Vegan, Vegetarian

Butter Bean and Sweet Potato Curry

Ah, you can’t beat a summer in Ireland! While you might expect to be knee deep in salad beansingredients and all sorts of delicious fresh produce, wintry fare is often far more suitable. No surprise then that I cooked a Butter Bean and Sweet Potato Curry yesterday for the teen. A one pot dinner which suited the weather perfectly. She ate it while sitting at the window looking out at the lashings of rain!

½ lb dried butter beans soaked overnight or 2 tins of butter beans
1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size chunks
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into bite size chunks
5 tbsp, sunflower oil
1 onion, cut into thinly sliced rings
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1½ tbsp, fresh ginger grated finely
1 tsp, minced chilli from jar or 1-2 fresh chillis, chopped finely
1 tsp, turmeric
1 tsp, ground cumin
1 tsp, cumin seeds
1 tsp, garam masala
1 tsp, ground coriander
1 tsp, mango powder (optional)
1 tin, chopped tomatoes
2 tbsps, tomato puree
Cup of water
Sea salt
1 cube, vegetable stock
1 tbsp, lemon juice

1. If using dried butter beans – place in a saucepan, cover with plenty of water, add the stock cube and boil gently for 30-40 minutes until the beans are softening but still have a bit of a bite. Drain and set aside

While beans are cooking
2. Preheat the oven to 180C Fan
3. Toss the sweet potatoes and carrots in 3 tablespoons of oil and season with salt
4. Roast in the oven until carmelised but still have a slight bite (about 20-25 minutes)
5. Heat the remaining oil in a saucepan and fry the onion until soft – about 8 minutes
6. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another 2 minutes
7. Add the chilli and cook for about a minute
8. Make a well in the onion mix and add the spices
9. Let these cook for a minute and then combine thoroughly and cook for a further 2 minutes
10. Add the tomato puree, tin of chopped tomatoes and lemon juice*
11. Cook for 10 minutes
12. Add the beans and roast vegetables
13. Add the water, if needed
14. Cook for another 5 minutes
15. Serve as it is, with green vegetables or some warm naan breads.

* The lemon juice is important as it cuts through the sweetness of the beans and roast vegetables

Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

‘Masak Merah’ Vegetables

I promised I’d cook the Teen something spicy for dinner. When I looked at my recipes and on line, I knew I wanted to try something different – not the usual coriander-cumin mix or something with coconut milk. After much searching, I came up with a veganpic version of ‘Ayam Masak Merah’ – without the Ayam! Quite simply, it is a recipe with roasted vegetables served with a spiced tomato sauce from Malaysia.

This recipe is a milder version than the traditional ones. It is still not for the faint hearted! I decided to make the sauce in advance and let it stand so that the spice could cook out and come through more evenly. In keeping with the style of cooking the original chicken component, I roasted the vegetables before adding to the sauce. All of this was served up with boiled Jasmine rice.

I used whatever vegetables I found in the fridge and larder. I cut them into sizes so they would cook at the same time. Putting them in a large bowl, I drizzled them in enough sunflower to coat them lightly and seasoned with sea salt. Placing them on a pre-heated baking tray, I roasted them in an oven pre-heated to 180c for about 20 minutes. I give the selection I used plus I threw in some spinach at the end of the cooking time.

Serves 4

1 stick lemongrass, roughly chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 bulb garlic, chopped
3 hot chillies, chopped (with seeds in)
1½ inch, ginger, chopped finely
3 star anise
½ tsp, black cardamon seeds

3 tbsp., sunflower or vegetable oil
1 stick, cinnamon
1 tsp, turmeric
1 tsp, fennel seeds
1 tsp, ground coriander
1 tube, tomato puree
½ cup, tomato ketchup
3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tin, chopped tomatoes
6 kaffir leaves
1 tsp, sugar
1 tbsp., lime juice
Sea salt

Sunflower oil

2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size cubes
2 large carrots, cut into batons
2 bell peppers
2 large handfuls of spinach (added 5 minutes before the end of cooking)

1. With a pestle and mortar, crush the star anise with the cardamon seeds
2. Put in the blender with the lemongrass, garlic, ginger, onion and chillies
3. Blitz into a rough paste
4. Heat the oil and fry the paste for 2-3 minutes
5. Add the cinnamon stick, fennel seeds, coriander and turmeric and cook for 2 minutes
6. Add in the tomato puree, tinned tomatoes, chopped tomatoes, tomato ketchup, sugar, kaffir leaves and lime juice
7. Bring to the boil and simmer at a low heat for 30 minutes
8. Season with salt to taste
9. Add the roasted vegetables, coat in the sauce and cook for another 15 minutes


Beef, Chilli

Dining around schedules


We’re on different schedules these days, the teen and me. Not only do I need a dinner which fits but something which can be served with a range of different items according to the mood of the diner. So a big pot of chilli suits all these. Spicy and tasty. In this home, it is served with rice, baked potatoes, potato wedges, in pitta bread with salad or in a bowl with some grated cheese on top.

1 lb good quality minced beef
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 tin kidney beans or black beans drained and rinsed
1 medium onion chopped finely
3 cloves garlic chopped finely
1 hot chilli deseeded and chopped very finely or 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 red pepper deseeded and chopped finely
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon honey
1-2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons tomato puree
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
Salt and pepper

1. In a heavy saucepan, heat the oil and fry the onions for about 5 minutes
2. Add in the garlic, chilli and red pepper – frying for another couple of minutes
3. Break up the mince, add to the pan and after coating with the onion mix, brown the meat
4. Stir in the spices and cook for another minute
5. Add in the rest of the ingredients
6. Reduce to a simmer and cook slowly for about 1 hour

Noodles with Spicy Pork

Fast food isn’t all bad  

Listening to someone dismiss ‘fast food’ out of hand annoys me. Food should be fun and there has to be room in someone’s life for treats as well as healthy options – as long as treats don’t colonise daily eating patterns.

People are often too quick in their rebuking of ‘fast food’ without considering what it actually means. Fast food means…eh…food prepared fast. It may include the expected high fat, salt and sugar foods but there are also many, many, healthier dishes which fall under this title.

Omelettes and other egg dishes, pasta and curry pastes can be made, cooked and on the table quicker than it takes the ‘Man with the Van’ to deliver a take-away. There’s no secret to this. Simply having good staples in the fridge and dry larder and off you go.

 Here’s one of the teen’s favourites from when she was small.

Noodles with Spicy Pork
(4 servings)

1lb pork, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
½ inch ginger, minced
4 spring onions, sliced sideways
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 dessert spoon yellow bean paste
1 chilli, chopped finely – can use less
Dash of dark soy sauce
Sesame oil
A little chicken stock
Egg Noodles, medium (enough for four people – a full pack of Sharwoods, for example)

1. Heat the oil
2. Lightly fry the garlic, ginger and spring onions for 2-3 minutes
3. Add the minced chili and mix
4. Fry the minced pork and fry until cooked
5. Add the rest of the ingredients
6. Cook the egg noodles, drain and toss in sesame oil
7. Add to the mix and coat completely.
8. Leave stand for 5 minutes