Food: Posh beans on toast

Here’s a way to up-level the almost cliché of budget meals, for Brits at least; beans on toast. My way to  have a gourmet dinner after a long day of work.

To make, you’ll need:

  • 1 tin of baked beans in tomato sauce
  • 1 tin/ carton of butterbeans
  • 2tbs tomato purée
  • 1tbs sundried tomato paste (optional)
  • 1tbs dried rosemary
  • 1tsp chipotle chilli powder
  • 1tbs smoked paprika
  • 2tsp garlic infused oil
  • Splash of liquid smoke
  • Sprinkle of smoked salt (optional), (I used Falk smoked salt flakes)

For the toast:

  • Any bread really, but I’d recommend a nice crusty sourdough
  • Vegan butter

The recipe couldn’t be any easier, start by heating your pan on the hob on medium. I’d recommend putting the oven on around the same time, to a temperature of 180°C.  You could do the whole dish on the hob, but if you’re using a cast iron Dutch oven, like myself then I advise you should finish them in the oven. As I’m using tinned butterbeans, they can have a strange aftertaste to them and by putting them in the oven to finish, removes that taste and also concentrates the sauce to make a more gourmet dish.

Once the pan is heated up add in your baked beans, just as you would if you were making conventional ‘beans on toast’ and add in the tomato purée, paste and the array of spices. Stir and leave the spices a couple of minutes to cook-out into the tomato sauce. During this time, you should open and drain the butterbeans, but crucially don’t throw the liquid, or aquafaba away- you can use it to thicken up sauces, soups etc.

Add in the drained beans and stir them through the sauce. Leave for a minute or two on the hob before placing the pan in the oven. Place them on a timer for 8 minutes. Whilst the beans are doing their thing in the oven, get the toast ready and buttered. When it’s time to take the beans out, stir throughly and serve. Finish with a sprinkle of smoked salt.  I’d recommend pairing the hearty dish with an equally robust IPA.

Feel free to be creative with this recipe, why not add in a pinch of onion powder, a spoonful of mustard or even a splash of beer, the possibilities are endless!

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Food: Smoky chickpea and lentil stew

Here’s a dead simple recipe for a store cupboard vegan alternative to regular stew. The secret ingredient to this (and many other) recipes is time – just allowing it to simmer away and work its magic at a low temperature in the oven.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 red onion, chopped finely,

  • 1-2 cloves of garlic,

  • 1tbp of oil (vegetable)

  • 1 tin of chickpeas,

  • 1 tin of butter beans,

  • 150g of red lentils,

  • 200ml of water,

  • 1 tin of tomatoes,

  • 1tbp tomato puree,

  • 1tbp sundried tomato paste,

  • 1tsp dried cumin,

  • 1tsp pimentón,

  • 1tsp chipotle chilli powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon,

  • ½ tsp chili flakes,

  • 3-4 drops of liquid smoke,

  • Small handful of fresh coriander,

  • Small handful of fresh parsley,

 

To serve:

  • Small handful of fresh coriander or parsley,

  • 1 generous dollop of Oatly fraîche,

  • Lots of nice, crispy fresh bread.

 

Method:

 

Chop the onion and the garlic finely and soften in a little oil in a suitably sized Dutch oven. When they’re soft add the tomato puree and allow that to suck up all the extra oil. Add in the chickpeas and the tomatoes, sundried tomato paste, stir and season with salt and black pepper. Add in the lentils and some of the water for now. Season the stew with the rest of the dry spices and give it a good stir. Let the mixture come up to simmering point and then stir in the fresh herbs and the drops of liquid smoke. The lentils should have absorbed some of the water by this point so top it up and place in a preheated oven at 140°C. Allow it to cook for at least forty minutes before checking. Take it out and give it a good stir, give it a bit more water if it’s looking dry. At this stage you’ll need to give it another half an hour at least to let the lentils truly lose their bite and become soft. Keep stirring and checking until it’s the consistency you want. The longer you leave it the better it’ll be, I promise!

