Saturday 30 May 2015

Chickpea, tomato and bread soup from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi.

The first time I made this soup I was vegetarian for the second time around.


Chickpea, tomato and bread soup from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. salt sugar and i food blog.

Let me explain...I've gone through fazes. It's often when I feel I've needed a little control in my life and it's the one thing you can control, what you eat. The first time I was in high school and one day I just declared I was a vegetarian and so many people told me I wasn't  that I had to prove them wrong. So from that day onwards I didn't eat meat... I ate the occasional can of tuna so guess i was never really vegetarian but that was it. It lasted about 6 months and drove my mother insane having to cater for a fussy 16 year old.

Chickpea, tomato and bread soup from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. salt sugar and i food blog.

The second time was only 2 years ago and that lasted about 8 months. It was Tristan's worst nightmare... but this time I was sneakier than the last when I told people, as I do most of the cooking I just started not cooking meat then announced one day that I hadn't eaten meat in 2 week and I was vegetarian again (still ate fish so again not really vego). 

Veggies are still probably one of my favourite food groups, there is so many things you can do with them and just so many of them too, but the thing I did miss was real bolognese sauce. I also dreamt about osso bucco a couple of times. But what turned me back to eating meat I am ashamed to say was when I came down with the flu and Tristan came home with chicken burgers... chicken burgers of all thing!!! ... my barriers were down and I was vulnerable. 

Chickpea, tomato and bread soup from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. salt sugar and i food blog.

This Chickpea, tomato and bread soup was a recipe I made when all I had was vegetables in the fridge and I was lost with what to make. Having only one vegetarian cookbook at the time 'Plenty' by Yotom Ottolenghi, I used this book like my vegetarian bible. The other night when I looked into the fridge and saw endless vegetables and my basil plant looking a little sorry for itself I knew exactly what to make to warm us up. 

Firstly this is not a frumpy vegetable soup. I absolutely love fennel and can't help but pick one up nearly every time I see them in the supermarket, the fennel flavour in this is what makes this soup amazing and not the frumpy vegetable soup you might think this looks like. The herbs in this soup weren't as easy to find as the vegetables sitting in my fridge were so I used some dried and some fresh (I have listed what I used in the recipe below). A spoonful of home-made pesto on top gives it a hit of freshness, a last taste of summer but the bread in the soup is what warms your belly. I've always thought bread in soup would be unpleasant, a texture thing really but the bread in the soup gives it body and goes well against the textures of the vegetables and chickpeas.  

Chickpea, tomato and bread soup from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. salt sugar and i food blog.

If you also make the pesto recipe it's a good item to have in the fridge to hold onto a little bit of summer throughout these cooler months as we all long for decent tomatoes to come back in season. I hope I haven't offended any vegetarians out there with this post but that I have given my readers, vegetarians and meat eaters, another dinner idea this week when they look aimlessly in their fridge hoping that it will miraculously make the dinner and also do the dishes for them. 

Chickpea, tomato and bread soup from Plenty. 

Recipe by Yotom Ottolenghi (adapted ever so slightly) 

1 large onion, sliced 
1 medium fennel bulb, sliced 
3 tablespoons olive oil 
1 large carrot, peeled, and sliced 
3 celery sticks, sliced 
1 tablespoon tomato purée 
250ml white wine 
400g can chopped tomatoes 
1 tablespoon chopped oregano (I used 1/2 teaspoon dried and 1 teaspoon fresh) 
2 tablespoon chopped parsley  
1 tablespoon thyme leaves (I used 1/2 teaspoon of dried) 
2 bay leaves (dried) 
2 teaspoons sugar 
1 litre vegetable stock 
160g stale sourdough bread 
400g can chickpeas 
4 tbsp basil pesto (bought or freshly made; see recipe below) 
handful of shredded basil leaves to serve (optional) 
salt and black pepper 

 - Preheat the oven to 180C or 400 F. Place the olive oil, onion and fennel in a large saucepan and cook on a medium heat for about 4 minutes. Add the carrot and celery and continue cooking until the vegetables soften. 

 - Stir in the tomato purée and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and let it bubble making sure you scrap all the goodness of the bottom of the pan. 

 - Next, add the canned tomatoes with their juices, the herbs, sugar, vegetable stock and some salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, cover and leave to simmer gently for about 30 minutes. 

 - Meanwhile, place you bread in the oven to dry out for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool then break up into chunks. 

 - If you are making your own pesto start this now so it's ready to go; see recipe below.

 - About 5 minutes before you want to serve the soup, add the chickpeas to the soup and leave to simmer. Next add the toasted bread, stir well and cook for about 2 more minutes. 

