This was a slightly whimsical experiment that turned out surprisingly well. Very easy to do, and no ice cream machine required. Can be done at least a day ahead.

100g milk chocolate

50g sugar (3 tablespoons)

125 ml water

50g salted peanuts, roughly chopped

2 egg yolks

50g sugar

500ml double cream

Melt about 3/4 of the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water, and leave to cool (but not get cold).

Meanwhile whip the egg yolks and 50g sugar until light, then whisk in the cream. Continue to whisk until the cream thickens enough to slightly hold its shape.

In a non stick frying pan, whisk the other 50g sugar into the water until dissolved, then place over a medium heat until caramelised (don’t stir while this process is occurring). Once a golden brown, remove from the heat and gently toss in the peanuts. Leave to cool for a couple of minutes before folding into the whipped cream, along with the melted chocolate. Roughly chop the remaining chocolate and fold this in too.

Transfer to an ice cream tub or something similar, and freeze. After 1 hour remove from the freezer and give a quick whisk. This prevents ice crystals forming, creating a smoother ice cream.

Leave for a further 4 hours minimum before serving. Keeps for a week.

Fiona Beckett’s Wine Suggestions

As James helped me out with my Ultimate Student Cookbook this year I reckoned I owed him one so when he suggested I should come up with some ideas of what to drink with his New Year’s Eve menu I could hardly refuse. Or rather I might have done if I’d looked at the menu but I rashly said yes first.

The soup is a real bugger for a start. It’ll slaughter any half way decent white so you either have the choice of red (a young Rioja, say) or – ta-daaaa – sherry which is rather appropriate as that’s what James says he’s been necking – er, sipping. A dry Amontillado or Palo Cortado I reckon would hit the spot nicely. You could also drink sherry with the Snickers icecream – cream sherry this time though a genuine Spanish bottle not Harvey’s Bristol Cream. PX if you have a particularly sweet tooth.
Which leaves the main course with which you’ll be devoutly relieved to hear I’m not going to recommend sherry but a good Spanish or Southern French red – something like a Gigondas from the Rhone or a Chateauneuf du Pape, for example. With all the cider in the recipe you could even drink cider but I guess most people wouldnt think that was sufficiently festive. And fair do’s it is New Year’s Eve . . .

Thanks Fiona, you’re a star.

To keep you company whilst you spend a happy hour or two in the kitchen, here is a little music:

[clearspring_widget title=”Grooveshark Widget: Chameleon” wid=”48f3ef6c29317865″ pid=”4b39e1f48d8cdbd7″ width=”400″ height=”300″ domain=”widgets.clearspring.com”]

M3NVHKZNQEZJ

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Recipes

A White Christmas

This Christmas I challenged the readers of this blog to help me to rejuvenate what had become an all too methodical Christmas lunch. I wanted to eat something that went beyond our traditional and stale festive binge – nothing wildly different or controversial (I would never have been forgiven), but just enough to reinvigorate the day. There were some wonderful suggestions, from all over the world. Natasha’s fried carp with knedliky (Czech dumplings) sounded delicious but would have undoubtedly ended in a riot had it been served in favour of turkey. Alex, a Jewish friend, suggested latkas, potato pancakes eaten at Chanukah. Again, I was – I am – pathetic, and just didn’t dare produce these.

Some more conventional suggestions were embraced. However, after much deliberating I decided that, ambitious as I wanted to be with Christmas lunch, I didn’t really fancy the stress that would have undoubtedly been induced by attempting myriad dishes on Christmas morning. Doing turkey ‘n trimmings for 18 is stressful enough, so instead I dotted the various recipes around the festive period (there may still be time for more). They were all a complete delight. So thank you, everybody, for your truly inspirational input – you helped to make this Christmas much more fun.

Lambswool – with thanks to Nibbles for their suggestion

 

This is a medieval beverage, swilled no doubt by the gallon on high days and winter holidays. I tried it with ale, feeling that with cider (a more common variation) that it would just be like mulled cider. In truth it is probably nicer that way but it was still warming, aromatic and festive.

Makes 2 litres

6 Cox’s apples

25g butter

4 bottles good ale – Black Sheep or Landlord – otherwise good cider. White Lightning is excellent.

