Refreshing Asian-style soup

Is it too warm for soup at this time of year? A lot of the time I’m very much inclined to think so, unless we’re talking about gazpacho or similar. But thinking about my warm weather habits when eating out, it occurred to me that Asian-style soups – with their zingy combination of ginger, herbs and limes – are also great when the thermometer’s up. I have two variations on this theme, both of which make a lovely, light, refreshing late supper when it’s warm.

soup

Basic Asian-style soup

Gently heat 250ml chicken or vegetable stock per person and add the following, making sure you leave any chicken/delicate leaves until the end:

  • 1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, cut in large pieces
  • 1 carrot, in thin slices or ribbons
  • Cabbage, pak choi or Chinese greens, shredded
  • 1 onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 large handful bean sprouts
  • Shredded cooked chicken (and/or tofu)

For Japanese style:

Towards the end of the cooking process, add one tablespoon of soy sauce and one tablespoon of mirin or rice vinegar. Pour the hot soup onto a bowl of cooked soba noodles and top with chopped spring onion and sliced radishes.

For Thai style:

Add lemongrass when you begin to heat the stock, and 100ml coconut milk when you add the chicken. Top with coriander and sliced chillies. You can pour the soup on top of glass noodles, if you like

Quicknic in the park

When it’s sunny, I hate to think I can’t enjoy being outdoors until the weekend…but of course there’s that little matter of going to the office every day and putting in the requisite eight hours which can leave little time for getting out and about. However,  one of the beautiful things about living in London is that home is never too far from a park. So, when the weather is good I’ve been preparing simple picnics I can stash in the fridge and take to the park after work.

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Aubergine and chickpea salad, naan bread and fresh cherries

I made the aubergine and chickpea salad the night before by combining grilled aubergine and courgette with a tin of chickpeas, chopped red onion, fresh coriander and a dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, cumin and paprika. Leaving it in the fridge overnight allowed the flavours to deepen and wheb I got home all I had to do was spend a couple of minutes heating the naan before heading out to enjoy the sun.

Venison and duck egg ‘scotch’ eggs fiesta Friday

I’ve always wanted to try venison scotch eggs and these look fantastic!

Cooking with Mr Fitz

Whilst feeling in the ‘richer’ end of eating. I decided to use up the duck eggs by making venison scotch eggs..

Venison?

Yeah had some left over Mr Fitz venison sausage mix in the freezer ..

Perfect for this wonderful snack..

Any meat works well really . The scotch egg is one if those fantastic inventions. This one for sure would go down very well on a hunting trip in the hills and hollows.. As well as just for regular snacking!

To be fair though they are pretty rich in not only taste yet cashola .. So mind your wallet as well as waistline !

Making them is easier than you think.. Didn’t quite get the duck eggs right as was out of ice to stop them cooking ..

Had to just run the cold water tap over them, not ideal really, ho-hum..

So once eggs are boiled and cooled…

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Julep lamb chops

I love gin cocktails and the mint julep is one of my favourites because of it’s fresh, summery taste. I was inspired to create this recipe while drinking a gin and tonic while I prepared some lamb for the barbecue. It adds an extra twist to the traditional minted lamb recipes and the brown sugar adds a divine crunch.

  • 8 lamb chops
  • 50ml gin
  • large handful mint
  • 3 spring onions
  • 1 medium onion (white, red or brown according to your preference – shallots might also be nice)
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Juice and zest of two limes
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Pepper
  • Salt

With a food processor or hand blender, combine all the marinade ingredients into a paste, then slather over the lamb. I left mine to marinate in the fridge for three hours, but you can prepare this the night before or sooner if you have less time or want a less intense flavour. When you’re ready, heat your grill, barbecue or grill pan to a high heat if you want rare lamb with a crispy skin, or medium heat for medium or well done. Tastes great with potato salad!

Paprikás pancakes

One a recent holiday to Budapest I feel in love with these pancakes, which I tried in a lovely traditional restaurant near the City Park. I couldn’t wait to try out my own take on them when I got home – here I’ve made the sauce less salty, reduced the calories by using low fat yoghurt and used flavourful chicken thighs instead of breast.

  • 6 chicken thighs, skin removed
  • 2 green peppers, sliced
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1.5 tbsp hot paprika
  • 1.5tbsp sweet paprika
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 4-5 tbsp low-fat plain yoghurt
  • 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 6-8 plain pancakes (use your favourite recipe – I like this one)

Mix the flour with 1tbsp hot paprika and 1 tbsp sweet paprika. Heat the oil and dredge the chicken thighs in the flour, setting the leftover flour aside for later. When the oil is hot, fry the chicken thighs in batches until browned all over. Once done, keep the chicken in a plate or bowl while you fry the peppers and onions until the onion is soft. Add the chicken back to the pan with the chicken stock, then bring to the boil, cover, and turn down to a simmer for 45 minutes. Remove from heat and leave to cool slightly. Mix the reserved flour into 2tbsp of yoghurt and then stir into the stew. Finally, stir in the rest of the yoghurt.

To serve: remove the bones from the chicken pieces and shored the meat into the sauce, then use to fill or top the pancakes. Great with garden peas or a crunchy salad.

Pork and sage burgers

These pork burgers were a hit at my recent barbecue and enough people asked for the recipe that I thought I’d share it here – they are great on the barbecue or wrapped with streaky bacon, grilled and served with fries. Gothman and I may even have had them for breakfast with fried eggs one sunny morning.

  • 500g lean minced pork
  • 1 small red onion, chopped finely
  • 2 spring onions, chopped finely
  • 1 chilli, chopped
  • 1 tbsp dried sage
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed

Optional additions

  • 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 1 small or medium egg

Method: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl until evenly mixed. Refrigerate for an hour, then form into small patties and return to the fridge until you are ready to cook them. Grill at a high heat for five minutes on each side and serve with homemade burger rolls, red onion relish and hot chilli sauce if you’re brave enough.