me I honestly can’t remember when it started, usually New Year’s Day soup. Just know that in this kitchen, the year begins with a deep pot on the stove, with aromas of sweet onion and thyme, chicken broth and spices or beans simmered with garlic and bay.
Lentils are often found in this first lunch of the year, in thick soup with smoked pancetta or in ragout for fried strips of pappardelle. According to legend, eating lentils on New Year’s Day will bring good luck for the next 12 months, and I’d be happy to put them in a deep bowl of broth.
Eating soup seems appropriate on the first day of January, as does baking bread. Both are at the heart and soul of this kitchen. This year’s soup is something of a hybrid, inspired by nothing other than what’s in my kitchen cupboard and in my fridge door. A little hash browns, a handful of tomatoes that are honestly past their best, a can of coconut milk and several tablespoons of Lau Jan Ma, chili in oil.
The first day of the new year comes with frugal food, but it’s also a treat. This time, a batch of citrus pies, lemon custard filling, finished with sliced clementines. a happy new year!
Lentil, tomato and coconut soup
New Year’s Eve soup in January brings heat and sweetness, with both coconut milk and chili seasoning. The brick red pepper oil settles in radiant, coin-like bubbles on the surface, so you get a little spice, then a spoonful of coconut milk to cool. This soup will keep happy in the fridge overnight, should you feel like a midnight pick-me-up. Serves 4
stock (or water if needed) 1.5 liters
Small green or brown lentils 250 gr
onion 2, average
olive oil 3 tbsp
garlic 3 cloves
Tomatoes 250 gr
Tomato paste 1 tbsp
coconut milk 100 ml
Lao Gan Ma to taste (2 or 3 tsp)
coriander leaves to serve
Bring the broth to a boil in a medium saucepan and drizzle over the lentils. Once the broth has returned to a boil, lower the heat slightly and let the lentils cook for about 20 minutes or until just tender. They must have a little bite to them.
Peel the onion and chop coarsely. Heat the oil in a large skillet, add the onions and cook for 20 minutes over moderate heat, until softened. Peel the garlic and chop it into thin slices, add the onion.
Coarsely chop the tomatoes and stir the onions into the tomato puree. Let the tomatoes simmer, partially covered, until soft and crunchy. Add the lentils and any stock from the pan and season with salt. Continue to cook for 10 minutes, then add the coconut milk and chilies. Once the soup is completely hot, serve it in deep bowls.
Clementine and lemon tart
Pastry cases need a little TLC. I use deep tart tins measuring 8-9cm across the base. Refrigerate the pastries after making the dough and after lining the tins. This relief will prevent the pastry from shrinking as it bakes. The pancakes need high sides to hold enough of the lemon filling. You can make the pastry tins the day before and store them in an airtight container overnight. makes 6
Pure flour 200 gr
butter 100 gr
icing sugar 1 full tablespoon
ice water a little (2-3 tablespoons)
Lemon 4, average
Double cream 200 ml
caster sugar 100 gr
You will also need 6 individual tart tins
Make the dough: Put the flour into the bowl of a food processor, cut the butter into cubes and add to the flour, and pulse for a few seconds until it looks like coarse, fresh breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolks and powdered sugar and continue to process, adding enough water to produce a firm but rollable dough – about 2 tbsp. (Or do it by hand, rubbing everything together with the fingertips.)
Lift the dough out onto a board dusted with flour, then roll the dough into a ball. Cover with greaseproof paper and leave to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes. This will ensure that it does not shrink while baking.
Make the filling: grate the lemon finely, then cut the fruit in half and squeeze the juice into a small bowl – you need a good 125ml. Pour the cream into a medium nonstick skillet and warm over moderate heat, watching. When the cream begins to form bubbles around the edges, remove the pan from the heat.
Place the eggs and sugar in a medium bowl and mix briefly with a whisk, then add the warm cream, lemon zest and juice and set aside. Set the oven to 190°C / gas mark 5.
Roll the remaining dough out gently on a floured board. Cut out 6 discs of pastry using a cookie cutter and use them to line the cake boxes. Push the pastry into the corners. Cut baking paper to fit tart tins, place one inside each tart and fill with breadcrumbs. Bake the tart crust for 20 minutes. Remove the paper and beans, then return to the oven for 5 minutes, until the dough is dry. Remove and reduce the temperature to 160°C / gas mark 3.
Pour the lemon filling into the tart tins, letting the filling reach the top of the pastry as you dare. Carefully place the tart in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the custard outside is set, the middle wobbly. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Using a palette knife, carefully slide the pies out of their tins and place them on a cooling rack.
Peel the clementines and cut them into thin slices, placing a slice on each tart. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios.
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