I read this post on the Word Magazine website. It was a Jamie recipe for a really corking-sounding soup which I was surprised I hadn’t come across before. I was even more surprised to discover it was in a book I’ve owned for years, Jamie’s Dinners!
It was as gutsy as it promised – nice, meaty chorizo with hearty chickpeas. If I did it again I’d add a little less liquid to make it a bit thicker, and perhaps add a dash of paprika to amp up the chorizo flavours. I have to say I’m not convinced by the grated egg either, did nothing for me at all. That aside it’s warming and frugal* – perfect for this time of year!
*if you ignore Jamie’s addition of pata negra – PATA NEGRA! – and use boring old sandwich ham like me. His version is here.
Chorizo and chickpea soup (serves 4 – 6):
200g chorizo sausage
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
8 fresh tomatoes, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 x 410g tin chickpeas, drained
1.3 litres chicken stock
6 chunks frozen spinach
2 slices ham, shredded
1 hard-boiled egg
- Finely chop 150g of the chorizo and fry in a large casserole dish until the orangey oil leaks out, then add the onion. Cook gently for a five minutes then add the garlic.
- Add the tomatoes, chickpeas and stock and bring to the boil. Add the spinach and simmer for 30 minutes until everything is tender and adjust the seasoning.
- As the 30 minutes comes to the end get another frying pan very hot. Slice the remaining chorizo and fry for a couple of minutes on each side until crispy. Drain on kitchen paper while you finish the soup.
- Whizz the soup up a bit with a hand blender (not too much!), and stir through the ham. Serve, garnishing with egg and sliced chorizo. Make sure there’s bread to hand!
I struggle with lunchtimes generally. I can’t eat sandwiches into infinity, the mundanity and repetition blows my mind. So when I’m offered something a little different to try to pep things up I nearly bite their hand off.
I was sent a selection of “Skinny One” ready meals. Let me get this out of the way: I don’t like the phrase ready meal, it implies a slop of sauce with a meagre piece of unnamed meat. This does not describe these little pots at all: most have a layer of perky, fresh looking veg; some rice, pasta or noodle; and a vibrant sauce. You microwave them for a few minutes with a brisk stir. I managed to try them all bar the Thai coconut chicken, which I was assured is pleasantly spicy and creamy. I started with Bombay Spiced chicken, which started fairly plain but after a few mouthfuls the flavours start to build and it ends up a very satisfying “curry”. To its credit a Bangladeshi colleague also tried one and really enjoyed it, which surprised me! I thought it might be a case of coals to Newcastle but it seemed to be a well-received lunch. The prawn and orzo pasta was very tasty, leafy and fresh with a lovely fruity sauce. I found the Tuscan chicken pasta a bit disappointing. It’s somewhat bland and not particularly satisfying. What is consistent about all the meals is the texture of the meat: so tender! You wouldn’t expect it in this kind of pot but it’s very welcome. That combined with a dose of veg means that at 350 calories each makes them a relatively guilt-free meal.
On the whole I really enjoyed these lunch pots. While I won’t be having one every day it has inspired me to make similar lunches by parboiling noodles, pouring over a sachet of stir-fry sauce, throwing a handful of mixed veg on top and taking to work in a lunchbox ready for microwaving.
To find out more about the range visit their Facebook page.
Just the other week I was bowled over by Jamie’s empire chicken. I was also taken by his prediction that if you ask the British public what their favourite meals are, they’ll say “roast chicken” and “a curry”, hence his Imperial mash-up. But my mind wandered to that other pinnacle of British food, the fish and chips. What would this look like as a crossover?
As it turns out, hilarious fun. Spicy yet familiar.
Empire fish and chips (serves 2):
For the chips:
2 – 3 medium maris piper potatoes
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon nigella seeds
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon madras curry powder
For the fish:
150g plain flour
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon honey
Carbonated water (enough to make a gloopy batter, approx 300ml)
2 cod fillets
- Preheat the oven to 200°C. Cut the potatoes into nice fat chip shapes and drop them into salted boiling water. When tender drain them and allow to steam dry a little. Toss in the spices with a big pinch of salt, toss in oil and pop in the oven for 45 minutes until crispy.
- Meanwhile make the fish. Heat some rapeseed or vegetable oil in a pan or fryer to 180°C. Whisk up the batter ingredients and then lay the fish in the batter. Allow the excess to drip off and fry the fish for approx 8 – 10 minutes until golden brown on both sides. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.
I took a rare trip to Waitrose armed with gift vouchers, which meant I could spoil myself a bit buying things I wouldn’t usually reach for. I picked up some of this which at £2.29 for a little sachet of sauce is bit pricey. I picked up some sirloin steak too and thought it would be a good match. So I pan-fried the steak and while it rested warmed the sauce through in the same pan, and served it with some potato wedges.
Stone me it was good. Lick-the-plate good. A smooth mustardy flavour but packing seven shades of umami moreishness with each mouthful. According to the man himself it’s a version of sauce Robert bolstered by one of Heston’s favourite ingredients, konbu. I’d love to try making this at home sometime, but if I couldn’t be bothered I’ve been convinced this is worth the money for a special dinner.