Felt rather tired today but personally I find keeping busy in the kitchen helps the time to pass quicker so I am happy to stay there making a few things.
Today there was Algerian shorba again, vegetarian as it was last time but this time with tiny Orzo pasta (or Tli-tli as the Algerians call it) instead of burghul or vermicelli. There were some leftovers as well as mini pizzas that came out soft as little pillows, vegetable samosas as I made a double batch yesterday and cheese and potato Borek. A tip for the potato borek that I picked up from my dear sister-in-law is to use instant potato! Yes… the powdered stuff in boxes – remember the adverts for Smash in the 1970’s or early 1980’s??! “For mash get Smash!” So, I used about 120g of Tesco instant potato and about 550ml of boiling water, stirred well with a wooden spoon and then added a knob of butter and about 150g grated cheddar. I used this to fill the spring roll pastry and folded into logs. I slightly over-cooked them as you can see in the photo. 🙄
Dessert was Eve’s pudding but made with strawberries and raspberries instead of apples – this was served with rich chocolate ganache. It didn’t turn out quite as planned because I took a shortcut and used a supermarket cake packet mixture which was a bit too runny for this recipe. It was very tasty though with the tart, tanginess of the raspberries and the soft, sweetness of the cake. I didn’t think it really needed the rich chocolate sauce but my 15 yr old and 13 yr old daughters disagreed. Nice to have pleased someone!
I wanted to create something a little more rustic than the typical bouillabaisse so I looked to North African recipes for some inspiration for this soup or shorba as it is known in North Africa. This quick and simple soup is a modification of various fish soups I found in my recipe books.
I always remember Heinz baked beans on toast and Heinz cream of tomato soup at lunchtimes when I was growing up so now they are a kind of comfort food for me. I love to overcook the beans so they become a little mushy and then pour the beans with their steaming orangey tomato sauce over a couple of slices of buttered toast and then… indulge! Or a tin of tomato soup heated until bubbly and then enjoyed with fresh hunks of bakery bread to dip in. Hardly haute cuisine but it really is comfort food!
I can’t always find my Heinz tomato soup here in Saudi and besides I do prefer to make things from scratch these days and avoid all the hydrogenated fats and monosodium glutamate and other nasties that can be lurking in the food in the name of preservation or flavour enhancing.
Soups are so easy to make and are often overlooked despite all the nutritional benefit that can be found in them.
The ingredients for a small batch of soup to serve 2 people:
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried basil (if you have fresh, it would be better chopped finely and added at the end of cooking)
6 medium tomatoes
splash of balsamic vinegar
splash of Worcestershire sauce
salt as required
generous pinch of sugar
2 teaspoons tomato paste
water – I used very little since tomatoes contain a high percentage of water… I think 500ml is enough but check the consistency and add to your preference
1. Chop the onion and garlic and saute in a tablespoon of olive oil along with the bayleaf and dry basil.
2. Meanwhile place the tomatoes into a pan of almost boiling water and leave for a couple of minutes. Drain the water and pluge the tomatoes into cold water. Remove the skins, deseed the tomatoes and then chop roughly.
3. When the onions have started to soften and become translucent add the tomatoes and salt. Leave on a low to medium heat, stirring every so often until the liquid from the tomatoes has almost dried up and then add the balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, sugar and a little water to make the mixture look soupy. Leave to simmer so all the flavours blend together.
4. Allow to cool a little before blitzing in the blender or liquidiser and return to a gentle heat. Taste to see if it needs a little more sugar to remove acidity or salt to season.
5. Just before serving pour in a little cream and swirl around. You can also sprinkle over a little freshly shaved Permesan just before serving and some chopped, fresh basil.