Green been casserole

I threw this together out of bits and pieces from the back of my fridge and it turned out really well. There’s no need to throw away the chicken bone and skin – add them to the casserole to improve the flavour and pick the cooked meat off the bone when it’s done.

Remove the meat from a chicken thigh and cut it into roughly 1 cm cubes. In a large casserole dish, mix together the chicken, 1 1/2 cups green beans, cut into 1 cm slices, 1 medium carrot, cut into 1 cm cubes, 1 medium onion, thinly sliced, 2 cloves garlic, finely diced, 2/3 cup cottage cheese, 1/3 cup hot salsa and a generous crack of black pepper. Pour over enough stock to just cover everything. Bake at 180°C  for an hour and a half, or until everything is well cooked. If the casserole is looking a bit runny after an hour, remove a few spoonfuls of liquid and return to the oven.

Serves 2 or 3 with garlic bread.


Carrot cake

Another cake recipe adapted from A Taste of Oregon. It’s a great cookbook, especially since all the baking measurements are in cups and I don’t have a set of scales. You can also add walnuts or pecans, although I don’t usually have them in my cupboard.

Mix together 2/3 cup brown sugar and 2 eggs; add 1/2 cup oil and stir thoroughly. Sift in 1 cup flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp garam masala, 1/2 tsp nutmeg and 1/2 tsp salt, and combine. Stir in 1 1/2 cups grated carrot and 1/3 cup raisins; if the mixture is too dry (you’re struggling to stir in all the flour) add a little milk, 1 tbsp at a time, until the mixture is fully combined but still thick. Pour into a 9-inch cake tin or separate into muffin cases, filling the cases 2/3 of the way up. For the cake, bake at 180°C for 45 minutes to 1 hour. For the muffins, bake at 220°C for 5 minutes to create round muffin tops then turn down to 180°C for 10-15 minutes for the muffins.

Hash browns with salsa and avocado

When I cooked this, the hash browns got stuck to the pan after I’d flipped them over, so sprinkling over a little extra oil when flipping should help prevent them getting stuck.

Peel and grate 2 medium potatoes and rinse under the tap to remove excess starch. Pat or squeeze out the worst of the moisture; stir in 1 clove garlic, finely diced, 1/2 small onion, finely diced, 1 tbsp flour, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1/4 tsp salt, and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. Heat a generous amount of oil in a frying pan then turn the heat to low and add the potato mixture, spreading it out evenly across the pan. While the mixture is cooking, roughly mash 1 avocado then stir in 1 small clove garlic, finely diced, 2 tbsp hot salsa, and a small fistful of goat’s cheese, cut into small cubes. Once the hash brown is brown on the underside and crisping up around the edges, break it into quarters with a spatula and flip (if it’s falling apart, leave it for a few more minutes). Continue to fry on a medium heat for 2-3 minutes until golden brown on both sides, then transfer to a plate and top with the avocado mixture.

Serves 1 generously.

Tomato Sauce

I use this recipe for anything from lasagne to pizza. If you don’t have a blender (or don’t feel like washing up), simply chop the onion up more finely, add a little less water, and use your spoon to mash up any large chunks of tomato from the can.

Finely chop 1 small red onion and 2-3 cloves garlic. Heat a generous spoonful of oil in a saucepan and fry the onion and garlic until they are golden brown. Add 1 400g can chopped tomatoes then refill the can with water and add that in too. Stir in a heaped teaspoon of vegetable stock and a generous sprinkle of herbs of your choice (I use oregano and thyme). Bring to the boil then reduce to a medium heat and bubble for 15-20 minutes. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar (white is fine) and 1 teaspoon soy or Worchester sauce. Take off the heat and allow to cool a little, then blend. Add salt and pepper to taste. If your sauce is too thin, stir in a spoonful of plain flour and cook for an extra 3-4 minutes.

To use as a pizza sauce, omit the can of water.

Freezes well, or lasts for a few days in the fridge.

Apple and Cashew Soup

A fairly simple soup recipe, but not a combination I would have thought of if I hadn’t spotted it in a recipe book. The Thai curry paste really brings out the flavours, but you can use 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika or a pinch of chilli flakes instead if you don’t have any.

Roughly chop 1 small onion and finely chop 2 cloves garlic. Peel 1 medium carrot, 1 medium potato and 1 large apple, and cut them into small chunks, cutting the carrot a little smaller than the potato as it is slower to cook. Heat a spoonful of oil in a saucepan and fry the onion and garlic until translucent and beginning to caramelise. Add the carrot and potato and allow them to brown a little, then add to the pan 2 cups boiling water, 1 generous teaspoon vegetable stock powder, 1 scant teaspoon oregano, 1/2 teaspoon Thai red curry paste (to taste) and a large handful of cashews. Bring back to the boil then reduce to a simmer and cook until the carrot and potato are begining to soften, then add the apple. Cook for a further 10-15 minutes, or until the carrots are fully soft. Allow to cool a little then blend thoroughly and add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 2 with bread, reheats well the next day.

