Cajun rice and beans

I had half a can of red kidney beans, and most of the other ingredients, so this seemed like a good winter supper. This is another recipe adapted from Waitrose’s ‘Harvest 2015′ booklet. Enough for 4 people:

  • 1 tbsp oilCajun_rice&beans
  • 1 leek (chopped)
  • 3 tsp ‘cajun’ seasoning
  • 1 chilli (deseeded and finely chopped)
  • 1 courgette (roughly chopped)
  • 1 red pepper (cored, deseeded and roughly chopped)
  • 200g parsnips (peeled and diced)
  • 60g brown rice
  • 60g Camargue and wild rice
  • 160g can of sweetcorn (drained)
  • 1/2 a 400g can red kidney beans
  • 1/2 a 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • 400ml vegi stock
  • Black pepper (to taste)

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Add the leeks and gently cook for 5 minutes. Add the Cajun seasoning and chilli and cook for a further 2 minutes. Stir in the courgette, red pepper, parsnip and the rice, and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Stir in the sweetcorn, the beans, the tomatoes and the stock. Bring to the boil, cover, and simmer for about 35 minutes until the rice is cooked (add more stock if necessary). Season with black pepper to taste.

I served mine with avocado (mashed with a little lemon juice) and grated cheddar.

Rice gratin


This is an adaptation (the ingredients have substantially changed) of Dish of the Month which appeared on the February 2014 edition of Waitrose Kitchen magazine. It was an Yotam Ottolenghi recipe. Enough for 4:

  • 275 g cherry tomatoes (peeled and halved)
  • 50g camargue rice (I used Waitrose LOVE life red camargue & wild rice)
  • 70g brown rice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 stick of celery (finely chopped)
  • 250g spinach (washed and spun in a salad-spinner to remove any moisture)
  • 80g feta (I used Sainsbury’s Basics Greek style salad cheese)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 80g Greek yogurt
  • 40g double cream
  • black pepper (to taste)
  • 60g mature cheddar (grated)
  • 20g parmesan (grated)

Put the tomato halves on a baking sheet and cook in the oven at 120C (Gas Mark 1/2) for about 1.5 hours until semi-dried.

Put all the rice in one pan and cook until tender (about 25 minutes). Drain.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and very gently cook the onion and celery for 15 minutes. Turn up the heat and add the spinach, stirring constantly until it has all wilted. Remove from the heat, crumble in the feta, mix well and allow to cool for about 15 minutes.

Whisk together the eggs, yogurt, double cream and black pepper. Add this to the rice mixture, and add 2/3rds of the tomatoes. Make sure everything is well combined and transfer to an oven-proof dish. Sprinkle the remaining tomatoes and the grated cheeses over the top.

Bake in the oven at 180C (Gas Mark 4) for 40 minutes until set and golden brown on top.

When I made this dish, I was in a hurry, so I used the microwave instead. Starting with a warm rice mixture, I microwaved it on ‘high’ for 8 minutes and then browned the dish under the grill. I don’t that the finished product suffered as a result.


In praise of fat again!

Why is it, that people attempt to create ridiculous ‘healthy’ versions of things which are only delicious because of a generous helping of fat, sugar, or anything else deemed to be harmful?

I decided to make Vegetable Rosti Pie (it should really be called Vegetable Rosti Sludge) which featured in the Waitrose ‘Winter Harvest 2014’ recipe booklet (and – another whinge – why doesn’t Waitrose put these things on line?). This recipe has NO oil/fat in it apart from some in the low fat yogurt. I Googled ‘Rosti‘ and the first link I got was How to cook the perfect rösti (clearly authentic as ‘rösti‘ was spelt properly (with an umlaut)!), which suggests using goose fat.

Why are we bombarded with inferior versions of things that are excellent in their original form? For example, this recipe for millionaire’s shortbread from a raw food fanatic. It may look like millionaire’s shortbread if you have bad eyesight and the light is really dim, but it will taste (and feel) like something completely different (and certainly not like the version Thornton’s do)!


Anyway, back to this Waitrose recipe. Mine was adapted, because I didn’t have all the ingredients and I decided to substitute olive oil for some of the low fat yogurt (I’m not sure that this improved the result). For two people:

  • 1 slice (4cm wide) of a large sweet potato (peeled and coarsely grated)
  • Swede (peeled and coarsely grated), the same quantity as the sweet potato
  • Butternut squash (peeled, deseeded and coarsely grated), the same quantity as the sweet potato
  • 1 small shallot (finely sliced) or equivalent onion
  • 200g cannellini beans (drained – half a large can (you could store the rest in the fridge use the rest in minestrone))
  • 4-5 sprigs of parsley (chopped)
  • 3 tbp olive oil
  • 3 tbp low fat yogurt
  • 3/4 tsp ground coriander
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Blanch all the vegetables in boiling water for 3 minutes and drain.

