Lemon Curd

I was looking through my old recipe book, which I have had since around 1990, for keeping notes. This is my recipe for lemon curd. It is a very basic recipe. You can add the juice of other citrous fruit but actually, lemon is still the best.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 50g butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 250g caster sugar

METHOD:

  • Beat the eggs
  • Put all the ingredients in a double pan (one pan sits on top of the other, boiling water in the bottom pan)
  • Heat very gently, stirring all the time, until the mixture is fully blended and becoming thick.
  • Pour into clean jam-jars.

Pea and Ham Soup

This is a classic soup – so classic that I couldn’t find it in any recipe book. Apparently we are to learn how to make it as a hereditary skill. This recipe makes a huge vat of soup, but I don’t see how you could make much less.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large ham bone, ham hock, or left-over cooked ham
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped into small chunks
  • 3 stalks of celery, finely chopped
  • 3 potatoes, diced (optional)
  • 500g bag of yellow or green split peas – rinse the peas.
  • 1.5 litres of stock (ham stock, chicken stock or vegetable stock)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 level tsp smoked paprika
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

METHOD:

  • In a large soup pan, fry the chopped onions and celery gently in the olive oil, until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two longer
  • Add the carrots, peas, stock, ham, paprika and bay leaves to the pan, and bring to the boil.
  • Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally and add water if it is becoming too thick.
  • If you are going to add potatoes, do so at this point, and simmer for another 30 minutes.
  • Remove the ham bone from the pan and set it aside to cool. Pull any meat off the bone, shred it and return it to the pan.
  • Season with salt and pepper if required, and heat to a simmer before serving.

If you want to freeze this soup, don’t add any potato. If you’d like a smoother soup, you can blend it with a soup wand before adding the shredded ham.

Tagliatelle with ham and cheese

This is a quick recipe from Elizabeth David’s ‘Italian Food’. This is a classic recipe book, lots of recipes, along with descriptions of context and history of individual dishes. It was first published in Britain in 1954.

I had some ham that I purchased from the reduced section in the co-op, and it was a work night tonight, so something quick and easy was required.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 50g tagliatelle per person
  • 50g cooked ham per person, cut into strips
  • 25g freshly grated parmesan per person
  • Butter
  • Black pepper

METHOD:

  • Cook the pasta in boiling water for around 8 minutes, or until done.
  • Meanwhile, melt the butter and cook the ham for around 3 minutes, until warm through.
  • When the pasta is done, drain it and add all of the butter and ham and half of the parmesan, stir together and serve with the rest of the parmesan and black pepper for seasoning.

Ham and leeks in a cheese sauce

This is a good quick supper, easy and tasty. I scored some cheap ham at the co-op this afternoon. Top tip – if you want to eat cheaply and feel good about stopping food waste, Sunday afternoons at the co-op is peak bargain time.

After we ate this, we reflected that we could have snuck in a layer or two of lasagne as well.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3-4 leeks
  • approx 4 slices of cooked ham, chopped
  • 40g butter
  • 40g flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 150ml of cooking liquid from the leeks
  • 300ml milk
  • nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp prepared mustard
  • 100g grated cheese
  • breadcrumbs

METHOD

  • Prepare the leeks, cut them into 1 cm slices and cook in boiling water for around 7 minutes.
  • Drain the leeks and reserve the cooking liquid.
  • Put the leeks into the bottom of a gratin dish, and cover with a layer of ham.
  • Fry the flour in the butter, for around a minute, and then add the liquid to make a smooth sauce, and simmer for a couple of minutes.
  • Add half the cheese, along with the mustard and a grating of nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the cheese is all melted into the sauce
  • Pour the sauce over the ham and leeks, then top with the rest of the cheese and then the breadcrumbs
  • Cook for 10 minutes under a moderately hot grill, until the topping is nicely browned.

Buckfast Negroni

In the interests of investigation and fearless gastronomy, once upon a time we purchased a small bottle of Buckfast at the co-op in Broadford. It has been languishing in our kitchen ever since. Neither of us has developed a taste for it at all, but every now and again we try it out as an ingredient. It works as part of a cocktail.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 25ml London dry gin
  • 25ml Buckfast
  • 25ml Campari
  • 3 dashes of orange bitters

METHOD:

  • Put about six cubes of ice in a mixing glass, and pour the ingredients over the ice.
  • Stir for around 2 minutes, to chill the ingredients and dilute them with melted ice.
  • Serve in a small glass over ice.

Rose Elliot’s Vegetarian Pasta

Rose Elliot’s Vegetarian Pasta is another recipe book that has stood the test of time on my bookshelf; I bought it in 1997. I have already got some of Rose Elliot’s other recipe books, but this one lifted vegetarian cookery to another plane, into something fresh and colourful. Several of my other recipe books at the time were a bit worthy. The book is illustrated with wonderful photographs, as well as plenty of practical and tasty recipes.

