Recipe: Spicy lamb and chickpea soup

Today I’m back in the kitchen creating a spicy lamb and chickpea soup. More one-pot cooking just for you.

I’m always inspired by the fresh ingredients I encounter on my travels and I’ve recently got back from another lovely visit to the Murcia region of Spain. There’s a fabulous market in the fishing village of Cabo de Palos that sells pretty much everything – including a wonderful array of fresh produce. I bought a large bag of garlic bulbs there for €1 (I know, what a bargain!) so because of that I’ve been on a quest to create dishes including this delicious ingredient.

Another Spanish staple I love are the wonderful chickpeas (garbanzo) you can buy bottled in the supermarket. They’re so versatile and this version is easy to cook with – ready to go straight into the pot – no need for remembering to give them that overnight soak. Even more convenient.

So with that in mind I’ve created this delicious soup, which also includes a little bit of Moroccan inspiration in the spicy harissa. It adds a lovely flavour and kick of heat. And everything goes in one pot, making for practically no washing up.  Oh and if you’re vegetarian, simply leave out the lamb, it tastes just as good. You should certainly give it a try.

Spicy lamb and chickpea soup

Serves 4

Recipe: Spicy lamb and chickpea soup

A deliciously rich and satisfying bowl of soup

The ingredients

2 onions, peeled and finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped

3cm piece of ginger, finely chopped

500g lamb neck fillet, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground tumeric

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tbsps harissa

2 tbsps tomato puree

500g vegetable stock

400g tin of chopped tomatoes

400g tinned or bottled chickpeas, drained

The process

Heat the olive oil in large saucepan over a low heat and fry the onions, carrots, garlic and ginger for about 10mins until softened.

Add the lamb and cook for another 10 mins.

Stir in the cumin, turmeric, cinnamon coriander and tomato puree, making sure the meat is well coated.

Add the vegetable stock, tinned tomatoes and drained chickpeas. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer on low for 1 hour.

Remove the lid and cook on low for another 30mins to reduce the soup to a thicker consistency.

This is a substantial enough dish to serve on its own, but it also works well with warmed pitta breads for dipping satisfaction.

Recipe: Spicy lamb and chickpea soup

The soup bubbling away on the stove top

Don’t worry if you’re not going to Spain – you can even buy the Spanish bottled chickpeas in supermarkets. There’s so much you can do with them.

Recipe: Spicy lamb and chickpea soup

Chickpeas really are such an inspiring ingredient

And finally…

Have you been inspired by ingredients you’ve discovered on your travels to come up with exciting new dishes at home?

I’d love to hear about them.

Recipe: Lemon paprika chicken and crunchy apple salad

I recently had a fabulous lunch at Ceru in Soho’s D’arbalay Street on a particularly steamy London summer day. And totally fell in love with the fabulous flavours of the Levant. So much so that I simply had to recreate two of the delicious dishes we enjoyed. So here’s my version of their lemon, paprika chicken which is served with apple, mint and pomegranate salad.

I was very pleased with the results – it can be tricky trying to replicate recipes when you don’t know exact quantities of ingredients. Either way, this is certainly an easy and delicious, summer dinner that you can enjoy at home.

You can read all about my visit to Ceru by clicking here.

Lemon Paprika Chicken

Serves 2

2 chicken breasts, diced

For the marinade

3 tbsps olive oil

2 tsps paprika

1 tsp dried thyme

juice of 2 lemons

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

a pinch of salt

Chicken: marinade

The vibrant marinade ingredients

Mix all the marinade ingredients together and add the diced chicken. Make sure all the pieces are well coated. Leave for at least three hours. I left mine for around seven and the flavour really shone through.

Chicken: marinade

The diced chicken soaks up the flavourful marinade

Just before cooking take the chicken out of the marinade and thread onto skewers. I used mini bamboo skewers that I soaked for an hour in cold water before to ensure they wouldn’t burn during cooking.

Chicken: kebabs

The little kebabs ready for cooking

I cooked the kebab on the barbecue for about 10 mins on each side. You could also grill them – same timings.

Chicken: cooked

Lemon, paprika chicken ready to eat

Apple, mint and pomegranate salad

This is a beautifully fresh, sweet and zesty salad that I can see myself making regularly. The pine nuts add an extra special texture and taste and the simple lemon dressing brings all the ingredients to life.

