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chicken and chickpea harira

it’s been a quiet blog in recent weeks – i’m sorry for that. a combination of travelling, visitors and dark days have all distracted me and reduced my interest in cooking new things.

having said that, i have not been entirely idle in the kitchen. my love of hearty soups continues – ribollita, white chilli and minestrone are all well-established favourites - and recently i’ve been dabbling with harira recipes.

my last attempt at a vegetarian version wasn’t particularly successful so i decided to try a version with chicken, to use up some leftover meat and stock that i had made. i looked at lots of recipes and chose bits from several of them, while also trying to keep things simple. a lightly spiced fresh flavour and nothing too stodgy were the things i was after.

the result of my efforts was good – a little heat from harissa and ground ginger plus a spice combination of cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon and saffron. it also had chickpeas in abundance (i’m really loving them at the moment), a bit of potato for comfort, tomatoes and carrot for sweetness plus a combination of lemon, coriander and yoghurt to freshen everything up at the end. the recipe below is not prescriptive, more a record of how things developed, to act as a starting point for you.

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autumn slaw with apple

i made this with pulled pork in mind, having been inspired by chatting about it with a friend. in fact i ended up eating it as a filling in a chicken wrap – leftover chicken pieces warmed through with a little chilli sauce for kick plus a sprinkling of grated cheddar and a smear of yoghurt. plus lots of the lovely fresh slaw – red cabbage, carrots, radish, spring onions, coriander, toasted sesame seeds and, for a lovely hint of sweetness, granny smith apples. the dressing is a mix of cider vinegar, lime juice, olive oil and a bit of sugar to balance the flavours.

so delicious, such a lovely combination with the spicy chicken and a wonderfully light and healthy option for an easy meal.

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citrus with ginger snow

this has been my favourite desert of the past few weeks - i’ve made it for several sets of friends and david and i have also enjoyed it on our own. part of the reason it’s so easy to make with great frequency is that once you have some ginger snow in the freezer, it’s just a matter of preparing the citrus fruit and sometimes (you don’t have to do it every time as often there is some left from the previous time) making the citrus syrup to go with it.

i think it’s a perfect pudding for this time of year as it’s light enough to follow even the heaviest of meals while also being full of fresh flavours to brighten your day.

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vanilla chocolate marble cake

this is a lovely simple cake and especially good if you can eat it still warm from the oven - i like to make it in the morning if i'm expecting friends later that day.

 apparently getting a marbled effect can be a bit tricky but the approach used here is one that makes it a bit easier:

“swirls of rich chocolate marbled through a vanilla cake seems straightforward enough, but with a few secrets you can make this even easier. you may notice that the large quantity of chocolate folded through the batter thins it – potentially a concern. but a curious thing about chocolate is that the cocoa solids dry the cake batter as it bakes, so the final texture stays balanced. spooning the mixtures in alternately means that when it comes to swirling everything together, you're already halfway there. this makes it much more likely each slice will contain dark and white cake.”

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top 20 fast food: huevos estrellados

last week the guardian published a top 20 of fast food recipes – food that’s quick to pull together and get onto the table. i’m always keen to be inspired with new options for this kind of cooking, so i’ve decided to try and cook my way through at least half of the recipes.

first up was a recipe for from omar allibhoy for huevos estrellados, which he talks about as follows “no visit to madrid is complete without eating these crashed or broken eggs, as we call them. we eat them for lunch or dinner but you could also have them for breakfast or brunch. a crashed egg is somewhere between a fried and a scrambled egg – it “crashes” because you crack open the egg some distance from the pan.”

so, how did i get on?

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