Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Wayne's Spinach and Leek Soup

Today I'm mainly sunburned after a weekend of looking at puffins, so here is another of our brilliantly talented guess bloggers.  Today, it's Wayne's turn with a simple and healthy spinach and leek number.  You can find Wayne on twitter where he is @wazzy76  Feel free to say nice things about him..

Hi I’m Wayne and very happy to be guest blogging on Soup Tuesday. As like Dan I am a lover of soup, well all food in general but particularly soup. When I'm not entertaining my three children (who also love food) I'm cooking, eating or testing recipes.

Our busy lives are centred around our kitchen table it’s a cliche to say but the hub of our home is our kitchen.

Why soup? Soup to me is like a good wine something to accompany any good meal or to be enjoyed on its own, responsibly of course.

A creation using ingredients that can be anything you want it to be healthy, unhealthy, filling, refreshing, a snack or meal I'm sure you get the gist.

I gave up on recipe books for soup a long time ago its better to be creative and add whatever tastes right.


Spinach and leek soup.

Not a lover of spinach and after using it in quite a lot of ways, still not enjoying its iron like taste, I discovered a variation of this recipe in a little café in the lakes after a long walk trying to tire out the kids only 2 days into the Easter break.
After having the soup a phrase often used by my many school teachers came to mind “Could do better“, So adding a note to my jotter (memory like a sieve) saved the idea for future reference.

Da daaa here it is a really refreshing healthy soup with a all the added extras that come with spinach (far to many to mention) with a really fresh taste. Also good to note dairy and gluten free (depending on the stock)

2 table spoons olive oil
2 large onions (diced)
4 garlic cloves (crushed)
4 leeks (washed and sliced)
Half bag fresh spinach leaves( the ones in the salad fridge of most supermarkets)
2ltrs veg stock


1. Heat the oil. Add the diced onions sweat off for approx 3 mins

2. Add the crushed garlic cook for another minute

3. Throw in the leeks and continue to cook stirring through for a few minutes. Add the vegetable stock and season

4. Bring pan up to a simmer and cook for approx 10/15 minutes. Reduce the heat

5. Add the spinach and stir through. It does disappear to nothing but all the flavours still there.

6. Use a hand held blender and give the soup a quick blast (be careful not to splash)

7. Season to taste.

Healthy dieting type people can enjoy it on its own, I prefer it with a thick wedge of warm wholemeal buttered bread.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Rosie's Lardy Cake

This is a few weeks late now, but I've been rather too busy baking, working and holidaying to manage to write about it all as well! However, I have some lovely cakes to share with you...
The beautiful cakes at the Pudsey 50's themed Clandestine Cake Club event. (Mine is the rather less attractive offering front left...)
Last weekend I attended another of the wonderful Clandestine Cake Club meetings run by the Pudsey branch. The theme for this meeting was 50's cake, and I was a little stumped. Inspiration struck when I decided to ask someone who had been a child in the 50's (Mr Soup's mum - I might be in trouble for that statement!) what they remembered their mum making, and the resounding answer was Lardy cake (a true Yorkshire staple it turns out, although it's not originally from Yorkshire, before you write in like angry Points of View viewers...). A bit of research later, and I'd dug a recipe out of a 50's cookbook, made a couple of changes to convert it into a cake-format and modernise it a little (mostly the addition of a few more spices), and prepared to make it.

Essentially a lardy cake is a bit like a shortcrusty pastry (made with lard - there's no non-pig-fat surprise to this - it is what it says on the tin!) wrapped around some currants, and then baked. I started by making the pastry, then rolled it out into a long strip, put a row of spice/sugar/dried fruit mix down the middle, then rolled the pastry around the mix to make a tube. I then twirled this into the cake tin, sprinked a bit more fruit mix on top and baked it. When it came out of the oven I prepared some syrup using the leftover fruit/sugar/spice mix, and glazed the cake with it.

I was very pleased with the result - though it was a bit heavy the cake was tasty, and definitely hearkened back to a time when rationing was still in force, and sugar was a luxury to be used very sparingly - it is so easy to take for granted the well-stocked shelves in the supermarket. The fruit in the middle is a nice surprise and looks good when the cake is cut.

Rosie's Lardy Cake :

350g flour
pinch salt
2tsp baking powder
75g lard
1 egg, beaten
100g mixed dried fruit
100g sugar
2tsp cinnamon (and/or mixed spice - adjust quantities to your taste)

Make the dough by rubbing the lard into the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the egg and mix to a soft dough adding a little milk if needed.

