Coming across some raw chorizo sausage recently at Verkerks‘ butchers I decided to try out one of the recipes from the Mediterranean Café’s Tapas Evening. I also wanted to try out the Spanish smoked paprika that Chef Nik had used with such success that night but, naturally, the recipe sheet had disappeared. Still, if I’ve something in my mind, I don’t normally let something small like the lack of a recipe dissuade me.
The Middle Eastern soup Harira has cropped up in several of the different cookbooks and magazines that I’ve been reading lately. It’s a thick, near solid, nourishing soup (it can be so thick that it’s close to getting called a stew!) which was traditionally served to break the Muslim fast during the month of Ramadan but what drew me to it was the fact that it combines both chickpeas and lentils – two of my favourite ingredients. Most recipes also include lamb but, due to my lack of funds when I made this, my soup was almost vegetarian, save for the chicken stock.
There are days in winter – and spring, and autumn – when you wake up to wet and wild mornings and the only thing to do is spend the day indoors, with occasional rain-coated excursions for walks to avoid claustrophobia. Digging through Tamasin Day Lewis’ Weekend Food on one such day, I discovered a recipe for Pork Hock and Bean Casserole that made me go digging in the freezer to find the cheap meaty pork hock that I’d purchased last month.
I’ve been having more than a few Mexican moments lately with my chocolate and chilli experiments and I’ve also cooked several Mexican meals. The first was for a pot-luck dinner for eight in our house when some of the Boyfriend’s college friends and their wives were about. This was only arranged that morning and when the Boyfriend asked what we should cook, I figured that it was the perfect time to try Nigella’s recipe for Cornbread-Topped Chilli.
Looking at Sunday’s entry about flatbreads and foccacia, I just realised what was missing – I forgot to write up my foccacia recipe! What I give here is just the basic recipe but there are countless variations. You can always add different herbs or some crushed garlic, top the dough with caramelised onions or roasted peppers or, indeed, stuff it with cheese and bacon for a ready-made sandwich.
Even though I haven’t been mentioning the Breadmaker very much recently, it does get a regular workout. Every so often we’re out of Brown Soda Bread and it’s just too much hard work to go down to the shop so I just throw ingredients into the Breadmaker bowl and it makes one of its little square loaves – which are, incidentally, the perfect size for the toaster.
I was delighted to see that a New Zealand book that I’ve written about here – Taste: Baking with Flavour by Dean Brettschneider andLauraine Jacobs – took gold in its category (Soft Cover Recipe Book under US$25) at the 2005 World Food Media Awards in Adelaide last weekend. Stephanie Alexander received honours on home ground for her revised and updated The Cook’s Companion, tying with an American book, The Breath of a Wok by Grace Young and Alan Richardson, for the Best Food Book award. Barbara of Auckland’s Winos and Foodies had picked Plenty by Gay Bilson in this category and, immersed in it at the moment on her recommendation, I can see why.