8 tablespoons brown sugar

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ginger

Peel, core and quarter the apples. In a large cauldron, melt the butter over a fire that is not  newly ablaze, and yet has not lost all of its fervour, and add the apples and spices. Gently nurdle those golden orbs until lightly bronzed like the sultry curves of a Moorish maiden, then add the ale and the sugar. Stir well and heat until just below the point at which the bubbles breaketh the surface. Leave for the length of the second act of the Bard’s Twelfth Night and serve in warm goblets ye rapscallion ye.

 

Hot chocolate with chilli – with thanks to Ms. Alex

This is just the thing to drink on a cold winter morning. Chocolate and chilli are terrific bed partners – the chilli helping the chocolate to coat the throat with a deep warmth that trickles down all the way to your toes. Fight any resistance to this idea and give it a go. It’s fab.

Makes 6 mugs

200g good quality chocolate (70%)

1 dried red chilli, finely chopped and seeds discarded

100ml water

1l whole milk

4 tsp sugar

250ml double cream

A little extra chocolate for dusting

Break the chocolate into bits and melt over a low heat along with the water and chilli. Meanwhile warm the milk almost to boiling point. Once the chocolate has melted whisk in the milk and add the sugar. Heat for another couple of minutes while you whisk the double cream until softly whipped. Pour the hot chocolate into warm mugs, top with cream and a little grated chocolate.

Brussels sprouts with black pudding – with thanks to The Student Gourmet

Prepare the sprouts by discarding any grotty outer leaves, trimming the bottoms and cutting in half. Add to a pan of boiling salted water and boil for three minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water for 2 minutes. You can do this well ahead (I did it on Christmas Eve this year and the sprouts were as green and fresh as ever).

Heat some butter or goose fat in a large pan and add some chopped up black pudding. Fry until crisp, stirring occasionally, then add the sprouts and cook for a further 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Serve.

Chestnut soup with chorizo and saffron cream – with  further thanks to the mysterious ‘Nibbles’

This is an adaptation of a recipe from the Moro cookbook.

Serves 6

200g whole Chorizo, cut into cubes

1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 stick celery, finely chopped

1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

1 dried red chilli, finely chopped

1 tsp finely chopped rosemary

1 tsp cumin seeds, crushed

400-500g cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped

1 tin tomatoes

1 litre chicken stock

2ooml double cream

a pinch of saffron

Olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and fry the chorizo until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon, reserving the oil.

Add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic and fry over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes, until lightly caramelised and soft.

Next add the chopped rosemary, chilli and cumin and stir for a minute or so, before adding the chestnuts, chopped tomatoes and chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, gently heat the cream and saffron together until the threads have dissolved. Set aside and blend the soup until smooth.

Whisk the saffron cream over a medium heat until it is a little lighter, then serve the soup with a few chunks of chorizo and some of the cream.

4 Comments

Filed under Recipes

All you need is love [Chilli beef noodle soup]


Of all the cliches, adages and tautologies on Masterchef, the word that turns my stomach again and again is ‘passion’. Everything is about ‘passion’, it seems – passion for cooking, passion for food, passion for ingredients, passion for experimentation etc etc. It’s terribly perfunctory. It has become a punctuation mark, a sentence filler for when the judges can’t think of anything more insightful to say about a contestant. As Tony Naylor writes on the Guardian Word of Mouth blog, Masterchef has stripped the word of any meaning through ‘flagrant overuse’.It is also, more often than not, a euphemism. The cooking equivalent to the schoolmaster’s “Ramsden tries hard” (i.e. Ramsden is thick as mud soup but I’ve got to wrestle some positive out of this car crash of a term).

For me it is not only overused, misused and abused, but it is a notion that is revered far beyond the measure it should be. This passion for food – what does it really mean? Passion is an ephemeral emotion, an intense, uncontrollable reflex. Passion doesn’t sustain. It is the lusty throe of ecstasy, the impulsive stab of desire. Passion glints fleetingly in the glossy covers of food porn, or explodes magnificently in the climax of a meal. Passion does not last, and food cooked with passion and passion alone will most likely be inconsistent. There will be flashes of brilliance, sure, but in those moments when the spark is gone, what is left to support the cook?

