Tag Archive: garlic

So busy

Stupid deadlines

Family gatherings

All combine and result in me not doing too much interesting cooking really

So here is another dish from the dinner party from a while ago.

My friend Tania (http://thebadjogger.com/) was here for the dinner party and she is Portuguese – so obviously we made the classic Spanish dish of patatas bravas. The interwebz is awash with recipes for this tapas dish, but this happens to be the one we used. They differ somewhat, but apparently in Spain each place has a slightly different version anyway. So you can’t actually be wrong.

The recipe makes more sauce than you need and trust me, you will be glad. We ate it on pretty much everything for two days and were sad when it was finished.

So – you need:

500g potatoes, unpeeled and chopped into chunks or wedges

I big onion, sliced. I thought they meant chopped but they meant sliced – the slices are delicious

2 gloves or garlic, or, if you are like me and think 2 cloves of garlic are not worth getting garlicky fingers for, four cloves

1 or 2 chillis chopped small. Pips in or out depending on how butch your taste buds are. Mine are big girls so 1 small chill with no pips was enough.

2 bay leaves

4 tomatoes, unpeeled and chopped. The ones we used were big table tomatoes, but not those monster beef ones. You could peel them if you wanted but the skins were completely inoffensive once everything was cooked.

Tomato puree – if I had a jar or that squeezey tube you get I’d have used about a tablespoon. I had a small tin and I never remember to use the left overs so I put it all in

1 glass white wine. This is for the food – drink the rest of the bottle

Soya sauce – according to taste really. We probably used about a tot.

2 heaped tablespoons of sugar

1 heaped tablespoon of mayo

Olive oil for cooking

Parsley to make pretty

You do:

Par boil the potatoes. I read somewhere that to get even cooked potatoes you should put them in cold water and then allow the water to heat around them. We did that and then let them boil for about 6 minutes or so. You don’t want them cooked through. Drain them, put them on a baking tray, sprinkle with olive oil and put in a 180-ish oven for about 40 minutes.

Fry the sliced onions, garlic and bay leaf til the onion is soft. Then add the soya sauce, sugar, wine, tomato puree and chill and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Add the tomatoes and let it simmer over a low heat for about 20 minutes.

When the potatoes are ready and the sauce is bubbling away, season the sauce with a little salt and pepper if needed – do taste it first cos of the soya sauce. Dish the potatoes up, pour the sauce over the top and add a dollop of mayo and a sprinkle of parsley.

Serve with napkins


I am home for a few days before dashing off again. Sigh – travel for work is so not fun. I worked out I have spent 2 of the last 7 weeks at home. Not sure why I even bother to pay rent here.

I came home to a largely food-free zone so I had to make dinner from what was in the cupboard. And lurking there was a box of Arborio rice.

Risotto has always seemed like something real cooks, or grownups, can make. Seeing as I am neither I have never tried to make it. But we needed to eat and it was in the larder – so off I went.

I found a recipe for butternut risotto and used that as a starting point. The bf is a great fan of beetroot so I decided to include that too. He is also tired of meatless meals so some chorizo was included. So I made roasted beetroot and butternut risotto with chorizo.

I stared by chopping the beets and butternut and roasting them. Beetroot takes forever to roast so I nuked the bits first to par cook them. They then went into the oven with the butternut seasoned and oiled, and left to cook til caramelised.

When the veggies were almost cooked I chopped and sautéed an onion in olive oil with some garlic. I also put a pot of stock on to heat – the recipe called for less than half the liquid I used in the end –  so I don’t really know how much I used.

Into the frying onion went the chopped chorizo and the rice. Stirring continued until the rice was all coated in the olive oil and in went a good glass of white wine. As soon as that was cooked away I stared the stock – stir – stock process that is risotto. It took about half an hour or so.

When the rice was creamy and soft I served with grated parmesan and the roasted veggies.

The only problem with risotto is that it is so filling there is never space for seconds.

