my big fat greek baked beans (gigantes plaki)

I have always had a soft spot for these delicious Greek baked beans, they are easy to make, all plant based and excellent with warm flatbreads (check out my pizza dough recipe to make truly fresh flatbreads) and my creamy bean hummus (takes 5 minutes) with a crisp green salad. If you aren’t going down the vegan route then they are fantastic served with a big block of feta, some olives and warm flatbreads for a tasty mezze.

Recipe

450g of dried broad beans (butter beans) I get them from my local Middle Eastern supermarket or online

1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

1 peeled clove of garlic

1/2 cup of good olive oil

1 large red onion finely chopped

a small bunch of parsley finely chopped

1 teaspoon of dried oregano

1/2 a stick of celery finely chopped or a pinch of celery salt

1 teaspoon of maple syrup (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

How

Firstly put the beans in a container of water, making sure they are all submerged and leave overnight. I topped the water up as they swelled up quite a bit.

The next day

Drain the beans and stick in a pan and cover with cold water and add a big pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and gently simmer for an hour or until tender. Drain and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 180c /350f

In a deep baking dish or pan, put in the chopped onion, garlic clove and olive oil, and bake for 10 mins.

Now add the drained beans, parsley, celery or celery salt, salt and pepper and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and stir in the tinned tomatoes, half a cup of water and the oregano, cover in tin foil tightly and cook for an hour or until the beans are really tender and the sauce is thick and unctuous, you might have to add more water if they get too dry, and stir them occasionally. Check the seasoning and serve warm or at room temperature. Stores in the fridge for a few days.

mock crispy duck canapés

these are a lower carb version of the little mock duck pancakes that I get from Feng Sushi in London. They are absolutely delicious and moreish and I love a canapé, I’d live on them if I could as they are tiny and tasty. You can serve them on Chinese pancakes if you prefer.

makes about 15

Ingredients

1 block of very firm tofu ( I use Tofoo co but Sainsbury’s are making it too now)

a jar of good quality hoisin sauce (check for gluten if you are gluten free)

a bunch of spring/green onions

1 large cucumber

a cup of cornflour in a bowl

quarter of a cup of oil (I use mild coconut)

black sesame seeds

Salt

Lime wedges (optional)

How

firstly slice the onions lengthwise as fine as possible and put them into iced water to curl up, this takes about an hour.

Next chop the tofu into very small cubes and stick into the cornflour bowl, then remove and gently shake the excess flour off (this can be a bit messy, wear an apron to be on the safe side) Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the tofu till crispy and golden then drain on a clean kitchen towel and sprinkle with salt.

Cut the cucumber into thin discs that are thick enough to be rigid to hold the rest of the ingredients and place on a serving plate.

Put one or two pieces of tofu on to the cucumber discs with a splodge of the hoisin sauce. Drain the onions on a tea towel and garnish the tofu with as much as you fancy. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds and add an optional squeeze of lime and serve.

If using Chinese pancakes (available from Chinese supermarkets, Waitrose and Tesco) cut them in half and add the crispy tofu, onions, and hoisin sauce with some slivers of cucumber and roll them up.

apple snow

my mum used to make this traditional English apple dessert on special occasions and according to what I’ve read about it’s history the recipe dates back to the 17th century and was called apple fluff amongst other things. I remember big bowls of it in the larder where I would stick my finger in and scoop up a delicious morsel. It’s light as a feather and you can add a teaspoon of your favourite spice to it if you fancy, to make it more Christmassy. It’s a great alternative to all the rich festive food and works as a light pud all year round.

serves 3-4 or multiply it for more people

Ingredients

1lb of Bramley apples, peeled cored and diced

3/4 cup of sugar

1 lemon, zest and juice

2 egg whites

1 optional teaspoon of spice, I added allspice

How

Stew the apples with 1/2 cup approx of the sugar with the lemon juice and zest (and mixed spice if using) until tender, this takes about ten to twenty minutes. They should be quite dry at the end, so continue to cook till all the liquid has evaporated. Leave to cool and blend in a blender or with a stick blender till smooth.

With a hand blender, whisk up the egg whites with the remaining sugar until stiff. Then gently fold the egg whites into the apple mixture until mixed through.

Spoon into serving glasses and serve with a small biscuit or shortbread.

NB it’s not advisable for pregnant women or people suffering with a compromised immune system to eat raw egg.

pasta con baccalà in rosso

This delicious traditional Italian pasta recipe is made with salt cod in a tomato sauce: the salt cod needs a couple of days prep in advance but it’s really easy and really worth it. It’s the most delicious combination of textures and the salt cod has a divine flavour. Salt cod is an excellent store cupboard ingredient too. 


Ingredients

Serves 2

  • 200g of salt cod/fish (prepared, see below)
  • 300g tin of chopped tomatoes 
  • 1 tbs of aged balsamic vinegar 
  • 1 tsp of maple syrup 
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • A pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 4  tbsp of olive oil
  • A small bunch of fresh parsley finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic peeled and finely slice.
  • Juice and zest of half a lemon
  • 200g of any long pasta (I made mine with linguine)

How:

To prepare the salt cod it needs to be soaked for 2 days, changing the water three times a day. I store it in the fridge. Drain it thoroughly. The skin, if it has any, can then be removed and any bones too. Cut into chunks.

