Beans with Beans

Fry a couple of tablespoons of onion (red, spring, white – any sort, even leek) in a mixture of butter and olive oil until soft.  Add some garlic, one or two cloves, and some mushrooms if you like.  Fry for a further 2-3 minutes.  Now throw in a few handfuls of green beans.  Stir, then add a glass of white wine and some salt and pepper.  Cover with a tight fitting lid and simmer for up to twenty minutes.  If the pan is going dry, add a little water.  When the green beans are tender, add a tin of flageolet beans.  Warm through, then serve garnished with spring onion or parsley.



Baked Onions

Sophie Dahl’s ‘Voluptuous Delights’ has seen me through my whole shopping list and menu this week.  I can’t understand why this book is selling for £3.99 in bargain bookshops already – it’s wonderful!  Paris Mash on Monday, Aubergine Parmigiana on Tuesday, Grilled Salmon and Baked Onions on Wednesday…a meatless delight of a week.

I’ll certainly be making these again, as they were deliciously sweet and cheap to make.  Here is the recipe, slightly adapted.

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees.

Peel four smallish onions and boil them whole for twenty minutes, or until the centres are trying to burst out.

Cut them in half and place them inside-up into an ovenproof dish.  Individual enamel dishes are perfect.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Pour over about 150g single cream and sprinkle with up to 50g parmesan or grana padano.

Bake for 25-30 minutes and serve with grilled salmon, Sunday dinner, sausages, a pork chop, anything!

Lentil Soup with Ginger and Spring Onion

The stir-fry that never happened.

Put one red onion, 2 bunches of spring onions (save just one spring onion for the garnish later), 5 peeled carrots, a 3″ piece of peeled ginger and 2 cloves of garlic into the processor.  Skoosh up until small, but not mushed.

Warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan, add the vegetables and 100g red lentils and stir for one minute.

Pour in 2.5 pints of hot vegetable stock (Marigold is fine) and a bay leaf.  Pop the lid on and cook vigorously for 30-35 minutes.  Add a little more boiling water if necessary.

Garnish with spring onion and serve.

Leek, Potato and Watercress Soup


Are the nights drawing in yet?

Wash and chop 4-5 leeks and 6 medium-sized peeled potatoes.

Sweat them slowly in a large, lidded pan with a crushed clove of garlic and a chopped onion.  About 10 minutes is fine.  Meanwhile, boil your kettle.

Now, add half a pint of milk, a pint and a half of boiling water and 4 teaspoons of Marigold vegetable stock.  Pop the lid on and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Finally, add about 60g watercress, saving a few sprigs as a garnish.  Let this steam for about two minutes before skooshing it all up with your hand blender, adding plenty of black pepper and perhaps salt. Drop a few watercress leaves over the top.

Sautéed Ginger Carrots

DSC_0009[1]It might still be 22 degrees in County Durham, but my taste buds are craving something autumnal, and carrots with ginger are it.  Let’s see if it’s so simple to make that I can write the recipe in just two sentences.

Place a tablespoonful of grated ginger, plenty of peeled carrots (cut chunkily on the diagonal), a sliced onion and – if you want – a few slices of potato into a large, lidded frying pan with a decent knob of butter, a peeled clove of garlic, salt, black pepper and a teaspoonful of dried thyme.

No water necessary:  Just clamp the lid on and cook low-low-low for 30 – 45 minutes, shaking from time to time and removing the lid for the last five minutes if you’d like your vegetables to colour.

Sprinkle with fresh thyme.

Three sentences…oh, well.


Oven-baked Ratatouille


Spurred on by the arrival of Claire-Louise’s copious courgettes, here’s an adaptation of the earlier aubergine parmigiana recipe to make delicious use of them.

1 aubergine-4 courgettes-2 red peppers-sea salt-olive oil-a large onion-3 cloves garlic-3 tins tomatoes-sugar-black pepper-balsamic vinegar-lots of fresh basil-dried oregano-200g mozzarella-100g grated parmesan- 100g gruyère

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan).

Cut your aubergine and courgettes lengthwise into thin slices.  Slice your red peppers.  Line a couple of baking trays and spread out your aubergine, courgette and pepper slices, brushing them with olive oil and sprinkling with salt.

Put the vegetables in the oven for 20 minutes until just browning.

Use a large, lidded frying pan to soften an onion and three cloves of garlic before adding three tins of tomatoes, a teaspoon of oregano and a dessertspoon of sugar.  Season with salt and pepper, then simmer (lid on) for 20 minutes.  At the end of twenty minutes, add a couple of teaspoons of balsamic vinegar.

Grease your baking dishes with olive oil.  I like to use lots of little dishes as it makes any leftovers easier to deal with.

Put a single layer of courgette into the bottom of each dish.  Sprinkle with some red pepper, fresh basil and some mozzarella slices.  Put a ladleful of tomato sauce into each dish, enough to cover the courgette.  Sprinkle with some parmesan and gruyère, mixed. Next, repeat the layering, but with the aubergine, fresh basil, mozzarella, tomato sauce and cheeses. Finish each dish with courgette and the mixed grated cheeses.

Put the dishes into the oven (180 degrees, fan oven) for about 20 minutes, until the mozzarella and parmesan/gruyère have melted.

Leave for five minutes before serving with more basil.