Make the filling using the mixed dried fruit (you could just use raisins, but I had some mixed fruit and so used that instead), brown sugar and cinnamon.

Roll out the dough into a long thin strip, about 5 - 7.5cm / 2inches wide.
Melt ~25g lard and brush the dough with it.
 Put a line of filling down the middle of the strip, and fold the dough over the filling to make a long tube, filled with spiced, sugary fruit. (You will have a little filling left - put it into a small saucepan and add a little water. Heat gently till the sugar dissolves, and boil for a little while to thicken slightly. This is the glaze.)

Twirl the tube into a small cake tin - mine is a 20cm diameter tin, brush with a little more melted lard and bake at 220ºC for about half an hour. When you take it out of the oven, brush with the glaze, pouring any remaining fruit over the top.

Warning - this is not a cake for the faint-hearted - it is dense and heavy, but if you like fruity, pastryish treats, this will go well with a nice cup of tea.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Lucy's Italian Bean Soup

For the next few weeks, I'll be in my top secret soup laboratory (In a hollowed out volcano, obviously) working on a very special project, which I'm sure I will bore you all senseless with in good time, but to fill the gap, I have some lovely guest posts lined up.  Please say nice things about them and also you can follow them on twitter.

First up we have Lucy who you can find on twitter as @LucyNeuburger, but we will let her introduce herself...

Hello, my name is Lucy and I am a 23-year-old Masters student currently residing in small but lively city of Leeds.  Anytime I am not devoting to ‘bettering myself’ (yes Dad, I do listen to you) I can be found reading cookbooks, cooking blogs, and cooking websites…. I am an avid follower of anything and everything food related and my dream job would be anything involving food writing.  I am first and foremost a baker, but I also like to cook all manner of other dishes for friends and myself.  At my age, I should probably be out partying, but I would far rather have you round for dinner and a bottle of wine (maybe 2).

Soup is a word that most students associate with a garishly orange, thick liquid that empties out of a tin marked ‘HEINZ’.  Most of the time this is because they go through body numbingly cold winters in damp, unheated houses blissfully unaware of how simple (and rewarding) it is to make your own.  I am fortunate enough to come from a family where my Mum always encouraged me to cook and eat well.   I have often forgone nights out in order to afford better food…. Yes that may make me a terrible student, but after four years, I have yet to contract scurvy and my liver still feels like it is part of my body!  I must be on to something….

The recipe I would like to share with you is one passed on to me from my Mum, which she often makes it for me when I go home.   We will sit with a bowl each, and by the time we are finished, the world has been put to rights and sometimes, it has even stopped raining!  The association with home is probably why I like it so much…. That and the fact it is a meal in itself and can be freely adapted as well according to what you have in the cupboard.  It is also excellent in providing a use for those onions that have started sprouting green shoots!  A bowl of this soup I believe has the power to melt away your stress, cure the common cold and pretty much anything in between.   It has seen me through many difficult times in many barely habitable houses…. Fellow unwashed, tired, stressed students, this one is for you via my Mum! Enjoy!


2 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion (finely chopped)
1 carrot (finely chopped)
1 stick of celery (finely chopped)
2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
50g pancetta (if you wish to splash out, but normal bacon/lardons are absolutely fine!)
1 tin of cannellini beans (or borlotti beans or butter beans or go wild and add several different sorts of bean…. At pence per tin, you have no reason not to try some different ones!)
1 tin of tomatoes
1 vegetable or chicken stock cube
1 squeeze tomato puree (not essential)
1 large pinch of dried chilies (this can also be omitted but I find adds warmth and slight kick!)

To serve:

Chopped basil/parsley
Grated Parmesan/cheddar
Black pepper
Crusty bread


    •    In a pan, fry off the pancetta until crispy and put to one side.
    •    In the same pan, add the olive oil, onions, garlic, carrot and celery and sweat until the onion starts to appear translucent – transfer to a pot or large saucepan.
    •    Re introduce the pancetta and add the tin of tomatoes, tomato puree and chilies (if using) and stir well.
    •    In a jug, add half a litre of boiling water to a stock cube and stir until the stock cube dissolves.
    •    Add the liquid to the saucepan and bring to the boil before reducing the heat so the soup is just simmering – simmer for 20 minutes to give flavours a chance to combine.
    •    Before serving the soup, add your chosen beans, stir and allow to cook through for a couple of minutes.
    •     Serve in big bowls with chopped herbs, some grated cheese and as much black pepper as you can handle!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Butternut Gnocchi with Sage Butter and Bacon

 After last week, I have found out that I'm addicted to gnocchi!  Having talked to a few people about it, some have told me that they sound the texture a little bit slimy, so I thought I'd experiment with different ways of cooking them, and here is the first one!