I shall be exploring risottos for sure – the perfect autumn meal (even if very hard to photograph).

bean curry

I love beans. I really do. Kidney beans, speckled beans, white beans, chick peas – beans beans glorious beans.

I also much prefer soaked and home boiled beans to tinned beans although sometimes I cave in and buy easy to use tinned beans. Not this time no. This time I did the soaking overnight and the boiling thing and so I have a bag of mixed bins in my freezer for future meals.

In the last half an hour or so of boiling I added chillies and garlic cloves to the boiling beans just to give them some depth of taste. I also added salt only at that late stage to add flavour but to prevent toughening the skins with too early salt.


I decided with all these gloriously freshly homemade beans it was time for a bean curry for dinner – it being meatless Monday n’all.


I started by sautéing onions, garlic, chilli, celery and fennel for a bit. I then added coriander, curry powder and cayenne pepper and let them heat in the dry pan. The smell of these spices heating with the beginnings of the curry had the bf lurking around the kitchen, just inhaling through his nose.


I then added a tin of chopped tomatoes, 4 ladles of mixed beans, a half a tin’s worth of red wine, chopped carrots and topped and tailed green beans. I chucked the last handful of parsley and fresh coriander I had into the pot too. Lid on and gentle simmer.


I decided we needed a mash to soak up what I hoped would be a yummy sauce, so I made a parsnip and potato mash. I let the bean curry simmer, with the lid off for the second half of the time, for as long as it took for the chunky root veggies to boil.

And serve!

The carrots were still crunchy, the fresh beans still whole and the whole lot combined into a really fulfilling and delicious meal. Good for the universe and good for the pocket.

While eating the bf and I were discussing the pros of properly made beans and he said that the superior taste was why our grandparents spent a day making food rather than opening a tin.


Soaking beans may take all day but it does not use up a whole day of your time. You just leave the chaps to soak away and then the next day you boil them. If the next day doesn’t work for you, you can change the water every 12 hours for about 3 days before it gets urgent to cook the beans. And remember – DO NOT salt the water until the very end of the cooking process. If you do, the beans skins with toughen up and be indigestible.


chicken and broccoli bake

The shops were conspiring against me yesterday. I was unable to find bits for all four meals planned for this week. And it is not as if I was looking for foie gras or squirrel droppings – I couldn’t find spinach, cauliflower, parsley and fennel! Have you ever. And I even live in a city and everything!!!

So the chicken bake planned for tonight was had last night because I had most of the bits and pieces I needed.

They were: chicken breasts, broccoli, bacon, the usual oil, garlic etc, and cheese.

To start I put a whole head of broccoli (cut into pieces obviously) into salted boiling water for about 2 minutes. Drained it went into the bottom of an over proof dish.

I cut the skinless boneless breasts into chunks and browned them in oil and butter with a bit of garlic. I took themand  the garlic bits out with a slotted spoon and put it all on top of the broccoli. I had already fried some bacon bits to crispiness and scattered those over the chicken. You wouldn’t need to do this but the recipe is from the 70s and 80s so it is to be expected really. (Actually this recipe book includes bacon in almost everything – not that I am complaining.)

Using the same pan with all that lovely flavoured butter/oil I made a roux and then stirred in 250ml chicken stock, 200ml milk and 15ml lemon juice, all warmed up. Into this white sauce I put a little grated cheese and mixed herbs. I couldn’t find parsley so that bit of the recipe I pretended not to see.

The sauce went over the chicken, bacon and broccoli and the whole lot went into a 160 oven for about an hour. I then checked it to add a little more cheese and was worried it was a bit runny. I made boiled baby potatoes so we could smash them and soak up the juice. Good thinking that was, Batman.

15 minutes after the addition of the cheese the food was ready to go.

My camera is on the verge of collapse and is struggling to focus so this was as good a pic as I could get. Next time I think I may include some mushrooms, and serve with a green veg, assuming the shops are over their persecution of me and actually have what I need on their shelves.

Just cos you think they are after you, doesn’t mean they are not.