Pomegranate Soup from "Pomegranate Soup"

Pomegranate Soup, by the late Marsha Mehran, is about three young Iranian women who emigrate to Ireland where they open a Persian restaurant. The book is chock full of delicious recipes. This adapted recipe is lovely for chill autumn evenings. 

Pomegranate Soup

1 large onion, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ cup yellow split peas (green are ok too)

6 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon turmeric

2 cups fresh parsley, chopped

2 cups fresh cilantro, chopped

I cup fresh scallions, chopped

1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped

1 pound ground lamb

3/4-cup rice 

2 cups pomegranate juice

Pomegranate seeds

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon angelica powder, optional

Sauté the onion in a large pot in the olive oil until tender. 

Add peas, rice, water, salt, pepper, and turmeric and bring to a boil.

Simmer covered over lower heat for 30 minutes. 

Add the parsley, cilantro, mint, and scallions reserving some of each for garnish.


Season the lamb with salt and pepper and roll into meatballs

Sauté until browned.

Toss in the pot. 

Add the pomegranate juice.

Cook for ten minutes.

Garnish with reserved herbs and pomegranate seeds. 

Dot's Battenberg Cake from "EastEnders"

She does so love her Battenbergs. No one else seems to show quite as much excitement about them as Dot does.They should do though, as they are delicious. A spot of trouble to cook compared to all these bought cakes on offer nowadays. The Minute Mart must have at least has a dozen packaged cakes for sale. Dot wouldn't pay a shill...5p for one. In 'er day nobody would 'ave thought to serve a bought cake to a guest.

It's perfect with tea, coffee, or a splash of sherry (purely for medicinal purposes). The Pastor loves it. Little Dottie 'ad never tasted a proper home- baked cake and now it's 'er favourite. Jim loved it so when 'e could still 'old a fork and then of course so did Nick...whenever he was not in gaol.

1 cup butter

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

1/4teaspoon almond extract

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 

1 teaspoon baking powder

a large pinch salt

2 drops red food colouring or maraschino cherry juice

1 cup apricot preserves

2 packages marzipan paste

1) Cream the butter and the sugar.

2) Add the eggs one at a time and blend after each addition. 

3) Mix in vanilla. 

4) Stir in the flour, salt, and powder. If the batter is terribly stiff add a dribble of milk. 

5) Separate the batter into to equal parts. 

6) To one part add the food colouring and almond extract.  

7) Pour into two loaf pans or 7 inch square cake pans greased and floured. 

8) Bake at 350 for 25 to thirty minutes. Remove from the oven when a toothpick comes out clean.

9) When cool, trim the edges. Cut into four strips.

10) Gently heat the apricot preserves in a saucepan or microwave.  

11) Glue the cakes in a checkerboard pattern using the jam. 

12) Roll the marzipan out with a rolling pin until it is big enough to surround the cakes.

13) Place a cake in the middle of marzipan and wrap around the cake.

14) Crimp the marzipan shut. 

15) Chill then serve.

This scrumptious cake will keep well for at least three days and freezes well. 

Hot Cider Laced with Tuaca

It's Hot Apple Cider Day on September 30th. And I just happen to have a delicious, grown-up Hot Apple Cider recipe to celebrate.

Apple cider, spiced or plain

Tuaca, a delicious Italian liqueur from Tuscany

Whipped cream-if you make your own whipped cream you can sweeten it according to how sweet your apple cider is.

Gently heat the cider.

Add a shot of Tuaca to a heatproof glass or mug.

Pour the warmed cider over and top with whipped cream.

I love a heart-warming mug of this for Halloween and Thanksgiving. It's ideal for winter brunch or a chilly evening nightcap.

For kids simply omit the Tuaca or for smaller kids don't heat it at all, but do top it with some whipped cream.

Ian McEwan's Fish Stew from "Saturday"

Ian McEwan is one of my favourite authors and I like him even better for making my job easier. This recipe is his, from his novel "Saturday". I won't tell you the plot, but a man has a very, very bad Saturday indeed. Not even this simple and delicious fish stew would comfort him at the end of it, but it will you for a good, an ordinary, or perhaps a chilly Saturday.

Ian McEwan's Fish Stew
Note: Where quantities are not stated, trust your instincts or desires.

Into a stockpot of boiling water (a litre or more), put the bones of three skates (or other boned fish) with heads intact. If you have no obliging local fishmonger, use a pound or more of white fish.

Add a dozen or so mussels to the stock. Simmer for twenty five minutes.

