Chapter Five – “If it’s good, I made it; if it’s bad, you made it”

Vichi-what? Leek and Potato Soup with fried potato croutons (served 40+)

  • Butter and oil (yeah we know)
  • 25 potatoes, peeled and chopped nice and small
  • 5 leeks washed and sliced
  • 5 onions of varying sizes, “smooth cut” 
  • 6 cloves of garlic chopped and smushed
  • 3 stock cubes
  • Small carton milk
  • Salt, pepper, chilli powder, grated nutmeg 
  • Water, lots of water
  1. Sweat onions, leeks and garlic in warm oil and melted butter until soft 
  2. Add potatoes and season 
  3. Realise you have too many potatoes and decide (to Ibrahim’s delight) to turn the extras into fried potato croutons 
  4. Add stock and boiling water to cover (and more). Keep adding water
  5. Simmer whilst you…
  6. Fry finely chopped potatoes in hot oil until deep golden brown 
  7. Set potatoes aside whilst you blitz the soup until smooth, adding the milk as you go
  8. Taste, season, realise you need nutmeg (and more stock) and brave the chilly outdoors to run to the shop
  9. Stir, taste-test with everyone in the room (small children included) and add more salt
  10. Carry upstairs where you’ll serve with…

Ibrahim’s Pull-Apart Bread Rolls (made 50 rolls)

  • 2 kg flour
  • 4 sachets yeast
  • 12 spoons olive oil
  • 4 Syrian spoons salt
  • Around 1 litre water (as much as you need to form a dough)
  1. Flour, yeast, salt, split between two bowls 
  2. Realise you only have 3 sachets of yeast left and make your fourth (and penultimate) trip of the day to the shop
  3. Make a well in each and pour in oil and water 
  4. Mix to combine, and knead for five to ten minutes 
  5. Put in a warm place (or a warmish oven in a cold place) and leave to rise for one hour 
  6. After an hour, knock back the dough (that means punch the dough a bit til the air goes out. If you, like Daisy, still don’t understand, see video below)
  7. Shape into balls, bigger than golf but smaller than tennis, and arrange on two oiled trays as pictured below (make sure that balls are touching)
  8. Cover and leave to rise for 40 mins more (you might not understand how remarkable it is to have had 40 whole minutes for a second rise, but it really was)
  9. Egg wash, butter wash, milk wash, melted-garlic-butter wash, basically any dairy wash (we actually did two… That’s right a double-dairy wash: butter and then garlic butter, because everybody loves butter) and sprinkle with herbs and (in case you hadn’t got it by now) salt
  10. Bake for about half an hour or until golden and hollow to the tap
  11. Now, at this point, you need to follow our instructions very carefully. Bring the soup upstairs first, followed by one (ONE) tray of bread. It will disappear in minutes and everyone will ask for seconds but YOU HAVE TO STAND YOUR GROUND. The second wave of 20 people will come and (thanks to this nifty trick) you will have enough to fill everybody up. 

When we arrived at the Orange House this morning, one visitor had already been waiting for half an hour, worried he was going to be late for his first bread-making masterclass. After tasting Wednesday’s focaccia, Ibrahim decided he wanted to a) open a bakery-cum-bookshop-cum-cafe in Norway and b) learn to make bread. As he keeps reminding us, he has four years to work on this, as first he is going to complete a four year degree in Language and Linguistics (he already speaks five languages) (yes, the guy’s a genius). So we set about making pull-apart bread with him and Mariam, an 18 year old resident who has been with us since day one, waking up early every day to help us in the kitchen and not leaving until everything is dried and hung up on the nails we hammered into the wall last week. Today we were lucky enough to have both of them by our sides for the whole day. Well, they were less ‘by our sides’ and more leading the whole operation. Upon starting to fry the potatoes for croutons, Ibrahim quickly took over, informing us that a) the wok was a terrible idea, b) there wasn’t enough oil, and c) potatoes are his favourite food and frying his expertise. 

Whilst the potatoes were frying, the soup simmering and the bread in the oven, Sabah (Mariam’s mum and our amazing Queen of Juzmuz) popped down to the kitchen to check everything was going well, which is fast becoming a daily tradition. As she peered expectantly into the oven, Ibrahim nudged Mariam telling her “if it’s good, I made it; if it’s bad you made it”. As soon as they hit the table we were pretty sure that Ibrahim was going to take the credit! And Carolyn, another volunteer, confirmed our suspicions when she looked up from her bowl and said “You know it’s good when the room falls silent”. And it’s true, the Orange House is always abuzz with chatter, bustle and laughter but had you walked in at lunchtime today, you would’ve been forgiven for thinking it was a place of calm and quiet. 

Washing up out of the way, sink unblocked for the fourth time (we’ve got it down to a fine art), we got back to work on our second OH project: the kitchen mural. We now have the trunk and branches, drawn and painted by some very talented OH artists, and tomorrow we will add the first of the leaves to our very own Orange House orange tree. Watch this space… 










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