Green beans with onion, garlic and tomato

This is a recipe from the Philippines. It is great with rice.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 700g fresh green beans
  • 2 onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 can of organic chopped tomatoes
  • 4tbsp organic vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Black pepper to taste

METHOD:

  • Trim the beans and cut into 3cm lengths. Cut the onions in half and slice crosswise to fine slices, and chop the garlic very fine.
  • Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat and fry the garlic for a few seconds, before adding the onion slices. Stir and fry for another 3 minutes or so, until the onions begin to turn translucent.
  • Add the tomatoes, beans, salt and pepper and 100ml water
  • Bring to the boil, cover, and then simmer for around 15 minutes until the beans are cooked.
  • Remove the lid, turn up the heat and reduce the sauce until it is quite thick. Stir while you are doing this to stop it from sticking.

Shredded cabbage with mustard seeds and coconut

For this Indian recipe, you should really use fresh coconut, but if I’ve ever bought a coconut here, it has not been that good. I’ve substituted coconut milk.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 tbs mustard oil or other vegetable oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp whole black mustard seeds
  • A large green cabbage, around 1.5kg, cored and finely shredded
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 fresh hot green chilli, in fine long strips
  • 50g grated coconut or 100ml coconut milk

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium to high heat
  • Add the mustard seeds and bayleaf, and as soon as the bayleaf starts to darken and the mustard seeds start to pop, add the cabbage
  • Turn the heat to medium, then stir and cook for around five minutes.
  • Add the sugar, salt and chilli, and continue to stir and cook for a further three to five minutes
  • Turn off the heat, add the coconut, mix and serve.

Moules Marinieres

Lots of places to pick fresh mussels around the coast. This is a great way to cook them.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2kg mussels, cleaned and scrubbed
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 4 shallots
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 25g butter
  • 600ml white wine
  • 25ml pastis such as pernod (optional)
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Put the shallots, wine, pastis, garlic, and parsley in a large pan and simmer for five minutes
  • Add the butter and the mussels, turn the heat to high, and cook until the mussels are open. Shake the pan a few times to ensure that the mussels cook evenly.
  • Season, and serve the mussels in soup bowls with the liquor as a sauce, and chopped parsley as a garnish.

Spinach, potato and goat’s cheese tart

I make this to serve with flaky smoked salmon. I got it from Rachel Allen’s website, but it isn’t there any more.

INGREDIENTS:

For the shortcrust pastry:

  • 200 g plain flour
  • 100 g  chilled butter, diced
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg, beaten

For the filling:

  • 250 g baby or destalked large spinach leaves
  • 7 baby new potatoes (unpeeled)
  • 4 eggs
  • 250 ml double cream
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 25g parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 150g soft goat’s cheese (sliced from a goat’s cheese log)
  • 25cm diameter tart tin
METHOD:

  • Make the pastry:  place the flour, salt and butter in a food processor and whiz briefly, or rub together to bread-crumb consistency.
  • Add half the beaten egg and continue to mix. You might add a little more egg, but not too much as the mixture should be moist enough to come together.
  • With your hands, flatten out the ball of dough until it is 2cm thick then wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas mark 4). Line the tart tin and ‘bake blind’.
  • Wash and spin the spinach, removing any tough stalks and stems if using large spinach leaves. In a medium-sized saucepan, cook the spinach in just the water that’s clinging to it over a low heat until it wilts. Drain in a colander or sieve and allow to cool a little, then squeeze most of the moisture out with your hands and chop roughly.
  • Meanwhile, steam or boil the potatoes until just cooked, and cool on a tray or board. When cool enough to handle, cut into 5mm (1/4 in) slices.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the eggs and add the cream, salt and pepper, lemon zest, nutmeg, cayenne pepper and Parmesan. Whisk these ingredients together then add the spinach and mix through.
  • Season well; potatoes are very mild and need a good contrast.
  • Spread the potato slices over the base of the prepared tart, and dot with the goat’s cheese
  • Gently spoon over the spinach cream mixture as high as you can go. If you are concerned about spillage, carry the tart minus the last few spoons of filling over to the oven.
  • Place in the oven, spoon over the remaining filling and any remaining potato and cheese slices. Bake for 35–40 minutes until the tart is golden brown and just set in the centre. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Spinach with chickpeas

This recipe and the spices are from Seasoned Pioneers, who do a range of organic spices.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tsp Baharat spice mix
  • 1 can of organic chickpeas
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 can organic chopped tomatoes
  • Around 500g spinach
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp chopped mint.

METHOD:

  • Rinse the chickpeas, and set aside.
  • Chop the garlic, and fry for 1 minute in the olive oil.
  • Add the onions and fry for a further 5 minutes.
  • Add the spices and fry for another 2 minutes.
  • Mix in the chopped tomatoes and chickpeas and bring to a simmer, cook for around 5 minutes, until the chickpeas are hot through and the sauce is reducing down a little.
  • Meanwhile, bring some water to the boil, and cook the spinach for 5 minutes until wilted.
  • Mix the spinach into the tomato mixture, and put into a serving dish
  • Combine the lemon juice, olive oil and mint, and dribble over the top just before serving.

This was very tasty indeed.