In a frying pan, sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil till soft, put in the tomatoes, the lemon zest, a little pinch of the chilli, the maple syrup, the balsamic and the cod and gently simmer for 30 minutes with a lid on. If it starts to dry out add a splash of water.

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet and mix with the sauce in the pan. Squeeze a bit of lemon over the top and sprinkle with the parsley. Check the seasoning, I add a good grinding of pepper as it might not need salt, or very little. 

I shop at:
Waitrose
Sainsbury’s
Tesco
Lidl

baccalà alla Napoletana

This Italian recipe is made on Christmas Eve and holidays but I like to eat it anytime and it’s made with the unbelievably delicious dried salted cod which is rehydrated in the fridge for 3 days before you cook it (salted dried cod is a brilliant store cupboard ingredient and it’s available in most supermarkets in the world food section or a Spanish or Italian deli). It’s a complete meal with the potatoes, just add a crisp green salad and that’s lunch or dinner sorted… if you are extra hungry you could add some roasted sourdough with olive oil and a scraping of fresh garlic. It’s even delicious served at room temperature. if you haven’t got time to soak the salt cod, you can use fresh cod cut into chunks and put it in the stew to poach for the last ten minutes of cooking or till cooked through.

Ingredients

Serves 4

  • 400g of dried salted cod which is rehydrated in the fridge in water for 3 days, refreshing the water about two to three times a day. If it tastes pleasantly salty it’s ready, if not repeat for another day, or 500g of fresh cod.
  • 5 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 finely diced celery stalks
  • 2 large peeled potatoes
  • Half a red pepper chopped
  • 1 large red onion finely chopped
  • 1 cup of fish stock (I always use Knorr stock pots, they are brilliant)
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • A handful of black olives (stoned)
  • A small pinch of chilli flakes, or to taste
  • 1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of capers
  • A small bunch of chopped parsley
  • Pepper and salt to taste

How:

Firstly prepare the potatoes by cutting them into small chunks and blanching them in boiling water for a few minutes. Drain them and set aside.

prepare the fish by draining it thoroughly, pat dry with a clean tea towel and then remove any of the skin. Cut into medium sized chunks, about the size of your thumb.

Put the olive oil into a large pan and on a medium heat fry the cod pieces till they cooked through.Take out and set aside.

Put the chopped pepper, celery and onion in the pan and sauté till soft, about six minutes. Add the fish stock, tomatoes, olives, white wine, chilli flakes and capers and bring to a simmer.

Add the potatoes and gently cook for another six minutes. Add the cod, some pepper and some of the parsley and cook on a low heat for a further twenty minutes. Check the seasoning. Serve straight away with a sprinkle of the remaining parsley. 

I shop at:
Waitrose
Sainsbury’s
Tesco
Lidl

marinated tomato salad with pickled shallots

I was inspired to make this simple salad after I had a similar tomato salad at the excellent Turnips restaurant in Borough Market. It’s really delicious on its own or with burrata, as a side to a main meal or with or on toasted sourdough bread. You can add chopped herbs like basil and parsley to it too if you fancy. 


Ingredients

Serves 2-3

Dressing 

  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 to 2 tbs balsamic (I always use Belazu aged balsamic)
  • 1/2 tsp Maldon salt
  • 1-2 tsp of maple syrup 
  • A big grinding of black pepper

How:

Whisk all the dressing ingredients in a big bowl.

Place the tomatoes and half a cup of the pickled shallots into the dressing, gently stir through and refrigerate for at least two hours or up to eight.

Before serving, bring the salad up to room temperature for half an hour and add more pepper. 

I shop at:
Waitrose
Sainsbury’s
Tesco
Lidl

spaghetti con la bottarga

I have been meaning to put this Sicilian recipe on the blog for a long time as I adore it and love bottarga. Bottarga is a dried, salted fish roe which is a condiment that adds the unique flavour of the sea to the pasta. You can buy it in most Italian delis or online and a little goes a long way, as you only use a small amount. The breadcrumbs add a bit of texture and you can add some lemon zest too like I do. It’s perfect for dinner for two with a salad.

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cherry sorbet

I love cherries in anything, and this delicious sorbet is all raw. I buy a bag of frozen stoned dark cherries from the freezer department in my local Sainsbury’s (they are only £2.00 for 500g which is a bargain) 

The sorbet is beyond easy to make, no churn and I like to serve it with biscotti and or some shaved dark chocolate on top… or just garnished with fresh cherries.

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easy imam bayildi

This aubergine recipe is absolutely one of my favourite things ever. It’s an ancient Middle Eastern recipe that is so delicious I could eat it every day. I serve it with warm flat breads, Greek yogurt (or Oatly crème fraîche if you are dairy free) and salad and it’s the perfect lunch or starter. It’s brilliant with my Baked Falafel too. Sometimes I add toasted pine nuts on top with the mint and parsley leaves. My friend Giada and I had it for lunch on toast with hummus and it was delicious.

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