Ham hock soup

Origin: Michael Hutchinson (verbatim)

There are 4 stages to this recipe, it's a long job but only because you have to let things cook. You do not use salt as the meat is salty, see below.



Origin: various cookbooks

Like risotto, there are a million ways to make paella. This is just one, it's a good thing to play about with.


  • Paella rice, about the same as for a risotto, maybe 75g per person?
  • Onion, 1 per 3 or 4 people is probably, and one for the white fish if using
  • Garlic
  • Parsley, and optionally bay leaf and thyme (see below)
  • White wine
  • Chicken (thighs and legs are best), maybe one leg per 2 people
  • Mussels, as many as you want
  • Raw prawns with shell, as many as you want, I usually go for 3 king prawns per person
  • White fish fillet, very much optional
  • Squid, one small one per 2 people probably
  • Red or green pepper, 1 per 2 people
  • Tomatoes, 2 or 3 cherry tomatoes per person is probably enough, but more is also fine
  • Saffron, 6 strands per person?
  • Salt and pepper


There are quite a few stages to this, and if you're organised you can do them overlapping one another but it can get a bit hectic.


Olga's old style baked custard

Origin: Olga

Beat 2 eggs. Boil 1/2 pt milk with 2 tablespoons sugar. Pour on eggs and mix. Put mixture in cooking dish - place in moderate oven for about 15 minutes.


Cuban black bean soup

Origin: various recipes on the internet

As I understand it, the basic recipe is:

  • Soften vegetables
  • Add chicken stock, beans (dried; soaked overnight and rinsed) and ham
  • Simmer for a few hours until the beans are tender
  • Add seasonings
  • Mash or blend

I fried some streaky bacon (4 rashers) in plenty of olive oil, then set this aside, added 4 onions and 3 sticks of celery chopped and softened them. I then added some chicken stock to cover (homemade, see an earlier entry on this blog, the soaked beans (500g), 150g of chopped ham, and simmered for about 2 hours. I then roasted a tablespoon of cumin seeds, pounded them in a pestle and mortar and added that, along with some salt and cayenne pepper, to the soup. Cooked for another 10 minutes. Finally, I partially pureed it using an electric hand blender. This left some whole beans as well as some roughly and finely pureed bits, a nice combination of textures.



Origin: impossible to recall

Cook 200g or so of bulgur wheat. Add to this some blanched, skinned and halved cherry tomatoes (about 250g). Throw in a handful of chopped mint and a handful of chopped coriander. Make a dressing of lemon juice (one lemon), olive oil (about 2 or 3 times as much as the lemon juice), salt and pepper and mix everything together.


Viola's dal

Origin: Viola

Take equal quantities of whole kalonji (black onion seed, or nigella), fenugreek, cumin, fennel and mustard seeds. How much you use depends on how spicy you like it, but I'd say maybe a quarter of a teaspoon of each.

Heat a bland oil (groundnut or sunflower, or ghee if you're feeling thin) until very hot, then add the spices and wait until they start popping. This is a dangerous phase, so stand well back and keep your safety goggles on! Then turn the heat down.

Next add half a large shallot or onion, and some pulped up garlic, green chilli and ginger (again, how much you add depends on your taste...I normally go for several chillis, 3 cloves of garlic and 1-2cm of ginger). Fry until transparent.

You can now add other vegetables to this...whatever you feel like. Tomatoes are normally good. Okra works if you like it. Oddly, I quite like sweet potato in it too.

While all this is going on, have a pan of red lentils simmering away (around 100-120g, methinks). Add to this half a teaspoon or turmeric and the other half of the shallot. If you're feeling spicy, you could also go for a couple of cardamon pods, a few cloves, some cinnamon, a couple of dried red chillis and a bay leaf or two.

Once the lentils are soft, mix all the veggies and the spices from the frying pan in with the lentils...

...and serve!



Origin: Brian, probably some book originally


If you make just one of these it should be enough for 3 hungry people, if you make both then it should be OK for 6. You can make it with green or yellow lentils. You use a tin of tomatoes if doing it with the green lentils.


Spaghetti with mozarella and tomatoes

Origin: Me

After being served something like this in an Italian restaurant once, I've been working on this recipe for a few years and I think I've finally perfected it. It's ready in the time it takes to cook the spaghetti. Cooking half of the tomatoes into a sauce and leaving the other half just heated was the most important innovation.


Lamb, aubergine and red pepper sauce

Origin: Uncertain

Serve with spaghetti.


For two hungry or three not so hungry people.


Coq au vin

Origin: Elizabeth David, Delia Smith and Me


For three or four.

  • Chicken, cut into 4 pieces
  • Pickling onions (not pickled though), about 8 to 12 - peeled
  • Tiny button mushrooms, about 10 to 20 - whole
  • 2 or 3 slices of bacon - diced
  • Bottle of red wine
  • Bread (optional)
  • Herbs, some or all of: bayleaves, parsley, thyme
  • Butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, flour

Heat the butter and oil in a casserole large enough to hold all the ingredients. Brown the chicken pieces, remove and set aside for the moment. Put the onions and bacon into the pan and fry until the bacon is crispy and the onions slighty browned. Put the chicken back in, the whole bottle of wine (keep some to drink if you prefer, but use plenty), and the herbs, salt and pepper. Simmer covered until the chicken is done, about 40 minutes to an hour. Put the mushrooms in about 10 to 15 minutes before the end.

Syndicate content