The recipes are divided into types of pasta recipe, starting with soup, moving onto salads, simple dishes, and then the classic sauces and baked pasta dishes. Most of the ingredients are readily available locally, and the methods of cooking are easy to follow.

One difficulty that I have is that the index could be better. If I have, for example, leeks and carrots, I would like to be able to find recipes that use these ingredients. The index only lists dishes by recipe title or type of pasta. But that is a minor grumble.

I recommend this book to you all.

Pasta with tomato sauce and chickpeas

I thought I was being brilliant and inventive and then discovered that this is a classic. There are hundreds of versions on the internet already.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Around 250ml sweet tomato sauce
  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 1 tbsp mystery herb mixture including dried chillies from a present from Italy
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 250g pasta

METHOD:

  • Start by bringing a pan of water to the boil, and cook the pasta for the time advised on the pack, usually around 8 to 9 minutes.
  • In another pan, heat the olive oil, add the mystery herbs and after a few seconds, add the tomato sauce and bring it to a simmer.
  • Drain the chickpeas and add to the tomato sauce, and bring it back to a simmer.
  • When the pasta is done, drain and stir in the sauce and then serve

Madhur Jaffrey’s Eastern Vegetarian Cooking

In 1983, I was living in Edinburgh. My boyfriend at the time announced that he wanted to be a vegetarian, and after a short discussion, we renounced meat. I can no longer recall his reasons, but for myself, my concerns were around animal welfare and factory farming, especially for pigs and chickens. I also was aware of the environmental impact of feeding livestock as opposed to using land to grow plant-based food.

One of the first recipe books we acquired was Madhur Jaffrey’s Eastern Vegetarian Cooking. I think we didn’t get much past the first chapter, there were so many delicious recipes. The book includes recipes from Syria all the way through to Japan. There are chapters on Vegetables, Pulses, Rice, and Eggs, for example. The chapter on condiments, dips, chutneys and relishes is wonderful; Madhur Jaffrey explains that this allows each diner to ring the changes with combinations of different flavours.

I find that I don’t cook some of the more complex dishes. Although I love the illustrated guide to making tofu, I have never tried this myself. I’ve also struggled to find some of the ingredients listed, especially for some of the Korean, Japanese and Chinese dishes.

To compensate, this is a book full of wonderful recipes, properly indexed. The book isn’t full of glossy pictures, but there are 500 pages of advice, descriptions of ingredients and flavours, techniques and culinary tips. The food I have produced from these pages has been outstanding.

Spiced beetroot and tomato soup

I had two more large beetroot left, so I made this soup, adapted slightly from Madhur Jaffrey’s Eastern Vegetarian Cooking, which I bought in 1983s. The link is to a subsequent edition.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 large beetroot, peeled and diced
  • 500ml water
  • butter
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, or a 2cm stick of cinnamon
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 level tsp ground black pepper
  • Sour cream or double cream

METHOD:

  • Cook the chopped beetroot in the water. Simmer for about an hour, to make sure the beetroot is really soft.
  • Drain the beetroot, and make the liquid up to 450ml if necessary.
  • Add the beetroot back to the liquor, along with the tin of chopped tomatoes and use the soup wand to liquidise
  • In a saucepan, fry the spices in butter, and then add the beetroot and tomatoes, and bring to a simmer.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Strain the soup through a coarse sieve to remove the whole spices, and then add the cream, and reheat.

Cauliflower and walnut soup

Initially, I wasn’t sure about this soup. It looks odd, but then I caught myself having extra portions. It is even better after being frozen, it seems to enhance the walnut flavour. It is worth spending some time reducing the walnuts to a paste before adding.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cauliflower
  • 1 onion
  • 2 bayleaves
  • a pinch of paprika
  • salt and pepper
  • 450ml stock
  • 450ml skimmed milk
  • butter
  • 50g walnut pieces

METHOD:

  • Chop the onion finely and cook slowly in butter until soft and beginning to brown.
  • Chop the cauliflower into florets and boil in the stock with 2 bayleaves until tender, at least 10 minutes.
  • Remove the bayleaves, add a pinch of paprika, salt and pepper, and puree the cauliflower and stock until smooth. (I used a soup wand)
  • Grind the walnuts and pound to a fine paste in a pestle and mortar.
  • Add the cooked onions, ground walnuts and skimmed milk to the cauliflower base, and puree again.
  • Strain through a coarse sieve to remove any lumps.
  • Bring the mixture back to a simmer for two minutes before serving.