Broad Beans Dip

A lot  happened at Pebble Soup HQ's in May, the best news being that more and more of you are reading the tribulations and recipes of its participants. The best loved posts, this past month, came from two different angles. the interview with Paul Hollywood at the Vintage Inn summer cake party was one and the campaign for an unusual spring ingredient: Turkey was the other. May give-away has not been forgotten and will be posted tonight, so please do come back for a visit later.

But before you go, I'd like to fast forward a little to June. At the beginning of the month, I will be hosting Fabulicious' event : Family friendly Fridays so I thought that I would talk the talk, walk the plank, wave my rolling pin, in one word that I would enter May's round up hosted by Clare at The Vegetarian Experience. I chose an easy dish, quick to make it can be adapted to the all sort of eaters from fussy to sophisticated, all in all "a good one for a family".


This recipe can be served as starter with pitta bread, flat bread or displayed in large spoons for a bit of fun.

1lb/500g broad beans, shelled
1tsp/5ml ground coriander
1tsp/5ml ground cumin
1tsp/5ml turmeric
1 cloves garlic, crushed optional on account of tast
juice of 1 lemon
2tbsp/20ml olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Cook the beans in boiling water until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid.

2. Place the beans and spices in a liquidiser and blend for 30 seconds.

3. Add the lemon juice and garlic, thin the mixture with a little of the reserved liquid, to form a thick purée.

4. Gradually stir in the oil a little at a time, until the desired thickness of pâté is reached.

5. Season to taste and serve with crudités or bread and a sprinkle of turmeric.

Drinking Tea May Be Healthier Than Water

Many people drink tea to relax after a hard day, or use it as a healthier substitute for coffee, The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition has worked hard to dispel certain long-held rumours about tea.

It was often thought that drinking tea may lead to dehydration, but a recent study has dispelled this myth and actually found the exact opposite. Tea not only rehydrate as well as water does, but it can also protect against heart disease and some cancers, UK nutritionists found.

Public health nutritionist Dr Carrie Ruxton said that "Drinking tea is actually better for you than drinking water. Water is essentially replacing fluid. Tea replaces fluids and contains antioxidants so it's got two things going for it."

Tea contains catechins, a type of antioxidant. In a freshly picked tea leaf, catechins can compose up to 30% of the dry weight. First Flush Darjeeling loose teas, are especially good, since they are the first teas to be picked in the season.

First flush teas, coming from an area in India called Darjeeling, a home of rare teas, are a particular type of black tea. Black tea has been shown to have particular health benefits,including reducing cholesterol and fighting heart disease.

Good tea is also easier to prepare than good coffee, giving you plenty of reason to give it a try. About a teaspoon of black tea per 6 oz. cup, should be used.

Unlike green teas, which turn bitter when brewed at higher temperatures, black tea should be steeped in freshly boiled water. The more delicate black teas, such as Darjeeling, should be steeped for 3 to 4 minutes.

The same holds for broken leaf teas, which have more surface area and need less brewing time than whole leaves. Whole leaf black teas,and black teas that will be served with milk or lemon, should be steeped4 to 5 minutes.

Disclaimer: Guest post

Let's Talk About Salmon

Salmon has been in the news lately with Russia's ban for Norwegian salmon and  Chilean farmed salmon making a recovery from a virus which eradicated most of  the production some years back. All of this might sound like stories from far-far-away-seas but of course it affects the cost.

I have always been puzzled by the huge span in salmon price, farmed salmon being relatively cheaper than wild salmon and both being somewhat almost double the price of other fish in the sea. A survey shows that when asked people say they prefer wild salmon, I do to though I have no idea why, as salmon from well run farms is delicious.

So what do the latest developments mean for our purse. My personal conclusion after sifting through a few reports is that the price of salmon will drop slightly in the near future but will still remain higher than most other common fish.

Consumers therefore have to be clever to benefit from the new situation and find recipes which use a small amount of salmon still allowing them to get salmon on the table because let's face it with its lovely thick chunks, it is a delight.

