A good red soup

Some of you will know the Big Red Soup they serve in Hackett’s in Schull.

I have never tried it as I can never say no to a open crab sandwich but I have seen it being eaten and I know it to be a soup of good colour and deep flavour.

I spent an hour or so on Saturday afternoon trying to make a reproduction.

I gave some thought to what it might have been that gave the soup its particular kick and settled on it being the appropriate addition of some dried Mexican chillies. Fortunately we had been in Brighton the previous weekend and I had picked up a stash of dark liquorice smelling examples. These were stewed in hot water before I went out to buy my tomatoes.

Along with the tomatoes I bought onions, leeks and sweet red peppers.

It was then all a question of time and assembly.

The onions were softened in olive oil and butter along with the finely chopped leeks and eventually the peppers.

As they started to take on some colour I added some garlic and then the tomatoes. Each tomato had to be cut in half to better give off its juices.

There were a lot of tomatoes (I was cooking for 50) so the work had to be split between two large pans.

As the tomatoes were added I stirred in the dried chillies and a generous handful of sage and oregano,cumin, salt and pepper and cinnamon.

It was all cooked for an hour or so until the tomatoes had given off their juices.

I put it all through an ancient mould picked up from a junk shop and then half through a fine sieve.

The soup was served over a Sunday afternoon as a small piece of forgotten ground in Anfield was taken back for the local community and made into something special.



Grant Hart (Husker Du)

Sheep's Head Food Company

Well it is a quiet house this Saturday morning with children at sleepover, work and abroad.

The sun is out and the sky is blue and there are at least two snippets of song going round the back of my head that I can’t put my finger on. To try and banish them I have put on an old Grateful Dead album to listen to whilst I drink my morning tea and write this.

Having done that I pick up a listing magazine that was brought home yesterday and see that as well as John Grant and Phosphorescent playing in Liverpool later this year Grant Hart is playing in Leaf on 31 August. Shit. All this courtesy of Harvest Sun Promotions. I probably owe them a beer or something.

Grant Hart used to be in Husker Du.

Husker Du were one of a group of bands (REM, The Go-Betweens, The…

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Making a cake out of mayonnaise

It felt a bit like I was making a cake out of mayonnaise.

The recipe had been spotted on Saturday morning in the food section of The Guardian.  A ring cake made with olive oil, eggs, flour and ricotta.

It took some searching in the basement to find the ring mould I knew that I had. In fact that was the longest part of the process.

The flour was sifted with sugar and baking powder.

In another bowl I whisked together a tub of ricotta with olive oil. This looked unprepossessing. In fact it looked like a badly split sauce. But as I whisked in the eggs it came together just as a good mayonnaise should.

The wet was then stirred into the dry with the zest of two unwaxed lemons and then scraped into the oil mould and into the oven for 40 minutes.

The recipe suggested testing it was ready with a strand of spaghetti. I use a metal skewer.

It went well with yogurt.

We ate it listening to The National.


Mackerel tartare

The rain has settled in now and looks as if it could be with us for the next few days.

But before it started seven mackerel were caught off Owen Island. Sadly they weren’t caught by me. But they were handed over so I could make a mackerel tartare.

The recipe had been cut out of The Financial Times magazine and sent to me years ago. Periodically I have come across and meant to have to hand the ingredients for making it but for whatever reason I have not got round to it.

I did so this year which is perhaps why we have caught so few mackerel the first week we were here.

The ingredients consisted of a cucumber, some cocktail gherkins and capers.

The mackerel were filleted down by the beach and the guts and bones fed to the birds. The recipe suggested the fillets should be skinned as well but having made a hash of skinning the one fillet I decided it would work just as well with the skin left on.

The fillets were put to one side whilst I cured some skinned and seeded cucumber in a mixture of salt and sugar.

The fillets were then chopped into small pieces and mixed with chopped gherkins and capers, the juice of one lemon, some olive oil and a good grounding on salt and pepper.

By the time this was done the cucumber was cured and I rinsed it and chopped it fine and stirred it into the mackerel mixture. It was all left to rest for an hour before being eaten.

It was fought over.