Pea, mint and ham soup

INGREDIENTS

  • one ham hock. Morrisons usually have them on the butcher’s counter, labelled as “gammon shanks”.
  • 2kg frozen peas (petits pois will make it sweeter)
  • 2 large shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, chopped
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • black pepper
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock (I make mine using Swiss bouillon powder)
  • fresh mint – about 25 to 30 leaves to put in the soup plus more to garnish.
  • sour cream
  • Note that you need a stick blender for this recipe. You can use a food processor, but it’s a bit of a faff.

METHOD

  • Place the ham in a very large pan and cover with cold water. Add the potatoes, celery, shallots, bay leaves and about 15 turns of the pepper mill. Bring to the boil, then simmer for about 90 minutes. You will need to turn the ham over a couple of times to ensure that it is evenly cooked and cooked through – if in doubt, let it cook a bit longer.
  • Remove the ham from the stock (leave everything else in the pan). With a sharp knife, remove the skin from the ham and discard. Then remove the meat from the bones, discarding the bones plus any fatty or gristly bits.
  • With two forks, tease the meat apart into small shreds. This should be very easy if you have thoroughly cooked the ham – in fact, sometimes you can just tease it apart with your fingers. Reserve the shredded meat.
  • Remove the bay leaves from the stock and discard them. Then bring the stock back to a gentle simmer.
  • Add roughly 1.5kg of the peas and simmer for 7 or 8 minutes. Then add the mint leaves.
  • Remove from the heat. Blitz the soup with a stick blender until smooth.
  • The resulting soup will be quite thick, so make up the stock and add it, along with the remaining peas. Blitz again until smooth. (If you like your soup very thick, you can leave it as it is. Simply vary the amount of stock and extra peas you add so that you get the consistency you like).
  • Taste. Add extra pepper or mint if necessary.
  • Add the shredded meat back to the soup. You can then cool the mixture and store it in the fridge.
  • To serve, gently reheat the soup. Serve with a swirl of sour cream and a few mint leaves for garnish.

 

 

 

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Satay chicken noodles with shredded cavalo nero

This recipe is from the “everyday meals” section of the February 2017 Waitrose magazine. It was so badly written that I couldn’t bear the thought of putting it in my recipe files as-is, and vowed to re-write it. Come on Waitrose, who would weigh peanut butter?

 

Serves 2, generously.

The recipe claims 10 minutes to prepare, 10 minutes to cook. My experience – at least double the prep time.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 300g pack of Amoy straight to wok udon noodles. I’m sure other udon noodles are available, but these do nicely and are quick, which is ideal for a midweek meal. You’ll find them in black packets in the noodle aisle.
  • 2 skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1cm slices (not too long slices either – you’ll want to pick them up with chopsticks).
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce.
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin.
  • 3 dessertspoons crunchy peanut butter. The recipe calls for 75g, but I reckon three spoons is about right and a dessert spoon fits nicely in the jar. Make sure you have crunchy peanut butter – with nice chunks in it. Spend a few pennies and get some good quality stuff, like the Whole Earth one.
  • generous pinch dried chilli flakes.
  • vegetable oil for frying – a dash of sunflower oil is probably best.
  • 1 large onion, cut into bite sized chunks. Red onion works best because the colour is pretty, but that isn’t essential. It took me a while to work out how best to cut this to get the right effect, but for an average sized red onion, if you cut it into six or eight radial segments after removing the skin, you will get pieces that are about right.
  • about 2.5cm of fresh ginger, finely shredded. The recipe calls for 20g – again, who weighs ginger? I shred mine using a coarse cheese grater, which gets the right result. You can always increase or decrease the amount of ginger according to taste.
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced.
  • 200g pack of cavalo nero, finely shredded. Waitrose offer cavalo nero in two forms – either whole leaves or chopped. The whole leaves are better, because you want to remove the midrib from the bottom part (bottom third?) of each leaf, as it is not tender enough to cook in the short time this stuff is going to be in the pan. Just slice the leaf crossways after removing the midrib to give thin slices no more than 1cm wide. I’m sure that you could use Savoy cabbage instead of cavalo nero – we also did it with pak choi, which was ok, but not quite as good.
  • You will also need a large frying pan or wok, a microwave dish, two bowls, tongs and a little water just boiled in the kettle.
  • You can dress the dish with sweet chilli sauce and/or toasted sesame seeds.

