Bell Pepper Soup with Grains of Paradise

The first time we read about Grains of Paradise (or Melegueta Pepper) was when we prepared Sauce Cameline. The grains are common to the North and West African cuisine and were brought to Europe in the thirteenth century. According to some as a cheap substitute for black pepper. Recently we were fortunate to buy them and now we are impressed by their flavour: spicy, citrus and a touch of vanilla. When used in a stew it becomes less pungent. They gave a delicious and complex boost to the redd bell pepper soup.

Grains of Paradise are used to give flavour to craft beers, especially dark, seasonal beers. It can be a component of Has el Ranout. American chef Alton Brown uses Grains of Paradise in a stew with Okra and Tomatoes, in Apple Pie and in Lentil Soup.

For some reason it’s crucial to combine grains of paradise and lemon juice, As if the acidity amplifies the flavour of the grains?

What You Need

  • 2 Red Bell Peppers (or 1 Red and 1 Orange)
  • Shallot
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 5 cm Carrot
  • 10 cm Celery Stalk
  • 250 ml Vegetable Stock
  • 5 cm of Fresh Rosemary
  • ¼ teaspoon of Grains of Paradise
  • Lemon Juice
  • Crème Fraîche
  • Olive Oil

What You Do

Clean the bell peppers and cut in 4. Transfer to the oven and grill or roast for 10 minutes or until well charred. When still hot, put the bell peppers in a plastic container and close it. After one hour it’s easy to remove the skin of the bell pepper. Chop and set aside.
Chop the shallot, the garlic, the celery and the carrot. Add olive oil to a pot and add the shallot. Glaze. Add the carrot, the celery and the garlic. Leave on low heat for a few minutes. Add the bell pepper. After a few minutes add the stock, the rosemary and the crushed grains of paradise. Leave on low heat for one hour. Remove the rosemary. Use a blender to make a smooth soup. Pass through a sieve. Taste the soup and decide if you want to add some extra grain of paradise. Leave the soup on low heat for 30 minutes. Just before serving add one or two teaspoons of fresh lemon juice, depending on the flavour and your taste. The soup should be smokey, aromatic, a touch spicy and refreshing. You could add more crushed grains of paradise, that will make the soup spicier. Make a swirl with crème fraîche an serve.

Red Bell Pepper Soup ©cadwu
Red Bell Pepper Soup ©cadwu

Deviled Eggs with a Twist

Easy to make, tasty, and most people love them. You only need a few simple ingredients such as hard boiled (organic) eggs, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, vinegar (or lemon juice) and black pepper. Sprinkle some paprika on top and they’re ready.

Alas, we’re not huge fans of paprika. Why would you ruin lovely ingredients like egg, mayonnaise and mustard by adding a spice that is at best a touch sweet and in most cases bland?

Paprika (powder) is made from dried red peppers and probably originates from Mexico. When it was brought to Europe, local versions were created, for instance a hot Hungarian version (essential when making goulash) and a smoked Spanish version (pimentón, key ingredient of chorizo and paella). Local peppers were used, including red bell pepper, and the flavours ranged from mild and sweet to hot. By the way, the term ‘deviled’ refers to the spiciness of the dish.
Unfortunately, nowadays factory produced paprika seems to be used for its red colour only.

We combine a bit of everything by adding roasted bell pepper. It adds depths, smokiness, complexity and flavour.

What You Need

  • 6 organic Eggs
  • Mayonnaise
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Lemon Juice
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Black Pepper
  • Parsley (optional)

What You Do

Grill the bell pepper in your oven until nicely burned, perhaps 10 minutes. Transfer to a plastic container and close the lid. Wait a few hours before peeling the bell pepper. Use a sharp knife to mash the bell pepper. It’s fine if the mash has a bit of structure.
Boil the eggs and let cool. Slice the eggs lengthwise, remove the yolk. Use a fork to crumble the yolks (mimosa) and then combine with mayonnaise, mustard and mashed bell pepper. Add lemon juice and black pepper to taste. Remember the stuffing should be ‘devilish’. Add mixture to the egg whites. Decorating with parsley gives an extra twist to the deviled eggs.

Deviled Eggs ©cadwu
Deviled Eggs ©cadwu