spicy freekeh and butter bean soup

as the colder weather arrives, this ottolenghi soup is a great choice, especially for lunch or a light supper. it has complex spicy flavours but is not too filling, which gives you every excuse you need to serve it with crusty bread slathered with butter or toasted bread rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil.

the recipe is quite flexible – you can use other beans (or  a mix); if you can’t find freekeh then barley/brown rice would work well or, if you need to get this on the table quickly, use small pasta shapes (farro pasta would give a nice nuttiness and texture). however, i disagree with the suggestion that the sour cream is optional - a creamy something (use creme fraiche or greek yoghurt instead if you prefer) contrast really nicely with the other flavours (however, if you do omit it, this is a great vegan soup).

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chicken meatballs, two ways

the weather in frankfurt has finally taken an autumnal turn and i’ve been excited to look at food better suited to cooler days. these chicken, pancetta and parmesan meatballs were a great success - not surprising really, when you take those three ingredients and add fresh rosemary and sage (it’s so nice to break out these woody herbs).

i made a double batch of meatballs, which we ate over two meals. the first, pictured above, was a broth made from chicken stock flavoured with bay and more rosemary to which i also added spinach and mange tout. if you wanted something more filling, a handful of pasta or some noodles would have been a nice addition.

for the second meal, i fried the meatballs in a  little olive oil, took them out of the pan and then made a tomato sauce flavoured with garlic, chilli flakes and a sprig of rosemary. the meatballs were returned to the sauce to heat through and we ate this with tagliatelle, topped with grated parmesan.

both were deliciously rich while still being light enough to remind me that it is only the very earliest days of autumn.

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elderflower collins

we’ve been having amazing weather in frankfurt – it’s been hot and sunny for months. mostly i’m to be found glugging endless glasses of water and trying to keep cool, but if you fancy an alcoholic option instead, this is delicious. the downside is that it doesn’t taste particularly alcoholic, so is very easy to drink. i think it would be a great choice for a summer party and could easily be scaled up and served in jugs.

for each drink, squeeze two lemon wedges into a tall glass, then discard the spent wedges. add a handful of ice cubes and pour in 50ml gin and 15ml elderflower cordial (or liqueur). top with limonata (we’ve been using san pellegrino). garnish with 1 lemon slice and 1 mint sprig and serve.


chipotle chicken with chorizo rice and lime yoghurt

this meal was inspired by a recipe in my new diana henry book a bird in the hand, every uses chicken in every recipe. as is the case with so many diana henry recipes, this is a dish with bold flavours used in exciting ways – the chicken is marinated with spicy chipotle paste and lime juice; the brown rice has sweetness from roasted tomatoes, chorizo and slow-cooked red peppers and spring onions; the avocado and yoghurt flecked with lime zest add freshness.

while this is based on diana henry’s recipe, it is also quite different - i left my chicken on the bone and roasted it rather than frying, which meant that i could just add my halved tomatoes to the roasting dish and allow them to pick up the chicken-chipotle flavours, rather than basting them with a separate harissa and balsamic dressing - having said that, it is a great way to cook tomatoes and boost their flavour; i’ve been using this technique (which was in an earlier book of hers) for many years now and still love their flavour and versatility.

nor did i use the quinoa suggested in the recipe, preferring brown rice; the slow-cooked red pepper and spring onions were also variations on the original, which used spinach and left the spring onions raw. greek yoghurt instead of crème fraiche was the final change, but a much more inconsequential one.

despite all of this, the deliciousness of the meals was very much a testament to the original recipe and i’m looking forward to exploring the book further.

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courgette rosti with burrata and tomato salsa


this was so delicious! it’s a nigel slater recipe and i really loved the contrast of the courgette rosti with the rich creamy burrata, all made to taste fresh and delicious with a tomato, basil and lemon salsa. we had it for supper but i think it'd be a wonderful brunch dish.

burrata is most-easily described as pouches of mozzarella cheese, filled with cream – it’s a seasonal cheese and can be quiet difficult to track down as it quicjly loses its freshness, but if you can get it, it really is worth the effort. if not, a really nice buffalo mozzarella would also be delicious.

the salsa – basil and oil blitzed together and then mixed with diced tomatoes and lemon zest – was a variation on the recipe. my tomatoes were a bit bland so i dressed them with the basil and oil and used the lemon zest to add a bit more flavour. a little bit of black garlic would also have been nice, if they needed even more flavour.

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