Greek-style yellow split pea soup

A silky smooth soup for chilly evenings.

split pea soup

I had this recipe in my ancient, hand-written cookbook under the name of “Fava”, but a little research has shown that that particular dish from the island of Santorini is actually a purée typically eaten with bread… This recipe uses pretty much the same ingredients, but has a lot more liquid to make it a soup, hence the name.

Either way, it’s a warming winter meal that is rich in flavour, incredibly silky in texture and will leave you feeling satisfied.

The leftovers freeze well, too!

Serves: 6 – 8
Preparation: about 2 1/2 hours

Ingredients

500g (about 1 pound) yellow split peas
2 litres (2 quarts) vegetable stock
2 large red onions
2 medium carrots
2 large stalks celery
120ml (1/2 cup) olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp dried mint
2 bay leaves
freshly ground black pepper
salt

For serving

1 small red onion
lemon wedges
olive oil

Directions

Rinse the split peas well under cold running water, then add to a large soup pot along with the vegetable stock.

Cover, bring to a slow boil and cook for one hour, stirring occasionally.

Dice the onions, carrots and celery, and add to the pot along with the olive oil, oregano, marjoram, mint, bay leaves and plenty of pepper.

Cover and cook over low heat for 1 1/2 hours, stirring frequently.

Remove the bay leaves and use an immersion blender to make it smooth.

Season with salt and serve, topped with some finely sliced onion, a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil.

Posted in greek, soup, vegan | Leave a comment

Cranberry simple syrup

Cranberry simple syrup for all your seasonal cocktail needs, like this cranberry gin and tonic. Cheers!

cranberry simple syrup 01

Makes about 2 cups
Preparation: 10 minutes
Steeping: a few hours if you’re in a rush, 24 hours or more for a better result

The cranberry simple syrup

340g (12 oz) fresh cranberries
300g (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar
375ml (1 1/2 cups) water

Directions

Rinse the cranberries then prick them three or four times with a toothpick.

In small saucepan, combine water and sugar over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the cranberries.

Cover and allow to cool completely, stirring occasionally – for best results, allow to steep in the fridge for 24 hours or more – then strain the liquid into a clean glass bottle, allowing the cranberries to drain well.

Store in the fridge for up to three months.

The cranberries

You have a few options for the cranberries after you make the syrup…

To garnish those seasonal cocktails – spread the cranberries on a baking sheet so they’re not touching and freeze them. When frozen, transfer to a container to store in the freezer to use as a garnish in place of or in addition to ice cubes.

For use as decoration or just for snacking – spread the cranberries on a sheet of baking paper and coat generously with granulated sugar and allow to dry. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Bake a cake!

Cranberry gin & tonic

1 jigger (44ml or 1 1/2 ounces) gin
1/2 jigger (22ml or 3/4 ounce) cranberry simple syrup
tonic water
5 frozen cranberries
an ice cube
twist of lemon peel to garnish

Directions

In a medium sized glass, add the gin and the cranberry simple syrup, fill to 3/4 with tonic water, add frozen cranberries and an ice cube and garnish with a twist of lemon peel.

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Cranberry walnut loaf

A flavour-packed whole wheat sweet bread for a chilly autumn afternoon.

cranberry walnut loaf

I used candied cranberries, but it works just as well with fresh or frozen cranberries – it will just be a bit less sweet.

Makes 1 x 30cm (12″) loaf
Preparation about 15 minutes

Baking about 60 minutes

Ingredients

360g (3 cups, spooned and scraped) whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
375ml (1 1/2 cups) whole milk
200g (1 cup) granulated sugar
150g (1 1/2 cups) candied, fresh or frozen cranberries
50g (1/2 cup) roughly chopped walnuts
50g (4 Tbsp) diced candied orange peel
50g (4 Tbsp) diced candied lemon peel

Directions

Preheat oven to 175°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4, and grease and flour a 30cm (12″) loaf tin.

Whisk flour, baking powder, salt and spices together in a bowl.

Put the milk in a medium heavy based saucepan and heat until it just comes to a boil. Remove from the heat, add the sugar and whisk until the sugar has dissolved.

Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients whisk until the batter is smooth.

Toss the cranberries, walnuts and candied peels in a little additional flour, then stir them into the batter.

Pour into loaf tin and bake in centre of oven for about 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Remove from oven, allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack.

Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.

Posted in bread, breakfast, cake, snack, sweet | Leave a comment

Roasted garlic braid

Take your garlic bread game up a notch with this beautiful roasted garlic braid.

Roasted garlic braid

Crisp crust, super soft interior and swirled with aromatic roasted garlic – this bread pairs absolutely perfectly with soup. And it’s vegan!

Makes 1 medium loaf
Active time: about 30 minutes in total
Non-active time: about 4 hours in total
Baking: 25 minutes

Ingredients

350g (2 4/5 cups, spooned & scraped) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
185g (4/5 cup) water, room temperature
30ml (2 Tbsp) olive oil

1 whole head garlic
1 tsp olive oil

additional oil for brushing

Directions

Whisk together the flour, salt and yeast in a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.

Add the water and mix to a shaggy dough, then add the 30ml (2 Tbsp) olive oil and mix to combine.

Knead the dough for about 8 minutes until soft and smooth.

Shape dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in size. This can take up to three hours, depending on ambient temperature.

Meanwhile, prepare the garlic

Preheat oven to 190°C / 375°F / gas mark 5.

Pull as much of the papery skin off the head of garlic as you can, without exposing the flesh. Using a serrated knife, chop the top half centimetre (5th inch) off each clove. Cradle the garlic in a piece of aluminium foil and drizzle with olive oil then wrap it tightly. Put the parcel in a shallow baking dish (to catch any drips) and put it in the oven for 1 hour. Set aside to cool.

Assembly and baking

Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins into a small bowl, keeping as much of the oil as possible. Use a small fork to mash it to a smooth paste, adding a little more oil if necessary.

Punch down the dough and knead it together, then divide into three equal portions.

Roll each portion out to a roughly rectangular shape about 10cm (4″) wide and 35cm (14″) long and spread each portion with the garlic paste.

Roll the dough into long sausages, pinch them all together at one end and braid the three strands together. Pinch the other end together and transfer to a paper-lined baking sheet.

Cover with a clean kitchen towel, allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour, and preheat oven to 230°C / 450°F / gas mark 8.

Brush the top with a little olive oil and bake in centre of oven until golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Posted in bread, side, vegan | 2 Comments

Basler Läckerli – Swiss spiced cookie bars

Basler Läckerli (or Leckerli, if your keyboard doesn’t do umlauts) is a traditional Swiss spiced cookie bar that is just perfect on a cool autumn afternoon with a cup of tea.

Basler Läckerli

This particular version comes from the canton of Basel, but plenty of other variations are out there. Whole or chopped almonds, hazelnuts, different spice blends… it seems that every village has their own way of doing it. But this is the one I fell in love with, and it will always have my heart!

Läckerli are quite hard and chewy right after baking, but soften with time. They will keep well for up to two months in an airtight container, and they just get better with age!

Makes about 30 pieces
Preparation: 30 minutes
Baking: 15 minutes
Cooling: 1 hour

Ingredients

300g (2 2/5 cups, spooned and scraped) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
225g (8 oz or 3/5 cup) liquid honey
150g (3/4 cup) granulated (white) sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
50g (4 Tbsp) finely chopped candied orange peel
50g (4 Tbsp) finely chopped candied lemon peel
100g (1 cup) ground almonds
zest of 1 lemon
50ml (3 Tbsp + 1 tsp) kirsch

Frosting

75g (3/5 cup) confectioner’s sugar
45ml (3 Tbsp) additional kirsch or water

Directions

Preheat oven to 220°C / 430°F / Gas Mark 7 1/2, and grease or line a large baking sheet.

Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a bowl and set aside.

Combine honey, sugar, cinnamon, ground cloves and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl over a pan of simmering water, heat gently while stirring occasionally until sugar has dissolved, then remove from heat.

Add candied orange peel, candied lemon peel, ground almonds, lemon zest and kirsch, and stir until well combined.

