Seasonal treat: Jerusalem artichoke soup with lemon zest and parmesan

Just a recipe today for this seasonal treat: Jerusalem artichoke soup with lemon zest and parmesan. I kept it simple. Clean tasting and light, with a gentle Jerusalem artichoke flavour, heightened with a touch of lemon, and rounded off with some parmesan. Enjoy.       DSC_0155

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Jerusalem artichoke soup with

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lemon zest and parmesan

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SOURCE:  My own recipe

PREPARATION TIME: about 5 min

COOKING TIME: about 20 – 30 min

CUISINE: Modern European

SERVES: 2

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INGREDIENTS:

1 medium yellow onion, chopped finely

2 small cloves of garlic, chopped finely

1 – 2 tbsp light olive oil, or vegetable oil

10 cm celery stick, halved and sliced thinly

250 g Jerusalem artichokes, diced into small cubes or sliced

Warm water

1/2 – 1 dl milk (optional)

salt and pepper

1/2 tsp lemon zest

a small squeeze of lemon juice

1 dsp parmesan

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METHOD:

1. Heat the oil in a medium pan, and add the garlic and onion. Sauté for a few minutes on medium low heat.

2. Add the celery and sauté for a couple of more minutes.

3. In go the artichokes! Stir the vegetables, and cover the pan with a lid, leaving it to sweat together until the artichokes are beginning to soften (about 5 – 10 min).

4. Add enough warm water to cover the vegetables, and cook for a few minutes more, until the vegetables are completely softened. (But please don’t overcook them.)

5. Transfer the veg into a food processor, and blend with the milk if you’re using it into a smooth puree. Or just mash them if you’re not using a food processor/blender.

6. Season well with salt and pepper, to taste.

7. Finish off with lemon juice and zest. It’s important not to overpower the flavour of the artichokes, so start by adding only a little lemon, and check the taste and fragrance before adding any more.

8. Sprinkle with parmesan and serve with some nice bread. Enjoy!

 

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Persian baklava – the sweet end to our feast

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Photo by Samantha Twigg Johnson

We chose to end our Persian feast with baklava, served with a very untraditional accompaniment of vanilla ice-cream (which worked really well, btw!). And completely wrongly, as it turns out because Persian meals usually end with fruit, and baklava and other pastries are more commonly eaten during the day, often with tea. Although we bought a gigantic watermelon for that purpose, still, we just had to make baklava. You can’t really cook a Persian feast and omit baklava.

 

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Photo by Samantha Twigg Johnson

Baklava is made of layers of thin phyllo pastry filled with chopped nuts and soaked in syrup. The origin of this delicious pastry is unclear, but its popularity is firmly established: in Iran (of course), all over Middle-East, in Greece, Turkey, and even closer to (my) home, in Bosnia & Herzegovina. (My Bosnian cookery book has suggestions on how to cut the dough to create a variety of different pattern – gorgeous!) The rest of the world is not immune to its charms, either.

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Photo by Samantha Twigg Johnson

Persian baklava is made with cardamom-spiced almonds and/or pistachios, and with a rose-scented syrup. It’s a bit different from baklava elsewhere in that it’s a little dryer, and as a result crispier.

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 Photo by Samantha Twigg Johnson

We made an enormous baklava, with 1 kg of ground almonds, in a tin measuring 35 x 45 x 5! Our filling was made with almonds, and pistachios were used as garnish. The syrup was flavoured with rose-water and lemon juice. The filling is made using the recipe from the Taste of Persia, but we consulted our other Persian books, too. You see, we didn’t make the dough ourselves, like the good Ms Batmanglij suggested, so we had to get some advice on how to deal with the phyllo. Other Persian books, my Bosnian cookbook, and even Nigella helped us!

Margaret Shaida has a version where she makes two different colour layers: one layer with almonds, and the other with pistachios. I like the idea.

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Photo by Samantha Twigg Johnson

 

You may not be too surprised to hear we never made it to the watermelon that night. 🙂

And here we are at the end of the feast. We enjoyed it very much, and I hope you did, too.

