yemeni oxtail soup

happy new year and welcome to 2016! life in frankfurt is very grey at the moment – i have neither blue skies nor fresh white snow to distract me, so i am looking to add sunshine and magic into my cooking instead.

i’ve been waiting to make this ottolenghi oxtail recipe for absolutely ages – the combination of rich and meltingly tender oxtail combined with the fresh fiery flavour of zhoug (a spiced coriander paste) seemed too good to miss – but we haven’t had the cold weather that i think it deserves.

never mind, i decided to ignore that and i think you should too, as it really is delicious and deserves to be made just so you can enjoy its exotic flavours.

inevitably it’s a dish that takes time – the oxtail bubbles away for a couple of hours so that it becomes tender. herbs are then added – parsley, bay and coriander – to add depth to the stock. the spice mix (cumin, coriander, a little turmeric and wonderful fragrant cardamom) and vegetables come next. at this point i paused and let everything cool overnight, so i could skim off the little bits of fat that solidified at the top of the broth and let the flavours meld.

reheated with a spritz of lemon to freshen everything up, this was served with the fiery green zhoug on top. i’m chasing a cold away, so added a bit of chilli sauce as well. the suggestion of having it with plenty of crusty white bread (and butter) was also perfect.

i particularly love the lightness that the cardamom adds to this. i also like that the soup itself is quite mildly flavoured so can probably be enjoyed by everyone; it’s the addition of the yemeni zhoug that packs the punch.

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merry christmas

seasons greetings, with this wonderful tree we had when we stayed in boa vista last christmas. 

it's been an odd blogging year for me - i don't feel as though i ever really got into the swing of things, but am hoping to do better in 2016, not least as a prompt to try and share new recipes. i hope you keep reading and commenting, to encourage me. enjoy the holidays and i'll be back in the new year.


harissa chickpeas with feta, on toast

this has been my favourite lunch in recent weeks – a slice of buttery toast topped with a spicy chickpea salad, feta and a creamy herb dressing. it’s based on a fernandez & wells recipe i tore out of a magazine and is a nice homemade alternative to “beans on toast”, not least as it is so easy to assemble.

the chickpeas are dressed with harissa, lemon and garlic then mixed with thinly sliced red onion; the dressing is a mix of yoghurt, mint and coriander. the result, when cherry tomatoes and feta is added, is a healthy flavour-packed dish that is a nice alternative to more traditional winter flavours, particularly on those days when you yearn for blue skies and a hint of spring.

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broad bean, yogurt & mint soup

this is not the sort of recipe i’d normally be sharing in the middle of autumn but because i made it with frozen broad beans it’s the sort of thing you can make all year round.

the reason for making it was a bag of frozen broad beans which had been double-podded (the inner white skin round each bean was also removed, leaving behind the bright green bean) and were originally intended for this ottolenghi meatballs with broad beans and lemon recipe. however, once the beans had been defrosted i realised that they were soft and mushy and really not a very nice texture. however they still tasted good, so soup was the obvious option.

this is a very simple recipe, but a clever one in that as it relies on a handful of rice being added to the soup to add a bit of bulk and create a silky texture, rather than potato which would have diluted the bean flavour. mint and yoghurt are obvious flavours to pair with broad beans; i added some lemon zest as well, something else that combines well with the rest of the soup ingredients.

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spicy freekeh and butter bean soup

as the colder weather arrives, this ottolenghi soup is a great choice, especially for lunch or a light supper. it has complex spicy flavours but is not too filling, which gives you every excuse you need to serve it with crusty bread slathered with butter or toasted bread rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil.

the recipe is quite flexible – you can use other beans (or  a mix); if you can’t find freekeh then barley/brown rice would work well or, if you need to get this on the table quickly, use small pasta shapes (farro pasta would give a nice nuttiness and texture). however, i disagree with the suggestion that the sour cream is optional - a creamy something (use creme fraiche or greek yoghurt instead if you prefer) contrast really nicely with the other flavours (however, if you do omit it, this is a great vegan soup).

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