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North African Style Chickpea Soup

North African Chickpea Soup
North African Chickpea Soup with Sundried Tomato and Olive Bread
image: A Little Thought for Food

Carrying on with the health kick I made a soup that definitely hits the mark on all counts, a tasty filling and healthy soup that weighs in at a lowly 150kcal (approx) per portion! Try it and you won’t be disappointed.

It’s worth taking the time to skin the baby broad beans, as the soup looks and tastes nicer without the white sheaf that surrounds each green bean

Serves 4 – Gluten Free*


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium brown onion, finely diced
  • 2 celery sticks, finely diced
  • 1 medium carrot, finely diced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp Harissa
  • 1 litre hot vegetable stock
  • 400g can chopped plum tomatoes
  • 400g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 100g frozen baby broad beans, skinned
  • zest and juice ½ lemon


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan.
  2. Add the onion, celery and the carrot. Cook on a low to medium heat for 5-10 minutes until the onions are soft.
  3. Add the cumin,  garlic, harissa and tomato puree and cook for a further 1 – 2 minutes until the aromas are released.
  4. Turn up the heat, then add the stock, tomatoes and chickpeas, plus a good grind of black pepper.
  5. Simmer for 8 mins.
  6. Then throw in the broad beans and add the lemon juice,
  7. Cook for a further 2 mins.
  8. Season to taste, then top with a sprinkling of lemon zest.

Serve with a hunk of home made bread like my Sun dried Tomato and Olive or Roasted Fennel and Olive and enjoy…

*Gluten Free – Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients list are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently

2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 14,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Oil Infusions

During a quiet moment, which a few and far between during the holiday break, I had a chance to look for new foodie ideas and recipes. This one reminded me that I should get as batch of flavoured oils on the go again, The Rosemary and Garlic infused oil is a brilliant variation that I haven’t thought of, along with the Thai infusion!
Not That Mr T

Homemade With Mess

Flavoured oils are one of my kitchen essentials. If you go to any farmers market there is almost always a flavoured olive oil stand, and they are usually crazily expensive! What is great though is these are so cheap and easy to do yourself. Simply get yourself some oil bottles, fill them with whatever takes your fancy and then top up with oil. These can also be re used again and again, just make sure you sterilise them between each use otherwise the insides will not stay so pretty. Leave them to fuse for a week or so and they are ready to go. Below are just a few suggestions of flavour combinations.

y 007

Hot and Spicy

Simply fill with chilli’s and some dried chilli flakes and then top up with olive oil. If the chilli’s are quite fat then just chop them in half.

This is great to add to…

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Image: Reform Social & Grill

This punchy red cocktail is from the menu at the Reform Social and Grill, in the Mandeville Hotel in London West End. Although it’s been inspired by tradition dating back to the days of an Victorian British Gentlemen’s Club, it’s far from stuffy!

The Boyo, a fruity rum based cocktail is certain to kick start the Christmas Festivities.

Serves 10-12 – Gluten Free*


  • 300ml Pampero Rum
  • 120ml Raspberry puree
  • 120ml Strawberry Puree
  • 120ml Blueberry Puree
  • 90ml Vanilla Syrup (add a few drops of Vanilla Extract to a stock Sugar syrup)
  • 30 ml Rose syrup (add some Rose Water to a stock Sugar syrup)
  • 150 ml Lime juice
  • 120ml Soda Water
  • A Scoop of crushed ice


Blend the ingredients in a jug

Serve into ice filled glasses and garnish with a Cranberry or two or a festive drink or Redcurrants for a refreshing summertime libation.

*Gluten Free - Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients list are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently.

Home made Irish Cream Liqueur

Homemade Irish Cream
Homemade Irish Cream

Irish cream is a great Christmas drink, and batched into sterilised bottles make a great give away (if you can let it go, that is).

This is such an easy 2 minute recipe too, no cooking just mixing!  So it it can knocked for that last minute emergency forgotten present, that will be loved!

Once made store in a refrigerator.

Gluten Free


  • 250ml single cream
  • 1 tin condensed milk (397g)
  • 350ml Irish whiskey
  • 1 tsp instant coffee granules
  • 4 tsp chocolate sauce (use your favourite Gluten Free chocolate sauce for a gluten free recipe)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


Just pour all of your ingredients into a blender and whizz it up on high speed for 30 – 40 seconds, or until everything has mixed thoroughly.

Serve over ice.

You can swap the Whiskey for a Dark Rum to give you a Caribbean feel!

Corned Beef Hash with Poached Eggs

Corned Beef Hash
Corned Beef Hash

This is one of my quick and easy supper recipes, an American classic that is filling and tasty. Originally a way to use up leftover spuds, I now find that I have to cook this one from scratch as it’s become a midweek favourite, especially with a couple of poached eggs.

Serves: 4 – Gluten Free


  • 500g potatoes, diced into small cubes
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1 medium brown onion, finely diced
  • 340g tin Corned Beef, diced into small cubes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1-2 fresh free range eggs (per person)


  1. Place the potatoes in a pan of salted cold water, bring to the boil and simmer until tender. Drain and set aside
  2. Heat the oil in a large heavy based frying pan.
  3. Fry the onion for 3 mins or until it starts to soften
  4. Add the garlic and fry for 1 minute
  5. Add the potatoes, mix careful and fry for a further 5 mins
  6. Now add the corned beef, and gently mix into the potatoes and onion, being careful not to break the mixture up too much. Fry for a further 3-4 minutes.
  7. Spoon the mixture into a heat proof dish and pop under a hot grill until crusty and golden brown
  8. Heat a large saucepan of water to boiling and add the vinegar.
  9. Break the eggs one at a time  into a ladle and pour into the water, swirling the water beforehand
  10. Simmer the eggs for 2 minutes, remove and drain

Serve the hash with the eggs on top and a squeeze of ketchup on the side.

Classic Tomato Sauce

Tomato Sauce
Tomato Sauce

This is a classic and versatile recipe, I use it regularly and always make a double batch and freeze it in portions, as it makes a quick base sauce for so many other dinners.

Once you’ve made it you’ll never want to use a jar again.

Serves 8 -12 Gluten Free


  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 large brown onion, finely chopped
  • large bunch fresh basil
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 4 x 400g/14oz cans chopped plum tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat the oil in a wide saucepan or large frying pan,
  2. Fry the onion for 5 minutes, or until translucent and soft but not coloured.
  3. Add the garlic and finely chopped basil stalks and sizzle for one minute, again not allowing them to colour.
  4. Stir in the tomato purée.
  5. Tip in the chopped tomatoes, and sugar.
  6. Season with a generous amount of salt and pepper.
  7. Simmer slowly for 30 minutes until the sauce is rich and thick.
  8. Tear and stir in the basil leaves just before the end.

This can be frozen but should be used within a month.

For a creamy mascarpone and tomato sauce, add 1 tbsp of mascarpone cheese per person to the sauce and a little bit of the pasta water to thin it a little, Top with some Basil leaves and a generous grating of parmesan. Or fry off some meatballs and add to spaghetti for a quick and easy meal.

It’s just as good on it’s own on some pasta….