Moroccan Lamb and Chickpea Soup, set and forget.

I am not a great clipper of recipes. A few years ago, packing to move I was horrified that more than a box was being filled with food magazines, so I clipped all the recipes out of them (and now have no idea when my filed collection is). But that experience was really my only foray into the world of saving newspaper recipes, until last Saturday.

I was just finishing up the newspaper (from the previous Saturday , eeep!), when i noticed a recipe for Moroccan Lamb and Chickpea Soup which sounded delicious snuggled up in bed and pre-breakfast. It seemed easy and quick to prepare, so despite its strange cooking technique – boiling, I gave it a go.

Of course, I tinkered with the recipe (adding more vegetables, chilli and garlic and reducing the amount of cinnamon), but was pleasantly surprised by the fragrant yet robust outcome.


Moroccan Lamb and Chickpea Soup
500g lamb shoulder, cubed
2L chicken stock
1 onion, finely chopped
100g green lentils
400g can chopped tomatoes
4 ripe tomatoes
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 tspn ground turmeric
1 tspn ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
400g can chickpeas, drained
3 tbsp orzo
lemon juice
4 cloves garlic
1/2 green chilli

Place lamb in large pot with stock (or water) and bring to the boil. Once boiling, skim away the froth and add the onion, lentils, tinned tomatoes, spices and garlic. Simmer for up to an hour, or until the meat and lentils are tender.
Add the chickpeas, vegetables, pasta and chilli and simmer until the pasta is cooked, about 10 minutes. Add lemon juice, coriander, salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.


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Today is muffin Sunday. The last few weeks I have been terribly overindulgent, so to curb that tide I stayed in today and instead of making rich, sweet cupcakes I made (up) some muffins.


Pistachio, cardamom and quince paste seemed like a good idea seeings as F. spent heaps of time last night organising the fridge and that container of quince paste just doesn’t seem to fit.


To assuage disappointment if the others didn’t work out, I made half a batch of walnut, mandarin and spice. These turned out very different, crispy and crunchy on the sides and top, meltingly smooth in the center, probably the brown sugar that did it.


Work is dragging along, I think I need a holiday, I know these muffins help me get through tomorrow.

Pistachio, Cardamom and Quince Paste Muffins


220g SR flour
1/2 castor sugar
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
3/4 cup oil
1/2 cup chopped pistachios
1/4t ground cardamom
1/4 quince paste, cubed
1/2 t lemon zest

Preheat oven to 180C and grease a 12 hole muffin tray with butter. Mix flour, sugar, nuts and cardamom, add quince paste. Combine milk, egg, oil, zest in a separate bowl. Make a well in dry ingredients and mix wet ingredients in very lightly. Spoon batter into prepared tray and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Walnut, Mandarin Spice Muffins

220g SR flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
3/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
zest and juice of 1 mandarin
1/2t each ground cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg
3/4 cup olive oil
Preheat oven to 180C and grease a 12 hole muffin tray with butter. Mix flour, sugar, nuts and spices. Combine milk, egg, oil, zest and juice in a separate bowl. Make a well in dry ingredients and mix wet ingredients in very lightly. Spoon batter into prepared tray and bake for 20-25 minutes.

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Subtle Spinach Soup/Focus on Spinach.

spinach illustration

I don’t often follow savoury main recipes. I have my own way of doing things which is completely at odds with my cookery training. See, I have a thing about vegetables, something along the lines of a mantra of plenty and varied. This makes it difficult to highlight an individual vegetable as they get overshadowed by the lashings of onion, carrot, zucchini, capsicum, tomato, onions, beans and mushrooms all jostling for space in that same pasta sauce. I could just make vegetables on the side, but thats just too much effort and washing up for a mid week meal.

Thankfully, sometimes I manage to step back and ignore the fact that I’ve only eaten 3 different coloured items in the day and focus my energy on just more green. Just such a thing happened recently when huge bunches of english spinach appeared in the vege section, 99c each, double the size of a regular bunch, each leaf perfect. I couldn’t resist, I mean, how could I resist?

I had some ideas for this haul, but foremost in my mind was a subtle, gentle spinach soup – I pushed my need for a many and varied cornucopia of vegetables to the back of my mind, and there it stayed. This soup is so quick and easy to make, and to eat. It’s gently and soothing with a well rounded complex flavour, accentuated by dots of creamy ricotta and mouthfuls warmed with chilli.

spinach soup

Spinach Soup
This is very light, so best served with hunks of good bread for lunch or as an entree.

