Tzirani Gololig & Thingamidoodah

When I have a minute to enjoy other blogs' recipes, I drop by Belleau Kitchen for its creativity and genuineness. This month, I was wickedly tempted to play with its Thingamidoodah, a randomiser actioned by baby luck who picks a recipe allowing entry in Random Recipes and you know what that Omen of a toy came up with Arto der Haraoutunian's Middle Eastern Cookery Tzirani Gololig.

But let's wind up a little, in order to count the cookery books, they needed to be gathered. Something, somewhat difficult in the aftermath of new kitchen. Where cookery books used to live, there is now a pantry.
Undeterred, I asked an ex-neighbour for help, we drove to Catford timber which is one of these wonderful emporium stacked with "all sorts of..." in this case raw timber, we bought enough poplar to make a bookcase. he designed it, we struggle with it, used the longest clamps I ever saw, cut, placed, glued, puzzled, laughed and produced this:

Which was rapidly filled up like so:

From which this, was extracted:

 Tzirani Gololig or Meatballs in apricot sauce
This is said to be a recipe from Armenia, the land of apricots, Arto der Haroutunian describes it as, 'Virtually unchanged from the distant past" if I had to do it again I would definitely drop the rice in the balls and replace it by breadcrumbs and choose the paprika more carefully for the sauce.
for the lamb meatballs:1 lb/450g minced lamb
1 egg
1 medium onion
100g/4oz cooked rice
1teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon each cinnamon, cumin, and salt
1/8 teaspoon each allspice and Aleppo pepper
1/4 tablespoon minced parsley
3 tablespoons arak (or ouzo though I only had pastis)
1.2litres/2pints stock


for the sauce:

100g/4oz dried apricots, soaked overnight in 300ml/half pint cold water
2 medium-size onions, finely diced
1 clove garlic

1 tablespoon fresh coriander or 1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon flour
1 teaspoon paprika
To prepare the meatballs you will need to pass the meat through a mincer with the onion so that you can a very fine mixture. Then in a large bowl you add all the balls ingredients, mix well and divide them in small portions which you roll to form a ball and place in a saucepan with the stock.
Bring to boil simmer for 15 minutes and drain

Meanwhile prepare the apricot sauce, put the apricots, garlic, coriander and 5 tablespoons of apricot water in a liquidizer and blend
Heat the fat and fry the onion until soft, add the flour and paprika and continue frying for a couple of minutes. Add the apricot mixture and gradually thin with the stock.
When it's sauce like add the meatballs and simmer gently for 30 minutes

I am entering this recipe in

Turkey Rissoles: a Thrifty Recipe

There is not much of a story attached to this recipe which I even didn't cook. Lucky that a picture exist as it was almost not taken. So why blog about turkey rissoles, do I hear you say? Well, This dish tastes just fantastic and it's a prime candidate for saving money.

Let me explain, on hearing that Pebble Soup had entered a competition with the stupendous Turkey Melon, he (not being competitive) decided that he could do better and produced perfectly formed rissoles.

 Unsure of what the difference is between Rissoles, Patties and Boulettes, it's worth underlining that these rissoles were made with defrosted left over from the Xmas turkey. Sometimes, it's worth having a dig in the freezer or the pantry with an open mind.
I was so impressed that not only I am entering them in I Love Turkey competition but also in Credit Crunch Munch, a joint challenge run Fab Food 4 All and Fuss Free Flavours and as we say in France "que le meilleur gagne." 
Turkey rissoles
These ingredients will makes 8 rissoles, serving 4

  • 500g lean turkey mince
  • small brown onion, finely diced
  •  2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbs fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
  • 50g (1 cup) fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked
  • Salt & ground black pepper, to taste
  • A little olive oil to cook


This is a two steps recipe,
Step 1 : Place all the ingredients in a bowl and you mix well. Then you divide the mixture into 8 equal portion which you will shape into rissoles.

Step 2 : Oil lightly a frying pan and cook in two batches over medium heat.


Faffa Cakes: a Home-Made Variation on Jaffa-Cake

The closer we get to Father's day, the more apparent it becomes that if there is a myriad of lovely baking creations on offer for mums, there are far less so for dads.
When Pebble Soup was asked to take a look at Baking Mad delicious fathers day cakes in order to re-create one of the site recipe, I jumped at the idea. Not only because Baking Mad website is one of the little darling of the foodie blogosphere but also because there have fabulous recipes and some great father's day ideas.
As always, I got slightly side-tracked and ended up marvelling at the Jaffa Cakes page. 

