Although we had at least a week of summertime flip-flop days, May seems to have regressed to the cold and damp of early April. Weather like this – today it rained for the afternoon and just didn’t stop – means a return to cold weather soup recipes, warming comfort food for wintery-feeling evenings. This lentil soup recipe – for I believe that you can never have too many lentil recipes in your repertoire – is from Domini Kemp, of Itsabagel fame (all time favourite bagel? Definitely a Mountaineer), and was published in one of her Irish Times pieces a few weeks ago. I made it that very week and we loved it but then finer weather (and PSB) came on the scene so I put away my soup recipes – but not for too long, as it turned out.
Sometimes you start with one particular recipe and end up going off on a slightly different tangent. That’s what happened with these Chocolate Hazelnut Squares. After a comment by Sarah on my Lemon Traybake, I wandered over to Val’s Kitchen and took a look at the Hazelnut Caramel Slice that she made from a Rachel Allen recipe, dug out the book and started baking.
If you’re anywhere in the Mallow area this coming Saturday, 5 April, you can catch the first Mallow Farmers’ Market in the wee courtyard outside URRU – the culinary store, deli and café where I work – from 10.30am to 1pm. Stalls that will be there include my favourite Fermoy Natural Cheeses, smoked fish from Geraldine Bass’ Old Millbank Smokehouse and herbs from West Cork’s Gairdín Eden, which supply the fantastic salad leaves that we sell in URRU. Hopefully the weather will stay fine!
Our last Bibliofemme bookclub – for The Rum Diaries by Hunter S Thompson – was held at my flat on a rapidly-darkening autumn evening. The previous evening had been cold and dreary as I walked home from my webmaster course so I decided to start a soup, leave it sit overnight, and then finish it off as the girls arrived. I’d recently come across a Julie Le Clerk‘s version of Harira in an old copy of Cuisine so this was a good opportunity to try it out. I had made a meatless version of this last year in Christchurch but this time I was going to make a meal in a bowl, stuffed with lamb, lentils, chickpeas and, after a look at Claudia Roden’s version of the fast-breaking soup, haricot beans.
I’ve always been a lover of peas, beans and lentils – things that are cheap and can be turned into something delicious without too much effort. But, in Ireland, a hectic schedule prevented me from really getting involved with these in their dried form. Instead I had to content myself with their tinned equivalents which, although not hugely expensive, do prevent you from using them with too much abandon. Since coming to New Zealand, however, and discovering that dried peas, beans and lentils are readily available through the Bin Inn chain and also through the self-serve bins in all supermarkets, I’ve been putting them to good use.