Split Pea and Black Pepper Soup

The first time I had this soup was when my good friend Lynne cooked me up a big bowl one lunchtime. I still remember being won over by the layers of flavour and heat, especially when she told me there no chilli in it, just plenty of black pepper.A warming and super cheap soup, made from split peas and black pepper.

Whilst I adore black pepper, and we get through a bunch of it in our kitchen, I’d only ever used it as a seasoning before and never gone all out to discover its fiery nature when used in bulk.

A warming and super cheap soup, made from split peas and black pepper.

Lynne’s recipe called for lentils rather than split peas. There’s no real difference between the two, but the split peas take a little longer to cook. If you’re using lentils reduce the cooking time to 30-35 minutes. Oh, and neither lentils or split peas need soaking before cooking like other legumes.

Split Pea and Black Pepper Soup

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 55 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 potato, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 250g yellow split peas
  • 3/4 litre vegetable stock, or water and a stock cube
  • Pinch of salt to season

Instructions

  1. Fry the onion slowly in the oil for 5 or 6 minutes on a medium heat until softened. Add the potato, carrot and black pepper and fry for a couple minutes.
  2. Next add the split peas, garlic and stock and let simmer for 45 minutes (around 30 minutes if using lentils). Do keep an eye on it as you may find you need to top it up with more hot water as the peas break down and thicken the soup. Season with a little salt at the end of the cooking time.
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Moroccan Sherpherd’s Pie

This morning I was writing up one of the entries for the guide book I’ve been hired to write, and found myself writing the content for this amazing Middle Eastern restaurant in Bristol.

A tasty shepherd's pie using the gentle spices from Morocco

Reading through their menu had me craving the spices of Morocco, and as there was a bag of lamb mince in the fridge, this pimped shepherds pie was inevitable :)A tasty shepherds pie made with Middle Eastern spices

I wanted to add an aubergine to the meaty part, but it seems they are few and far between in rural Cornwall in October. Whilst that’s a shame, there was enough good stuff going on that it certainly wasn’t missed.

I was however lucky enough to find some fresh turmeric root on my recent travels (another item that is nigh on impossible to find down here) but if you can’t get your hands on any fresh feel free to substitute a teaspoon of dried in its place.A tasty Shepherds pie made with Moroccan spices - The Hedgecombers

Take your time whilst browning the meat and sweating the onions if you can, and you’ll be rewarded by a depth of flavour that will blow you away. If you’re using Quorn instead of lamb mince, there’s no need to brown it first.A tasty Shepherds pie made with Moroccan spices - The Hedgecombers

Moroccan Sherpherd’s Pie

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • 6-8 potatoes, peeled and chopped plus milk & butter for mashing.
  • 1 tablespoon of your favourite cooking oil
  • 500g lamb mince (or use Quorn for a veggie version)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 3 x 2" pieces of fresh turmeric, peeled & grated (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • 1 tin chickpeas, drained

Instructions

  1. Bring the potatoes to the boil and cook for around 20 minutes before mashing with milk & butter.
  2. Break the mince up into small pieces whilst heating up the oil in a large frying pan. Sprinkle the meat into the hot pan and just let it sit for 3 or 4 minutes. Stir, then again let the meat sit without being disturbed. Do this once more and you should have some lovely darkened crispy bits of meat that are full of flavour.
  3. Tip the meat out into a bowl and put to one side, spooning or draining off as much fat as you can.
  4. Turn the heat down, spoon a little oil back into the pan and add the onions. Let them sweat for a few minutes.
  5. Next add the garlic, turmeric and spices and again let cook for a few minutes.
  6. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan, including the mince and mix well.
  7. Pile the spiced meant into a baking dish, top with the fluffy mashed potatoes and bake for 45-60 minutes in an oven preheated to 180c/350f/gas 4
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WIN: A £50 Serenata Hamper

Who fancies winning a fabulous foodie hamper just in time for Christmas?

It’d make the perfect pressie or, and I promise I won’t tell anyone, you could keep it all for yourself ;)Serenata Hamper Giveaway

The lovely hamper above is the fabulous Black Bliss which contains some of my absolute favourite things. Olives, cashews, balsamic vinegar, a lovely fruity olive oil, olive crackers and gorgeous tin of mixed chocolates and a bottle of bubbly perfect to see in the New Year with. And it all arrived in a beautiful pale blue & white stripy box which I have already put to one side to store my winter woolies in next summer.