2 bunches English Spinach, picked and washed very well and roughly chopped
1 spanish onion
3 cloves garlic
100mL cream
Chicken stock/vegetable stock/ water
1/2 red chilli, diced
100g ricotta
olive oil
1/2t lemon zest
nutmeg, salt and pepper

Chop onion and sweat in some olive oil without colouring. Add garlic, lemon zest and chilli and cook until fragrant. Add stock or water (the amount will depend on how thick you want your soup), and cream and bring to the boil. Add your spinach, stir well and cook until soft, wilted and bright green. Season to taste with nutmeg, salt and pepper and more chilli if necessary. Blend until smooth, and serve immediately dotted with ricotta.

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Autumnal Panzanella


Occasionally when something catches my attention it sticks in my head and I begin to see it, or reference to it, everywhere I look. Its the human condition, I think.

This time its Panzanella. A few weeks ago I ordered a badly executed version at a work lunch, later I saw a recipe on the Italian episode of SBS’s Food Safari, then I read this and this. So today when I had to use up some (slightly undercooked) homemade bread, Panzanella was the first thing to come to mind.

I pictured a smoother, more homely Autumnal salad then the traditional tomato and basil version. A subtle very moreish salad was the outcome, nutty with the chunks of croutons soaking up the lemony tahini dressing, creamy lightly fried zucchini pieces and sharp rocket, with a kiss of good olive oil and a touch of fresh chilli. A very fitting light lunch for a beautful, relaxed and sunny Autumn Sunday.


Autumn Panzanella

1/2 loaf bread (sourdough would be lovely, but I used homemade country white)

1 1/2 Tablespoon Tahini
juice of 1 lemon
olive oil
2 zucchini
1/2 spanish onion
1/2 red chilli
2 cloves garlic
handful of rocket

Cube the bread, spread evenly onto baking tray and dry in a warm oven until crunchy.
Slice the zucchini’s and fry til lightly browned in a little olive oil. Remove from pan and add sliced onion and cook lightly. When onion is almost done, add sliced chilli and garlic. Cook for a minute then mix with cooked zucchini in a bowl.
For Dressing:
Mix tahini with olive oil and lemon juice. This dressing will inevitable emulsify so loosen with some water as we want a runny dressing for the croutons to soak up.

Add croutons to vegetables, pour dressing over and mix well. Add rocket and season with sea salt and pepper, mix lightly to dress the leaves evenly.
Serve and eat immediately.

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A quince disappointment, turned around or the lucky quince mistake


Quinces hold a mysterious allure. Hard unconventional fruit requiring delicate coaxing to emerge, like beautiful butterflies from dreary cocoons. Their scent is perfume, a complex fragrance that translates to an indescribable flavour after gentle and extended cooking.

I love quinces, but this time the specimens I bought this time were lacklustre, I got tricked and purchased too early in the season. The resulting quince paste was not worth writing about, but it can be regenerated, or dried further, reused. (I have plans for the paste, expansive and experimental as they may be. I can imagine it melting through shortbready biscuits, tarted up, or dried til chewy and eaten with yogurt and pistachios). The poached quinces, though, would soon enough need to be thrown away.

After so much work and time I couldn’t just ditch these ruby beauties, so I made them into a wonderously fragrant cake, flavour-rich on top, crispy and chewy at the edges and homely on the inside, like a warm hug. The dense crumb punctuated with a crisp fragment of almond, nutmegy, quincey and complex. But who knew that this would be the outcome? It came on a whim, I was out of cinnamon which the original recipe called for, so nutmeg was called as the understudy, I had no ground almonds so chopped would have to do. I tinkered here and there and the result was happily our dessert for days straight. A week later F was so excited when he found the final two pieces I had secreted away in the freezer – in a few weeks we can be reminded of this lucky quince mistake.


Best eaten warm, with thick greek yoghurt or cream


Quince Cake

(adapted from Mieze’s Plum Cake in Stephanie Alexanders A Cooks Companion)

180g softened butter
150g castor sugar
135g plain flour
135g SR flour
2 large eggs
80ml milk
3/4 c finely chopped almonds (works best with some very fine pieces mixed with larger chunks)
Poached quince*

60g butter
1/2 c brown sugar
1t nutmeg
2 eggs

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, mix in sifted flour. Lightly whisk eggs with milk and add to mixture, stirring lightly to form a soft batter. Spoon batter into greased 26cm springform cake tin, flatten top and sprinkle over almonds. Arrange pieces of poached quince evenly over the almond layer. Pour topping over fruit, bake in pre-heated oven at 180C. Serve warm.

for topping: Melt butter and stir in sugar and spice. Let cool slightly then whisk in eggs.

* No specified amount as you can use as little or as much as you like. You can slice the poached quince very thinly for an even layer, or top with large chunks.

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