Monthly Archives: September 2011

Red Bean Wraps

I thought I’d take the opportunity to post about one of my current favourite meals/snacks.  Red bean wraps.  I love wraps coz… well, they’re just more fun than a sandwich, aren’t they? And also there’s a whole host of things I’d never put in a sandwich that I would in a wrap (fajitas) and a whole lot of things I’d have in a sandwich but never in a wrap (cheese and pickle).

Anyway, wraps are always part of my kitchen arsenal.  However, stuff to put in wraps, that’s usually in short supply.  I keep all my meats frozen to use as and when, so if I want some chicken then I have to plan for defrosting, cooking, etc.  However, if I just want a quick bite to eat that fills me up and gets me going I don’t have time to mess about.  This is where these little beauties come in.  A tin of red kidney beans, may be even some bacon if I feel like it, and away I go!  Better yet, if you ignore the cheese and bacon options these could actually be considered healthy!

Serves 4 (don’t feel you need to serve it all at once, it refrigerates and reheats well.)

1x400g tin red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 small onion, diced
1 tsp coriander
pinch chilli powder
1 tbsp lime juice
(2 rashers of bacon, chopped)

To serve:
sliced onion/usual salad suspects
creme fraiche
sweet chilli sauce
grated cheese

– Put all of the ingredients in a microwavable bowl, give them a bit of a stir.
– Cover and microwave for 2 1/2 minutes.
– Check to make sure it’s cooked, give it longer if not (only really necessary if using bacon).
– Serve in a wrap with lettuce and whatever sauces or garnishes take your fancy.



Filed under Easy, Mains, Starters

Onion Bhaji

For ages I’ve been trying to cobble together an onion bhaji recipe from somewhere out there on these lovely interwebs!  I have had some, frankly, inedible disasters, however, I now have come up with something I am happy to call an onion bhaji and can whip up a batch whenever I want a curry.  Probably not an “authentic” type recipe at all but it does the job nicely!

I was browsing Smitten Kitchen’s latest offerings and was very taken with the Zucchini Fritters recipe, and then the Latkes recipe it developed from.  I was definitely planning to whip each of those up (still am!) but then it hit me: If I used onions I would end up with bhaji! Since I had forgotten to get any bhaji in to go with my curry that night (as I almost always do) I thought that it was the perfect time to give it a try!

Makes 6 large bhaji

2 large onions, finely sliced
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric
3 tbsp olive oil

– Put the onions in a medium bowl and sprinkle with the salt.
– Add the beaten eggs and mix thoroughly.
– Add the flour, baking powder, garam masala and turmeric and mix until all the dry ingredients are combined.
– Heat the olive oil in a cast iron pan over a medium heat (if you don’t have one go for non stick but the results just won’t be as good I’m afraid).
– Add spoonfulls of mixture to the pan and press down with the back of the spoon to an even thickness.  You will want to cook these in two batches.
– Fry until golden and crispy on the underside then flip over and continue to cook on the other side.  If they brown too quickly then turn the heat down.
– Transfer to a disk and keep warm in the oven while cooking the next batch.
– In the interests of saving washing up I went on to cook the curry in the same pan and just left the bhaji in the oven until I was ready for them.
– Serve with whatever your favourite curry is.  I’m a Korma girl I have to say.

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Filed under Easy, Sides

Bakewell Cake

After much demand from my boss, Belinda, I am finally getting this recipe up here! I made this cake for my predecessor’s retirement as Bakewell tart is her out and out favourite.  I knew I’d seen a recipe for this somewhere but didn’t have time to look it up so I made it up as I went along.  Lo and behold, once I’d got it in the oven I googled it and I had invented the same recipe for a Bakewell Cake as everyone else! Which was reassuring as by that point I was committed!

I was a little bit worried that it might turn out to be dry or grainy because of the ground almonds but it was wonderfully moist and very smooth and delightfully almondy.  It was a big hit!

Makes 12 slices

200g butter (or marg. I’ve recently switched to Stork for baking as the price of butter is just ridiculous!)
200g golden caster sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp Armaretto (or almond essence)
100g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
100g self raising flour
icing sugar
lemon juice
1/3 jar cherry jam
natural glace cherries
flaked almonds

– Heat the oven to gas mark 4/180C.
– Grease two non stick loose bottomed sandwich tins.
– In a bowl (or food processor) cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.
– Add the eggs one at a time and beat/whizz until smooth.
– Add the Amaretto and whizz again.
– Add the ground almonds, baking powder and self raising flour and mix/whizz until combined and smooth.
– Divide equally between the two tins and smooth out.  Try to make a shallow dip in the centre so it rises evenly.
– Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and springy to the touch.  A skewer inserted in the middle should come out clean.
– Turn out onto wire racks and leave to cook completely before icing.

– To make the glace icing take a small bowl and add about 100g icing sugar.  Add lemon juice a bit at a time until the consistency you want is acheived and all lumps have vanished.  You’re going for runny enough to coat the back of a spoon but not so runny that it pours right off the cake, it wants to move slowly and form a ribbon as it comes off the spoon.  I never measure glace icing, I just add a bit more of either lemon or icing sugar til I get it right.
– Spread the cherry jam between the two layers of cake, you may wish to trim the top of one of the cakes to make it nice and flat.
– Pour the glace icing over the top layer of the cake and gently guide it to spread out evenly but not go off the edge.
– Add the glace cherries around the edge.
– Sprinkle flaked almonds in the centre while the icing is wet so they stick.
– Enjoy!

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Filed under Cakes, Easy

Courgette Spaghetti

The one thing I have managed to produce a glut of this year was courgettes… and to be very honest it wasn’t actually that much of a glut, except for the fact that I am only one person! My 25 tomato plants have barely a handful of green, underdeveloped tomatoes between them and not a hint of red! However, the courgetts did me proud and menat that I got to experiment with 101 things to do with a courgette.  This is one of them!

This was invented to feed myself and my vegetarian sister.  She doesn’t have that great a variety in her diet when left to fend for herself so I wanted to pack a good bunch of veggies that she would eat (pickest veggie out there!) into a quick and easy dish.  I was very taken with the idea of julienning a courgette and mingling it with spaghetti.  You could do away with the spaghetti all together if you wanted to but I though that might be going a little too far for this particular meal and went for 50/50.

The only tricky part is the julienning, which you will want to have a julienne peeler for, and try not to julienne your thumb as I do every time I use mine! (Apparently since I was happy to give my consent to being eaten, any blood that happened to find its way into the dish was ethically fine for the veggie!)

Serves 4

1 onion, finely chopped
2 chicken breasts, in chunks or strips (or Quorn chicken pieces)
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1/2 cup baby broad beans or edamame (frozen or fresh)
2 medium sized courgettes, julienned
2 tbsp lemon juice
300ml creme fraiche
black pepper
1/2 usual serving of cooked spaghetti to serve

– Heat a few tbps of oil in a large frying pan and a pan of salted boiling water for the spaghetti.
– Add the onion and 1/4 tsp salt and cook until just softening.
– Add the chicken and cook until starting to brown.
– Add the garlic and beans half way though cooking the chicken.
– Add the courgettes and cook until soft.
– Get your spaghetti on to cook about now.
– Add the lemon juice and let it bubble away for a minute.
– Add the creme fraiche and a good grinding of black pepper (however is to your taste).
– Simmer for 2-3 minutes then drain and add the cooked spaghetti.
– Stir well to compine and then serve with another good grind of pepper on top.


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Filed under Easy, Mains