Sunday, June 24, 2012

Cucumber + mini greek salad

  • Blenders at the ready!
  • Roughly chop a cucumber, a teeny piece of garlic and a quarter of an onion.
  • Plonk into the blender with salt, a pot of plain yoghurt and some herbs de provence.
  • Er, blend.
  • Make a mini greek salad with tomatoes, cucumber and feta. Dress it nicely with red wine vinegar and olive oil.
  • Serve together with more olive oil.

What did it taste like? Cool and greek-salady. Feta is absolutely necessary (in life as well as in this soup).

  1. I bought feta in oil with herbs simply because there was no plain feta left in the supermarket. This was a happy accident as it's more flavoury and I used the herby oil to dress the salad.
  2. I am not a big black olive fan, but if you are, I am sure they would love to join the greek salad party.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Strawberry and white peach + sweet basil cream

In defiance of this miserable June, I hereby propose my first summer soup.(Measurements are per person.)
  • Whiz one mini pot of fromage frais (60g) and two big basil leaves with a teaspoon of sugar, then refrigerate.
  • One handful of strawberries and one peeled white peach get blended with one level tablespoon of sugar and a small glass of dry white wine (very small for you English/Aussie/US wine guzzlers).
  • Adjust ingredients to your taste (but I don't need to tell you that)
  • Serve and consume the two concoctions together. 
  • The end.

What did it taste like? Slightly alcoholic smoothie meets sophisticated fruit fool. Beauty combination if I do say so myself :)

Tip: If your ingredients are already chilled there's no need to chill it further. Mine were not even that cold, but the temperature was perfect. I used a Grenache wine, but I suppose that any good dry wine will be good also.

PS Look at these strawberries!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

African peanut soup

  • Chopped onion, grated ginger and some spices get sautéed in the pan. I used garam masala, though I don't know how African that is. 
  • Diced red pepper and white cabbage go in with grated garlic.
  • Add a can of chopped tomatoes, and season with salt and sugar
  • Add a little vegetable stock and a big ol' tablespoon of peanut butter. Mix well.
  • I added a little green chili.
  • Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for as long as you wish. I think thirty minutes would do, but I left it for a good hour on a low heat. 
  • When you're happy (with the soup, not in life), whiz it partially.
  • Serve with some chopped red pepper and cabbage, and crushed peanuts.

What did it taste like? Deeply nutty, creamy, spicy and slightly sweet. I don't know if it tasted authentic, but it sure tasted good. The crunch from the topping was lovely against the softness of the cooked veggies.

  1. Make sure your peanut butter is mixed in well, otherwise it will drop to the bottom of the pan and burn. You may wish to add it later if you are going to simmer for a while.
  2. I used organic peanut butter with one ingredient only (peanuts). I have the rest in my fridge if anyone wants to come round and take it, I'm not really a peanut butter person.
  3. For me, it was essential to use sugar with the peanuts, but play around with the seasoning and see what tastes best to you. Use chili flakes or cayenne pepper at the vegetable stage if you wish. I only had fresh chili (I just lied - I have a pot of tiny chilis in my freezer (they were fresh when I froze them)).
  4. Many other recipes use curry powder but this is against my religion hence the garam masala. 
  5. Other vegetables which could be good: sweet potato, chickpeas, coconut milk (the latter of course, not strictly being a vegetable).

Sunday, June 3, 2012

London Particular (Split pea and ham)

  • A ham hock and a selection of vegetables (onion, leek, celery, parsley stalks, garlic and a carrot) get cosy in a pan, with peppercorns and bay leaf. Cover them with water to muffle their cries.
  • Bring to the boil then simmer gently for a few hours half covered. (I cheated with my pressure cooker.)
  • When the meat is tender, strain the stock into a bowl, discarding the veggies and shredding the meat. 
  • Rinse a handful per person of green split peas til the water runs clear, then soften some diced onion (and garlic, if you're feeling raunchy) in butter and add in the peas.
  • Pop in some of your stock, bring to the boil and simmer, skimming off any scum.
  • When tender (30-40 mins), blitz half the lentils, return to the escape-peas, and add in some meat.

What did it taste like? Deeply flavourful, hearty and terribly satisfying.

  1. Make too much stock, then use only enough to cook your peas. You can then adjust the consistency once everything comes together. 
  2. Be careful with seasoning - less/no salt if you have a smoked hock. If it isn't smoked you might want to add some fried lardons at the pea-simmering stage (fat drained off). If it is smoked, check your stock isn't too salty before adding to the peas (you can add water to reduce the saltiness and/or pre-soak it overnight before you start cooking it). 
  3. You can also use pork ribs if you haven't got a ham hock to hand - in this case, I strongly advise the addition of lardons. 
  4. This is really a winter soup but if June is misbehaving (as it is this year in Paris), go wild and make it then.