Fennel, potato, tomato and bean soup

2 tablespoons rapeseed oil (you can use olive if you prefer)
2 large onions, finely sliced
2 bulbs of fennel, trimmed, halved and finely sliced
2 small leeks, finely sliced
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground
small glass vermouth
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
2 teaspoons dried tarragon
the juice of 3 small oranges/clementines
1 litre vegetable stock (I used vegan swiss bouillon powder)
1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 400g tin of white beans (I used white kidney beans)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a drizzle of olive oil and a few snipped chives to serve

This soup was devised to use up a lot of stuff in the fridge, and was so delicious I decided to share.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and saute the onions, fennel and leeks until soft but not coloured.

Add the ground fennel seed and cook for a couple of minutes to release the flavour.

Add the vermouth (I used Noilly Prat) and cook off the alcohol.

Next add the potatoes, tarragon, orange/clementine juice and stock.

Cook until the potatoes are nearly cooked, then add the tomatoes and beans.

Taste and adjust seasoning – you might like to add more orange/clementine juice or tarragon too.

When the potatoes are cooked, take out 1/3 of the soup and liquidise until smooth, add back to the pan, taste again and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil on the top and a few freshly snipped chives.

I’ll add a picture in a bit…..

Sweet potato, smoked pepper and orange soup

I made this yesterday as I had sweet potatoes, red peppers and oranges that all needed using up.  It turned out to be a smashing combination that made me think of Spain for some reason.

2 tablespoons rapeseed oil
2 medium sized onions, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (dulce)
2 teaspoons paprika
1/4 teaspoon hot chilli powder
zest of 1 large orange
3 medium sized sweet potatoes, chopped into about 1.5cm dice
2 red peppers
1-1.5 litres veggie stock (I use Marigold bouillon)
juice of 1 large orange
sea salt and ground black pepper

  1.  In a large saucepan, sweat the onions gently until they are soft (at least 10 minutes).
  2. Add the garlic and sweat for a couple more minutes.
  3. Stir in the smoked paprika, paprika and chilli powder together with the orange zest. Let it sizzle until it smells gorgeous (no more than a minute).
  4. Add the sweet potatoes and the stock, bring to the boil, then turn down the heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are soft.
  5. Meanwhile char the peppers all over until the skins are black. I do this over an open flame on my gas hob, but you could do it until a very hot grill, or over a barbeque. This takes longer than you think. Just keep going turning occasionally, until the skin is all black.
  6. Put the peppers in a bowl, and cover with cling film to let them cool.
  7. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, deseed them, get rid of the stalk, and chop them up.
  8. Add to the soup.
  9. Now add the orange juice, and blitz until smooth (I use a stick blender).
  10. Season to taste. Add more orange juice if you like.

I love the combination of the velvety texture from the sweet potato, the glorious colour, and the smoky flavour of the peppers and paprika, overlaid with the sweet zesty orange. Keep tasting and adjusting the seasoning and juice. It’s all about balance between sweet, zesty, smoky and spicey.

Potato and onion soup

I just made a lovely pan of soup for lunch and it was so delicious I thought I better blog it fast whilst i remember what I did!

  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 6 shallots, chopped
  • 4 fat cloves garlic, chopped roughly
  • 4 medium sized potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1cm cubes
  • 1.5 pints vegetable stock
  • 1 glass white wine
  • dollop of cream/soya cream
  • salt
  • white pepper
  • 1.5 oz italian hard cheese/vegan equivalent, finely grated
  • chives
  • rapeseed oil
  1. Slowly soften the onion, shallots and garlic in the oil, in a large saucepan. You don’t want them to colour at this is a pale soup.
  2. Add the potatoes, wine and stock. Season with salt and a little white pepper.
  3. Bring to the boil and simmer until the potatoes are tender.
  4. Turn out the heat, and blitz until smooth.
  5. Add the cream. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  6. Add the cheese and stir to dissolve.
  7. Serve in your favourite soup bowl with some freshly snipped chives on top.

 

#knitsonikpomegranates – what about poetry?

