Harira: Moroccan Lamb and Bean Soup

To be born of two cultures is a blessing and a curse. For me the blessing was the food: the familiar yet unfamiliar smell of spices that flavour  Moroccan food, the tiny little cakes left around the dining room which could be picked up at leisure.
One recipe sticks in my mind as the ultimate comfort food and that's my grand-dad's Harira, A wonderful dish of lamb, chickpeas and lentils, this is the ultimate cure for the winter blues.
I seldom cook Harira because it is full of calories for a soup moreover one bowl is never enough. But on these rare occasions it is nice to share and this is my inheritance recipe
Be prepared to let the soup cook for at least 30 minutes.
Harira: Moroccan Lamb and Bean Soup
    1 tbsp oil
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 pound of bone-in shoulder lamb chopped in small pieces (but any lamb meat will do)
  • 1 carrot, cut into pieces
  • 2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 small potato, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp dried  lentils (I use red lentils but again any will do)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  •  1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp hot paprika
  • 600ml  of  chicken stock
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1  can chick peas
  • large handful or chopped coriander
  •  a dollop of Greek yogurt to garnish (optional)

  • Method

    heat oil in a large pot and cook the lamb for 2 to 3 minutes until brown . Remove to a plate and set aside

    Reduce the heat to medium add onion and cook for 2 minutes mix in all the spices for 15 seconds. Add the stock bring to simmer. Scrap up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot.

    Stir in the tomato and the lentils, return the lamb to pot. Bring to boil aand immediately reduce to simmer for 20 minutes

    Add the chick peas and cook for a further 10 minutes add more liquid if it seems too thick.

    Serve with a handful of coriander and a dollop of Greek yogurt.

    I have to thank Sue for emailing me this recipe and generate an idea which I hope will be popular with food bloggers, in the new year Pebble Soup will be hosting its own event: Your Inheritance Recipes....watch this space.

    Pebble Picture Patchwork #6 : Great Bavarian Bake Off

    Last month Pebble Soup was invited by the German Tourism Office to a Bavarian Bake Off. We heard about the iconic Christmas markets and learnt how to make tasty biscuits. Read all about it on Great British chefs.

    Bavarian Christmas biscuits and cakes recipes can be found here

    Chocolate and Orange Mousse

    Some people spend hours browsing through cars, shoes, IT catalogues, may be not all at once. As far as I am concerned, I could spend days gazing at pictures of chocolaty creations wondering if I could work my way through them all. There is no better way to know than to try.

    I made a start with Chef Nathan Outlaw's creation from Great British chefs. This puddings which marries Orange and Chocolate in a  mousse. Mousse au Chocolat is a French classic which owes its lightness to the air trapped in the fluffy whisked egg whites but not in this case which was intriguing.

    Nathan Outlaw works his chocolate (cocoa powder and 70% bitter chocolate) with cream, egg yolks, milk. The binding is generated by gelatine. Not used to work with this product, a bit of research was necessary. Gelatine comes in two forms: powder and leaf, in this recipe the latter is used.

    Step one work with gelatine leaves

    Soak first in cold water for 5 minutes, the time is on the packet in the instructions. Then squeeze out the excess water and place the leaves in a saucepan over gentle heat and melt or alternatively if you work with other hot ingredient place the squeezed ball directly in and it will melt of its own accord.
    Step 2. Mix the egg yolks and caster sugar together in a bowl
    Step 3. Bring 300ml of the double cream together with the milk and orange zest to the boil. Pour the mixture onto the egg yolks and sugar then return to the pan and cook over a low heat until the mix thickens a little.
    Step 4. Remove from the heat. Finely chop the chocolate and stir in, along with the gelatine and cocoa. Place the pan over a bowl of ice to cool. Meanwhile, semi-whip the remaining 160ml of double cream

    Step 5. When the chocolate custard mix is at room temperature, fold in the cream until fully incorporated.

