On the day I came home from my first experience of a magazine food photoshoot, (amazing by the way) I can only apologize for the shocking presentation and photography of this dish. My only excuse is that after getting up at half five, I was simply trying to get dinner on the table. Having said that, the reason I included this dish on the blog is that you will inevitably crave this when the whether gets cold and it’s pretty damn tasty. I am always trying to encourage my family to eat leftovers but sometimes it helps if you literally hide it in a dish. So with the bacon and baked beans leftover from brunch, save of breakfast for dinner, I had to dig deep. The weather is getting colder, the leaves are turning brown and this blog post is dangerously close to sounding like a cheesy hymn primary children sing at their morning harvest assembly… Cheese now there’s an idea. How about a warming stew, lentils, bacon and beans with pumpkin wedges and spinach (well they were in the fridge) and to stop my father from complaining about all this beany crap, I hide it with a nice layer of cheese….
Smokey Bean stew (serves 2)
Heat 1tbsp oil in saucepan and add 3 rashers of smoked bacon, chopped. Cook for 3-4mins. Add 1tsp chilli powder, 1 tsp paprika, 1tbsp red wine vinegar, 1tbsp soy sauce and 1tsp ginger.Add 5tbsp lentils and 1tbsp oil. Pour over 450ml stock, using 1/2 stock cube. Leave to simmer for 10mins, stirring occasionally.
Add 2tsp honey and 1tsp smoked chipotle tabasco. Pour in leftover baked beans. Cook for 2-3mins. Serve in bowls sprinkled with grated cheese with roasted pumpkin or sweet potato wedges and spinach.
It’s only a few days till I go to Uni and I’ve been to London all day, for once the last thing I feel like doing is cooking. But mum and I have to eat. Because we have realised once I leave, virtually no-one is eating at home I decide that the only thing is to cook a simple pasta dish with what I can conceivably find in the freezer. The other problem is that my mum has headed out to help out at the schools ‘Boden evening’ – possibly the most middle class you can get – and I have no idea when she is back so a speedy dish is of the essence. The good news is dad is in France so we are allowed to have onions! There was a little cream and some bacon in the freezer – a carbonara would work rather well.
When she finally walked in the door I was given my instructions with military precision, we had all of 15minutes before she returned to hoard the perfectly twee mums clothes that make up Boden. She was rather chuffed with her purchases, and at a discount. So I was looking for a very quick meal. I chopped up the half frozen bacon and fried it, simultaneously boiling pasta in another pan. I sprinkled a little salt on to the bacon and at this point spotted some dried mushrooms in the cupboard so I rehydrated them with a small amount of boiling water. When the bacon was crispy I added the whole lot of mushrooms and water to the pan, a little more salt, some chopped garlic and some dried herbs de provence. Thyme would be the best herb at this point but I had none. (pardon the pun) I let it bubble a little before adding a splash of sherry vinegar, some cream and a drizzle of truffle oil (my new favourite ingredient – lifts any dish). I added beans to the pasta’s last few minutes of cooking then poured a little pasta water into the sauce, drained the pasta and mixed the sauce in. Good thing there was enough leftover for lunch the next day – even better cold.
Opened the fridge once again today to a hopeless mismatch of assorted leftovers and random ingredients. Spotting the pancetta pieces I had bought earlier for one of these sorts of occasions my first thought was a cassoulet. This was quickly discarded due to the lack of sausages or beans… So instead I decided on a lentil hotpot; potatoes, lentils and bacon – I could go from there. First I pan fried the bacon pieces till golden. While waiting for this I got bored so opened the spice cupboard, added a few juniper berries, coriander seeds, pinch of mixed spice, salt and pepper.
When brown, I added a spoonful of honey, the lentils, found some red wine, a beef stock cube and hot water, thyme I found in the fridge and a bay leaf. It smelt pretty good by this point so I poured it straight into an ovenproof dish. To finish I sliced up some potatoes thinly, layered them up on top of the dish, drizzled over walnut oil, salt and pepper and put in the oven at 140oC for about an hour.
At this point I turned the soundtrack of Matilda loud was singing somewhat un-tunefully when my mum came in with a bowl of apples she’d just picked from outside the house, the only thing our pathetic excuse for a garden comes up with….. (Although to be honest the hopscotch and climbing wall sometimes makes up for this). Just because I never like to see food go to waste (and she told me to use them) I decided to experiment with baked apples. I cored them, placed them on foil and filled the centres with what I found in the cupboard. This turned out to be honey, vanilla extract, cinnamon, sultanas, pumpkin seeds, pinch of salt and the last dregs of a bottle of amaretto that looked like it had been around before I was born. I wrapped them up, cooked them on high for about 20mins and they came up quite mushy, but delicious nonetheless with a bit of vanilla ice cream.