Thursday, December 27, 2007


I confess I am addicted to soup. I must be as I made some this evening on a warm late December day, so totally not suited to consuming soup!!!!!!

I think this is the one area of divergence that my husband and I encounter when it comes to food. (Actually there's also the fact that he happily eats black pudding and liver, neither of which I will go near!) He's just not as enamoured as I am with soup, which is quite a shame for him as when winter is well and truly here it features on the menu ALL the time!!!

I am not sure what it is about soup that draws me to it so much. I love every form of it, thick creamy types, clear broth types, spicy asian types, it really doesn't matter, to me it is heaven in a bowl!

My motivatiion for making tonights creation was having two big bones left over from Christmas day, which I further roasted after all the meat had been taken off and stowed away in the fridge with the intention of making something more with it. The lamb legs both had shank ends on them which I had cut off and popped in the freezer, and the recipe I found needed exactly 2 so I was set to go!

I trawled the internet for broth type recipes, knowing that lamb and barley broth was probably what I was aiming for. I found the perfect recipe by Jill Dupleix, who I am growing to really like, her style just seems to strike a chord with me. I think she has a simple, unfussy approach, big on flavour, small on effort. A woman after my own heart! I can feel some serious research needed to decide which book of hers I might like to purchase!!!!!

This is easy peasy yet again but magnificent in flavour. I substituted the cabbage with celery as that was what I had in my fridge and it was so delicious I think I will stick with that adaptation! My husband even pronounced it "divine". Success!
I have carefully portioned it up to go in the freezer to take out when I feel like indulging myself with no effort required!

100g pearl barley
2 lamb shanks or 750g neck or shoulder of lamb, cut into large chunks
2.5 litres cold water
1 tsp salt
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 leeks, chopped
300g swedes, peeled and diced
300g carrots, peeled and diced
200g savoy cabbage, finely shredded
2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped

Chef: Jill Dupleix Source: The Sydney Morning Herald Tuesday May 18, 2004 French, 45 mins plus, Dairy free, Nut free, Egg free, Soup

This isn't so much a soup as a meal. Long, slow cooking brings out the flavours.

Combine the barley, lamb, water and salt in a large pot. Bring slowly to the boil, skimming off the froth that rises to the surface. Cover and simmer gently for one hour.
Add the onion, leeks, swedes and carrots and simmer for a further hour. Add the shredded cabbage and cook for 10 minutes or until tender.
Remove the lamb and finely shred the meat, discarding bones.
Return the meat to the broth, heat through and season to taste.
To serve
Serve hot, scattered with parsley.
Serves 6.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Day 2007

Hard to believe it is all over for another year! After lots of careful planning expecting there to be no left overs I still have a bursting fridge! How did I manage that!!!!! I will keep comments to a minimum for this post and let the photos speak for themselves! I apologise in advance for the crap formatting in this post, I just couldn't seem to get the photos to sit with the text like I wanted to!!!!
We had a thoroughly enjoyable day....with a few hiccups food wise, see my comments further down!
We started with canapes- hot smoked salmon with blinis (made the long winded way with yeast, don't know if I would do that again!),
caper mayo, red onion and chopped egg, smoked turkey breast with cranberry and creme fraiche, sundried tomato pesto palmiers,

Chilli prawns (made with Jessica's fab chilli and soy paste, they were a real hit!) with lime and saffron mayo, roasted red pepper and feta cream bruschetta.

