Tag Archives: winter warmer

Simple Supper: Baked Beans and Bangers

16 Nov

A big warm hug of a dinner

This supper is perfect when you’ve spent all day drinking tea and wearing chunky jumpers but still want something warm and comforting for tea.  If you have the forethought to soak beans overnight you can do so, otherwise I just use a can of cooked beans.  Once you have the beans ready to go, the meal’s on the table in less than an hour with a minimal amount of faffing in between.

It also makes me think of this delightful clip of  Tobias Fünke in Arrested Development asking his family who wants “a banger in the mouth”. And what more can you ask for, really?

To buy (for 2 big bowls):

*200g dried haricot beans/ 1 tin cooked haricot beans   *1 tbsp olive oil   *6 lovely pork sausages   *1 red onion or a few shallots, finely sliced   *2 garlic cloves, finely chopped   *1 red chilli de-seeded and finely chopped   *2tbsp sundried tomato puree   *1tsp smoked paprika   *1 pinch of sugar   *100ml red wine   *125ml chicken stock   *1tbsp balsamic vinegar   *salt and pepper   *1 bunch of parsley, torn-up.

To make:

1. If using dried beans, soak them overnight in cold water.  Drain the water and then rinse the beans and pop them in a large pan with water.  Bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes or until the beans are soft then drain.

2. Preheat the oven to 180Oc/gas mark 4.  Drizzle the oil in a casserole dish, add the sausages and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or so, until they’re golden brown all over.

3. Then add the onion to the dish and cook for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic and chilli and cook for a few more minutes.  Now add the beans, paprika, tomato puree, wine, stock, vinegar and seasoning. Mix well and cover with tin foil.  Pop a few holes in the tin foil and then pop in the oven.

4. Cook for 45 minutes.  If the bake is too dry add more stock, if too wet then remove the foil lid after about half an hour and cook until it’s the right consistency. Before you serve stir in the parsley.

5. Nice with buttery warm bread or spoonfuls of creamy mash.




Recipe: Lamb and Apricot Tagine

3 Jan

Tagine Dream

Happy new year! I hope you all had a marvellous Christmas and rang in 2011 with a giant smile on your face and booze in your belly! I was in Copenhagen for new year with my boy and we had a super time. The Danes, it turns out – as well as being gorgeous, welcoming and lovely – frickin’ adore fireworks. From about 2pm on new year’s eve, Copenhagen was a cacophony of whizzes and bangs, building to a crescendo at midnight when, hanging out on the waterfront, puffing away on a cigar and sipping Asti from a bottle, all hell was let lose, fireworks exploded e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e and I thought I was going to lose an eye or two. Exhilarating, if not frankly terrifying, fun!

But it’s the new year now which means a few terrible, horrible things: I’m broke, on a poxy diet and all the streets are peppered with abandoned Christmas trees: mwwarrggh. Thankfully, I get to distract myself with the lovely gifts I received on the 25th and boy was I lucky. Known as a ganet, I got lots of lovely things for the kitchen: a snazzy pinny, lovely new cookbooks, beautiful knitted cupcakes, a subscription to Olive magazine and a tagine. Such fun!

Tonight was Tagine night and I decided on a lamb and apricot bobbydazzler, with enough for dinner and for tomorrow’s packed lunch. Smug, moi?

To buy (for 4 portions):

*125g dried apricots   *90ml orange juice   *75ml boiling water   *big glug or two of olive oil   *knob of butter   *450g diced lamb   *1 red pepper   *1 sweet onion   *2 medium sweet poatoes   *2 cloves garlic   *half a tsp of ground cinnamon   *1 tsp ground cumin   *1 tsp Ras el hanout   *125ml dry red wine   *500ml chicken stock   *1 tablespoon honey   *big handful of fresh coriander leaves   *yoghurt and cous cous to serve


1. Combine the apricots, juice and hot water in a small bowl, cover and leave for about 45 minutes.

2. Heat a glug of oil in a deep pan and cook the lamb in batches until browned all over and then set aside.

3. Heat some more olive oil in the same pan and cook the finely chopped garlic, roughly chopped onion, roughly chopped pepper and chunks of sweet potato, along with the ground spices. It should start to smell and look beautiful.

4. Stir until the onion softens and then add the wine. Bring to the boil and simmer uncovered for about five minutes, or until the liquid is reduced by half.

5. Return the lamb to the pan with the undrained apricots, stock and honey. Bring to the boil and cook for about 10 minutes to reduce the liquid, whilst you heat the oven, to about 180Oc/160Oc fan.

6. Pop the contents of the pan into a clean tagine and cook in the oven for at least an hour. The meat and vegetables should be soft and tender and your mouth should be watering like crazy!

Din dins

7. When you’re ready to serve sprinkle some ripped up fresh coriander on top of the tagine and serve with some plain yoghurt and buttery cous cous.

Lovely after a long, cold walk in Battersea Park but would taste gorgeous any day, I daresay. Yum.

Recipe: Leek, potato and bacon soup

4 Dec

It's soup-er.

Contrary to popular belief, the weather outside is not frightful. Well not for me at any rate. Yes it’s well and truly Baltic – both outside and in my chilly office – and yes when the snow starts to melt your boots and socks get soggy, but like the overgrown kid that I am, I resolutely love the snow.

From catching snowflakes on your tongue, stamping through fresh white fields and leaving swirly tracks, to harvesting icicles to store in your freezer for a summertime surprise, winter is a treasure-trove of good clean fun. It’s easy to grumble about it – when the trains don’t turn up and the pavements fill with slush – but I am wishing I’ll never stop smiling at the sparkling silvery snowflakes and I hope that the moment when I whip open my curtains to see white sheets have settled on London never stops being heart-racingly thrilling.

Of course a good winter deserves good eating.  I like to ensure a steady supply of hot drinks – tea makes everything better and that includes gentle frostbite and colds and sneezes – hot and spicy curries and noodles to gobble, stews and broths to fill up my tum and soups by the gallon. Wonderful wonderful soups.  Whether it’s the soup of the day at Prêt and Eat (Malaysian Laksa say is the jackpot for me!) or a tin of Heinz and a slab of cheese and toast, I ruddy adore slurping on soup. The best bit? That they are so easy and cheap to make.  A big pot of soup can keep an army marching for days and you can chuck almost anything into your pot and produce a treat. Also any excuse to eat crusty bread and butter is marked with a giant ‘WIN’ for me.

This leek, potato and bacon soup (from, where else, the goodfood website) will make about five mega portions and keep for a few days in the fridge (don’t add the cream if you want to freeze it mind..) if it remains uneaten for that long.

Smells so sweet.


To buy
*25g butter   *3 rashers of bacon chopped   *1 red onion, roughly chopped   *2 shallots, roughly chopped  *400g leeks, trimmed, chopped and well washed   *3/4 potatoes washed, peeled and diced   *Around 1.4lr of hot vegetable stock   *142ml pot single cream   *bacon to serve

To make
1. Melt the butter in a large pan, then fry the bacon, shallots and onion, stirring until they start to turn golden. Season at this point if you like.

2. Tip in the leeks and potatoes, stir well, then cover and turn down the heat. Cook gently for 5 mins, shaking the pan every now and then to make sure that the mixture doesn’t catch.

3. Pour in the stock, season well and bring to the boil.

4. Cover and simmer for 20 mins until the vegetables are soft.

5. Leave to cool for a few mins, then blend in a food processor or with a hand-blender in batches until smooth.

6. Return to the pan, pour in the cream and stir well. Taste and season if necessary. Serve scattered with tasty crisp bacon and eat with warm crusty bread or garlic bread on the side. Yum and double-yum.