I went looking online for poems relating to pomegranates. I found these:

Eavan Bowland 1944 The Pomegranate

DH Lawrence Pomegranate in Birds, Beast and Flowers, published in 1923.

Cathy Linh Che Pomegranate (audio version here) Originally published in Split (Alice James Books, 2014)

And then I found this compilation, and then there are these too, and these. I am sure there are many more, but for now this will spike my interest enough for some sketching to start next.

#knitsonikpomegranates Investigating symbolism

Just jotting down some notes here on the varied symbolisms attached to pomegranates.

prosperity. ambition

the fruit of the dead – see Rossetti’s painting Persephona

related to the concepts of the earth goddess

calyx shared like a crown – is this where the idea for the crown came from?

abundance, fertility and good luck

used in celebrations of death, weddings, at New Year in Greece

fruitfulness

love

prosperity

The Tamil name maadulampazham is a metaphor for a woman’s mind. It is derived from, maadhu=woman, ullam=mind, which means as the seeds are hidden, it is not easy to decipher a woman’s mind

progeny, fecundity

resurrection and everlasting life

appears in traditions and religions the world over

the indissolubility of marriage

in season september to february which coincides with jumper wearing season in the northern hemisphere

native to iran and north east turkey

both sweet and sour

used in both sweet and savoury dishes – extensively used in cookery

Botticelli and Da Vinci both used them symbolically in paintings

Paul Cezanne’s “Ginger Pot With Pomegranates and Pears” and Pablo Picasso’s “La Grenade”

forbidden fruit

Pomegranate mood board and initial thoughts

I started this challenge by creating a Pinterest board to collect together the pictures I found which were Creative Commons licensed and which seemed to capture to me the visceral nature of the weird pomegranate.

This fruit is strange, and has an almost animalistic alien quality to it, which I wanted to find in photos other people have taken. Pomegranates are rich, sensual, rhythmic, patterned. They are voluptuous, dripping, sweet, and sticky. The best way to loosen the seeds is the cut the fruit in two and slap it with a wooden spoon. The seeds then fall, along with the bright red juice.

When I was a child my mother used to give us a pin to pick the seeds with.

Blood and pins. The colours are rich and gothic, they remind me of rich velvets and silks, of Hammer films, of delving into creamy flesh to reveal dripping swollen seeds of blood red.

Here is the board I have put together so far….

Follow Suzanne’s board #knitsonikpomegranates on Pinterest.

Smoky sweet spicy citrusy soup

Delisious smoky, sweet spicy citrusy soup.
Delicious smoky, sweet spicy citrusy soup.

This soup is so delicious you’ll want to eat it all at once. Dairy and gluten free, it tastes too goo to be true, having all the elements of taste to tickle all your taste buds.

2 sweet red peppers
1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
1 onion, sliced finely
4 cloves garlic, chopped roughly
4 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2-3/4 litre vegetable stock
juice of half a lime
1-2 tablespoons orange juice
1-2 tablespoons ground almonds
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chargrill the peppers over an open flame until black and flaccid. Put into a bowl and cover with cling film until cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, saute the onions and garlic in the oil until soft and golden.

Rub the black skin off the peppers, and remove the stalk and seeds. Chop and add to the onions and garlic.

Add the sweet potatoes, paprika and chilli and cook for a few minutes to released the spice flavours.

Add the stock, bring to the boil, slow to a simmer and cover. Cook until the sweet potato is soft (about 15 minutes).

When the potatoes are soft, take off the heat and blend until smooth.

Add the lime and orange juice a bit at a time together with sea salt and black pepper to taste. You are looking to be able to taste and differentiate all the elements: sweet, salty, spicy, citrusy and smoky.

Add ground almonds to thicken slightly.

Two summery salads with grilled asparagus

I love salad season.

Here are a couple of my favourites:

Vegan coleslaw

Carrots, grated

White cabbage, shredded

Red cabbage shredded

1/4 finely chopped red onion

Equal quantities of vegan garlic mayonnaise and soya yoghurt

Juice of a lemon

Few splashes of chipotle tabasco

Sea salt, ground black pepper

I use equal quantities of grated carrot and shredded red and white cabbage – do it by eye until the three colours are equally visible. Add onion. I mix mine with my hands in a large bowl.

