Friday, January 29, 2010

I wanted...I bought...I made

Friday lunchboxes - steamed pork and eggs. cabbage and rice

We have the lovely Marie and her new husband Jon coming for dinner Saturday so I'm thinking orange and chicory salad to start, oxtail lasagne to guard against the cold followed by rhubarb fool it was so nice to see them and dinner worked a treat, starting with prawns dipped in the last of the aioli to go with champagne. Sunday time for a roast again, it's been a couple of weeks, beef perhaps slow roasted pork shoulder with lots of root veg roasted with chilli and ginger. Monday we may well be out, Tuesday lentils the leftover oxtail lasagne, still totally wow, Wednesday I think we're meeting David for movies, Thursday I should have my borrowed Miele steam oven didn't think I was getting it but then I did so bought some pork mince from Ginger Pig on the way home and had steamed pork and eggs with steamed cabbage and boiled rice for a really good dinner so tofu and bacon I think, and Friday pork and eggs, also steamed brussel sprout soup from the freezer with bread and cheese and olives to use what we have in.

Lunches for the week were mostly cold roast pork with cold roast veg. I peeled and chopped sweet potato, parsnip, turnip and swede into big chunks then roasted them with chillies and chopped ginger for a great accompaniment to the pork and then through the week they are spice hot and sweet at lunch time. It took about five minutes each morning to slice some meat and put it into tubs with a couple of big spoonfuls of roast veg and a bundle of fresh rocket. Add a clementine and a couple of biscuits and est voila! Lunch is ready. Friday we had the rest of the steamed pork and eggs with rice for a very chinesey treat, packed after dinner Thursday for a quick getaway next morning.

We were a little later than usual on Saturday getting to Borough Market but not too late and it was a bit busier but not horrendous. There was a sign outside the Ginger Pig saying pork rib chops £2 and, thinking they were racks of spareribs asked for one. Quite meaty looking chops so went with it anyway in the freezer and also got a big piece of pork shoulder on the bone for slow Sunday roast - £17.20

At Booths I bought sweet potatoes, turnips and swede - though I can't be certain which is which I bought both, parsnips, roasting potatoes proper Sunday roast veg collection, carrots, cabbage steamed with the rendered spiced fat from the pork Thursday night, brussel sprouts, clementines, blood oranges, chicory and rhubarb to start and end supper Saturday for £13.70

Gave Wild Beef back a mountain of egg boxes and bought half a dozen as well - £1.50

Bought jalapeno olives from Fresh Olive Company - £3.50

At Shellseekers I bought sweet little peeled school prawns - £5.80
Needed cheese from Gastronomica - a hunk of truffled sheeps cheese and some Parmesan as we're out - £11

Black olives from the Turkish stall, creamy and salty - £2.50

A bowl of peppers from Tony - £1

Milk, cream and bread from Neals Yard - £10.50

Two loaves of toast bread from Flour Power - £2.20

So a not unreasonable £68.90

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Boiled Chicken with leeks and aioli

Fergus Henderson is rightly famous for his long followed creed of nose to tail eating and the pared down aesthetic of St John. His guiding principle seems to be that it’s only polite if you knock an animal on the head to eat it all: tripe, heart, feet, ears, head, tail. It’s what he's renowned for, his signature dish is roasted bone marrow with parsley caper sauce, which is utterly sublime. It seems his infamy is based on the notion that he only cooks the offal bits but really he cooks the whole animal - and lots of vegetables - sublimely.

I'm lucky enough to work near enough to St John at Smithfields to have an occasional lunch in the bar but one of the stand out treats for my birthday this year was eating again in the restaurant, a much expanded experience to the small plates in the bar. Everything was simply outstandingly good from langoustines with the best mayonnaise I have ever eaten - so good I had to fight the rest of the party off 'sharing' it to a plate of madeline hot from the oven that were indeed intended for sharing.

For my main course I opted for poached chicken with leeks, juicy, tender and deeply flavoured, just wonderful. Simple, elegant and as close to perfect as poached chicken can be. So I checked my copy of Nose to Tail and found the recipe for it, which also suggested serving the finished dish with aioli. Though it needs to be done over two days, logically, so the meat can cool completely it is a very simple dish to make, good as I remembered it and quite unlike most of the food I make. British and ethereal at the same time.