Here's the lamb, before and after BBQing, I got given to lovely legs of lamb from my brother in law (fresh off the farm!!!) and I was so excited about making this as I had never attempted anything like it before. I used Jill Dupleix's Slashed Lamb recipe where you slash it to the bone, fill the gaps with a gorgeous stuffing of breadcrumbs, lemon zest, garlic, parsley, anchovies, capers and olive oil then truss it all up and roast it. I thought I would be clever and do it on the hooded bbq, to save room in my oven. Well, it cocked it up and I didnt get the hang of the temperature with the BBQ! I needed to get it served by a certain time as my brother is a shift worker and needed to leave at 8pm to get to work (poor bugger!!) so I was anxious to get it done and in my rush, it was completely raw in the middle!!!! As my mother carved it, I thought the best thing to do was to take the pieces and pop them on the bbq as all the other veges and potatoes were going cold!!!!! OH DEAR, luckily I had had enough to drink by then to not completely lose the plot!
It ended up tasting ok, but was nowhere near as impressive as I had hoped it would be!
One of the fun parts of hosting dinner was decorating the tables. We separated out the kids and the adults, so that I could theme the tables differently! The kids got paper plates and cups and Spongebob crackers, while the adults got something a little more restrained!

Dessert turned out really well, the adults had the tasting platters of pineapple sushi, rhubarb crumble icecream, strawberry sorbet and raspberry chardonnay jelly, while the kids had the jelly and icecream only.

To finish we had the chocolate fruit cake and some port, the cake was outstanding, moist and rich and yummy. That is a definite keeper recipe!!!!!
Finally, my mother felt it only fitting that after all this there should be a photo of me in the kitchen, so here I am! (surrounded by mess, how unusual!)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Cheer

Phew! Christmas Eve already and I think I am on track to getting everything done. It has been ridiculously busy here but I wouldnt have it any other way! I am now onto the decorating tasks for the Christmas table which feels like the home straight.

I heaved a sigh of relief on Saturday as I gave out the last of my Christmas goodie bags, they have been great fun, but so much work! It took as much effort packaging them all as making them, my good friend Nicki proclaimed me mental when she saw the contents of hers, and I am now on reflection inclined to agree! I do get a great deal of pleasure from doing it all and giving it away so would still do it again, just maybe not in the quantities I did this year!

We had a fabulous dinner with friends the other night. Kyle brought his smoker around to show me how to hot smoke salmon (which I have on the menu for Christmas day) so I decided that would be a great dinner too. It was easy peasy and so delicious, I may have to invest in a smoker too. For this one we put salt and brown sugar on the fish and let it sit for about half an hour before putting it in to smoke. You scatter your preferred smoking material on the bottom of the smoker-we used manuka shavings kindly supplied by my brother in law but I have since seen all sorts of variations on this, including tea. This smoker uses meths so you fill that up and light it, putting it under the box. Fortuitously the amount of time it took for the burner to run out was the exact cooking time needed so that worked out great.

Here are a few photos of our revellry, as usual Kyle provided plenty of entertainment. Kyle has a reputation for being entertaining, so much so that when he came to dinner one night after a very hard night drinking and was uncharacteristically quiet, Richard announced he wanted a refund as the entertainment had failed to deliver! Poor Kyle!

Kyle, Richard, Wendy and Glen
DJ Kyle!

As I was making the icecreams for Christmas I made extra for dessert. I decided I would make Nigella's pomegranate icecream from Nigella Express: 130 Recipes for Good Food, Fast and Delias Rhubarb Crumble icecream from Delia Smith's Summer Collection: 140 Recipes for Summer . I had seen on an internet clip the icecream being made with pomegranate juice instead of fresh pomegranates (which are $7ea!!!) so thought I would do it that way. It turns out the juice I bought for a ridiculous price was weak as cats piss and went nowhere in the icecream, flavour or colour wise. Panic time as I wondered what I could do to rectify it! I decided to heat some dried cranberries up in some water and added those to it, which worked very well, gave some pink and texture to it. The recipe is a no churn one, which is fantastic and I would definitely use it again as it was so easy. I served it with some extra roast rhubarb left over from the other icecream I made, which I will post about after Christmas, it needs its own devoted space it is so awesome! The rhubarb was roasted with sugar and a little lemon juice and was the perfect tart foil for the rich creamy icecream.