Here are the other posts from my Persian series:

Persian feast in my kitchen: Intro

Persian feast in my kitchen: the first courses

Persian feast in my kitchen: the mains

And check out:

Persian food blogs

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Celeriac soup

Eating seasonally, and especially shopping at my favourite farmers’ market, has opened up to me new horizons when it comes to varieties of fruit and veg available here in Britain. It would have been so easy sticking to my favourites. And oh so dull! I would have never fallen in love with kale, or got into the whole pumpkin thing. But I ventured out of my vegetable comfort zone and decided to challenge my tastes and explore the seasons. This is how I faced this delicious monster – the celeriac, or celery root (which is basically what it is). I don’t have a picture, but take a look here, or here and you’ll see what I mean. It certainly wouldn’t win the vegetable beauty contest, to put it charitably. Some say ‘ugly duckling of the vegetable world’, but it’s more of a Quasimodo of the vegetable world, if you ask me. Nevertheless, this hideous exterior hides delicately flavoured and silky interior very similar to fennel in flavour, but slightly nuttier. It can be eaten raw, roasted, mashed or turned into a soup. Its crunchy silky flesh is excellent in salads, for example. I even sautéed it with garlic and olive oil, and had it with pasta, sprinkled with some parmesan. Delicious, I tell you! But still, my favourite way so far is a celeriac soup. That’s actually how I had it one of the first times I tried it. It was in a lovely delicate soup that I’ve since wanted to recreate at home. And I did. Tonight. So here’s the recipe, and my entry for Eating with the Seasons: February.

 

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 Celeriac Soup

 

 SOURCE:  inspired by a dish I had at a restaurant

PREPARATION TIME: about 10 – 15 min

COOKING TIME: about 20 min

CUISINE: British?

SERVES: 3 – 4

 

 INGREDIENTS:

1 celeriac, peeled and chopped, weighing about 1 kg

chicken stock, enough to cover the celeriac

1 bay leaf

1 bouquet garni (or a few sprigs of thyme)

1 tsp olive oil

one tsp butter

a handful of almonds and hazelnuts

2 leeks, chopped

2 large cloves of garlic, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

150 ml of crème fraiche, or to taste

1/2 tsp chili powder, optional

a handful of grated parmesan

a pinch of nutmeg, optional

 

METHOD:

I. First, bring the celeriac to boil with the stock and the herbs. Cook until soft.

II. Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter in a pan, and add the nuts, garlic and leek. Sauté until the leeks are soft, and the nuts are starting to brown a bit. Remove from the heat when done.

III. Puree the celeriac and the leek mixture until silky and smooth. Add the chili powder and nutmeg, if using, and the crème fraiche. I’d start by adding a few tablespoons at a time and then tasting it to see what it’s like. Stop when you think it’s enough. I like it mildly sour from the crème fraiche, but still with the strong celeriac flavour.  Just before serving, mix in some grated parmesan and stir. Put a bit more on top, for a good measure, and enjoy with some lovely bread.

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Other soup recipes at Maninas:

Creamy carrot soup with rose harissa

Dalmatian fish soup

Fragrant and aromatic salmon soup with noodles

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For the winter blues: Sri Lankan coconut dhal

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Hello! How are you, how’s the world at your end? Here in the UK, we’re cocooned in layers of snow of varying thickness, depending on where you are. When I was coming home tonight, around 6.30 pm, I felt this thick layer of snow under my feet is starting to freeze. I wonder what we’ll wake up to tomorrow. As idyllic as it all looks, us Mediterranean types are not faring to well in these conditions. All I want to do is hibernate until the sun shines back on us again. But though I refuse to believe it, the life goes on. There are jobs to do, people to see, dinners to cook… Yes… Dinners… Here’s what kept me awake and re-energised me this evening. Remember that delicious Sri Lankan dhal I was telling you about earlier? Here’s the recipe. Without the photos for now, until my camera awakes from its winter sleep. (I meant to take photos this evening, but my camera failed me.)

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This dhal is a serious contender for the title of my favourite dhal, so far held by the seductive Bengali Red Dal. It has a rich gutsy flavour of red lentils cooked with onion, garlic, chillies, and cumin and black pepper, imbued with the heady aroma of curry leaves, and with a squeeze of lime to heighten your senses. I normally prefer to eat my dhal on the same day I make it, but this one I find improves with time. That is if you can stay away from it and leave some for tomorrow. I’m proud to day that this time I managed to do just that. Not even I can eat this much dhal at one sitting!

Let not the long list of ingredients intimidate you. This dhal is really very easy to make, and you can leave it to look after itself while you’re doing something else. Like making Sri Lankan coconut rotis, for example. Yes, that’s a good thing to do. (Recipe coming soon.) 

