Lamb ragù

Chez Pebble Soup, we have a word to define leftovers thrown together mixed in with beans, usually serve on toast. The ultimate comfort food: a gù. 
lamb gu ragu casserole leftover comfort food recipe Romanian wine Recas’s Sole Shiraz
There is no amount of sophistication in the kitchen which will beat a good gù.

However to turn a gù  into a recipe which can be replicated and photographed nicely, we might need at the very least to get rid of the toast, probably replace the baked beans by fresh vegetables, turn the dish into a casserole or to give it, its proper name a ragù serve with a good glass (or two) of wine.
If you are still contemplating what to do with the lamb left over from Easter. Look no further, I found this recipe in Waitrose magazine. It needed adapting for pecuniary reasons.
Notes on adapting this recipe and red wine sauces
When I grew up, in France, wine was used a lot in cooking to produce rich red wine sauces, such as in this Beef Guardiane
But in the UK cooking with wine is an expensive business. The common mistake, one I made when I first arrived was to use cheap wine, don't bother. When you cook with wine, it has to be a decent wine as the taste of the wine is the basic flavour. My solution is to forget about the wine and replace  the light stock with a heavier, richer one.
Lamb ragù
1 tbsp olive oil
2 carrots, cut into 0.5cm pieces
2 leeks, trimmed and cut into 0.5cm pieces
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ x 20g pack rosemary, leaves finely chopped
½ x 15g pack oregano, leaves roughly chopped
3 bay leaves
or replace the three herbs above by a good dose of mixed herbs
2 tbsp tomato purée
500ml beef or lamb stock
400-500g leftover lamb cut into 0.5cm pieces, or raw lamb cubes if you don't have any leftvovers
Salt ( only a little if the stock is already salted), pepper to taste
In a large sauce pan, add the olive oil, cook the leeks and carrots for 10 minutes, medium heat.
Add the herbs, the garlic, the lamb and let it sweat for a further 10 minutes.
Add the rest of the ingredients bring it to boil and slow the heat down, cook for a further hour.
This dish was paired with a Romanian Recas’s Sole Shiraz, it's a medium bodied wine, very fruity, a rare combination of Shiraz, Fetească Neagră. It's a rather complex wine, lighter than the Romanian wines we tend to get normally in supermarkets and well worth getting a bottle if you like smooth red wine or if you feel a little adventurous (retailed at Waitrose)

Though I liked Reca's Sole for its complexity, I was not impressed at all by my pairing. It's only a few days later whilst reading this very interesting piece in the Guardian about Bulgarian and Romanian wines that I understood why - I had just done a big faux pas .
Disclaimer: the wine was sent to us for review


Falafel is a Middle Eastern street food which is remarkably easy to prepare. Serve with Baba Ganush, fresh salad and there you have it: lunch for the family, snack for yourself or party food for the many.

Middle-East recipe falafel chickpeas coriander spices meze snack

Falafels are packed with the flavours provided by herbs fresh coriander, parsley and spices, cumin and cinnamon, the recipe below would have beneficiated from a coating but I am still experimenting with the new Tefal airfryer and I am a bit cautious.
2 cans of chick peas drained/rinsed if you are using dried chick peas they will need to be soaked and cooked prior to using in this recipe
1 egg lightly beaten
2-4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley or coriander or a mixture of both
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tsp cumin powder
1tsp gound coriander
 1/4 tsp chilli flakes or cayenne pepper
pinch of ground cinnamon
 1 table spoon olive oil
Each falafel could be rolled in sesame seed to coat before cooking
In a food processor whisk the chick peas until roughly smooth
add all the other ingredients and process until smooth don't be tempted to add water if you already have lemon juice otherwise add 1tsp of water if the mixture doesn't "gel"
You will end up with a big "lump"  Form small balls with 1 tablespoon of mixture and place on an oiled tray. Bake at gas mark 5/180C for 12-15 minutes until golden brown and crunchy on the outside. It's ready to be served

