In cold weather, there is nothing more warming and comforting than a big bowl of steaming soup. Or do I mean stew? I’m not entirely sure whether this Mexican bean soup is actually a soup or stew, but with a generous amount of vegetables, beans and spicy Mexican flavours, it certainly makes for a satisfying meal. It’s especially good when served with some hearty soda bread spiked with a little smoked chilli honey.
I’m rarely as organised at Christmas as I’d like to be, but I do usually manage to make my own mincemeat. As I’ve mentioned in my previous mincemeat recipe posts, once you’ve made your own, it’s hard to go back to shop bought. And it’s so easy too. Here, I’ve used it to make the most fabulous mincemeat buns – soft, fragrant and oh so very moreish.
Although I’m someone who loves experimenting with recipes, I tend to stick to the tried and tested when it comes to bread. However, when the travel company Expedia challenged me to make a Cypriot dish for World on a Plate, olive bread was the first thing I thought of.
One of the many highlights of our day at River Cottage last week, was the blackberry and apple spelt soda bread we made along with some beautiful butter. I was so delighted with the bread that I went foraging for blackberries a few days later and made a loaf at home.
Once upon a time, many years ago, back in the 1960s in fact, or possibly the 1970s, reports are a bit vague, the Mayor stopped handing out the Liskeard Bun. This was an annual event when the newly invested mayor of Liskeard would hand out buns wrapped in brown paper bags to the local children. What a lovely tradition.
Making your own bread can be infinitely satisfying and I have been doing it since I was a teenager. I’ve not been hugely creative and tend to stick to a tried and tested recipe and until I got my KitchenAid earlier this year, I’d never used a machine before. Time to do something different.
I’ve borrowed another inspiring book out of the library recently. The Violet Bakery Cookbook by Claire Ptak. It is so up my street, I want to make pretty much everything in it. I may just have to splash out and buy it. The recipes all look and sound as though you want to dive straight in, but they mostly have a healthy twist of some kind.
An old hand at bread-making I may be, but I was a little daunted when I was recently sent an automatic Panasonic bread maker to try out. I have never used a machine to make bread before, other than an oven and I was a little concerned I would fall at the first hurdle. In truth I’ve always been a bit wary of bread makers as I’d heard they weren’t great for the flours I like to bake with – spelt and rye.
If there was one crop other than lemons I wish we could grow easily in the UK, it would be avocados. I would have an orchard full of them. Not only are they buttery and delicious, but they are also quite good for you. High in potassium, the unsaturated fats are said to be healthy ones and they are relatively low in calories.
When I was sent a basket of ripe Peruvian Hass avocados, to say I was pleased was an understatement. I hadn’t known such bounty since CT and I worked on an avocado farm during our antipodean travels many years ago. We ate the fruit for breakfast, lunch and dinner. So in remembrance of times past, we cut into one almost immediately and had it spread on toast, just as we used to back on the farm when we used it as a butter substitute. Oh, how delicous. These avocados were particularly tasty with a gimme more creamy texture.
Guacamole has long been a favourite of mine and makes for a very tasty vegan dip and accompaniment to all sorts of dishes. But I also find avocados have an affinity to eggs – maybe it’s the shape. One of my favourite party dips is an egg and avocado one and as I hadn’t made this for ages, I thought it was about time it was resurrected. What better accompaniment than some homemade bread, juicy sweet homegrown tomatoes and some crisp lettuce.
The pitta pockets exhaled a chocolate fragrance on opening and were resileint enough to hold the contents. They had a soft and inviting texture and although thick were not in the least bit leathery – way better than any shop bought pitta breads I’ve had. The chocolate pitta also did a grand job of mopping up the juices of a vegetable stew. The avocado and egg dip was as delicious as I remember it. We both felt we could eat this again and again.
Cooking with Herbs over at Lavender and Lovage is all about chives this month, so although I’ve already sent one entry, I couldn’t resist sending this one too.
- 250g strong white flour
- 250g wholemeal spelt flour
- 1 scant tsp Himalayan pink rock salt
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp dried yeast
- 1 tsp golden caster sugar
- 330ml warm water
Total time: Yield: 8
- 2 large boiled eggs
- 2 large avocados – stoned and peeled
- half a small onion – finely chopped
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tbsp mayonnaise
- a good grinding black pepper
- 4 stalks chives – snipped
Yield: 8 servings