No-churn pomegranate ice cream (with fresh pomegranates)
2 pomegranates
• 1 lime
• 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
• 2 cups heavy cream

No-churn pomegranate ice cream (with pomegranate juice)
• 3/4 cup of pomegranate juice (Pom)
• 1 lime
• 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
• 2 cups heavy cream

Fresh pomegranates
Juice the pomegranates and the lime, straining the juices into a bowl. You will have approximately ¾ cup of pomegranate juice. Reserve the pomegranate seeds for garnish.
Add the powdered sugar and whisk to dissolve.
Whisk in the cream and keep whisking until soft peaks form in the pale pink cream.
Spoon and smooth the ice cream into a rigid plastic container with a tight-fitting lid and freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight. Scatter with pomegranate seeds when you eat it.

Pomegranate juice
Use three quarters of a cup Pom and a quarter cup of lime juice. Add the powdered sugar and whisk to dissolve.
Whisk in the cream and keep whisking until soft peaks form in the pale pink cream.
Spoon and smooth the ice cream into a rigid plastic container with a tight-fitting lid and freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight. Scatter with pomegranate seeds when you eat it.

I am sure there will be a flurry of posting after Christmas to record all the other things I have been making and storing up photos for!

Friday, December 21, 2007

More home made treats

I got a lovely big bag of lemons from a friend which needed using immediately so thought I would make a big batch of lemon curd to add to my Christmas goodie baskets. The recipe I now use is a microwave one, which means it doesn't keep as long, but who keeps lemon curd for any length of time anyway, I know as soon as its opened the jar is emptied in lightning speed time! This recipe saves the whole stirring over a pot of boiling water thing (another thing I hate, but have to do it for hollandaise, still trying to work out a way of circumventing that!!) Its the addition of cornflour that makes it easy, not very purist I know, but failsafe and yummy....I am all for that!
The recipe is by Simon Holst and is actually for passionfruit curd, which I always make when passionfruit are plentiful, and just up the quantity of lemon juice for the plain lemon version. I also put lemon zest in, I love lots but you can do it to your own tastes, but don't leave it out as it truly makes it! I quadrupled this recipe and put in 1½ cups of lemon juice and the zest from about eight lemons! This quantity netted me 7 cups of curd!
Simon Holsts Passionfruit Curd

75g butter
1 c sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
2 eggs
½c passionfruit pulp
1/4 c lemon juice
lemon zest

Melt butter in microwave. Stir in sugar and cornflour. Add eggs and beat until well mixed but not frothy. Stir in passionfruit, lemon juice and zest. Mix well and microwave on high in 1 minute bursts. All up it should take about 4-6 minutes to be lovely and thick and ready to bottle. Pop into sterilised jars and store in the fridge.

While I was dealing with lemons I decided to finish off the preserved lemons I had made and were lurking in a dark cupboard. I fetched them out of their big jar and got rid of the flesh (which gets discarded when you use them anyway!) and bottled them with some olive oil, also to give away (have kept one for myself though!). This stuff is gorgeous chopped up and stirred through couscous, or mixed into yoghurt with mint as an accompaniment for fish and chicken. I love it! I got the recipe from Stephanie Alexanders lovely weighty book The Cook's Companionand was so surprised at how easy they were to do. I will definitely be doing them again once I have worked through my current supply.
Another thing I have had brewing for the last few months is some coffee liqueur. I got this recipe again from Violets pantry, this time from the lovely Het. As soon as I gathered the ingredients together for it I knew it was going to be a winner and what do you know, it IS! I have added some more sugar syrup to it to calm it down a little as it is KICKING! I found some cute little bottles for it and in total (with the addition of about 1½ cups of sugar syrup) it made 2 litres. Which makes it reasonably cost effective if you can get ok priced vanilla pods and Vodka on special (my mother always gets me some duty free!!). Use a decent vodka though, as it would affect the quality I think.
300 coffee beans (the bestest quality you can find)
400 gr dark muscovado sugar
1 vanilla pod
1 l. any 38+ % alcohol you can find without much taste of it's own (vodka, some gin types etc.)