I used a pink lady apple because they are my absolute favourite.

Serves 2

1 pink lady apple, cored and thinly sliced

Handful of fresh mint leaves

Half a cup of pine nuts, toasted

2 handfuls of pea shoots

Half a cup of pomegranate seeds

For the dressing

3 tbsps olive oil

Juice of 2 lemons

A good grind of black pepper

Add the salad ingredients to a bowl and pour over the dressing. Mix so everything is well coated.

The lemon in the dressing will prevent the apple from going brown.

Apple salad

A salad that simply sings summer

Have you been inspired to recreate dishes you’ve eaten in a restaurant or at someone’s home? How did it turn out?

I’d love to know, so do get in touch.

 

Recipe: Crunchy green salad with a creamy Greek dressing

And still the summer goes on. This is definitely my #besteversummer since I’ve lived in London – boy is it a hot one! I’m loving the blue skies and constant sunshine – an excuse to wear flip flops and shorts (or summer frocks) every day. And an excuse to come up with some delicious summery recipes to help cool down. Like this amazingly crunchy salad of greenness which I served with my homemade Greek-style salad dressing.

This recipe makes two generous portions. We added some tasty slices of ham on the side to make for a perfect, complete summer meal. Enjoy!

Recipe: Salad

Vibrant green mint tops the crunchy mix

The ingredients

2 cups iceberg lettuce

200g frozen peas, defrosted, cooked and cooled

Half a medium cucumber, peeled and cut into cubes

1 celery stick, sliced into small pieces

Handful of mint

50g creamy soft goats cheese

Layer the lettuce on the bottom of your bowl.

Top with the peas, cucumber, celery, mint and goats cheese.

Pour over the dressing, mix together well and serve.

Recipe: salad

The lovely pale greens topped with creamy goats cheese

For the dressing

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tbsp cider vinegar

1 tsp sugar

2 tsps Dijon mustard

100ml extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp dried oregano

150ml Greek yogurt

Put all the ingredients in a jar and shake well together.

You can make this far ahead, the dressing will last in the fridge for two to three weeks.

Recipe: dressing

Creamy zesty dressing with a mustardy kick

Do you have a favourite summer salad recipe? Do let me know, I’d love to try it. 

Recipe: Hake on a bed of paprika butter beans

One-pot cooking

It’s been way too long since I shared a recipe with you…very remiss of me I know. So today I’m going to make up for it by starting a new series of recipes for one-pot dishes. Quick and easy to make and requiring very little washing up afterwards, they are also going to be absolutely delicious. Like this one.

It captures the flavours of Spain perfectly, with its smokey paprika tones and sweetly salty chorizo flavours. And there’s a lovely little chilli kick to the sauce.

If you can’t find hake you could use any firm-fleshed fish like cod or haddock. It sits on the bed of beans and steams perfectly, coming out flaky and light, a great match for the sauce.

Recipe: hake and beans

The sweet hake steams on the bed of beans

The ingredients

Serves 2

1 tbsp olive oil

150g cooking chorizo, chopped

1 x tin butter beans, drained

100ml water

8 cherry tomatoes

1 tsp paprika

1 dried chilli

2 hake fillets

Recipe: ingredients

Red ingredients ready to cook with the beans

The process

Heat the olive oil over a medium heat and add the chopped chorizo to the pan. Fry for about 5 mins.

Add the paprika and crumble the dried chilli into the mix.

Add the drained butter beans to the pan and mix well.

Recipe: beans

The paprika and chorizo add a lovely colour to the beans

Pour over the water and bring to the boil, then turn down to low.

Place the whole cherry tomatoes on top of the beans.

Lay the fillets of hake on top of the tomatoes.

Recipe: hake

The fresh hake rests on the bed of beans

Cover and cook on low for 15-20 mins until the fish is cooked through.

Recipe: final dish

Close up on the delicious dish

Do you have a favourite one-pot recipe?

I’d love to hear about it and try it out, so do get in touch.

 

 

Recipe: Toad in the Hole

I’m a big fan of sausages. They’re so versatile, easy to cook with and the good ones are always delicious. Like the new range from MOR. They come in four different flavours, inspired by foods from around the world. All made from high quality British meat, vegetables, herbs and spices they are also low in fat.