For without love, there is nothing. Love and everything that comes with it – care, attention, nurture, devotion, and – yes – passion. Take Monday night. I had been working all day (a rarity), and returned late and hungry. Sunday’s chicken had been made into stock, while any leftover meat had been stripped from the carcass and awaited my greedy advances. Against my better judgement (and due to a fairly empty fridge) I landed on making a risotto. I have never been convinced that chicken risotto works. I just don’t feel that chicken’s texture works well amidst the starchy grains, despite it being a leftovers staple. I’d rather prod it into a sandwich with a generous spoonful of mayonnaise, or, even better, toss it through crisp salad leaves with croutons and a piquant dressing.

But fate seemed to have decreed otherwise – the rice winked at me from the front of the cupboard, the stock was there, waiting, on the hob, the chicken already diced. There was even a bag of peas in the freezer to add bite and freshness. But because I was not convinced by the risotto’s validity, I cooked it half-heartedly, one eye on the pot, one eye on the television. The result was a perfectly edible risotto, but one that did not come even close to inspiring any kind of passion in me whatsoever. The cooking had lacked care, and it tasted like it.

Two night’s later I return in similar circumstances. This time there are two of us, and this time I have thought carefully about what I want to eat. I cook with all due care, attention, and love. The soup, while simplicity defined, is soothing and delicious. It is also quick and cheap.

Chilli beef noodle soup

Serves 2

4 spring onions, finely sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1 thumb of ginger, peeled and chopped into matchsticks
2 birds eye chillies, sliced
A handful of coriander, roughly chopped
300ml chicken stock
1 tablespoon fish sauce
Half a Chinese cabbage, sliced
100g oyster mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 rump steak
A handful of rice noodles
1 red chilli, halved, deseeded and sliced
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a saucepan and add the spring onions, garlic, ginger and chillies. Stir constantly for 30 seconds, then add the coriander (reserving a little for the end), chicken stock and fish sauce. Bring to the boil, then add the mushrooms and cabbage. Turn the heat right down and simmer while you prepare the rest of the soup.

Boil the kettle and pour the water over the rice noodles in a bowl. Leave to soak for five minutes.

Meanwhile, season the steak with salt and pepper and rub with olive oil. Get a frying pan very hot (so that holding your hand 6 inches above it is unbearable for more than a second or two) and fry the steak for two minutes on each side. Remove to a plate to rest.

Drain the noodles and divide between serving bowls. Spoon over the soup making sure you get plenty of cabbage and mushrooms. Slice the steak thickly and arrange over the bowls. Garnish with slices of red chilli and a handful of coriander.

1 Comment

Filed under Ramblings, Recipes

Raw vegan experiment – Day 4 [cold cucumber soup]

‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now’ – The Smiths

Cold cucumber soup

If you try and pretend that you are indeed eating soup, and not just a big bowl of tzatziki, then this is really rather delicious. Perfect for a starter in the summer. Next summer.

Serves 1

A quarter of a cucumber
4 tablespoons soya yoghurt
1 small clove garlic, peeled and crushed
A handful of mint, coriander and chives, chopped
A good squeeze of lemon juice
Salt and pepper

Grate the ‘cumber into a bowl. Stir in the yogurt, garlic, herbs and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and chill for an hour or so. Remove from fridge, check for seasoning and adjust with salt or some fresh tears, and eat.

Leave a comment

Filed under Recipes, Videos

Raw vegan experiment – Day 2 [gazpacho]

Gazpacho

Makes 2 large portions, serves 4-6 as a starter

2 large tomatoes
300g passata
1 red pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
1/4 cucumber, roughly chopped
1/4 red onion, roughly chopped
1 small clove garlic, roughly chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and, you guessed it, roughly chopped
A handful of herbs – parsley and basil, a little rosemary
Salt, pepper, sugar
Olive oil
White wine vinegar, about a tablespoon

Peel the tomatoes by putting a cross in the top with a sharp knife, then leave them in boiling water for a minute. The skin should then come straight off. Quarter them and remove the seeds.

Put the tomato flesh, passata, cucumber, onion, garlic, chilli and herbs in a blender. Season with salt, pepper and sugar and add a dash of olive oil and white wine vinegar. Blend.

Chill for an hour in the fridge and serve with a blob of pesto.

Leave a comment

Filed under Recipes, Videos