 - Taste the soup and season salt and a generous amount of freshly cracked pepper 

 - Ladle the hot soup into bowls and add a spoonful of pesto in the centre and finish with a generous amount of freshly shredded basil (I didn't have any or I would have) and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. (Note: this soup freezes really well) 

Pesto  - when you have no pine nuts in the cupboard. 

Recipe adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi 

Makes quite a bit - good to keep in the fridge/freezer. 

30g fresh basil, washed and leaves picked 
20g fresh parsley, washed and leaves picked 
65g roasted almonds, chopped roughly 
60g parmesan, grated 
2 garlic cloves, crushed 
good pinch of salt and pepper 
200mL extra virgin olive oil 
1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar 

 - Place basil, parsley, almonds, parmesan, garlic, salt and pepper into a small food processor and blitz well until it forms a paste. 

- Next add the olive oil slowly (or in batched of three) and blitz until well combined then add the vinegar and give it one last blitz. Taste and season if you think it needs it. 

- If you want it thinner just add a little more olive oil. 

Note: This can be stored in the fridge for about 2 weeks if you keep it covered with olive oil or in the freezer for about 1-2 months. The garlic looses it's punchiness but it's still delicious.

Monday 25 May 2015

I'm still here...

This is just a short post to let you know I am still here. I have been a little naughty over the past week or two and I've been spoilt and had other people cooking me dinner :)

Last Monday we went out for dinner at the local Thai restaurant and had some amazing food. Coconut duck curry, soft shell crab salad, steamed dumplings, street food pork belly and of course pad see ew.

Tuesday we had 'Pete's Pasta' which I did make but I can't claim the recipe. It's a combination of bacon, chilli, crushed tomatoes, olives, cream, feta, parmesan and a healthy serving of pasta. It's so freakin' good!! (I might have to ask him for the proper recipe and put it in this space...)

Wednesday was dinner at my mums and we got roast lamb, potato bake and CAKE. Yes we got cake on a Wednesday... I told you we got spoilt this week.

Thursday we went to a friends place and we were meant to have 'Jools favourite Beef Stew' from Jamie Oliver for dinner but there was a pressure cooker issue so we ended up ordering pizza. Just as the boys went to pick the pizza up the cooker started to pressurise!! Which meant we got lunch for the next day... did I mention we got spoilt this week? (the stew was delicious! Thanks Kate and Pete x)

Friday I went to the movies to see Pitch Perfect 2 with my sister and got sushi train and a cheeky glass of bubbles as we always do.

Saturday I had a 'Bake Day' date with my girls Patty and Aleisha from TAFE. I love these bake days... we try and get together every month or two and all we do all day is potter around the kitchen, making sweet things we would never normally make by our selves and chat. We do a lot of chatting and laughing. This date we made 'Homemade Snickers Bars' from the blog Notwithoutsalt, Crack pie, Apple rose tarts, milk powder cake :) ... don't ask and about 5 different butter creams to test for wedding cakes. Aleisha makes beautiful cakes... you should check out her website and facebook page. She really is amazing!

I finished Saturday night with a naughty home delivery of pizza and Sunday consisted of selfies...

This week I will try and be better and actually cook and write :) but in the mean time here are a few links from my week and some photo's of the amazing Homemade Snickers we made.

Jool's favourite Beef Stew from Jamie

Pitch Perfect 2 Trailer - Very funny but think I still like the first one better.

Homemade Snickers from Notwithoutsalt blog - A-FREAKIN-MAZING!

Apple Rose Tarts - These look beautiful and will impress.

Put a Cake In It! - Aleisha's stunning cakes!

Sunday Selfies...

Homemade Snickers by Salt Sugar and I

Homemade Snickers by Salt Sugar and I

Homemade Snickers by Salt Sugar and I

Wednesday 13 May 2015

My take on a Mexican Layered Dip.

Over the weekend it was Mothers day here, and what better way to spend the day than all together as a family, eating all afternoon until you feel like you can't fit anything else in and you have to be rolled out the door? Sounds like a perfect Sunday to me.

Mexican Layered Dip by Salt Sugar and i
Lunch was at my sister's place and I was in charge of bringing nibbles and dessert. For nibbles I made my take on a layered Mexican dip with refried beans, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, cheddar cheese, served with lots of salty corn chips. There is nothing, I repeat NOTHING trendy about this dip... no kale, no quinoa, no actual cooking really... and to be honest its very 90's daggy but I can't help it, I enjoy it every time. It probably isn't even Mexican at all but it's quick to make and someone always ends up wiping there finger around the dish after so I must be on to something.

I like the dip spicy so the sour cream has a contrast but you can make it mild if you don't like spice and also if you have a great guacamole recipe, use that in the guacamole layer instead!

Mexican Layered Dip by Salt Sugar and i

The only probably with this dip is finding perfectly ripe avocado's. You almost have to plan and buy commitment avocados so you know they will be buttery and mash-able in a few days time. I really really really want to buy an avocado tree but I don't think having it in a pot on the balcony would work well, plus it doesn't help that I have a black thumb not a green one.

