Friday, 12 August 2016

Runner Beans Bonanza





PERSONALLY, I like my runner beans simply steamed and seasoned but if you have a glut you may be looking for some different ways of cooking them.

Here are a few fancy pants and simple recipes!

Runner Bean Ratatouille

This tasty ratatouille is by Riverford Organics. They have lots of great recipes on their site at www.riverford.co.uk

Ingredients

400g runner beans, topped, tailed and stringed
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely sliced
6 large tomatoes or 1x 400g tin tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
3 sprigs thyme

Method

If using fresh tomatoes, peel them by cutting a cross in the skin at one end and plunging into a pan of boiling water for 1 minute, until the cut skin starts to peel back. Remove from the water, peel and roughly chop.

Slice the runner beans diagonally into long strips about 1cm wide.

Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan. Add the onions and sweat until translucent and beginning to soften.
Add the beans, tomatoes, garlic, sugar and herbs.

Cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes until the beans are soft and the sauce is thick – if it is still thin, remove the pan lid and bubble until it reaches the right consistency.

Serve warm or at room temperature.


Garlicky Runner Beans

This is so simple. Fry some crushed garlic and red onion in olive oil until the onions start to caramelise.  At this stage you can some diced pancetta if you want to. Add prepared beans and fry until they start to turn tender but are still crisp. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper. The proportions are up to you. I use two garlic cloves and one onion to two big double handfuls of prepared beans.


Italian Runner Bean Salad

You don’t have to cook runner beans. They are perfect for a salad. Slice up young and tender prepared beans, add  pecorino or parmesan cheese to taste. Then add your favourite Italian dressing. Here’s a basic dressing recipe:

Ingredients

6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
Pinch of dried oregano

Method

Combine all ingredients in small bowl and whisk to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


Thai Chicken and Runner Bean Salad

For something more exotic and very tasty, this chicken and salad recipe ticks all the boxes. 

Ingredients

200g runner beans
1 red chilli, halved and finely sliced   
2 shallots, finely sliced
1 lemongrass, finely sliced
2cm piece ginger, shredded
2 cooked, skinless chicken breasts
small bunch mint leaves
large bunch Thai basil or coriander
1 lime cut in wedges to serve
 steamed jasmine rice
Coconut dressing
100ml coconut cream
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
juice 1 lime
1 bird's eye chilli, finely diced

Method

String runner beans. Cut into strips using a bean slicer, or on the diagonal into 2cm pieces. Cook the beans in simmering salted water for 4 mins or until tender but still bright green. Drain and put in a bowl with the chilli, shallots, lemongrass and ginger. Pull the chicken breasts into shreds using your fingers and add to the bowl.

Make the dressing. Mix the coconut with the garlic, fish sauce, sugar, lime and chilli. Tear the mint and Thai basil over the chicken and toss everything together. Pile onto a plate and pour over the dressing. Serve with the lime to squeeze over and jasmine rice.




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Friday, 29 July 2016

Mason Jar Meals




If you're trying to lose weight and/or need a quick easy lunch to take to work, have a go at making Mason Jar Salads. These are basically salads in a screwtop jar which you can make in advance and store in the fridge. They will keep for three to seven days, depending on ingredients.

The principle is the same for whatever ingredients you use:

Layer One: Dressing goes on the bottom, so pour that in first.
Layer Two:  Next add any proteins or grains you want so they can absorb some of the dressing and provide a buffer for the next additions.
Layer Three: On top of those chunky foods, add in chopped veggies, fruits, cheeses, nuts, and anything else you want in your salad.
Layer Four: Lastly, add a handful or two of your greens of choice.

This is the basic recipe but there may more or fewer layers and different ingredients - it's all so flexible.

Here are a few recipes to get you started.

Mango and Greens Chicken Salad

Ingredients (per jar)

1 tablespoons honey mustard dressing
1/2 cup cooked chicken, cooled and diced
1/2 cup cooked green beans, cooled and cut into 1″ long pieces
1/2 cup mango, peeled and diced
1/4 cup avocado, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon toasted and chopped almonds or walnuts
1-2 handfuls of mixed greens or baby spinach

Method
1. Stack all the ingredients into your jar, starting with the salad dressing and ending with the greens. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
2. Pour salad onto a plate or into a bowl, then mix, eat, and enjoy!


