Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Wild garlic soup

Some years ago I was given the gift of a wild garlic plant. Given to me by Food Urchin blogger (http://www.foodurchin.com), foodie, content editor and social media manager Danny Kingston, I lovingly planted it in my south facing back garden.

 

If you have wild garlic available to you, whether in your garden or foraging (although my European friends tell me you can actually buy wild garlic in the supermarket), you might want to preserve it. My friend and food blogger Kavey has this advice on preserving wild garlic: https://www.kaveyeats.com/how-to-have-wild-garlic-all-year-round

I’ve been warned about how wild garlic can spread and “take over” your garden. Somehow the winters in South London have managed to limit the ambitions of my wild garlic plant, which is limited to a small corner of the back garden flowerbed. I left it for a few years to acclimat
ise and build up its strength in its new home. I am well aware that bulb plants need to be left alone before you can bother them. 


 

This year, it looked vigourous enough to take some leaves and flowers from to do some cooking with. After all, that was the point of growing it, right?

One of my Twitter friends suggested making a soup with the wild garlic leaves, so here is my version of wild garlic soup.

This makes enough soup for 4 portions. You can choose to make the soup and split it up into two portions, one to have now and another to have later. If so, then miss out the topping stage when you portion up the soup for the fridge. Leave the serving ingredients for when you reheat the soup and serve up. Remember that when you reheat you should not allow the soup to boil, but to heat up until it is piping hot (it is steaming and hot all the way through).

Wild garlic soup


 

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

500g floury potato, peeled and diced

50g wild garlic leaves (you can include the stalks as they are fresh and garlicky flavoured in the Spring, they are not woody at all), cut into strips. 


 
One organic onion (medium to large), peeled finely diced. You could use a leek instead, particularly the green parts for the colour.

1 litre hot vegetable stock

2 tablespoons of olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

Salt, to taste (optional, as the stock may already have salt – check to taste)

To serve:

2 leaves wild garlic, cut into narrow strips, to serve

4 wild garlic flowers, to servie

4 tablespoons double cream, to serve

Method:

First heat up the 2 tablespoons of olive oil on a medium heat and when hot, add the finely diced onion. Cook for 12 minutes on a low to middling heat. You want the onion completely soft but not coloured.

 

Next add the 500 g diced potato and 1 litre of hot vegetable stock. Cook this for 20-25 minutes on a medium heat.

  

While the potato was cooking, I shredded the wild garlic, leaves, stems and all. I left this until later to prevent the wild garlic from drying out or wilting. 


Take the pan with the potato, onion and stock off the heat, add the wild garlic, stir well to combine.

Now blend the soup. I did this in the pan with my trusty stick blender. You can always use a worktop blender. 


 

Once blended, add a sprinkling of raw shredded wild garlic, a drizzle of double cream (about 1 tablespoon per bowl) and a wild garlic flower. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Taste for the salt content and add salt if needed. 


Enjoy immediately, unless you are reserving half for later, as per the instructions above.

Saturday, 27 March 2021

March 2021 Favourites list

Hello again, my friends!

Spring is here! March has brought with it a little bit of sunshine and a lot of colour. The Spring flowers are so vibrant and life affirming, after what has felt like a longer than usual Winter. Drinking in the colours has been joyful. 

Magnolia flowers
 

For the first time in a long time, I have news! I have had my first Coronavirus jab! As I mentioned in last month's Favourites List post, the UK vaccine rollout has been a source of hope for many of us here. Well, my turn has come around, and I was ready for it!

Arriving at the local health centre tasked with vaccinations, the security guard asked me if I was here for my vaccine.... Without hesitation, I replied "bring it on!" He laughed at my eccentricity, my miming of jabbing my own arm was probably more theatrical than was strictly necessary, but he smiled and directed me into the building. 

Inside, was an operation of such organisation, efficiency, happiness and positivity, I won't forget it in a very long time. Yes, you read that correctly; happiness and positivity. Volunteers smiled and greeted us, reminding everyone to sanitise their hands on arrival. 

I was shown into a socially distanced waiting room where a very kindly man checked I understood what vaccination was, and whether I consented to the process. Then ten of us at a time were walked to the nerve centre of the operation; rows of cubicles where details were taken, information about the vaccine was given, arms swabbed, jabs administered. Local GPs who would normally be working in their own clinics were carrying out the vaccinations and ensuring everyone understood what was happening. 

Then we were given a sticker with the time of our injection, and shown to a second socially distanced waiting room. The idea being we would wait for 20 minutes in case of an immediate adverse reaction. I was there with around 30 people and nobody had any problems. In that time, three smiling and relentlessly positive people asked me if I was OK, and whether I was feeling strange. At the end, I was told I could go home, but before leaving was presented with what is now my favourite pin badge (some of you will know how much I love a pin badge) proudly stating that I have had my Covid vaccine. 