As usual, I had to cram some meat into this dish somehow, but it would work perfectly well without the bacon!  I think my addiction to gnocchi was started by my love of dumplings, they are my gateway drug, as I have been experimenting with dim-sum as well, but I could give it up at any time, I could...

For the Gnocchi
1 Butternut Squash
450g Waxy Potatoes
250g Parmesan 
1 Egg
Plain Flour

For the Sage Butter
1tbsp Fresh Sage
300g Butter
100g Bacon Lardons

To Serve
Fresh Rocket, spinach or other salad leaves
Parmesan Shavings


1. Heat the oven to 200ºc.  Cut the butternut in half, lengthways and de-seed, then brush with olive oil, place in an oven tray and then put in the over.  Cook for 90 minutes, and then allow the squash to cool. Once it is cool, use a spoon to remove the flesh, and using a food blender, puree it.

2.  Heat a large pan of water and cook the potatoes for 20 minutes, until they soften.  Drain and allow to cook

3.  Pass the potato through a ricer, or mash very well, then put into a mixing bowl.  To this add the puree'd squash, the beaten egg, grated parmesan, salt and pepper.  Start adding plain flour, slowly mixing until you have a firm but not too dry dough.

4.  Roll the dough our on a floured surface into a sausage about 2 / 3 cm thick, and cut into 3 cm long chunks.  Put this on sheets of greaseproof paper, cover and chill for an hour or so.

5.  Heat a large pan of salted water and bring to the boil.  Add the gnocchi to the pan and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon, allow to drain.  You might have to do this in two batches depending on the size of your pan.

6.  In a large frying pan, heat some of the butter and cook the bacon until it starts to go crispy on the edges.  Set this aside for serving

7.  Add the rest of the butter and the sage, then cook the gnocchi for 7-8 minutes, until it starts to go golden. 

8.  Serve on a bed of leaves, with parmesan and bacon.  Enjoy!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

How I almost killed someone with cake...

This week's Weekly Bake Off was a Madeira cake. I don't think I've ever actually had a Madeira cake before, and so I was keen to try it out.

The recipe is very straightforward - a variation on a basic sponge, with ground almonds and lemon zest givin it the distinctive madeira taste. Instead of icing, you sprinkle some citron peel (I used standard candied peel) on the top of the cake partway through baking.
Pretty and tasty, but potentially lethal!
This is quite a pretty cake, once you get over the fact that there is no icing, and the ground almonds give the cake a denser, moister feel than a normal sponge. I made the cake on Thursday night to take to a regular event we attend with a big group of friends on Friday night.

Needless to say, in addition to 3 cakes, a fair amount of alcohol was consumed, and it was sheer luck that someone asked me what goes into a madeira cake as the cakes were being cut. It turns out that one of our friends is allergic to nuts, and if he hadn't heard me saying their were ground almonds in the cake, he may very well have had a slice! (eek!) I didn't ask just how bad his reaction could have been but this serves as a reminder that when baking with nuts, especially 'hidden' nuts, you should always warn everyone that might eat your baked goods!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Pork, Apple and Fennel Soup

Meeting up with friends and family at the weekend, and the subject of food and cooking came up, as it often does.  I was talking about making things like gnocchi and albondigas and everyone seemed impressed (once I had explained to them what these things were) and it occurred to me that most people stick to a few dishes that are tried and tested, and often passed down through the generations.

I'm not sure where and when I learned how to cook. Indeed, as a student I was often mocked for my terrible food, but somewhere between then and now I have started to experiment with ingredients and recipes, and also doing the blog has encouraged me to make new things every week, so even things that have worked really well and would be put on the short list for being made regularly, have only ever been made once, because of the drive to come up with new and exciting soups, cakes and other dishes.

