Hello! I feel somewhat a stranger here, on my very neglected blog. My move and complete life changing last year has been pretty much wonderful but has left little time for cooking and blogging new things. I am so grateful for the people that have still visited here over the last year.
So what do we eat here in New Hampshire? Well soup is an obvious choice especially in the sub zero winter conditions we now have! Working from home is new to me and having to think of 3 meals a day for the two us and our varied tastes is sometimes a chore. Soup is something we do both enjoy, as long as it is substantial enough for my husband. So bean soup works perfectly for us, its filling enough for my husband and I love making a pot of soup that will feed us lunch for up to 4 days, one less meal to think of!
I love the variety of beans I can buy here and have pretty much bought a pack of every variety I see. Cranberry, Great Northern, Navy, light red and dark red kidney, Black, Yellow eyed the list goes on. All these beans are heart healthy, low fat, and protein rich and when mixed with a few other ingredients makes a filling, healthy meal.
As the title suggests any bean will do for this soup. Depending on the color of the bean its not always a pretty soup but it makes up in taste what it lacks in looks! I do use dry beans which will need an over night soak so as long as you do not forget that step the rest is fairly quick.
Any Bean’ll Do Soup
- 250 grams (8 oz) beans of your choice, for the soup pictured I used Great Northern Beans
- 2 litres (2 quarts) stock
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 organic carrots, chopped
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1/4 tsp dried rosemary
- salt and black pepper to taste
- Soak your beans overnight, completely covered in cold water.
- When you are ready to make your soup, drain and rinse the beans and place into a large stock pot along with the stock.
- Bring the beans up to a boil then add the carrot and onion reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until the beans are tender, this could take up to 45 minutes depending on the beans you are using but I find 30 minutes usually does it.
- Partially blend the soup using an immersion blender. Blend to your taste, go as smooth or chunk as you like.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
I prefer a chunky soup while my husband prefers a smoother soup so I find this partial blending suits us.
Depending on the stock you use you may not need extra salt.
This soup will keep in a Tupperware for a couple of days in the fridge, it also freezes well.
A new year, I wonder if this one will go as fast as the last one?
We’ve moved into our new home. London already feels like ages ago although it still kind of feels as if we are on vacation and we will be back there soon. It’s hard to believe that this house in a valley in the White Mountains of New Hampshire is home. Its beautiful here, really beautiful. I still drive around in wonder that I live somewhere surrounded in such natural beauty. Mountains, rivers, lakes and at the moment snow, lots of snow! The white stuff really comes down here! We discovered the “fun” of shoveling our drive clear only to have it snow again overnight, oh that hurt! Of course we had to experience it once but something more than a shovel is going to be needed here.
Although I grew up in America I’ve lived in the UK for all of my adult life, almost all of that time in London so I am very much a city girl. There are some adjustments to be made. I knew that there wouldn’t be a huge mall or even a small one for quite some distance. I was prepared to drive 45 minutes or an hour every now and then for the occasional retail therapy. I was also prepared for being the new guys in town and not knowing anyone. I’m not worried about driving on the other side of the road although I am not looking forward to having to take a new driving test, those New Hampshire rules just wont stick in my brain!
There are differences, though, that I had not anticipated. Don’t get me started on the cable company that we are forced to use, as they are the only company available up here in the mountains!
Food shopping was something I was really looking forward to but gosh its different! Can someone please explain why the organic milk has such a long sell by date? I bought some last week that is good until the middle of February! This does not seem right to me, how can milk last for so long, what is in it? Also why are chicken breasts so enormous? What kind of huge breasted chickens are these? I’ve found it hard to individually pick apples, sometimes I like to buy just one apple but I keep seeing them sold in big paper bags, am I allowed to take just one apple out of those bags? Muffins and cookies seem to be sold in packs of 24, are people here always taking big packets of cake to share at work? Why is sugar in almost all of the bread here? Even at the farmers market I asked a lady if there was sugar in the bread and she happily told me that no there was stevia in it! Um, no thanks! I like the variety of vegetables and one of my favorite things are pickles so I’m having a great time trying lots of new pickles! I love that I can easily buy Kimchi. My husband can not believe how long it takes me in a supermarket here but everything is new, I have to read every packet!
I look forward to sharing more recipes here soon. For now I just wanted to share a couple of pictures of my new surroundings and to wish everyone visiting here a very happy, healthy new year!
Its been a long time since I was here! I took an unplanned summer break which carried on into autumn! I have been busy, posting here was beginning to feel a chore and I was fast running out of ideas. Truth is even though I have a food blog when life gets busy I tend to stick to the same handful of recipes. I am out of the house for 12, sometimes more, hours on a work day so I don’t always have time to think of new meals. What I do end up cooking is usually not the kind of thing that would make an interesting post! And actually this last few months has been anything but typical!
