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: Cilento ciambotta

Here’s a great recipe for using up the vegetables you have left in your fridge. Plus, it’s one of those that kind of works for all seasons, whether frosty Winter or a breezy Summer evening.

You’ll need:

  • 1 aubergine, cut into cubes
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Oil, for frying
  • 1tsp tomato pureé
  • 1tsp sundried tomato paste (optional)
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 courgettes / zucchini, cut into coins
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • Handful of new potatoes, cut into pieces (I used purple potatoes)
  • Handful of good black olives
  • Splash of good red wine
  • 1tbs chilli flakes
  • Handful of fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1tsp dried rosemary
  • 1tsp dried basil
  • 1tsp dried thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Salt & Pepper

 

Start by chopping the aubergine into pieces and place them in to a colander (over a bowl). Sprinkle salt over them and wait until it starts extracting it’s juices (this stops it becoming bitter). This should take 30 minutes or so.

While this is doing, in a Dutch Oven, fry the onions and garlic on a medium heat until they turn translucent. Then add in the tomato pureé & paste and fry until it’s cooked out. Next add in the tin of chopped tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. Cook for 10 minutes. Now is probably time to check on the aubergine.

Once the juice has been extracted from the aubergine, Rinse with some water, and add into the pot, along with the courgette, olives and herbs. Top up with some good red wine and stir. Season with salt & black pepper, not forgetting the aubergines might still be a little salty.

Place into a pre-heated oven at 140°C, for 50 minutes. In this time the wizard that is the Dutch oven/ cast-iron casserole will do it’s magic and meld everything together. After 50 minutes is up, take the lid off and check if the potatoes are done, by pricking them with a fork. They should be, as cutting them into small pieces, shortens their cooking time, however, if not, place back in the oven for a further 10-15 minutes.

Serve, with a good drink and a nice loaf of bread

Enjoy!

 

Food: Umami rice balls

So, recently I felt like absolute death and didn’t fancy cooking anything elaborate. But during a window of not feeling quite as bad I rattled together this little beauty with leftover rice.

You’ll need:

  • 300-500g of leftover cooked rice,
  • 1 medium onion, chopped,
  • A handful of spring greens,
  • 3-4 mushrooms,
  • 1 tsp tomato pureé,
  • 1 tbsp Suma mushroom pâté,
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary,
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs,
  • 2-3 aubergines slices (in oil), chopped,
  • Salt for sprinkling (I used Saltverk Birch smoked salt)

For the Tomato umami drizzle:

  • 1tbs Kecap manis
  • 1tsp tomato pureé
  • 1tbs tomato ketchup
  • Splash of water to thin

For the Rosemary, garlic & smoked paprika mayo:

  • 4tbs vegan mayo
  • 1tbs Pimentón
  • 1tsp dried Rosemary, ground
  • 2tsp garlic infused oil
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (fan) and chop all the ingredients that need chopping. Fry the onion lightly in a little oil until soft, add the mushrooms and spring greens and continue to fry gently until they’ve softened down. Add the tomato puree and the pate and stir through.

In a big bowl stir all of the ingredients including the herbs into the rice and bring together with your hands into balls (roughly tennis ball sized). Place the balls onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and bake in the oven until they’re crispy on the outside for 15 to 20 minutes.

Whilst they are in the oven, mix together the ingredients for the umami drizzle & the punchy mayo in bowls. Take the balls out of the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes. To serve, place in a bowl/ plate and cover them with the drizzle, sprinkle them with salt and serve the mayo on the side.

Enjoy!

 

Food: Whole roasted Levantine spiced rutabaga

Inspired by perusing the NOPI cookbook by Ramael Scully and Yotam Ottolenghi, I came across their recipe for ‘whole roasted celeriac’. This is my interpretation of that kind of dish using a rutabaga.

 

You’ll need:

  • 1 peeled rutabaga (Swede, Swedish turnip)
  • 2tbs gram flour, sifted
  • 1tsp sumac
  • 1tsp tomato pureé
  • 1tbs Lakrids salted liquorice syrup, liquorice powder will also work
  • 1tsp dried parsley
  • Zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Splash of rosewater
  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • Oil, for frying
  • Salt & Pepper

 

For the pistachio pickled apricots:

  • 5 apricots, halved
  • 1tbs Maille white balsamic vinegar with pistachio nut flavour
  • 1tbs cider vinegar
  • Splash of water

 

Start by placing a baking dish with a layer of flavourless oil into the oven at its hottest setting. Then, boil the rutabaga for 15 minutes in a big pan of salted water.  Whilst it’s boiling you can start making the spice crust. In a bowl combine all the ingredients until they make a sticky, aromatic paste. When the rutabaga is sufficiently boiled, take it out and pat it dry with some kitchen towel/tea towel. Now cover the vegetable in the spicy mixture. Take the baking tray out of the oven and place the covered root vegetable in the oil, so it starts sizzling. Be careful the oil doesn’t spit onto you!

Place back in the oven and turn the heat down to 180°C. Cook for a further 30-40 minutes, taking it out at regular intervals to turn the rutabaga. Once it’s had its 40 minutes, take out and place a skewer through the middle, If it goes in without much resistance, then you know it’s done, if not, place back in the oven for a further 10 minutes.

If you’re going to make the pickled apricots, I’d do them the night before, so they have time to soak up the pickle. Simply fill up a small dish with the vinegars, place the apricot halves in and top up with a splash of water.

I’d recommend serving this with a great big bowl of fluffy couscous, the pickled apricot halves, tomato wedges and chopped coriander & walnuts.

 

Enjoy!

Food: Roasted Vegetable Fusilli

Here’s a simple recipe you can knock up with very little effort in around 30 minutes! I used courgette, tomatoes and pepper, but feel free to use any Mediterranean veg you can get your hands on. Aubergine would be great, but if using aubergine, remember to salt & wash it first!

You’ll need:

  • Handful of cherry tomatoes,
  • 1 Courgette, sliced
  • 1 Pointed pepper, deseeded & sliced
  • 1tbs Balsamic vinegar
  • 1tbs olive oil
  • Handful of basil, ripped
  • Salt & pepper
  • 100g Fusilli pasta (per person)

Turn your oven on to 140°C and let it come up to speed. Whilst this is doing, in a roasting tray, add the chopped veg, oil, balsamic vinegar and salt. Toss it around until the sweet, oily, vinegary mixture has coated each vegetable piece. Place in the oven and leave for 20 minutes, only checking halfway through. This is the time you can get on with the pasta.

Weigh 100g of pasta per person, I used 200g as it’s for myself and my partner, Tom. Boil around 1 litre of water in a kettle. Once boiled, add the water to the pan and salt liberally. Nigella famously said (albeit it a Anna Del Conte quote 😉 ) that the water should be as salty as the Med Sea. Add the pasta and cook until al-dente.

Once done, drain and add back to the pan. The roasted vegetables should be ready by now. Take them out of the oven and stir through the pasta. Add in around half of the ripped basil and stir again. It is now ready to serve.

Add to a bowl and finish with a crack or two of black pepper and the other half of the basil.

I paired this rustic yet tasty evening meal with half a loaf of focaccia I had got from Wright’s Food Emporium (an amazing bistro/deli in Llanartne, Wales.) and a chilled Peroni doppio malto.  They paired beautifully with the pasta!

Buon appetito!

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.