Today's recipe isn't, however, one of those experimental and obscure recipe, but it is s delicious combination of summery vegetables and pork into a lovely soup.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

1 Onion
1 Fennel Bulb
1 Stalk Celery
1 Apple
400g Pork
500ml Cider
700ml Stock
150ml Single Cream
2 Sprig of Rosmary
1tsp Wholegrain Mustard
Plain Flour
Flat Leaf Parsley


1.  Finely chop the apple, fennel, celery and onion.  In a largem heavy pan, heat some oil and fry the vegetables over a low heat for 10 minutes, until they are sweated down but not too brown.  Remove them from the heat and put in a bowl for later.

2.  Cut the pork into cubes about 1cm across.  Toss them in the plain flour.  Heat some more oil in the pan and then brown the meat.  Once it is browned, add the stock and cider to the pan, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to bring the soup to a simmer.

3.  Add the vegetables back to the soup, along with the rosemary and mustard.  Put the lid back on the pan and contine to simmer for 30 minutes.

4.  Just before serving, stir in the single cream, and then pour into bowls, garnish with parsley and enjoy!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Gnocchi with Tomato and Black Pudding

I love my Sunday Roast, as I think I mentioned before.  There is no finer meal in a week and the care and devotion I put into the gravy and roast potatoes borders on obsessional. However, the downside to a roast dinner is it seems to take ages to make and is devoured in minutes (although that may just be due to my terrible lack of manners...)

So this week I thought that instead of roasting something, I'd try a completely different tack and do something I've never had before.  Whilst investigating soups (and in particular Nettle and Snail soup - which may just appear on the blog at some point in the future) I hit upon the idea of adding potato gnocchi to the soup.  Now I may have also mentioned before that I am a sucker for foods with beautiful sounding names, and also dumplings (which I can eat until I burst) and potato gnocchi seemed to combine both of those things in one cute little package, so how could I resist.

And also, because I'm obsessed with black pudding (this must be the sixth or seventh recipe with the stuff in it) I thought I'd chuck some of that in too, because, well, why the heck not...


For the gnocchi
500g Waxy Potatoes
150g Plain Flour
Handful of finely chopped Fresh Basil

For the Sauce
1 Tin Chopped Tomatoes
250g Black Pudding
1 Onion
75ml Red Wine
1tsp Balsamic Vinegar
1tsp Finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 Cloves Finely Chopped Garlic

1.  Peel the potatoes, chop into cubes and put into a pan of boiling salted water for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are soft.  Drain them and allow to cool

2.  Mash the potatoes.   I used a potato ricer for this because you want the mash to be as smooth as possible.

3. Put the mashed potatoes into a mixing bowl, then add the flour, chopped basil, salt and pepper.  Combine the mixture like you would if you were making a dough, then kneed gently for 2-3 minutes until the dough is nice and smooth.

4.  Spead some flour on a worktop and then roll the dough out into a roll thats about 1-1 and a half cm thick, then cut into 1-2cm pieces.  Set these aside for now.

5.  Fry the finely chopped onion and garlic in some oil until the onion is just starting to colour.  Then add the red wine, vinegar, rosemary and some black pepper.  Bring this to a simmer and cover.

6.  Cut the black pudding into 1cm cubes.  Ina frying pan, heat some oil and yhen fry the black pudding until it starts to brown.  Then transfer to the sauce.

6.  In a very large pan. bring some water to the boil, then put the gnocchi in, cooking for about 2 minutes, until they start to float to the surface.  Drain them well then put onto a heated plate and serve with the sauce and a grating of fresh parmesan.  Enjoy!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Dark Indulgent Chocolate and Cherry Brownies

This week's Weekly Bake Off choice was a chocolate and walnut brownie recipe. Not being a big fan of walnuts, I was initially just going to replace them with pecan nuts, and I'm sure that would have been a very nice substitution. However, I recently made some chocolate biscuits with sour, dried cherries in them, and they were probably the nicest biscuits I've ever made! So the choice was made - chocolate and cherry brownies it would be.
I halved the ingredients specified in the book after seeing just how much chocolate was involved - MB is not shy with the size of her bakes! I did a direct substitution for the walnuts, and used the same weight of cherries as I would have walnuts.

The recipe was fairly straightforward - I was a bit worried by the rather small amount of flour in the recipe, but the brownies turned out really well - they are a good moist bake, and the bitter cherries set off the chocolate very well (this may have been a bit too sweet otherwise I think). And even though the cherries are dried, they become moist during the baking. 

