25 August 2009

Bean and courgette casserole

Tuesdays are normally salad nights. That is, we have salad for dinner in our efforts at a healthier lifestyle, however, I sill had some of the lovely French beans left over, a few baby courgettes and lots of young runner beans from my last PYO escapade. They'd gone a bit limp, but were otherwise unharmed after the long stay in the fridge. But needed to be used up pretty much ASAP. So I planned ahead this morning and flicked through my Bulgarian National Cuisine book to find something suitable. And I did - green bean stew.


But as often is the case, the recipes in the book are just to get me started, I always end up adding more things. Besides, it recommends serving every dish with yogurt on top and that's just not right.


4 tbsp grapeseed oil
2 medium onions
2 cans (400 g) plum tomatoes
2 dl boiling water
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp crushed chillies
500 g courgettes
250 g French beans
250 g runner beans
1 tbsp plain flour
4 tbsp chopped parsley
salt to taste

  1. Peel and dice the onions

  2. Cut off any stalks, wash and cut the beans in 2-3 cm long pieces.

  3. Trim, wash and slice the courgettes.

  4. Heat up the oil on medium heat and fry the onion until it goes translucent.

  5. Blend the tomatoes and add to the onion, then add the boiling water, paprika and crushed chillies and stir in well.

  6. When it starts bubbling, add the beans and the courgettes, cover and let simmer for 15 - 20 minutes.

  7. Sprinkle the flour to thicken a bit.

  8. Add the parsley and salt, stir and it's ready to serve.

Today I also put in a packet of Swedish meatballs to get them heated through. Unfortunately I did this after I'd cooked the casserole, so the courgettes went a bit yellowy and over-cooked.

Overall, the combo worked OK and as carbs, we had some of the tiny bread buns I baked the other day. I think that Bulgarian meatballs would work better. Of course the bean casserole would work well on it's own as well. The book has some 20 other recipes where the main vegetable is varied only, so alternatives are endless.

21 August 2009

Enhanced Gazpacho

Last week Lundulph and I visited some god friends that we'd not seen for a long time and we had Gazpacho from New Covent Garden. It was very tasty and had noting to do with what Lundulph had concocted at primary school and certainly not related to the stuff I bought in Spain many years ago that came in a carton as well. This tasted more like Bularian tomato sauce without the potatoes.


But they only had one packet left at the supermarket, so I decided to enhance it with the baby courgettes and beautiful French beans I picked last Sunday. The Pick Your Own farm has become quite an addiction.

I didn't measure things sadly. I cut the courgettes with my alligator cutter into match sticks and fried them in quite a lot of ground nut oil. When they were well browned, I poured out as much as I could, then poured the soup over them and put back on the hop to heat through. I added about a tea spoon of hot crushed chillies, a tea spoon of dill and a tea spoon of thyme and stirred through. In the mean time I steamed the French beans. To be on the safe side, I topped with a table spoon of crème fraîche and crispy bacon.

Pretty quick and very tasty. Pity I only had one pack of the soup. In the future it would be nice to work out a good recipe for gazpacho though.

18 August 2009

Paprika Chicken

Yes, once again it is time for a Ye Olde Recipe Collection. I've been keeping the whole pile of them in my breadbasket in readiness to be used and finally I'm kicking into action.

This is one of two I've selected for this week, and since there were plenty of left overs, I doubt I'll do the second one before the week-end.

It fits nicely with our continuous attempts at eating healthily too. It is the Paprika Chicken with Spicy Red Cabbage and Beetroot.

Looking at the recipe 500 g of chicken seemed way too little for 4 portions. I had two massive chicken breasts from the butcher and they came in at just under 700 g. At this point I mis-read the recipe and mixed the paprika with a little flour instead of salt. So I added salt after I'd put the bits in the pan to fry.

For the red cabbage and beetroot, I followed the recipe, but I peeled the beetroot, as the skin looked too tough to cook.

Finally I used a bit more than 75 g of crème fraîche too, but it melted when I put it into the chicken juices for the sauce. Looking at the picture, the sauce looks a lot thicker, so I wonder if the instruction to heat up until it bubbles is correct. It worked though, it was just very little, for the runny consistency, so will remember to heat up the cooking juices and the water, then take off the heat and mix in the crème fraîche. Or make a lot more of the runny variant.


Combined with our own homegrown potatoes, what we ended up with is one fabulous and festive dinner. The paprika on the chicken was very nice and with the sauce, it just tasted so very creamy. Lundulph was a bit unsure about the beetroot at the beginning. He likes the crinkly cut variety from a jar and I did buy him some boiled ones, but they were not a hit. He pinched one of the matchstick pieces and said it didn't taste of anything. I thought it had a quite clear and distinct flavour, though not as strong as the pickled ones. Either way, red onion, red cabbage and beetroot is a very good combination and I could have been a bit more generous with the crushed chillies too.

This one is definitely a winner. Yummy!