Learning to Love Water

It’s ridiculous but I never seem to drink enough water. I sometimes get that searing, top of the skull headache that signals dehydration and often wake up feeling desperately thirsty. Why? It’s extraordinary when we have water on tap, that so many of us fail to achieve the recommended daily fluid intake of 1.6 litres for women or 2 litres for men a day. OK it doesn’t all have to be water but most of it should be; it just seems so much easier to drink coffee, tea or sugary cordials not to mention all the wine, beer, cider and spirit options  (current favourite : Aperol Spritz).

Last weekend we made our annual pilgrimage  to WOMAD – a festival of world music and dance near Malmesbury. It’s our summer highlight and this year was a scorcher. We adore WOMAD, you can flit from Senegalese kora and drums to Welsh folk, from Jamaican reggae to Ukrainian “ethno chaos” (in the words of the WOMAD programme! ). The children go wild and have a sense of  freedom and adventure that’s difficult to find nowadays. One of the highlights, and I know it sounds bonkers, is refilling their water bottles. Once the kids have their bearings we allow them to disappear for a minute or two into the crowds (yes, it’s terrifying to begin with, but when do you give a child their first sense of responsibility and space?). They make their way to the  Frank Water refilling station (more about Frank in a moment) and return triumphantly with their bottles of chilled water. Their insatiable desire for these tiny bursts of freedom means that they drink water by the pint, which is great in the heat. 

So Frank Water has become synonymous with WOMAD for the children, but there’s so much more to shout about. You can read all about the Bristol based charity on their website but I’ll sum up as best as I can. Frank sell refillable water bottles at festivals, cutting down on all the plastic disposable bottle waste whilst raising money to fund sustainable clean water projects in the developing world. It’s genius – and this year in particular, in the intense heat, I really appreciated having their beautifully cool water, whereas I’m ashamed to say that I do often take water for granted. One in ten people worldwide have no access to clean water whilst, rather extraordinarily, many of us spend money on bottled water when we’ve got perfectly good water on tap. We’re spoilt.  Frank Water also sell Devon spring water by the bottle in all sorts of restaurants, cafes and shops with those proceeds going to the charity too. So look out for these guys and give them your support.

Frank Water

And now to my new resolution to drink more water. Here are a few of my tips, although I’m only a couple of weeks in.

1. Pour some water into a large bottle or jug so that you can gauge how much you’re drinking

2 Remember to chill it – it makes such a difference (obviously if you have one of those swanky American style fridges you can bypass this stage)

3. Flavour your water, and I’m not talking squash here.
-Try putting a few sprigs of mint and slices of lemon into the water, it’s instantly more interesting.
-My all time favourite trick comes from The Lido where they sometimes have long ribbons of cucumber whisping around in a jug of chilled water, the taste is very subtle but wonderfully refreshing.
-Literally any fruit sliced or slightly squashed and added to your glass of water will add a little something.

4. Boiling water poured over a large slice of fresh ginger makes a great coffee/tea alternative (that’s once I’ve had my caffeine – which I couldn’t possibly give up)

Spilling the beans and a Greek Fava puree

There are so many fabulous hummus-like dips around and yet we seem to be stuck in a rut- don’t get me wrong, I love chickpea puréeé but why not give some of the other legumes a go too. I talked about Moroccan Bessara back in May which I made with fava beans but this month I’d love to share this Greek island fava with you. It is rather confusing as traditional fava is not made with what we know as fava (broad beans) but with split yellow peas instead. I was stirred into action with this one when my mother brought me a packet of the split peas back from her recent holiday in Rhodes. You can use any yellow split pea but if you’re after the real thing you could go to the Ergon restaurant and deli in London or buy their beans on line.

Greek split peas

Greek Fava Purée

200 g/7 oz  yellow split peas, rinsed and drained
2 bay leaves
1 small onion, diced
1 tsp salt
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp capers, rinsed
1 tbsp roughly chopped parsley
A few very finely sliced pieces of red onion.

Place the split peas, bay leaves, the onion and enough cold water to cover everything by a couple of cm in a saucepan. Bring the water up to the boil skimming away any scum or froth.

Now simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring from time to time and, if necessary, adding a little extra water to keep the peas just covered.

Add the salt and continue to simmer until the beans are very tender and almost dry.

Remove the bay leaves and allow the split peas to cool for a few minutes before you puree them with a hand held blender or in a food processor.

