10th October 2010
Bean Feast
In celebration of a flying visit by my vegetarian, gluten-intolerant, lactose-averse landlady Aline we hosted a Bean Feast at our flat. Everything with beans!

I contributed my staple Fasolia and a new dish for me - Boston Baked Beans.
The beans came about as I was looking for ways to use up some nice fatty belly pork left over from our latest yacht trip down to the Farne Islands, where we spent a very comfortable night anchored off Lindisfarne holy island.
I attempted to combine a number of different source recipes from the fatuous (a Heston Blumenthal recipe mysteriously retired from their website - to which he seems to have forgotten to add the pork) through the modern (Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstallington's solid entry uses Black Treacle) to the Hillbilly traditional.

Tomatoes, fresh or in purée or ketchup form definitely mark the dividing line between Boston beans and the Heinz style baked bean varieties. I decided to try the tomato-free version.

Aline cooked up the remaining Feast entrants - and very nice some of them were too. Her Black Bean Brownies were surprisingly tasty, and I particularly liked the 4-bean salad. Aline - I didn't think it was too salty at all!

Slightly sadly, our bean feast was not particularly well attended, which means my lazy friends missed out on a delicious meal, but has the advantage of leaving me with a stuffed fridge.
Just a shame it's stuffed with beans.


Not Heinz. Boston.
Boston Baked Beans
side main

Serves 4

Soak the beans overnight in plenty of water.
Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas 2.
Drain and rinse the beans, put them in a pot with the bay leaves, cover with 2" water and bring to the boil. Skim off any foam which rises, then boil until the beans are soft, but not shedding their skins.
Transfer to an ovenproof dish (if the one you're using isn't).
Cut the belly pork into 2" cubes and add to the beans. Stir in the brown sugar, molasses, mustard powder and the Worcestershire Sauce.
Press the cloves into one of the shallots, then add them and the crushed garlic to the pot. Season with the pepper, add a little water if necessary to cover the beans, put the lid on the dish and bake in the oven until tender, stirring every hour or so and adding more water if necessary.
Uncover the beans and season with salt for the final hour of baking to evaporate off any excess moisture.
I really expected this would take only about 4 hours to bake, but my beans actually took more like 10.
That might have been because I didn't boil up the beans until they were completely softened to start with. Or it might be because I didn't completely cover the beans with water when I started them baking.
Remove the clove-studded shallot before serving.
I didn't think these beans were particularly special, but I guess they're tasty enough.
Mine seemed a bit too sweet so I've suggested reducing the sugar content slightly.
Maybe I'll try out the more common tomato-based version sometime...

Four Bean Salad
salad veg vegan

Serves 4

Cook your beans and drain them. Stir in the dressing ingredients whilst the beans are still warm.
Adjust the quantities to suit your taste, it's nice with plenty of coriander though.
I didn't get to see quite what dressing proportions Aline used, but the result was very tasty.

Thai Bean Curry
oriental curry main veg vegan thai
Not sure what went into this concoction, except that there were a lot of foaming puréed yellow split peas which looked very pretty and made a nice thickening agent.

Maybe Aline will enlighten us - watch this space...

Ingredients - Just a guess really
Yep, here's Aline's description of her fine Thai dish.
I wasn't really watching what she did though, so we'll just have to take it on trust (I'm pretty sure she forgot the cashews!):

As for the curry...

fry chillies and ginger, then add mushrooms (lots) to replace the meat :) then add few spoons of coconut milk + large spoon or two of that tasty Thai curry paste (I normally use 1 large spoon per can of coconut milk), more obviously if you like it spicy!

Leave the mushrooms to cook and soak up the paste etc, then add the cubed aubergine, canned/sliced chestnuts and bamboo shoots + fresh lime leaves with the remaining coconut milk, I used 2 cans here to feed the army!
Then left to cook for a while.

When all almost cooked, I added well cooked and pureed yellow split peas (I think half a bag it was, ca. 250g?), these are not necessary for a tasty Thai curry but they make the sauce a lot more substantial and nutritious!

Finally, I chucked in thinly sliced carrots (*), half a bag of frozen peas and in the very end - cos I like these crunchy - chunks of red pepper, sliced courgette + fresh sweet basil leaves (lots!)

...I think that was it!

(*)Please acknowledge my fantastic KP George :) There was a lot of veggies to chop
Thanks George!

Onion Bread
bread veg
Just regular bread really - only with onions.

See I've just got a new bread machine (nice cheap one from Lidl - seemed like a bargain though I'm a bit worried by how weedy the motor seems to be) and I didn't want to start off with anything too fancy first time out, but wanted a loaf with a bit more interest than plain old french so I just started it up the basic white recipe. Then whilst it did it's thing I gently caramelised a couple of onions in butter until they were nicely shrivelled and brown, squeezed them free of excess fat in kitchen paper, mixed them up with some flour, then added them to the bread when the machine paused for nuts or raisins or whatever.
The result was pretty good I thought. I was afraid it might end up too greasy with all the extra fat but it was OK.
I've seen a few bread machine onion recipes that add dried onions, or dried onion soup but I liked the natural approach better.


or AMAZING Black Bean Brownies.
Black Bean Brownies
sweet veg
Aline made these for us, so I'm not sure exactly what recipe she used, but I think it went something like this apparently lifted from Ania Catalano's book Baking with Agave Nectar.
Plus Aline did conveniently buy a whole load of Agave nectar, so I figure that clinches it.

Makes 45 (2-inch) brownies.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line an 11- by 18-inch (rimmed) baking pan with parchment paper and lightly oil with canola oil spray.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a glass bowl in the microwave for 1½ to 2 minutes on high. Stir with a spoon to melt the chocolate completely. Place the beans, ½ cup of the walnuts, the vanilla extract, and a couple of spoonfuls of the melted chocolate mixture into the bowl of a food processor. Blend about 2 minutes, or until smooth. The batter should be thick and the beans smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the remaining ½ cup walnuts, remaining melted chocolate mixture, coffee substitute, and salt. Mix well and set aside.

In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer beat the eggs until light and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the agave nectar and beat well. Set aside.

Add the bean/chocolate mixture to the coffee/chocolate mixture. Stir until blended well.

Add the egg mixture, reserving about ½ cup. Mix well. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Using an electric mixer, beat the remaining ½ cup egg mixture until light and fluffy. Drizzle over the brownie batter. Use a wooden toothpick to pull the egg mixture through the batter, creating a marbled effect. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the brownies are set. Let cool in the pan completely before cutting into squares. (They will be soft until refrigerated.)
Tasty too.

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