lentil and barley soup

The soup season is well and truly upon us and this one is my favourite. The one I make again and again in various permutations. The one I almost never get tired of eating for lunch or dinner. Goes particularly well with some crackers or dried toastie things with brie, (even the cheap safeway one which can be quite nice close to or just past its useby date). I like this soup best with the pieces cut small and not pureed. The family like it semi pureed which I do with the bamix. G insists on having sauteed mushrooms on top, because well, a meal isn't a meal unless it contains mushrooms.
Anyway here it is, it goes without saying that quantities are a guide.
lentil and barley soup
2 stalks of celery
1 brown onion
1 medium carrot
several good big strong cloves of garlic
1 cup brown lentils (no need for soaking)
1/2 cup of pearl barley
1 tin of diced italian tomatoes
a good handful of herbs from the garden if you have them, mostly parsley with some smaller amounts of thyme, rosemary, sage and some oregano
2lt of water
To make
Finely dice the celery, carrot, onion and garlic. Saute in your soup pot with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and a good pinch of salt. Add the tomatoes, lentils, barley, water and half the herbs (if you have them) tied in a bouquet garni. Chop the rest of the herbs finely and set aside. Cook for about half an hour or until the barley is tender. Remove the bouquet garni, add the chopped herbs. Blend with the bamix if a blended soup is your preference (it does disguise the green vegetable factor - which in our house is a plus). Taste for seasoning and serve.

lemon and lime cheesecake

I do love an unbaked cheesecake. Made with cream cheese, cream and gelatine. And a crushed biscuit crust. Part of me feels like I should like the baked cheesecake more, but I really do prefer a well made unbaked cheesecake. Something to do with the creamy, slightly wobbly texture. Trashy but oh so nice. I don't tend to make them very often as they are not vegetarian due to the gelatine.

The success of this recipe depends on beating the cream cheese until it is very smooth before adding anything other than a little lemon or lime juice. And in getting the balance between the sugar and citrus right. I like to hover on the edge of danger here, but others around me prefer it if it isn't too lemony.



  • I x 250g packet of arnotts ginger nut snaps (not plain brand)
  • 125g of melted butter

I crush my biscuits inside a cloth bad with a rolling pin, but if you have a food processor, that would make it a whole lot easier. Just don't crush them too fine. Or your crust won't have texture. Stir in the melted butter. Place a piece of baking paper on the bottom of a spring form cake tin and clip together. Brush all around with oil or melted butter. Press biscuit mixture into tin and press down, including right into the corners with the back of a spoon. Place in fridge while you make the filling.


  • 2 x 250g blocks of Philadelphia (or similar) cream cheese softened (back in the day when we had a microwave, I would cut it into chunks and zap briefly).
  • 200ml pure cream
  • 1 tablespoon of gelatine dissolved in 1/2 cup of boiling water and cooled
  • 3/4 caster sugar (I have used plain white sugar and it works fine, you just have to beat it for longer. Brown sugar would also work fine and taste lovely but I quite like the pale colour of this cheesecake)
  • the juice of 3 or 4 lemons and or limes, strained.

Beat the cream cheese in an electric beater until there are no lumps. If the cream cheese is a little hard, adding a small amount of the lemon juice will help. Add most of the remaining lemon/lime juice, the sugar and the gelatine and beat until the sugar is dissolved. Add the cream and mix gently. Taste for citrus/sugar balance. Add more citrus and/or sugar if necessary. When you're happy with the taste, beat the mixture on high speed until soft peaks form. Fill the crust, nearly to the top, and place back in fridge. The cheesecake will be ready to eat the next day. If there is any filling left over, place in a small bowl and have as a secret snack later that night. Yum.

To serve, run a knife around the edge of the tin and loosen the outside. The cheesecake should be easy to pick up with the baking paper. The baking paper will peel back easily once a cake slide or spatula is placed under the cake.