For dessert I made a New York Cheesecake from Nigella Lawson's book 'How to be a Domestic Goddess' which I topped with strawberries and pomegranate. I also made some vanilla cupcakes for my nephews knowing they wouldn't be so crash hot on cheesecake. But I wont give too much away except ummm YUM!... post to follow shortly.

I hope every Mother felt as loved and got as spoilt just as mine did on the weekend!

Mexican Layered Dip by Salt Sugar and i

Mexican Layered Dip

Serves 4 - 10 people (depending on how much they want to share)

1 x 435g can refried beans - I use Old el Paso
1 x 200g jar hot taco sauce (you can use mild or medium if you like) - I use Old el Paso again
2 x ripe avocados
1/4 red onion, finely diced
1/2 lime, juiced (use a whole one if not very juicy)
1/2 bunch coriander leaves, roughly chopped (plus a sprinkle for the end)
pinch salt
180g sour cream
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

- In a bowl mix together the refried beans and 3 tablespoons of taco sauce until well combined, spread into the bottom of your serving dish.

- Place the avocados, finely diced red onion, lime juice, chopped coriander leaves and salt in a clean bowl and mash everything together using a fork. Spread on top of the bean layer in your serving dish. Careful you don't mix the two layers.

- Next spread the sour cream over the top of the avocado layer, then about 1/2 a cup of the taco sauce on top of that. Again being very careful not to mix the layers and make brown mucky (it'll still taste good mind you).

- Finally top it with the grated cheese and a sprinkle of coriander leaves.

- Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready then serve it alongside a large bowl of salty corn chips.

Wednesday 6 May 2015

Chicken Noodle Soup - adapted from Martha Stewart.

Chicken Noodle Soup | Salt sugar and i

So my attitude towards not wanting wintery foods did a 180 pretty quickly over the rainy weekend... all I felt like was chicken noodle soup. chicken noodle soup. chicken noodle soup. chicken noodle soup... I could not get it off my mind.

I've never made chicken noodle soup before but have always thought that it was something that had to sit on the stove simmering away for hours, used a whole chicken and then be able to feed an army with the amount you made. It sounded a bit daunting to me to be honest and not a midweek dinner.

Chicken Noodle Soup | Salt sugar and i

But my cravings for comfort food over came any doubt I might of had and I sought out this recipe from Martha Stewart for Chicken Noodle Soup that didn't require hours of cooking, a whole chook or feed an army AND you can have this soup on the table within the hour. I was sold.

Chicken Noodle Soup | Salt sugar and i

Oh my goodness! how oh how have I never made chicken noodle soup before?? Seriously!? It is everything I ever dreamed the soup to be and better. Perfect for a cold night or if someone in your home has come down with 'man flu' or passed the 'man flu' onto you (cough cough).

I adapted the recipe slightly because I couldn't help myself and added parsley stalks, a knob of butter, a bay leaf and used parsley instead of dill because that is what I had in our herb garden and of course I added a few extra noodles.

Chicken Noodle Soup | Salt sugar and i

This is a great midweek soup that doesn't take long to prepare or cook and definitely feels like you have put a whole lot of effort in. I want to try and make chicken soup using a whole chicken and home made stock this winter but will save that for a weekend of pottering about when it's too rainy to leave the house. Until then... I have found my winter saviour!

Chicken Noodle Soup

Recipe adapted - original recipe by Martha Stewart.

Serves 4

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 knob of butter
2 sticks celery, diced small
2 medium carrots, roughly chopped into 1cm rings (or creative as you like)
1 brown onion, diced small
Salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
4 cups chicken stock
450g (approx.) skinless chicken breasts
220g think spaghetti (or angel-hair spaghetti or vermicelli)
small bunch parsley, chopped, stalks reserved

- Heat oil and butter in a large pot until butter is melted then add your celery, carrots and onions. Fry them on a medium heat for about 5 minutes until the onion is translucent and vegetables start to soften. Season with salt and pepper.

- Tie your reserved parsley stalks into a neat little parcel with some kitchen string (or you can let them wonder around but it's easier to take them out at the end it you tie them up - just don't do a Bridget Jones blue soup - google it!) and add them along with the bay leaf, stock and 4 cups of water into the pot and bring to a boil.

- Add your chicken breasts into the pot, clunk on a lid and simmer until cooked, about 10-15 minutes but it does depend on how large your chicken breasts are.

- Using tongs, remove the chicken from the pot and shred using two forks or chop it into small soup spoon sized pieces. Return it into the pan and bring everything back up to the boil.

- Add your spaghetti (or vermicelli) and cook until tender according to the packet instructions. I used thin spaghetti and it took about 10 minutes but I know other noodles don't take as long.