Friday, 11 May 2012

Herman the German

We've had a house guest the last couple of weeks - I was the lucky recipient of a portion of a work friend's Friendship cake. Apparently Herman is quite famous, and most of the baking world seems to have had him to stay at some point or other, growing him a bit, then dividing him into a portion to bake with, and giving the rest away to friends. At this rate, I would estimate that the world would be drowning (quite literally) in Herman beofre too long.
Obviously some people are not passing on their Herman as expected (evidenced by the continuing lack of a yeasty smelly tide swallowing Britain), but I found 3 lucky recipients, and baby Hermans were distributed round Leeds, and one even made it all the way to Hull, where apparently there is a waiting list for his offspring!

Having spent plenty of time growing all sorts of single celled organisms in the lab, I probably wasn't as intimidated by Herman as I know a few people have been. He is essentially a live yeast culture, and so I didn't stick too carefully to the care instructions - he was stirred every day, but feeding might have occurred at slightly less regular intervals than suggested, and when it came time to bake him, I made sure he was fed the day before, and then just used a cup of him as one of the ingredients in the cake mix. I've kept the remaining mix, and will have a go at freezing him and bringing him back to life - it should work - I'll update at a later point if it does. I'm also rather keen to see if Herman can be adapted into a bread culture - I'll be tring that over the next couple of weeks too and see if he's any good at using for sourdough bread. While Herman was apparently started with dry yeast, I am guessing he's been around for so long that he's more wild yeast (in a domesticated form) than commercially available stuff, and that's one of the things that makes sourdough so tasty. Again, I'll report back with the results, but for now, here is the result of my baking with Herman.


1 cup plain flour
1 cup Herman
1/2 cup brown sugar (I used brown cane sugar, but light muscovado would be good too)
1/4 cup oil
2Tbsp butter
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla essence

and then add whatever you like ... I used a baking apple, some dried dates (you could use some raisins), mixed spice and cinnamon.

I mixed all the base ingredients together, and then added the extra ingredients by feel/look - that's one of the good things about Herman - you can add as much or as little as you want. Next time I make a Herman I'll probably add a lot more spice and try an almost ginger loaf kind of cake.
Herman get put in a cake tin (whatever shape you fancy, though try not to have him too thin), and bake at 180ºC for about 45 minutes - check after half an hour using a toothpick/clean knife and test every 10 minutes until it comes out clean. I used a bit of butter and sugar as a glaze just by sprinking the sugar on top, and pouring some melted butter over about 15 minutes before the end of baking to make a crunchy topping. 

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Beef, Beer and Black Pudding Soup

Sometimes, I feel like a food criminal, and suffer the guilt that goes along with it.  Why is that, I hear you ask.  Well, for the last 10 or so years, it seems that words like 'locally sourced' and 'organic' have gone from being trendy buzzwords to a way of life for food lovers.  Except...  bank balances, busy lives and other distractions seem to have gotten in the way of me getting on the bandwagon.  Now I know that people like Hugh F-W have made a career of making people like me feel guilty for not going the extra mile, and I know that I should be supporting local producers but sometimes real life gets in the way.

Then I started writing a blog about soup.  And I started thinking a little bit more about where the food I eat came from, how good it tasted and how much it cost, and (along with my current efforts to get a bit more healthy) I thought 'maybe I could try  little bit harder'.
Which brings us to today's soup.  I'm a Yorkshire Lad (apart from the sojourn to Hull, which is kinda, sorta still in Yorkshire if you squint) and this soup celebrates Yorkshire and lots of local things.  The beef was from a local butchers (just across the road from our local supermarket, so not out of my way at all), the Yorkshire Black Pudding (which is brilliant and would win a fight with black pudding from anywhere else in the country) was bought from a local food fair at Kirkstall Abbey, which as well as being a good place to buy interesting things (Water Buffalo Burgers! Venison Liver! Koeksisters!) was a fun afternoon out, the Thyme, I know is locally produced as it's growing on my window ledge, and the Bilberry Jam was made with my own fair hands after being picked on Yorkshire Day last year, and finally the beer was from the Black Sheep Brewery (in North Yorkshire!)
So that's a lot of locally produced stuff in this soup, and for not much (if any) extra effort.  The result is a brilliant, tasty soup which is a cross between a casserole and a thick gravy, and perfect for this wintery summer we seem to be having at the moment.