Put all the ingredients in a bottle or sealable jar of a litre and a half. Forget about it for six weeks of more (if you don't forget about it, pamper it by shaking the bottle or jar every now and then). Sift it and put it in a serving bottle, or just use it from it's jar while being carefull not to eat the beans (I think they are yuk!). Excellent xmas gift in a nice little bottle, and lovely for after dinner!
Look at what also arrived on my doorstep yesterday. Georgous South Island cherries, we have been getting these couriered to us for the last 3 years for Christmas. They are exceptional value for money at about $14 per kilo, especially as they are export quality and keep beautifully. This year I am going to order some more after Christmas to do some baking and preserving with them, as we gobble all these ones up so quickly!
I am trying my hand at hot smoking some salmon tonight so am really looking forward to that as it is the first time I have done it. Will report back on how it goes!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A gorgeous gift!

Just a wee note of thanks to the very kind George on Violets Pantry. Carrying on from the swaps we have done a Christmas swap on VP. A list gets made up and you have to send a box of goodies to a person (chosen for you), obviously centred around food! This is my third time swapping and it is a huge amount of fun! I sent to Australia this time to cut down on postage costs and make sure the money went more into the contents but there are other lovely, lovely people who send parcels across the George, who sent to me this time and I was overwhelmed by the contents!
I received the coveted Nigella Express, something I have been gagging for!Plus some other lovely books and a wonderful array of spices! Have a look for yourself!

I am going to have a really good look at all these books after Christmas, and with the spices and the BBQ book, my meals promise to be very exciting!!!!

Thanks again George!

Restored calm (could just be calm before the storm!)

Wow, time is rocketing by and this is the longest I have gone without posting since I started this lark! This however does not mean I have eased up in my kitchen has been frenzied!

First up here is the kitchen bench, restored! Not sure how often it will look like that between now and Christmas day, but there you have it, I am able to clear the decks from time to time!

This being the final week of school/daycare I have been trying very hard to cram in as much as possible before having the kids home all day!

Am only going to post recipes in this post that I can cut and paste off the internet as just dont have time to type them all out but will share some photos of all the lovely goodies that I have been making.......
Heres the assortment of goodies going out to all and sundry......shortbread, choc dipped biscotti (cranberry and cashew and cherry and almond), kahlua truffles and apricot and coconut truffles.

I have been parcelling them up in cute noodle boxes, they are quite cheap and decorate up nicely....
We had great fun making some Swedish Gingersnaps from a recipe kindly posted by Semlan on Violets Pantry, they are very yummy and would go very well with mulled wine, but it is just too hot to contemplate that right now!

Here's her recipe...
Swedish Gingersnaps

The "dough" must rest over night (well doesn´t have to be NIGHT but to make flavours come out....) The dough softens when you handle it. It is quite stiff when you get it out of the fridge but it is all right!!

250 grams of butter (yes!!)
5 deciliter of caster sugar (2 cups)
1,5 deciliter of water (150ml)
0,75 deciliter of syrup (75ml)
1 tablespoon of ground cloves
1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon of bicarbonate
appr. 11 decilitres of plain wheat flour (4 1/2 cups)
Put the water to boil together with the spices, sugar and syrup. Pour the hot mixtyre over the butter and stir until it melts. Add the flour. Wrap in cling film and let it rest in cold for a few hours or over night. bake the gingersnaps at 175 degrees C for appr 8-10 minutes.

I have also started on some of my Christmas day desserts, namely the strawberry granita, which has since changed to strawberry sorbet. This is the easiest recipe (except sieving all those tiny seeds from the strawberries!!) and tastes glorious!
2/3 cup (160 ml) water
2/3 cup (135 grams) granulated white sugar
5 cups or 2 pounds (1 kg) fresh or frozen unsweetened strawberries
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other liqueur (optional)

Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan, over low heat, and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved (about 3-5 minutes). Boil the mixture for one minute then remove from heat. Pour the sugar syrup into a heatproof container, and place in the refrigerator until completely chilled (about an hour or so).
Meanwhile, thaw the strawberries and then place the thawed strawberries in a food processor and process until the strawberries are pureed. Transfer to a large bowl, add the lemon juice and liqueur (if using), and refrigerate until the mixture is thoroughly chilled. (If using fresh strawberries, puree the berries in the food processor, transfer to a large bowl, add the lemon juice and liqueur (if using), and place in the refrigerator until chilled.)
Once the simple syrup and pureed strawberries are completely chilled, combine the simple syrup with the pureed strawberries. Pour the mixture into a 8 inch (20 cm) or 9 inch (23 cm) stainless steel pan (sorbets will freeze faster in stainless steel), cover with plastic wrap, and place in the freezer. When the sorbet is completely frozen (3 to 4 hours), remove from freezer and let stand at room temperature until partially thawed. Transfer the partially thawed sorbet to the food processor, and process to break up the large ice crystals that have formed on the sorbet. (This step is what gives the sorbet its wonderful fluffy texture.) Place the sorbet back into the pan and refreeze for at least three hours, and up to several days.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Kitchen carnage

Just a quick post tonight as I am positively knackered after a marathon day of baking and rolling truffles and chocolate dipping (blast this hot weather, the chocolate won't set!)
I am not going to rave about all the delights I have been making, might do that tomorrow, but I will show you what a shocking, shocking baker I am (I honestly don't make this much mess when I am cooking, well maybe a bit of a mess but not quite as tornado like!). This photo was taken at about three quarters into my list of stuff to do - my kitchen looks like crap when it is tidy so it looks pretty heinous when I have been baking!

Just an aside, I visited Violet's blog, (the link is on the right sidebar!) and saw the coolest gizmo that shows where the people are that are visiting your blog, and it is so excellent to see all the folk from around the globe checking in!!! Nice to see you here!!! Do leave a comment too next time! Well, tomorrow I have further things on my list to wade through, will hopefully have details, recipes and photos of my kitchen escapades (and maybe a photo of my kitchen tidy to let you know that I can clean up my mess!!!)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A busy weekend - my food diary

We have done some great eating over the weekend, none of it terribly well thought out but all of it absolutely delicious!
Friday I was lucky enough to get hold of some new seasons baby potatoes so planned dinner around them. I wanted them as unadorned as possible and so boiled them and finished them with a little olive oil and black pepper. I teamed them with a simple barbequed steak and some gorgeous blue cheese dressing on wedges of iceberg lettuce. The dressing turned a plain meal into something so much better, it was a basic vinaigrette made with olive oil and white wine vinegar, whizzed up in my nifty mini processor with a block of blue cheese, garlic, mustard and a couple of tablespoons of sour cream. The healthy factor went down a notch or two by its inclusion but the yum factor went through the roof!

I also picked up a nice big pork roast with a plan to roast it for my husband who loves roasts and is poorly catered for by me in that department. I have never been into cooking roasts, again because my mother does it so well and mine just never measure up! Needless to say my husband is always thrilled with an invite to my mothers for a roast, as he loves them! I don't think I have ever roasted pork for him so thought I would give it a go.

As always plans change and after pondering what to serve with it, I did my usual "poll the mob" on Violets Pantry and was encouraged to try Nigellas '24 hour pork', a recipe in Nigella Bites: From Family Meals to Elegant Dinners, Easy, Delectable Recipes for Any Occasion which is basically cooked in the oven for 24 hours! Well her piece is 9 odd kilos and mine was only 2 so I reworked this as '8 hour pork'!

You basically smear olive oil, rice wine vinegar, garlic, ginger and chilli all over the pork and put it in the oven at 120C. Could not be simpler! I was off out shopping for the day so popped it in the oven and away I went, arriving home to the most gorgeous smell and melting off the bone pork. I can't recommend this recipe highly enough, it so easy and sooooooo delicious. I ended up taking it to my mothers as part of a pot luck dinner where it got devoured, not a skerrick left over even for a sandwich! My only adjustment would be to eat it straight away, as we let it sit for about an hour and a half before eating it and it dried out a lot in that time. It was still great though.

