Some Dolly Parton Musings and a Broccoli and Stilton Soup Recipe

Does anyone else struggle to spell broccoli? No? Just me then…

It’s mid March and in the UK that means it’s still effing freezing but we pretend it’s not. I popped to Asda in the week and saw some bloke loitering around the ready meal section wearing a pair of shorts. Shorts! A couple of days after the snow had cleared. We spend so long hibernating away in chunky knits and fur coats (that one’s for you Jess) that as soon as the temperature goes into double digits we want to show a bit of skin and get the limbs out. I get it. But really, it’s not shorts weather. I’m just about managing to ditch the wooly coat and swap it in for a Spring like trench but the thermal vest is going no-where fast. Welcome to 30 kids!

This in-between weather means you don’t quite want to eat the heavy stews and casseroles of winter but shudder at the thought of a salad. What am I saying? I always shudder at the thought of a salad. The beauty of this broccoli and stilton soup is that it’s warming and nourishing but vibrant and, well, it’s green. Which means spring, right? It’s also easy, cheap and a sneaky way to get some veg in.

Serves 4

What you need:

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 750ml vegetable stock (from a cube)
  • 100g stilton
  • double cream, optional

What you do:

  1. Sautee the finely chopped (or as finely chopped as I can possibly manage) onion in the oil and butter with a pinch of salt over a low heat for about 5 minutes, making sure the onion doesn’t colour too much. Pale gold is your limit here.
  2. Separate the florets from the stalks on your head of broccoli and finely chop the stalks. Add these to the onion and cook for around 10 minutes, stirring regularly, before adding the florets and cooking for 5 minutes more.
  3. Add in the vegetable stock, pop on a lid and cook for around 15 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
  4. Remove from the heat and blend until very smooth. This is not the time for chunky soup. I use a stick blender which makes it super easy but you could transfer to a normal blender if that’s all you have. Season with pepper, you shouldn’t need salt, then crumble in about 75g of stilton and stir to melt. Taste just to make sure I’m right on the salt, I think you’ll find I am.
  5. Serve the soup in bowls with the rest of the stilton crumbled on top and a little retro swirl of cream if that’s a bit of you. Lovely for lunch with some crusty bread or as a relaxed starter.

I had a bit of a random thought today. I had Smooth FM on and they played Dolly Parton’s Jolene. I realise I am really late to the party here, like decades, but I don’t know why she was so obsessed with Jolene. I mean, yeah Jolene should know better but come on Dolly, its your waste of space man you should be singing about. Don’t be begging Jolene not to take your man, it sounds to me like he’s already gone and you’re better off without him girl.

On the point of randomness, Dominos now have a GPS tracker on their delivery service. As if the pizza tracker wasn’t already up there with the world’s best inventions, you can now literally track your pizza from store to door. Love it.

Have a wonderful week all!

Tania x

#Foodporn: Episode Two

Have you ever met anyone who doesn’t like chocolate? I have and they were weird. I could’t get my head around the fact that this seemingly normal human being in front of me was practically heaving at the thought of eating chocolate. Yes, heaving, such was their aversion to the brown stuff. I save heaving for special occasions like finding shell in scrambled egg or a hair in a salad, it’s certainly not my initial reaction when faced with chocolate.

I’ve grown up with chocolate. There has been a longstanding debate between Dairy Milk and Galaxy, my preference changing with my emotional state. I like both and choosing would be like a parent choosing their favourite child; difficult, sure, but largely dependant on mood. Dairy Milk, for me, has that childhood sweetness, filling me with nostalgia and giving me a toothache, whereas Galaxy is the grown up cousin, a bit sexy and deliciously creamy. As I’ve grown older I do flirt with other brands too, I have a particular fondness for Lindt, particularly the Lindor truffles, and love Montezuma’s dark chocolate buttons. These are the kinds of chocolate I save for best though, birthdays and special occasions made even better for it. If I’m crying over spilt wine or frizzy hair I want a quick, cheap fix, and go for the sweetest, sickliest options available to me. What could be nicer than coming home after a tough day and unwrapping your own little present of happiness, whether that’s Dairy Milk, Galaxy, or any other sugar loaded treat.

I read recently that there is nothing in chocolate that is scientifically proven to make you happy. Now, I don’t want to be seen as arguing with scientists, but they’re wrong. Surely. Have you ever made a batch of gooey chocolate brownies and taken them into work for your colleagues to enjoy? Let me tell you what happens when you do that. Faces start to contort, forming strange little expressions that turn into smiles, the entire mood lifts and everyone connects by talking about the shared moment of pleasure that everyone is experiencing at the same time. It’s a beautiful sight. Chocolate may not bring you the same kind of happiness as you might feel on your wedding day, or on the birth of your firstborn, but in a world that can be full of such hatred and sorrow, it’s a sure fire way to cheer you up, if only for a moment. I rely on chocolate when I’m feeling low. The intensely rich, sweet river that fills your mouth when the chocolate melts is all I need to perk me up. Likewise, if I am happy I celebrate with chocolate, any excuse goes really. Apparently chocolate has no addictive ingredients and therefore can’t be considered a drug. Well, I know that when I eat it I can get as high as a KitKat. I mean kite.

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I’ve included below the most simple recipe for when you need a moment of happiness and tranquility in your stressful life. Enjoy.

Serves 1

What you need:

  • 1 bar of chocolate, of your choice

What you do:

  1. Start by making yourself comfortable. I suggest a big cosy jumper, slippers and a comfy space on the sofa. Or in bed if you’re a bit skanky.
  2. Remove any distractions, such as the dog/cat/husband/whatever may want to share the chocolate with you. Either put something you like on the TV or some nice music in the background and get yourself relaxed.
  3. Slowly open up your bar, taking in the sounds of the wrapper as it falls away from the chocolate and pay attention to the smell as the sweetness fills the room.
  4. When you are ready, take your first bite. Slowly, close your eyes and enjoy every taste sensation going on in your mouth, let the chocolate melt slowly to fully enjoy the texture.
  5. Get rid of the ridiculous instructions in steps 1-4 and just bloody eat it, getting it all over your face if you like. Then eat another one, and another until you feel blissfully sick.

For a calorie free chocolate hit, try this amazing chocolate orange candle from Bomb Cosmetics. I really do love chocolate in all its glorious forms. Off for an early Easter egg now. Until next time…

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