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Recipes and Books archive: December 2007

Recipe – Special Split Pea Soup

by Ysanne Spevack

Split Pea Soup

3 medium onions, peeled and diced
3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, plus the inner leaves, chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
4 tablespoons bacon fat or olive oil
4 cups / 700g mixed yellow and green split peas, soaked overnight
6 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 large or 5 small bay leaves
freshly ground pepper
2 quarts / 2 litres chicken or vegetable broth (stock)
1 quart / 1 litre water
1 lb / 450g ham, cubed into 1/2” chunks, optional
salt and pepper, to taste

1. In a large stockpot or saucepan, saute the onions, carrots, celery and garlic in the bacon fat or olive oil over a low heat with the lid on. Cook until the onion is translucent.

2. Drain the split peas and rinse them in cold water, then throw in with the vegetables.

3. Add the Worcestershire sauce, herbs, and pepper, then stir everything with a wooden spoon.

4. Pour in the liquid, raise the heat, and bring to the boil with the lid on. Once boiling, bring down the heat to a low simmer for about half an hour.

5. Add the ham and simmer another 45 minutes.

6. Once the peas have disintegrated, salt the soup and add more pepper, to taste.

Perfected Gingerbread

Perfected Gingerbread

This recipe comes with a no frills guarantee… Perfect Gingerbread. Low fuss, high moisture, delicate yet rich.

2 1/2 cups / 300 grams all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 stick / 120 grams butter, softened
1/2 cup / 100 grams unrefined cane sugar
1 cup / 250 ml dark molasses
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup / 250 ml boiling water
2 teaspoons baking soda (not baking powder!)
2 eggs, lightly beaten

You will need:

A non-stick 8 inches or 20 cm square cake pan
A sieve
2 large mixing bowls
1 small mixing bowl
A wooden spoon
An electric or hand whisk

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F / 180 degrees C / Gas Mark 4. Lightly grease the cake pan with butter.

2. Sift the flour, cinnamon, ginger and cloves into a bowl.

3. Beat the butter in the other mixing bowl with the wooden spoon until it’s creamy and smooth.

4. Add the sugar, molasses and honey and continue beating with the spoon until everything has blended.

5. In the small bowl, pour the boiling water onto the baking soda, then pour the frothy liquid into the sugary butter mixture, mixing well with the wooden spoon.

6. Add the flour mixture, and whisk with the electric or hand whisk.

7. Beat in the eggs.

8. Pour the runny cake batter into the pan and bake for about 50 minutes. The cake will be ready when a toothpick can be inserted and come out clean.

9. Take the gingerbread out of the oven to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

10. Alternatively, turn the cake out onto a cooling rack, wrap it when cool, and serve at room temperature any time within a week of baking.

Recipe – Mincemeat

making mincemeat

Some of our most cherished childhood memories center on food preparation, and Christmas is a fantastic opportunity for getting children into the kitchen. Homemade gifts have personal appeal, and with thought children can add their own twists to traditional recipes. This mincemeat recipe contains no alcohol but you can substitute the fruit juice for something stronger – with parental permission. It is also nut free and uses vegetarian suet. Reduced fat varieties are now available.

Mincemeat is a no-cook recipe and adapts well to the classroom setting – lots of weighing, chopping and stirring. You can add peeling too, if you would prefer to peel the apples – it is not necessary.

Stirrin’ Stuff Mincemeat

Makes 6 jars ready to bake your own mince pies!

What to find:

1 lemon
1 lime
Juice of 6 oranges (400ml / 2 cups)
100g / 1/2 cup dried apricots
100g / 1/2 cup dried cherries
750g / 3 1/4 cup mixed dried fruit
100g / 1/2 cup dried cranberries
350g light Muscovado sugar / soft brown sugar
250g / 1 1/4 cup light shredded suet (packet)
225g / 1 cup tart cooking apples, washed, cored and finely chopped (e.g. 1 large Bramley apple, or two small Granny Smith apples)
2 tsps cinnamon
2 tsps nutmeg

Kitchen Stuff:

Vegetable knife
Chopping board
Measuring jug
Large mixing bowl
Juice squeezer
Wooden spoon
Dessert spoon
Rounded-ended knife
Jam jars

What to do:

1. Wash the lemon, lime and one of the oranges. Grate the rind from the citrus fruits, but be careful not to grate the pith (white) of the fruits. Put the rinds into the mixing bowl.

2. Cut all of the citrus fruits in half. Twist the halves around a citrus squeezer to get the juice out. Put the juice in a measuring jug.

3. Weigh out the apricots and cherries and younger children can use a rounded ended knife to chop them into small pieces. Put the chopped fruit into the mixing bowl.

4. Weigh out the dried fruit, cranberries, sugar and suet and add to the mixing bowl.

5. Add the chopped apple, fruit juices and spices to the mixing bowl.

6. Place a damp cloth under the mixing bowl (to stop it from moving) and gently stir the ingredients together. Little stirs, keep everything in the bowl.

7. Cover the bowl and leave the mincemeat in a cool place for 24 hours.

8. Use a dessert spoon to carefully pot the mincemeat into sterile jam jars. Cover the jars with a lid and store in a refrigerator until use.


Use equal quantities of dried fruits e.g. sultanas, currants and raisins.

Always cover wounds before cooking; this is especially important when juicing lemons because the juice can sting.

Adventurous Cooks:

Use a whole nutmeg to grate your own nutmeg powder. Find out what mace is.
Try changing the dried fruit – use chopped tropical dried fruits or dried blueberries instead.
Make ‘designer covers’ for the pots of mincemeat and give them away as Christmas presents.


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