For dessert a friend of my mum's had brought along a Rosewater, pistachio and raspberry meringue roulade which was so gorgeous, hints of turkish delight and all that sweetness with the raspberries worked so well. The recipe came from November's Taste magazine, but I see they haven't added it to their website so will write it out as it is well worth trying.

Sunflower or vegetable oil for greasing
4 egg whites
225g caster sugar
2 tsp cornflour
1 tsp vinegar
1-2 tbsp rosewater, plus 2 tsp extra
1-3 chopped raw pistachios
300 ml cream
2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries

Preheat oven to 150C. Grease base of a 36 x 26 cm Swiss roll tin with the oil and line with tinfoil.
Put the egg whites into a spotlessly clean bowl and whisk until stiff peaks form. Beat in sugar a couple of tablespoonsful at a time, until meringue is thick and glossy.
In a seperate bowl mix together cornflour, vinegar and rosewater to form a runny paste and lightly whisk into the beaten meringue mix.
Spread the meringue mixture into the pepared tin with a palette knife, making sure it is spread evenly into the corners. Sprinkle the top with the pistachios. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until firm but still soft in the centre. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
Whip cream and extra rosewater to a thick but not too stiff consistency. Turn the meringue out onto a large fresh sheet of tinfoil. Gently peel away the foil from the meringue. Spread with cream, avoiding the edges, and scatter evenly with raspberries. With the help of the tinfoil roll up the meringue. Wrap roulade in the foil and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Cut into slices and serve with extra raspberries.

Our meal tonight was a simple and yummy salad again from an old Taste magazine. Sticking with my penchant for beetroot right now we had a Beetroot, Apple and Blue Cheese salad with walnut cider dressing. A fab combination that I will definitely be repeating!


1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
4 Tbsp walnut or almond oil
2 Tbsp olive oil
250g can whole baby beetroot, drained
4 braeburn or pacific rose apples, unpeeled, cut into quarters

2 sticks celery
2 cups radicchio leaves
1 bunch watercress shoots, roots removed
1 green oak lettuce, washed and torn
100g blue cheese, crumbled
½ cup fresh walnuts, toasted
3 Tbsp chives, sliced

Put the mustard into a small bowl and whisk in the vinegar. Pour the oils in slowly and whisk to emulsify the dressing. Season to taste. Place the drained beetroot on a plate lined with a paper towel, cover with another piece of paper towel and pat to absorb as much juice as you can. Leave beetroot this way while you prepare the other salad ingredients. Cut the apple quarters into fine slices and place in a large bowl. Cut the celery on an angle into thin slices and add to the apples. Add radicchio, watercress and lettuce leaves. Pour the dressing over the salad mix. Use your hands to toss lightly until the entire salad is coated.Arrange salad mixture on a large platter. Add the baby beetroot and crumble the blue cheese over the top. Add walnuts and sprinkle with sliced chives to serve.

From Taste magazine, March 2006

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Plans for Christmas day

This is just a quick post to start off my Christmas countdown!
Our family has (in my opinion) a very democratic system in that each of us takes turn at hosting it at our homes. There are 4 siblings and my mother so that means only hosting it once every 5 years! I think it's brilliant as it shares the load and we tend to each put a lot of effort into it as it is not every year, so results in unique and special ocassions!
This year it is our turn (well I may as well say mine as my husband is terribly humbug about most things Christmas, but goes along with it to keep me happy!) so I am beside myself with excitement organising and planning for the day!
As I am the only one not working and the only one who doesnt have to divide the day with in laws (who are in Wellington, and put on a lovely Christmas its just the distance prevents us from sharing it more often with them!) I suggested that I take care of the whole kit and kaboodle. Usually we do up a menu and divide it between us but I wanted them all to be able to turn up and relax and enjoy themselves so they are all contributing towards the cost of the food and I am happily slaving in the kitchen.
The menu I have come up with is designed to have as much done beforehand as possible. So in the days leading up to it I will be preparing all the bits and pieces to bring together on the day. I also wanted to try for it to be as light as possible and concentrate on just tastes of things, as they will all have eaten a full lunch with in laws so don't want it to be overloading!