Blueberry muffin cakes

This recipe was adapted from a recipe in A Taste of Oregon. It went down well with my new housemates! To stop the mixture from curdling, make sure that all your ingredients are at room temperature before you start cooking.

Beat together 1/4 cup margerine and 1/3 cup sugar until well combined and fluffy-looking. Beat in 1 egg until well combined. Sift together 1 1/4 cup flour, 1 1/4 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp nutmeg and 1/2 tsp cinnamon, then add to the wet mixture and combine. Slowly mix in 1/3 cup milk then fold in 1 200g pack of blueberries. If using paper cupcake cases, grease them with a little margerine (silicone cases won’t need greasing) and fill almost to the top with the mixture. Bake at 220°C for 5 minutes to create a rounded muffin-top, then turn the oven down to 180°C and bake for a further 15-20 minutes, or until a knife comes out of the centre of a muffin clean. The muffins will keep for several days in an airtight container.


Sautéed potatoes with celeriac and kale

This is based on a Nigel Slater recipe, with some of the fancier ingredients taken out and whatever I had leftover from my veg bag thrown in. Serves 1 as a main or 2 as a side and is best eaten straight from the pan.

Slice 1 medium onion into strips. Very finely slice (as thin as you possibly can) 1-2 cloves garlic, 2-3 small potatoes and a fist-sized chunk of celeriac. Heat a generous spoonful of oil in a non-stick frying pan over a high heat; when a haze begins to form over the oil, drop in the onion. Fry for ~5 minutes, then add the potato, celeriac and garlic. Continue to fry, turning regularly, for another 10 minutes or so, allowing the onion to caramelise and the potato and celeriac to brown on both sides. Add a large handful of roughly chopped kale (I used curly kale, about 3-4 leaves), 1 tbsp soy sauce or 1tsp miso paste mixed with a little hot water, a heaped tbsp of peanut butter, and a sprinkle of powdered ginger (or you can use fresh grated ginger). Mix thoroughly, continuing to cook until the kale has cooked down, the other vegetables are well browned and the potato is easily cut with a knife. Serve immediately.


  • The celeriac can be replaced by any other root vegetable and the kale with any other leafy green, although spinach or chard will probably take less time to cook down.

Sweet chickpea tagine

How much this constitutes a tagine I’m not sure given how many ingredients I substituted from the original recipe, which was for a fish tagine. Serves 3 with bulgar wheat or naan, or 2 alone; reheats well the next day.

Melt ~1 tbsp butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan and caramelise 3-4 stalks celery, diced, and 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped. Add 1 tsp curry powder, 1 tsp garam masala, 1 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp coriander seeds, 1/2 tsp ground ginger and a pinch of chilli flakes to taste, coating the celery and garlic thoroughly. Add 1/2 plantain, 1 apple, 1/2 courgette and 1/2 mango, all diced into 1 cm cubes and cook, stirring continuously, until the pan begins to smoke. Add 1 400g can chopped tomatoes, 1/2 can water and 1 tsp stock powder. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a low heat, cover, and leave for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has reduced. If the tagine is still a little sour, add 1 tsp brown sugar. Stir in 1 400g can chickpeas and cook for another 5 minutes, then serve.

Soda Dumplings

Traditionally dumplings are made with suet, but since I didn’t have any I modified a soda bread recipe to make these, which I can make with cupboard ingredients I always have to hand.

Sift about 150g plain flour, 3/4 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt into a bowl; add generous black pepper and herbs of your choice (I use about 1/2 tsp each of sage and rosemary). Thoroughly mix in 2 tbsp oil or melted butter, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Slowly pour in about 150 ml milk, stirring thoroughly, until the dough holds together and comes away from the side of the bowl, but before it gets too wet. Add more sifted flour if it’s very sticky. Break off palm-sized pieces of dough and roll them into balls – depending on the size of the dumplings you can get between 6 and 8 from this recipe. Drop into a covered casserole or soup 15-20 minutes before the end of its cooking time.

Quick potato curry

Any mixture of vegetables could be used in place of cabbage and broccoli here. If you want to add meat, it’s best to cook it through first, then remove it from the pan to make up the rest of the curry, adding the meat back in at the very end – this helps to avoid having under or overcooked meat. Vary the amount and strength of the curry powder to your personal taste.

Fry 1/2 onion, diced, and 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced, in a little oil until golden brown. Add 1 small potato, peeled and chopped into 1cm cubes, a handful of red cabbage, finely sliced, and a handful of purple sprouting broccoli, roughly chopped along the stem; fry over a medium heat until the broccoli leaves have wilted. Coat in 1/2 tsp coriander seed (ground or whole), 1/2 tsp cumin seed (ground or whole), 1 heaped tsp curry powder, then add 2 heaped tbsp gram (chickpea) flour and 2 heaped tbsp peanut butter. Fry for a few minutes, then slowly add approx. 1 cup of water, stirring into the mixture as you go, until the potato cubes are covered by liquid. Cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes, or until the potato is cooked through and the liquid has reduced to a thick sauce. Serves 1 alone or 2 with naan.