Don’t worry, the peas will taste bland and flabby, they will be screaming for seasoning. Add the garlic, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, freshly ground black pepper and more salt, if required, until you have a wonderfully balanced puree.

Spoon into a bowl and allow to cool completely, letting the flavours get to know each other.

Serve with a sprinkling of capers, the parsley, red onion and a splash of extra virgin oil.

Try topping the fava with any combination of the following:
Chopped fresh oregano, coriander or parsley
A few chopped Kalamata olives,
Diced tomato and a handful of rocket.
A sprinkling of roasted cumin seeds and sweet Aleppo or Urfi chilli flakes

Greek Fava puree

We’re having the fava with a few olives, a tomato salad and some bread for a really healthy light lunch but do try serving it with some charred squid or cuttlefish.

NEWS –  Spilling the Beans: September 10th at The Folk House Café

I met up with cook and nutritionist Lou Marchionne a couple of weeks ago, only to discover that she’s as excited about pulses as I am. Over the years Lou has cooked at so many of Bristol’s most iconic places such as Rocinantes, Bordeaux Quay and now at The Folk House Café on Park Street. So, after lots of excited chat we’ve decided to have a Pulse night on September the 10th at The Folkhouse ……..I’d love you to come along.

We’re planning an hour-ish cooking demo (using recipes from my book Pulse)  followed by a buffet supper of delicious beany dishes – the menu will include chickpea farinata, a zippy Asian style soup, super healthy sprouted bean, fruit and feta salad, a roasted cauliflower, butter bean and wild rice dish and a smokey pork chilli. The idea is to inspire you with the amazing versatility of legumes, Lou will point out their tremendous health benefits along the way and then you’ll get to eat some very tasty food.

The tickets are an absolute bargain at £8.50 (you will have a great supper – plenty for vegans, vegetarians and the resolute carnivores) The bar will be open, so a great time to catch up with friends. The evening will last from 18.30 to around 22.00.

You can buy tickets HERE. Really hope to see you and your friends.

I’ll be selling my book PULSE on the night and matching the Amazon price of £17 (rrp £25) so do bring along a bit of cash (I don’t take cards) if you are planning to buy a book.

PULSE photographs by Clare Winfield

 

 

 

 

 

Good News and Pitta Crisps

The last few weeks have been fantastic. One of the things I sometimes find tricky about being self employed is that you’re on that constant roller coaster, (hopefully of the junior variety rather than the peaks and troughs of a fully blown theme park model). Work comes in great gluts and then there are those ridiculously nerve wracking moments when you start filling in a new calendar and look at all the empty slots in the months ahead. Why do I still panic? Why do I say yes to those not-so-enthralling jobs only to have to jam all the more exciting stuff in too, and end up on a workathon?  I sometimes have the classic confidence crisis, I know that I’m not the only one – What am I doing this for? Am I getting anywhere? And then suddenly a fabulous patch like the last couple of weeks seems to appear out of nowhere.

So, I do hope that you won’t mind a bit of trumpet blowing….. First bit of great news- Pulse is being reprinted which means that you’ve all been doing a great job of spreading the word, so thank you. Secondly, The Real Taste of Spain, which feels like I wrote it a lifetime ago (about 8 years – Imi’s lifetime in fact) received some fabulous recognition last weekend. It was listed on the Telegraph Stella Magazine’s Ten Best “Hidden Gems – 10 lesser- known cookbooks you just can’t live without” The best bit about it was the company; to be listed alongside greats such David Tanis, Paula Wolfert and Pierre Koffman, writers I’ve admired for years, was absolutely thrilling. It was though, of course,  as my mother pointed out “a shame that it said lesser known cook books”. That’s family for you!

Another high point has been the work I’ve been doing for Borough Market, helping connect school children with their food. I’ve written about it on the market blog, but will share a few pictures of my trip to Highgrove, cooking with a group of children from Poplar Primary School in South London. The children, along with their incredibly dedicated teachers had won the Mygrove  prize for the best school gardening and cooking blog – you can go to the Prince of Wales’ website to find out more.  I had such fun with them making simple salads, experimenting with edible flowers and seeds and just witnessing how much more adventurous and excited about food children are when they’ve had a hand in the growing and preparation.

