This is a soup for the soul; chicken soup without the chicken and with no apology. It’s the get-well soup I have been searching for, to cure whatever ails you, whether that’s a cold or a broken heart. As gentle and as nourishing as they come, the soup has a base of slow-cook sweet fennel and leek, layered with old friends celery and carrot, with a pep of ginger and lemon and a warmth from a generous amount of white pepper. Crisp little pieces of tofu top the broth, sticky from a minute or two in a pan, with some soy and a sprinkling of seasoning.
I have an obsession with pancakes; any opportunity to make or eat them for breakfast, lunch, dinner and I’ll take it. So I’ve had to expand my pancake horizons beyond the Shrove Tuesday classics and the fluffy American ones. One of my favourite ways to make pancakes is with chickpea flour. All over the world chickpea (gram) flour is used to make socca, farinata and Indian pudla. Farinata are a distinctly Italian creation.
‘Caponata is a Sicilian dish of aubergine and other vegetables, cut into cubes and deep-fried, then mixed with sultanas and pine nuts, and marinated in an agrodolce (sweet-and-sour) sauce. In some parts of Sicilia, it is traditional to mix in little pieces of dark bitter chocolate. Because it is such a Southern dish, I had never even tasted it until I started cooking at Olivio. Then, one day when we were looking for something sweet and sour as an accompaniment, I found the recipe in a book and I remember thinking: ‘This will never work!’ But we made it, the explosion of flavour was brilliant, and has become one of my favourite things. You can pile caponata on chunks of bread, or serve it with mozzarella or fried artichokes. Because it is vinegary, it is fantastic with roast meat, as it cuts through the fattiness, particularly lamb. Traditionally it is also served with seafood – perhaps grilled or fried scallops (see page 108), prawns or red mullet. With red mullet, I like to add a little more tomatoes to the caponata.’
There are six different vegetables hidden in between the baps of these burgers. They need about 20 minutes in the fridge before cooking so why not make a double batch, wrap half in clingfilm and freeze for another time and thank yourself in advance. Read more…
Meat Free Week starts today and runs to the 29th of June, and to celebrate and support this fantastic cause, we’ll be posting the best meat free Food From 4th recipes every day, rehashing some of the ones you loved most, as well as posting some new dishes you’re yet to master. There’ll be a competition too! To kick things off, we’ve got this delicious ‘Tomato and Coconut Cassoulet’ recipe from our vegetarian ambassador Anna Jones! Read more…
‘Dahl. Daal. Dal. Spicy stuff made using lentils. The charming lady at the Indian High Commission assured us it’s ‘dal’. Our local curry house (The Kathmandu) reckon it’s ‘daal’. Our Aslam is adamant you spell it ‘dahl’. Who’s right? We have no idea.’
All the roasting can be done while you get on with the leeks and greens. If you’re pushed for time or just want an extra hour in bed on Christmas morn, then a good-quality shop-bought shortcrust will work just fine.