Choose from Moroccan Spiced Pork, Cauliflower and Chickpea; Pork, Beetroot and Bramley Apple; Pork, Super Green Veg and Lentil or Mediterranean Chicken, Sundried Tomato and Basil chipolatas. Don’t they all sound tasty!?

Today I decided to make a traditional Toad in the Hole using a mix of the beetroot and apple and green vegetable and lentil for a bit of variety. I love toad-in-the-hole it’s so simple to make and always seems like something of a miracle – transforming from sausages in a liquid mix of milk, flour and eggs into a sausages nestling in a crisply delightful batter – well, it’s Yorkshire pudding basically. A perfect autumn comfort dinner to keep the cold at bay.

Recipe: Toad In The Hole

Serves 3

MOR sausages

The delicious finished toad in the hole

The ingredients

6 sausages

1 tbsp sunflower oil

For the batter

285ml milk

110g self raising flour

3 large eggs

4 tbsps sunflower oil

MOR sausages

Close up on the sizzling dish

The process

Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan. Fry the sausages on low until lightly browned all over – about 20 mins.

Meantime mix the batter ingredients together and set aside.

Turn the oven on to 220C. Pour the rest of the sunflower oil into a baking tray and place on the middle shelf of the oven for about 10 mins.

Remove from the oven – the oil should be very hot.

Gently lay the sausages in the oil and pour the batter mixture over them.

Return to the oven and cook for about 20 minutes or until the batter has risen nicely and is brown and crisp on top. Don’t open the oven door while it’s cooking as it may affect how well the batter rises.

Serve with gravy and green vegetables like peas, broccoli or beans.

MOR sausages

Sweet and meaty pork, beetroot and apple

MOR sausages

Pork with green veg and lentil

MOR sausages

MOR sausages even look delicious before you cook them

Find out more about the delicious range of sausages from MOR by clicking here.

Recipe: Hot smoked salmon in my Char-Broil Digital Electric Smoker

Today I’m experimenting with a new piece of cooking kit – yes, again. And it’s a serious one – the Char-Broil Digital Electric Smoker. A shiny, stylish oven where you can cook and smoke to your heart’s content.

We’ve been having a lovely October in London and would you believe it was even warm enough to eat al fresco one recent weekend. So we invited some friends over and I experimented with hot smoking a large fillet of salmon. My long-suffering friends do have to put up with a lot of test dishes from my kitchen.

This time they were certainly winners as this smoked salmon is one of the nicest things I’ve served up. Wonderfully moist with a touch of sweetness from the honey and sugar, a salty hint from the soya sauce and that wonderful smokiness finishing it off. I used apple wood chips which created quite a bit of smoke and certainly intensified the flavours. And doesn’t it look amazingly professional. I was so impressed with the way it turned out.

Find out more about this fabulous smoker by clicking here.

Char-Broil: salmon

The beautiful smoked salmon nestling on a bed of rocket

Honey and soya hot smoked salmon

Serves 6 as a starter

800g fresh salmon fillet

3 tbsps brown sugar

3 tbsps soya sauce

3 tsps honey

To serve

1 bag fresh rocket

2 lemons, quartered

8 cherry tomatoes

Rinse the salmon fillet under cold running water and pat dry with kitchen roll.

Mix together the sugar, soya sauce and 2 tsps of the honey.

Spread thickly over both sides of the salmon.

Cover and leave in the fridge for at least three hours, ideally overnight, turning occasionally.

Remove from the fridge at least an hour before putting it into the smoker and drizzle with the remaining honey.

Add your wood chips to the drawer – I used apple wood.

Prepare your smoker to a temperature of 121C.

Place the fillet flesh-side down on the grates.

Smoke for one hour.

Remove the grate from the smoker (using oven gloves so you don’t burn your hands!), place a baking tray on top of the fish and then flip the fish and grate so the baking pan is on the bottom with the fish on it.

Refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

Serve on a bed of fresh rocket with cherry tomatoes and lemon wedges.

Char-Broil: Smoker

The stylish smoker is a great addition to any kitchen

 

Char-Broil: Smoker

There’s plenty of space for plenty of smoking