Boiled Chicken and Leeks

1 free range chicken (slit the skin between the leg and breast) or I used 6 chicken legs, about 1.5kg in weight
2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped
2 leeks, chopped
1 onion, unpeeled and halved
1 whole head of garlic
2 sticks celery, chopped
2 bay leaves
a bundle of thyme, parsley and rosemary
20 or so whole peppercorns
sea salt
6 leeks, trimmed

Place the chicken and all the ingredients down to the sea salt in a large pot, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. As soon as it boils cover it with a lid, take it off the heat and leave it to cool, which takes about 6 hours.

I then left the chicken in the broth in the fridge for the day before making dinner next night.

Remove the chicken from the stock and put it into a clean pot. Strain the stock and put some of it in with the chicken, retaining enough of the broth for another pot to cook the leeks. Bring the stock to a gentle simmer and cook for 30 minutes. You will now have a moist bird - or bits - without it being toughened or falling apart from hard boiling.

In a separate pan put the trimmed leeks and the remaining stock. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 7 minutes till tender.

Serve the chicken and leeks with a splash of the chicken broth, a bowl of the aioli and coarse sea salt. As with any boiled unbrined meat, coarse sea salt applied just before eating is very good.

Save the rest of the stock for future cooking.


10 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
sea salt and pepper
2 free range egg yolks
about 300ml of extra virgin olive oil
juice of 2 lemons - you may not need it all.

Put the garlic into a processer chopping bowl with a pinch of salt (to help break it up) and a good grinding of pepper. Whizz until finely pulped, this is important as you do not want garlic chippings in the aioli. Add the egg yolks, let them meet the garlic for a moment, then carefully and slowly add the oil in a gently stream, whisking all the while. The emulsion should safely hold 300ml, perhaps a little more. Now add the lemon juice, tasting as you go. Adjust the seasoning, then refrigerate.

The aioli is delicate and pungent simultaneously and really brings the finished dish together. I served it with hot boiled new potatoes to make a delicately pale plate. I mixed the leftover potatoes and leeks into some aioli as a salad to go with the remaining chicken next day for lunch.

This was one of the nicest meals I've cooked in a while amidst pretty stiff competition. As Fergus Henderson says, making this dish is emphatically worth it.

Friday, January 22, 2010

I wanted...I bought....I made

A fairly quiet week ahead so a slightly more elaborate plan for this week. I have found a recipe for a Spanish rice dish from José Pizarro, the chef at Brindisa, something he calls a caldoso which is different to a paella. Apparently. Sounds very good and it will make a fine Saturday supper with leftovers for lunches Monday. Sunday I think another of the single pork chop roast dinners is a proper Sunday roast that I have really enjoyed from our freezer stash of giant chops. Monday I want poached chicken with leeks and aioli, actually pasta with leeks and porcini as I was feeling ill with a bad cold that some would describe as man flu with leftovers for lunch Tuesday. Tuesday night I fancy tofu if I can get some a simple ma po with rice and greens, hoping mega chilli would cure me, Wednesday some pasta finally had the poached chicken and it was sublime, Thursday there is some soup in the freezer that will be good with crusty bread actually managed to make one really horrible thing reminiscent of the worst of hard core hair shirt vegetarianism, It started as veggie burgers but the mix was so gloopy I figured it would bake better in a tray, like a slice. Great theory but it was sooooooo dense and heavy it was better suited to construction. Ate enough to survive but as my mother always said Eat it while it's hot because when it's cold it's poison. Forget why I didn't just have the soup but my defence is I've not been well!. Friday I am out, so the man may choose his own delight. Actually home now so probably a can of french duck and lentils from the cupboard...
Though higgledy piggledy it was a good week for lunches - Monday was warmed through spanish rice with sausage and prawns leftover from Saturday and already boxed, Tuesday was leftover pasta from Monday night, already boxed, Wednesday was leftover tofu, greens and rice, already boxed - this is a theme! Thursday was the rest of the chicken from Wednesday night with a potato salad made with the extra potatoes I'd cooked mixed with the aioli with some sugarsnap peas added - yes, already boxed. Friday was meant to be leftover veggie burgers but instead it's time to head to the caff.

Borough Market was fairly quiet again this week. It's probably not great for the traders, this radical slowdown in January when most people seem to have decided that they have done with food after the excesses of the festive season but for the hardcore shopper it's wonderful. We can wander about unhurried by pressing crowds and gawping tourists, have an occasional conversation, even ask a question should the need arise. I like it.

