Monday, 21 December 2009

Slow food and food for snow

On a very chilly Saturday morning, I headed down to the South Bank for the Slow Food Festival: yes it was cold, but it was one of those crystal clear winter days that meant a stroll over the footbridge from Embankment was a must.

I arrived about noon, but the stalls were battling the cold and many were still setting up. I had a wander round before settling down to shopping. These cheery guys were at the Buta Kitchen stall, selling preserves and jam from Azerbaijan. Just south of Georgia, it's a region with a proud culinary heritage, and the Buta Kitchen is part of the Buta Festival that's on from now until March. I bought a jar of white cherry preserve - tiny whole cherries glistening in a sugary suspension. I hope the guys have great success.

Neal's Yard Dairy were there, and I couldn't resist getting a hunk of Stickeleon cheese - it tastes how Stilton used to.

I was pleased to see the very nice lady from Casa de l'Oli was there: last year I bought a bottle of lime infused olive oil from here. This year I loved the orange scented oil. It's a tiny family company, run from Catalonia, where the olives grow, and Suffolk.

There was a very unhappy soul behind the Shell Seekers stall - her gas hadn't turned up so she couldn't cook, and she was worried that her ice hadn't arrived either. Surely you don't need that today, I said - oh yes, she said, she had to have it to comply with health and safety regs. Oh dear. I bagged a jar of potted shrimp - cooked last night, said the unhappy soul. I was sorry not to see Oliver's perry at the festival - I hope he'll be back for the next one.
By now, I was getting very cold, so I headed up to Covent Garden, and fell into Waterstone's. Dan over at Essex Eating has been full of praise for the Eagle Cookbook, and there it was. After reading the recipe for smoked haddock with horseradish mash, I felt like eating the book. I bought it instead, and home again, put some black beans on to soak for the Eagle's Black Bean Soup. Just as well really, as I was greeted by a snow storm when I emerged from Tottenham Hale station this evening.

Here's my lemon verbena plant, just outside the kitchen door.

And here's Mouse, demanding to know what all the white cold stuff is.

So now the soup is on the simmer, and I'm set for warming supper.

Black Bean Soup (adapted from the Eagle Cookbook)
250g black beans, soaked overnight
1l veggie stock (I used Marigold)
4 small red onions
2 colves garlic
2 sticks of celery
1 tsp chilli flakes (or a whole red chilli)
2 heaped tsp cumin seeds
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
a bunch of coriander
a gloop of creme freche or sour cream

Drain the black beans from its soaking liquid, cover with fresh water, bring to the boil. Then drain the beans again and add stock. Return the beans to a gentle simmer.
While the beans are doing their thing, sweat the onions, garlic, chilli and celery. When the veg are transparent, add the cumin seeds and cook gently for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes and the coriander and cook gently for about 20 mins. Then tip the veg mixture into the beans and the stock and let it bubble gently for at least half an hour. Check the seasoning: I added salt and a pinch of sugar.
What you do now depends on how you like your soup's texture: I blitzed a quarter of the soup in the blender then added it back to the unblended liquor. Simmer gently to make sure all the beans are soft.
Serve with a dollop of creme freche or sour cream and a slice of the loaf of your choice.

A black beauty. Thank you Dan for a great recommendation.


meemalee said...

Hi Fran!

I went to the Slow Food market in the summer and meant to go this time around but missed it, so thank you for your post through which I may live vicariously and quite happily :)

The Eagle soup looks toastily good!

Merry Xmas to you and yours xxx

mangocheeks said...

I have the original Eagle cookbook so will check out this version of Black bean soup, it realy looks good.

Also came by to wish you a Merry Christmas Fran, Thank you so much for your kindness over the past few months.