I would like to express my heartfelt and deep gratitude to the medical staff, doctors, nurses and amazing volunteers. They made the experience one without trepidation or worry. In a couple of months, I'll be back to do it all over again. 

So, on to the main event, my March favourite food writing, cultural picks and recipes. With photos of some of the Spring flowers I've been spotting this past month. I hope you enjoy my selections. 

Food writing and articles:

What is in season in March, and some recipe ideas for cooking inspiration: https://www.greatbritishchefs.com/features/whats-in-season-march

Kavey has continued her exploration of the food of the UK. Here is her post on the best traditional food of Wales: https://www.kaveyeats.com/the-best-traditional-food-from-wales

 

Spring blossom

Kavey’s final instalment of her foods of the UK series is about the best traditional foods of Northern Ireland: https://www.kaveyeats.com/the-best-traditional-food-from-northern-ireland

Cooking steaks in a toaster? I'm not saying it wouldn't work, but how can you have crumpets with jam afterwards? https://metro.co.uk/2021/02/26/chef-reveals-how-to-make-the-perfect-steak-at-home-using-a-toaster-14151349/

Could this be a big time saving kitchen tip? Don't take time making rice, noodles or pasta, just roll up a tortilla: https://www.eater.com/22225516/just-put-everything-in-a-tortilla

Cleaning and storage tips from a restaurant kitchen to yours: https://food52.com/blog/25900-restaurant-kitchen-cleaning-storage-tips

Recipes:

From Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s new cookbook ‘Eat Better Forever’: recipes for Asian hot pot with mushrooms, celeriac and beans, Curried beany cullen skink, Mushroom & black rice ‘chachouka’ and traditional chachouka: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/hugh-fearnley-whittingstall-book-recipes-ideas-b1787802.html

Purple pansy
 

I made this delicious and simple Korean lamb hotpot with gochujang: https://www.theguardian.com/food/2021/jan/09/korean-spiced-hotpot-to-baked-squash-chantelle-nicholson-recipes-for-winter-meals

Chef Asma Khan (of Darjeeling Express, London) shares her mung dahl recipe for home cooking: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-06-26/best-indian-dal-recipe-for-home-asma-khan

Meera Sodha’s recipe for Iranian white bean stew Fasoulia: https://www.theguardian.com/food/2019/feb/02/meera-sodha-vegan-recipe-iraqi-white-bean-stew-fasoulia

Rosie Reynold’s recipe for one pot chicken noodle soup for an easy weekday main meal: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/chicken-noodle-soup-recipe-easy-b1807280.html

Raymond Blanc shares his mum’s vegetable soup recipe. One main soup, which you can eat three ways: https://www.itv.com/food/articles/maman-blancs-vegetable-soup-three-ways

Sushi bake is a Filipino dish layering sushi rice, seafood, sriracha chilli sauce and mayo. With its roots in Japanese food, it is infinitely flexible comfort food: https://www.bonappetit.com/story/sushi-bake

Cream primrose

 Orzotto is like a risotto, made with rice shaped pasta called orzo. Here’s a Gorgonzola, leek and walnut orzotto, which is warming and cheesy: https://www.deliciousmagazine.co.uk/recipes/gorgonzola-leek-and-walnut-orzotto/

This crab tostadas recipe is from Borough Market's Tacos Padre stall. Grab yourself some crab meat, coriander, avo and get crunching! https://www.olivemagazine.com/recipes/fish-and-seafood/crab-tostadas/

Seven London chefs share their quick and easy lunch recipes for those of us working from home: https://www.standard.co.uk/reveller/foodanddrink/quick-easy-lunch-recipes-london-chefs-b907072.html

For the history buffs – recipes from Ancient Greece and Rome: https://blog.britishmuseum.org/cook-a-classical-feast-nine-recipes-from-ancient-greece-and-rome/

Cook like a Suffragette: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/suffragist-cookbook-historical-recipes

I'm intrigued by this peanut lime noodle salad with tofu: https://www.badmanners.com/recipes/peanut-lime-noodles

What you might have missed at Snig’s Kitchen:

My recipe for Chicken and sweetcorn soup with egg. https://snigskitchen.blogspot.com/2021/03/chicken-and-sweetcorn-soup-with-egg.html

Euphorbia

 My other writing:

I was recently asked to provide some insight into the employment law issues involved with working from home by Adriatico News in Italy. A link to their news article and my original words in English are here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/my-statement-adriatico-news-working-from-home-snigdha-nag and https://www.adriaticonews.it/2021/02/24/snigdha-nag-lo-smart-working-non-e-cosi-ovvio-da-generalizzare-anche-se-si-lavora-da-casa-bisogna-pensare-alla-salute-e-alla-sicurezza-dei-propri-dipendenti/

TV:

The Great

The Investigation

Deutschland 89

Film:

Frantz

One Night in Miami

Frances Ha

Music:

Radiohead - The Bends

Various Artists - Buena Vista Social Club

Nitin Sawhney - Beyond Skin

Please note: as with every monthly Favourites List, all of these items have been selected by me simply because I love them. I do not receive any money, benefits in kind or other incentive for posting these links or recommendations.  

