Chocolate and red bean muffins


This recipe is loosely based on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe for Chocolate Bean Cake in Waitrose Kitchen magazine January 2015. The beans may seem like a strange ingredient, but as Hugh says “the Japanese do it all the time with lovely results”.

This recipe makes 10 small muffins:

  • 10 small muffin cases
  • 50ml light olive oil
  • 2/3rds of a can (400g) of red kidney beans (drained and rinsed – I’d already used the rest to make some spicy tuna salad)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 70g polenta (not instant polenta)
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 85g light soft brown sugar

Place the muffin cases in a muffin baking tin.

Heat the oven to 190C (Gas Mark 5).

Liquidise the oil, beans, eggs and vanilla essence.

Sieve together the polenta, cocoa, baking powder and sugar, into a large bowl.

Pour the liquid ingredients into the bowl and whisk the contents together.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases and bake for about 15 minutes until cooked.


Rice salad lunchbox


This used up the remaining red kidney beans and left-over brown rice from the chipotle prawns.

Rice salad made with cooked brown rice, red kidney beans, spring onions, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, harissa, olive oil and vinegar.

Also cherry tomatoes, beetroot and celery, and carrot sticks.

Chipotle prawns


I had some uncooked king prawns in the freezer and a ripe avocado, so I made this (for 2):

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (chopped/crushed)
  • 2 red chillies (deseeded and chopped)
  • 1 green pepper (deseeded and chopped)
  • 1 tbsp chipotle paste
  • 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • 200g (1/2 can) red kidney beans (drained)
  • 175g uncooked king prawns (peeled, if necessary)
  • 1 lime (grated zest and juice)
  • 1 avocado (roughly chopped)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook gently for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for a further 2 minutes. Increase the heat, and stir in the green pepper,  and cook for 1 minute.

Stir in the chipotle paste and the tomatoes, bring to the boil, and cook for about 20 minutes. Stir in the red beans and the prawns, bring to back the boil, and simmer for 4 minutes (or until the prawns have cooked (turned pink)).

Stir in the lime zest and add lime juice to taste. Serve scattered with chopped avocado; and with brown rice, if you want something more filling.

Chilli con carne (well a bit anyway)


Yesterday it seemed like the beginning of autumn and I needed to eat some comfort food to cheer me up. I often make vegi chilli but this time I thought I’d make a carnivorous (or “non-vegetarian” as they say in India) version. If you want to make the vegetarian version, omit the minced beef and the beef stock cube; add more vegetables and use vegetarian stock powder. This quantity will feed four:

  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 large onion (chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
  • Chillies (chopped – I used two small red ones (including the seeds) – you need to taste the mixture while cooking to make sure you get the heat you want)
  • Large pinch of oregano
  • 400g minced beef
  • 1 large green pepper (cut into 2.5cm x 1cm (approx) strips)
  • 1 large courgette (cut similarly to to the pepper)
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • Water (about 1.5 ‘tins’ (the tin which contained the chopped tomatoes))
  • 1/2 a beef stock cube
  • 400g tin of red kidney beans (drained)
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • Juice of half a lime (or similar amount of lemon juice)
  • black pepper to taste
  • Sour cream or creme fraiche
  • Grated cheddar

Heat the cooking oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion, garlic, chillies and oregano. Mix the ingredients well, turn down the heat and stir frequently over a lowish heat for about five minutes.

Raise the heat and add the minced beef. Stir (and turn) the mixture rapidly until the meat has browned.

Add the green pepper and courgette and stir for about 2 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes, the water and the stock cube, and give the mixture a stir. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, to make the guacamole cut the avocado in half and remove the stone. Remove the flesh from the shell and mash with a fork, together with the lime juice and black pepper, in a bowl. Cover the bowl and put aside. Coarsely grate enough cheddar to sprinkle over four portions of chilli.

After 30 minutes, add the red kidney beans and taste (if the mixture isn’t spicy enough at a few chilli flakes).

Serve with boiled rice (or tortillas/tacos) together sour cream (or creme fraiche) and guacamole, and the grated cheddar.


Beanz Meanz you need to be careful


In 10 August the Guardian ‘Cook’ supplement ran a feature on The 10 Best Campfire Recipes this included what looks like a tasty recipe for Cowboy Baked Beans – although the time it takes to cook could mean that you don’t see much outside your chosen camp site.

Assuming that these recipes are aimed at everyone, not just experienced cooks, not including the warning that dried beans should be fast boiled for 10 minutes prior to simmering, was a rather serious omission. I contacted the people who work on the Cook supplement and got the response: “I’ll drop a line to the recipe writers to double check the methods with them, we appreciate you bringing these details to our attention.”. Sounds like the recipes are not tested – not quite the same as Good Housekeeping where “Each and every recipe is tested at least three times”.

I looked up this problem on the web, to find that NHS Choices limited its warning to red kidney beans and soya beans, but that wikihow warned about all types of uncooked beans. I always thought that the only pulses that didn’t require this treatment were lentils.

I’ll continue to fast boil all my beans for at least 10 minutes – better safe than sorry!