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I’ve been messing about with this recipe for a while but this was finally the right version. Thick, while still being a little soupy, strong lemon taste and warming enough for the confused weather of early spring. I swear that in the last 5 minutes it has both snowy and been sunny outside our living room window.
Before I get to the recipe, I’m not going to apologise for the lack of blogging recently, because that’s boring, but I will say we are moving house soon and I hope a kitchen with a south facing window (or a window at all) will help me take better pictures so I feel like I am doing the food justice. I also need the kids to get through their fussy phase, so I get to make more varied food, but that will come with time.
Armenian Lentil Soup
1 small onion
1 small carrot
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried dill
A cup of lentils – I mixed green and red as red alone made it too mushy.
A half cup of rice.
1 litre of veg stock (from a powder/cube is fine)
Slice the onion and carrot finely. Fry in some oil until softened. Add crushed garlic and bay leaves. Swish around until you can smell the aromatics. Add the lentils and rice and stir. Throw in the herbs and then add the stock. Bring to the boil and start simmering. Add the lemon juice – I had a very juicy lemon so 1 was enough, but you really want this to taste of the lemon, so use 2 if necessary. Simmer until the rice and lentils are tender – about 30 minutes is enough though longer won’t hurt. Eat while wishing the weather would make up its mind.
It seems weird I haven’t done a hummus recipe yet, but 18saughtonmains is the default hummus maker around here and although he has promised to post his recipe, he hasn’t got around to it yet. So here is mine, inspired by one I found in Jerusalem, my new favourite recipe book. In fact, I seem to be on a total Med trip over the last few years – anything Southern Spanish, Middle Eastern or Magreb seems to make me happy – the kids bought me a North African cook book for Christmas and I’m looking forward to working through it as well.
There seem to be two axis that hummus recipes vary on. The first is the amount of tahini. 18saughtonmains likes his hummus tahini heavy, whereas I like it more garlicky. The second axis is if you put oil in it. Again, this is source of family argument – I like the oil light versions, he likes it with a fair amount of oil. But since I made this version, I got to have it my way. Btw, the book version uses dried chickpeas, I used a can. Also, half the tahini.
A can of chickpeas, drained and washed.
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons tahini
Juice of a lemon and a half
Put the chickpeas in a food processor (I have one of the small chopper things that comes with a stick blender, seems to work) and blend until it is an evenly textured paste. Now add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic and salt and whizz again until the mixture is even. Taste and add more salt or lemon juice if required. Then add a small amount of water and mix. Keep slowly adding water until you are happy with the texture. Eat at room temp, but keep in a fridge.
We ate this in a bowl with fried marinated lamb, toasted pine nuts and a lemony herby sauce. On the side was some of the olive oil bread I have been experimenting with. I would love to eat like this every day.
I texted 18saughtonmains yesterday to let him know I was planning to make chicken noodle soup for tea and to ask where the tamarind was. He replied ‘will the kids like it?’ I said ‘they like noodles.’ Turns out I was being a bit optimistic. The adults loved it, though and I just had the leftovers reheated for my lunch so there is an upside to the children’s rebellion.
Chicken Noodle Soup
1 litre of stock (I used a mixture of duck and vegetable because that’s what I found in the freezer, chicken would be more traditional)
1 can of coconut milk
2 chicken breasts
3 carrots, cut into matchsticks
2 handfuls of sugar snap peas, trimmed
A packet of udon noodles
Juice of a lime
25ml fish sauce
A small piece of tamarind (we buy blocks of it from the Asian grocery)
Small piece of ginger, sliced in matchsticks
Tsp of sugar
Tsp of turmeric
A shake of mild chilli powder (next time, I’ll probably use fresh chilli as kids won’t eat it anyway)
Heat the stock and coconut milk together in a large pan. Mix the lime juice, fish sauce, tamarind, ginger, sugar, turmeric and chilli together and then add to the stock. Once the liquid is boiling, add the chicken pieces and simmer until they are cooked through. Then add the noodles and vegetables and cook for another 5 minutes until the carrots are softened but still have a bite. Serve in bowls with fresh coriander if you like, though it is lovely without it.
Although the threatened snow hasn’t arrived yet, it is cold around here and the sight of the kids running through what eldest called ‘leaf snow’ reminded me it is the start of hot chocolate season, when I try to keep marshmallows in the store cupboard at all times.
Kid Friendly Chocolate
Cup of the fake milk of your choice, i always use oat milk
A teaspoon of cocoa
A teaspoon of sugar
Put most of the milk on the stove to heat but reserve a small amount to dissolve the cocoa and sugar. This can take a bit of elbow grease. When the rest of the milk gets warm enough (remember that most fake milks have a higher boiling point than cows’ milk, so don’t heat to boiling point) pour it back into the cup. Stir until well mixed, then drop a marshmallow or two on top.
3 squares of high quality dark chocolate – I used Green and Blacks’s today, Lidl is also a good source.
Put the squares of chocolate in your mug. Pour boiling water over, stirring to dissolve. When the chocolate has melted, add a few drops of the essence.
3 squares of chocolate
Pinch garam masala
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of ground cardamom
Chilli or cayenne pepper, depending on how how you like things
Place the squares of chocolate in the mug. Add the spices and then grate some nutmeg in too. Pour boiling water over, stirring all the time. Taste and adjust the spices to your liking.
Here’s the recipe for yesterday’s cake. I’ve tagged it as cooking with kids, but really what happened was my kitchen was suddenly invaded by a 6 year old, a 4 year old and a 2 year old. They had been ignoring me and I foolishly thought I’d be able to sneak away and quickly make the cake. Not so much. But there was only one egg casualty and I’m sure the whole performance was hilarious for the 4 year old’s mum.
2 9″ sandwich cake pans are what I used. If you are using a different size, reduce the number of eggs you use. Or use the left over batter for cupcakes.
6 large eggs. Weigh them in their shells.
Same weight of marge
Same weight of caster sugar
Same weight of self raising flour plus 2 extra tablespoons
Splash of fake milk
Teaspoon of vanilla essence
Line the bottom of your tins with baking parchment.
Beat the marge for a long time. 5 minutes or so, until it is really fluffy. Then add the sugar and beat again. Mix the eggs in another bowl and add the splash of milk and the vanilla. Add the egg mixture in a few pieces with a small amount of flour to help stop it splitting. Then fold in the rest of the flour, being gentle so as not to beat out the air. Divide the mixture between the two tins.
Put in a 160 C oven, with the fan switched off. Cook for 40 minutes. It’s ready when you can no longer hear it bubble when you take it out of the oven. Leave to cool.
Butterless Lemon Curd
This is really a lemon custard as lemon curd is basically butter.
4 lemons – juice and zest
1 cup of caster sugar
Heat the lemon juice until the sugar has all melted. Meanwhile, beat the eggs together in a heat proof bowl. When the sugar is melted, add it to the eggs in 3 parts, whisking all the time. Once it is all in, return to the saucepan and cook over a medium heat until it starts to thicken. Then put it in a clean jar and put in the fridge to cool. Cover the top with a piece of baking parchment or some cling film to stop a skin forming. When it is cool spread as much as you want on the bottom cake. I used about half of this because I wanted the kids to eat it. If I was the only customer I might have put all of it on.
Lemon Glacé Icing
1 cup of icing sugar
Juice of half a lemon and the zest.
Some water, just off the boil
Sift the sugar, add the juice and slowly add the water – you want just enough for the icing to coat the back of the spoon. That way when it cools, the icing will harder.
Put the top cake on over the curd, and slowly pour the icing on, smooth it with a palette knife. Sprinkle some zest over the top.