Saturday, 6 March 2021

Chicken and sweetcorn soup with egg

This recipe is my attempt to recreate Chinese restaurant style sweetcorn soup. I posted a photo of the finished dish on social media and was amazed to receive several requests for the recipe. I wasn’t prepared for this, so I’m sorry but I don’t have any of my more usual step-by-step photos with the instructions this time. 

 

It may well be that some of the ingredients I’ve chosen are those used in Chinese food, but are not authentic to this dish, but I wanted a soup which wasn’t too bland given the main ingredients are sweetcorn and stock. If my recipe isn’t quite right, then I apologise. This is very much my take on this soup, made for my taste. Absolutely no disrespect was intended.

I have made this soup with chicken and egg. I have been advised you can make it more luxurious by adding crab meat.

I have used Hong brand creamed corn. Your local Chinese grocers should sell cans of creamed corn and some supermarkets sell it. If you can’t get it, then you might have to use a can of regular sweetcorn and blitz it in a blender with a small amount of milk and/or cornflour mixed with water. 


I have used homemade vegetable stock to make this soup. You do not need to, and you can use either a stock pot or a stock cube. I will indicate in the instructions what to do if you are using pots or cubes.

You can find ginger paste in the supermarket, and I would have used fresh ginger had I not run out of it!

Shaosing (or Shaoxing) rice wine is a hero ingredient for Chinese food. It adds depth of flavour and complexity to your cooking. It is very useful for creating Chinese style marinades. I would advise you to try to seek it out from a Chinese grocery story (although some supermarkets sell it), but if you can’t get hold of it or don’t want to invest in it for a single recipe, just omit it. Don’t substitute for something else as it won’t be the same. Obviously, if you do not consume alcohol for any reason, miss this ingredient out.

Serves 2 people as lunch/dinner or serves 4 as a starter

Ingredients

2 chicken thigh, deskinned and deboned

1 can creamed corn

1 teaspoon ginger paste (or a half inch piece of ginger peeled and grated finely)

1 tablespoon Shaosing rice wine

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

700 millilitres of vegetable stock (or chicken stock)

1 tablespoon of cornflour, dissolved in 2 tablespoons of chicken stock, in a small bowl

2 eggs, beaten and left in a separate bowl

2 spring onions, sliced, including as much of the greens as you can manage


 

Method

In a small pan, cover the chicken thighs generously in water, bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the chicken and when cool enough to handle, chop into small dice. If you are not using homemade stock, you might want to save the water and use it to make up chicken or vegetable stock using either a stock cube or stock pot. Leave the chicken to one side.

Put the stock in a saucepan and heat up. Once hot, but not boiling, add the creamed sweetcorn, ginger, soy and Shaosing. The heat will drop because the sweetcorn is room temperature. You need to keep the heat on it so that it is piping hot but not boiling.

When it is hot, add the chicken and sweetcorn/stock blend. Mix thoroughly. Ensure that it gets back to a hot, but not boiling temperature. (If you are using leftover chicken from the fridge, you might want to make sure you give the chicken a few minutes to get heated up. This is necessary to avoid food poisoning.)

Get the beaten eggs ready. Swirl the soup and slowly drizzle the egg into the soup. It should form coagulated threads almost immediately. If it doesn’t do so, then the soup isn’t hot enough, so increase the heat, wait and try again. Keep the soup moving and swirling while you then slowly pour in the remaining beaten egg.

When you can see that all the egg has turned into cooked threads of protein, the soup is ready. Dish up into bowls and top with the spring onions.

Enjoy while it is hot. The cooked egg is not particularly suitable for reheating, so eat the soup now.

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

February 2021 Favourites list

February always seems to feel shorter than it is. You start on February the first with a brand new month and before you know it, it has slipped away and March is practically here. Here in the UK we had the announcement that we have a road map out of Lockdown 3.0 so there is a feeling of cautious optimism as we head into March.

I wonder if, like me, when you speak to family members, you prattle a little about what’s on TV, what you’ve been cooking and eating and reflect on where we are in the pandemic, and then sigh and say “I haven’t got any news”? It’s been a bit of a theme to conversations for a few months. This month has been slightly different as my parents and mother in law have been able to report getting their Covid vaccinations. I’ve breathed a sigh of relief as they’ve received their first jabs, and now hope the follow ups will come soon. I am waiting my turn, but watching the success of the UK vaccination programme has been heartening.