    Step 6. Transfer to a bowl and chill in the fridge for 2 hours before serving


  • 80g of caster sugar
  • 460ml of double cream
  • 6 gelatine leaves
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 80g of 70% bitter chocolate
  • 80g of 70% cocoa powder
  • 300ml of whole milk

  • Tips
    Making crème anglaise or custard
    When stirring the mixture on the heat be sure to use a flat edged spoon, moving it continuously along the base of the pan so the mixture does not catch.
    Intensifying the orange flavour
    Get hold of a microplane - a great tool for removing the maximum amount of zest without the bitter pith.
    Leave the cream, milk, and orange zest to infuse for an hour before re-heating to pour over the egg yolk and sugar mixture.
    Mixing 2 kinds of chocolate make this dessert much lighter than its French counterpart. it's quick and easy to make, the orange flavour comes through and that's a really nice addition. Working with gelatine leaves is much easier than it looks and here it gives much more "form" to the mousse. A perfect mousse to serve at the end of dinner in coffee cups.

    Give-Away #18: Win A Case of 24 Häagen-Dazs Secret Sensations Fondants

    This Give-away was won by Lynn S. with her lucky number 140

    Häagen-Dazs has added a new flavour to their Secret Sensations Collection:
    Meringue and Raspberry fondant. An indulgent vanilla ice-cream with tiny, crunchy pieces of meringue and raspberry sauce center.

    At Pebble Soup HQ we snuggled up in front of an open fire with this delicious treat and now it's your turn. Häagen-Dazs is giving away a case of 24 mini cups, to be delivered to your door, so get ready to lock the world out and indulge. On the other hand, if you really have to, since the party season is just around the corner, it won't be easy, but you could share. Follow the instructions below to be in with a chance to win.

    Giveaway #18: Win a Case of 24 x 100ml minicups Häagen-Dazs Meringue and Raspberry Fondant RRP: £40


    • Complete the Rafflecopter form below to confirm your entries made via blog comments, Twitter, Facebook etc.
    • This giveaway is set to run until Friday 7th December 2012 however it may close close or be extended without notice.
    • This prize will be delivered via courier, organised by Häagen-Dazs within 4 weeks of winning.
    • Do read the rules below.
    • Winners are picked by Rafflecopter, contacted by email and  will be announced on Twitter and on this page.

    Good Luck

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    With a little help......Sheperdhess Pie & Rousquilles

    Food is the  new rock'n'roll and food bloggers more and more in the limelight. With so much activity around us, it's sometimes difficult to stop and thanks the bloggers who are grafting behind the scene and make a real difference to our meals by bringing up little known recipes.

    My aim with this post is to thank the bloggers who have helped me with Sunday dinner when neighbours gathered around the table. Always a tat nervy to cook for others and when you are a food blogger, people expectations are high.

    Going against the etiquette. Instead of writing the recipes up, I am going to link to their original post and let other bloggers do the talking. 

    The main course is a Shepherdess Pie a recipe from Food to Glow. A blog which features healthy  recipes with a twist. A blog I came across when I wrote the Ten at Ten for the foodies100.  

    With coffee we had Rousquilles. Mine don't look exactly the part but Phil in the Kitchen creations are the real McCoy with their story as a bonus. Enjoy Phil's Rousquilles.

    Monthly Product Reviews: All About Provenance

    In October Pebble Soup sampled three additions to the supermarkets shelves.

    Harry’s Nuts! Fairtrade Crunchy Peanut Butter developed by stand up comedian Harry Hill and Liberation Foods CIC, a Fairtrade nuts company.

    I have to say that until Vanessa of Food Goddess on a Budget travelled to Rwanda to visit vanilla farms which are helped in their development by the Fairtrade foundation, I was highly cynical about the scheme. Many moons ago, I briefly shadowed humanitarian workers in Mali and have a vivid picture of mountains of sacks filled with grains, stamped "famine relief" being sold openly on Djenne market square but Vanessa changed my mind.
    Though there are still niggling doubts about the system in general, here, I am prepared to believe the press release statements: Harry Hill makes no money from the products, he came up with the idea, the smallholder peanut farmers in Malawi are trading their way out of poverty.

    As for the taste: crunchy it is, lots and lots of crushed peanuts in each jar which contains 96% of fairtrade peanuts. It doesn't have much of the stickiness associated with peanut butter which make a nice change and Hill tells us that it is gluten free. Available in most supermarket at RRP £1.70  for 227g (or thereabout) for its provenance and quality it's thumbs up.

