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.
Last weekend being a long weekend, the Boyfriend and I decided to abandon Christchurch and open our personal camping season with a trip to the small town of Geraldine. For me, camping is a challenge to see what I can cook with limited ingredients and resources and this, the first camping trip of the year, was an opportunity not to be passed up. The night before we took off, I dug out Nigel Slater‘s Real Fast Food – the perfect camping cookbook – and started studying the recipes. So intent was I on packing the bag of food and so concentrated was the Boyfriend on getting us out the door on Saturday morning that no one thought to pack those camping essentials – the sleeping bags.
Last year, while still in Ireland, the Boyfriend and I attended a cheese-making weekend workshop at Rossinver Organic Farm in County Leitrim. My knowledge of cheese-making had previously been limited to a school outing during primary school. A schoolmate’s father, Glenroe’s Matt O’Brien, used to make a wonderful farmhouse cheddar called Glenosheen in the eighties. Sadly, Glenosheen Cheddar no longer exists but that was my first taste of a real cheese and, even to a pre-teen palate, it was quality stuff. I was no less fascinated by the workings of Matt’s little cheese factory and, years later, all I had observed there made sense when I attended the cheese-making course at Rossinver.