Thursday, March 12, 2009

Haricot Bean Soup

This soup is basically a thick bean puree. Haricot beans are cooked to the stage where they are soft but not disintegrated. The celery, leeks and tomato should also be very soft, so that they can easily be pushed through a sieve. An egg yolk liaison binds the soup. Recipe serves 6-8.


1 cup haricot beans
5 cups water
Bouquet garni
1 medium onion
1 clove garlic
4-5 sticks celery
2 leeks ( white part only) or 2 onions
3 tablespoons oil
4 large tomatoes
2 egg yolks


1. Soak beans in water to cover overnight. Cook beans in water with bouquet garni, onion and garlic until tender, about 1 hour.
2. Finely chop celery and white part of leeks or onions. Cook them in the oil until soft, but not colored. Chop tomatoes roughly, add to vegetables and saute gently for about 10 minutes.
3. Discard onion, garlic and bouquet garni from beans. Combine beans and liquid with vegetables and rub through a sieve or puree in a blender. Season with salt and bring to the boil, stirring.
4. Just before serving, take off heat and mix in egg yolks which have been combined with 2 tablespoons of hot soup. Reheat but do not allow to boil. Serve with croutons of bread fried lightly in garlic-flavored oil.

Monday, March 9, 2009


This delicious Mediterranean vegetable dish can be served hot or cold as a first course or an accompaniment to a main dish. It makes an economical meal if cooked with eggs and served as a light lunch or supper dish.


6 zucchini
2 large onions
1 green pepper (capsicum)
1 clove garlic
3 tomatoes
1/2 cup oil


1. Wash zucchini and cut into thick diagonal slices. Place on a plate and sprinkle with salt. Peel onions and slice. Remove core and seed from pepper and slice. Crush garlic, skin, seed and slice tomatoes. Mix garlic with oil. Rinse zucchini with cold water and drain. Arrange prepared vegetables on baking dish, season between layers.
2. Pour oil and garlic mixture over, cover with a lid or foil and bake in a preheated moderately hot oven (375 degrees F/190 degrees C) for 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender. If you have a heavy casserole, cook ratatouille on top of the stove over moderate heat about 30 minutes. Serve either hot or cold.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Beef, Potato and Spinach Meatloaf

A particularly tasty loaf which can be eaten as a hot meal, it teams well with potatoes and salad or vegetables, although the greens are included in the mixture for the loaf. Any leftover meatloaf makes an ideal filling for school or work lunchboxes or sandwiches. Served cold, it is a great picnic dish. In a log tin the loaf will have a little more fat content than if you make this in a free-form shape, as the fat will come away onto the tray as it cooks. Recipe serves 4.


1 slice white or brown bread, broken into small pieces
2 tablespoons water
8 ounces (250 g) potato, peeled
1 small onion
8 ounce (250 g) packet frozen spinach
12 ounces (375 g) lean ground beef (mince)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/3 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons ketchup (tomato sauce)
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon hot mustard


1. Preheat the oven to moderate 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Place the bread and water into a large bowl and stir. Grate the potato over the top and grate the onion.
2. Cook the spinach in a saucepan for a couple of minutes or until soft and separated and add to the bowl. Leave to cool completely.
3. Mix in the beef with seasonings and herbs and stir everything together very well.
4. For a free-form loaf grease the base of a shallow casserole or oven tray. Put the beef into the center and form it into an oblong loaf. You can also place the meatloaf into a greased log or bread tin with a 1 pound (500 g) capacity if you prefer a rectangular shape.
5. Bake for 25 minutes for a free-form loaf or for 30 minutes in a cake tin.
6. After cooking, mix all the topping ingredients and brush them over the loaf with a pastry brush. Return meatloaf to the oven and bake for 5 minutes, then brush again and continue cooking for a further 10 minutes or until the meat is cooked through.

Apricot and Hazelnut Stuffing

This is an unusual stuffing made with fruit and nuts. Allow the stuffing to cool before inserting it into the bird. Stuffs 3-4 pound (1.4-1.8 kg) chicken.


3 ounces (90 g) dried apricots
2 ounces (60 g) onion
1 celery stick
1 1/2 ounces (45 g) butter
1 ounce (30 g) shelled hazelnuts
2 ounces (60 g) white bread
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Freshly ground black pepper


1. Put the apricots in a bowl and pour over enough boiling water to just cover. Leave to stand while preparing the other ingredients.
2. Peel and finely chop the onion. Wash and chop the celery.
3. Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Gently fry the onion and celery until soft, but not brown.
4. Meanwhile roughly chop the hazelnuts. Drain and chop the apricots, reserving the liquid.
5. Make the breadcrumbs by grating on a coarse grater. With the pan off the heat add the crumbs to the pan. Add hazelnuts, apricots and lemon zest, with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Mix thoroughly. The apricots should provide enough moisture to bind the stuffing loosely. If the mixture seems too dry to bind, add a little of the water in which the apricots were soaked.