There has been a reason for my distraction. I am moving, in just under a week, to America! New Hampshire is where we are heading, to the White Mountains. I can hardly believe I’m saying that, even though suitcases are packed and so much has been donated, sold and rescued by kind friends! I’m excited, scared, sad to say goodbye but looking forward to our new start.
Throughout the summer we had a bountiful supply of green beans from the allotment which resulted in me making this green bean dish many times. It was hard to keep up with our bean supply this year and often when we went to pick them they were huge, luckily this recipe is not fussy as to the type of bean, the beans end up meltingly soft. We have it served with chicken but Id be happy eating a bowl of these beans with a chunk of bread.
So often the dishes that stay with me are the simplest ones and this is the case with this bean recipe, just a few ingredients cooked together in one pan makes for a delicious vegetable dish that even my husband will eat, in fact he loves this!
It will be a while before I post again as we leave in just a few days, I cant wait to share our new adventure here so watch this space!
ingredients (4 portions)
- 350 grams green/French beans, topped and tailed and cut into pieces
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- salt and pepper
- 1 tsp sugar
- water to cover the beans
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the onions until softened.
- Add the garlic and fry for a minute while stirring.
- Add everything else, stir then add water, enough to just cover the beans.
- Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for around 40 minutes. The beans will be very soft and the sauce reduced.
- Season with more salt and pepper if needed and serve.
Today I wanted to share my green bean recipe. It’s not really a recipe, more an idea, just four ingredients that go very well together.
I made these lemony beans one Christmas a few years ago. We had my Mother in law for dinner and although she appreciates the effort made she is the least foodie person you could imagine and she doesn’t eat vegetables! However it was Christmas and I wanted everything to be different, special, so that day I tossed the French beans in some butter and lemon zest, even if I would be the only one to eat them. Well I loved them but I had the shock of my life when not only did my non-vegetable eating husband try one but he liked them and had more!
To this day this is the only way my husband will eat French beans! I think we were both surprised that simply tossing some beans in lemon and butter would be what made him start to eat French beans! I have since swapped the butter for olive oil as it feels a little healthier but tastes just as good.
Green Beans with a Lemon Dressing
ingredients (serves 2)
- 150 grams French beans, (you may call them dwarf beans), topped and tailed
- 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- zest of half a small lemon
- sea salt to taste
- Steam or boil your beans until just tender, 3-4 minutes if boiling, 5-6 if steaming.
- Drain the beans and pour the olive oil in the pan you used to cook the beans (saves on washing up).
- Turn the heat on low, add the lemon zest, salt and beans. Toss to coat and serve immediately.
Easy, peasy, that’s what these are! If you have over-ripe bananas, in under 30 minutes you can have a rack of delicious banana muffins!
I began freezing over-ripe bananas a while ago. It was a revelation to me that you could just throw whole bananas in the freezer! The bananas do defrost to a gross mush but that just makes mashing them easier. I was looking in the freezer recently and found frozen bananas all over the place! Turns out I had 19 frozen bananas! I defrosted 3 bananas out to make my usual banana bread only to discover I had no butter! I’m a fan of baking with oil rather than butter as it adds a great texture so I thought Id try replacing the butter with olive oil. As I was changing things I thought Id try muffins rather than a loaf.
These banana olive oil muffins are a great alternative to banana bread. Using oil rather than butter worked so well I will stick to that! They are quicker to cook than a loaf and are easily portable in their own cases, making a great lunch box addition. They are also really versatile, I think I will add raisins next time. What do you like in your banana muffin?
Banana Olive Oil Muffins
- 150 grams plain flour
- 100 grams caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 3 bananas, mashed
- 1 egg, beaten
- 80 ml olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 190 C, 375 F, Gas 5. Line a muffin pan with paper liners. A fairy cake pan works too!
- In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients, ( flour, sugar, soda, cinnamon).
- Combine the beaten egg, mashed bananas and olive oil, fold into the dry ingredients until just combined.
- Fill each paper liner about half full and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.
- Cool on a wire rack, store in an airtight tin.
Spring is here! Actually it’s been here for a while, the earliest blossom has finished and almost all of the trees have their leaves. We have even had some lovely sunny days. However, to me, a sure sign of spring is when British asparagus arrive. I got my first bunch last week, exciting times!