Mix the beans, parsley, olive oil, yogurt, coriander and black pepper in a large bowl. Add the vegetables.

Mix well, and press into a lightly greased ovenproof dish.

Cook at 190C (gas mark 5) for 40 minutes (or until the surface begins to brown).

Serve with poached eggs.

I will make this recipe again, but I shall be ditching the yogurt and olive oil for a generous helping of goose fat, and I will also omit the cannellini beans which seem to add nothing (except protein), and have a rather unpleasant texture when they start to brown.

Brussels sprouts – love `em or hate `em?


Personally I hate Brussels sprouts. I haven’t cooked one for decades, but I may have eaten one or two at office Christmas lunches (in my former life). It’s not that I don’t like green vegetables – this couldn’t possibly be the case, as only yesterday evening I cooked a ‘green risotto‘ (more about this tomorrow).

They just don’t – in my opinion – taste nice.

I now see that Waitrose has come up with the ‘Kid Friendly’ sprout. I’m not sure why they’ve restricted the name to ‘children’, I’m sure there must be a lot of adults who hate this awful vegetable as well, particularly as “previous polls have suggested nearly a third of the sprouts bought in the run-up to Christmas Day are actually eaten” (ie more than 2/3rds are wasted!).

Mind you, as far as waste is concerned, given that most pre-Christmas supermarket shoppers appear to be stocking up for WW3, this enormous rate of food waste may not be unique to Brussels sprouts!

Urrrgh!!!! Frozen Strawberry Alert!


No sooner do I praise Lidl’s frozen ‘Fruits of the Forest‘, than Lidl changes the ingredients.

A  visit to my local store revealed a new product ‘Fruits of the Black Forest’, which contains strawberries according the illustration on the packaging. This seems particularly odd because both Sainsbury’s and Waitrose sell ‘Black Forest Fruits’, neither of which contain strawberries.

I have pointed this out to Lidl by email and await a response.

In search of tasty vegiburgers again


I later tried making the vegiburgers in In search of tasty vegiburgers with the suggested main ingredient (two fairly large sweet potatoes). I also doubled the amount of curry powder and ditched the pitta breads.

I served the burgers on plates with salad together with mango chutney (I like Waitrose’s ‘Hot & Spicy’ variety) and a dressing made with about 200 ml of Greek yogurt mixed with a heaped teaspoon of turmeric, two tablespoons of chopped mint and a squeeze of lemon juice.

The result tasted spicier, which was good; but it was difficult to tell the burgers from the previous ones made from old potatoes and carrots – so maybe most root vegetables would do (possibly not turnips which have a strong flavour and a ‘hard’ texture).

In search of tasty vegiburgers

The August Waitrose Kitchen magazine ran a feature on burgers with “va va voom”. This included Spiced Sweet Potato Burgers.

Having a few ‘bog standard’ potatoes and a couple of carrots lying around, I decided to make something similar, substituting mashed carrots (thinly sliced, boiled and mashed) and potatoes (microwaved in their skins, scooped out and mashed) for the sweet potato. The recipe said that the sweet potatoes should be diced and roasted (and then mashed), which might have improved the texture of the burgers (mine were a bit wet, but maintained their shape).

This is my version of the recipe (for four people). I’ll call it Spiced Potato & Carrot Burgers:

• 4 medium sized potatoes, microwaved in their skins, scooped out and mashed
• 2 carrots, thinly sliced, boiled and mashed
• olive oil
• ½ onion chopped
• 2 tsp curry powder
• ½ tsp chilli flakes
• 400g can butter beans, drained
• 1 tbsp mango chutney, plus extra to serve
• 3 tbsp chopped coriander
• 4 pitta breads
• Lettuce, sliced tomatoes, chopped spring onions, additional chopped coriander

1 Heat a little oil in a frying pan and gently fry the chopped onion for 5 minutes. Add the spices; fry for 2 minutes.

2 In a bowl, mash the beans with a fork into a chunky puree. Mash in the cooked onion and mashed potato/carrot. Stir in the chutney and coriander; season.

3 Rub your hands with a little oil, then shape four burgers (I used a large, plain ‘cookie cutter’ to shape mine). Bake on a lined baking sheet for about 35 minutes until golden (200C; gas mark 6).

4 Slice open the pittas, spread with mango chutney and fill with lettuce, sliced tomatoes, chopped spring onions, additional chopped coriander, and a burger.

Because I used pitta bread, rather than a burger bun, I found I had to squash the burgers into the pitta breads. The result was a satisfying meal, but I felt that it was under seasoned.

Next time, I’ll use sweet potatoes (roasted) and far more curry powder!