Ham and pea soup

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If you’re after some good, hearty comfort food.  One of my favourites is ham and pea soup.

I often think that supermarket bacon joints are extremely overpriced.  But Sainburys’ Basics range comes to the rescue here.  They do 670gm packs of ‘Cooking Bacon’ for £1.10.  You need to be selective about the pack you buy as some of them consist of a number of small pieces of bacon and sometimes even slices.

Soak about 150gms of split peas in water overnight.  These are usually yellow split peas, you can find green ones in health food stores, but both colours seem to taste the same.

Put the bacon in a large saucepan/stockpot with about two litres of water, an onion (quartered), a leek, a stick of celery (all roughly sliced); add some parsley, thyme, pepper corns and bay leaf.  I usually add a sliced carrot, but on this occasion I didn’t have any. Bring to the boil and very gently simmer (until the bacon is really well cooked – so that it falls apart – I cooked mine for about 4 hours (barely simmering)).

When ready, remove the bacon and pull apart into small pieces using two forks.

Strain the stock (throwing away the cooked vegetables).  Drain the peas.  Chop another onion, and gently fry until soft in a clean pan along with a carrot, a leek and a celery stick (all sliced).  Add the peas and the stock, bring to the boil and simmer until the peas are cooked (probably about 1.5 hours).  If it looks too thick just add some more boiling water.  Blend and return to the pan along with some of the pulled bacon.  Serve piping hot:

Ham and pea soup

What to do with rest of the ham?

CelereiacCeleriac remoulade – grated raw celeriac mixed with mayonnaise (with added whole grain mustard, low fat yogurt and lemon juice to taste); scatter with pulled ham – a good starter:

 

 

 

 

Ham and kale colcannon – mashed potato, sliced leeks cooked in butter, kale (shredded and briefly boiled) and pulled bacon:

Colcannon

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Rice gratin

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This is an adaptation (the ingredients have substantially changed) of Dish of the Month which appeared on the February 2014 edition of Waitrose Kitchen magazine. It was an Yotam Ottolenghi recipe. Enough for 4:

  • 275 g cherry tomatoes (peeled and halved)
  • 50g camargue rice (I used Waitrose LOVE life red camargue & wild rice)
  • 70g brown rice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 stick of celery (finely chopped)
  • 250g spinach (washed and spun in a salad-spinner to remove any moisture)
  • 80g feta (I used Sainsbury’s Basics Greek style salad cheese)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 80g Greek yogurt
  • 40g double cream
  • black pepper (to taste)
  • 60g mature cheddar (grated)
  • 20g parmesan (grated)

Put the tomato halves on a baking sheet and cook in the oven at 120C (Gas Mark 1/2) for about 1.5 hours until semi-dried.

Put all the rice in one pan and cook until tender (about 25 minutes). Drain.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and very gently cook the onion and celery for 15 minutes. Turn up the heat and add the spinach, stirring constantly until it has all wilted. Remove from the heat, crumble in the feta, mix well and allow to cool for about 15 minutes.

Whisk together the eggs, yogurt, double cream and black pepper. Add this to the rice mixture, and add 2/3rds of the tomatoes. Make sure everything is well combined and transfer to an oven-proof dish. Sprinkle the remaining tomatoes and the grated cheeses over the top.

Bake in the oven at 180C (Gas Mark 4) for 40 minutes until set and golden brown on top.

When I made this dish, I was in a hurry, so I used the microwave instead. Starting with a warm rice mixture, I microwaved it on ‘high’ for 8 minutes and then browned the dish under the grill. I don’t that the finished product suffered as a result.

 

Tesco blames customers for food waste

UNApparently customers are responsible for food waste, because when faced with a tray of apples they only pick the good looking ones (who wouldn’t?). But for some reason you don’t do this if you’re from Eastern Europe. I’m sorry, but I cannot believe that Polish customers seek out the worst apples in the tray!

If Tesco wants us to buy imperfect fruit and veg then they should recognise that it’s not perfect by discounting the price. Sainsburys do this quite a lot already and don’t have a problem getting customers to buy it.

Urrrgh!!!! Frozen Strawberry Alert!

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No sooner do I praise Lidl’s frozen ‘Fruits of the Forest‘, than Lidl changes the ingredients.

A  visit to my local store revealed a new product ‘Fruits of the Black Forest’, which contains strawberries according the illustration on the packaging. This seems particularly odd because both Sainsbury’s and Waitrose sell ‘Black Forest Fruits’, neither of which contain strawberries.

I have pointed this out to Lidl by email and await a response.