Spicy Tomato Soup

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I do try to follow a recipe as it is written, I really do, but the way I see it is a recipe is there as a guideline or idea. You take that idea into your kitchen and let it inspire you to cook something magnificent.

Sometimes that recipe is just what your looking for, except for that one ingredient that you don’t like or don’t have handy. 

For example, I don’t like cooked capsicum. I can easily eat a fresh capsicum and love it but once you add heat to the capsicum, I can’t eat it. Don’t judge me on that, every one has their own little quirks. I just leave it out.

This months The Cookbook Guru‘s chosen book is Neil Perry‘s – The Food I Love and Spicy Tomato Soup was exactly what we felt like for dinner.

Now, I didn’t make any major changes to the recipe, I added a little extra chilli and garlic, and didn’t have any smoked paprika so put in hot paprika and a little cayenne pepper, and of course  some fennel seeds.

The recipe does call for a herby, garlicky paste but it is well worth that little extra effort.

Here’s my version of Neil’s Spicy Tomato Soup:-

For the paste:-

4 cloves garlic – roughly chopped

1/2 red onion – roughly chopped

1 handful flat-leaf parsley

1 handful coriander leaves

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp fennel seeds

1/2 tsp tumeric

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes

Throw everything in a food processor with a couple tablespoons of water and puree. Set aside.

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For the soup:-

2 Tbls olive oil

2 ripe tomatoes – diced

1x400g can diced tomato

2 celery stalks – diced

1 small carrot – diced

1/2 Tbls sherry or red wine vinegar

1 tsp sugar 

salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a medium saucepan and add the celery, carrot and herb paste. Cook for a few minutes, stirring it often so it doesn’t burn, then add the diced tomato, canned tomato, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper and 300ml water. Bring to the boil, lower heat and let simmer,covered, for about an hour.

You can serve it as is, chunky style or you can puree it so you get a thick and smooth soup.

 I served it with a spoonful of Greek yoghurt, a generous sprinkle of chopped fresh coriander leaves and some fresh homemade bread.IMG_1308

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Public Holidays and Eggplant Bake….

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It’s a public holiday here today. Besides a 30 minute spin on the exercise bike and ironing a few shirts I haven’t really done too much. It’s been good.

I was thinking about what I had in the fridge that needed to be used up and remembered I’d bought an eggplant a couple of days ago with the idea of making a pasta dish with tomato, eggplant and chilli but we went out for dinner instead. That was good too.

So I took the eggplant out and looked at it with the hope that it would let me know how it wanted to be cooked, and do you know what it suggested?  Yes, that’s right… NOT pasta with eggplant, tomato and chilli but potato, eggplant and tomato bake.

Crazy huh?

So I peeled a couple of potatoes, sliced them about 5mm thick, tossed them in a little oil and spread them on a baking sheet and baked them at 250c for 20 minutes.

Then I partially peeled that brilliant eggplant, sliced it about 1cm thick, spread it on a tray, splashed a little oil over those slices and sprinkled them with salt, cumin powder and fennel seeds and then baked them at 250c for 20 minutes.

Yes, it was all coming together.

Next I peeled a couple of really big cloves of garlic and a small onion and chopped them up nice and chunky. I put them in a large frypan with a little olive oil and a couple of sliced red chillies. I stirred them around for a few minutes on a medium high heat until they were soft then threw in a 400g can of italian cherry tomatoes (it was the contents of that can I threw in. I discarded the actual can), added a pinch of salt, a pinch of ground pepper, a pinch of sugar and about a tablespoon of dried oregano. Yum! I turned the heat down and let that wonderful sauce bubble away gently for 20 minutes. It was all good.

Next came the whole putting it together part of the program.

In a deep oven proof dish I spread a little of the sauce then arranged half the potato and eggplant slices on top. I spread half the sauce over that and enjoyed it so much I did it again Finishing with a layer of sauce. But I wasn’t done yet.

I put what I had created into the oven at 180c and commenced preparing a luscious white sauce which I would use as a cover.

Melting 20g of butter in that very same frypan I made the tomato sauce in, I added 1 tablespoon of flour and stirred it around for 30 seconds. No more no less. I then gradually incorporated 200ml soy milk. Oh the joy as it started to thicken and bubble.

Next I took it off the heat and added a sprinkle of salt and a single egg. Oh the whisking was brilliant, even if I do say so myself.

I brought the dish out of the oven and poured this amazing milky, eggy sauce over what I had already built, sprinkled on a few pieces of goats feta and a little mozzarella cheese then I had it back in the oven quick smart for 45 minutes. It was all bubbly and brown. Perfect I tell you.

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To accompany this masterpiece – a salad and a glass of red.

Brilliant.

And the best part……….

I cooked and my husband cleaned.

Enjoy…

Moroccan-Spiced Lamb with Prunes and Saffron

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Brian (the Husband) had the day off yesterday.  He decided it was about time he got in the kitchen and did some cooking.

Now, Brian is the chief cheesecake  and Anzac biscuit maker in this household, but he also makes a mean Lamb and Prune curry.

This recipe is adapted from  ABC Delicious Magazine  from a few years back, but its one he keeps going back to because … well… it’s wonderful…

The original recipe calls for lamb shanks, but he used diced lamb instead. 500g of it in  fact, which he tossed in 1-2 tablespoons of plain flour, salt, pepper and 1 tsp ground cinnamon.

Then heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy based saucepan and brown the meat all over. Take meat out, add a little more oil if pan is dry,  throw in 1 large diced onion and cook for a few minutes until brown. Add 4-5 cloves finely chopped garlic, 2 tsp ground cumin, 2 tsp ground coriander,  1 tsp freshly grated ginger, 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, (Brian used a sprinkle of  hot paprika as well), 2 tsp Harissa paste ( or minced red chilli) and 1 small dried red  chilli. Cook for about 2 minutes. Add  1 piece preserved lemon rind – diced (don’t use the pith and flesh. You can also use 1 tsp lemon zest if preserved lemon is handy), 500ml beef stock,1 tbs raw sugar and 400g canned chopped tomatoes. Return the lamb to the pan, bring it all to the boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered for 1 hour, stirring often, scrapping the bottom of the pan to make sure all the sticky bits make their way back into the sauce.

In the meantime, soak a generous pinch of saffron threads  in 2 tbs warm water and set aside to infuse.

After one hour, add the saffron and its soaking water and continue simmering for another hour, with pan partially covered, adding 200g pitted prunes for the last 10 minutes.

Brian serves this amazing dish with steamed rice and lots of fresh coriander.

Sooo Yum.

Enjoy… brians curry 2