If you win this fabulous giveaway, you’ll be able to pick any hamper up to the value of £50. And with the vast choice of wine, food, chocolates, flowers and more available there is something to keep everyone happy! Take a peep at the Serenata Hampers website to find your perfect box of goodies.

And it may be worth bookmarking Serenata Hampers in case you ever need a last minute gift – with same day or next day delivery it could get you out of a pickle if you ever forget a birthday or anniversary!

Enter below and good luck!

Janie x
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Citrus Marinated Olives

This is such a lovely way to make olives just a little more special. Perfect for giving as a gift or serving with drinks, they are lightly spiced and intensely moreish.

Olives in a lightly spiced citrus marinade

I used whole olives with the stones still intact – if you do the same, you’ll need to slash each olive first so that the flavours can permeate under the skin. If you are using stoned olives you don’t need to bother (although do note that the flavour will be a lot more intense in stoned ones).

If you’re like to give them as a gift, sterilise a glass jar by running through the dishwasher on a hot wash, or boiling in a pan of water for a couple of minutes. Let dry in the dishwasher or let air dry on a sterilised draining board before potting up the olives, topping with a cellophane jam cover or a sterilised lid.

And finally, if you are using dried tomatoes from a bag or your dehydrator, plump them up in a mug of boiling water for 10 minutes before gently squeezing out the water and adding in. If you buy the tomatoes in oil, you don’t need to bother as they are already soft, yummy & ready to eat.

Citrus Marinated Olives

Ingredients

  • 2 jars of different olives. I used a large queen green and a smaller black olive but use a mix of your favourites.
  • 2 teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted in a dry pan
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
  • 1 chilli, sliced into thin ribbons. Seeds removed
  • 6 sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 lemon, zest peeled off with a potato peeler
  • 1 lime, zest peeled off with a potato peeler
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 250ml olive oil

Instructions

  1. Slash each olive if necessary and tip into a clean bowl. Pile all the other ingredients on top and stir so that all of the flavours combine.
  2. Cover with a tea towel and leave to marinade over night in a warmish room.
  3. Bottle up, seal and store in a fridge until you are ready to gift them, or keep in the fridge in a covered bowl if you are keeping them all to yourself.
  4. PS don't worry of the oil solidifies in the fridge, just take out of the fridge an hour or two before you want to eat.
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Pear, Walnut and Feta Salad with Warmed Herb Honey

My head is still in summer, but my body is firmly ensconced into autumn with feet buried in woolly socks & winter boots, layers under a sweater & scarf on. I may have also just switched my under-the-desk heater on too.

Pear walnut and feta salad with warm herb honey

So whilst I’m sharing a salad with you, it is an autumnal one. With pears and walnuts being in season now, the warm herb honey is the real deal breaker, tying those cool flavours together with something a little special.Pear Walnut Feta Salad with Warmed Herb Honey

I had it as a lunch, but I imagine it gracing a dinner party as an elegant starter. Whilst Jonny & I do neither elegant nor dinner parties, I shall live vicariously through yours if you don’t mind :)

Pear Walnut Feta Salad with Warmed Herb Honey

I used thyme in my honey, but oregano, rosemary or any other woody herb would work well too, and do give them a good bash with a rolling pin first if you fancy. Not only will it release more oils, it’s rather cathartic I’m led to believe. Avoid the more fragile herbs such as coriander and basil.

Pear, Walnut and Feta Salad with Warmed Herb Honey

Yield: 2 as a main course, 4 as a starter

Ingredients

  • 1 large crunchy but ripe pear
  • 1/2 a pack of feta, crumbled
  • 3 tablespoons walnuts, roughly broken up
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 or 5 sprigs of thyme, reserving some of the little leaves

Instructions

  1. Plate up the feta, walnuts & pear.
  2. In a small saucepan add the honey and herbs and let gently simmer for 3 or 4 minutes, until you can start to smell the oils being released into the honey.
  3. Drizzle the honey over the salad (leaving the herbs behind) and sprinkle with the reserved thyme leaves.
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Recipe shared with the uber lovely Karen and in this months Cooking with HerbsCooking w Herbs challenge.

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