At the Ginger Pig Nathan was convinced it was the least I'd ever spent when all I bought was Old Spot sausages for dinner Saturday night for £4.80. He may well be right.

At Brindisa I bought a dark chocolate almond bar a man snack and a block of cheese meant for a pasta sauce Monday night but plan changed so it's still in the fridge - for £5

From Booths I bought potatoes, carrots, garlic, celery and brussel sprouts as well as a bag of dried wild mushrooms which came to £13.80 The mushrooms went straight in to the freezer as the last pack I bought came with an infestation of pantry moth that then took ages to get rid of. Freezing them kills the spore apparently.

On the way to buy eggs from Wild Beef there was a new stall selling some fine looking veg so I bought a huge bundle of leeks for a couple of dishes, pasta Monday night, hot with poached chicken Wednesday night with the remnants mixed into potato salad for lunch Thursday £4.50

Then eggs - £1.50

A handful of prawns from Furness as part of Saturday supper cost £3.80

Teds Veg are back so, having already bought leeks I bought onions and parsley - £1.80

Coffee from Monmouth - £10.50

Apples from Chegworth - £1.20

Smoked salmon as an evening treat - £5

A chat with Ian at Mrs Elizabeth Kings, back for the first time this year as his son is often keen to run the stall and is gradually taking over

Pasta and milk from Neals Yard - £7.20

A bunch of thyme from Tony's - £1

Not one but two cottage tins from Flour Power - £2.20 - because I am most fond of crusts

Spent £62.30 but still needed tofu and chillies, ginger and greens

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Scotch Egg

I love scotch eggs. Never heard of them, let alone tried one before coming to London and now I am happy to publicly declare love. Obviously, like all objects of affection they vary from the utterly disgusting to the thoroughly sublime. The former can be illustrated by those sold in most supermarkets - especially the 'mini' variety and most definitely the bizarre 'egg roll' version where some unspecified ground bits from a pig encase 'egg' that is simply one long tube of yellow inside another tube of white to create a metre length roll encased in crumb to be bought by the slice. Wrong.

Then there are the ones I buy sometimes from Ginger Pig with a proper tasty egg in the centre of well spiced minced pork in a lovely crispy crumby coating. Sliced into quarters it makes for an intensely savoury snack after shopping at Borough Market. They remained my favourite until an evening spent courtesy of the Sherry Institute of Spain where I learned a lot about sherry and the pairing was done by the incomparable Heston Blumenthal. He served up quail's eggs wrapped in pork mince to go with, I think, amontillado, and they came out warm with the yolk still runny and they stayed in my mind as a truly lovely thing to eat.

Last night I progressed further on my journey of the scotch egg. Qype organised a sort of masterclass in the finer arts of this peculiarly British treat at the Coach & Horses in Clerkenwell, led by their talented and charming young chef, Henry Herbert. With sixteen of us gathered in a back room of this charming pub he gave an intro to the egg - and the generally accepted anecdote that the first scotch egg was made by Fortnum & Mason for one of their clients looking for a handheld snack to sup on as they travelled. They were presented with an egg wrapped in haggis before crumbing and deep frying, hence the 'scotch' connection. There are other stories, that they are from a Scottish breakfast, or that 'scotch' is meant as a verb in relation to the egg, the hiding of it being I guess like the use of scotch in relation to rumour. Who knows.

Moving swiftly on Henry demonstrated his mix. Pork shoulder and belly minced together for optimum flavour is the base. Add, in quantities that seem right, mace - preferably freshly ground, cayenne - the hotter the better, chopped sage because pork and sage are lovely together, caremalised shallots because the only thing nicer than pork and sage is pork with sage and onion, some Colemans mustard because this is an English dish, a generous grinding of black pepper and lastly a serious quantity of salt.

Henry posited the theory that the key to well cooked food is simply the addition of the appropriate amount of salt, it is what will make the dish work, and that it is simply fallacy to add none or not much on the basis that salt can be added after serving and it will achieve the same effect. Makes a lot of sense to me.

After that lot was thoroughly mixed we got to join in the fun. We peeled hardboiled eggs and got ourselves a lump of mince mix - approximately 50g each - while Henry went round and gave each of us a sheet of clingfilm. This is chef secret time. In the middle of the sheet of film flatten the meat into a vague circle/oval and put the egg in the middle of that. Using the clingfilm a bit like a sushi mat guide the meat around the outside of the egg till it is fully encased (scotched perhaps!).

