Vegetable Gratin with Butterbeans 

  
I love a good cheese sauce gratin. I’ll smother anything tbh with a blanket of mustardy cheesy goodness. Perfect fuel for these dreary January days. Use any combo of beans and veggies you want. It’s a fab way to use up spare cooked vegetables so don’t feel you have to prep them from scratch. 
For 3-4 portions you need

  • 1 can drained Butterbeans
  • 600ml milk
  • 50g butter
  • 50g plain flour
  • 150g grated strong cheddar
  • 50g grated Parmesan style veggie friendly cheese
  • 1 tsp English mustard powder
  • 2 tsp French mustard (pref Maille)
  • Cooked vegetables eg 3 sliced carrots and 1 head broccoli 
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Begin by steaming the veggies until tender. Leave to cool. 
  2. Make the cheese sauce by adding everything apart from the cheeses and beans to a pan and heating gently. Bring to the boil then simmer for 1-2 mins. Remove from the heat. 
  3. Add 2/3 of both cheese and mix until melted and the sauce is smooth. Season with freshly ground black pepper. 
  4. Tip the slightly cooled veggies into an ovenproof dish. Scatter over the beans and distribute vaguely evenly. Pour over the sauce then sprinkle with the remaining cheeses.
  5. Bake in a 200 degree oven for 20-25 mins until browned, bubbling and delicious. Serve with potatoes of your choice. 
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Perfect Potato Dauphinois 

 

We’ve inherited a milk glut so I’m working my way through recipes that will deal with it. As it’s Sunday, we needed something to be the centrepiece of our evening meal. And this recipe made enough for leftovers tomorrow for a speedy working Monday dinner, win. 

For six portions you need

  • 900g new potatoes, scrubbed
  • 2 onions
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 150ml milk
  • 300ml double cream
  • 100g strong cheddar, grated
  • Salt and pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg

The secret to making a good gratin, that doesn’t need weeks in the oven, isn’t in danger of burning and always ensures fully cooked potatoes is: par boil the potato slices in the milk/cream mixture. I couldn’t believe it when I stumbled across this piece of advice. For years I’d been struggling with gratins either taking f-o-r-e-v-e-r to cook or having to deal with undercooked veg. Not a nice thing in a potato. 

So with that in mind to make this you simply:

  1. Slice the potatoes and onions (extremely carefully!) with a mandolin to ensure even wafer thin slices. 
  2. Place the potatoes and onions into a pan containing everything else apart from the cheddar. 
  3. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for ten minutes. 
  4. Once par cooked, tip into a baking dish, cover with cheese and bake at 160 for 30-40 mins.
  5. Serve as you wish. We had carrots, cauliflower, peas and nut roast. Yummy. 

Cowboy Stew (v)

I don’t know where the name Cowboy Stew comes from I have to confess. I first made this as a student so I think it’s probably something to do with the fact that it contains beans and sausages and everyone knows that’s what cowboys eat. Whatever, the etymology of the name is less interesting than the recipe. It’s the perfect sort of dish for horrible weather like what we had today: wet, soggy, cold, blustery. This warms you from the inside and tastes lovely at the same time. Result.

For 4 portions you need
1 pack Linda McCartney sausages
1 tin baked beans
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin drained black eyed beans
1 onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 punnett mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 red and 1 green pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp chilli powder
salt and pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp each of hendersons relish (veggie worcester sauce), soya sauce and mushroom ketchup

Begin by sautéing the onion in the oil for about 5 mins. Add the mushrooms and cook till the juices have come out. Add the peppers and garlic and fry for another 1-2 mins. Add everything else apart from the sausages and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 5 mins. Meanwhile fry the sausages until browned. Add the sausages to the pan of stew and cook for a further 10 mins till steaming hot. Serve with mounds of buttery mash, or whatever carb you feel like. Perfeck.

Hugh’s Ten Minute Cookies

This recipe is from River Cottage Everyday. I don’t think they are as nice as Nigella’s chocolate cookies from Nigella Express, but they lasted all week for lunch boxes and were nice and chewy.

