Monday, July 25, 2011

Flour Tortillas with Pinto Beans, Charred Sweetcorn, and Tomato Salsa

This meal was inspired by a blog feed I got this week which I just had to try, as well as by one of my favourite blogs, Homesick Texan. I have to say I am going through a bit of a Mexican phase at the moment and can't get enough of jalapeños, smoked paprika, etc.

It is the first time I have made tortillas from scratch, and I was surprised at how easy they are to make, and how much better they taste than the ones we find in the shops here! I used this recipe which produced wonderful thick,  soft tortillas. 

I served them with some pinto beans in a smoky tomato sauce, a tomato salsa, and a bowl of charred sweetcorn. I had never come across sweetcorn prepared in this way before, and it is delicious. Apparently it is a version of the Mexican street food esquites

Serves 2 very hungry people or 3 to 4 as a light meal.

Flour Tortillas recipe can be found here.

Smoky Pinto Beans


-1 tin cooked pinto beans, drained and rinsed
-1 tin chopped tomatoes
-1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
-2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
-1 tsp cider vinegar
-1 tsp brown sugar
-1 tsp ground cumin
-1 tsp smoked paprika
-Sunflower oil for frying
Salt and pepper

1. Fry the onion in some sunflower oil with the cumin and smoked paprika until soft. Add the garlic, sugar, and vinegar and cook for one minute more. Then add the tomatoes, fill the tin with water and add it to the mix. Cook for 15 minutes.
2. Add the pinto beans and reduce for a further 15 minutes, season to taste.

Charred Sweetcorn


-2 corn on the cob
-1 red chilli, chopped
-Knob if unsalted butter
-1 tsp sunflower oil
-Squeeze of lemon juice
-50g grated cheese
-Salt, pepper

1. To char the sweetcorn hold it over a gas hob, turning it slowly. It will start to sizzle and pop (this bit is fun!). When they are cool enough to handle, cut the corn from the cob.
2. Heat the oil and butter in a pan and fry the corn with the chilli until cooked - about 5 minutes. Then stir in the seasoning, cheese, and lime juice and serve. 

Tomato Salsa


-2 large ripe tomatoes, diced
-2 salad onions, thinly sliced
-1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
-Squeeze of lime juice
-Salt, pepper

1. Mix all of the ingredients together and serve with the tortillas.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Apple & Blackcurrant Tart

Blackcurrants are in season now so I paired them with their good old friends apples to make this tart (you could also use blackberries). I made my own puff pastry following this recipe (in french), it is quite a lengthy process- and it makes you realise just how much butter goes into puff pastry- but it is easy to follow and the results are good. You could also use ready-made puff pastry though.

Ingredients - for one 30cm x 20cm tart

-500g puff pastry rolled out on a floured surface into a rectangle
-125g blackcurrants
-2 bramley apples, peeled, cored and diced
-3 braeburn apples, peeled, cored and sliced into very thin segments
-1 cinnamon stick
-2 cloves
-3 tbsp light muscovado sugar

1. Preheat oven to 220C. In a saucepan stew the diced bramley apple with 100ml of water along with the cinnamon stick, the cloves, and 2 tbsp of the sugar. It is ready when it has disintegrated into a purée (around 15 minutes). Remove the cinnamon stick and the cloves.
2. Grease a 30cm x 20cm baking tin and line it with the puff pastry. Spread over the apple purée then arrange the braeburn slices on top. Add the blackcurrants then sprinkle over the remaining sugar.
3. Bake for 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden. Turn the oven temperature down to 200C after 10 minutes.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Best Ever Croutons (saved from Disaster Bread)

Last night's attempt at making bread was a bit of a disaster. Impatience got the better of me, and I took the bread out of the oven just slightly earlier than I should have. The result was sticky bread- nearly there, but not quite. Once the disappointment had passed, I had to think practically- I didn't want to waste the bread. This morning it actually made very good toast, and that got me thinking about croutons. This week I read an article on the Guardian website about how to make the perfect Caesar salad, and for perfect croutons they recommend croutons baked with garlic oil.  So, here is my version. Perfectly crunchy and very tasty croutons. I used thyme, but you could use any type of dried herb.


-5-6 slices of good bread (mine was sourdough), 1 day old, in 1cm cubes
-1 tbsp homemade or good quality garlic infused oil
-1 tbsp homemade or good quality rosemary (or other herb) infused oil
-1 tbsp sunflower oil
-3-4 sprigs of thyme
-Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 100C. Mix the oils together in a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, brush the cubes with the oil and then sprinkle over the salt, pepper, and thyme. Mix well.
2. Bake for 1 - 1 1/2 hours or until they reach the desired level of crunchiness.

Serve with salad or soups.

The Disaster Bread

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Salad with Garlic Mushrooms, Emmental, and Chunky Croutons

 Serves 2


-2 large handfuls of salad leaves
-6-8 chestnut mushrooms, sliced
-1 chunky slice of stale/ old bread, cut into 1cm cubes
-1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced
-1 salad onion, peeled and chopped
-1/2 tin sweetcorn
-1 tsp fresh chopped chives
-100g Emmental cheese (or other), cubed
-Oil for frying

-1 tsp Dijon mustard
-1 tsp cider vinegar
-2 tablespoons sunflower oil
-Seasoning to taste

1. Divide the salad leaves, chopped salad onion, and sweetcorn between two bowls. Mix the dressing ingredients together and put to one side.
2. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a frying pan and fry the mushrooms and cubed bread for 5 - 10 minutes until brown (adding more oil if required) then add the sliced garlic and chopped chives and cook for a minute or two more. Season to taste.
3. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss. Divide the mushrooms and croutons between the two bowls and top with the cubes of cheese.

Serve while still warm!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Beetroot Tart

Serves 4 as a light lunch served with salad



-150g flour
-75g butter, cubed
-75g margarine


-6 small beetroot, peeled, sliced into 0.5 cm rounds
-1 onion, thinly sliced into rings
-100g crumbled feta cheese
-50g grated hard cheese e.g. cheddar or parmesan, grated
-150ml crème fraiche
-2 eggs, beaten
-1 tsp thyme
-1 stp capers

1. Preheat the oven to 180c. To make the pastry put the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Add a few drops of water until the pastry starts to come together. Shape into a ball and roll out on a floured surface. Line a 20cm tin with the pastry and chill for 20 minutes.
2. Steam the beetroot slices for 5 minutes or until soft.
3. Remove the pastry from the fridge and bake blind for 10 - 15 minutes (to do this I line the pastry case with baking paper and fill with ceramic beans). Meanwhile make the filling by mixing together the creme fraiche, feta, eggs, thyme and seasoning. 
4. To assemble the tart first place the beetroot slices into the pastry case then arrange the onion slices on top. Pour over the creme fraiche mixture then sprinkle over the grated cheese and capers. Bake for 25 minutes or until set and golden on top.