When it’s done serve with the chopped herbs, a dollop of Oatly fraiche and a mountain of good bread. It’s the perfect summer stew!

Food: Kale & walnut pesto

Here’s a fuss free recipe for a fresh pesto that’s incredibly flavoursome and an interesting twist on a traditional pesto.

I had some basil left in the fridge, so I added that, but it’s purely optional because the kale & walnut can stand on their own with out it. It’s easy to make a big batch up and freeze, so you constantly have a supply of tasty pesto, that’s also vegan friendly too, as an added bonus!

 

You’ll need:

  •  1/2 bag of kale (roughly 100g)
  • Handful of walnuts (roughly 20g), chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 (heaped)tbs Nooch (Nutritional yeast)
  • 100ml cold-pressed rapeseed oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Handful of basil, chopped (optional)

 

Start by blanching the kale, as it can be a bit tough on blenders. Keep your eye on it though, as it you want it still vibrant green and full of its nutrients. Once its done, drain and set aside. Place the walnuts into a pan on a medium heat and toast them until they release their nutty aroma and burnish. Another one to keep an eye on as they can scorch easily. Again, once done, set aside.

Here’s where the fun part comes in!

Traditionally, in Italy, they would use a pestle and mortar to make pesto, laboriously grinding the leaves and nuts, until they form into a tasty green sauce.

Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Yes, it would be idillic if we could, but in our time stressed lives, we need food that’s quick and easy to prepare! All of this hard work can be done in a jiffy with a food processor.

Plug it in, and start by adding the ingredients, minus the oil. Place the lid on and whizz until they form a green mixture. As it’s whizzing, trickle the oil bit by bit to the sauce. Remember to stop half way, scrape the sides down with a spatula and go again, this will ensure a smoother, more even pesto.

A couple more whizzes and your done!

Use like you would pre-made pesto, on pasta, as a marinade etc.

 

Enjoy!

Food: My tomato soup

Nothing is more classic than a tomato soup, often one of the recipes you’ll start with when learning to cook, it’s even been immortalised by the likes of Warhol. This is mine. My recipe for a soup that is comforting and luxuriously silky, but simple to make and cheap on the wallet!

you’ll need:

  • A handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 (heaped) tbs of sundried tomato paste
  • 1tbs of dried oregano
  • 1ltr of water
  • Vegetable stock pot
  • Handful of fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 Bay leaves (fresh or dried)
  • Glug of Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

To serve:

  • A swirl of cream- Vegan or Dairy, you decide! ( I use Oatly)

Start by roasting the cherry tomatoes, in a dish covered with foil. A sprinkle of salt & a glug of oil is all they need. Cook for about 20 mins with foil on & for 10-15 mins with the foil off.

Fry an onion & 2 the minced cloves of garlic until translucent, then add in a big tablespoon of sundried tomato paste, a tbs of dried oregano and two tins of chopped tomatoes.

Fill up a tin with water and add to the mix, getting out all the tomatoey goodness.

Add a vegetable stock pot and some freshly chopped basil and a couple of fresh/dried bay leaves. Season & stir.

Cook low & slow for up to 2 hours (this is in my Le Creuset Dutch Oven in at 140°C-  for Slow cookers, I’d try it possibly for a bit longer as the heat isn’t as harsh – but I’d add in a bit more water to stop it drying out.

Once it’s finished doing its magical thing fish out the bay leaves, pour into a mixing bowl and whizz the soup up with a stick blender until it’s velvety & smooth.

Fill up a bowl, drizzle with some cream & enjoy!

I served mine with a great beer from Omission, which also happens to be gluten-free for those with Coeliacs/ Gluten Intolerance.

Food: Armenian stuffed peppers (Dolma)

Having bought loads of peppers on double discount at work last week I had quite a few left to use up. What perfect way than with some stuffed peppers!

I had made a vegan version of Armenian peppers previously, for my Eurovision party- and it was a resounding success. This was surely the way forward.