I have the seeds of another book sprouting madly in my head and need to get down to writing a proper proposal, but right now we’re off to WOMAD. So, here I am sitting at my desk at 5.30 am,  trying to get this post written, running up and down the stairs to check on my pitta crisps in the oven whilst making sure that we have all the necessary tents, wellies, long-life milk and sun cream packed. We’ll take the pitta crisps with us too.  I should really have Imi making them but she’s tucked up in bed and I’m not sure that she’ll be getting too much sleep over the next few days, so she’s staying there.

These crisps are great to make with kids and make a good healthy alternative to crisps or corn chips . I’ve sprinkled mine with black sesame seeds, smoked paprika and a bit of salt but you could use rosemary, cumin or a spice mix like ras al hanout (the fab’ Moroccan one – Bart Spices do a great blend)

Pitta Crisps

Preheat the oven to 170°C/325 F/ Gas mark 3

Cut the pittas into 2 1/2 cm/1 inch ribbons using a pair of scissors or knife. Now open the “loops” of bread to give you thin fingers.

Place these on roasting trays. There always seems to be a thinner and thicker side to the bread so I have a tray of quicker cooking, more delicate crisps and a tray for the thicker pieces.

Drizzle over a few drops of extra virgin olive oil and season with a little salt. You can add your choice of dried herbs or spices at this point too.

Toss the bread around to cover in the seasoning and arrange in a single layer. and now bake them in the oven until dried out and crisp. The thinner pieces will only take about 5 minutes and the thicker around 10; just bake until they are quite brittle.

Cool on a wire rack and then keep in an airtight container until ready to use.

 

 

Gooseberries and The Walled Garden

I have amazing memories of visiting  “pick-your-own” farms as a child, they seemed to be everywhere, maybe it was because we lived on the edge of The Vale of Evesham, one of England’s prime fruit growing areas. So last weekend, on a fabulously sunny day, I thought Imi and I might have fun picking some gooseberries and strawberries up the road in Cheddar. Sadly we arrived to discover that we could only buy the ready-picked punnets of fruit and a pretty surly woman assured me that there was NOWHERE locally that your could pick your own. Is this true? If anyone knows otherwise, please do let me know. It does seem quite logical, I can’t see how the farmers ever made any money; my sister and I always went for the eat one, keep one, eat one, keep one approach. In fact I once came out in a terrible rash after gorging on strawberries, or maybe it was raspberries? I can’t remember.

Any how we couldn’t drive straight home on such a glorious day so we dropped into one of my all- time favourite places –  The Barley Wood Walled Garden  (it does pop up in my blog a lot, I promise that I’m not on a PR drive for them – I just happen to love it) First we visited the teeny shop in the shed, I bought some gooseberries and  Imi spent her pocket money on a crochet “Happy Bird” that she christened Alfred. I had to share the pictures with you, they are everything I adore about England. The gardens are heaven and I loved the fact that Imi was in a school dress at the weekend ( her primary school doesn’t have a uniform so she feels a bit left out ). Of course we swung by the restaurant as well, and had some of the ridiculously delicious toffee-appley cake (Will you ever share that recipe with us boys? – I notice that it’s not in the cookbook) and whilst Imi drank her elderflower cordial I tried some of the very subtle and refreshing pine cordial.

We headed home after a dash around the vegetable patch – I do have serious garden envy although I need to get real; I only just manage to keep up with the bindweed in our tiny shoebox. When we got home I decided to go two ways with my gooseberries, firstly the most obvious and indulgent gooseberry fool and then secondly a very, very tasty and healthy breakfast option with oat groats and yoghurt.

Let’s begin with the gooseberry fool, which along with rhubarb fool has to be one of the simplest, most divine English puddings on offer and not one to mess around with too much. My only tweaks/suggestions are to cook the gooseberries in elderflower cordial (always a fabulous combination) and to sprinkle with a few ginger nut biscuit crumbs.

Gooseberry Fool

450 g gooseberries, topped and tailed
4 tbsp  of elderflower cordial
300 ml double cream
A few ginger nut biscuits, crushed to a crumb with a rolling pin.

Cover and simmer the gooseberries with the elderflower cordial for about 5-10 minutes until they have all split. Now spoon out the gooseberries and reduce the liquid by boiling to at least 1/2. Don’t sieve – you want the skins and seeds for texture.

Now taste – it must be intensely sweet and sour at the same time. Allow to cool completely and then chill in the fridge.

Whip your double cream until it is thick but not stiff, it always sets up more as it sits, and fold in the gooseberries. Taste again – you might need a little more sugar.

