Broad Beans with Bacon and Paprika

Broad beans

Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

This is another quick and tasty recipe. I like to serve it with roasted chicken. Or have it chilled as part of a salad buffet.

2 tablespoons olive oil
150g rindless smoked streaky bacon, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
2 tsp paprika
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
400g to 500g frozen broad beans, defrosted
Splash of water

Heat the oil in a wide based pan and sauté the bacon until almost cooked. Using a slotted spoon, remove to a plate lined with kitchen paper.

Add the onion and garlic to the pan a sauté until softened and starting to colour. Return the bacon to the pan and add the paprika, salt and pepper and stir well. Stir in the broad beans, add a splash of water, cover and simmer for 5 minutes of so until the beans are hot. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Vegetable Curry in a Slow Cooker

Curry powder

Serves 4

This dish is fab! It’s simple to make, full of goodness and tastes divine. It is vegetarian and vegan too if you make sure the coconut milk and stock are vegan. Why eat meat when vegetables taste this good?

For the spice blend…
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp ground fenugreek
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp ground cayenne
2 tsp garam masala
1 tablespoon green cardamom pods crushed in a pestle and mortar

Mix all of the ingredients together.

For the finished dish…
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 medium onions, peeled and sliced
2 tsp chopped ginger
1 tsp chopped garlic
Spice blend (as above)
2 vegetable stock cubes or stock pots dissolved in a little boiling water
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 x 400g tin of reduced fat coconut milk
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt
3 peppers – 1 each of red, yellow and green – deseeded and cut into bite sized chunks
2 large courgettes cut into bite sized chunks
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks
5 large celery sticks trimmed cut into bite sized chunks
1 small purple turnip peeled and cut into dice

Heat the oil in a large pan and sauté the onion until softened and well browned. This will take 20 to 30 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the spice blend and stir-fry for a further minute, adding a splash of stock if it starts to catch. Add the stock, tomatoes, coconut milk, vinegar and salt and bring to a simmer.

Add all of the vegetables and bring to a good simmer.

Pour the mixture into the bowl of a slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 5 hours.

The vegetables may throw off a lot of liquid. After the 5 hours are up, if there is too much liquid, ladle it off into a small saucepan and boil it uncovered to reduce its volume, then return the thickened liquid to the slow cooker. Cover and bring the curry back to a gentle simmer before serving with plain white boiled rice.

Spiced Chickpeas

Spiced Chickpeas lr

Serves 4

This is a delicious and wholesome vegan dish. It’s quick to prepare too, which is always a bonus.

Serve the chickpeas with vegetables, leaves or roasted potatoes, whatever takes your fancy.

For the spice mix…
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground fenugreek
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne

Mix all of the ingredients together.

For the finished dish…
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 medium onions, peeled and sliced
1 portion of spice mix, as above
125 ml water
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
Pinch of sugar (optional)
Splash of vinegar (optional)
2 x 400g tins chickpeas, drained and rinsed under cold running water
3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh mint leaves

Sauté the onions in the oil until softened and slightly coloured, approx. 15 minutes. Add the spice mix and stir-fry for 1 minute, adding a splash of water if the mixture starts to catch. Add the water and tomatoes, bring to a simmer and simmer covered for 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. You may need to add a pinch of sugar or a splash of vinegar, depending on the sharpness of the tomatoes.

Add the chickpeas and mint and gently simmer, covered, for a further 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning again if needs be.

Long Grain White Rice

Long grain white rice

Serves 4

A lot of people seem to have problems cooking rice. They even resort to buying over-priced pouches of pre-cooked rice. You don’t need to do that! It’s actually dead easy to get perfect results every time.

I allow 2 ½ tablespoons of uncooked rice per person, so this recipe serves 4.

Salt
10 tablespoons of long grain white rice

Bring a large pan of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the rice and return to a simmer. Briefly stir gently to make sure the grains aren’t sticking to the base of the pan.

Simmer for 19 minutes. During this time white foam will rise to the surface. This is starch and you should skim it off a couple of times. At the same time give the rice a quick, gentle stir.

After the 19 minutes is up, strain the rice into a strainer and wash it under cold running water until cold. This will stop the cooking process. Place the strainer over a bowl and leave it to drain at room temperature for 1 hour. After that, tip the rice into a bowl, cover in cling film and sore in the fridge until needed.

To reheat, peel back the cling film and fluff the rice with a fork to separate the grains. Leave the cling film loosely in place and heat in a microwave on full power for 4 to 5 minutes. The exact time will depend on the power of your microwave. And voila. As promised you will have perfectly cooked rice.