Wherever your asparagus comes from this soup is a quick way to enjoy them. I had seen an asparagus soup recipe with a Thai theme and I still may try that one but for the first asparagus of the season I wanted the asparagus to be the star of the show. So this soup has just a few ingredients, asparagus with a little onion, a waft of garlic and a hint of lemon grass. Its light and fresh, clean eating at its best.
Asparagus soup with a hint of Lemongrass
- 1 bunch of asparagus
- 1 small onion
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled but left whole
- 1 stalk of lemongrass
- 500 ml vegetable stock
- Prepare the asparagus by washing, snapping the woody ends off and chopping. Dice the onion and peel the garlic, leaving it whole.
- Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the onion and whole garlic clove and sauté until softened.
- Remove the garlic clove and add the asparagus. Stir to coat in the oil and sauté for a couple of minutes.
- Peel off the outer layer of lemongrass and bash the stalk firmly with a wooden spoon to bruise it and slightly split it to release its flavour. Add to the asparagus and onion,
- Add the vegetable stock to the pan and simmer for 10 minutes, until the thickest asparagus are softened.
- Remove the lemongrass and purée the soup, I use a blender but an immersion blender would be fine. Purée until smooth.
- Season with salt and pepper and serve.
I wanted to post this for St Patrick’s day! It was the greenest recipe I could come up with! Then I ran out of time and the post wasn’t ready. Please say this happens to some of you? I feel I’m having a blogging crisis lately. I have post ideas but no time to try new recipes or I make recipes and forget to take a picture and sometimes I simply can’t find the time to sit at the computer and write anything.
Well I may have missed St Patrick’s day but here I am with a simple, healthy soup recipe. I have only recently tried broccoli soup, in part because many broccoli soup recipes have Stilton added, (I’ve not yet developed a taste for blue cheese). After a conversation about broccoli soup with a friend (you have those, right?) I decided to make my own and I’m glad I did!
This healthy, soup is ready in under 20 minutes and tastes great! I love how the 4 ingredients flavour the soup equally, no one ingredient dominates. I even think I could get my broccoli avoiding husband to eat this, I will try that theory and report back!
- 300 grams broccoli, cut into florets and stalk chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 600 ml vegetable stock
- salt and pepper
- Sauté the onion until soft.
- Add the garlic and broccoli, stir.
- Add the stock and simmer for 5-10 minutes until the broccoli is tender.
- Transfer into a blender and blend until smooth
- Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Using the broccoli stalks as well as the florets makes the broccoli go further, saving money.
Sprinkle with a few chile flakes before serving.
I wouldn’t blame people visiting here to think all I make are soup, jam and cake! While its true that I find those the most interesting things to post I do also eat other things! Fish can be a take it or leave it dish for me, I try to eat more to be healthier but I rarely use a recipe, usually a drizzle of olive oil, squeeze of lemon, whatever herbs are available and pop it in the oven. Today however Id like to share my fish cake recipe, its been a work in progress for a little while but now I feel its ready to share.
These fish cakes are easy to make but you will need a food processor. To avoid the use of egg or bread as a binder the mixture must be really well combined, in a way that only a processor could do. They are fragile but with some good shaping and a spell in the fridge the fish cakes hold their shape really well.
I like to double the recipe and freeze a batch, nothing sweeter on a work night than having a meal ready made in the freezer! Use whatever white fish takes your fancy, pollock, cod, haddock.
Fish Cakes (Paleo friendly)
makes 4 fish cakes for a main course or shape them smaller to make 8 mini fish cakes for a starter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 stick celery
- 1/2 onion
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1/2 red pepper
- 400 grams pollock, cod or any other white fish cut into chunks
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp fresh tarragon
- few dashes of tabasco or other hot sauce
- salt and pepper, approx 1/4 tsp each – less if you are watching your salt intake.
- oil for frying
- In a food processor finely chop the celery and onion.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan and saute the chopped celery and onion until translucent.
- Add the garlic, stir quickly and remove from the heat.
- Add the red pepper to the food processor and chop finely.
- Add the fish, herbs and spices, tabasco and cooked celery and onion to the peppers in the food processor. Add salt and pepper and pulse it all in the food processor until it’s all blended together. It does need to be mixed pretty well so that it will hold its shape when formed into patties.
- Form the mix into patties with your hands, (the mixture will be quite wet, that’s normal). Pay attention to the edges, making sure they are not ragged but smooth, this will avoid tearing when cooking. Put the patties on a plate, cover with cling film and chill for at least an hour so the fish cakes keep their shape and don’t break apart when cooking. If freezing, now is the time to wrap in foil with a little grease proof paper in between each fish cake.
- When ready to cook, heat some oil in a nonstick frying pan. If you don’t own a nonstick skillet – check out these non-stick cookware reviews, as nonstick cookware is essential for any budding chef. Add the fish patties to the oil and fry for 3-4 minute on each side until nicely browned and cooked through.