Now spoon the fool into little glasses or  vintage tea cups and sprinkle with a few bashed up ginger nut biscuits if you feel like it.

 

I’ve never been all that keen on porridge –  it’s the rather sludgy, slimy texture.  And I’m afraid that no amount of cream, superior pin head oats or expert spurtle stirring can convince me. Oat groats though,  are something else with their slightly chewy texture and bite. I prefer to call them oat berries (groats just sound too hefty and wholesome) since whole grain wheat and rye are referred to as berries so I can’t see a problem. Cook up plenty of oats and keep them in the fridge for up to a week but do warm them through in a small pan or microwave before serving, as they seem very starchy when chilled.

Oat berries, gooseberries and honeyed yoghurt

250 g oat berries (groats)
500 g ( ml) water
450 g gooseberries, topped and tailed
4 tbsp elderflower cordial
Natural yoghurt (Greek if you’re feeling indulgent) and honey to taste.

Place the oat berries in a large saucepan without any water and roast them directly over a high heat, giving them a good shake from time to time until they smell toasty (about 3-4 minutes).

Now add the water and simmer for about 30-40 minutes until the grain is tender but still slightly chewy.

Cook the gooseberries as we did for the fool above and spoon into bowls (or glasses). Sprinkle over a couple of good spoons of oats and top with a good dollop of honey-sweetened yoghurt.

And, talking of gardens I’m very excited because later this week I’m going to be working at Highgrove and getting a glimpse of the Prince’s gardens. I’m teaching a bunch of primary school kids who have been awarded a day of cooking, painting and gardening as a prize for their outstanding gardening blogs.  There’s more about the Prince’s Mygrove challenge here.

 

Radishes and Robins

 

Radishes

Radishes are one the great summer treats- just fabulous with a bit of unsalted butter and some crunchy salt. The idea of serving  them like a flower arrangement came from perhaps the glitziest restaurant I’ve ever been to. St Tropez’s Le Club 55 is the most ludicrously expensive, super -chic beach bar in existence…….and we arrived by helicopter! It’s seems like a different lifetime as I sit in my tiny back garden and think back to my super-yachting days. I worked aboard an Italian owned sailing boat as the cook and the owners did, just once in a while, invite us to partake in their bonkersly swanky lifestyle.

Our trip to Club 55 (please think it in French or it just doesn’t work) was to celebrate the re-fitting of the boat’s main mast – quite a hairy business which involved cranes, plenty of manic arm waving and lots of filthy French swearwords. I’d been given the important job of filming the event for the owners who’d wisely decided to miss the action. The first lesson in filming: never  turn  a camera on its side even if the tip of the mast doesn’t fit into a landscape shot. You had to watch the entire video with your head cricked to one side…… very irritated Captain and THANKFULLY highly amused boss.

The family popped into the boat yard in their helicopter to look over their beautiful yacht before flying on the extra few miles to Pampelonne beach. I leapt at the chance to hover over St Tropez  and then spent most of the time with my eyes shut, virtually hyper ventilating; there’s nothing I hate more than flying. So we landed in the car park next to the Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s and made our way out into the shady, understated beachside restaurant. There on every table was a jug of radishes, some butter, salt, aioli and a basket of perfect baguette. The extraordinary thing is that  I have no memory of the rest of the meal, I was probably too busy people watching. So it just goes to show that the simplest, quickest thing to prepare can often make the most impact.

Another very delicious accompaniment to radishes was dreamt up by the talented chaps at one of my favourite restaurants, the antithesis of ritzy-glam, The Ethicurean here in The West Country. It involves frying a sliced spring onion and a couple of finely chopped cloves of garlic in rapeseed oil until really fragrant. Then adding a couple of tablespoons of chopped white anchovy fillets (you know, the delicious ones pickled in vinegar) and cooking for a minute. Allow to cool and then stir in about 5  tablespoons of crème frâiche. Season and then serve with a pile of freshly dug radishes ( an hour soaking in icy water will restore some crispness if your bought radishes seem a little tired)

The week before I took the picture I’d found some of those  slender, pink French breakfast radishes with their long whispy tails, they’re my favourites, not today. But, any good radish with  leaves intact can be bunched together tightly with some string and pushed into a squat jug or bowl. 