Then for the coating. Try to remember to use both hands but only one at a time keeping one dry and using the other for dipping in milky egg ( a process that is harder than it sounds!). With what will be the dry hand first roll your egg in seasoned flour. Take it out with your other hand - soon to be the wet one - and dip it in a bowl of milk and eggs whisked together. Still using the wet hand, take the egg from that bowl and put it into a bowl of finely ground breadcrumbs. Swap hands (!) and roll the egg round till its coated in crumbs with the dry hand. Take the egg from the bowl with the wet hand and put it into the beaten egg again. Roll it round till it is once again covered in a film of liquid take it out - still the wet hand - and drop it into a bowl of coarse breadcrumbs. With the dry hand make sure the egg is thoroughly covered. Use whichever hand you have spare to remove the crumbed egg - unless you're making more than one, in which case keep repeating the process till you're done.

At this point all the eggs, an interesting collection of shapes and sizes, were collected up on a tray and whisked away to the kitchen to be deep fried in groundnut oil at 180C for about 5 minutes, then finished in the oven for about 7 minutes.

They reappeared crisp, golden and hot. The perfect ones had a slightly runny yolk when cut open. Eat immediately with fingers licked at the end.

Brilliant. My new equal favourite.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Adventures all round

The start of my Miele kitchen...

Saturday I'm out so the man will go the market alone, armed only with a list, and hopefully remembering to wear his glasses. Almost always I make the decisions about what we'll eat for the week, I do ask if the man fancies something and make changes accordingly but on the day and at the market it's me taking the lead and my sweetpea helping. So for a change I will make a list that covers most of the week but will leave him to choose supper. Sunday I plan to have another go at tarka dal, rice and veg curry as it didn't happen last week. Monday I plan to retrieve the daube from the freezer and top it with cobbler and serve it with sprouts and carrots, which the man can enjoy again Tuesday as I am out learning to make scotch eggs. Wednesday we are out so Thursday I think beans and greens might be a treat.
For reasons that didn't seem clear at the time I dragged myself out of bed at 6.30 Saturday morning to catch a train to Didcot. Miele had invited some food bloggers to come and play in their Experience Centre and I couldn't resist. They make lovely kitchen stuff that is so logical to use, the only downside of which is for a full fit out I'd probably need at least a reasonable lottery win. Just the one though as it's built to last.
After a slow cold train I finally got there in time for the coffee demo - built in machines that make triple layered latté and great espresso at the press of a button. I only ever buy a coffee from a chain at the airport if we've an early flight and its horribleness invariably takes the edge off the excitement of going away. Tend to be hesitant about any coffee I don't know but this was good enough to have another. So I did, getting to press the button myself!
Upstairs the group of bloggers - including Anne from Anne's Kitchen, Robyn from Source Cook Eat, Mimi from Meemalee's Kitchen, Carla who Can be bribed with food, Jennifer who runs chocolate ecstasy tours, poor thing(!) and the delightful Susanna from A Modern Mother, discovering she might like to be a food blogger rather than a parent blogger...
We had a brilliant couple of hours split between four workstations, each with a different set up. One had a steel plate for the quick sealing of things like marinated prawns, another a salamander that you could set the level above the dish for perfect grill topped finish. My bench had a built in induction heated hollow for the wok which worked a treat for stirfry blackbean noodles. The next bench had a cast iron open grill that I would seriously love in my kitchen almost as much as I want a combination conventional/steam oven in which we roasted a whole chicken to moist fleshed crispy skinned perfection in little over an hour, another of our contributions to the huge feast we sat down to for lunch. Lots of largely food related chat over some well cooked food made for an interesting afternoon, before back to the station for trains back to London. Of course the first train was a slow train and would take longer than waiting half an hour for the fast train, so a swift half in the pub opposite seemed best.
Home to find the man and tell him of my day. What delight to be presented with a lightly chilled fino to accompany thinly sliced smoked swordfish, the first of his Borough Market delights. There were some jalapeno stuffed olives, a current favourite while I chattered away about steam heat and moisture content how you can programme the coffee machine for nine different coffee drinkers...And then, joy of joy, there were fine little lamb chops to be grilled with new potatoes and both black and green kale for steaming and buttering. I love eating kale when I'm out, but I always baulk at the last minute before buying it myself. I love that his adventure shopping alone doesn't factor any of that in.
And that there are still things to buy at Borough that we haven't tried and when we do they are sublime.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Crushed Chickpea Salad

