White bean and rapini soup

A rich and peppery soup to fill your belly and warm your bones.

green soup

We eat soup for dinner at least once a week and I’m constantly trying out new combinations of vegetables. Rapini (broccoli rabe, cime di rapa or whatever name you choose to use) is one our favourite winter veggies – bright green, loaded with goodness and with it’s peppery and slightly bitter taste, it’s no wonder it’s the central feature of so many European traditional dishes.

Serves 8
Preparation: about 1 hour
Freezes well


2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large celeriac (celery root) (approx. 800g or about 2lb), peeled and diced
4 stalks celery, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 litres (1 1/2 quarts) vegetable stock
1 bunch rapini (approx. 500g or about 1lb), chopped
1 x 400g (14oz) can cannellini (white) beans, drained
salt and pepper to taste
chilli flakes (optional)


Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot and cook the onion until translucent – about 5 minutes. Add the celeriac and cook until the celeriac has started to soften – about 5 minutes. Add the celery and garlic and cook for a further five minutes. You should stir quite frequently during this process.

Add the vegetable stock, cover and bring to a simmer.

Set aside a large handful of the more tender rapini leaves, and add the rest of it, along with the white beans, to the pot. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Using a stick blender or a normal blender, puree the soup until smooth. Return to low heat and season well. Add a little more water or stock to thin the soup if desired.

5 minutes before serving, stir through the reserved tender rapini leaves.

Serve with plenty of pepper and a sprinkle of chilli flakes (optional).

Posted in soup, vegan | 4 Comments

Mini panettoni with dark chocolate

Festive baking time! Rich, yeasted sweet bread studded with dark chocolate, in a handy little size for parties and lunchboxes.

mini panattoni with dark chocolate

Makes 24 muffin-sized panettone
Active time about 2 hours
Resting time 5 – 6 hours
Baking time about 40 minutes

Because it is made in so many stages, I recommend reading through the whole recipe first, then dividing it up to suit your schedule – if you don’t have time to do the whole thing in one day, you can refrigerate the dough overnight after the first rise and pick it up the next day.

Note that all the ingredients (including milk, butter and eggs) should be at room temperature.


1 x 7g sachet (2 1/4 tsp) instant yeast
60ml (1/4 cup) milk
1 large egg yolk
15g (1 Tbsp) sugar
50g (2 heaped Tbsp) all-purpose (plain) flour

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the milk, add egg yolk, sugar and flour and mix until smooth.

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

First dough

185g (1 1/2 cups, spooned and scraped) all-purpose (plain) flour
25g (2 scant Tbsp) sugar
1 large egg
28g (2 Tbsp) unsalted butter

Add the flour, sugar and egg to sponge and mix with a wooden spoon or paddle beater. Add butter and beat until fully incorporated.

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes to an hour.

Second dough

2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
100g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
145g (2/3 cup) unsalted butter
185g (1 1/2 cups, spooned and scraped) all-purpose (plain) flour
1/2 tsp salt
100g (3 1/2 oz) roughly chopped dark chocolate

Add eggs, egg yolk, sugar and vanilla extract to first dough and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or paddle beater.

Add butter gradually, mixing well.

Add flour and salt and knead together into a soft dough.

Knead in chopped chocolate, then continue to knead for about 5 minutes, until dough is soft and light. It will be quite soft and sticky.

First rise

Scrape dough into a buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled – about 2 hours, depending on the ambient temperature.

Second rise

Put 24 cupcake liners into muffin pans.

Punch down dough and pull off golf-ball sized pieces, roll them into balls and pop into cupcake liners.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled – about 2 hours, depending on the ambient temperature.


1 egg beaten with 1 tsp water for egg wash

Preheat oven to 175°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.

Brush with egg wash and bake in centre and lower third of oven for 15 minutes, swapping trays after 10 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 150°C / 300°F / Gas Mark 2 and bake another 25 – 30 minutes, swapping trays after 15 minutes, until golden.

Cool completely on a wire rack before storing in an airtight container.

Posted in bread, breakfast, cake, dessert, italian, muffin, snack, sweet | 11 Comments

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


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

For serving

1 small red onion
lemon wedges
olive oil


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 | 2 Comments

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


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


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.

Posted in drink, preserves | Leave a comment

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


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


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


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


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 | 4 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


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


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


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