Some time ago, Delish Fish delivered some of its catch to the door. Most of it was consumed on the spot but few pieces were frozen and here is what happened to the last slice of salmon. This recipe makes 4 cakes.

Fish cakes recipe
  • 200g of salmon, cut into 1.5cm chunks
  • 200g of potatoes, peeled and diced into 1cm chunks
  • 30g of flat-leaf parsley, washed and chopped
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 200g of breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 100g of plain flour
  • 50ml of vegetable oil
  • salt
  • black pepper
Steam the potaoes until cooked that should take 20 minutes
Flake the salmon filet making sure you get all the little bones if there are any.
Drain the potatoes, transfer to a large bowl, add the salmon, parsley, seasoning, lemon
When cool enough to handle, divide in 4 balls
In a separate recipient whisk the eggs
Now flatten the balls, so that you get something like a small, thick burger 
Drop each ball in the egg mixture then in the breadcrumbs, repeat
Shallow fry and cook for 10 minutes
Serve on a bed of your choosing, great with beans
 Disclaimer : thank you to Fish is the Dish for including Pebble Soup in their scheme

The Malmaison Brasserie

Malmaison, the luxury boutique hotels brand has announced the launch of a new menu at its brasseries, as well as updated bar and room service menus. 
Ahead of the press evening launch Pebble Soup HQ was invited to dinner.

Rest assured, I won't be reviewing room service. When I asked him if he could join me to Malmaison loosely translated as "the Naughty House", he said "Yes" with the most Honourable of intention: Trying out the new menu.

Though, when we headed down the winding iron staircase in the Malmaison hotel to reach the brasserie and bar situated in the basement, stylishly decorated in sensual colours of deep purple, yellows and reds, sultry lighting, it felt as if you could have been on a first date.

The feeling was reinforced by the cocktails list which is given high pride of place. Each barman creates a cocktail weekly, the beverage which sells the most wins him the honorific medal of cocktail of the month.

We were offered a  champagne flute of delightfully refreshing Daria's Passion "A frothy mixture of Chistalnaya Vodka with Apricot Brandy and Strawberry liqueur orange and pineapple juice", accompanied by crispy baguette and tapenade. Malmaison knows how to set the stage.

I think this is the part of the evening I enjoyed the most. There is something about being cocooned in lovely company with a perfectly balanced cocktail in one hand and serious nibbles in the other. A great way to unwind.

One thing to know about Malmaison: the management team regards food as an integral part of the business, contrary to a lot of hotels, special attention is paid to the dining experience. Only top products are sourced, local traders are involved which only heighten the quality.

Being at the top of their game in  hospitality helps. When it comes to the front of the house, our waitresses did a perfect job, they were knowledgeable, fun and attentive. They created an instantaneous, easy and cosy relationship which was a big part of our enjoyment.

For starters I chose the smoked salmon blini, crème fraîche and caviar. He opted for a selection of cured meat and cheeses from the Specials. Starters as well as all the dishes we were served were visually stunning however flavour-wise they worked with a degree of success. My gluten free blini was not quiet right but the salmon and caviar were very tasty. The same applied for his dish. The recommended Sauvignon blanc Mamaku from New-Zeland @6.25 a glass was perfect with both dishes.

For main, what else but to try the infamous Mal Burger, it is so big that it has to be held together with a wooden stick and attacked with a meat knife, it oozes with melted cheese and comes with a tomato sauce in the cutest copper small dish. fries on the side. The ultimate comfort food, it looked brilliant but his verdict was : "Some dishes don't translate to posh." Though the plancha was neatly polished.

My Seared Yellow Fin Tuna Steak was cooked to perfection and its Warm Niçoise Salads was new on me, lightly braised lettuce and blanched vegetables were all very pleasant, it doesn't really gel as a dish but individually every thing tastes very nice and certainly big enough which is a real plus.