For about 16 cookies you need:
125g butter
100g caster sugar
75g light soft brown sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
150g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
100g chocolate (I like a mix of white and milk)

Melt the butter and leave to cool slightly. Mix with the sugars and then add everything else. Spoon on to greased baking sheets, well spaced, and bake for 10 mins at 150 degrees. Leave to cool slightly before moving them to a cooling rack, but not for too long or they will stick…

Speedy Microwave Syrup Sponge Pudding

I felt all Jamie last night as I managed to get a two course meal on the table in under 30 mins. Go me…

For 4-5 portions you need:
125g margarine, self raising flour and sugar
2 eggs
splash milk
3 tbsp golden syrup

Blitz together the marge, milk, flour, eggs and sugar. Place the golden syrup in the bottom of a pudding basin/pyrex bowl and scrape the batter on top. Cover with cling film and nuke on high for 3 mins 30 secs. Serve with lashings of custard.

Cheats Donuts (v)

Rachel Allen calls these Balymone Balloons. But I call them cheats donuts. They’re so simple to make, take hardly any time at all and taste d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s.

For about 12 donuts you need:
140g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
2-4 tsp sugar plus extra for tossing in once cooked
200ml soya milk

Mix everything together to make a smooth batter. Heat vegetable oil to about 180 degrees and then fry spoonfuls of the batter in the hot oil. Move them around to get them an even golden brown colour. Err on the side of small when adding the batter to ensure the middle goes puffy and gets totally cooked. Too big, and the inside will stay sticky.

Drain on kitchen paper and then toss in extra caster sugar. Add vanilla, cinammon, cardamon, lavender etc depending on what you fancy. Or serve dipped in melted chocolate or warmed jam. Addictive!

Perfect Poached Eggs

Remember, this blog is to teach my son to cook. That is all.

For a perfect poached egg you need:
1 egg
1 pan simmering water
1 tsp vinegar

Place the vinegar in the water and bring to the boil, then reduce to the barest simmer. Crack the egg into a glass and pour gently into the water. Cook for 3-4 mins till the white is set and the yolk is runny. Drain, pat on a tea towel to absorb the excess water and serve as you wish.

Lentil and Swede Shepherd’s Pie (v)

This is a lovely, rich and tasty vegan version of the classic Shepherd’s pie.

For 6-8 portions you need:
1/2 cup each of green, brown and puy lentils
3/4 cup red lentils
1/2 swede, diced into bite sized chunks
glass red wine
1 tbsp dried oregano
splash mushroom ketchup
splash soya sauce
about 1 litre dark stock (I use vecon)
pepper
2 onions, finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
mashed potato

Begin by sauteeing the onion and swede in a little oil for about 10mins. Add the garlic and lentils and then add just enough stock to cover the lentils and swede. Add the wine, soya sauce, mushroom ketchup and oregano and season with pepper. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 30-45 mins till the swede and lentils are tender. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Place into an ovenproof dish and top with mashed potato. Bake for about 40 mins till bubbling and serve with carrots and broccoli.

Eggy Bread/French Toast

A cupboard staple for breakfast or supper usually. I like it sweet with cinnamon and maple syrup. N likes it savoury with ketchup. Lex likes two slices with one of each!

For one person you need:
1 egg, lightly beaten in a shallow dish
1 slice bread
small knob butter
1 tsp veggie oil
whatever you fancy to serve with it e.g. 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon and 1 tbsp maple syrup

Begin by placing the bread in the egg. Allow to soak for a few mins on one side before turning over and letting the remaining eggs soak in to the other side. Heat a frying pan and melt the butter/oil till the butter froths. Add the soaked bread and any remaining egg and cook over a moderate heat till it puffs up and is lightly golden brown. Flip over and cook the other side. Serve hot 🙂

Nigella’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are ridiculous. Ridiculous as in delicious. And ridiculous as in calorific. But did I say delicious? Cos they are, and they freeze well too so are a good one to make in advance and freeze for lunch boxes during the week…

The recipe is taken from Nigella Express.
125g dark chocolate
150g plain flour
30g cocoa, sifted
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
125g butter, softened
75g light brown sugar
50g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
350g chocolate chips (I like to use a mix of plain, milk and white)

Begin by creaming together the butter and sugars. Add the flour, cocoa, bicarb and vanilla along with the egg. Fold in the chocolate chips and mix well. Pull off small pieces, about the size of a walnut, roll in to a ball and place on lined baking sheet. Flatten slightly. You can usually get 6-9 on each sheet.

Bake at 160 degrees for about 10 mins. Leave to cool slightly before moving to a cooling rack. Scoff whilst warm or else leave to cool completely before stacking into a freezer bag and freezing.