It reminded me of a recent event where there were giant jaffa cakes displayed. My understanding is that these re-sized creations are hitting the shelves now and judging by the reactions at the event they might get very trendy.

But back to the task at hand, I am aiming for something trendy but with a retro-feel. Preferably something chocolaty since all the dads I talked to did put chocolate at the top of their cake wish-list. Easy to make as this is something which is going to involve kids cooking and last but not least a bake which could be tailor-made.

Based on the Baking Mad recipe, I was going to make my own Faffa Cake, Jaffa for Fathers.

The cake base is a genoise which means that the eggs and the sugar are beaten together until the magical "ribbon stage" is reached. My tip is to use an electrical whisk. The ribbon stage is reached when lifting the whisk and moving it around, a trail will be left and the mixure looks a lot like meringue.

Then there is jelly, remember: fridge time, plan a little bit ahead. It also has to be fairly firm otherwise it will wobble too much and will be impossible to work with. Therefore no more than 200ml of water, less if you can get away with it and certainly not more than 1cm high in the container. Once you know this, your Faffa Cakes will fabulous.

There is nothing to stop you using different different coloured chocolate buttons they come in orange, yellow, blue, green, pink and lilac and match the jelly flavour.

For weight conscious dads, this recipe is low calorie,  here is the orignal Baking Mad Low calorie Jaffa cake and below is my variation.
Faffa Cakes

2 Free Range Eggs 
25 grams Granulated Sugar
50 grams Plain White Flour
1 sachet Orange Jelly Sugar free
1 paquet  Orange coloured chocolate buttons
Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C, 350°F/Gas 4. Lightly grease 6 hole muffin tin.
Prepare a genoise base for the cakes using a bain-marie: place the eggs and sugar into a large bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water (do not allow the base of the bowl to touch the water). Whisk continuously for 4-5 minutes, or until the mixture is pale, fluffy and leaves a trail when the whisk is removed. A
Add the flour, beating continuously, until a thick, smooth batter forms. Half-fill each muffin tin with the cake mix. Bake the cakes for 8-10 minutes, or until pale golden-brown and cooked through.
Remove from the oven and set the cakes aside, still in their tray, until cool. They may sink a little. Remove the cakes from the tins.
Make the Jelly according to the instructions on the packet only halve the water content and pour into a shallow tray to form a 1 cm layer of jelly. When the jelly is set use a cup to cut small discs. smaller than the cake and transfer on the top of each cake.
Melt the chocolate buttons on a bain-marie, leave it to cool otherwise you are going to melt the jelly and drizzle over the cakes. In the fridge (or the freezer if you are in a hurry) till the chocolate is set.
disclaimer: thank you to Baking Mad for giving me the opportunity to use one of their recipe. This post is sponsored, words and opinions are my own.

Roast, Borough Market, Celebrates Malbec World Day

Wine pairing has become very fashionable. Trendy enough for TV chefs to display ostensibly their knowledge. I am told that John Torode is starting a new pairing venture. Behind the scenes there are some solid professionals playing the game too and it is certainly an interesting activity, getting the feel of which wine enhances which food.

At Pebble Soup HQ, we have been sporadically keeping wine-notes. One of the grape which seems to hit the spot with me is Argentinian Malbec. Possibly because it doesn't explode my papillae but still is powerfully flavoured, full bodied and has a long lingering aftertaste.

Readers who have been following this blog will know that "world days", "national days" "whatever days" spur me on for various and often frivolous reasons. So I was not going to ignore, "Malbec World Day," which takes place on the 17th April, the day on which in 1853 Argentinean president Domingo Faustino Sarmiento officially began his mission to transform his nation's wine industry.
Borough Market-based restaurant Roast, is joining in the festivities with special additions to its à la carte offering. Roast is a landmark. Founded by Iqbal Wahhab, a restaurateur who started as a journalist and went on to create the legendary (and in my opinion a tat over-rated) Cinnamon Club . 
From 15-21 April, a trio of dishes has been created by Head Chef and keen forager Marcus Verbene. This special menu is based solely on British seasonal ingredients to pair exclusively with the restaurant’s new and exclusive wine,  Roast Malbec 2010 Bodega Ruca Malen.
At Pebble Soup HQ we could not wait to start celebrating as at every mention of Roast, there was somebody to remind me how lucky I was and how nice the place is.