Time to loosen our belts for dessert, I chose the Classic vanilla crème brûlée. This was not crème brûlée as I know it, it was creamy and just out of this world. I was in love. All desserts are priced at £6.50, A glass of Hungarian Tokaji @£7.95 complemented them both nicely.

Service was outstanding
Food overall good, definitely not cutting edge, every single dish had its ups and downs. They were visually very good, and every effort is made to source food well.
Prices are reasonable with starters between £7.00 and £8.50 - Our mains at £16 and £17- Portions are very generous. All cocktails are priced @£9.00 tapenade @£4.00

location is slightly too subterranean for me, but it's tastefully done.
In numbers 7 out of 10

Malmaison Brasserie
Malmaison Hotel
18-21 Charterhouse Square
London EC1M 6AH
Tel. + 44 (0)20 7012 3700

Square MealBrasserie de Malmaison on Urbanspoon

Disclosure: I would like to thank warmly Malmaison for inviting us to dinner and give Pebble Soup HQ a heads up.

Injera : Ethopian Flatbread

When He asked me if I could stir his Injera, each day, for  the following three days, I found nothing better but to giggle. You see, I had no idea that Injera is a national Ethiopian dish.
It is the traditional Ethiopian bread. It has a sponge like texture and a lenghty yeasty starter, hence the stiring. Made from Teff flour when in Ethiopia or Somalia it had to be adapted for us. Celia Brooks did this wonderfully well, she uses wheat flour.

Injera tastes like no other bread on earth, sour for sure but full of other flavours, it is usually served with spicy food and like in the Yemen, flat bread is used for a plate.  Who doesn't like to eat his/her plate, I ask you.
Day 1 and fermentation time
Get a large bowl and combine
300g / 2 1/3 cups strong white bread flour
100g / 2/3 cup wholemeal self-rising flour
1 package easy-blend yeast (7g)
625 ml / 2 ½ cups warm water
 Cover with a clean damp cloth and let the mixture sit for a full 3 days at room temperature, stirring once a day
Day 3 and preparation time
Add a tsp of bicarbonate of soda a little salt and stir.
In a wok, pour enough batter to make a thin pancake and swirl it round as quick as you can.
Lots of little holes will appear, do not flip but if you do that will not be the end of the world.

When cook reserve and serve with cottage cheese, chutney and a stew of some kind.

A Vintage Summer Cake Fit for a Queen

Vintage Inns' chefs have created a very special cake to celebrate Her Majesty's diamond jubilee. So far, nothing special, there are a lot of brands jumping on the royal barge however this is slightly different.

In this post, Paul Hollywood celebrity master baker  tells Pebble Soup's readers all about the Vintage Inns' Diamond Jubilee Cake.

Click on the play button

The Victoria Sponge was created in honour of Queen Victoria’s reign, this royal treat is a triple-decker sponge cake with raspberries and blackcurrants, summer fruit syrup, cream and blueberry fruit.

For every slice bought, Vintage Inns will donate 15p to Marie Curie. To find a Vintage pub or restaurant near you click here.

This is an addition to the original post, due to popular demand here is the ingredients and methodology for this delicious cake

Summer Celebration Cake
Key Ingredients
Vintage Summer Cake
Cake batter:
360g unsalted butter (leave at room temperature to soften)
360g self raising flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
6 medium sized eggs
360g caster sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
Fruit syrup:
400g frozen mixed berries
50g caster sugar
100g water
Cream filling:
150g whipping cream
15g icing sugar
Fruit – Fresh or frozen can be used:
80g raspberries
100g blackcurrants
150g blueberry jam
Icing sugar for dusting