    Pebble Soup was invited to the Crosse & Blackwell new soups launch and stepped out of the building convinced that this brand was back where it belongs, at the top with 17 new soups over three ranges: Best of British, Premium and Classic. That's a lot of flavours and some such as leek and potato are nothing but new. 

    The newness is rather subtle and needs explaining: take their Best of British, the new element is, yes again the provenance. All five recipes are made with British only products, Lincolnshire Maris Piper potatoes, Wiltshire cured ham, the list goes on. At Crosse & Blackwell, they believe that consumers really benefit from the reinforced linked with local farmers.

    At the launch, there was no gimmick, no celebrity-chefs, now I come to think of it, no celebrity at all, a table full of veggies, a kitchen with large cauldrons of soups, the only thing doing the talking was, quality.

    Verdict: blown away. I don't think that soup in cans will ever be as good as home-made ones but here, it is very close. Unexpectedly, some flavours tell you if there is enough vegetables to make 1 of your 5 a day. RRP at £1.29 for 400g in most supermarkets (barred Sainsbury's) I'll reach for that brand anytime.

    In real life what are the chances to have a grandmother called Jamia who made jolly good jams, slim, I agree, but this is exactly the story behind this next product. Sajmira is from Albania, she and her husband made a run of 600 jars of the handed down family preserve recipes. Now, in many supermarkets, the couple has added their own flavours inspired from the English countryside to the range so not only the range offers fig preserves but Pear and Rhubarb.

    Verdict: I sampled Pear preserve which was as good as any, being roughly half fruit, half sugar, it's not overly sugary which is a bonus. In my opinion the good thing about the range of Mammy Jamia's premium preserve, is its variety and novel flavours. If you don't make your own jams, the other supermarket brands have a narrow range of flavours. With Mammy Jamia the range is broad and exciting. RRP £2.39 per 340g jar.

    Sponsored post

    Chocolate & Ginger Scones Crown

    Mention the word Chocolate and readership increases immediately by 20%. We, as a nation, are chocolate mad. Our chocolatiers, are the best in the world, no exaggeration here. 
    During Chocolate week, The International Chocolate Awards announced the winners of the 2012 World Final, out of 600 products, the likes of Paul a Young and Damian Allsop led the way to the top prizes and not chocolate medal in site.

    The blogosphere is not immune to this passion, there is of course Chocolatier a review and news magazine which I am so delighted to contribute to and Choclette's very own blog, Chocolate log blog,  a much-loved read. 
    Thinking along the lines of French-English alliance, I turned to a timeless cookbook Cranks' Breads and Teacakes and opted for a warming and spicy marriage of chocolate chip and ginger in a couronne (a French type of bread) of scones. Perfect for autumnal breakfasts or mid-afternoon teas, this tear and share made of scones is fast and easy to bake.
    Chocolate Chip and Ginger Scones Crown
    The original recipe uses carob chip and wholemeal flour
    1lb (450g) Wholemeal Flour
    2tbsp (30ml) Baking powder
    4oz (100g) Butter
    3oz (75g) Unrefined brown sugar
    2oz (50g) Chocolate chips
    1oz (25g) Crystallized ginger, finely chopped
    1/3 pt (200ml) Buttermilk
    Egg glaze made with one egg and 3tsp milk
    Combine the flour and baking powder in a bowl and rub in the butter. Stir in the sugar, carob chips and chopped ginger and add the milk to form a soft dough. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead quickly. Roll out the dough 1 in (2.5cm) thick and 2½ in (6.5cm) plain pastry cutter, stamp out scones and place on a buttered baking tray.
    Or to make a crown arrange the scones, overlapping in a circle.
    Brush with egg glaze and bake 425/22/gas 7 for 15-20 minutes until risen and golden.
    Cool on a wire tray
    Makes about 14 scones

