Smoky Black Bean and Roast Tomato Soup Recipe

I've been craving dinner earlier than usual recently. My appetite gets discombobulated in the autumn, as the sky darkens at an ever-quickening pace, similar to the confusion jet lag inflicts. Alex has poked his head round the kitchen door a couple of times this week exclaiming, "Are you already making dinner?" If I was married to an 80 year old my timing would be spot on.

Not only is dusk nudging in but the temperature has turned officially chilly — I feel the need to insulate from within. Soup season has arrived.


Tasting Menus: Trangallán, tapas restaurant, Newington Green

The London neighbourhood of Newington Green flies somewhat under the radar. Tucked next to Stoke Newington and Dalston — two areas oft-mentioned in the media as havens of trendiness; where cafes, delis and restaurants seem to open weekly — it houses luminaries such as myself, but not many restaurants of note. So when a defunct shopfront shows signs of development, those of us obsessively on the hunt for new edible experiences hope something tasteful and tasty will arise.

Trangallán has teased us for a while. The smart striped monochrome facade has been in place for many months. The word on the street was... 'tapas'. The suspense is now over, it's open, and I'm tipsy with relief after my first visit. Newington Green is now home to a cosy and charming restaurant that I look forward to revisiting.


Apple, Cardamom & Sour Cream Muffins

I love the Internet: a quick jaunt on the WWW and next thing you know a cancer research scientist in Boston and a Punjabi Southern belle in Houston are helping me bake muffins.

Last week I bought a new muffin tin and a few days later I happened across a lovely apple tree while walking in the countryside. New tin + abundance of collected fruit. I needed a recipe! I searched my cookbooks but couldn’t find any suitable ideas. Time to call on my good friend Google. I asked him, Google, where can I find a nice apple muffin recipe, preferably with sour cream (key defender of dry bakes) and cardamom (a spice used in Nordic baking, which is quite fashionable at the moment. Obviously I only want muffins that are on-trend).


Rainbow Beet(root) Tart Recipe

My sister-in-law Nicole made this mouthwatering multicoloured tart while we were on holiday together in Portland, Maine. The pastry here acts as a canvas, showcasing just how stunning and varied a humble root vegetable can be.

I love beets (or 'beetroot' as it's known in the UK). They taste like earth. This may well be what puts some people off them, but I adore the hearty soil-tinged flavour touched with a bit of sweetness.

And I'm not alone, when Nicole put this stunner down on the dining table, it was inhaled with glee by family from the age of two to, uh, significantly older than two.

I asked Nicole to share the recipe with me, and you, so we can all put such an eye-catching earthy treat down on our own tables soon.

First, obviously, you need to procure bunches of beets in varying hues. Nicole bought hers at the Portland Farmers' Market, a showcase of vibrant fresh produce.

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