One (of the many) new things I have discovered since the beginning of Borough is the delights of smoked paprika. I read somewhere a while ago that there is no savoury dish that doesn't benefit from the addition of at least a smidgin of this lovely brick coloured stuff. It is deep and intense and is flavoured with sunshine and burnt oak. The paprika I love is from pimentón of Extremadura, “Pimentón de La Vera” where the peppers, to qualify for the coveted Denominación de Origen status first granted in 1993, must be dried slowly over an oak-burning fire for several weeks before being ground to produce the famous paprika. Amazing rich, postively decadent flavour results. It is undoubtedly the secret ingredient of Moorish cuisine and is the essence of chorizo.

With all this über winter we're having in London I seem to have an endless desire for pulses to bolster me against the cold. Something about thinking of their dense creaminess comforts me when menu planning, their cheapness certainly delights my budget planning. And they're available - if you believe the press hype supermarkets are being stripped bare by maurading hordes of panicked shoppers terrified at the prospect of being snowed in and, presumably, starving to death. Fortunately my local shops remain fairly unmauraded and have a good supply of lentils and things.

I had some spiced lamb mince in the freezer that I wanted to use and I fancied chickpeas to go with some little fried balls. Having got that far then I wanted them stuffed into hot pitta with cucumber raita as a garnish. Seriously good winter food. The man loved the idea because it could, with little imagination stretching, be considered a sandwich which will always tick the box for him. I had been thinking of making hummus but fancied a bit of a change so decided a roughly crushed warm salad would work better - more texture and somehow more interesting. Played about a bit and was rewarded with this utterly sublime dish - the first mouthful was just Wow! Feeling very pleased with myself.

Crushed Chickpea Salad

1 cup of dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in cold water
Bouquet garni of whatever you have - I used celery leaves, roasemary, thyme, bay and a chilli
3 tbspns olive oil
1 medium onion, finly sliced into threads not dice
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tspn hot smoked paprika
1 tbspn chopped flat leaf parsley
Salt and ground black pepper

Drain the soaked chickpeas, put them into a pan with the bouquet garni and cover with water. Bring to the boil, skim the scum, then simmer for 40-50 minutes till the chickpeas are tender.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy pan and fry the onion over a very gentle heat till it is golden and caremalised. This takes about half an hour. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes more till it too is fragrant.

Drain the cooked chickpeas, discarding the herbs and put the chickpeas into a bowl. Mash roughly with the remaining tablespoon of oil to a fairly rough consistency. Add the cooked onions, garlic and their cooking oil and the paprika and stir through the mashed peas. Taste and season then add the chopped parsley.

Serve warm. Or hot. Or cold.

I can see us eating a lot of this...

Friday, January 08, 2010

I wanted...I bought...I made

Forecast is for a fortnight of freezing. By now I believe them.
Really hankering for some salt crust tofu or ma po so that could be Wednesday night coudn't get tofu so settled for noodles and greens on Tuesday and lamb balls with mashed chickpeas Wednesday. Might start the week rolling with mussels Saturday night or baked sea trout, but probably something fishy mussels looked uninspiring, couldn't think of a meat I fancied, ended up with fabulous baked penne. Sunday I think tarka dal and rice and an aubergine curry had ham and eggs and toast, another kind of yum, rich and delightful. Monday the lamb burgers from the freezer the other half of the pasta from Saturday, Tuesday I fancy chilli con carne, Thursday we are out, Friday more chilli perhaps.

I really like the stallholders at Borough and know they do a great job whatever the day brings but by the time we finished shopping Saturday they had my undying respect. It was beyond freezing everywhere - I am certain the bitumen floor was solid ice. I was wearing tights, thick socks, fur lined thick soled boots, jeans, a long sleeved woollen vest, under long sleeved silk vest under a heavy jumper, scarf, hat and gloves and I was sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo cold the circulation in my fingers had stopped. Yet everyone working there was their usual cheerful helpful self and they still had seven hours to go. Respect. And thanks.