Four Chilli Sauce

Four Chilli Sauce lr

Serve this delicious sauce chilled as a table sauce or dip. Or serve it hot to accompany pork or chicken. Either way, it’s fab!

Everyone agrees these days, sugar is the enemy. So I don’t add any sweetness as I like the sauce as it is. But, if you have a sweet tooth, add some raisins at the same time as the passata.

For the spice blend…
½ tsp dried chipotle chilli powder
½ tsp dried mulato chilli powder
½ tsp dried pasilla chilli powder
1 tsp dried ancho chilli powder
½ tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano

Just mix everything together. Be generous with the measurements!

For the finished dish…
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 beef stock cube (I use an Oxo cube), dissolved in a little boiling water
400g jar of passata (I use Mutti)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Pinch of salt

Heat the oil in a small pan, add the onion and cook gently until softened and starting to colour.

Add the spice blend and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add a splash of stock if it starts to catch.

Add the rest of the ingredients, stir to mix evenly and gently simmer, uncovered, until the mixture has cooked off and reduced. This will take about 20 to 30 minutes.

If you prefer a smooth sauce, blitz it in a blender or pass it through a sieve.

Corn Fritters

Corn fritters cropped

Makes about 12, so serves 4

These are great, tasty family favourites. They are vegetarian but I like to serve them with roast chicken!

100g plain flour
1 egg, beaten
150ml milk
Salt
1 to 2 tablespoons BBQ sauce
300g tinned sweetcorn, drained
Vegetable oil

Whisk the egg into the flour then whisk in the milk a few tablespoons at a time. Continue to whisk until all the milk is incorporated and the batter is smooth. Season with salt and whisk in the BBQ sauce.

Stir in the sweetcorn.

Heat a good glug of oil in a frying pan and shallow fry tablespoons full of the mixture, turning occasionally. The fritters should be dark brown on the outside and cooked through. As they cook transfer them to an oven-proof dish in a warm oven to keep hot.

Indian spiced vegetable and nut pilau rice

Pilau lr

Serves 4 as a side dish or 2 to 3 as a main course

This vegetarian rice dish is delicious and full of flavour. It makes a great meal on its own but it also works well as part of a varied Indian meal. The method of cooking the rice ensures the grains are separate and “dry” and you’ll get lots of “oohs” and “aahs” from your guests when they try it!

The recipe looks far more complicated than it actually is. In fact it’s simple and quick to make and can be prepared ahead of time, stored in the fridge until needed, and reheated in a microwave.

For the spice mix…
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
1 ½ tsp ground coriander
A pinch of cayenne
1 tsp ground black pepper
15 to 20 green cardamom pods, crushed
1 tsp garam masala

Mix all of the ingredients together. (I told you this recipe is simple.)

For the rice…
75g butter
1 portion of spice mix (as above)
Long grain white rice measured to the 375ml level in a measuring jug
500ml water
1 tsp salt

Heat the butter until foaming in a large thick-based oven-proof saucepan. Add the spice mix and stir-fry for 20 seconds. Add the rice and gently toast, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add the water and salt, stir to mix evenly and bring to a simmer. Cover and bake in a warm oven (150°c) for 20 minutes. After this time give the rice a stir and add a splash of water if it looks too dry. But don’t add too much liquid; the finished dish is meant to be fairly dry. Cover the pan and return the rice to the oven for another 10 minutes or so to finish cooking.

For the vegetables…
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
2 celery sticks, trimmed and finely chopped
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

While the rice is in the oven, heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the onions for a few minutes until starting to soften and colour. Add the carrot and celery, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until the vegetables are cooked, approx. 15 minutes. Give the mixture a stir from time to time while it is cooking.

For the finished dish…
100g cashew nuts, lightly toasted in a dry frying pan

Mix together the cooked rice and vegetables, taste and adjust the seasoning if needs be. At this stage the mixture can be cooled and stored in a fridge until needed. To reheat, loosely cover with cling film and heat in a microwave for 5 minutes.

Just before serving, stir in the cashew nuts.

Cauliflower Cheese

cauliflower

Serves 3 as a main course or 4 as a side dish (or 6 if everyone is on a diet)

This dish is cheesy and creamy and rich and, of course, vegetarian. I like to serve it with roasted new potatoes for a perfect dinner. But it works as an accompaniment to just about anything!

