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I have, criminally, only just discovered asparagus. So I have 8 spears now roasting away in the oven, doused liberally with olive oil and salt. A little freshly-squeezed lemon juice when they come out (mind the pips), and then to eat, dribbling vegetable juice and oil. Because I’m in that kind of mood. Plus the pre-sparagus appetizers were feta-and-spinach parcels and a generous handful of black olives.

I’m doing Friday night in style, if I do say so myself.

You may remember a beetroot and walnut hummus I posted a while back? My sister went one better, and found a recipe for beetroot and walnut chocolate brownies. They are rich, moist, delicious and absolutely to die for. They are, I venture to suggest, worth not only dying for, but worth being reincarnated as a beetle and working your way back up the Karmic Chain for a thousand years to status Homo Sapiens again, just for another slice. Those that like to bake uber-chocolatey things – you have no excuse, here is your next project.

http://scrapbook.channel4.com/bookmarkBar/515476c9e4b098f1a5555277

Having my own space again has revitalised things somewhat. So I’ve made the decision to go back and tackle some of the ingredients that have defeated me in the past. The legume that wouldn’t cook to edibility, even if you lowered a pan of it directly into a nuclear reactor. The vegetable that salting/soaking/roasting/baking/a-right-kicking couldn’t convert into something other than chewy semi-cellulose. The cost and frustration of two hours preparing and cooking, then discreetly dumping the results in the bin, and ordering a chinese takeaway instead (the herb ‘dill’ – I am looking at you).

Those recipes that, *gulp*, even our heroes EWK* or EWM** couldn’t save.

First up – yellow split peas

This may or may not be originally a Nigel Slater recipe. It’s on a piece of ripped-out magazine in my Recipes-Ripped -Randomly-Out-of-Magazines file….

250g yellow split peas
Teaspoon mustard powder
Cumin
Paprika
Ginger
Tumeric
Coriander
Finely chopped white onion
Tin chopped tomatoes, drained
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Vegetable stock
Vegetable oil or butter

Boil the dried split peas for at least at hour, skim away the foam that forms on the top of the water every so often. Then drain.
Melt the oil or butter in a wok, then add the mustard, cumin, paprika, ginger, garlic, onion, salt, tumeric and coriander. Cook for a minute or so, until fragrant.
Add the tomatoes and then a can-ful of water. Cook for around ten minutes.
Add the split peas and stock, then cook for another ten minutes, or until to taste.

Serve hot.

The original recipe suggests partially mashing the split peas – in my experience you end up with a somewhat “gritty” soup, so would suggest either leave the lentils intact, or puree fully with a food processor.

*Even With Ketchup
**Even With Mayonnaise

EDIT: turns out to be a Rose Prince recipe from her book, Kitchenella. She has a blog http://www.roseprince.co.uk/ if you want to check out anything else that she does – certainly the above recipe made an economic but tasty soup, which went rather well with some garlic bread! 🙂

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