Beef Patties with a Fresh Vegetable Relish

An old trick to extend ground (minced) meat is to begin with a small amount of a light pancake batter and mix the raw meat into this base. It forms a light but meaty patty which won't crumble as you turn it in the pan and it cuts neatly on the plate. A modern touch is given with a topping of diced raw vegetable relish, similar in its nature to the Mexican-style salsas. Recipe serves 4.


1/4 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
1 egg
2 tablespoons cream or milk
1 small onion
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/3 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
12 ounces (375 g) finely ground (minced) lean beef
1 tablespoon tomato or mango chutney
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 large tomato, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 small zucchini finely diced
Dash of chili sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon oil
Extra oil, to cook the patties


1. Put the flour, egg and milk into a bowl. Grate the onion coarsely over the top and add the thyme, salt, pepper, beef and chutney.
2. Mix well with your hands or a wooden spoon. Divide into 8 rounds and using damp hands flatten out to about 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) thick.
3. Refrigerate patties for 20 minutes or they can be kept in the fridge for up to 12 hours if covered with some plastic wrap.
4. To make the relish, mix onion, tomato, garlic, zucchini, chili sauce, lemon juice, sugar and oil together and leave aside for the flavors to mellow. Brush the base of a frying pan with extra oil.
5. Add the beef patties and cook on both sides until brown. Turn the heat down and cook gently until lightly cooked through to the center.
6. Remove and top each one with some fresh relish and serve with a salad for added goodness.

Tip: The relish can be kept for up to 12 hours and if too much liquid forms around it drain in a sieve then add a couple of tablespoons of the liquid and stir to moisten it again.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Pot-Roasted Lamb

Use a boned leg of lamb for this dish, or the more economical boned shoulder. If you own an electric slow cooker you can put it on low before you leave for work and come home to a superb main course all ready to serve. Recipe serves 6.


4 pound (2 kg) leg or shoulder of lamb
2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, sliced
2 sticks celery, sliced
4 carrots, scraped
1 1/2 pound (750 g) new potatoes, scrubbed
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup white wine or chicken stock
8 ounces (250 g) sausage meat
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 clove garlic, crushed


1. Trim excess fat from the lamb. To make the stuffing, combine the sausage meat, onion, parsley, oregano and garlic and stuff the lamb with the mixture. Secure in place with string or skewers.
2. To cook the lamb, heat the oil in a heavy flameproof casserole or saucepan and brown the lamb all over. Add the vegetables to the pan, season with salt and pepper, and pour in the wine or stock. Cover tightly and cook over a low heat for 2 hours, or until the lamb is very tender. The lamb may also be cooked for 2 hours in a moderate oven (350 degrees F/180 degrees C) or in a slow cooker set at the lowest heat for 7 to 8 hours.
3. Serve the lamb sliced, with the cooking juices poured over and accompanied by the vegetables.

Pot-Roasted Pork with Madeira

Serve this for a special occasion. A hand of pork is richly flavored and tender cooked with vegetables and fruity Madeira wine. Recipe serves 4-6.


1 hand of pork, skinned and boned
2 ounces (60 g) butter
2 onions, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
4 sticks celery, finely chopped
4 ounces (125 g) mushrooms, finely sliced (including stalks)
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup Madeira
Chopped parsley, to garnish


1. Ask the butcher to skin and bone the hand of pork. Remove any fat from the pork. Heat the butter in a heavy saucepan or flameproof casserole and add the onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms. Cook over a medium heat until the vegetables are soft but not brown, stirring often. Place the pork on top of the vegetables, add the thyme and bay leaf to the pan, and season with salt and pepper. Pour in the Madeira, cover tightly, and cook over a low heat for 2 hours, or until the meat is very tender.
2. Remove the meat and keep warm. Discard the bay leaf and puree the sauce and vegetables in a blender, or push through a sieve. Slice the meat and arrange on a heated platter. Reheat the sauce to boiling, taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary, and pour over the meat. Sprinkle with parsley to serve.

Note: Tiny new potatoes steamed in their skins would be good with this, or your family might like buttered rice or noodles.