At the Ginger Pig they all looked seriously cold but they do at least have a big oven to cook sausage rolls so they have the potential to warm up. They'd run out of chicken carcasses so I bought smoked bacon for the freezer as I'd run out and chicken wings for stock for £5.28

Went to Silfield in search of a ham hock of which they had plenty. Bought one for £3.50 still in the fridge waiting to become soup then noticed they were selling gammons cheaply. Consulted with the man, who said yum ham egg and chips! Bought one for £8 which sorted Sunday supper and lunches for a few days

Then Brindisa had a sign out advertising bargains inside and I do love a good bargain! Bought a large jar of peaches, a tin of stuffed squid, a bottle of moscatel vinegar - one of the few vinegars I don't have - a jar of pureed pimento peppers and two jars of woldflower honey for a totally bargain £14.50

Run out of coffee so dark roasted Colombian beans from a wonderfully warm - and therefore very crowded - Monmouth £10.50

At Booths I was a bit confused as all my original plans for the week's eating were rapidly falling away so, unsure what I now needed I bought potatoes soup, garlic pasta, sugarsnaps and clementines lunches for £3.50

Was still thinking mussels or fishy things for Saturday night but Shellseekers looked somewhat uninspiring and there was nothing I much wanted from the Devon fish stall either.

Bought eggs from Wild Beef, where Lizzie was understandably thoroughly preoccupied with getting a small blow heater to work - £1.50

Had a craving for more olives - really love the ones from Good Olive company that are mixed with roasted peppers and garlic. The man, shopping alone over xmas, had also bought some spectacularly good ones stuffed with jalapeno's, so wanted them too. Only didn't really need two tubs of olives for the week so the nice guy serving assured me I could have both in one pot so I did! £3.50

Over in the Green Market I finally got my inspiration for Saturday night supper. The parma ham stall was offering buy two get one free on buffalo mozzarella so baked penne it would be. Also couldn't resist some parma ham, obviously, spent £11.40

By which point we both so cold I was shivering. Headed to Neals Yard for milk, two types of pasta and two types of bread, including a very fine walnut and raisin for toast - £15.50

And that was all - spent £77.18 but also bought brussel sprouts, cream, rice, chinese greens,yellow split peas, parsley, coriander and yoghurt as well as more bread from St John so not a cheap week really.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Chick pea soup

The world outside my window is struggling to reach zero. Ice on the pavements is a slick and shiny inch thick. Dangerous but probably not disastrous with a modicum of care. Which mainly involves moving slowly - which goes against all my natural inclinations - and not carrying much more than you need in a vain attempt to maintain my centre of balance. Nature versus nature really.

Decided mid week I really needed soup - thick hot and wholesome as possible. So I flicked through Lesley Bareham's Joy of Soup, pausing here and there to take in some details and imagine this one or that in a steaming bowl before turning the page to savour the next. Half way through the chapter on thick soups I came across one for chickpeas - which I love and have in my cupboard at all times (unless I've run out). It was simple, fairly subtle and as possible a contender as any of the others I had read right up till the last of the instructions for the preparation.

She says heat the remaining olive oil in a frying pan and fry the eggs. Serve the soup and slip a fried egg into each bowl. Possibly the best instruction that can be found for any dish at all at this -or if I'm honest - pretty much any time of the year. Soon as I read it I could imagine the little wrist action necessary to 'slip' the egg under the surface. I could practically taste the half submerged surprise of texture and rich liquid.

Chick Pea Soup

250g chick peas, soaked overnight

4 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tbspn chopped flat leaf parsley

700ml vegetable stock

juice of 1/2 lemon

6 eggs - if you're serving 6 and want eggs

Cover the chickpeas with fresh water and bring to the boil in a large pan over a medium heat. Simmer gently for an hour till quite soft. Drain over a bowl and reserve 300ml of the cooking liquid.

Heat 2 tbspns of the olive oil in a pan an soften the onions and garlic. Transfer to a blender, add the parsley and 150ml of the stock and purée. Add the chickpeas with the reserved cooking liquid and purée again.

Return to a clean pan, add the rest of the stock, and simmer for ten minutes, stirring well. Season generously with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Just before serving, heat the rest of the olive oil and fry the eggs. Pour the soup into bowls, and slip a fried egg into each bowl.

Provide good bread for dunking and mopping.

Sadly the whole bowl didn't quite live up to that initial frisson. The soup was indeed lovely, thick and comforting, but not really needing the egg.

Plan to have the rest for supper Friday night, with duck fat toast instead of eggs, just to be greedy.