Incidentally, if you aren't currently in Yorkshire and didn't make any Bilberry jam, Red Currant jelly works just as well, and any black pudding can be used, although you can order Yorkshire Black Pudding from here

300g Beef Skirt
2 Small Onions
1 Large Carrot
3tbsp Mashed Potato
2 Bay Leaves
1tsp Fresh Thyme
250g Yorkshire Black Pudding
500ml Beer
800ml Beef Stock
2tbsp Bilberry Jam
125g Button Mushrooms
Puff Pastry


1. Slice the beef into thin strips and then fry until brown.  I used beef dripping for this as it gives that extra bit of meaty flavour, but feel free to use oil if you want. Set the beef to one side

2.  Thinly slice the onions and fry them in the same pan, until golden.

3. Cut the carrots into small cubes.  Put them in a slow cooker with the onions, beef thyme and bay leaves.  Top up the slow cooker with the beer and stock and then add the bilberry jam and black pudding cubes.  Finally, add the mashed potato.  This is a good way of thickening things cooked in a slow cooker.  However, you could just use cornflour instead. Turn the slow cooker on and leave to cook for 4 hours

4.  Fry the button mushrooms in butter for 5 minutes, until they start to colour.

5.  Heat the oven and cook your puff-pastry (I used pre-prepared stuff form the shop for this, rolled onto a baking tray and cut into squares of about 3 cm)

6.  Serve the soup into dishes and then garnish with the mushrooms and puff pastry squares.  Enjoy!

Monday, 7 May 2012

Strawberry Ripple Cheesecake - Weekly Bake Off and Clandestine Cake Club

I'm having trouble not sitting down and eating this right now!
This week's Weekly Bake Off recipe was the American Chocolate Ripple Cheesecake, which I actually made a couple of months ago for my first Clandestine Cake Club outing. It was absolutely gorgeous and I felt it ticked all the boxes of my cheesecake requirements - tangy, sweet and sticky. I did feel that there was too little biscuit for the base, and so doubled the amount - I also used half ginger biscuits, half digestive for a nice tangy base.

Now coincidentally this week I have another Clandestine Cake Club event. I also have a Herman to bake (another post tomorrow!), and so I decided that rather than making 3 cakes, I'd recycle the recipe for the American Ripple cheesecake, but modify it for the CCC theme - Favourite Tipple, using some homemade strawberry jam and strawberry vodka.

Last year I really got into making jams and the Soup kitchen saw strawberry, bramble and port, spiced plum and bilberry jams, and an assortment of jellies (crab apple and chilli is my favourite). I made the strawberry jam using a very similar recipe to the bramble and port jelly - (just without the port!). The strawberry vodka was made by soaking strawberries in a bottle of vodka with a cup of sugar. After about a month, the vodka was drained off the strawberries and passed through a filter into a clean bottle.

And now onto the cheesecake - I've changed the recipe quite a bit, so will be listing the ingredients and method in a bit more detail than I normally do for the Weekly Bake Off posts.


200g digestive biscuits
100g melted butter

Filling :
600g cream cheese
100g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 large eggs
100g strawberry jam
50ml strawberry vodka

Topping :
150g strawberry jam
100ml strawberry vodka


Grease a sprung tin (mine is a 23cm tin)

Crush the biscuits and mix with the melted butter. Layer the biscuits on the bottom of the tin and press down. Put in the fridge while preparing the filling to allow to set.

Beat the cream cheese and caster sugar together, then mix in the vanilla essence and eggs.
Spoon half the mixture onto the biscuit base in big dollops.
Puree the strawberry jam and vodka together in a blender (my jam had great big chunks of fruit in it so this was really important!)
Mix the jammy mix into the remaining filling, then pour this onto the rest of the filling. Swirl together.
Bake in a preheated oven at 160ºC for about 30 minutes (you should be able to see the edges pulling away from the sides of the tin slightly).
Cool completely.
Blend together the topping ingredients - not as much as the filling - it's nice to keep some chunks of strawberries in the topping.
Pour the topping over the cheesecake, cover the tin with clingfilm and refigerate until ready for serving.
Release the sides of the tin, transfer off the base and onto a plate, and serve.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

The Retro Cookbook Swap!

When I was a kid,  I thought Delia Smith was my mother! No, really.  Not beause she was a brilliant cook (which she is) or beause she's chairman of Norwich City FC (she's not)  No, the reason for this confusion was that, in my child's mind, the picture of Delia on the back of Delia Smith's Complete Cookery Course was a spitting image of my mum!  After telling some friends about this, every now and then, when there is a Delia show on TV, someone will pipe up and tell me my Mum is on the telly.