Coq au Vin

An old classic. I have got very good at jointing chickens that have been passed on after meeting a sad end.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 50g butter
  • 1 chicken, jointed (or 1.5kg chicken pieces)
  • 1 onion
  • 225g mushrooms
  • 100g lardons, or bacon bits
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 300ml red wine
  • 3 tbsp brandy
  • 150ml stock
  • thyme leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp butter squished with 1 tbsp flour

METHOD:

  • Melt the butter in a large casserole dish, and fry the chicken pieces for five minutes, and then set aside
  • Fry the onions, bacon, mushrooms and garlic in the same pan for another five minutes
  • Return the chicken to the pan, and then pour the brandy over the lot, and set alight for a minute or so.
  • Pour the wine and stock into the pan, along with the thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for a couple of hours.
  • Mix the flour and butter together, and add to the pan, about 10 minutes before the end.
  • Garnish with chopped parsley before serving.

Rhubarb and Ginger Jam

This is a classic. I use a very old version from a book by Marguerite Patten; the book is priced 2/6! The jam is best with rhubarb cut late in the year. I have recently reviewed this alongside the ‘Maw Broon’s cookbook’ and updated it. As usual, most of the ingredients can be ethically sourced.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 800g-1kg Rhubarb, locally grown
  • 200g crystalised ginger
  • 1kg jam sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon

METHOD:

  • Cut the rhubarb into 1 inch pieces, and cover with the sugar to stand overnight.
  • Chop the ginger finely and sprinkle into the sugar.
  • Cook slowly in a jam pan, until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Add the lemon juice and bring to the boil. Heat quickly until the jam is thick, and boil for about 15 minutes.
  • Pour into clean warmed jars.

Greek pot-roast beef with spaghetti

This recipe combines local beef with a recipe from The Home Book of Greek Cookery by Joyce M. Stubbs, which I bought in a jumble sale in the 1980s for 20p. This was very easy and very tasty as well.

INGREDIENTS:

    • 3-4lb rolled beef, for example brisket or silver-side
    • 250ml olive oil
    • 2 medium onions
    • 4 cloves of garlic
    • 1 dsp sugar
    • 3 tbsp tomato paste (organic paste from the wholefood co-op)
    • 1 stick or 1 tsp cinnamon (all herbs and spices available from the wholefood co-op)
    • 1 bayleaf
    • 2 cloves
    • salt and pepper
    • Spaghetti (75g per person)
    • grated parmesan

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a heavy pan and brown the meat on all sides.
  • Remove the meat from the pan, and add the finely chopped onions, garlic, salt and pepper, and the spices, and fry very gently together
  • Mix the tomato paste with 300ml of hot water, and add to the fried onions. Bring to a simmer, and add the bayleaf and the meat.
  • Simmer for around 2-3 hours, either on the hob or in a low oven, until the meat is tender and the sauce is thick and rich. Keep an eye on the pot-roast and add a little water if it looks like it might boil dry.
  • Cook the spaghetti according to the instructions on the pack.
  • To serve, mix about half of the sauce with the spaghetti, divide between the serving plates, and top with parmesan cheese. Next add a thick slice of meat and another spoonful of sauce.
  • The book also suggests serving the pasta as one course and the meat as part of the next course.

Sweet tomato sauce

The Moro cookbook by Sam and Sam Clark is one of my all-time favourite recipe books. This particular recipe is from their first book, and was a revelation. Until now, if I wanted to make a tomato sauce, for example to pour on meatballs, I would have added all kinds of things, and certainly started with an onion. This recipe is easier and better.
INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tin organic tomatoes from the co-op (or 500g fresh tomatoes with the skins removed)
  • 2 tbsp organic olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • If you are using fresh tomatoes, chop them finely. If you are using tinned tomatoes, put them in a bowl and squish them up with your hands.
  • In a medium saucepan, heat up the olive oil. When hot but not smoking, add the finely sliced garlic and fry until the garlic is beginning to turn brown.
  • Add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt. Cover and cook over a low to medium heat until a lot of the liquid has evaporated

If you wish, add cinnamon or chilli with the garlic at the start.

Pork with prunes in wine.

This was amazing; the first time I cooked it, I was still telling people about it for days afterwards. I got the recipe from Frances Bissell’s book, the Organic Meat cookbook. I used a random bit of Ken Wilson’s pork, and some white wine from the fridge. The book specifies a cut that I didn’t have, and some wine that I didn’t have. It was still amazingly delicious. Serves 2.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tenderloin of pork approx 250g, sliced 1 inch thick
  • 8 large prunes
  • 150ml Vouvray or other white wine
  • 1oz butter
  • 2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp redcurrant jelly
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 4 tbsp double cream
  • Salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Soak the prunes in the wine for at least 6 hours
  • Melt the butter and cook the shallots very slowly until soft
  • Turn up the heat, and add the meat, browning on both sides
  • Add the wine and prunes, and bring to a simmer: cook until the pork is tender
  • Stir in the redcurrant jelly, lemon zest, cream, salt and pepper. Bring to simmering point, and stir to amalgamate the cream with the sauce.

I served this with new potatoes and braised spring cabbage. Delicious.