Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Red Beans with Rice

First cold day, 18 degrees and I'm longing for warm comfort food. My family and friends in the Northern Hemisphere are laughing - 18 degrees is not cold they tell me! It sure feels like it after 6 months of hot, rain free months and I'm not sure I like wearing this many clothes. (Sorry, I'm going to ramble on a bit today).

However, this is a wonderful time of year in the garden. Stunning autumn leaves of the deciduous trees and a recent trip to Mt Lofty Botanic Garden did not disappoint.  

 When the sun comes out even on these autumn days it's still very strong. Get out from the wind and it could still be a summer's day. But as soon as that southerly hits and the leaves are tossed and turned into the air, you know that it's soon going to be winter.

Getting prepared for the colder months means we eat comfort food - and that to me means chilli and beans!   

I think of myself as a 'bean aholic' because I love beans in every shape and form. From good old Heinz baked beans, to haricot beans, black beans, kidney, broad, French and butter beans. I can make a multitude of dishes with beans - don't you find them just so versatile? Ok, well yes, too many may have a disastrous effects on some of you, but be polite ...... we wont talk about that here.   

Do not worry, I have had this dish twice in as many days and all has been fine!!!! So dispatch yourself to the kitchen and get your beans ready. This spicy, aromatic bean recipe is really flavoursome. Be warned; it's not pretty to look at and you might think twice about serving it to your friends. 
But if they are true friends then give them a treat and serve this, because they will love this, even though it does look a twee bit ugly! Don't be put off by this because the taste is sensational.

I would love to have some feed back on this recipe, so drop me a quick email or comment because I want to know if you love the recipe as much as I do. I mean, what's not to like about beans??



2 x 400g tins of cooked red kidney beans, washed and drained
1/2 green capsicum
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
2 sticks of celery
3 cloves garlic
1 onion

1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp fresh thyme chopped finely
1 tsp fresh oregano chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
1 tablespoon liquid smoke/Habenero/Tabasco Sauce (more or less to taste)
1 tbls olive oil

Take a large pan and add olive oil. While this is heating, process the onion in a food processor and add to the pan. Cook gently for a few minutes.

Again use the food processor to chop garlic, celery and green capsicum. Add this to the pan of onions, with a couple of tablespoons of water and continue to cook for 5 minutes. 

Place half the beans and half the tomatoes into the food processor and blitz until the beans are coarsely chopped. At this point it all looks a little ugly, but don't despair, it all comes together nicely. Add this to the pan, with the remainder of the beans and the tomatoes.   

Now add all the other ingredients except the hot sauce/liquid smoke/Tabasco, cover tightly and cook gently for at least 45 mins. Remember to keep checking and stirring so the beans don't get stuck to the bottom. Add a little water if the beans look too dry.

Just before you serve add a tablespoon of hot sauce, keep tasting until you get the right amount of heat for your palate.

Serve with rice, a spoonful of plain yoghurt and some chopped coriander/parsley or oregano.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Spinach, Ricotta and Feta Filo Pastry

I know its been a few weeks since my last post. I found myself up a creek with no paddle. One thing after another just kept happening and I couldn't get enough time, energy or motivation to do another thing other than the very necessary.

And if I could tell you I have been working on a cook book, considering work for a photographic exhibition, designing a new web page, playing nurse to my daughter, would you believe me and forgive my tardiness?

So autumn is finally here! Spectacular coloured leaves, harvest festivals, cooler weather and the inevitable rain! Yet temperatures haven't reduced that much; it was the hottest April in over 20 years but still we see the leaves colouring up - there's no stopping them now and soon we will roar into winter, pull out our jackets and scarves and turn to comfort food.

But with the higher temperatures I couldn't think about thick soups and tasty casseroles just yet. It's the in between food time. Something hot but light and finished with salad.



65g  butter
1/2 onion finely chopped
3 spring onions finely chopped
375g ricotta cheese
180g feta cheese
3 free range eggs
a large bunch of English spinach, washed, chopped, stalks removed 
salt and pepper
zest of a lemon
few sprigs of oregano, chopped
8 large sheets of Filo pastry
1tsp of sesame seeds
  • Pre heat oven to 200ยบ/375F. Butter an oven proof square dish and set aside.
  • Melt a knob of the butter into a fry pan and add the finely chopped onions and cook for 2 - 3 minutes until soft. Add the spinach, salt and pepper and only cook until the spinach has wilted. Set side to cool. Once they have cooled strain out all the liquid.
  • In a clean bowl mix together ricotta cheese, feta cheese, lemon zest and a little chopped oregano.
  • Lightly beat the eggs and mix into the cheese mixture. Once the spinach and onions have cooled off, mix them into the cheese. 
  • Take a sheet of filo pastry, brush with melted butter, cover with another sheet and brush with butter. 
  • Place these two sheets into your dish with the edges hanging over the sides.
  • Repeat this 4 times using up all the pastry.
  • Add the cheese and spinach mixture, packing it into the edges and smoothing the top.
  • Fold the sides over completely encasing the filling and brush the top with the remaining melted butter.
  • Sprinkle the top with sesame seeds. With a sharp knife cut the pastry diagonally into serving sizes.
  • Bake in the oven for 25 -30 minutes until the top is crispy and brown.