Where growing, making & good living come together

Ten minute chicken & sweetcorn noodle soup recipe

Posted by on Tuesday 13 September 2011 in cooking, Featured, recipes | 1 comment

I wrote this back in August but it didn’t post for some reason. Now that soup season has properly started, we’re less interested in light soups – we want warming stodge! – but it’s still yummy :)

I usually make hearty, wintery soups but since it is technically summer at the moment, we’ve wanted lighter broths for our lunches. This chicken & sweetcorn noodle soup fits the bill nicely – not a giant overwhelming flavour bomb on our tastebuds but fresh & light, filling us up without the need for bread.

I make this whenever we’ve got some spare chicken stock – it’s a useful, quick lunch for us. If I’m thinking ahead, I put some vaguely suitable flavours in the stock – for example, extra black peppercorns, coriander seeds and galangal.

Quick chicken & sweetcorn noodle soup recipe

Serves 4 as a lunch

1.5ltrs of fresh chicken stock
150-200g-ish of chicken (either the already cooked bits stripped from the chicken carcass or a chicken breast)
A green pepper, finely diced
About 250-300g-ish of sweetcorn kernels
Pinch of chilli flakes/half a fresh chilli, very finely sliced

1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1/2 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp of honey

A nest of egg noodles (or pack of ramen noodles)
1 tbsp of cornflour, mixed into runny paste with a little water
1-2 eggs, whisked together in a bowl
Black pepper (to taste – but a fair bit)
Salt (to taste)

Optional extras to serve
Rounds of fresh chilli
Rounds of spring onion
Coriander leaves

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Spicy onion soup recipe

Posted by on Wednesday 31 August 2011 in cooking, recipes | 10 comments

One of my fellow drama tutors, Kat, lives off cup-a-soups — she’s 19 and working about five different jobs so she can afford to desert us in a couple of weeks and go to drama school in that London. She’s always rushing from this job to that rehearsal and that’s where the cup-a-soups come in handy. Most of the time I have no reaction to them but the smell of the French onion soup one makes me CRAVE onion soup.

Thankfully onion soup is a fun soup to make — not quick but still easy and frugal. I used to make a (veggie but otherwise) strict version of Delia’s but as with many things I cook, it’s evolved over the years. Perhaps unsurprisingly, my onion soup is now a little spicy. I do like my spice. Feel free to skip the chilli if you don’t like it hot – but the garam masala adds more flavour that heat, so do still use that.

I definitely recommend using a variety of onions if you can – include red onions for sweetness and colour. I used all boring white onions for the version pictured below because I got a big sack of them on a Ramadan special offer last week – I compensated by adding a little more sugar.

It takes a least an hour to make – half an hour for browning the onions then another half hour or so at the soup stage – but the slower the better really. A restaurant in Leeds used to make a 24 hour onion soup – talk about commitment! If I’m cooking other things at the same time, I’ll try for an hour for the browning then another hour at the soup stage but if I’m making it for lunch, it’s closer to an hour. Either way, the house smells GREAT. :)

Spicy onion soup

Makes about four portions
Costs about £1.20-1.50 in total, so between 30-40p a portion

500g onions
25g of butter
Two cloves of garlic, minced
1 chilli, finely chopped, or 2 if you want it properly hot
1-2 tsp of light brown sugar
1tbsp plain flour (optional)
1.5 litres of hot veg stock
1/2 tsp of garam masala
2-3 bay leaves
1tsp of worchestershire sauce


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Fig and fennel seed soda bread recipe

Posted by on Friday 5 August 2011 in cooking, Featured, recipes | 3 comments

A few weeks ago, I wanted a sweet treat but didn’t have enough butter in the house to make something cake-ish. After a bit of Googling around for inspiration, I came up with this sweet bread instead – and because it doesn’t use yeast and doesn’t need kneading, it’s ready to eat in next to no time.

It’s a little different to my usual soda bread – I’ve made it a few times now to tweak the flavourings but my expert focus groups contradicted each other with their opinions on less or more fennel seeds (same loaf, wildly different opinions), so I’ve made it how I like it, sod them ;) If you like the liquorice taste of fennel seeds, you might want to up it to 5tsp of seeds; if you prefer it to be subtler (but still there in the background), drop it down to 3tsp. And don’t feed it to any of my contrary friends ;)

It can be baked on a flat cookie sheet (dusted with flour or semolina) or in a lidded cast iron casserole dish (like the slow rise bread). The latter traps moisture and reduces the cooking time – but make sure it’s super hot before adding the dough or it’ll stick.