The finished dish ends up feeding 2-3 people  (we were very full afterwards!)

To make you’ll need:

  • 5-6 medium/large red bell peppers, charred

For the filling:

  • 80g of cooked rice (per person)
  • 1/2 fried courgette, chopped finely  (I used some from an antipasti jar to save time)
  • 2 Lombardi peppers, chopped finely
  • 1 tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • Handful of fresh parsley, chopped

For the mince:

  • 100g green lentils
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped,
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1tbs tomato purée
  • 1tbs sun dried tomato paste,
  • 1tbs dried parsley
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1-2 cups of water
  • 1tsp bouillon
  • 1 cup red wine

For the sauce:

  • 1 carton/ jar of passata
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • A glug of olive oil
  • 1 (Heaped) tbs of pepper paste

Soy garlic yogurt mix

  • 2-3 tbs of soy yogurt (I used Alpro Go On. Which is a thicker Quark style yogurt)
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tsp garlic infused oil
  • A sprinkle of smoked paprika – to garnish

Start by making the mince.

I’d recommend doing this in advance so you have a batch ready for you to use.  We usually have big batches of lentil mince  in the freezer that Tom cooks up whilst I’m in work on a Sunday. It’s so versatile (if you remove the cayenne and mixed spice) and can be made into all manner of creations from pies, ragù, Chilli- you name it!

This batch i’ve included the extra spices as I knew this batch was only for making dolma.

In a small cast iron pot fry the chopped onion and garlic until soft. Add the paste and the purée and heat through. Pour in the lentils and stir until thoroughly coated with the sauce. Add the herbs, spice and bouillon with lots of freshly cracked black pepper. Cover with the water and put the lid on. Simmer for at last forty minutes, an hour won’t hurt – this will allow the lentils to truly swell and soak up all the liquid.

After an hour the mixture should be rich and just about ready. Stir in the wine until the mixture reconstitutes itself – allow to cook through for another twenty minutes until the wine has cooked out. Leave aside to cool slightly, or store overnight/ freeze*

*If using thawed/chilled mince, I’d recommend heating it through before stuffing.

Once your mince is ready the rest is simple and fairly quick to make!

When you’d like to make the dolma, simply put each pepper over an open flame ( I used my gas hob) until it begins to bubble and blacken. Once burnished and black, take off and leave to cool down.

PS: Be careful around open flames! The amount of times the pepper (now a ball of fire) fell off the ring- and I was wearing oven gloves!

As they are cooling I’d recommend cooking the other components.

Cook the rice as you would normally, remembering to cook slightly less than usual as you are stuffing it with a rice mixture rather than serving it with rice. Whilst it’s cooking start the sauce.

Heat up a saucepan and fry off the garlic with the olive oil until translucent. Next, add in the pepper paste and cook for another minute. Then add in the passata and let it simmer until the flavours start developing.

The rice should be done by this point. Set aside and leave to cool.

Return to the peppers and de-core & de seed them, making sure that you cut them close to the top so that you have a vessel to fill. Remember to keep the tops, though.

Grab the mince, empty it into a mixing bowl and combine it with the rice. Then, add in the lemon juice & zest, chopped peppers, courgette and parsley. season well.

Then pour the sauce into a baking dish and sit the peppers in the tomatoey-peppery bath. Fill the peppers up to the brim  with this aromatic mixture and re-hat them with their tops. Place into a preheated oven at 180°C for 10-15 minutes.

Once they are in the oven, you can make the topping. Combine all ingredients together, (except the paprika) until it becomes thick & glossy.

Take the peppers out of the oven and de-hat them once again ( no fear they’ll have their hats back on soon enough!) and smother with the  lemony-garlic yogurt. Top with the smoky, fiery paprika and return the tops on (see, I told you 😉 ). Serve with a side salad or on their own

Enjoy!

Food: Creamy aubergine pesto pasta

I had an extra aubergine in my fridge and I didn’t know what to do with it – well this a perfect for a midweek evening meal!