Logitech Touch Mouse T620

Let me take you behind the scene. Gadgets at Pebble Soup don't all live in the kitchen. In fact a lot of them reside in the office. 
In the same way my heart desired an efficient fryer.  I've longed for the perfect mouse. Could Logitech Touch Mouse T620 be it?
Touch Mouse Logitech Wi-Fi Mouse no wheel mouse review T620
My current mouse is an ugly, wireless, Microsoft mouse. It has a scroll wheel (I have been told not to call the wheel, tit). Like a few of its contemporaries, it is heavy and comes with an egg-shaped transmitter which takes a it of space.
The pluses
Logitech Mouse T620 is incredibly pretty. Its design has an aerodynamic quality, it fits perfectly in the hand and unlike many smaller gadgets, it's also heavy. Hang on, it's heavy and light at the same time. How could that be?
Touch Mouse Logitech Wi-Fi Mouse no wheel mouse review T620
When you flip the mouse and open the battery compartment, you can see the reason behind this strange phenomenon. T620 can be powered by one or two battery which is very clever. In a way, you determine the weight of the mouse.
The receiver is a tiny USB plug which can be slotted in the batteries compartment so it never gets lost when taken on a trip. The lot comes with a travelling bag. I like the idea of a travelling mouse. Great stuff for a travel writer.
Touch Mouse Logitech Wi-Fi Mouse no wheel mouse review T620
The minuses
T620 is a touch mouse responding to pressure and swipes. This is where, it gets a little annoying. To right click, you need to lift the non-clicking finger completely off the surface which is odd at best of times even worse if you are a left-hander and there doesn't seem to be a way of switching the mouse so that left-hand users can access menus happily.
Swiping to the right is easy, I've not  managed so far to swipe left, in turn leaving me less options than with the old Microsoft mouse. Next, there is a pressure point 2/3 of the touch surface which I never found.
In short: I had issues with the touch technology, even if T620 looks good enough to eat I'll keep using my "old mouse with tit" until something even better comes along.
disclaimer: my thanks to Logitech for sending me a sample. I was not asked to write a positive review, all words are my own

Cracking Easter Eggs 2015

Easter Egg Review Rococo Dahl Crocodile Egg
Easter is around the corner. It's time to stock up and get our chocolate eggs ready to hide. As per usual Pebble Soup has been doing the hard work :) researching and tasting for you.
At first glance, Easter 2015 will be a year for fiction characters treats, weird and wonderful eggs from unlikely animals : Divine turned to Shaun the Sheep for their Easter egg! The 55g egg with novelty plush Shaun the Sheep ears will retail at £5.00  and Rococo collaborated with the Dahl family to hatch The Crocodile Egg and the Roly-Poly one too - 140g egg retails at £14.50 . Easter Egg Review Green and Black's easter egg 70% chocolate milk chocolate

From Green and Black's, two classic flavours : Organic Dark 70% and Milk Chocolate eggs. Two sizes are on offer Large at £10.99 Medium at £6.59.
They are part of a wider range. I've always found Green and Black's a reliable brand. This is not  all singing, all dancing, offerings but one which will not let you down.

Before presenting my favourite 2015 Easter Eggs. I'd like to express my disappointment at the iconic Lindt Bunny which is a let down. I always praised Lindt for the taste of their products. Not this time round though -dull - Despite the promise of the name, the chocolate doesn't deliver.
May be Bunny got distracted  by products such a real 18 carat gold Lindt bunny to add to your necklace or charm bracelet sold in  limited edition.
Pebble Soup Winner this year was M&S. Impressive looking and well thought confectionary. Take this Artist Egg retailed at £12.00 for 300g egg. At last, an Easter egg aimed at  teenagers  and adults. But kids don't worry it's one to share with its 5 chocolates squares nestled at the front of the box.

M&S Easter Egg Review artist egg 20115
M 'n S Spring Garden of Chocolate Assorted Eggs, £12 delivers on many levels. Hand decorated milk, dark and white chocolate eggs with raspberry, pistachio and butterscotch.

Easter egg Marks & Spencer review
I loved the variety offered here, the chocolate may not be supreme but it's certainly good. The little surprises lodged at the bottom of each egg: little crunch of flavours, unexpected and joyous - this says Easter - this is great fun and good value for money.

Disclaimer: some eggs were sent to me as samples, some I bought, all the words and opinions are mine.

Cheat of the Month: Pork Marinated in Whisky and Soy Sauce

Dear Delia, once, ran a TV series with an associated book called "Cheat". Not that I read the latter and possibly caught a few minutes of the series before dismissing it. What's the point of spending time reading a book to tell me how to save time. 
I thought it  all very silly, I couldn't understand the fuss. Aren't we all cook-cheats; I am not talking about producing a ready made meal and calling it our own; I am referring to shortcuts which make our lives easier by reducing the hard work. The idea is to pick fast but flagrant recipes and used already made prepared ingredients such as jars of chopped or crushed garlic, chillies and ginger.
pork quick meal coriander soy sauce lazy ingredients

This recipe should take no more than 30 minutes preparation and  cooking included. It needs marinating overnight but there is not need to oversee that part of the process!
Pork Marinated in Whisky and Soy Sauce
pack 28g coriander - chopped and tailed -
1 tsp grinded black peppercorns
6 to 8 tsp of Very Lazy chopped garlic
2 tbsp. light soya sauce
3 tbsp. whisky (the cheap kind)
1/2 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. oil
350g pork steak sliced lengthways
5 tsp Very Lazy chopped garlic
5 to 10 tsp Very Lazy crushed chillies
4 tbsp. lime juice
1 tbsp. light soy sauce or fish sauce ( if you prefer )
2 tbsp. sugar
in a large dish stir all the marinade ingredients in, add the pork cover with film and leave in the fridge overnight
When you are ready to cook, remove the dish from the fridge and grill using the oven, an electric grill or in a frying pan without oil - turn often for the pork not to catch and start producing juices which will caramelise.
In the meantime prepare the dressing by mixing all the ingredients together, taste if it's too salted add a little water
Pour the dressing over the pork when serving.