I was very lucky this month, as my friend Adey was good enough to write a guest post for this blog, his famous “weapons grade garlic” chicken. I would like to thank him and his partner Jools for the attention to detail, careful instructions and step by step photos. (Link to the post is featured below).

This month I will share with you some of my cooking creations in the photos to accompany this post. Some are “prettier” dishes than others. But they were all delicious. Home cooking has been such a comfort right now.

Food writing and articles:

A wonderfully evocative selection of diverse food writers share what comfort food means to them: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/04/opinion/covid-world-comfort-food.html

 

Food trends for 2021, to explore in lockdown: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/seaweed-bottarga-nigella-sherry-fermenting-coffee-b1784464.html  

The best traditional food from Scotland, by Kavey. Covering beef, haggis. Arbroath Smokies, Cullen Skink, Cranachan and Rowie. https://www.kaveyeats.com/the-best-traditional-food-from-scotland

Here's Kavey's guide to the best traditional food from England. Stilton, Cornish pasties, cream teas, Yorkshire pudding, Lancashire hotpot and strawberries in cream (of course!): https://www.kaveyeats.com/the-best-traditional-food-from-england

 

Here's your guide to Shrove Tuesday, including why Pancake Day is always on a Tuesday: https://metro.co.uk/2021/01/29/when-is-pancake-day-2021-and-why-is-it-always-on-a-tuesday-13978630/

Genevieve Ko is a chef, able to cook without a cookbook. But she’s resolved to follow recipes to the letter. Why? Because it gives you a better understanding of the culture behind the cuisine. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/04/dining/cookbook-recipe-resolutions.html

How the Japanese attitude to vegetables can change the way you cook and eat: https://heated.medium.com/the-best-vegetable-cooking-tip-ive-ever-received-was-also-the-simplest-28234b0011a7


 

A handwritten leather and rag paper cookbook from the 1830s got sold in a charity shop for £40. Is it the collected culinary secrets of an upper class household? And what are the recipes actually like? https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/historical-english-cake-recipes

Cooking and kitchen tips:

Ten tips on using baking powder and bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) in the home: https://archive.is/rGGrU

Want to eat well on a budget? Here are Dr Rupy’s tips on what to have in your store cupboard. https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/articles/thrifty_cooking_storecupboard

Alton Brown’s 2016 food tip for better scrambled eggs is having a revival. The secret? Mayonnaise and water to create an emulsion. https://metro.co.uk/2021/01/25/chef-reveals-trick-to-make-perfect-scrambled-eggs-using-mayo-13959523/

Recipes:

A selection of sweet potato recipes showing just how versatile they are as an ingredient: https://www.stylist.co.uk/food-drink/best-sweet-potato-recipes/476723

Potatoes, parsnips and celeriac, Pamela Yung of London’s Flor restaurants shares her innovative recipes for winter veggies: https://www.theguardian.com/food/2021/jan/30/new-ways-with-winter-vegetables-recipes-parnsip-potato-fritters-celeriac-cake-winter-citrus-chicory-buttermilk-dressing

Pork belly with bay, cider and pears: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/pork-belly-with-bay-cider-pears

Soup can be posh, so don't write it off. I like the look of this truffled parsnip soup with hazelnuts and bacon: https://www.deliciousmagazine.co.uk/recipes/truffled-parsnip-soup-with-hazelnuts-and-bacon/

 

Meera Sodha's vegan recipe for Gujarati whole mung dal with sambharo (a sweet-sour cabbage and carrot relish): https://www.theguardian.com/food/2021/jan/30/meera-sodha-vegan-recipe-for-gujarati-whole-mung-dal-with-sambharo

Quick pickled onions are easy to make and you can use them either as a garnish or topping for tacos, sandwiches or many other dishes. https://getpocket.com/explore/item/how-to-make-quick-pickled-red-onions

 

What you might have missed at Snig’s Kitchen

Adey’s Weapons Grade Garlic Griddled Chicken with Roasted Vegetables – a guest post from Adey (AKA @515mm on Twitter who is well worth following): https://snigskitchen.blogspot.com/2021/02/adeys-weapons-grade-garlic-griddled.html

TV:

It’s A Sin

The Pembrokeshire Murders

Film:

The Guilty

The Conversation

The Eichmann Show

Music:

Cold Fact – Rodriguez

Michael Kiwanuka – Kiwanuka


 

Please note: as with every monthly Favourites List, all of these items have been selected by me simply because I love them. I do not receive any money, benefits in kind or other incentive for posting these links or recommendations.