 

METHOD

  • This recipe is quick to cook, so make sure that you have done all the chopping first and have all ingredients at hand. Once you get started, you won’t have time to stop and slice an onion.
  • Put the chicken in a bowl with 1tbsp soy sauce and 1tsp cumin. Stir so that the chicken is coated and leave to stand for a few minutes whilst you do the next steps.
  • Heat the noodles in a microwave according to the pack instructions and set aside after giving them a little stir so they aren’t one big slab!
  • In  a small bowl, mix the remaining 1 tbsp soy sauce and 1 tsp cumin with the peanut butter and chilli flakes. Add a few spoonfuls (about 5 tbsp) of freshly boiled water and stir to help you get a good sauce consistency.
  • Heat a little oil in the pan/wok over a high heat. Fry the chicken until golden and just cooked through. Remove to a plate and set aside.
  • Heat a little more oil in the pan, keeping the heat high. Fry the onion pieces for about 1 minute (don’t worry if they fall apart). Add the garlic and ginger and allow to sizzle for 15 seconds or so, then add the cavalo nero, chicken and noodles. Turn over a few times using the tongs – you want the cavalo nero to still have all its texture and not have gone soft/sloppy – really you’re just warming it through.
  • Add the sauce to the pan, stir everything one more time and then serve, with your sweet chilli sauce and/or sesame seeds if you have them (not essential).

Eat with chopsticks for added sauce-on-shirt value.

Two recipes for gingerbread from my mother’s archive

Dug out by Dad. I’m going to have to try them both and see which works best. I’ve preserved the Imperial measurements.

Ingredients for recipe 1:

  • 8 oz self raising flour
  • 4 oz black treacle
  • 4 oz golden syrup
  • 3 oz butter
  • 2 oz demerara sugar
  • 2 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 egg
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2.5 fl oz milk

Melt the butter, syrup, treacle and sugar together in a pan – not too hot.
Meanwhile, sieve the flour, ginger and salt together in a bowl. Beat the egg together with the milk in another bowl.
Combine all the ingredients and pour into a greased loaf tin.
Bake for 45 minutes at gas mark 3 on a low shelf (that’s 160C in a conventional oven, 140C in a fan oven).

 

Ingredients for recipe 2:

  • 12 oz self raising flour
  • 4 oz dripping (I wonder if butter could be used instead?)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 5 fl oz milk (that’s a quarter pint)
  • 3 oz golden syrup
  • 3 oz black treacle
  • 7 oz granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger

Grease a 8 inch square tin (Mum’s notes say “or round”, but I’m not sure how that would work).
Warm the syrup, treacle, fat and sugar together in a pan until it dissolves together. Allow to cool.
Meanwhile, sieve the flour, bicarb and ginger together in a large bowl. Beat the egg and milk together in another bowl.
Make a well in the middle of the flour and carefully pour in the sugar/treacle mix. Then add the egg/milk mixture.
Beat the mixture until smooth and put into the tin.
Bake for 30 minutes at 325F (160 Celsius) and then reduce to 300F (150 Celsius) for a further 30 minutes.

Sausages and lentils

Time for a recipe, inspired by Giorgio OnTheTelly. This is a tasty dish and also costs about 3p to make – rather fitting for our times.

Ingredients:

  • 4 sausages. You want good meaty sausages to get the best outcome for this recipe, but we found it worked just fine with supermarket own brand ones. (If you want to cook with six, then just increase all the other ingredients by 50%).
  • 1 smallish carrot – chopped reasonably finely.
  • 2 smallish red onions – also chopped. You can use white onion if you like – we just like the colour.
  • 1 celery stick – chopped as well.
  • 170g lentils – you can use fancy pants lentils if you want, we used standard supermarket own brand jobs.
  • 350ml passata – normally I object to using passata and would get a (cheaper) tin of tomatoes and mush them up, but for this recipe it is worth spending the extra pennies on passata.
  • 500ml vegetable stock – make your own or use a cube, whatever.
  • fresh sage and fresh rosemary – from your garden, of course. Don’t be stingy with this – you want enough to taste it.
  • a little olive oil for frying (or you can use butter if you like); salt, pepper.

In a casserole, heat the oil/butter over a medium high heat and fry one chopped onion (not the other one – keep that aside for a moment) with the carrot and celery until a little browned.

Then add the lentils and the stock and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

Whilst that is going on, fry the sausages in a pan until brown. Remove from the pan and keep warm.

Fry the rest of the onion until golden in a little more oil/butter. Add the passata to the onion until warmed  through. Return the sausages to the pan with the herbs and cook gently for 15 minutes.

Then, add the sausage/passata mixture to the lentil/vegetable mixture in the casserole and stir.

Serve with some crusty bread. You’ll find this remarkably filling.