Sunday, 2 March 2014

Wham!, marzipan rabbits and lunch: Leek & Cannelini Bean soup with Guinness & Cheddar soda bread

What did happen to Andrew Ridgely? I mean, I was listening to Absolute 80s, mainly for comfort, on a wet and very windy Sunday morning, and Wham popped up – as they inevitably would.

I was mindlessly massaging pink food colouring into some marzipan for Pink who had expressed an overwhelming desire to make marzipan rabbits. “What for?” enquired the Husband. “What do you mean? What for?” “I mean, what are the rabbits for? A cake [this in a hopeful voice]?” “No, Daddy, I just want to make them.”.

This is about as crafty as it gets with me, I’m afraid, and to ease the task, I was listening to the radio, pondering the Andrew Ridgely question. I was wondering about Bananarama too, come to think of it. One day you’re there singing about Robert de Niro, or being a Goddess on a Mountain Top, and the next? Well, apart from Shakespeare’s Sister, where?? I mean, we all know what happened to George Michael, but what about Andrew? Or Pepsi and Shirley, their backing singers. Does life just happen? Does the party slow down or cease to excite? Is it a conscious decision to stop being a ‘pop star’, or do you get called in and told either kindly or unkindly that your star has had its day… I think Mr Ridgely had a couple of singles on his own account, and even starred in an adaptation of the Jilly Cooper novel, Riders (one of my all-time favourite comfort reads - I didn’t watch the adaptation) but after that, I have no idea. Did he start a llama farm in Dorset? Did he get hitched and have kids? Is he kicking up his heels somewhere exotic, still living in Club Tropicana land, doomed to appear at some point in the future in the line up round of “Never Mind the Buzzcocks” (or has he already??) I tend not to read the sort of magazines that might have kept me up to date with these important matters. Neither George nor Andrew (“those nice young men” as my Granny referred to them in the early days) ever caused my teenage heart to race, but it just crossed my mind. So Andrew, if you’re out there, just let me know you’re OK, will you?

What with marzipan rabbits and the whereabouts of forgotten popstars, it’s a good job lunch was fairly straightforward. A very easy soup, and tasty soda bread. You can make up the soda bread dough while the leeks are sweating and then bake it so that the 2 (the soup and the bread) should be finished and ready at about the same time)

Leek & Cannellini Bean Soup

4 medium/large leeks
2 fat cloves of garlic
25g butter
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1.3 litres chicken stock
2 400g tins cannellini beans
Handful chopped oregano leaves
Fresh ground salt & pepper
Grated parmesan to serve

Trim the leeks, then slice lengthways, wash well and finely slice. Peel and slice the garlic cloves. 

Melt the butter in with the oil in a large pan, then add the garlic and leeks and sweat gently for about 15 minutes till very soft. 

Add in the beans, the stock the oregano and seasoning, then cook gently for another 20 minutes, before serving with grated parmesan sprinkled on top.

Guinness & Cheddar Soda Bread

100g spelt flour
150g plain white flour, plus extra for dusting
4 tsp baking powder
60g cheddar cheese, grated
150-200ml Guinness
Handful of oatmeal

Pre-heat the oven to 200C.

Mix together the flours, baking powder and grated cheese, then stir in the Guinness – start off with 150ml and add a little more if necessary to bind the dough together.

Knead the dough briefly, then form into a ball and place on a floured baking sheet.

Make a deep ‘cross’ cut into the dough, sprinkle over the oatmeal, then bake for 20-25 minutes till golden and makes a hollow sound when the bottom is tapped.

Serve with soup, and may be some cheese.



  1. you're craftier than you think…that's a sweet rabbit! Do remember talk of a Wham! reunion, but I'm pretty sure it was just talk. All I can tell you about AR is he's now bald, lives in Cornwall and surfs a lot. Don't ask how I know that...
    Great looking soup, and love soda bread - reminds me of home. I've a similar recipe using cheese and guinness. Often use cider too.

  2. I think the bunnies are brilliant and like you, I often ponder in the kitchen over music, books, films etc..... LOVE the soup and soda bread - perfect winter's fare. Karen


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