Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Closed for the holidays



The time has come, and I am officially on holiday. The kitchen will be closed for the next three weeks but you can keep an eye on my Instagram account @margots.kitchen for some of my Portuguese experiences with my family.I will be in search of good food, and in September I am back with travel tips and recipes inspired by our journey. 

Happy holidays and till September!

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

A soup to make a mother proud



The great thing about my weekly organic delivery box is that I receive whatever is in season and love the surprise of what comes every week. This week the mini cucumbers arrived. They are also called pickling cucumbers because, well…they are perfect for it. They have a thinner skin than their bigger relatives and tend to be less bitter. But I wasn’t going to pickle them. I had something else in mind.

About two months ago, I went with my sister to the last Secret Kitchen supper club at the Culinary Anthropologist’s house. Anna Colquhoun has now closed the doors of her beautiful kitchen for the next two years, as she moved to Istria where she is running a bed and breakfast and cookery classes, and that is also where she is doing her PhD research. Bolara 60 is a 250 years old stone farmhouse located in Northwest Croatia. As described on their website: “It is a destination for anyone looking for an idyllic, nature-lover’s paradise, where great food is celebrated”. Being familiar with Anna’s work - you can see some of my experiences at her kitchen in London here and here - I am sure that the food and the hosting will be nothing but excellent.

I digress as my mind strays into plans to visit her guesthouse. But returning to the subject of this post, during her last secret dinner, Anna served us, amongst other great food, a cold yoghurt soup with diced mini cucumbers that made the whole table raise a chorus of Mmm... in unison. It was a surprising and super delicious dish. She said it was a tribute to her mother, who had sadly passed away a few weeks before. The whole evening and that dish came back to me this week - it would've been my mothers birthday had she not passed away at the end of last year. And what better way to commemorate than cooking something really special. As Anna’s refreshing soup was so perfect, I didn’t want to go experimental. Luckily the recipe can be found in her latest book collaboration Gather Cook Feast. I made it for family and some friends and got the best compliments. To make a mother proud. 

The chefs getting ready to serve the last secret dinner.
The menu.
Anna Colquhoun's mouthwatering Bulgarian yoghurt soup.

 Back in my kitchen

The ingredients.


Whisk the yoghurt with the oils and garlic.

My mouthwatering version of chilled cucumber and yoghurt soup.


Chilled cucumber & dill soup with crushed walnuts (by Anna Colquhoun, extracted from the book Gather Cook Feast.)
Serves 4

This soup is refreshing, crunchy, satisfying and healthy. I recommend making it with organic natural live yoghurt. 

Ingredients

80g walnuts halves
459g good natural yoghurt
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed smooth
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon walnut oil, plus a little to finish
a small bunch of fresh dill (around 20g), finely chopped plus a little more to finish
around 200ml cold water
sea salt
250g mini cucumbers
1 Tablespoon lemon juice 

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C and toast the walnuts on a tray for around 8 minutes, until golden and rubbable. Tip on to a clean tea towel, gather up into a bag and rub vigorously to loosen the skins. Pick out the pieces of nut, leaving the skins behind. Chop very finely.

Beat together the yoghurt, crushed garlic and oils until smooth and well combined. Stir in the nuts and dill (keeping back a little of each to finish the bowls). Stir in the cold water until the soup is a lovely consistency – something between thin and thick cream is nice – then season to taste with salt. Chill the soup in the fridge for at least an hour.

Cut the cucumbers into very fine dice (as tiny as you can make them) and layer in a colander with light sprinklings of salt. Leave for 20-30 minutes, so that the salt draws out the excess water from the cucumbers. The salt will also season them and help keep colour and texture.

Just before serving, stir the cucumber and lemon juice into the yoghurt mixture and check the seasoning once more. Finish the bowls of soup with the few walnuts and dill you have kept aside and dribble over a few drops of walnut oil.
Serve.

A healthy noteCucumbers (Cucumis sativus) contain 95% water making them ideal to help keep the body hydrated. They contain vitamin C and the mineral Silica, that is good for your hair and nails. Cucumbers are a great source of fibre.
Walnuts (Juglans regia) have great nutritional value and are very rich in serotonin. Walnuts are also rich in Omega 3, which may prevent heart diseases by lowering triglycerides and reducing plaque formation. They contain a component of vitamin E (Gamma-tocopherol), which provides antioxidant protection that helps detoxify cancer-causing substances. 
Natural live yoghurt boosts immunity and is very helpful in cases of stomach ulcers. It is high in protein, natural fats and calcium. It is a natural source of probiotic activity (live friendly bacteria) that enriches the intestinal flora, maintaining a good digestive system.

Till next week!