split pea soup (with pork)

Cold, wet days are perfect to indulge in beautiful, thick, tasty soups. In my view soup just isn’t soup without fresh crusty bread, with lots of salted butter or crispy cheese toasties. This, however, is my opinion and one I will not change any time soon.
We are (sadly) nearing the end of our winter season with spring around the corner. But with the icy chill in the air and the snow capped mountains I am by no means ready to start cooking or dressing spring.
Pea soup brings back many childhood memories for me. Not only was it a favorite in my mothers’ kitchen but also the kitchen of my paternal grandmother. The lingering smell of this soup sits firm in my memory bank.
This recipe, however, is my simple version of a pea (and ham) soup…I used pork rashers instead of ham and I enjoy the addition of cubed carrots. I also prefer to blend my soup to achieve a beautifully smooth, silky, velvety texture before adding the carrots.

ingredients | serves 6 – 8 | easy
1T olive oil & a little extra to fry the rashers
1T butter
500g split peas, rinsed
4 pork rashers (about 400g)
1 large white onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 celery ribs, sliced
2 large carrots, cubed
2t fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
4C chicken broth
3-4C water
salt to taste
black pepper to taste
fresh parsley, for garnish
creme fraiche, garnish

cooking method
In a large pot with tight fitting lid, heat about a tablespoon of oil and brown the pork rashers on both sides. Set aside.
In the same pot, without wiping it clean, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil and butter and saute the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute.
Add the celery and peas to the pot, stir to coat and cook for another minute or so.
Pour the chicken broth into the pot followed by the water.
Add the thyme & bay leaves and season with salt & pepper. Bring the mixture to the boil and add the pork rashers.
Turn the heat down to a very gentle simmer, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for about 60 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the pork rashers making sure you removed any bone that may still have been in the rashers. Set aside to cool.
Using a stick blender, blend the soup mixture until silky smooth. Add the cubed carrot, cover with the lid and cook for a further 20 minutes . occasionally stirring, until the carrots are soft.
Remove the soup from the heat and stir the chopped meat through the mixture.

Serve the soup warm garnished with fresh chopped parsley and a good dollop of creme fraiche.

beef brisket

This cut is most definitely one of the least tender cuts of beef but when braised or slowly roasted (low & slow) it is rendered soft and has the most incredible flavour!
I was lucky enough to get a very large piece of brisket from my local butcher. A whole 4.6kg of brisket! So I portioned it, wrapped it and placed it in my freezer for a next occasion. One piece, however, was on my dining table last night. And it was sublime! The warm earthy flavours of the spices it was marinated in worked well with the skillet potato & sweet potato and, of course, was the perfect meal for a chilly winters evening.
The low and slow method is very important here so give it the full four hours as per my recipe. You will not regret it.
I also requested my butcher to remove the bone, which was ideal when slicing the meat.

ingredients | serves 4 | easy
1.3kg beef brisket, bone removed
Olive oil
2t paprika
2t ground coriander
2t mustard powder
1t garlic powder
1/4t salt
1/2t black pepper
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 large carrot, roughly chopped
2T brown sugar
2T tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, whole
3 bay leaves
1.5C red wine
chicken stock (about 2 cups depending on the size of your roasting tray)
corn flour if necessary

how to
In a bowl, mix together the paprika, coriander, mustard powder & garlic powder. Drizzle about three tablespoons olive oil over the brisket and gently rub it into the meat on all sides.
Tip the spice marinade onto the brisket and rub it in using your hands, covering the meat on all sides. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for one hour.
Remove the meat from the fridge and leave to come up to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Heat oil in a large oven proof skillet or tray big enough to hold the brisket. Brown the brisket on all sides, about five minutes per side. Remove the brisket and set aside.
Add a knob of butter to the same skillet without wiping it clean. Sauté the onion for about two minutes. Add the carrot and cook for one minute, stirring.
Add the tomato paste & brown sugar to the skillet and cook the mixture for about three minutes, caramelising the onion & carrot. Add the garlic, stir through and then deglaze the pan with the red wine. Leave to simmer for about three minutes. Add the bay leaves, salt & black pepper. Now pour the chicken stock around the brisket, just more than halfway up.
Tightly wrap the skillet with tin foil or cover with a tight fitting lid.
Place into the oven and roast for 4 hours.
Once cooked, leave to rest for about ten minutes, loosely covered with tinfoil. Meanwhile, using an immersion blender, blitz the stock and vegetable mixture and then strain through a sieve into a sauce pot.
Bring the mixture to the boil and then to a medium simmer. Taste and season. Thicken with corn flour if needed. (Two teaspoons corn four with two teaspoons water.).
Using a serrated knife, slice the brisket flat, against the grain.

Serve with skillet vegetables and couscous or roasted root vegetables.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x

mutton stew

And so, with the seasons slowly starting to change as we make our way into autumn, stews and casseroles are becoming fashionable again. The slow cookers are taken out from their hibernation closets, dusted off and rinsed out and grandma’s little book of cooking notes are lying next to the stove, filled with moreish casserole ideas and tips.
The simplicity of stews and casseroles fits in with anyones schedule as the stove or oven does the work for you. And leftovers can be deboned and used for a mutton pie or baked potato and pulled mutton with a mint/yogurt dressing.
I couldn’t be happier. I love cooking warm, spicy, hearty dishes that i can slurp up next to a fireplace with a bottle of good red wine. Winter is my ideal. And the food that we can cook during this season always blows my mind. And my palette.
Stewing lamb or mutton is an inexpensive cut and loves being cooked low and slow and served with mashed potato, rice or couscous. It is a meal cooked from the heart that boasts beautiful rustic flavours. A must have autumn / winter recipe and one i return to again and again.

ingredients | serves 4 | easy
1kg stewing lamb / mutton
1/3c flour
5tbs olive oil (not extra virgin) & 2tbs extra
good knob of butter
1 white onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, sliced
3 carrots, rinsed and roughly chopped
4 leeks, rinsed and roughly chopped
4 celery ribs, roughly chopped
2tbs tomato paste
1 can chopped tomato
2c beef broth
1.5c red wine
2tbs brown sugar
1tsp onion seeds
1tsp coriander seeds
1tsp dried oregano
1tsp salt
good grind of black pepper
handful fresh parsley, chopped

make it
preheat the oven to 165 degrees C. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the 5 tablespoons of olive oil. Dust the meat pieces with the flour and brown on all sides. Set aside.
In the same skillet, add a drizzle of oil and the butter. Heat. Sauté the onion until glossy. Add the tomato paste, brown sugar, onion seeds, coriander seeds & dried oregano and stir to coat. Cook for one minute.
Add the carrots, celery & leeks and cook for three minutes, stirring to coat. Deglaze the skillet with the red wine and cook on a low simmer for about seven minutes until the alcohol has evaporated and the mixture reduced a little.
Pour the chopped tomatoes and garlic into the skillet, stir and cook for two minutes. Add the beef stock to the skillet, stir and cook for 2 minutes. Season with the salt & pepper.
Carefully lower the meat into the skillet and bring the mixture to the boil. Turn down the heat, cover with a tight fitting lid or tinfoil, place into the oven and cook for 2 – 2.5 hours until the meat almost falls off the bone. (Check the meat after two hours.)
Carefully remove the skillet from the oven and stir the chopped parsley through the mixture.

Serve with your choice of mash, rice, couscous or new potatoes.

Form my kitchen to yours, with love x