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Sri Lankan coconut dhal

 

SOURCEJasmine’s recipe

PREPARATION TIME: under 5 min

COOKING TIME: about 45 min

CUISINE: Sri Lankan

SERVES: 3 – 4 as a side dish, or 2 as a main

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup of red lentils

1/4 red (medium to large) onions, or 2 shallots

2 large cloves of garlic, sliced

3 green chillies, roughly chopped

a handful of fresh curry leaves, shredded

1/3 tsp turmeric

2/3 tsp roughly ground cumin and black pepper mixture

1 scant tsp of fenugreek seeds

1/5 – 1/4 can of coconut milk

Juice of 1/2 lime, or more to taste

3 – 4 dried red chillies

salt to taste

a handful of (preferably fresh) curry leaves

1 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee

1 tbsp tempering spices (mixture of brown/black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds – see Sri Lankan spices for recipe)

1 1/2 tbsp fried onions (or 3 – 4 shallots, shredded and then fried as below)

 

METHOD:

Place the lentils in about 2 – 3 cups of water. Then chop the chillies, onions, garlic, shred the curry leaves and add them to the lentils, together with turmeric, fenugreek and the cumin and black pepper mixture. Boil together until the lentils turn soft.

When the lentils are soft, add the coconut milk and stir through.

Before you’re ready to eat, prepare the tadka or tempering for the dhal. I usually don’t have fried onions at hand, so this is what I do. I heat the oil and then add the chillies and the curry leaves to it. when the curry leaves are starting to turn crisp, I pop in the onions/shallots, and cook them until they’re almost copper brown. Then add a few more curry leaves (if you want, which I invariably do), and the tempering spices. Stir for 10 s or until they release their fragrance. Now pop the contents of the pan into the lentil mixture, reserving perhaps some for the garnish. Stir, put the lid back on, and leave it for a minute or two for the flavours to mingle and make friends.

Don’t forget the lime. I sometimes add it before adding the tadka to the lentils, and sometimes after the tadka. Either way, don’t leave it out. It really does make all the difference.

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More dhals from this blog:

Bengali Red Dhal

Minty dhal (2 versions of  recipe)

 

Also:

More recipes with beans and lentils

More Sri Lankan recipes

 

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We’re at the 8th helping of My Legume Love Affair hosted and organised by the talented Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook. This is my entry for the event.  

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Varar – Sri Lankan cabbage and leek with coconut

This gorgeous Sri Lankan vegetable side dish is the dish that made me love both leek and cabbage! It magically transforms the everyday common leek and cabbage a real star of a dish. The vegetables are gently stir-fried with onion, chilies and curry leaves, tossed with fresh or desiccated grated coconut, and livened up with a squeeze of lime. Quick to make and utterly delicious! I love it!

Any green veg can be used in this dish (e.g. spring onion, baby leek, other types of cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower), except for spinach and pak choi and other vegetables with high water content. This dish goes really well with fish, or with coconut dal (recipe coming soon) for a vegetarian version.

Even if you can’t find curry leaves, it’s worth giving this dish a go as the flavour combinations are so good. Enjoy!

This my entry for the Eating with the Seasons: January

 

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Varar – Sri Lankan cabbage and

leek with coconut

 

SOURCEJasmine’s recipe

PREPARATION TIME: 10 – 15 min

COOKING TIME: 5 – 10 min

CUISINE: Sri Lankan

SERVES: 3 – 4 as a side dish

 

INGREDIENTS:

a little vegetable oil

1/2 medium to large yellow onion, finely chopped

2 – 3 green chilies (Jasmine uses finger chilies)

a handful of (preferably fresh) curry leaves

a little salt

1 tsp tempering spices (a mixture of brown/black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds – see Sri Lankan spices for recipe)

a pinch of turmeric

2 medium leeks, shredded finely

a handful of desiccated  coconut

fresh lime juice to taste

1/2 medium cabbage, shredded finely

 

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a wok (or frying pan) and add onion, chilies curry leaves and a little salt. Stir and cook until the onion is soft.
  • Now add the tempering spices and turmeric. Stir.
  • Add cabbage and leek and stir for a few minutes, until the cabbage is slightly soft but still crunchy. Do not overcook the vegetables! That’s the secret behind this dish.
  • When the veg is done, add desiccated coconut and stir for a minute or so.
  • Just before serving, add lime juice and some salt if needed. Enjoy!

 

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My other posts on Sri Lankan cooking:

The aroma of curry leaves. Sri Lankan cooking (Introduction)

Sri Lankan spices (including recipes for Sri Lankan garam masala, curry powder and more!)

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