Probably mojitos or margueritas (or both!)

Smoked salmon blini with caper mayo, chopped eggs and red onion
Sundried tomato pesto palmiers
Turkey and cranberry rye bread squares
Chili prawn skewers with lime mayo
Avocado, chive and lemon dip on individual corn chips
Roasted red pepper and feta cream bruschetta
Pesto toasts with cherry toms

Main course:
Slashed lamb, done on the hooded BBQ (with red currant and mint jelly)
Green salad
Carrots broccoli asparagus with foaming hollandaise
Oven sauteed potatoes lyonaises (the only thing in the oven for the day!)

Tasting plate of desserts with small tastes of:
Strawberry granita
Rhubarb crumble icecream
Pineapple sushi
Raspberry chardonnay jelly

Then going to do port and coffee with a plate of choc Christmas cake, Christmas biscuits, fudge and truffles

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Pulse of the Kitchen

I have reacquainted myself recently with all kinds of beans/pulses/legumes, whatever you want to call them! I used to enjoy them quite a lot and for some strange reason my use of them has faded over the years. Part of it is probably to do with the whole preparation involved in having pulses, that is, if you aren’t able to get them tinned. The only ones regularly available in tins (at my local supermarket) are kidney beans and chickpeas (and from time to time mixed beans and cannelini beans), which I do buy from time to time, but find the flavour is nowhere near as good as when you soak and cook them yourselves.
I have started shopping at the local Bin Inn again and they have a fantastic array of beans/pulses and I have been really enjoying trying all the different types.
I tend to buy a whole heap, soak and cook them and then freeze them in 2 cup lots, which is about what I reckon feeds 4-6 people. Today I restocked on black eyed beans, black beans, chick peas and cannelini beans.
The black eyed beans are one of my favourites. A good friend of mine, Colleen, introduced me to them some time ago when she made a recipe that was a favourite of her vegetarian (or was it vegan?) daughters. It is called African beans and is a recipe from Alison Holst’s “Meals Without Meat”. Meals without MeatThese beans are fabulous done this way, but I have mutated the recipe to an even easier version that I now make on many an occasion, as it is quick, yummy and very filling. Plus it passes the Carys taste test so it gets relied on regularly!
Another idea from that book that I still regularly use is to make a Spaghetti Bolognese sauce with red lentils. I actually make mine with half meat /half lentils but it adds another dimension to it and is actually very yummy, as well as stretching the meal further at very little extra cost. Last nights version of this did have some wine, some bacon and some pesto thrown in, it was all the better for those additions too!

My copy of “Meals Without Meat” is currently in a box somewhere in the garage and I can’t face rummaging out there to uncover the original recipe for African Beans (and no internet search found it either –blast!) but will do up my mutated recipe and then add notes on what was in the original.
I always feel so virtuous after eating this, as I am so full and yet have done minimal damage calorie wise! Don’t even think of ommiting the coconut cream, it absolutely makes it! Live a little!!! I served it with brown basmati rice but it would have been even better if it were accompanied by some raita and fresh chopped coriander.

Mutated ‘African Beans'

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 red capsicum, chopped
oil for frying
2 cups cooked black eyed beans
2 tins Watties Indian tomatoes (chopped tomatoes blended with indian spices)
½ tin lite coconut cream (pop the other half of the tin in the freezer for next time!)

Fry garlic, onion and capsicum together in oil until soft. Add in beans, stir through. Pour in tomatoes and simmer for 10-15 mins until the tomatoes have reduced down. Just before serving, stir through coconut cream. Simmer for a few minutes then serve with rice.

The original recipe used normal tinned chopped tomatoes and you added paprika, turmeric, chili powder and coriander to the onions and fried, before adding tomatoes. The rest of the recipe carries on the same!