Greek Salad

Layered them from the bottom up:
1. lemon vinaigrette
2. raw zucchini
3. kalamata olives
4. chickpeas
5. red onions
6. crumbled feta cheese
7. tomatoes
8. pine nuts
9. romaine hearts and baby spinach

Keep in mind these are versatile so you can swap anything you don’t like for something else or leave it out entirely.




 If all this sounds terribly healthy, then have a go at this breakfast Mason Jar recipe! Cook in a microwave.

Bacon And Eggs In A Mason Jar


Ingredients

2 raw eggs
fresh spinach
grated cheese
cooked bacon
seasoning

Instructions
Mix eggs, salt & pepper, spinach and cheese together in a bowl
Pour mixture into a mason jar
Cook in microwave for one and half or two minutes (checking often)
The egg mixture will puff up during cooking but deflate when out of the microwave, so don't freak out if you see it rise higher than the jar.
Top with some additional cheese and bacon crumbles



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Country Kitchens
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Friday, 22 July 2016

Gratin of Chard and New Potatoes


My lovely neighbour, who is a brilliant gardener, dropped in a big bag of chard yesterday.  I love chard but it's not widely available in my neck of the woods so this was a real treat. Young leaves can be eaten raw in salads but the bigger leaves are tough before they are cooked.

My brother had given me some new potatoes so I rustled up this tasty Sophie Grigson recipe.



Gratin of Chard and New Potatoes

Ingredients

5 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing450g/1lb ruby or Swiss chard, stems and broad ribs cut into 1cm/½in pieces, leaves finely sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
60g/2oz black olives, stones removed2 canned anchovy fillets, chopped
2 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
½ tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
400g/14oz new potatoes, scrubbed, boiled until just tender, drained and sliced
60g/2oz gruyère cheese, grated
30g/1oz parmesan, freshly grated

Method

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.

Heat two tablespoons of the olive oil in a wide, lidded pan and add the chopped chard ribs. Stir, then cover and cook over a low heat for four minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the leaves, stir, then cover again and cook for a further five minutes, or until just tender. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and set aside.

Place the olives, anchovies, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, parsley and two tablespoons of olive oil into a food processor and blend to make a smooth paste.

Lightly oil a 30cm/12in ovenproof dish. Place a layer of the chard, along with any cooking juices, and a layer of the cooked potatoes into the dish. Spread a little of the olive paste over the chard and potatoes and season with freshly ground black pepper. Continue to layer up the chard and potato, spreading more of the olive paste between each layer and finishing with a layer of chard.

Mix the gruyère and parmesan in a bowl and sprinkle over the top of the gratin. Drizzle over the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.

Transfer to the oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes, until the cheese is browned and bubbling. Serve hot or warm.

There are lots more delicious Sophie Grigson recipes here.


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Thursday, 21 July 2016

Home-Dried Tomatoes


Home-Dried Tomatoes


If you have plenty of tomatoes, this is a perfect way of preserving them. This simple recipe from Riverford Farm is for home-dried tomatoes. Use them instead of sun-dried tomatoes. They have a deep, intense flavour and are excellent tossed in a salad, baked in tarts or mixed with pasta. Dry as many tomatoes as you can while the oven's on; they keep well for at least six months.

Ingredients

4 tbsp olive oil
16 tomatoes
1 tbsp caster sugar

Method

Preheat oven to 150°C/Gas 2. Drizzle about half the olive oil over 2 baking trays. Cut the tomatoes lengthways in half, then slide the knife around the inside of each one and remove the pulp and pips.

Arrange the tomato halves on the trays so that they are close but not touching. Drizzle the remaining oil over the top and sprinkle with the sugar and a little salt.

