I’ve designated this weekend a writing weekend. Actually it wasn’t going to be writing here, but a guest post for someone else’s blog which I promised back in the remote days when we still couldn’t imagine a supposedly civilised nation electing to hand over the big red nuclear button to a narcissistic, sociopathic, ignorant, orange-haired baby. It’s hard to write entertainingly about cinema and antiquity when the end of the civilised world is nigh. So I’m super-procrastinating by writing something else. But a girl’s gotta eat, and writing about what I’m cooking is at least an economical way of wasting time. Isn’t it?
This is a good standby lunch for me as I’ve usually got all the ingredients lurking around, but it’s also nice enough for visitors. In true Lazybones style, it’s pretty much throw-it-together using what you have. You can leave out the bacon and add a meat or vegetable bouillon cube or some miso for the savoury element if you prefer. You do need some starch to give it a good texture, and potato would be ideal. However we don’t eat a lot of potato and I happened to have half a celeriac in the fridge, so that went in. The scones used up the last of the Christmas Stilton and of course Stilton and celery are a famous match, but you could just as easily use Cheddar. Likewise you could substitute a handful of sunflower or pumpkin seeds for the walnuts, or just leave that out altogether. In the immortal words of the blessed Nigel Slater, we are just making ourselves something to eat. So make it the way you want.
Serves 4 hungry people, or 6 with more refined appetites.
For the soup:
- 1 head of celery, sliced
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into chunks
- 1 medium to large potato or half a celeriac, peeled and chopped into chunks
- About 100g bacon (I used offcuts so it was super-cheap but any cut is fine, sliced or in the piece, smoked or unsmoked as you prefer)
- Milk, creme fraiche or cream to finish
Put everything but the milk in a large saucepan (leave the bacon whole) and add water up to about halfway up the vegetables. Season with black pepper and a little salt (in case the bacon is salty). Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes, until the meat is cooked and the vegetables are really soft.
Take out the meat and chop finely (or you can whizz it with the rest). Whizz the vegetables with a stick blender or in a blender or food processor to make a puree. If you have none of these and you’re energetic, just mash it all as smooth as you can. Whatever method you use, you can leave it slightly lumpy if you prefer texture or pass it through a sieve if you like it smoother. Stir the bacon back in, and thin with a little milk, creme fraiche or cream to your preferred consistency. Taste, adjust seasoning and reheat if necessary.
For the scones:
- 200g self-raising flour
- 50g butter or hard marg
- pinch salt
- 50-100g Blue Stilton cheese (depending on how cheesy you want them)
- handful of chopped walnuts
- 5 fl oz milk
Preheat the oven to 220C / Gas Mark 7.
Rub the fat into the flour and salt until it resembles breadcrumbs. Crumble in the cheese and add the walnuts.
Pour all the milk in at once and stir with a knife, just until it makes a soft dough. Divide in two and pat out each on a floured surface to a 6″ circle, about 2cm thick. Cut each into six wedges, brush tops with milk and put on a greased baking tray. (I like using my cast-iron frying pans because they retain the heat well and make sure the base is crispy. Also slightly obsessed with them and use ’em for everything.)
Bake for 10-15 mins till risen and browned. Cool on a cooling rack and serve with or without butter.
Yum. Now I’d better get back to what I’m meant to be doing. Unless…