Disclosure: English Provender provided me with  complimentary Very Lazy garlic and chillies for review purposes. No money exchanged hands and all opinions are my own.

Lemon and Thyme Cake

Lately, the common cliché, "you are only as good as...." has been flashing in front of my eyes on an imaginary card. Reassuringly, the phenomenon though occurring regularly, it tend not to happen at odd time. It only takes place when I pitch or tweak my bio or talk about my work which means that it happens a lot, indeed. It had me thinking, could it be that as writers what determines our self worth is the latest piece written?

Lemon & Thyme Cake Clandestine Cake Club recipe dessert

 The brutal answer is, "Yes".

In April, my food column for The Greenwich Visitor, the much loved local paper, will be all about cakes and that will be the article by which my writing is assessed, at least for a blink. 
"Cake" I hear you say, "but you can't bake for toffee". How well you know me. Though being challenged in the cake baking department, I am a very good researcher and believe me I ate a lot of cakes for that article. One stood out. I loved how moist this lemon cake was. The addition of thyme was not greatly successful so I tweaked the recipe, still more would be required to cut through so my advice is don't be shy with the thyme.
◾200g butter
◾200g caster sugar
◾100g plain flour
◾1/2 teaspoon baking powder
◾100g ground almonds
◾4 large eggs
◾1 lemon
◾1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves - A reader suggested to use Lemon-Thyme to get more of the thyme flavour -

For the drizzle:
◾4 tablespoons caster sugar
◾2 large lemons
◾2 tablespoons water
◾1/2 teaspoon on thyme leaves
Line a 20cm loaf tin with baking parchment and set your oven at 160 degrees C / Gas 3. To add extra flavour put the thyme leaves reserved for the drizzle in a bowl and pour the equivalent of 2 tbsp. of boiling water on the top.

In a mixer (it can be done by hand as well but mixer here is best). Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, add the eggs one by one then the flower, the baking powder and the ground almonds. Keep mixing until you get a smooth mixture

Grate the zest from your lemon and put into a pestle with your thyme leaves and pound until you get a rough paste, then mix into your cake mix. Spoon in the prepared tin and bake. It normally takes 45 minutes but keep an eye on it and check near the end with a knife. You don't want it to dry up.

While the cake is in the oven, prepare the syrup. In a small saucepan dissolve the sugar, the juice of 2 lemons and add the thyme leaves with the water.

When the cake comes out of the oven prick it all over and drizzle the syrup all over. Leave it to cool and take out of the baking tin.

This recipe has been linked to  Cooking with Herbs a challenge set by Lavender & Lovage

Sashimi Picture from Sticks'n'Sushi, Greenwich

There are dishes out there which are extraordinarily photogenic. This week I came across one of them at a new restaurant in Greenwich, Sticks 'n' Sushi.

Sashimi picture Sticks and Sushi Greenwich Japanese food
A gorgeous plate of sashimi.

What's New in the Kitchen #10: A Blast from the Past

Keeping a monthly "what's New in the Kitchen" post is almost impossible and may be it's a good thing. It would tend to demonstrate that Pebble Soup has not been taken over by advertising. Here are a couple of new products which has been sent for review.
The English Provender Co  has launched two new wholegrain mustards which at first glance looked very much like "moutarde a l'ancienne".
Looking a bit more carefully one mustard contains fig and honey, the other horseradish. We tried the former thanks to its  crème fraiche, the rainy mustard is very smooth. It's great with chicken. If I had a slight criticism and I do, it tends to separate but most wholegrain mustard do. don't they?
The new range is available from Waitrose stores priced at £1.49

I really liked BelVita breakfast option: Tops. It claims to, "Slowly release carbohydrates over four hours when eaten with a balanced breakfast" and no that does not entail Olympic size omelette and sausages more like an apple and a coffee. I tried, it works. The ingredients raise the blood glucose levels and a couple of biscuits keep you going from one meal to the next. the texture is slightly rough and reminded me of biscuits, I had as a kid, a real blast from the past.
RRP £2.79


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