Wednesday, 28 September 2016

hearty minestrone

Autumn is certainly creeping up on us and although I refuse to wear tights until October, I am becoming increasingly more inclined to cook up some seasonal delights. I have stumbled across a few deliciously autumnal recipes over the last few weeks, including an Indian-spiced shepherd’s pie (topped with a smooth sweet potato mash), a plum frangipane tart and a comforting pasta dish for those wet Saturday evenings. But perhaps my greatest discovery has been a hearty minestrone soup which will feed you happily all week. I like to save money and take lunch to work so this has been a godsend; it’s so easy and I don’t have to think about whipping something up before I leave the house in the morning. Sophie and I devoured a big bowl of this one Saturday, alongside some crusty bread and cool glasses of elderflower cordial.

Start off by frying some smoked bacon lardons, let them get a good colour before adding your chopped onion, garlic and selected veg. I like to stay traditional and use celery, carrots and courgettes. Season with salt and pepper, fresh sage and a bay leaf.

Leave the veg to soften before adding a pint of chicken stock, two cans of chopped tomatoes, a can of strained cannellini beans and half a cup of small pasta (I use stars which are meant for kids but they work perfectly for this recipe). 

Leave to simmer on a low for 25 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed. This is not a soupy soup but more of a hearty bowl of vegetables in a delicious rich sauce. I like to add either kale or cabbage at the last minute to give just another bite. It's not a thing of beauty but my goodness, does it taste good. 

Serve with freshly grated Parmesan and some basil. Sometimes is the simple things that really blow you away. 

I can't believe it's nearly the end of the month! I have lots of plans for the coming weeks, including buying more furniture for the house so keep you eyes peeled for new posts! 

Hope you've been enjoying these beautiful golden evenings- I know I have! 


Monday, 12 September 2016

hampstead market

This weekend Sarah and I headed up the newly opened Hampstead Market. Located behind the Everyman Theatre in Hampstead Parochial Primary School the market was brimming with delicious treats and a bustling crowd. Despite the awful weather our spirits were high and we were after a few key ingredients for our brunch. From fresh eggs to beautiful heritage tomatoes, the market offered a world of treats.

Brunch was a leek and chorizo frittata but we also got distracted by beautifully striped aubergines so endeavoured to whip up a quick baba ganoush. Oh, and the tomatoes were too beautiful to give up too so we bought some to preserve. It’s very easy to get carried away with buying delicious-looking produce, even in the pouring rain. We pawed over olives and anchovies but restrained from buying an entire bucket.

Back at Sarah’s flat we got to work and whipped up a very easy frittata: boiled potatoes, one chopped leek, garlic, chorizo and four eggs. It’s so simple, anyone can do it; just remember to finish under the grill to get a nice crispy top. We also charred and cooked our aubergine directly on the gas top – this is the only way you’ll get that wonderful smoky taste. Then we simply blended with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and a tablespoon of Greek yoghurt. A simple brunch made in under 30 minutes.

This week might be the last of the summer weather so I’m making the most of it with plenty of late evening walks and light salads before the long stretch of autumn soups. I’m trying very hard not to get carried away by autumn fashions but it’s so hard! Let me skip around in sun dresses just a few weeks longer!