Fig and fennel seed soda bread recipe


To make soured/acidified milk
300ml of milk
1tbsp of lemon juice

For the bread
450g/1lb of flour: about 200g plain white flour and 250g of rye flour
1tsp of caster sugar
1/2 tsp of salt
2tsp of bicarbonate of soda
2tsp of cream of tartar
4tsp of fennel seeds
175g (ish) of dried figs
A little extra flour/semolina for dusting

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Quick tomato soup with chorizo and beans (recipe)

Posted by on Tuesday 31 May 2011 in cooking, Featured, recipes | 3 comments

A common tip for people trying to eat less meat for frugal, health or environmental reasons is to use meat as a flavour not as an ingredient to add volume/bulk to the meal. I love chorizo for this purpose – the smallest pieces provide plenty of flavour. This soup doesn’t taste like a slice of neat chorizo, but the sausage adds a lot of depth to what is otherwise a pretty basic tomato soup.

Like our spicy tomato and lentil soup, this is a quicky and aside from the chorizo, is made from standard store-cupboard ingredients – so is a great last minute lunch soup. It’s not quite as frugal as the lentil one (because of the chorizo) but it’s still pretty cheap for something so easy and tasty :)

Quick tomato, chorizo and bean soup recipe

Makes 4-5 good lunch sized portions
Costs about £2 in total, or 50p a portion (would be cheaper using dried beans, they just need rehydrating first)

Splash of olive oil
An onion, finely chopped
A clove of garlic, minced
Chorizo – about 50g finely chopped or 10 pre-sliced slices chopped/torn up
A can of chopped tomatoes
About 300g (drained weight) pinto or borlotti beans
A litre of hot vegetable stock
3 tbsp of tomato puree
1 tsp mixed herbs
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chilli flakes (optional!)

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Ramsoms & Ricotta Ravioli Recipe (aka cheesy, spicy wild garlic ravioli)

Posted by on Monday 16 May 2011 in cooking, Featured, recipes, wild food | 4 comments

Usually when I post recipes, they’re either long-time firm favourites or new things that I’ve made a least a few times to try different flavour tweaks. However these suckers took a good while to make and I can’t see myself finding the time to make them again before the wild garlic (Ramsoms) season is well and truly over, so I’m going to publish the recipe now after making them start-to-finish just once. They were yummy as they were :)

There is so much wild garlic in the woods behind our house that it seems rude not to use it as often as possible throughout the spring. We add it raw into salad, have it in mash/potato cakes for a colcannon-ish dish, use it as a pizza topping but mostly, have it on pasta — usually wilted with a little lightly fried chorizo and some olives. Yummo.

It goes so well with pasta, as a tasty spinach substitute, that I wanted to try making pasta with it – and this is the result: wild garlic ravioli. WG loses a lot of its fieriness when you cook it and the flavour here is quite subtle – which is why I served it with a sprinkling wild garlic seed pods too. Plus, they also look ace :)

Ramsoms & Ricotta Ravioli Recipe

(Yes, I like alliteration.)

Makes: 3 decent sized portions if that’s all you’re having; or 4 portions with meat/veg

For the pasta
225g of 00 grade pasta flour
2 large eggs
80-100g of wild garlic
pinch of salt
extra (plain or pasta) flour for dusting

For the filling
225g of ricotta
25g of parmasan
1/4 to 1/2 tsp of ground black pepper
1/2 tsp of ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp of chilli flakes
Finely chopped basil & oregano leaves (or about 1tsp of dried herbs)

To serve
About 2tsbps of wild garlic seed pods (about half a dozen flower heads)
olive oil
a knob of butter (optional)

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Wild garlic and serrano ham pizza – mmm!

Posted by on Thursday 21 April 2011 in cooking, recipes, wild food | 0 comments

We had wild garlic and serrano ham pizza for dinner last night. Our friend Strowger has repeatedly advocated wild garlic seed pods on pizza after we both pickled some last year but I hadn’t used the leafy stuff on pizza before.

I won’t do a full recipe – since I would have thought just about everyone reading this will have their own preferred dough & sauce recipe – but I will say I collected a large handful of wild garlic (Ramsons) leaves, which weighed about 50g including stalks – although I didn’t actually use any of the stalks on the pizza — they got sliced off and nibbled while I was cooking :)

I sliced the washed leaves into ribbons and wilted them slightly by frying them very lightly (30 seconds or so) in a drop of oil to mellow the flavour slightly, then immediately put them onto my prepared pizza. I paired it with serrano ham since that’s got enough flavour to hold its own against the WG – and added some flowers afterwards for prettification purposes ;)

And the verdict: well, the short version of thoughts is in the title for this post ;) John said it didn’t taste like any pizza he’d ever had before – but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. I thought the wilted texture was perfect – very soft without being slippery – and the flavour more developed than the sharpness of raw wild garlic.

Next time, I’m almost tempted to leave off the ham though (it was still there but not the star of the show) and just have some different cheese and perhaps some ricotta or sliced mozzaralla – basically a more intensely flavoured spinach-and-ricotta style pie.

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