- Give it a taste, season with more salt and pepper (if needed) and stir in the parsley. Serve and enjoy... mmmm

Saturday 2 May 2015

Arroz Con Pollo with Chanterelles from NotWithoutSalt.

Arroz Con Pollo | salt sugar and i

Still on my Mexican craze and not quite ready to admit it's soup weather this week in Sydney.... I made Arroz Con Pollo with Chanterelles from NotWithoutSalt Blog. Translated to 'Rice with Chicken and fancy mushrooms'. The 'fancy mushrooms' bit I translated... I'm a little bitter at the price and lack there of in my local supermarket so button mushrooms had to do.

Arroz Con Pollo | salt sugar and i
The first time I made (a different recipe) Arroz con Pollo about 6 years ago I burnt my mum's pan till there was a thick layer of charchol-ed blackened rice stuck to the bottom of it. When we served up we couldn't let the spoon anywhere near the base of the pan in fear of having a spoonful of bitter burnt rice for dinner. Needless to say I've never been in a rush to make this again until I saw the recipe on Ashley Rodriguez's blog with all the lovely fresh trimmings on top.

Arroz Con Pollo | salt sugar and i

This recipe warms you up from the inside out and fills your belly just like you want on a cold night but has a freshness to it from the feta/parmesan (I'll explain further on) and coriander so it's great for people in denial that winter is coming. I mean how can you go wrong with chicken and rice right?!

It's a good midweek meal if you're having people over or have more than two mouths to feed. There is quite a bit of chopping, frying and stirring in the recipe but then all you do it wait until the rice and chicken are cooked... it's a good pottering recipe.

Arroz Con Pollo | salt sugar and i

However the Mexican cheese stumped me. Cotija. Never heard of it. I did some googling and it came up with a Mexican cheese, crumbly like feta but also like parmesan. I had feta and I had parmesan in the fridge so I guess I had my substitute, right? Anyway... I've never tasted Cotija so I couldn't tell you if it's right or wrong. I mixed the two cheeses together and used that instead and it tasted pretty great to me and I would do it all over again. Plus it's pretty impressive bringing it to the table so it's a good one to keep up your sleeve when friends come round for dinner.

If anyone has actually tried this Mexican cheese please leave a comment below and let me know if I was on the right track by combining both those cheeses or if I have done this dish a terrible travesty?

Arroz Con Pollo | salt sugar and i

Arrozo Con Pollo with Chanterelles

by Ashley Rodriguez from NotWithoutSalt (find original recipe here).
Serves 4

(recipe adapted slightly to incorporate what I had and could find.)

3 tomatoes, halved lengthways
6 skinless chicken thighs, boneless (if you can find them with skin on use skin on - much tastier!)
Salt and Pepper
1 medium red onion, finely diced
225g chanterelle mushrooms, roughly chopped (I used button mushrooms)
5 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons of dry sherry (I used white wine)
1 medium red capsicum
1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme (if you have fresh use 4 sprigs instead)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon sweet pimenton de la Vera (smoked Spanish paprika - I used regular smoked paprika)
a good pinch of chilli flakes (or more if you like it spicy)
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup arborio rice
pinch of saffron threads
1/2 bunch coriander, roughly chopped (stalks reserved), to serve
4 spring onions, finely sliced
3/4 cup cotija (or a combination of grated parmesan and crumbled feta), to serve

- Grate the cut side of all the tomato halves using a box grater and the large holes over a bowl, discard the skins.

- Place a large pan or deep skillet over high heat until it almost starts to smoke (if you are using skinless chicken thighs add a little vegetable oil to the pan to help it along). Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to medium and add the chicken pieces to the pan/skillet, skin side down and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 3-5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken onto a plate.

- Using the leftover fat in the pan, add the onions, mushrooms and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for about 15 minutes until caramelised. Add the garlic and coriander stalks and cook for a further 1 minute then deglaze the pan by adding your sherry (or wine).

- Next add the capsicum and cook until they start to soften. Then add the thyme, bay leaf, paprika and chilli flakes stirring everything together well. After about 2 minuets it will start to smell fragrant, add your tomato mush and simmer until the liquid is almost all gone.

- Add the stock to the pan and bring it to a boil then add your rice and saffron. Give everything a good stir then nestle the chicken pieces into the rice.

- Turn the heat down to low, place a lid ajar and try not to stir anymore (I say try because I can never help myself). Cook for about 30-35 minutes until the chicken and rice are cooked through. Once cooked remove the bay leaf and any sprigs from the thyme if you used fresh and season with salt and pepper.

- To serve, top with spring onions, coriander leaves and cotija (or the combination of cheeses) and don't forget the hot sauce on the table for anyone who likes a bit of spice.


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