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Archive for the ‘December’ Category

This is a super easy soup that full of freshness and packs a real flavour punch. I was first introduced to this at Leiths with Lucy. The same place that introduced us to the best ever crumble recipe.

This is the kind of soup that is enjoyable all year round and is very versatile. For fully loaded green goodness leave out the fish or go with the unsmoked variety if it isn’t your thing.  Or if it really really is, up the ante by adding crispy pancetta as a garnish at the end (just make sure you keep an eye on the saltiness by continuously tasting and adjusting the seasoning). I’ve also added some lemon juice and zest to keep it light and fresh. I urge you to give this a go, you won’t be disappointed if you’re after something healthy yet filling.

Smoked Haddock and Spinach Soup (adapted from Leiths) serves 4

Smoked Haddock and Spinach Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large potatoes, peeled and sliced as thin as possible (to cook quickly)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 litre stock (fish, chicken or vegetable – whichever you have on hand)
1 bag of spinach (approx 200-250g)
300-350g un-dyed, smoked haddock, skin removed (any smoked or unsmoked fish fit for poaching will do – ask your fishmonger if you’re not certain, but do make sure you get fresh and un-dyed)
grated nutmeg
salt and freshly ground pepper
juice and zest of half a lemon (unwaxed)

1. Put the oil in a large saucepan over a low heat and add the potatoes and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes making sure the potatoes and garlic don’t brown or catch.

Potatoes cooking

2. Add the stock, bring to the boil. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat and simmer gently until the potatoes are cooked (5 minutes or so). **Keep in mind that if you are using smoked fish, go easy on the salt, you can always add more if needed once the fish has been added**

Spinach

3. Add the spinach and cook for another 1-2 minutes until the spinach has just wilted. Remove from the heat and give it a good stir.

Wilted Spinach

4. Add the soup to a blender in batches and pulse to liquidise. **You need to be very careful when you’re doing this as the soup (and steam) is hot. So tightly cover the lid with a tea towel so that your hands don’t get splattered and scorched**

5. Return the soup to the saucepan and reheat slowly over a low heat.  At this point, taste and add some water if the soup is too thick or salty for your liking.

Spinach Soup

6. Gently add the fillets of fish and leave them to poach without stirring for 3-4 minutes. Once the fish has cooked (just turned opaque throughout) gently break up the fillets into large chunks.

Smoked Haddock

8.  Add the lemon juice. Taste and adjust with more salt and pepper or a squeeze more lemon.

9. Serve piping hot with a sprinkle of lemon zest over each bowl. Tuck in feeling incredibly healthy and virtuous! x

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the humble scone

We’re off to Prague this weekend, but if I wasn’t I’d probably be baking because that is exactly what is required in this sort of weather. It’s hard to feel anything but happy when you’re all cosy indoors, the heat from the oven is warming up the kitchen and delicious smells of sugar, butter and rising dough are wafting through the house. Divine.

What’s always a crowd pleaser surprisingly enough is the humble scone and they are so easy to whip up in as little as 20 minutes. In England, apart from plain scones, you will always be able to get your hands on a very good sultana scone. Quite often, although not as popular it seems over here, is of course the savoury scone in all it’s varieties. However, I personally prefer a sweet scone and my ultimate favourite are ones made with dates. And of course, typically, no one makes or sells date scones here! Why is that? I find this truly astounding considering they are ubiquitous in NZ and rightly so as they are so damn tasty.  Scones are such an institution in England, you’d think they’d have all types covered. Maybe it’s because it’s not the done thing to mess with such a tradition. Definitely their loss (well actually my loss…). Someone should start selling them here, I reckon they’d make a killing. You know how everyone’s always saying ‘why isn’t there more Antipodean style cafes around?!’ Well imagine an Antipodean style cafe that also sold date scones – genius! Someone do it, please!!! 

So because I can never buy a date scone, this is always the type I make for a treat that reminds me of home and my mum who brushes brown sugar, cinnamon and melted butter on hers before they go in the oven making them extra decadent and delicious. Whenever my uncle was coming to visit, Mum and I would always make date scones. Not because they were his favourite, quite the opposite in fact.  We always felt a bit wicked doing this, but because he doesn’t really like date scones and also has a BIG appetite, we knew that there would always be some left over for us if we made date scones when he visited because he wouldn’t be inclined to eat them all himself! Mean perhaps but quite funny we thought…or maybe that’s just our weird sense of humour.

Anyway, here is the recipe so that you can enjoy too!

Date Scones

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Date Scones (makes 12)

Ingredients
– 3 cups plain flour
– 6 teaspoons baking powder
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 3/4 – 1 cup of pitted, chopped dates
– 1 tablespoon castor sugar
– 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
– 75g butter
– 250 – 375ml milk, approximately
– 1 tablespoon brown sugar
– 2 tablespoons melted butter
– pinch of ground cinnamon

Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees celsius.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl.

Cut the butter into cubes, add to the dry ingredients and gently rub with your fingers until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the chopped dates, sugar and cinnamon and give a quick mix to combine.

Add 250ml of the milk at first and mix quickly with a knife until a soft but quite sticky/wet dough is formed. Add more milk if the mixture is too dry. Knead a few times.

Lightly dust a baking tray with flour and press the dough out onto it until it’s about 1 inch/couple of cm high.

Cut into 12 equal pieces and then arrange them on the tray with 1 cm of space between each scone.

Melt the butter, stir in the brown sugar and cinnamon until the sugar has dissolved and then brush the tops with the mixture. This of course is optional but definitely recommended! You can always just brush with a little extra milk or egg yolk if preferred. But do one or the other to ensure your scones come out looking nice and golden. Even scones need a bit of fake tan in this weather!!

Bake for 10-12 mins or until golden brown. Once cooked, remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack before serving warm with jam and cream and a big pot of steaming tea.

A few tips
1. for the mixture to form fine breadcrumbs, you must use cold butter straight from the fridge (don’t leave it out to soften at all)
2. don’t worry too much about the height or uniformity of your dough when cutting into scones – a bit of unevenness adds character!
3. if you are unusual and don’t like dates, then you can go plain by just omitting the dates, sugar and cinnamon or you could swap out the dates for the same quantity of sultanas.

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