Add flour and baking powder, and mix together with a wooden spoon or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until combined.

While the dough is still warm, press it out onto the baking sheet approximately 7mm (1/4″) thick.

Bake for about 15 minutes in the centre of the oven until deep golden brown.

Mix confectioner’s sugar and additional kirsch or water (it should be quite thin), and brush generously over the top while still hot.

Trim the edges and cut into serving-sized pieces, about 5 x 3cm / 2 x 1 1/2″ (a lot of mine ended up square or close to it… but I don’t think it matters), transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Store for up to two months in an airtight container.

Posted in biscuit, cookie, snack, sweet, swiss | 2 Comments

Tomato chilli jam

Sweet and spicy tomato chilli jam makes a spectacular addition to your cheese board.

tomato chilli jam

Makes about 700ml / 3 cups
Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking: can take a couple of hours
Recipe adapted from here

Ingredients

1kg (about 2 1/4 lb) ripe tomatoes, peeled
2 medium red onions, peeled and roughly chopped
8 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
about 30g (about 1 oz) ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
45ml (3 Tbsp) soy sauce
1 Tbsp dried chilli flakes
500g (2 cups) raw sugar
200ml (4/5 cup) red wine vinegar

Directions

Peel the tomatoes by immersing in boiling water for a few minutes, until the skins start to split. Transfer to a colander to cool enough to handle, then pull the skins off and discard.

Dice half the tomatoes and set aside.

Purée the other half of the tomatoes with the onions, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and chilli flakes in a blender or food processor.

Stir together the purée, sugar and vinegar in a deep, heavy based saucepan and bring to the boil slowly, stirring frequently.

Reduce heat to medium low, add chopped tomatoes and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick. The cooking time depends on the variety and juice content of the tomatoes and the heat you are cooking it on, but it can take a couple of hours.

Pour into sterilised glass jars, seal tightly and store in a cool, dark place. It should keep for several weeks if proper sterilisation procedure is followed, but if you’re unsure you can store it in the fridge.

Refrigerate after opening and use within a week.

Posted in jam, preserves, spread, vegan | 2 Comments

Vegetarian “fish” and chips

Marinated halloumi takes the place of fish in this oven baked vegetarian interpretation of an English pub classic.

veggie fish and chips

One of my very favourite things about a trip to London is the pub food. There are always plenty of vegetarian and vegan options, and the veggie pies are always a highlight (I have grand plans for a series of pies once the weather cools down) but this meal is my recreation of one we had in a Paddington pub last month – my eyes lit up when I saw the words “veggie fish and chips” and I was not disappointed. It’s not “fishy” – it’s lemony and garlicky and salty and fresh. It has become quite a favourite round here, as it’s quick and easy as well as being utterly scrumptious. Comfort food heaven.

Serves 2
Marinating: up to 8 hours
Preparation: 10 minutes
Baking: 15 minutes
Note: for an egg-free version, use a cornstarch slurry in place of the flour and beaten egg

Ingredients

4 pieces of halloumi, about 200g (7oz) per person
2 Tbsp olive oil + extra for baking
4 Tbsp lemon juice
1 – 2 garlic cloves, crushed or grated with a microplane
1 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 cup flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs, such as panko

To serve
thick cut chips (fries)
lemon wedges

Directions

Arrange the halloumi in a single layer in a dish.

Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and marjoram, then spoon the marinade over the halloumi. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to marinate at room temperature, flipping over the cheese every hour or so. I do this part in the morning then finish off in the evening.

Lightly oil a baking sheet and preheat oven to 210°C / 410°F / Gas Mark 6 1/2.

Arrange the flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs in three dishes. Take a piece of halloumi and dredge it in flour, then dip in beaten egg, then coat with breadcrumbs and put it on the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining pieces of halloumi. Spritz the halloumi with olive oil.

Bake for 10 minutes, then carefully flip the halloumi over and bake for another 5 minutes, until crisp and browned on both sides.

Serve hot with chips (fries) and lemon wedges.

Posted in burgers&patties, lunch, potato | 3 Comments