Another Mexican Soup-Off

Mexican chilli bean soup: prep work done
Mexican Chilli Bean Soup

It's cold out there so a warming spicy soup is the very thing. I've made Mexican chilli bean soup from The Soup Book three times already so knew it would be good.


Sunflower oil
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
400g lean minced beef
1 teasp ground cumin
2 teasp chilli powder
1/2 teasp dried oregano
400g can chopped tomatoes
2 TBS tomato puree
750ml hot vegetable or chicken stock
400g can kidney beans, drained and well rinsed
handful of chopped parsley
salt and pepper 

Taking care not to breach copyright, I'm not including the method but you can probably work it out yourselves. 

Serve with soured cream, nature yoghurt, creme fraiche, grated cheese, tortillas, tortilla chips ...  I had a bit of almost everything when we ate this for our dinner yesterday (16th January 2016). 
Make up your own minds. 

Fruit Loaf with Ale 

Today I decided to bake something from my newest cookery book, which was a Christmas present from my sister J'Zo and bro-in-law G'Cro. They had kindly given me Norfolk's Own Cookbook: Everything Stops for Tea by Mary Kemp, Melinda Raker and Vanessa Scott (published last year). Still trying to clear out some of my Christmas foodstuffs, I have adapted their recipe for Norfolk Ale fruit loaf, substituting an Irish craft ale for the brand suggested and using a mix of raisins, sultanas and cranberries. 

Ingredients for a 500g loaf 

300ml ale 
zest of 2 oranges 
280g mixed dried fruit 
140g brown sugar (I used soft dark brown sugar) 
280g self-raising flour 
1/2 teasp mixed spice 

Pre-heat the oven to 150'C (130'C fan; gas 2). 
Butter a small loaf tin and line with baking parchment. 
Put the ale, orange zest, dried fruit and sugar in a saucepan and warm, making sure the sugar has dissolved. 
Remove the pan from the heat and leave to infuse for at least 10 minutes. 

Put the flour and mixed spice in a bowl. Make a well in the centre, pour in the ale, fruit and sugar mixture, and stir to combine thoroughly. Pour this mixture into the prepared tin. 

Bake for 60-80 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. 
Leave in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out on to a wire rack. 

I've just taken the baked loaf out of the oven and it smells lovely. Can't wait to try it. 



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