Equipment required:
3 x Straight edge 8 inch cake tins – preferably not non-stick
Electric hand mixer
Large mixing bowl
Pastry brush
  1. Line the base of three straight edged 8inch tins with silicon coated grease proof paper. Do not line or grease the sides and where possible do not use non-stick tins. Preheat oven to 145c in a fan assisted oven or between gas mark 2 and 3(160c).
  3. To make the cake batter, make sure the butter is soft to spread. Place all ingredients into a large bowl and using an electric whisk, mix long enough for the batter to become smooth. Divide the mix equally into the three tins. On two of the cakes only, sprinkle 40g of raspberries and 40g of blackcurrants on top of each cake. Place into the oven and cook for 50-60 minutes. Test the cake by inserting a knife into the cake, when removed the knife should come out clean. Carefully remove the two fruited cakes from their baking tins leaving the third plain cake in the tin for use later.
  5. Whilst the cakes are baking place all the ingredients for the syrup into a pan, bring to the boil and simmer gently on a low heat until all the fruit is soft. Allow to cool slightly and then blend until smooth. Strain the syrup to remove any seeds and skin.
  7.  Return to the one remaining cake still in its baking tin, this will be the middle section and needs to be soaked. To do this, pierce 15 holes randomly into the top of the cake using the flat side of a small knife. Place most of the syrup on top of the warm cake and leave to absorb, retain a small amount back for use a little later. After 2 minutes run a knife round the edge of the tin and allow the remaining to run of the top and down the side of the cake. Leave for 30 minutes to allow the syrup to absorb then place into the freezer to firm up. This will make handling of the soaked cake easier.
  9. Whip the cream and icing sugar together until stiff peaks form.
  11. Place 1 of the fruit topped sponges on to a cake board or flat surface, fruit side facing up. Spread the whipped cream on top. If you have a piping bag you may find it easier to pipe it from the middle in a spiral outwards as this will give a more even coverage. Sprinkle the remaining blackcurrants on top. Remove the soaked layer from its tin and place on top of the bottom sponge layer. If there are any patches where the syrup hasn’t coated the sides use a pastry brush and dab the remaining syrup to cover them up.
  13. Place the jam into a bowl and using a spoon mix to loosen it up. Spread the jam on top of the soaked sponge. Place the final sponge layer on top, with the fruit facing upwards.
Chill for approximately 2 hours to allow the cake to firm up. Dust the top for decoration just before serving.

Alfresco Competition: Tomato & Mozzarella Morsel

Spring is on their way, admittedly it is taking its time. Anyhow with the prospect of warm weather, our thoughts are turning to "the great outdoors".

There is nothing I like better than to take my meals outside, warming up slowly in the sunshine and relaxing while eating.

So when asked if I could support Al Fresco Holidays and enter their Chef of the Year Competition, I jumped at the opportunity and hopefully you will do the same, there is nothing simpler.

But wait and let's rewind a little, Al Fresco Holidays is a holiday provider of mobile homes throughout Europe. Isn't it time to break about having a break?

My is new to Pebble Soup HQ, it reminds me of my recent press-trip to Brussels, topped with a dressing I found on one of the most reliable recipe website I know, the Great British Chefs

I am not sure that a recipe without a name can be entered so I have named it in honour of the competition

Al Fresco Tomato and Mozzarella Morsel

serves 2
  • 1 Mozzarella ball
  • 2 medium tomatoes
For the dressing
  • zest and juice of one lime
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil

cut the mozarella sideways so that it can seat on the plate and
slice each half
do the same with the tomato.
on a plate, alternate the mozzarella and the tomato

The dressing
zest the lime,
squeeze the juice
mix well with the oil and the sugar

dress the morsel and leave in the fridge for 15 minutes before serving.

Serve on grilled aubergines with herbs and salad on the top or simply as it it.

Sponsored post, the competition is opened until the end of May- the top prize is a holiday to an Al Fresco parc in Europe.

Gin on the Rise

Let me invite you to a ritual in existence at Pebble Soup HQ, l'apéro, pre-dinner drink which allows us to catch up, try out cocktails, he mixes, I drink. All manners of beverages are consumed à l'apéro though for a long time, gin was not a real part of the paraphernalia of  spirits.