Talking of lapping up the simple things in life I have to share these pictures of Reg with you. Every year Peter hopes to hand feed a robin, he’s had no luck for the last couple but then Reg arrived. The trick is patience; when the robin is feeding its young it will be bolder than usual and so, by placing a small plate of live mealworms close by and waiting motionless whilst it feeds, the robin will gain confidence. Then it’s a question, over about a week, of moving the plate closer and closer until you’re holding it. Eventually the robin will land on your hand and even flutter outside the kitchen window until you come out to feed it.

We’re just hoping that Reg will be back again next year to feed another brood. The thrill of holding such a delicate little bird on your hand is extraordinary. So light, so perfect.

 

 

A month of Indulgence, Bristol fashion

This month the Sunday supplements, the glossies and the gossip mag’s are all screaming one thing- “get beach-body perfect”. It’s all about honing, toning, buffing (and starving) and then slipping into that summer swimwear with pride. I’m rather relieved that I don’t have an exotic vacation planned – excited about the prospects of Dartmouth and Whitstable (you can certainly eat very well in both places) where the likelihood of living in my bikini for a week is slim, to say the least. I’m not  brave (read fit) enough to wear a bikini in any case and as for the “tank-ini”?  Who could have christened a garment that’s quite obviously aimed at the lady with a wobbly midriff and hasn’t quite given in to the iron corseted body control M&S one piece,  a TANK – ini? So you’ve probably got the gist that iron ab’s, much as I’d love a set, are not high on my agenda, I’ll just settle for the kaftan cover up. Quite lucky really, since my last few weeks in Bristol have been an Eatathon.

In May Bristol hosted the first Bristol Food Connections Festival where the BBC and vast numbers of Bristolians got together to celebrate the region’s great food scene. I was also judging the Tapas and Best Modern European categories of the Bristol Good Food Awards winners here ). Add to that a few social gatherings which revolved around food, of course, and you can imagine that June might just have to become a boot camp.

Here are a few random Bristol shots just in case your reading this in Cameroon (yes, I do have a follower there), they don’t bear much relation to the post but give you a bit of local flavour. And here are just some of the highlights from a month’s eating down Bristol way (with a few of my newly discovered tasty treats that you can track down even if you live nowhere near Bristol).

First some destimations…

Bell’s Diner - where we gathered for the Guild of Food Writer’s lunch. If you haven’t been for a few years then you MUST go. It’s no surprise that it’s fab; nowadays the place is run by Connie Coombes and Kate Hawkings (previously of Rocinantes fame) and the chef Sam Sohn-Rethel has some heritage too (ex Moro, Lido, Flinty Red, Manna). It’s the lots-of-small-plates style of eating with an amazingly eclectic mix. I can still almost taste the Ibérico jamón butter, the chicken oyster pinchos were spectacular and the Imam Bayildi is the best served any side of Istanbul.

Go to Bravas  for, without a doubt, the best authentic tapas in Bristol – fried aubergine with molasses, grilled Ibérico pork, hake on the plancha, simplicity ….. heaven. If you stumbled upon this bar in Málaga you’d feel that you’d lucked out. Bravas owners, Imogen and Kieran, have opened another place too -Bakers & Co on the Gloucester rd. Well this one feels like a sunny Sydney breakfast joint and made me all nostalgic about Bill Granger’s  Darlinghurst breakfast café back in the 90’s. Amazing huevos rancheros and I even managed to SQUEEZE in a cinnamon bun.

Flinty Red on Cotham Hill is stupendous, more little- ish plates, just the way I love to eat . Amongst other triumphs I had a beautiful fennel and blood orange salad, fried duck egg with morcilla and piquillo peppers, seared kid with cabbage and capers and some amazing wines from Corks of Cotham. Infact I popped along today to purchase a bottle of the extra specially, mind blowingly good  Plum Sake.

A trip to the Wells rd took me out of my usual stomping ground to The Office Bar and Canteen & wow, was it worth it. Small plates again- very good sprouting broccoli tempura with salsa verde, amazing salt hake fritters, a seriously memorable beetroot puree and  very good world music vibe in the background.

Probably the most memorable ( and rather surreal) night out was a “pop up” hosted by Mi Casa and In the Dark Radio dubbed “Radio Tapas”. Amazing nosh – including wild garlic butter with radishes and fab bread, superb melt-in-the-mouth brisket eaten by candlelight whilst listening to dazzling radio interviews. A beached whale tale whilst we tucked into our Nigiri, the tonkling of an ice cream van as we enjoyed our zippy sorbets – you get the picture.

