Sunday, October 26, 2008

Cucumber soup

Sunday 8.48pm

The wind has turned southerly here and it cold, showery and blustery. Just the weather for a . . . . chilled soup. Well not actually but it was lovely and warm yesterday when the idea got stuck in my head so I'm making it anyway. I saw the recipe in a magazine a few weeks ago but cannot remember any of it except that the base was leeks and a potato (I think). The main ingredient is cucumber of course which can be eaten raw and so can be added right at the end so most of the work is in making a nice base that will set off the cucumber.

- Start by roughly chopping a leek and setting it to cook slowly in some olive oil.
- I served mine with a salsa made with a tomato, a couple of spring onions and a green chilli all chopped smallish and stirred together in a bowl with the juice of half a lemon, If you want to do the same do so now so the flavours get a chance to mix and blend while the soup is cooking.
- Once the leek is soft, peel and chop a small potato and add it to the leeks along with a pint and a quarter of vegetable stock and leave to simmer gently.
- Oh and save a little stock and use it to soak a big handful of ground almonds in a bowl as well for later.
- Peel and roughly chop a big cucumber.
- Once the potato is soft, mine took twenty minutes, take it off the heat.
- Put the ground almonds into a liquidiser along with a couple of ladlefuls of the soup. liquidise until smooth and then add the cucumber and the rest of the soup and continue to blend until smoothish.

Now I have never actually eaten a cold soup before and I have to admit I didn't this time either but it was certainly nice served warm along with some brown bread and butter.

The forecast for tomorrow is 19 degrees - back to Spring again!

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Thinking and learning

Thursday 8.22am

Have you ever watched a cat in a new home or a kitten venturing out for the first time? There will always be one that heads straight out of the door and disappears but most will explore their immediate surroundings thoroughly before venturing further. And when doing this they will constantly return to touch base, exploring it once more to refamiliarise themselves before venturing further. This of course is a method of learning, And having thought about it, it is the way I learn. And having thought further about it, I think it is a method that will work for anybody.

If you have read a few of my recipes (here on this blog of course and also more here) you will probably have noticed that they tend to follow a pattern. This basic recipe, based upon Nadine Abensur's Carrot and Almond soup from Cranks Fast Food, is my home ground, the place where I will go exploring from and where I always return to. To know this home ground thoroughly means understanding it. You have to know why you are adding a potato or why some things go in at the beginning and others at the end. To understand things I like to think about it until I can distill out the basic components, and with soup these boil down to just three things - the main ingredient, the base and the thickening.

Now perhaps I have read the wrong books, but most authors seem to assume that you know this stuff already, so as an exercise I have written a book myself exploring and explaining these ideas. And seeing as the whole world is out there, just a mouse click away I have published it as well. It has taken while to get it right but at long last it is, - you can download the whole book as a pdf file for free (either the same as the printed version if you have a fast connection and time to wait or a version with smaller pictures that will download faster) or order the printed version for just the cost of printing and postage.

Well that's my Christmas presents sorted, what's next?

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Carrot and Potato soup

Friday 10.12pm

Another simple soup, quite plain with the main ingredients grated for a crunchier texture.

- Peel and chop an onion and a couple of cloves of garlic along with a chopped slice of bacon ( unless you are vegetarian, in which case leave out the bacon)
- Fry them gently in a little olive oil and a quarter inch slice of butter - Meanwhile peel and grate 3 carrots and two potatoes
- Put these in the pan with the onions etc and stir about a bit for a couple of minutes
- Pour over two and a quarter pints of vegetable stock
- leave to simmer gently until everything is cooked, as the ingredients are grated this will not take long, fifteen minutes or so
- check for salt and pepper and add the juice of a small lemon before serving

I cooked this for the family dinner so I made twice my usual quantity, two pints of soup will feed 4 or five people. I had mine with some chopped chives from the garden and a big splodge of philadelphia cheese. Oh . . . . and some walnut bread of course.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mushroom and Coconut Soup

Tuesday 7.28pm

Back online again, and back with one of my favourite ingredients - mushrooms. As I have mentioned before Nicola does not eat the stalks of mushrooms, so I am occasionaly left with small boxes of them in the fridge. Using up left overs is a big driving force behind my cookery style, a leftover from my upbringing I think (think of the starving Africans!). So faced with mushroom stalks, what do I do, well make mushroom soup of course. And as my favourite addition at the moment is coconut milk, some of that will go in as well.

- Start with a small onion and a clove of garlic gently cooked in a little olive oil until transparent
- Add in the mushroom stalks, roughly chopped (I had about three handfulls), and leave to cook until all the liquid has evaporated.
- Stir in a dessertspoonfull of flour (plain or wholemeal) and allow to cook for a couple of minutes, stirring so it does not burn
- Add in a pint of vegetable stock and simmer until the mushrooms are cooked, say fifteen or twenty minutes
- Liquidise until smooth, return to the washed out saucepan and add about a third of a tin of coconut milk (100ml), to taste really
- Reheat and check for salt and pepper, I added a little black pepper.

I served mine with some thin strips of ginger root that I quickly fried until golden in a little oil. Carefull though because they can quickly burn.

To be honest the soup was ok, marscapone cheese would have been nicer I think than the coconut. The ginger was certainly a good idea, contrasting nicely with the creamyness of the soup.

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Please, just chat amongst yourselves . . . .

Unfortunately, because of this . . . . .

My computer has died . . . .

In the meantime I shall console myself with "an earthy meal-in-a-bowl type soup" from here

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