After this revelation, there were a few conversations about how everyone has a favourite cook book - mine (inherited from my Mum) is a 1968 copy of The Dairy Book of Home Cookery.  It's battered and stained but it's still my go-to book for some really basic things like measurements for pastry and how long to cook a joint for. Mrs Soup's is a 1973 copy of The Cookery Year, and is regularly referred to for measurements for jams, jellies, chutneys and how long to cook everything from a joint of beef to grouse.

They've both also got some amazing retro foods (a lot of dinner party foods that were probably served at swingers parties) and sections on Offal and Game that have passed from retro to cool again, as well as vaguely dismissive sections on Foods of the World and Vegetarian Foods.  It really is a slice of the past preserved for all to see. And pretty much everyone, I suspect has at least one of books on their shelf - some well used (mine has been referred to as 'The Bible', so well thumbed and worn it is), and some unloved, unread and unseen for many years!

Wouldn't it be nice if we could put these books to some use?

And so we come to the first Soup Tuesday Cookbook Swap! The idea is explained in full (with details of how to sign up, and all the relevant dates) on a separate page of the blog which can be found at the top of the blog or here, but the basic idea is that everyone taking part picks one of their unused cookbooks (for this first swap it's those old, pre-1990 books) and sends it to the next person in the chain, where hopefully it will receive some new life, and might even become someone else's new 'Bible'.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Albondiga Soup

 Sometimes, there is a little bit of serendipity (but not that awful film with Kate Beckinsale in) at work in the Soup Tuesday recipe lab.  For instance, a trail that started with a desire to make meatballs (and don't we all get that desire sometimes) coupled with an obsession with chorizo that is second only to my all-consuming black pudding mania, plus a wish to make something sunny and fresh to combat the wettest April since the dinosaurs pulled their wellies on, led to this soup

And then I realised that it's also almost Cinco de Mayo, which I am given to understand is an excuse to drink as many margaritas as humanly possible, like St Paddy's day with Guinness (possibly it has another meaning which you can find out about here.
Also, Mexico's flag kicks ass! Some sort of bird vs snake battle going on!
So we are making albondigas. Say that word out loud Albondiga.  Can you say it without smiling?  If you can, maybe once you have tasted this soup, you will have a slight grin on your face anyway!

To start this recipe, I made my own version of chorizo, which, before you write in and complain, I know is not really what albondigas are made with, but I thought it sounded like a great combination of flavours.  Maybe in the future I'll get a sausage making machine, but for now this is just the filling of a chorizo, which makes it easier to roll into the albondigas (I'm smiling even as I type that word...)

For the Chorizo
500g Minced Pork
20g Paprika
2g Cayenne Pepper
3g Fennel Seeds
2g Salt
2 Cloves of Garlic

For the Albondigas
1tbsp Chopped Flat Leaf Parsley
1tbsp Chopped Mint Leaves
1 Egg (Beaten)

For the Soup
1 Onion
1 Carrot
1 Can Chopped Tomatoes
1 Courgette
2 Cloves Garlic
100g Sugar Snap Peas
1tsp Dried Oregano
1tbsp Chopped Coriander
1.2l Chicken Stock
1.  To make the chorizo mix, put the pork and spices in a large bowl and mix them together thoroughly, then put in a sealed container and refrigerate, at least overnight.

2. In a large bowl, combine the chorizo mix, chopped parsley and mint and mix together.  Then roll them out into meatballs, about 3cm across (you should make around 20 with this recipe) then set aside

3. Finely chop the onion and carrot.  Heat some oil in a large pan and add the onion and carrot, then cook for 5 minutes, until the vegetables start to soften.

4. Add the tin of tomatoes, chopped garlic cloves, oregano and bring to the boil.

5.  Add the stock and bring to a simmer before adding the chopped courgette and sugar snap peas.  Check seasoning and adjust to taste.

6.  Add the meatballs, carefully placing them into the pan one at a time, then simmer for 30 minutes.  Try not to stir the soup too much when the meatballs are cooking as this might cause them to break up in the pan
7.  Serve into warm bowls and garnish with fresh chopped corriander leaves and for a little bit of a zing, some tabasco.  Enjoy