Sunday, February 26, 2006

Black-eyed beans in a tomato and mushroom sauce

This is delicious. It’s simple, but tastes quite complex. It’s as cheap as chips and nutritious to boot. Unlike a lot of other beans, black-eyed beans don’t have to be soaked overnight, which is a level of domestic organisation I seldom reach.

I used to make it a lot, but it fell out of favour when A was only eating beige food (pasta, rice, potatoes, cheese that kind of thing – beige and bland) and L wouldn’t have touched a bean unless it came in a tin with a Heinz label on it.

Post Script - L still doesn't like beans! It would be easy to substitute the beans for another vegetable - courgettes or carrots. Or meat - chicken or lamb maybe, cut into chunks and lightly fried first.


225 g/8oz dried black-eyed beans

1.2 litres/2 pints water

6 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

1 inch piece of cinnamon stick

1 medium onion chopped

4 cloves garlic crushed

225g/8oz mushrooms

1 x 400g/14oz can chopped tomatoes and their juice

2 teaspoons ground coriander

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

1 pinch cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons salt

2 large tablespoons of greek yoghurt (optional)

3 tablespoons chopped coriander (parsley will do)

Wash and drain the beans. Put in a pan with the water, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave to stand for an hour covered.

Bring back to the boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the beans are just tender. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Heat the oil in a casserole dish and add the whole cumin seeds and the cinnamon stick. Fry for a few seconds, then add the onions and garlic and cook for 5 minutes.

Halve the mushrooms if they’re big or leave them whole if they’re small enough. Add them to the casserole dish with the tomatoes and the rest of the spices and the salt.

Simmer gently for 10 minutes, then tip the beans into the casserole with their cooking water.

Simmer uncovered for another 20 minutes then spoon in the yoghurt, stir and cook for a final 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the coriander (or parsley) and serve with rice.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Apple Crumble

Apple crumble is one of those dishes that's basic and comforting when it's cold. It also very easy and you can play about with the ingredients without it coming to any harm. Add some blueberries or blackberries to the apples. Add or take away the nuts. Whatever takes your fancy.


1 lb 8 oz (700 g) Bramley apples
8 oz (225 g) Cox's apples
1 oz (25 g) light brown soft sugar
1 level teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ level teaspoon ground cloves

For the crumble:

4 oz (110 g) finely chopped almonds or hazelnuts (or a mix of both)
3 oz (75 g) chilled butter, cut into small dice
6 oz (175 g) self-raising flour, sifted
2 level teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 oz (110 g) demerara sugar

To serve:

custard or pouring cream

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C).

You will also need ovenproof baking dish measuring 7½ x 11 inches (19 x 28 cm) and 1¾ inches (4.5 cm) deep.

Peel and core the apples. Then cut them into thickish slices and toss them in a bowl with the sugar, cinnamon and ground cloves, then place them in the baking dish and put to one side.

Next make the crumble. All you do is place the butter, sifted flour, cinnamon and sugar in a bowl and rub with your hands until it resembles crumbs. Next add the almonds and mix again.

Now simply sprinkle the crumble mixture all over the apples, spreading it right up to the edges of the dish, and, using the flat of your hands, press it down quite firmly all over; the more tightly it is packed together the crisper it will be. Then finish off by lightly running a fork all over the surface.

Now bake the crumble on the centre shelf of the oven for 35-40 minutes, by which time the apples will be soft and the topping golden brown and crisp. Leave it to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving, then serve it warm with custard or pouring cream.