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Sunday, 21 October 2012

Soup - with attitude

In recent years, 'farmers markets' have become very trendy, with foodies falling over themselves to pay top dollar for produce that is no better (and sometimes worse) than supermarket goods.

There are notable exceptions. Our own Harringay Market being one, because it focuses on PRODUCED goods rather than produce. And the other, even more notable exception, is Andreas and Julia Michli's outstanding Cypriot greengrocers in St Anne's Road in Harringay.  (see below)

Sadly, this shop is sometimes a bit too easy to walk past and also gets a bit forgotten about because its tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Green Lanes.  But foodies should ignore it at their peril.

This place was a farm shop long before the idea was invented. Virtually everything they sell comes from their farms in Cyprus and Hertford. And that link to the town of Hertford has great historical significance. In ancient times, farmers from that town used to drive their cattle to market down a forest path known as 'Green Lanes', which was how the road got its name.

Being farmers as well as greengrocers means Andreas and Julia seriously know their stuff. Not sure about what goes with what? Fear not, for they will gladly assist you and provide you with superb quality goods at a fraction of supermarket prices.

I had been one of those who'd slightly forgotten about them, so when a friend sent me a meat recipe he wanted me to make 'veggie' it was an ideal chance pay them a visit.


In the picture above you will see the ingredients for a hearty soup for 4 - 6 people. The only things I added here are the stock cubes, the chilli powder and half a can of baked beans left over from breakfast.  Everything else was bought from Andreas and Julia's. Note the big bag of paprika at £1.10. That would cost £4.00 in a supermarket. In total, I think I spent about £3.50 and that was only because I decided to use fresh cherry tomatoes rather than tinned.

So what do we do here?

Firstly peel and chop up the carrots, onions and celery then sweat them in some oil for about 5 minutes. Then add in two cloves of garlic, a tea spoon of chilli and paprika and half a tea spoon of cumin. Give then all a minute to bring out the aromas, then add in the chopped tomatoes.

Now, I used cherry tomatoes here with a shot of puree, because they were so nice looking, but a 400g can of chopped tomatoes will do just as well. give it all a stir and another minute so that the tomatoes start to break down.

Crumble in two stock cubes and 750 ml of water. Bring it all to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for about ten minutes. Add in the quartered mushrooms and the beans and give it all another five minutes.  I left the mushrooms until last as I didn't want them to go mushy or colour the water.



When serving,  I suggest that a dollop of plain Greek yoghurt might be useful here, because it's soup with attitude. It's got a very spicy kick to it, but its not the type of kick that blasts the roof of your mouth off.

So there you have it a nice and easy warming soup for autumn. And its very cheap too, but only if you avoid the overpriced supermarkets and 'farmers markets' and go instead to Andreas and Julia's, a true farm shop if ever there was one.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

More Tools of My Trade

One of the effects of being a 'food head' is that I love buying new toys.

Let me loose in a branch of Whisk or better still, the Selfridges Cook Shop and I could easily spend a fortune. That said, I do try and only purchase things I'll use regularly.

Now, you'll notice  I don't write much about salads on this blog. The simple reason for that is that for a single man like me, its often cheaper to buy a decent ready-made one. 

When I do make a salad, its usually a hearty beast of an affair, very rustic and much influenced by the Greek/Turkish culture of the area. I will usually make two, one to eat and one to take to work for lunch.

This tool on the right is a salad knife. It's made of plastic and had quite a sharp edge to it. I use it for cutting green salad vegetable like celery and lettuce. When you cut these with a steel knife they oxidise, leaving you with brown edges on the cuts, which doesn't make for a very appetising salad the next day. I think this cost me about a fiver and it comes into its own on those days when I have to do cooking for lots of people.


The other tool is a more recent purchase. Like the garlic press, its from Joseph Joseph and costs about eight quid. It's a kitchen spoon that doubles as a small colander. Its terrifically versatile and cuts down the number of tools needed for cooking.

It's also very heat resistant, so there is no problem using it in frying either. These two tools are very cheap, but much used and a handy addition to any kitchen.  

Sunday, 14 October 2012

The Tools of the Trade

In the next couple of postings, I am going to show you some of the tools of my trade, starting with this nifty little Joseph Joseph garlic crusher.






You simply cut top and tail the garlic, peel it and then press it through the crusher.  Once you have have crushed the garlic, you give it a shake over the pan to shake out all the loose bits.  Its a great bit of kit and would you believe, it only cost £7.00 from the Selfridges Cook Shop.