Monthly Archives: July 2008

Tomato, lentil and caraway soup

Born from the Kasbahs of Turkey. Smokey, mysterious and beautiful with the ability to take your breath away.


2 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove chopped
1 green pepper diced
1 onion diced
1 dried red chilli
1 tsp caraway seeds
500g passata
tin of plum tomatoes
salt and pepper
500cl vegetable stock


Heat the oil and add the chopped garlic, the caraway seeds and crumble the dried chilli, heat till fragrant.  Add the onion and green pepper and cook for 10 mins or until till soft .  Add the tin of tomatoes and the lentils stir for 2 mins.  Add the passata and the vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 40 mins. To serve, you could add some grated cheese or/and some finely chopped fresh parsley

Health benefits
Lentils are so good for keeping you full for a long time as well as cleaning out your insides with all that fibre.

Canned tomatoes contain lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant and has cancer-preventing properties, these cancers now include colorectal, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic cancers. Prevention of heart disease has been shown to be another antioxidant role played by lycopene.

Did You know…
In one of the short stories in Dubliners by James Joyce, a character eats caraway seeds to mask the alcohol on his breath.

Leave a comment

Filed under food, healthy, Homemade, recipe, soup, Uncategorized, vegetarian

season and spice

Trialing the season and spice monthly box selection. This month got elderflower heads, long pepper to make strawberries with elderflower and pepper cream. Saffron, rouille mix, soup mix to make a bouillabaisse and some cajun powder for bbq’s.

Strawberry with elderflower and long pepper was amazing will make again and turn into ice cream I think.  Bouillabaisse was a triumph though would adapt recipe a bit in future (one niggle this is a seasonal recipe and it tells you to put mussels in which are out of season – remember only buy mussels in a month with an R in it).

I used the cajun powder on a chicken which I roasted – similar to what I normally put onto my chicken fennel, cayenne, salt, pepper and thyme.

I love getting a monthly selection – it makes me cook things I wouldn’t normally cook which is always a good thing, I get to try out new spices and understand how they work and the recipes are very simple.  looking forward to next months selection.

Leave a comment

Filed under food, Homemade, soup, Uncategorized

Smoked salt

Latest supermarket strange reduction maldon smoked salt – normally £1.99 for a little box reduced to 49p – have a look in sainsbury’s maybe they are discontinuing or changing the packaging. Well I had to get some.

So far have added it to my spicy north African prawn dish, some cajun pork and a courgette soup. It smells great,  like a bbq on a beach would smell salty and smokey – no idea if it is having much effect on the food, life is too short to cook the dish twice one with smoked salt one without! bet it is lovely on its own with some unsalted butter and fresh bread though – yum

Leave a comment

Filed under food, soup, vegetarian

A long relationship with a bar

It all started with a skinny little bar called North Bar. Leeds had no decent bars back in the day ( pubs yes, but not bars) North was one of the first to open (alongside arts, oporto and Normans). It sold interesting beer but also a great gin and tonic – this was the dark days when gin and tonics came in wine glasses with an ice cube and a slice of lemon from a jar. North was my first experience in Leeds, of lots of ice and a squeeze of fresh lime. We would all pile in – they would do table service (this was a shocking level of service, they even let you set up a tab!!). But as I got older North got busier and louder – I needed somewhere quieter to sip wine and maybe have some food with friends.

Ahh lovely North bar opened a sister bar down the road called the Reliance in 2001. Here my relationship developed from casual lover to committed relationship. Just four months after Reliance opened we got married there (me and my husband, not me and the bar). Joss (owner manager) had never done a wedding at Reliance (we had never got married) but between us we managed to get a band (thanks to the bargirls boyfriend – she said they were good I believed her and they were) get a cake (thanks to the frustrated chef who always wanted a chance to do some fancy spun sugar work) and order in crisp white linen and silver cutlery (thanks Joss)

The pub was closed to the public, the florist and the chief usher (Mark now creative director for World Events) worked all day decorating the bar with flowers  (using vegetables as flower containers)help move furniture, lay tables. As it was October, the food needed to be hearty and welcoming. We chose sausages – five different types plus two vegetarian and three different types of mash all with gravy. How were we to know that come the wedding day the temperature was 25c instead of the expected 14c.

Thank God we had opted for Tapas and cava for the evening guests. The day was wonderful (might be biased) the staff were lovely and we all had a great day. As a wedding present the bar gave us the cctv footage of the evening – hmm bit like being in the big brother house.

The Reliance continued being a favourite bar – we always had birthdays and anniversaries there.

Then they opened another bar Cross keys, this is the sophisticated business sibling. All grown up gastropub with fabulous interior. This is the perfect work meeting spot, after work drinks, or Sunday lunch. It is in the Round Foundry a complex made up of architects, design agencies, new media agencies (and another brilliant bar Midnight Bell) . Have taken mum to Cross Keys on Mother’s Day where she got a free glass of Champagne ( how sweet).

