A quick soup's just the ticket ...Fun and games this morning – this newsletter nearly didn’t make it as we had a power outage for several hours on Waiheke Island. Humpf, my furry friend, thought it was great as I had more time to play with him. But we are hooked up now, not that he would care as he nods off exhausted in his basket.
First up, thanks to all of you who voted for Shared Kitchen in the Saveur Awards. Voting is now closed, and if you didn’t get around to it even though you meant to, no worries, there is always next year! Cooking classes are rolling along, with just a few spaces left in the winter season on some classes, so hop to it if the content appeals: slow cooking, winter pasta and rustic cooking.
One of the recipes I demonstrated at my cooking class this past weekend was a pea soup. It may sound a tad ordinary, but is anything but – it is thick, rich and deeply flavoured. Every time I make it I am surprised how quickly layers of flavour build, though all it calls for is a bag of frozen peas and a few spices. It’s crowning glory though, is a blob of thickened yoghurt topped with a spicy sprinkle. You’ve got to try it, in fancy little cups for a ritzy dinner, or down-home style in big bowls with chunks of grainy bread.
Using maple syrup in baking in place of sugar may sound novel, but unlike white sugar, maple syrup is good for you. Yes! Something sweet you can eat and not feel guilty about. It has to be the real article though, and not imitation maple-flavoured syrups. Read why, and how to substitute maple syrup for sugar in baking, and loads of other ways to use maple syrup. It’s a pretty amazing ingredient.
It’s certainly time to get the slow cookers plugged in. My new discovery? Cooking pears in a slow cooker. I don’t think I will every bother poaching a pear again. They emerge from the slow cooker beautifully tender, intact and holding shape, and imbued with flavour. I used maple syrup and orange juice to cook a batch of pears this week and the smell as they cooked was intoxicating, and the flavour sublime. And there's plenty of information to help you choose, ripen and use pears. The best place in winter with all the warmth and tantalising smells is definitely the kitchen, but if you are smack-bang in the middle of summer, give the pea soup a whirl, because, just like a curry, with all the spices, it works a treat to cool you down. A soup that's as good in winter as it is in summer, that's inexpensive and fast to make ...now that's what I call clever cooking. Happy times!