Monthly Archives: January 2012

Leek and Broccoli Soup with Lemon Creme Fraiche

This recipe is from the Home Cooking Calendar  

A satisfying fresh bowl of home-made leek and broccoli soup served with a chunk of your favorite bread… is comfort in a bowl. Leek and broccoli have some health benefits and are a rich source of beta-carotene. Leeks being a member of the powerful Allium family (garlic, onions and chives) have anti-bacterial properties and useful for helping to reduce high blood pressure, cholesterol levels and also good for gout and arthritis. It was said, the Roman Emperor of Nero ate leeks every day to improve his singing voice and the Celtic soldiers wore leeks in their caps so they could recognize a friend from foe when on the battle field.

Broccoli being a member of the Cruciferous family is high on the list as one of the vegetables shown to have protective powers against cancer and also good for anaemia, stress and some skin problems.

Leek and Broccoli Soup with Lemon Creme Fraiche


  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 2 medium leeks chopped, white and light green parts only (use the dark green parts for stock making)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 500g broccoli florets and stems cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 450ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 450ml whole or low-fat milk
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • salt

for the topping

How to make: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks and garlic, cook for a few minutes until softened but not brown. Add broccoli, stock, milk and bay leaf. Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer and cook until broccoli is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix together in a small bowl, creme fraiche or yogurt, lemon rind and juice, season with salt. Refrigerate untill needed.

Use a stick blender or transfer the slightly cooled soup to a blender (remove bay leaf), blend in batches until smooth. Return soup to the saucepan, season with salt to taste and gently re-heat.  Ladle soup into pre-warmed bowls and add a spoonful of lemon creme fraiche or yogurt, grate over some Parmesan cheese and serve.

A Real Hot Chocolate Fix

What to make for the Death by Chocolate Blog Hop, hosted by The Hungry Australian.

Thinking…  a decadent chocolate cake or some fudgy brownies, what about  chocolate pots, or maybe a rich chocolate mousse. The list is endless when chocolate is the subject and in the end, decided on “Real Hot Chocolate”… a fix of liquid chocolate in a mug. Good quality chocolate and cocoa percentage is the defining factor for flavour and intensity and it’s all a matter of taste.

Real Hot Chocolate with a Hint of Cinnamon


  • 200g good quality dark chocolate (around 50% to 60% cocoa solids)
  • 600ml whole fresh milk
  • 2 tablespoons powdered milk
  • 4 cinnamon sticks

How to make:

With a sharp knife chop the chocolate into small pieces and place into a heat-proof bowl.

Pour the milk into a heavy-based saucepan and with a whisk blend in the powdered milk. Place the saucepan on medium heat and bring the milk to a boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat and pour the boiling milk over the chopped chocolate. Use the whisk to stir continuously until the milk and chocolate combine completely.

Pour the hot chocolate into cups or small mugs and serve with a cinnamon stick. Using cinnamon sticks to stir the hot chocolate with will impart a slight cinnamon taste.

The Cocoa Bean Pod… the beginning of all our chocolate addictions.

Try different types of chocolate, milk, dark, or even white. Chocolate with chilli or flavoured with orange could also be used. Using chocolate with 70% to 90% cocoa solids will need sweetening with sugar, unless you enjoy the taste of bitter chocolate.

This post was part of the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop! Click on the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop Badge to check out all the other “Death by Chocolate” entries!

barbecued lamb cutlets and vegetable skewers

Tidying my book shelves the other day I came across the “Home Cooking Calendar” that Karen and I had compiled for charity a couple of years ago. I was just new to photography then and had bought my first D-SLR Camera. Having no experience whatsoever on the photography end, Karen took care of the photo shoot while I ran around doing the cooking and styling… it was a fun project and a great learning curve.

The longer you marinate the lamb the more succulent the meat will be. Soaking the wooden skewers will help protect them from the heat of the barbecue so they will not burn so quickly!

As the very hot weather leaves us and the evenings become much cooler, this is a time when the barbecue gets plenty of use for some casual outdoor dining. I thought I would post this tasty and easy recipe (month of October) from the “Home Cooking Calendar” and make use of some of my home-made yogurt!

Barbecued Lamb Cutlets and Vegetable Skewers


  • 4 heaped tablespoons of  plain home-made yogurt or store-bought
  • 2 teaspoons sumac
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh mint
  • juice half a lemon
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 8 french-trimmed lamb cutlets
  • 8 wooden skewers (soaked for 30 minutes in water)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and halved
  • 2 fresh sprigs of rosemary, roughly chopped
  • 8 button mushrooms
  • 1 large aubergine, cut into chunks
  • 4 small red onions, peeled and halved
  • 4 small courgettes, cut into chunks
  • 1 large red pepper, cut into chunks and seeds removed
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

How to makeMix together in a large bowl, yogurt, sumac, mint, lemon juice and garlic. Add the lamb cutlets, mix to coat with the yogurt marinade. Cover bowl, place in the fridge to marinate for 6 hours or overnight.

Whisk together in a small bowl the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add the garlic and rosemary, set aside for about 20 minutes for the flavours to mingle.

Meanwhile, thread the mushroom, aubergine, onion, courgette and red pepper, alternately onto the skewers. Brush each vegetable skewer liberally with the flavoured olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper.

Heat the barbecue to medium, cook each lamb cutlet 3 to four minutes on each side or until cooked to your liking. Cook the vegetable for about 8 minutes or until slightly charred and tender.

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