Saturday, December 29, 2012

Champagne and Camembert

  • Receive a special soup bowl and plate from a friend at Christmas. 
  • Gently fry some garlic, shallots and a little potato in butter and olive oil.
  • After five, add chicken stock and Champagne. Do'nt drinzk thze rset of teh Chapanegbm to youerzsklef.
  • Cover yourself in saucepans and simmer for half an owl.
  • Remove the rind of the Camembert. Melt the cheese slowly into the soup.
  • Add cream or crème fraîche. 
  • Season, whiz, bow.
What did it taste like? Confirmation that wine and cheese should be consumed together always. Decadent and delicious.

  1. Use sparkling wine instead of Champagne. I used a Crémant which is a sparkling wine made with the same methods as Champagne but in a different region. 
  2. I took this recipe from a Covent Garden Soup book which I found at the very friend's who gave me this delightful bowl. I found the same recipe online and actually followed it on quantities for everything except the Champagne which I added in possibly greater volumes. Here it is.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas dinner soup!

  • Prepare Yorkshire pudding batter and refridgerate.
  • Make your meatballs. Minced turkey, cranberries and sage, breadcrumbs, a bit of egg, lots of salt and pepper. Pan fry. Eat a few in solitude.
  • Quarter some sprouts and roast for twenty with salt and pepper and garlic if you wish.
  • Sing Christmas songs that you don't know the words to while peeling and chopping the carrots.
  • Get your best chicken stock on the heat. When gently bubbling, add the carrots.
  • Get your Yorkshires going.
  • Pop in your meatballs, and once everything's cooked, get your roasted sprouts in. 
  • Serve with Yorkshire puddings to dip.

What did it taste like? Christmassy and dinnery. Even the sprouts were good :)

  1. For Yorkshire puddings: First, mix flour and eggs. One egg to 100g flour. Maybe. When it's smooth, add milk gradually until you have a thin, yet cream-like consistency. Think pancake batter (it's the same!). Double the quantities for more. Leave in the fridge if possible for an hour or so. Just before you use, beat again and season HEAVILY with salt and pepper. Get your oven as hot as it will go, put a desert spoon of vegetable oil in each section of a muffin tin and when it's smoking, pour in batter to fill it a third. It should sizzle and splatter. Use something good for pouring for the batter, I suggest a jug. Keep the oven closed while you pour in the batter. Put the puddings in the oven and don't open for 15-20 minutes. They should rise into little crispy cups with irresistible interiors.
  2. To prepare your sprouts, peel off the outer layers, rinse, then snip off the stalk. 
  3. Once your carrots are peeled, hold one on a chopping board like a horizon. Hold your knife at a 45° angle to it, like one half of a roof to your carrot horizon (hello? Are you still with me?). Bring the knife down on the carrot, then turn your horizon a third and chop again. Keep doing this til the end; your carrot pieces should all be the same size.
  4. I used dried cranberries that I soaked in water overnight. I added some of the sweet water to the soup.
  5. I used proper chicken stock but added a live (jelly) chicken stock cube and some water to make it go further. It was delicious. I could have eaten it alone.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Spicy parsnip

  • Get oil very very hot. Throw in some fenugreek and black mustard seeds. They should sizzle profusely.
  • When your kitchen smells like a curry house, turn down the heat and add sliced onion.
  • Add a spoon of turmeric and a smidge of hot chili powder. If you didn't have any of the above mentioned seeds, add some ground cumin and ground coriander. Even if you did, you could live dangerously and add the ground stuff anyway.
  • Mix it up like an over-enthusiastic TV chef, then add roughly chopped potato and parsnip.
  • Cover with stock, bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and let bubble til the vegetables have lost the will to live (about twenty minutes).
  • Season and whizz. Add a knob of butter and blame it on me.

What did it taste like? Rooty and sweet and perfectly spicy.

Tip: Go for a teaspoon per spice per person, except for the chili powder, you will probably need less. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Beef + beer and barley

  • Season some flour and roll in it. Also, roll some chunks of braising beef in it.
  • Sear it on all sides in some hot olive oil. Remove. Using tongs will make you feel inexplicably proficient and professional. Do not secretly season and eat any of the beef at this stage. Even the small crispy yummy bits. Yum.
  • Add finely chopped carrots, parsley stalks, celery and dried herbs.
  • Get a mini chop on some mushrooms - they like it like that but are too shy to say.
  • Also, get a bay leaf in there and some garlic - I also used some roasted garlic from my previous soup :)
  • When the veggies start to sweat you'll be able to scrape up the good brown bits on the bottom of your pan.
  • When the vegetables have softened add some tomato purée and beef stock or water and a bottle of your favourite beer. Don't forget to put the beef back in.
  • I pressure cookered mine, but you can bring yours to a simmer then keep it plopping away for a few hours. Lid on to keep the moisture, lid off to reduce. Take your pick. Or go for something in between.
  • Twenty minutes from the end, season, add lots of black pepper, add another chopped carrot and a handful of barley.
  • Eat then hibernate.

What did it taste like? Like winter itself. But less snowy and more beefy.

Tips: Add in any other veggies you like towards the end. Something green might be nice. Break up the beef if you want it more soupy. Leave it in chunks if you want it more stewy. I suggest eating it the next day - I'm sure it will get even better.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Garlic soup + bread bowl!

  • Slice the top off a BULB of garlic. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Wrap it cosily in tin foil and pop it in a 170°C oven for 45 minutes. Your house will smell amazing.
  • Make the bread bowl! Cut a circle in the top of a big boule of bread. Pull out the belly of the bread with your hands, following the shape of the loaf and leaving a thick bread lining. If you are anything like me, which I hope for your friends you are not, making a bread bowl will have you laughing and dancing round your kitchen like a lunatic. A bowl! Made of bread! I never knew it would make me feel this way. (And we haven't even got to the good bit yet.)
  • When your garlics have cooled pop them out of their pouches. 
  • Fry some shallots in olive oil then add your garlic, some chopped potato and chicken stock and simmer for twenty to thirty minutes. Salt and pepper it. Whiz.
  • Your bread bowl will take 15 minutes to crisp up in a 200°C oven.
  • Do not serve in an ordinary bowl. There is a marvellous bready one in the oven. Go get it!

What did it taste like? The countryside! It's garlic, Jim, but not as we know it. It's mellow and sweet and savoury and moreish. The soup soaks the inside of your bread bowl and you scrape bits of bread from the sides as you go. It reminded me of sopping up gravy with a slice of white bread at the end of a Sunday roast. Anyone on a non-carb diet needs to take a serious look at the priorities in their life.

  1. Before roasting, peel off as much papery stuff as you can from your garlic without peeling the cloves themselves or breaking the bulb apart.
  2. For the bread bowl - hold your knife at a 45° angle to the bread to cut off the top. 
  3. Serve the bowl on a big plate in case it decides to leak.
  4. Use the mie (the insides of the bread), to test your soup as it's simmering.
  5. Don't throw away your bread bowl at the end! If you haven't used it to dip into the soup, cut it in quarters and make a sandwich.