Meanwhile, strip and chop three onions and eight fat cloves of garlic.
Soften over a low heat in a casserole with a lot of olive oil.
When they've melted sufficiently, add:

    a couple of crushed red chillies
    a pinch of saffron
    some bay leaves
    orange-peel gratings
    five anchovy fillets
    two cans of peeled tomatoes

When these have blended together in the heat add a quarter bottle of white wine. Then strain off the stock and add to the casserole.

Simmer the mix for twenty minutes.

Rinse and/or scrub the clams and remaining mussels and place in a bowl.
Cut the monkfish tails into chunks and place in a separate bowl.
Wash the tiger prawns and add to the monkfish bowl.
Keep both bowls refrigerated until ready to cook.

Just before dinner, reheat the casserole.

Simmer the clams, monkfish, mussels and prawns in the casserole for ten minutes.

Eat the stew with brown bread, or garlic bread, salad and a hearty red wine.

The End

You can substitute cod or another firm fleshed white fish for the monk fish. You can also make the  tomato-stock mixture a day ahead and reheat to add the fish. Its flavours benefit from the wait. You needn't add every single seasoning. I omitted saffron which I don't like, but I love the orange peel flavour. 

"Labor Day" Peach Pie

I admit I haven't actually seen the movie Labor Day with Kate Winslet nor read the book by Joyce Maynard.  But I know there's a peach pie-making scene. That's reason enough to include this scrumptious recipe, before peaches are only a happy summertime memory. 

8 peaches, ripe but not mushy, cut into chunks

Toss with:

3/4 cup sugar 

1/4 cup flour

1 1/2 Tablespoons lemon juice

1 1/2 Tablespoons butter


2 2/3 cup flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons sugar

Sift together.  

Combine with:

1 stick butter, chilled and cut into sugar-sized cubes

1/2 cup chilled lard or shortening, cut into sugar-sized cubes

Add to a food processor and blend until coarse crumbs form. 

Remove to a bowl. 

Add 1/2 cup chilled water and blend until a dough forms.

Knead quickly three or four times.

Roll out into two disks, cover, and chill for half an hour minimum to overnight. 

Roll out bottom and place in a pie plate.

Add the peaches.

Add the top crust and seal.

Pierce top with a fork a few times. 

You can add an egg wash or cut out crust shapes if you want to make a prettier pie. 

Place on a baking sheet, as the juices may bubble over.

Bake for 30 minutes. 

Reduce the heat to 375 and cook for 40 minutes longer. 

You can cover the edge of the pie with tin foil to protect it from overbrowning if desired. 

Serve with vanilla ice cream. Mmmm.

Little House Dried Blackberries

I'm not alone in absolutely loving the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. My daughter is not at that reading level just yet, but soon she will be and I expect she'll become a Laura-phile too. 

While researching this post, which was meant to be a couple of blackberry projects,  I came across something that completely surprised and delighted me. Laura Ingalls Wilder, daughter of the prairie, lived in San Francisco with her daughter Rose at 1019 Vallejo, the gorgeous Willis Polk shingle on the very top of Russian Hill. I used to live in another historic house right around the corner and now the former Wilder haunt is walking distance from my current house. Laura came to visit Rose, see the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, and to look around farm country to see whether she and Almanzo would sell their profitable farm in Missouri and come to California to farm. We could have had Little House on Russian Hill  (well, big house actually) and Little House in the (Santa Clara) Valley! Laura loved San Francisco, but didn't wish to live in a city and she finally determined that California was just too hot, she and Manly would stay in Missouri. I was going to do two Laura "recipes" but now I'm instigating Little House month and will include recipes Laura learned in San Francisco from the booths at the Pan-Pacific Expo!

Drying blackberries is perfect summer craft for your beginning reader. It teachers your youngsters how people preserved food to eat all year long when they couldn't just walk to the grocery store and get anything at anytime. 

Go to the market, the farmer's market, or go picking yourself. In San Francisco the blackberries are in full force in August. There used to be so many more places to pluck the berries, but with the thriving San Francisco economy and subsequent building boom, vacant lots and greens spots once rife with the summery scent of blackberries are now million dollar condos.  

For my San Franciscan readers, march your children up the hill to 1019 Vallejo to show them where Rose and the Laura lived, then collect some blackberries from the Presidio or China Beach or Real Foods. 

Wash the berries.

Pick out any squishy ones.

Place on paper towels or cheesecloth over a cooling rack over a baking sheet. 

Place in a sunny spot for several days. 

If you live in San Francisco, sun will be scarce for the next few weeks. And you can't fog dry berries! Do exactly the same, but put the berries in the oven on lowest heat and dry out for a few hours. 

The dried (not very sweet ) berries can be used for snacking, inclusion in trail mix or granola, to make a cobbler or pemmican, next week's recipe.