Thursday, May 31, 2012

Nettle soup + garlic bread

  • Go to the bar for a few glasses of your favourite after-work tipple (I chose beer).
  • Go home and make a soup with an ingredient you have never before tasted.
  • Take a terrible photo of it.
  • Sober up.
  • Sweat onions and garlic in a pan with butter.
  • Make some mashed potato.
  • Don rubber gloves and rinse your nettles, removing any particularly stalky stalks.
  • Add the greens to your softened onions and add a little water, not too much, you can always add more at the end.
  • Once they've wilted, season and whiz.
  • Stir in your mashed potato and an avocado, then whiz again.
  • Serve with garlic bread.
  • Take over the world.

What did it taste like: Nettles taste like the sea! I have no idea why. This soup was creamy and green and delicately sea-weedy. It might sound weird, but I assure you, it was delicious. Plus, nettles are nutritiously outstanding, 40% protein and loaded with vitamins and minerals, including an abundance of vitamin K. (KER-POW!) And tell me, is there anything more magnificent you can do with a baguette than transform it into garlic bread? 

Tip: If you can't find nettles, make friends with someone who can. Apparently spring is the best time to get them, and once they start flowering they are not to be eaten. Take the leaves from the top of the plant. And protect yourself well.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Hot and sour + prawn

  • Buy some Tom Yum soup paste and put a big tablespoon of it into some chicken stock.
  • Add fresh ginger slivers, fish sauce, lime, sugar and lemongrass.
  • Bring to a gentle simmer then add sliced mushrooms, fresh chili and prawns.
  • Before serving add some beansprouts and coriander.

What did it taste like? Hot! And sour. The heat is extremely kicky and will target the back of your throat, but it's not the sort of burn that stays. It is cleansing, satisfying and definitely moreish. I don't think I've ever seen a recipe for this with beansprouts, but I like the crunch so there.

Tip: Be very careful when you eat this. If it goes down the wrong way you will cough and splutter. Nothing like a little danger at the dinner table.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Spring onion

  • Chop up a big bunch of spring onions, keeping the white and green separatish.
  • Melt some butter in a pan on a lowish heat and add the whites.
  • When they've become translucent, add the green and some garlic and let it all soften. 
  • Keep it going for fifteen minutes or so.
  • Season, add a little water, then whiz.
  • You may want to add some milk or cream, but I did not.
  • Serve with the crunchiest bread you can find.

What did it taste like? Sweet and creamy, even without cream. I served with a toasted country baguette without butter (and you know how I feel about butter).

Tip: Don't let anything brown.Taste your onions before whizzing to make sure you've cooked off any raw flavours.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Chicken fajita soup!

  • Diced red onion goes into olive oil. There should be sizzling.
  • Add a hefty spoon of cumin (and some paprika if you wish) and keep the onions moving for seven minutes 49 seconds. 
  • Add chicken pieces, ensuring continued sizzling.
  • Once the chicken has coloured, get some diced peppers, tomato and grated garlic in.
  • Turn down, shake and season.
  • Put your choice of stock in to barely cover the ingredients. In fact, they should be rudely and abundantly poking above the surface of the liquid.
  • While it's getting up to a gentle boil, chop tomatoes, avocado, spring onion, green chili, and coriander.
  • When it tastes delicious, serve with the above plus sour cream (or if you live in France, crème fraîche) and grated, melty cheese (Cantal, if you are still in France).

What did it taste like? How can this combination of ingredients evoke anything other than brazen delight?

Tip: Make more than enough, you will become thoroughly and inconsolably depressed if there aren't any seconds.