Situated inside the market, the restaurant is over two floors, the second floor was originally a theater, with windows lining for walls and skylights for ceiling, it is light and airy. On arrival, we were directed to our table by a window with a view of St Pauls' dome.

The tables are rather close to one another but in some ways it doesn't matter as the room is so vast. In fact, I found it rather nice to be able to peek without intruding on other diners' choices. Everybody seemed to have something to celebrate, so there was a lot of smiles around.

This restaurant has class in abondance which is reflected in the design, the crispiness of environment, the friendliness and smoothness of the service. Roast is certainly a treat.

With the blue and purple light blending nicely with the natural tones of dust our flute of Chapter 2 sparkling wine from the Tenterden winery exclusive to Roast looked like shimmering liquid gold.

The starter  Betroot and Wild Herb salad with Stichelton (£8.75) was accompanied by a glass of La Brouette Blanc 2012 Vin du Gers which cut through the saltiness of the Stichelton. This wine is just a delight. But the real surprise came from the wild herbs: pennywort, wild chervil, sweet cisely and wild fennel, some of which where a real discovery.

To pair Malbec, strong flavours are required, the main course designed specially for this celebration week is Venison Wellington with MacSween's haggis and a shallot and Malbec reduction (£32.50). Roast has its own Malbec 2010, Bodega Ruca Malen, Mendoza (£11.40 per Glass). A best-seller and you soon understand why, it has all the qualities of a Malbec.

This Venison Wellington is a clever dish. It works in strata, it has to, in order to held the haggis in place an extra thin pancake is added, the venison melts like butter in the mouth. Personally I loved the pairing haggis and Malbec. The chefs in the kitchen do a sterling job. All the portions are dished out perfectly similar, there is elegance in the presentation and cleverness in the execution.

 We were told to leave room for dessert, Soft-centered chocolate pudding with sour cherry ice-cream (£8.25).

All in all, Roast is impressive, the enticing menu adapted to its surrondings, the incredible setting, the great design and the delicious wine list. It doesn't come cheap but you wouldn't expect it be. If the Malbec pairing menu is representative of their everyday dishes, it is cool and classy.
The Floral Hall, Borough Market, Stoney
Street, London, SE1 1TL
0845 034 7300
0845 034 7300
Head Chef Marcus Verberne

Restaurant: 120 places
Bar: 30 places
Lunch - £30
Dinner - £42
opened in 2005 Roast is famous for its breakfast
Roast on Urbanspoon

Square Meal
Disclaimer: We were guest of Roast and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the staff who looked after us.


Lemon Tartlets

A few days ago one of Pebble Soup's recipe made it to the top 10 of Brit Mums.  No matter what, good content makes a blog. And, it  starts with attractive recipes that work. I was pulled out a few times for recipes which didn't perform the way they should and it is not a nice feeling.

There is no danger with the following recipe, I have made it hundred times, it is a firm favorite at HQ where a birthday is not a birthday without a larger version of it.

Tartlets arrived at HQ with Lakeland Perfobake, a range of silicone perforated baking trays. The little holes help the pastry to crisp. Making 6 tarlets is also time saving: freeze so many for next time. Nothing like having the right tool for the job.

Normally, I don't bother with sweet pastry but here it is really necessary as the lemon filling is rather sharp. This is a dessert which is the sum of two parts rather than 2 separate entities.

Lemon tartlets

Makes 6

Ingredients for the pastry
250 g plain flour
125 g butter diced and softened       
75 g icing sugar (you could also use caster sugar the difference is in the finish and when working)
1 eggs  beaten 

Mix sugar and flour together, add the butter and continue mixing (this part can be done in the electric mixer.
add the beaten egg continue working until you get a ball add a little bit of water if you don't get a ball after a little while.
Wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Tips: The pastry will be flattened between two sheets of cling film using a rolling pin.
For the rustic look don't trim the edges too neat, and roll the the top of the tart with both thumbs.