Put the trays the oven and cook for about 45 minutes; the tomatoes should look shrunken and slightly coloured when they are done. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

To store, pack the tomatoes into jars and cover completely with good-quality olive oil. They will keep for about 6 months without refrigeration.


I am a big fan of Riverford Farm. Their website includes lots of brilliant recipes (here). I have all their recipe books and dip into them often. Take a look at:
Riverford Farm Cook Book: Tales from the Fields, Recipes from the Kitchen
Everyday and Sunday: Recipes from Riverford Farm
Riverford Companions - Autumn and Winter Veg.;
Riverford Companion: Spring and Summer Cooking With a Veg Box






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Friday, 10 June 2016

Strawberry Coulis

What could be better on a lovely June day than sitting out in the garden eating a big bowl of strawberries with a dollop of Devonshire clotted cream? But when I  want to tart up a dessert or make a topping for ice cream,  I make this lovely strawberry coulis.

Recently I made a lemon tart and this sweet coulis complemented it beautifully. If you're pushed for time, you can buy your tart and make it it into something special with the addition of the coulis. It's so simple to make. Sainsbury's do a really nice lemon tart. Dust it with icing sugar, add the coulis and it instantly turns into a posh pud.



Strawberry Coulis 

Ingredients

125ml (4fl oz) water
125g (4oz) caster sugar
300g (10oz) hulled and halved strawberries
1tbsp fruit-flavoured alcohol or liqueur (optional)

Method
    1. Bring the water and caster sugar to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
    2. Add the hulled and halved strawberries and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until soft.
    3. Purée the mixture and, if desired, stir in 1 tablespoon of fruit-flavoured alcohol.

It will store in the fridge for up to two days.



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Saturday, 4 June 2016

Home-Baked Chicken Nuggets

Forget those chicken nuggets you buy in the supermarket, here's a quick and tasty option that you and the kids will love.  Serve skewered on cocktail sticks with dips or on a plate with chips or salad - whatever takes your fancy!







 Home-Baked Chicken Nuggets

Serves: 6
Preheat oven to 200 C / Gas mark 6.

Ingredients

    3 skinless, boneless chicken breast fillets
    125g dried breadcrumbs
    1 teaspoon Italian dried herbs
    1 teaspoon dried thyme
    50g grated Parmesan cheese
    1 teaspoon salt
    100g butter, melted

Method

Cut chicken breasts into 3 to 4cm size pieces. In a medium bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, dried herbs, cheese and salt. Mix well. Put melted butter in a bowl or dish for dipping.
    Dip chicken pieces into the melted butter first, then coat with the breadcrumb mixture. Place well-coated chicken pieces on a lightly greased baking tray in a single layer, and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.

Recipe from http://allrecipes.co.uk where there are lots of ideas for family meals.


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Thursday, 2 June 2016

Asparagus Salad with Avocado Dressing

THE asparagus season is nearing the end so take advantage of it while you can. Traditionally, the season runs from St George's Day (April 23) until Midsummer's Day (June 21) so  you should still have a couple of weeks to buy fresh British asparagus, or you may be savvy enough to be growing your own!

This salad is fresh and delicious and you don't even have to cook the asparagus as it is shaved into ribbons. It makes a lovely starter or part of a light lunch.





Ribboned Asparagus Salad with Avocado rdessing

Serves 4


Ingredients

800g asparagus
1 cucumber
16 cherry tomatoes
100g flat-leaf parsley
20g parmesan, freshly grated

For the dressing
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
½ ripe avocado, stone removed
Salt and black pepper


Method
1 Snap off the tough ends of the asparagus. Using a vegetable peeler and starting from the bottom end of the asparagus, shave upwards to create thin ribbons. Place all the ribbons in a large serving bowl.
2 Slice the cucumber lengthways and cut into bite-size pieces. Cut the tomatoes in half and coarsely chop the parsley. Add these to the bowl.
3 Place the dressing ingredients in a blender and blitz until creamy. Add a dash of oil or water if necessary. Dress and toss the salad so it's evenly coated.
4 Top with parmesan shavings, then serve.


Recipe via The Guardian supplied by David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl of greenkitchenstories.com



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