1 large cauliflower
80g butter
55g flour
1ltr whole milk
Salt
Pepper
200g strong cheddar cheese, roughly grated
Roughly grated parmesan
Paprika

Break the cauliflower into florets and cut away any hard stems. Cut larger florets in half so that they are all a similar size – they will cook more evenly that way. Rinse under running water. Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil, add the cauliflower, cover and simmer until just soft, approx. 20 minutes. Don’t overcook the cauliflower or the final dish will be sloppy. Once the cauliflower is cooked, drain it and tip it into an oven-proof dish large enough to hold the florets in a single layer.

Meanwhile, make the cheese sauce. Place the butter, flour and milk in a large thick-based saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer, whisking continuously with a balloon whisk. Allow the sauce to simmer uncovered very gently for 10 minutes, whisking occasionally. Season with salt and pepper and whisk in the cheddar cheese a handful at a time. Once the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth, pour it evenly over the cauliflower. Sprinkle a generous amount of parmesan over the surface and then dust it liberally with paprika.

At this stage the dish can be cooled and stored in the fridge until needed. To reheat, pop it into the oven for 20 to 30 minutes until it is brown and bubbling.

Sweet Yellow Rice

basmati-rice-lr

Serves 4

This is a wonderful, rich rice dish that is subtly flavoured. Its sweetness makes it a perfect accompaniment to spicy Indian dishes, such as my Indian Baked Chicken. It is started off on the hob and then baked in the oven at a low heat to give perfect results every time.

The recipe assumes you are using salted butter. If you are using unsalted butter or ghee, increase the salt to ½ teaspoon. If you replace the butter with oil the dish is vegan and still very good.

Basmati rice measured to the 375ml (12 fl oz) level in a measuring jug
75g (3 oz) butter
12 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
9cm (3 ½ inch) cinnamon stick
450ml (15 fl oz) water
1 heaped teaspoon turmeric
¼ tsp salt
80g (3 oz) sugar
30g (1 oz) flaked almonds
2 tablespoons sultanas

It is important to prepare the rice properly before you start cooking. Wash the rice in several changes of water to remove some of its starch content. Leave it to soak in a large bowl of water for 30 minutes, then drain it for 20 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas Mark 2.

Melt the butter in a wide, heavy flameproof pan and, when hot, add the cardamom and cinnamon. Stir them for a few seconds and add the rice. Stir and sauté the rice gently for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the heat down slightly if it begins to catch. Add the water, turmeric and salt. Stir gently until all of the water has been absorbed – the rice should be just simmering, not boiling. Add the sugar, almonds and sultanas and stir to mix. Cover the pan tightly and put it in the oven for 30 minutes.

When the time is up, tip the rice into a serving dish. Fluff it up with a fork, remove the cinnamon and it is ready to serve.

This rice dish reheats very well. It can be cooked well ahead of time and stored in a refrigerator for several hours or overnight. When you are ready to serve, simply reheat it in a microwave for 5 to 7 minutes.

Puy Lentils with Indian Spices

puy-lentils

Serves 4

Continuing my Indian theme, these spiced lentils are fantastic as part of any Indian meal. And any leftover lentils are excellent eaten cold for lunch the next day.

For the Fragrant Stock…

500ml water
12 green cardamoms, crushed
8 cloves
6 bay leaves
1 onion, finely chopped
1 pinch sugar

Simmer, uncovered, all of the ingredients together for 40 minutes. Strain to remove the solids and add enough water to make up to 500ml.

For the finished dish…

250g Puy lentils
4 tbs vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 level tsp ground coriander
1 level tsp ground cumin
1 level tsp ground ginger
1 generous pinch cayenne
1 ½ tbs tomato ketchup
1 to 2 tsp garam masala (depending on its strength)
30 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered, depending on size
Water (or any remaining liquid from the cooked lentils)
2 tbs fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
1 tbs mint leaves, finely chopped
1 level tsp salt
Juice of ½ a small lemon

Wash the lentils thoroughly and add them to the boiling stock. Simmer until cooked, approx 30 – 40 minutes. When ready, drain if needs be to remove any excess moisture but reserve the liquid.

Heat the oil in a wok until hot. Stir fry the onion until softened and browning then add the garlic and stir fry for a further 30 seconds. Add the coriander, cumin, ginger and cayenne and stir fry for another 30 seconds.

Stir in the tomato ketchup then add the garam masala and tomatoes and stir in enough water (or lentils cooking liquid) to make things mobile. Add the coriander, mint and salt and stir to heat through. Add the lentils and stir to mix thoroughly. Simmer for 2 – 3 minutes, then season to taste with salt, lemon juice, cayenne and sugar.