Ingredients for the filling:
150g sugar
150g unsalted melted butter
3 eggs
2 lemons


Preheat the oven to 200°C.
To make the filling, whisk the caster sugar to the eggs until it is smooth and white.
Add the juice of 1 lemon, the zest and mix.
Melt the butter slowly and add it to the mixture (if you feel virtuous halve the amount of butter)
Taste and add the rest of the lemon if necessary
To assemble roll out the pastry between two sheets of cling film until it's about one centimeter or the equivalent of a one pound coin. Using a large bowl cut circle slightly larger than the mould.
Place in the moulds and trim 1 cm over the edge.
Bake blind for 10 minutes.
Trim again
Pour the filling carefully in the cases and return to the oven for a further 25 minutes or until the filling has set, in the last 5 minutes of cooking keep an eye on the tartlets, so they don't brown too much.

Fish Pie Surprise

When I was a kid, every boulangerie sold "des Surprises", equivalents of  "lucky bags". Large, tall cones brightly decorated, filled mostly with shredded paper, a few sweets, plastic gadgets, necklaces, bits and bobs. You never knew what you were going to get, hence the name. They costs next to nothing and brought lots of joy. Until one day an adult decided that all these "bricoles" were of no-value that I was to old for such trivialities and I never got any more Surprises.

And as nostaligia is going to be the trend of spring and summer food 2013 collections, I decided to recreated the feeling. Don't worry, I am not going to dish up a whole fish pie in a paper cone. Never having cooked a fish pie and unable to decide which recipe was best for Happy Healthy Hearts weekly challenge, I decide to get one bit from here, a bob from there, different coloured fish with various textures, from the yellow of the smoke haddock to the pink of the salmom. I ask a couple of friends to share the Fish Pie Surprise, as I did with my childhood Surprises. The only thing which was for certain was the topping: mash potatoes with olive oil.
Fish Pie Surprise
For the topping you will need
1 kg of potatoes, cooked in boiling water until tender, then peeled, mashed and add a good gulp of olive oil.

For the pie,
Take a oven dish large enough for 4, grate 1 peeled carrot, 200g of cheddar, top with a mixture of 400g of white fish, salmon, smoked haddock, lots and lots of parsley, a squeeze of lemon, I happened to have a rest of tomato + onion + chilli sauce in the fridge which I added to the mix.

Don't forget the salt and pepper, pour some olive oil on the top, mix the lots with your bare hands. Top with the mash.

Cook in the oven (pre-heated 200C) for 45 minutes.

For more ideas to meet the Happy Healthy Hearts challenge and cook fish twice a week, have a look below:

Slow Cooked Venison with Stout, Port & Pickled Walnuts

Lately, eating much fish to see for myself the effects of Omega3, inevitably made me think about polyunsaturated fatty acids and I wondered where else, besides fish, was it possible to find high concentration of Omega3- Venison is the answer.

Though high in Omega3, venison is low in fat, to give you an idea it contains less fat than skinned chicken. Slow cooking and marinating venison compensate for the low-fat content giving dishes taste and body. As a general rule cook venison as you would cook beef.
Deer meat also contains more iron than any other red meat, which is welcome after a long winter when feeling slightly run down. With venison there is the emotional issue of provenance. My butcher did a good job at explaining that buying park (also called free-range) meat or wild venison when you can get it is best.
Then I embarked on deciding on a recipe. My tastebuds were tantalised by one of many Delia's creations, mostly out of curiousity for pickled walnuts which I never tasted but will buy again provided that I can locate a jar. Honestly, this was a longer quest than expecting, so if you intend to cook this outstanding recipe go straight to Sainsbury's.
What was attractive in Delia's recipe was that it contained most of venison partnering flavours which are  juniper, gin, port, rosemary and redcurrant.

                                         Slow Cooked Venison with Stout, Port & Pickled Walnuts
Serves 4
500g or 1 pound of venison diced or cut in slices
275ml of Stout (any will do the trick)
70ml of Port
10g butter
Herbs: Thyme, Bay leafs
1 onions
4 garlic cloves
1 jar of Pickled walnuts drained and halved (250g)

For this recipe you will need to marinate the meat in all the liquids and herbs the evening before. Don't forget to cover the bowl with a plate.

About four hours before serving, put half the butter in a casserole which can go in the oven. On the hob brown the meat pieces which you have drained but keep the marinade.

Once this is done, take the meat out, add the rest of the butter, put in the diced onions, pressed garlic, herbs and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the liquid from the bowl stir, in order to gather all what sticks at the bottom of the casserole, transfer the meat back and

put the casserole in a pre-heated oven gas mark 1 / 140C for about three hours.



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