This wonderfully delicious recipe is from Beverly le Blanc’s new book, The Big Book of Soups. This book is literally brimming with an incredible variety of soups for all seasons and all occasions – whether you’re looking for a light soup for lunch outdoors on a summer’s day, or a thick, creamy, comfort-soup for when the weather turns cold and rainy.
I love this soup because it tastes great, and is full of nutrient-dense ingredients. Watercress is a true superfood – containing more than 15 vitamins and minerals, including more calcium than milk, more vitamin C than an orange and more iron than spinach! Shiitake mushrooms have been used as both food and medicine in Asia for thousands of years and is currently used in Japan to treat many conditions, including chronic fatigue syndrome. And kombu (in the dashi) is packed with minerals and phytonutrients that help detoxify your body and relieve many ailments.
You can either make dashi yourself (see below for the recipe) or you can buy it ready-made from Japanese stores or from the internet. Just in case you need some instructions because they might only be in Japanese(!) you normally dissolve 2 teaspoons powder in 1.25l/44fl oz/5 cups water. You can get vegetarian versions, made without bonito (fish flakes). This recipes also uses another very Japanese ingredient, daikon, which is a long white crunchy vegetable from the radish family, with a light, peppery punch similar to watercress.
PREPARATION TIME 20 minutes, plus making the dashi COOKING TIME 30 minutes MAKES about 1.25l/44fl oz/5 cups
- 400g/14oz watercress, any thick stalks or yellow leaves removed
- 280g/10oz thin rice noodles
- 2l/70fl oz/8 cups Dashi (see below) or prepared instant dashi
- 10cm/4in piece of daikon, peeled and finely grated
- 1 red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced
- 750g/1lb 10oz salmon fillet, small bones removed, and fish cut across the grain into 1cm/½in thick slices
- 12 shiitake mushroom caps
- 280g/10oz firm tofu, drained and cut into 12 cubes
- 200g/7oz enoki mushrooms, stalks trimmed
- tamari soy sauce, to serve
To make Dashi:
- 25cm/10in piece of dried kombu
- 10g/¼oz/²⁄³ cup bonito flakes
- To make the Dashi, put the kombu and 1.4l/48fl oz/5½ cups water in a saucepan and leave to soak for 30 minutes.
- Bring to the boil, uncovered. As soon as it boils, skim the surface, then add the bonito flakes. Skim the surface again, if necessary. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
- Strain the dashi into a large bowl and use immediately. Alternatively, leave to cool, then store in the fridge for up to 2 days. Freezing isn’t recommended for more than 2 weeks as it will lose much of its flavour.
- (To make Vegetarian Dashi omit the bonito (fish) flakes in the above recipe. Instead soak 8 dried shiitake mushrooms in 1.4l/48fl oz/5½ cups hot water for at least 30 minutes. Put the mushrooms and the soaking liquid in a saucepan. Add the kombu and leave to soak for 30 minutes. Slowly bring to the boil, uncovered. As soon as it boils, skim the surface, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Strain through a muslin-lined sieve, and use the dashi as above.)
- To make the soup, bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil, and bring another saucepan of unsalted water to the boil. Boil the watercress in the salted water just until the leaves wilt, which will be almost instantly. Drain and immediately rinse under cold running water, then drain again and set aside. Meanwhile, boil the rice noodles in the unsalted water for 6–8 minutes, or according to the packet instructions, until tender. Drain and immediately rinse under cold running water and set aside.
- Put the dashi in a saucepan, cover and bring to just below the boil. Meanwhile, mix together the daikon and chilli in a small bowl and set aside. Just before the dashi boils, reduce the heat to low, add the salmon and shiitake mushrooms and simmer for 5 minutes or until the salmon is cooked to your liking. One minute before the end of the cooking, add the tofu and enoki mushrooms and simmer until the enoki are tender. Season with salt.
- Divide the noodles into bowls and top with the salmon. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the watercress, mushrooms and tofu into the bowls. Ladle the dashi over them and serve immediately with small bowls of tamari soy sauce and the daikon and chilli mixture on the side.
Calzone is simply a folded pizza. You make a dough (I’ve made a gluten-free and dairy-free one) and then put the filling onto one side, fold the other side of dough over the top, seal it and bake it. Here I’ve filled it with rich tomato, garlicy mushrooms, pungent basil and oozing soya cheese and it’s completely delicious. It makes a wonderful lunch or dinner – and it’s also great for packing up and taking with you, for a picnic on the beach or in the park, or even lunch at work.
Preparation time 25 minutes Cooking time 15 minutes, plus 1 hour rising Serves 2
- 1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing
- 75g/2½oz mushrooms, peeled and sliced
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 4 tbsp passata
- 1½ tbsp tomato purée
- 1 small handful basil leaves, shredded
- 50g/1¾oz dairy-free cheese, crumbled
- 85g/3oz/scant ½ cup rice flour, plus extra for dusting
- 85g/3oz/heaped ½ cup gram flour
- 30g/1oz/scant ⅓ cup maize flour
- scant ½ tsp xanthan gum
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp dried active yeast
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- To make the pizza dough, sift the flours, xanthan gum and salt into a food processor. Add the yeast and pulse several times to mix together. Add the oil and blend well. Add 110ml warm water, a little at a time, and continue blending to form a soft dough. Process for 10 minutes, to aerate the dough.
- Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based PTFE-free frying pan over a medium heat until hot. Add the mushrooms and fry, stirring frequently, for 2–3 minutes until lightly golden. Add the garlic and fry for a further 30 seconds, stirring all the time. Leave to one side.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas 7 and line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Turn the dough out again onto a lightly floured surface and knead a little, then divide the dough into 2 equal pieces and shape each into a ball. Flatten the dough slightly, roll it out into a circle about 3mm/1⁄8in thick and trim with a knife to neaten the edges. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet.
- Put the passata, tomato purée and garlicky mushrooms in a bowl and mix well, then spread it over one half of the dough, leaving a 2mm1⁄16in space around the edge. Sprinkle the basil over the top, then cover with the crumbled soya cheese. Using a pastry brush, brush the edges with water. Using a spatula to hold the dough, fold it over dough and press indentations with your finger around the edges to secure them together. Bake for 14–15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush olive oil over the top with a pastry brush. Serve.
Today is publication day for Daniel Galmiche’s book The French Brasserie Cookbook. This is one of the most gorgeous books I’ve worked on – full of truly wonderful recipes and stunning pictures. Daniel (who is the chef at the Vineyard in Berkshire) is known as ‘The king of contemporary French cooking’ and has produced a book full of wonderful French recipes, many of which have his unique modern twists. Full of the diverse tastes and aromas from the different areas of France, his recipes show you how to create fresh, contemporary French dishes in your own kitchen.
Daniel is all about making recipes work for you in your own home, rather than reproducing cheffy recipes. This Beef Bourguignon recipe is a great example. It’s an iconic French dish but one that traditionally takes a couple of days to make. Instead, Daniel shows how you can do a simple marinade and leave it for just 3 hours, before cooking it for only a couple of hours. And it’s not an expensive recipe (unless you drink the bottle of wine before you start and then have to buy another one!) You don’t need to use prime cuts of beef – the braising cuts, such as brisket, silverside, blade, cheek or even shank will work really well.
One of my most memorable days when working on this book was when I went to one of the photography days. Daniel was cooking the dishes and I found myself entranced by the way he cooked. No matter what he was doing; whether he was sorting through ingredients that had just arrived or styling the food on the plate, he was always incredibly aware of what was going on in the saucepans. I realise that I can get distracted when I’m cooking and that’s when things overcook – so it would be great to have Daniel’s amazing awareness! And Daniel was a truly lovely person to work with.
I was going to make the Moules Marinières with Lemongrass & Chilli but I couldn’t get any mussels and, anyway, the weather has turned cold. So I made this wonderful beef dish, instead – using rice flour instead of plain flour, and gluten-free stock. The flavours were deep and delicious; the meat was tender and full of flavour – and I loved making my own, fresh bouquet garni, instead of using a dried one!
Gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free, citrus-free
Preparation time 20 minutes, plus 3 hours marinating Cooking time 2 hours 15 minutes Serves 4
- 800g/1lb 12oz casserole steak, cut into large cubes
- 1l/35fl oz/4 cups full-bodied red wine
- 2 thyme sprigs
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed with the flat edge of a knife or your hand
- 3 tbsp Cognac
- 100ml/3½fl oz/scant ½ cup sunflower oil
- 2 tbsp rice flour
- 600ml/21fl oz/scant 2½ cups gluten-free chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 bouquet garni made with 1 parsley sprig, 1 thyme sprig and 1 small bay leaf, tied together with kitchen string
- 2 carrots, peeled, halved lengthways and cut into chunks
- 12 silverskin onions or shallots
- 100g/3½oz small button mushrooms
- 100g/3½oz pancetta, diced
- 1 handful of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- In a deep dish, mix together the beef, wine, thyme, garlic and Cognac. Cover with cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 3 hours. Drain the meat into a bowl, using a colander, and reserve the marinade.
- Heat 4 tablespoons of the oil in a large saucepan or cast iron pot over a medium heat. Add the meat and cook for 20 minutes until brown, season with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with the flour and cook, stirring, for a further 2–3 minutes. Add the stock and reserved marinade and bring to the boil. Skim the foam off the surface and add the bouquet garni, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender. By that time you should have a rich, silky sauce.
- About 50 minutes before the end of the cooking time, heat another medium saucepan with 1 tablespoon of the oil over a medium-low heat. Add the carrots and onions and cook for 10 minutes or until soft and pale gold in colour, then add to the meat saucepan.
- When the beef is almost ready, heat the remaining oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the mushrooms and pancetta and fry for 8–10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, then add them to the beef. Check the seasoning adjusting the salt and pepper, if necessary, discard the bouquet garni, throw in the parsley and stir gently without breaking the delicate pieces of beef. Serve hot.