For the dressing use about 3-4 tablespoons each of garlic vegan mayonnaise and plain soya yoghurt. Enhance with a a few dashes of chipotle tabasco. Add the juice of a lemon, some sea salt and black pepper to taste. Just keep tasting it until it tastes delicious and then toss half into the salad, and mix thoroughly with your hands. Add enough more until the veggies are coated, but not dripping in dressing.

Warm new potato and asparagus salad

1lb jersey royal potatoes

2 spring onions, chopped finely

3 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped

5 sunblush tomatoes, shredded

14 fat pitted black olives, quartered

olive oil

sherry vinegar

teaspoon of dijon mustard

teaspoon of caster sugar

sea salt and ground black pepper

15 leaves of fresh basil, torn up

Boil some small jersey royal potatoes in salted water until cooked.

Whilst they are boiling, mix your dressing thoroughly – I like about 3 parts olive oil to 1 part sherry vinegar, spiked with a heaped teaspoon of dijon mustard and tempered with a scant teaspoon of caster sugar, all shaken together in an old cough medicine bottle.

Drain the potatoes and cut to rough bite sized pieces. Toss in the dressing and leave them to soak it all up whilst you mix the other ingredients in a large bowl.

When you have cooked your asparagus, add the potatoes to the tomatoes and olives and spring onions, add the basil and serve warm.

Grilled asparagus

Toss your asparagus spears in olive oil, and cook lightly for a couple of minutes on a hot griddle pan, until you get a few char marks on the spears. Put them on a plate, squeeze over lemon juice, sea salt and pepper, and serve warm with potato salad and coleslaw.Image

What am I knitting?

I have loads of unfinished objects (we call them UFOs) lying about waiting for me to pick them up and turn them into something.

catkin_jumper
Catkin jumper – on the second sleeve!

Right now I am working on a Kate Davies pattern, in Titus yarn. My Catkin jumper has taken me a long time to knit – simply because there is a LOT of stocking stitch, and I’ve kept putting it down to knit other things. However I’m now on the second sleeve, and can see the finishing line, once the neckline is done. That bit will be quite interesting to knit as the cable runs right up to the cast off edge, and that prospect is keeping me going as I slog on with second sleeve syndrome.

Like second sock syndrome, but more sleevey.

I am loving the lovely charcoal colour of Titus (it’s called ‘coal’) I am knitting my Catkin with, and the yarn is very nice to knit, warm, snuggly, drapey with a slight sheen to it. I hope I haven’t worn the hat out by the time the jumper is finished!

Viajante in delicious tomato red.
Viajante in delicious tomato red.

Between sleeves I have been knitting a Viajante by Martina Behm, in Grignasco Merinosilk laceweight, and the most gorgeous tomato red colour (shade 336). As the yarn is very fine, and the bulk of the pattern is in stocking stitch in the round, it’s a perfect Tuesday night Miss Spiritual Tramps Knitting Circle project at The Bridge Hotel.

Warm aubergine pasta salad

Aubergine pasta salad
Aubergine pasta salad

The combination of aubergine, tomato, garlic and basil has me salivating before I’ve even chopped anything.

1 large aubergine, cut into 1cm thick slices and then chunked into bite sized pieces
7 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 16oz tin of chopped tomatoes, drained
3 fl oz olive oil
2 tsp sugar
a large handful of basil leaves, chopped
juice of half a lemon
sea salt and black pepper
6oz orzo pasta

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, and when hot but not smoking, add the garlic.

Cook for a few seconds then add the aubergine, stir quickly to coat in oil. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes, then add the tomatoes and sugar, and a good large pinch of sea salt and a good few turns of ground black pepper. Stir.

Cover and turn down the heat. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes until the aubergine is soft.

Leave covered, and cool whilst you cook the pasta.

Drain the pasta and add to the aubergine mixture. Toss everything together, adjust seasoning and serve.