It doesn’t stop there last year the latest family member, little sister Further North  was opened- which is on my doorstep in Chapel Allerton, it is tiny has great olives and means I don’t have to pay for a taxi to get there or back! I love North bar and all the rest of the clan.

Now I want them to open somewhere with a lovely big beer garden. Will take some photos this weekend and post them up.

1 Comment

Filed under Bar, food, leeds, Restaurant, Uncategorized, vegetarian

Saving money at the supermarket

I love this, it makes me giggle. It all links back to being thrifty, which doesn’t mean having to compromise.

Below is a table lifted from Martins money saving expert  (I am a pirate) showing when supermarkets reduce food (In the UK). I would also add that I have noticed in the past that certain days are more likely to see bigger reductions.

When I lived very close to a supermarket I would accidentally stumble across amazing bargains (probably, I now realise, because it was after 7pm). As a keen cook it often means that I would save massively on expensive ingredients which I would then cook that evening – yummy.  

Supermarket Rough Reductions Schedule
Times will vary by store, but this is rough feedback from store staff
Amount you may be able to save
  Up to 25% off
Up to 50% off
Up to 75% and up
Source: Great ‘supermarket staff, tell us your reduction policies’ hunt.  

These days I tend not to hunt round supermarkets at 8pm instead choosing to shop online. 

Online supermarket shopping has been greatly improved by my supermaket which is brilliant. My supermarket allows you to choose what supermarket you want to shop at, pick a delivery time and then keeps a running tab of how much your shop would be at the other supermarkets. It also offers suggestions for swaps to save money or have fewer calories. There are a few issues for foodies such as if you put in free range chicken it will do a price comparison in the other supermarkets for any chicken, same with organic milk, but hey I can cope.

Having tried all home shopping deliveries would say Ocado is the best – not cheap but I have aldi for the basics – my reasons are as follows

  • 1 hr delivery slot (not rubbish 2 hr slot)
  • they always come in that hour (not like Asda who were an hour late in a two hour slot)
  • they text you 10 mins before coming with name of driver – which means even during the hour wait you can pop out
  • they always seem to have all the goods and substitutions are very rare
  • the drivers always seem happy and helpful
  • they have green delivery slots
  • they deliver the next day
  • finally my nearest store is 10 miles away so they are cheaper delivering than me going there!

Worst was Asda which is a pity as they are often the cheapest – reason being

  • bad delivery times
  • substitutions are many – which means rifling through your shopping on the doorstep whilst they re scan it ( every time I ask for no substitutions but they always do) and also often means you have to go somewhere else to buy what you ordered so wastes time.
  • Bad substitutions –  no fresh thyme so they offered me fresh basil.
  • drivers all tell you that it not their fault (despite me not blaming anyone) and that asda are just rubbish (great staff training and motivation!) 
If you order branded goods rather than ingredients then I would still use Asda as they are cheaper, Tesco and sainsbury are both okay not bad for delivery or substitutions (but not great)  maximum points for Ocado.

Have also tried Natooraand they were very good and exciting (more farmers market experience) and will definitely order form them for a dinner party or Christmas. Slight niggle with them was the amount of packaging – kept everything safe but filled my green bin with packaging! 

Leave a comment

Filed under Cheap, food, Shop, Uncategorized

happen upon round up

So this week Happen upon has happened upon

  • frozen roasted peppers – should be good for soups (waitrose)
  • frozen grilled aubergine slices – (asda)
  • Lauden chocolates at the farmers market – yum yum
  • Loose birds free range chicken – harome North Yorkshire
  • Midnight Bell – new pub and brewery
  • Sloe Whisky – by sloe motion mmm delicious

more tasty treats next week


Filed under food, Homemade, Uncategorized

Chocolate and spice and all things nice.


Just spotted Bloomsbury and Co chocolate. Quirky wrappers some with pharmaceutical type labels – girth control, Bochox, dechox, oral pleasure. Checked out the website and they are definitely a fun bunch – based in New Zealand.

Americans all rave about this chocolate but hey they like Hershey bars – yuch yuch. Actually I take that back as I still have sleepess nights thinking about  mariebelle hot chocolate. We happened upon this place in SoHO New York and fell in love with the place (looking on their site I think they have grown since I went 4 years ago). Bought a small tin home to the UK not thinking much of it. When I tried it I was in heaven – I have so many different real flake hot chocolates but this was the best and you could make little creme de chocolates. If you live in America then buy this stuff by the bucketloads.

I like a good 60% plus but will be persuaded by rococo to eat any of their chocolates (I draw the line at white chocolate though). My favourites, so far, of the artisan bars are sea salt, rose and cardamom.

A recent find in our farmers market was Lauden, who make the most exquisite chcolates, all hand made and I recommend the pistachio cups (ganache in a dark chocolate shell with nibbs of bright green pistachio. So if you go to Mariebelle for me I will go to Lauden for you – only available in Leeds and York. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Chocolate, food, Uncategorized, vegetarian