- Serve right away with salad or vegetables.
I can be very forgetful, its something I worry about occasionally but then I remember that I’ve been the same way for many years so I hope its more the sign of a busy brain rather than a declining one. Occasionally my forgetfulness can be a good thing, like when I made this soup. I wanted to make a butternut squash soup that was not as sweet as they often are so I decided to include chipotle powder to mine to add a hot smokiness. I went on to get the ingredients together and chopped my vegetables, including a red chili pepper. When preparing the soup as soon as I stirred the chipotle powder in, it occurred to me that I already had a chili pepper in the pan! When chopping that red chilli I had forgotten I was adding the chipotle despite the chipotle been the main reason I was making the soup! I stood staring at the pan but it was too late to do anything other than cross my fingers and hope my tongue would survive!
This is a hot soup, but I loved it! The smoky chipotle compliments the sweet butternut really well. If you don’t like food so hot, I wouldn’t add that extra chili pepper, just stick with the chipotle. However if you don’t mind some heat go for both! I found the soup somehow less hot the next day.
Butternut and Chili soup
- 1 medium butternut squash, de seeded and cut into chunks
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1/2 red chili
- 1/2 tsp chipotle powder
- 500 ml stock, vegetable or chicken
- Put the chunks of butternut into a roasting tray and pour over 1 tbsp of the olive oil, stir so all the butternut gets coated in the oil. sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast in a preheated oven 200 C, 400 F, Gas 6 for around 40 minutes until the butternut is soft and the edged starting to brown.
- Heat the other tbsp of olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onion, celery and chili pepper over a medium heat until the onion is translucent and beginning to soften.
- Add the chipotle powder to the onion mixture and stir to combine.
- Add the stock, mix well and simmer for 15 minutes until the celery is softened.
- Add the roasted butternut squash to the pan
- Pour the mix into a blender and blend until smooth.
- Add salt to taste and more stock if you like the soup more runny.
What a long break from blogging I’ve had, (did anyone notice, haha)! I often go longer than I mean to between posts although long ago gave up trying to keep up with all the bloggers that post without fail each week (or each day)! However this was a long break even for me. After a fabulous holiday spent in Vermont where I completely forgot about everything and all routine went out of the window I was left wondering if there was a recipe left in me, I had no inspiration at all, until the discovery of this season’s blood oranges put me back on track!
I think part of the reason for my lack of inspiration is that I’m caught with that January feeling that I should be eating more healthily but not wanting to, then wondering what’s wrong with me that I have so little control! My head is a busy place this month! Anyone else feel the same or are you all diligently watching what you are eating? Kudos to you if you are! I am pretty much a rule follower but hate been told what to do so I think all the articles and constant talk of diets makes me rebel, after all isn’t January depressing enough? So for those rebels out there I offer you cake in January! For those avoiding cake, I’m sorry save this recipe and healthy new year recipes will resume!
I was so happy to come across the first of the blood oranges but then typically a few sat in the fruit bowl which led me to make this blood orange cake, a simple cake made with olive oil. Using olive oil eliminates the need to soften butter, which in colder climates can take quite a while! I based my cake on the Lemon Olive Oil cake that I make regularly. That cake is such a success so I thought I would swap blood orange juice for the lemon. I didn’t have yoghurt available so made my own buttermilk by adding a tablespoon of lemon juice to 125 mls of milk. This cake is not fancy, it’s just the right sort of plain with a simple blood orange syrup topping it. I like a slice with a cup of coffee but it would be great served with ice-cream as a dessert!
I wont pretend this is healthy in any way but it is good!
Blood Orange Cake
- 250 grams sugar
- 1 egg
- 125 ml buttermilk
- 100 ml olive oil
- 250 grams self-raising flour
- zest and juice of 3 blood oranges, reserve the juice for the syrup
for the glaze
- 60 grams sugar
- 100 ml blood orange juice
Grease and base line an 8 inch cake tin (I used a silicone one this time). Preheat oven to 350 F, 180 C, Gas 4.
- Whisk together the sugar and eggs.
- Mix in the buttermilk.
- Add the olive oil and blood orange zest.
- Fold in the flour.
- Pour mixture into cake tin.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean when inserted into middle of cake.
- While cake is baking make the syrup by putting the blood orange juice and sugar into a small sauce pan and heat until the sugar has melted, remove from the heat and leave until needed.
- When the cake is baked, take from the oven and while still hot prick cake surface with a toothpick and pour the blood orange syrup over the cake. Leave to cool in the tin.