Once decried as "mother's ruin", in my mind at least, it was very much associated, with "the other" type of crowd, the snobby ones along with 18th century misery. But gin has once more regain a place in our drinking cabinet, pretty much the same way it is going through a revival, a little gin revolution.

And this change is partly due to a visit to Aldeburgh food and drink festival in August last year, when I was handed a gin menu. Never having given the spirit a second thought, I hardly realised that there was more than one kind of gin. On that day, I learnt that every gin has its own recipe, though botanicals often appear on the bottle, the details are kept secret. A bit like magicians' brew.

So, each gin has its own composition, the floral bouquet comes from an average of eight botanicals. there are two main routes, the juniper lead or the citrus way.

At the moment we are delighting in  Bloom gin which is an  infusion of fresh strawberries, chamomile, honeysuckle and pomelo. A gin inspired and created by the only known female gin Master Distiller, Joanne Moore.

Thank you to Bloom gin for the sample.

Cooking with Turkey for I Love British Turkey Campaign

As few weeks ago I was approached by I Love British Turkey to take part in their effort to promote "The Xmas piece de resistance". And resistance, there was a little on my behalf, I can count on the fingers of one hand, the number of times I've cooked turkey.

Why? It is a matter of reputation, not mine that of the turkey. So I wanted to make sure where the meat originates from before I entered the competition. I couldn't get a better answer, 'Your choice' and I was encourage to look for, "for the British Turkey Quality Mark: the Little Red Tractor known as Red Tractor".

I therefore agreed and went on to purchase my cuts. If Charlotte at Charlotte's Kitchen Diary was having a smooth time, finding free range turkey priced less than chicken, my experience was at the antipodes.

Two large local supermarkets were not stocking turkey. It was a case of third time lucky for the minced meat, which cost only two pounds for 500g and did make for a lovely, dish. But when it came to the half crown from my local butcher, I could not believe the price even not free-range, it blew my entire budget,  I could have bought a whole supermarket turkey for the price of one breast.

My entry for the competition is an easy to make, really smart on the table, very low in calories,  winning dish.

 Peppadew and Pistachio Terrine

  • 500g turkey mince
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic clove, crushed
  • 50g roughly crushed pistachios
  • 6 or 7 peppadews chopped finely
  • 1 spray or tsp of olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 2 egg yolks
  • a couple of peppadews whole and few salad leaves to decorate

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C - 338F - gas mark 3 - fan oven 150C
  2. In a frying pan, heat the oil, fry the onion and the garlic slowly, take off the heat when cooked.
  3. Place all the other ingredients in a large bowl
  4. Mix them all using your hands
  5. Transfer the content of frying pan in the bowl, mix it all up thoroughly,
  6. Line a loaf pan with baking parchment and tip the mixture in the loaf pan, cover with the side of the parchment or with aluminium foil.
  7. Place the  loaf pan in a tray filled with enough water so that it comes to halfway up the sides of the loaf pan
  8. Bake for 1 1/2h
  9. Remove the terrine and place on a tray now for the fun bit weigh it down with a couple of cans.
  10. Refrigerate overnight.
Decorate with Peppadew and a few leaves of salad, serve with chutney, gherkins, bread. It will keep 4 days in the fridge

What is the red tractor logo: After research I was told that In terms of poultry meat the logo means that livestock is kept in more humane surroundings - in essence farmers / stock owners have to demonstrate a high standard of husbandry ensuring that welfare meets nationally agreed
levels of best agricultural practice.
However if all aspects are covered, it is hard to know what is looked for and does not mean that the food is made in Britain

For more information on the Peppadew peppers, take a look at
I have entering this recipe into the British Blogger competition over at I love Turkey

Week-End Pictures: Stilton

The countryside around Stilton looks stunning this time of the year.

Traditionally May Bank Holiday is an opportunity to do a bit of cheese rolling in the high street but this year the Molly-dancers stole the thunder

Photo-credit : He.



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