Feeds 2/3

To make you’ll need:

For the pesto:

  • A big handful of spinach
  • A handful of watercress
  • A handful of basil
  • 20g blanched almonds
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 10g nutritional yest, ground
  • Some Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

For the dish:

  • 1 aubergine
  • 4 tbs of the pesto
  • 180g dried tagliatelle
  • 1tbs dried rosemary
  • Handful of wild rocket
  • Juice & zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of Vegan cream cheese- I used Oatly
  • Splash of Non-dairy milk- I used Oatly
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1tbs garlic infused oil

 

To start, all you have to do is blend up the leaves, nuts and garlic with a stick blender until smooth. Pour in the oil bit by bit until it’s a runny paste and then set aside. Next, add the nutritional yeast and season with salt & pepper then blend again. Done!

Prepare the aubergine by cutting it into coins and place them into a colander over a bowl. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and leave for 30 minutes until the juices have extracted. When this happens, pat them down with a wet cloth, sprinkle them with the rosemary and place on a chopping board. Chop the coins of aubergine into thick strips. Once this is done you can start cooking.

Set a shallow pan on a low heat with a glug of garlic oil. When the pan heats up, add in the aubergine and fry until it starts to soften. When this happens, squeeze the juice of half a lemon in and place the lid on for it to steam in the juices. Leave the lid on for a good 6-7 minutes or so. This is the time you can start the pasta. Cook the pasta in a pot of salted & oiled boiling water until sufficiently ‘al-dente’.

When you’re ready to take the lid off, the aubergine should be soft and the skin should have become a bright fuchsia. Now add in the pesto and allow it to cook down. Splash in some oat milk and a generous nob of cream cheese. Drain the pasta and stir through with a big handful of wild rocket. Make sure the sauce clings to everything – the heat of the dish will wake the rocket up. Heap into bowls and season with freshly ground black pepper.

I served mine with a large, crisp glass of white.

Buon Appetito!

 

Food: Harissa carrot tagine

Here’s an easy recipe for a Moroccan carrot & chickpea tagine. This could not be simpler to make. Feeds 3-4.

You’ll need:

  • 1 large brown onion, chopped finely
  • Large glug of olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 5 medium carrots, chopped & peeled
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tin of chickpeas, drained
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1tbs agave nectar
  • 1tbs harissa paste
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 125ml water
  • Handful of sultanas
  • 1 (heaped) tsp sundried tomato paste
  • Salt & pepper

To garnish:

  • Handful of coriander, chopped

 

To start, add the oil to a shallow pan with a lid and bring to a low heat. Next, add the chopped onion and garlic and fry off until soft and translucent.Once done, you can add the carrots, agave and spices. I’d recommend you chop the carrots so that they are ‘rollcut’- which means that you chop on the diagonal and rotate as you chop, this will give the carrots more surface area to suck up the spicy sauce and give an interesting presentation.

To the pan, add in the harissa paste and sundried tomato paste and turn the heat up to medium. Cook out for roughly 1-2 minutes. Once cooked, add in the chopped tomatoes and the drained can of chickpeas. Don’t throw away the chickpea water though, as this can be used as an eggwhite substitute for so many recipes!

Next add in the lemon juice, 125ml of water and the sultanas and stir until everything has melded together. Season with plenty of salt & pepper. Next, you have to let it do its thing. So, turn the heat down on the hob to its lowest setting and put the lid on. Leave on the hob for at least 10 minutes. While it’s cooking away slowly on the hob I’d recommend putting on the oven to a low 140°C. Once up to speed, transfer from the hob to the oven. Now, you can put your feet up as it needs to be in there for at least 2, preferably 3 hours!

In the meantime the kitchen will slowly fill with a lovely North African aroma 😉

Once the time is up, take out of the oven and add in a splash more of water and stir, just to reconstitute everything. Before you will be a rich & hearty tagine. Garnish with a big sprinkle of chopped coriander and it’s ready to serve.

 

We served ours with a mountain of fluffy couscous and some sweet mint tea.

Enjoy!