Another great discovery this month was the Surplus Supper Club where a charity, Fare Share, serve up perfectly delicious food waste, train aspiring chefs and raise money all at the same time. That’s another post in the very near future.

And these are a few of my favourite things I found along the way (and that’s my lovely deck chair in the background)Plum Sake, Wiper and True Ale, Rachel goat's cheese and dried laver flakes.

Amongst all the incredible winners  at The Radio 4 Food and Farming Awards this year was Jonathon Williams from  Pembrokeshire Beach Food Company  who won the best street food category. I’ve become increasingly obsessed with all things seaweedy and am desperate to get to one of his beach cafes this summer, meanwhile I’ll make do with some of his Welshman’s Caviar (that’s toasted laver seaweed to you) available in delis and on line. Delicious sprinkled for that extra bit of umami flavour.

There’s the afore mentioned Plum Sake (which Imi insists must remain untouched until Father’s Day!) and then a very, very tasty pale ale from the local chaps at Wiper and True  who I met at the Food Connections market. In fact I’m very excited about  the flourishing Bristol craft beer scene and need to do some serious investigating (King St is now known as the Beermuda Triangle owing to the number of  craft beer bars).

My cheese of the month, White lake Dairy’s,”Rachel“, is an exceptional goat’s cheese; it’s  nutty and so, so smooth, without any of that goaty pen aroma. “Sweet, curvy and slightly nutty”,  I love the fact that it was named after an ex girlfriend of Peter, the cheesemaker.

AND if you’re not tired of all my ramblings then please do come and join me on 16th June at 6.30 pm  at Bristol Grammar School for an evening of  Chick (pea) Lit chat about my book PULSE. You can buy tickets  here (raising money for the Home Farm trust). I’d love to see you.

 

Moroccan Memories and Bessara Soup

I was gathering together some recipes this morning for my moorish salad demo at the wonderful Borough Market and it got me reminiscing and poring over a few pictures from last year’s trip to Tangiers. Pete took some beautiful photographs (I can only claim to be author of half a dozen) and they do set the scene for the unbelievably simple, nutritious and tasty dip/soup that I’m cooking today.

I love the contrast of these first two sets of photographs. First you have the calm, relative coolness of the courtyards and back streets of the casbah and then the bustle of the souk with all it’s smells and vivid colours.

We stayed in a fab little hotel, high in the casbah , looking out over the Straits of Gibraltar – The Tangerina Hotel . The rooftop terrace was a fabulous place to chill and to eat simple and very delicious food. One evening we had a silky smooth bowl of bessara, made with split fava beans or peas –  it’s a classic all over Morocco, often eaten as a breakfast dish and sometimes served a little thicker as a dip with good bread.

I’m making bessara back at home too, it’s real comfort food, just great when you’re yearning for something healthy and nourishing, and I’ve been over indulging rather too much of late (Bristol has been a never ending food fest’ but that’s the next post). My split fava beans (dried broad beans) come from a fabulous British company called Hodmedods who sell our native beans (we’ve exported vast quantities of our fava beans to Egypt and the Middle East for years ). I love to use favas for falafel too. You can find these English beans in lots of health food shops nowadays.

Bessara  – Split fava or split pea soup. (about 6 bowls)

300 g split fava beans or split peas
3 tbsp olive oil
2 0nions, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp cumin seeds, slightly crushed
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
Juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon
A good swirl of extra virgin olive oil
A good pinch of chilli flakes or smoked hot paprika
A few sprigs of fresh coriander, chopped

It’s a good idea, but not vital, to soak the split beans or peas in plenty cold water for a few hours – you’ll cut the cooking time considerably.

Take a large saucepan and fry off the onion and carrot until soft and beginning to brown and sweeten. Now add the garlic and cumin and fry until you’re enveloped in amazing smells.

Drain the beans and add to the pan, cover with 10 cm of water. Simmer for anything between 30 minutes to an hour until the beans or peas have pretty much collapsed.

Take a stick blender and whizz until smooth. Season with salt and lemon juice.

Serve the soup with a good swirl of extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of chilli or paprika and a sprinkling of fresh of coriander.

Jenny Chandler's fava bean soup

The soup should be velvety , about the thickness of double cream so you may need to add some liquid to loosen the texture.
Bessara can also be left thicker as a dip, rather like hummous or even served as a purée to use as a side dish in a mashed potatoey style.