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Sadly for Australian readers, the best of British spring/summer seasonal food has, via the markets, gripped my imagination, so recipes like this one (not nearly as exciting in an Aussie winter) may just need to be saved for a few months. Sorry.

Gazpacho

Ingredients (makes 4 serves)

  • 1kg very ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1 green and 1 red pepper, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 10 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp sherry or wine vinegar
  • 100g (4 slices) day-old white bread (crusts removed and soaked in water for an hour)
  • a pinch of cumin (to taste)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 glasses of water
  • salt & pepper

Method

  1. Put the tomatoes, peppers and cucumber in a large bowl.
  2. Add the garlic, oil and vinegar. The correct amounts of oil and vinegar make the difference between good and delicious gazpacho, and you must use extra-virgin olive oil for the perfect flavour.
  3. Squeeze the excess water from the bread and add it, stirring the ingredients together.
  4. Pour into a blender and mix gently.
  5. Once you have a smooth consistency use the back of a ladle to push the soup through a sieve, and if it’s too thick add water – as gazpacho is eaten cold it should taste light and refreshing and have a liquid consistency.
  6. Add the cumin and salt, cover and refrigerate until cold.
  7. Serve with small bowls of the soup ingredients to garnish to taste

Notes

  • This recipe is lifted from here, after seeing it in yesterday’s Observer Magazine¬† – it is from Elena Meneses de Orozco, the wife of the Spanish ambassador. She says, in theinterview with Laura Potter:

“When we were little, my sister and I used to help my mother make gazpacho. Every household in Spain has a slightly different version, but my mother taught me this one and I’ve passed it on to the embassy chef, Rafael Perez. The traditional recipe was just water, bread, vinegar and garlic (poor vineyard workers ate it while working). The tomatoes and peppers were added when Columbus brought them to Spain in 1492. Now, summer isn’t summer without gazpacho – every family in Spain eats it every day for three months.”

Was really pleased that several people are enjoying this – so even though most of this section’s fans are in Australia, in the middle of summer, this was a good supper recipe inspired one in the thelondonpaper I read on the way out to Shepherd’s Bush for the Socceroos game last night.

This dish is really quick and simple, and of course can be modified wildly to your taste and what’s in the pantry. It’s a good way to get some vegies into your diet, will reheat nicely after work and is a light, healthy dinner. Serve with a bread roll and some snow peas for lunch.

Bacon, Bean & Pasta Soup

Ingredients (Makes 4 serves)

  • 8 rashers rindless streaky bacon
  • 2 leeks rinsed, halved and chopped
  • 4 carrots halved length-ways and sliced
  • 400g tin mixed beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1.5L stock, vegetable or chicken
  • 2 Tbsp tomato puree
  • 50g small pasta shapes
  • flat-leaf parsley
  • Parmesan cheese

Method

  1. Fry the bacon in a large non-stick pan (something big enough to make soup in) , until it is golden – streaky bacon will cook in it’s own fat, leaner bacon might need a little olive oil.
  2. Add the leeds and carrots and cook for about 5 minutes until softened (add some garlic and ginger here if you need the immune boost, or an onion if you have one and want to thicken this up a little.)
  3. Tip in the beans, stock, puree and pasta. Simmer until the pasta is cooked (packed will be a guide, but around 10 minutes)
  4. Stir through the parsley, serve in bowls with grated or shaved parmesan on top.

Notes

  • If you don’t keep tomato puree in the house, I don’t recommend touching tomato paste – you can always add a tin of tomatoes (mush them if they’re whole in the tin) and reduce the liquid a little. You should have tinned tomatoes in the pantry – they’re gold.
  • If you’re a vegetarian or bacon-hater, you can use some good un-salted butter to cook the leeks and carrots, and a vegetable stock as appropriate.