chorizo, fennel + leek soup

I always felt cheated to have been born in June, the beginning of winter. It meant no pool parties for my birthday, not even a drop of sunshine. It meant no ice-cream cake, because who wants to eat frozen goods when they can’t feel their fingertips. It also meant no flaunting that cute summer dress you always wanted to wear to impress your high school crush. Basically, an all round miserable affair, when you’re 13.

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It rains, without fail, each year on the 23rd of June, as if Mother Nature is still quietly chuckling to herself. While I’d once frown at the thought of blustery birthdays, I adore them, becoming quietly introverted throughout the winter months. I love the change in daily habits, especially our eating, welcoming more heartier meals, such as rich soups and slow cooked stews. I never thought I’d convince myself to love winter, but I guess wisdom comes with age, right?

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Rich, warming and nourishing, this soup will get you through your coldest days, when you’re certain you lost a toe due to frostbite overnight. It’s a quick one too, taking around 30 minutes from prep to table. The key is to using a really good quality chorizo, as well as using homemade stock. The latter really is a non-negotiable – you’ll reap plenty more health benefits, not to mention its superior taste, compared to powdered/cubed stocks. You’ll find a recipe for chicken stock here, for which you can omit the celery, and replace with the leek and fennel tops for minimal wastage.

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chorizo, fennel + leek soup – serves 4-6 – loosely adapted from Woman’s Day – gluten free

you’ll need…

  • 1 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 good quality chilli chorizo, halved lengthways and sliced
  • 1 small leek, white part only, sliced (reserve top for stock, if desired)
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced thinly (reserve top for stock, if desired)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1.25L homemade/good quality chicken stock
  • 400g tin of chickpeas (or 1/2 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight, then simmered on stovetop for 1 hour and drained)
  • 1 bunch of silverbeet, leaves roughly chopped (stalks can be reserved for this fab recipe)
  • 4 very ripe roma tomatoes, chopped (if you cannot find ripe ones, 1 tin of tomatoes would be better than underripe tomatoes)
  • pepitas, for garnish + crunch factor

here’s what you do…

  1. Heat a large saucepan on high, adding oil and chorizo. Fry for a few minutes, until chorizo is crispy and golden.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low, adding leek, fennel and garlic. Fry gently for 10 minutes, or until fennel is softened and caramelised. Add paprika and fry for a further 1 minute, or until fragrant.
  3. Add chicken stock and chickpeas and bring to the boil. Simmer on low, covered, for 15 minutes. Season well.
  4. Add the silverbeet leaves and tomatoes, simmering for a further 4-5 minutes or until leaves are wilted. Serve drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and pepitas.

chewy pistachio shortbread + lemon curd sandwiches

I adore the gorgeous green hue pistachios lend to whatever they pair with, whether it be a buttery biscuit or as a pesto rubbed into chicken. It’s vibrancy can brighten up anyΒ  dish, and they are fabulously delicious. Whilst craving a quick sweet last night, I envisaged something teaming with the fresh lemon curd I had made earlier in the week. Crispy and short, these biscuits were the perfect fit, and because the only thing better than a biscuit alone are biscuits with delicious things between them, right?

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I made a beeline for the kitchen, annoyed I hadn’t thought ahead and allowed the butter to come to room temperature for any upcoming baking. Then I found this recipe calling for cold butter, prompting a small victory dance. Said dance was repeated when I devoured the finished product. You’ll soon see why!

The silky lemon curd has the perfect acidity coupled with the buttery biscuit, and these babies are so light and more-ish you’ll be tempted to finish the entire batch, which is totally not what we did, honest. Lies aside, these make the perfect midweek treat, being quick, simple, and the best part, they only use one appliance: your trusty food processor.

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chewy pistachio shortbread + lemon curd sandwiches – makes approx 30 ‘sandwiches’, or if done in a half batch, 15

you’ll need…

pistachio shortbread – adapted from epicurious

  • 1.5 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 cup golden icing sugar (simply unrefined icing sugar, sub in regular icing sugar if you cannot find)
  • 1/2 cup unshelled/unsalted pistachios
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 170g chilled butter, cut into 1cm cubes
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

lemon curd – adapted from Sweetapolita

  • 4-6 lemons, depending on their size/juiciness
  • 2 whole eggs plus 4 egg yolks
  • 1 cup raw/golden caster sugar
  • 60g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

here’s what you do…

  1. For the shortbread, process flour, sugar, pistachios and salt until nuts are roughly chopped. Add butter, egg yolk and vanilla, processing until dough comes together into a moist ball.
  2. Weigh the dough, and divide equally in half. Roll each half into a 20x3cm log and wrap in cling film. Freeze for 30 minutes or until firm. For 30 cookies/15 sandwiches, use only one log. For 60 cookies/30 sandwiches, use both.
  3. Preheat oven to 160C (fan forced). Slice log into 0.5cm thick rounds and place onto a lined baking tray, baking until slightly golden on edges (approx 14 min). Cool on trays completely.
  4. For the lemon curd, finely zest lemons until you have 2 tsp of zest and set aside. Juice lemons until you have 160ml of juice. Place into a large heatproof bowl with the zest, eggs and egg yolks, sugar and butter.
  5. Bring a large saucepan to the boil with 1 inch of water (one that fits the heatproof bowl over the top snugly) and then turn down to a simmer. Place the bowl of lemon mixture on top and whisk constantly until thickened, approx 7-10min. To test if it’s ready, put a wooden spoon into the mix and see if it coats the back of the spoon, meaning it’s cooked. Strain into a large bowl, then place into sterilised jars.
  6. To assemble, spread curd onto cooled biscuits and sandwich with another biscuit. Enjoy!