    Urban Eden's in the Sky - By Alex C - Guest Blogger

    A month ago, Pebble Soup team attended GBC photography workshop. Mid-conversation someone mentioned edible walls. That immediately grabbed my attention. That someone is Alex C, a soon-to-be blogger who is passionate about the quality of the food she eats and very knowledgeable when it comes to growing her own. she was in her fifth sentence when on the spur of the moment, I asked her if she wouldn't mind writing a post about it. Here it is
    Urban Eden's in the Sky
    I’ve always wanted to grow my own food, particularly herbs and spices. Their culinary and therapeutic properties, really fire up my imagination and taste buds.
    Second to none for adding unusual specialist produce, difficult or expensive to buy, to your repertoire, some of my homegrown favourites include cavolo nero, Vietnamese coriander, borlotti beans, elephant garlic, sea kale, callaloo, edamame, tomatillos, goji berries, quinoa, and golden raspberries.
    Don’t so don’t let lack of space put you off like I did. You see I only have a balcony. Although it’s south facing, it’s tiny. Worse still it’s overshadowed by huge trees that blocks out virtually all heat and light for most of the day.
    ©Growing Culture : My small balcony
    Focusing on what I didn’t have, rather than what I was blessed with, my growing ambitions remained on the back burner for several years.
    Eventually, I realised I’d best try and work with what I have. There’s no need to help supermarkets make superprofits. If you lament deteriorating food quality, service, and, poor value for money join the club and start growing your own It was time to start showing it my small balcony a little love.
    Investigating how to get the best out of my space led to the following discoveries
    1. Quite a few fruits, vegetables and herbs thrive in shade,
    2. Produce you can start/continue growing in the autumn-winter period include leafy greens, broccoli, salads, perennial herbs, beets, beans, assorted berries,
    3. The only way is up for space-challenged city dwellers like me, i.e. gardening up and along, walls, balconies, window sills, fire escapes and roofs.
    There is plenty of helpful advice and support on vertical gardening available in the form of workshops, books and blogs.

    ©Growing Culture

    A couple caught my eye with their sage advice, innovative ideas and practical tips for growing edible Edens in the Sky:
    Mark Ridsdill Smith’s, founder of Vertical Veg, sprinkles his magic helping city dwellers get the maximum benefit from their tiny spaces. Passionate about what food growing can contribute to city life, health and sustainability he provides online information and workshops on vertical gardening. Check out his excellent free step by step guide on getting started The Art of Growing in Small Spaces.

     ©Vertical Veg
           For years Mark yearned to grow his own produce, but like me, believed his small London property wasn’t suitable. Finally, after years languishing at the bottom of allotment waiting lists, he started experimenting on his small balcony and was amazed to discover the amount of produce he was able to grow.

    © Vertical Veg One year he grew more than £900 worth of produce!

    In The Edible Balcony, writer Alex Mitchell, shares her DIY punk philosophy to growing edibles when space is a premium. Challenging assumptions that that you need a large amount of space to succeed it is packed with creative real life ideas. Here are a few inspiring examples for space starved growers featuring recycled materials such from old hat stands to colanders, mugs, guttering and shoe holders. It was certainly killed off my allotment envy.

     Source: The Edible Balcony by Alex Mitchell
    Growing. Eating.
    Ultimately vertical gardening allows you to eat fresher, tastier and more nutritious produce at a lower cost to the environment and your pocket. What’s not to love. Quick and easy things I love to make with my bounty include
    • herb oils and vinegars, salsas, pestos
    • simple dishes with anything deep, dark green like Cavolo Nero

    © Growing Culture Wilted Cavolo Nero with Black Rice Red Thai Fish Cakes and Sprouts

    Cavolo Nero is an Italian staple. A key ingredient of the well-known Tuscan bean soup Riboletta, it is also commonly used in a wide variety of dishes including risottos, pastas and frittatas.   Unaffected by the cold and most diseases, Cavolo Nero, a member of the kale family requires little attention and gets by in partial shade. Accordingly it is fast becoming an edible garden staple. Buy some seeds online or at the garden centre and follow the instructions for autumn planting.

    I love it’s rich, earthy flavour. I like it best lightly cooked dressed with some simple chilli garlic oil. Great food that makes the palate sing.

    Helpful resources mentioned in this article :
    The Edible Balcony by Alex Mitchell 
    Here’s another great starting point too:
    If you would like to contact Alex, drop her a comment below or tweet her @growingKultur


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