Monthly Archives: August 2011

White beans and whinging!

It has come to my attention that I am pretty much addicted to all things sweet.  This is something that I have always known on some level (I am typing this now with fingers still sticky with sweetened condensed milk) but it is becoming more evident.  Recently I realised how often I blog about sweet things and how rarely I write about anything savoury.  I’ve been mulling it over and came to a conclusion or two.  Number one, I make my usual repertoire all the time, those dishes that you don’t need to think about, the ones that you’re slightly bored by, you know the ones, we all make them.  Number two, I very rarely use recipes when I cook savoury dishes, something which always used to frustrate my father.  I remember one particular occasion when I was a teenager, I think I made my creamy leek chicken with sauteed potatoes and he loved it and asked what I put in and my answer was something along the lines of ‘oh, you know, a bit of this and a bit of that.’ 

And so, it is my resolution to get out of my dinner time rut, but I need your help readers, either find me a recipe online or send me a comment with one of your repertoire recipes and I will give it a whirl and report back.  This exercise will not work if all you lazy buggers who read but don’t comment, don’t comment.  In the mean time.  I will cheat slightly by giving you the savoury recipe of a little white bean dip which Mr T whipped up for us both.  Our usual post work snacks consist of buttered popcorn, buttered toast, buttered fence post, well not quite but if something stands still long enough, I will butter it.  And for some strange reason on this particular day I decided that we should be healthy, I bought carrots and celery sticks and I don’t even like celery that much and all the ingredients for Mr T’s dip. 

Mr T is a very good cook but he also likes to whinge about most things kitchen, for example, he hates anything that makes a lot of mess and uses a lot of equipment.  As I have previously mentioned, Mr T does not enjoy his full time role as dishwasher, he prefers it when it’s a part time role with full annual leave and benefits (eg. eating the kitchen’s produce).  So, he was happy to learn that this little recipe was about as complex as chucking a few things in the blender and hitting the start button.  The only long part about this recipe is that you need a whole head of garlic, roasted.  So, if you want to eat this dip in about half an hour, go and put your garlic in the oven now! 

White bean dip

  • 1 tin cannelini beans, drained
  • 1 whole head garlic, roasted and peeled
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • a couple of tablespoons of chopped mint (rosemary would work too but maybe use 1 tsp)
  • salt and pepper

Roast your garlic in foil until tender, peel once cool.

Put all of your ingredients in the blender, except the seasoning, blitz and season to taste.  Serve with scarily healthy vegetable batons or it works wonderfully with bread, crackers, full fat crisps…mmm, crisps. 

You can all thank Mr T for this little contribution, but you can also thank him for the lack of photo, as, by the time I came back from looking for my camera, he had already started demolishing the dip!  Boys, huh?! 

Don’t forget to send me your recipes or ideas and if you haven’t subscribed to the blog yet, why not?  Just hit the button and my posts will go straight to your email inbox.  Ok, lecture over.  Go about your business.



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Bara Brith Boyo


Now you have to imagine that I am saying this in a Welsh accent.  Bara Brith is bloody brilliant boyo.  If like me, you have never heard of Bara Brith, don’t be perturbed.  Last year I found myself headed towards Wales, with my father at the wheel and me nodding off in the back seat listening to my iPod, I felt like a teenager again.  Tired and slightly disgruntled at the fact that he still listens to Radio 4 so loudly that it hurts my poor little eardrums.  And trying really hard not to ask ‘How many more miles?’   As we made our way through the meandering lanes we talked and the subject of Bara Brith arose.  I was told that it was a traditional Welsh fruit loaf.  To really cement its presence in my life, it appeared, as if by magic.  As we all tumbled out of the car, tired and hungry, we walked into our rented cottage and found a complimentary bottle of red wine and a loaf of Bara Brith on the kitchen table. 

It is rich and moist and spiced and loves butter nearly as much as I do.  After the holiday, to be honest, I didn’t really give it a thought but I stumbled across a recipe the other day and it inspired me.  And so, as I often do, I started tinkering around in the kitchen at about nine o’clock at night.  Mr T was rolling his eyes; he loves eating my food but doesn’t love the trail of destruction I leave in my wake, especially as he is the dishwasher.  However, the next morning when I turned the soaked fruit into warm spicy loaves he wasn’t complaining and neither were my colleagues.  Most people see a late start at work, as a reason to lie in and catch up on extra sleep.  I, on the other hand, see it as a chance to wake up early and treat my colleagues to freshly baked fruit loaf.  I don’t think any of us regretted my decision. 

It is a lovely, simple Pierre Roelofs recipe, which is not too strenuous to bake early in the morning, no beating required, just languorous stirring.  Before I whisked it away into the grateful hands of my colleagues, I ran into the back garden and took a couple of snaps in the early morning sunshine.  I hope my questionable photography skills show it off to full effect…  Here is the recipe.  Enjoy with butter.  If you put margarine on it, I will know and I will pity you for having such bad taste. 

Pierre Roelofs Bara Brith

400g Mixed Dried Fruit (raisins, currants, sultana’s, mixed peel)

75g Dried Cranberries (I used Blueberries and they were yummy)

250ml Hot black tea

100g Unsalted butter

2 heaped TBSP Marmalade

2 Eggs lightly beaten

450 g Self Raising flour

165g Brown sugar

1 TSP each ground cinnamon and ginger

125ml milk (and then some)

A slug of booze (I used orange liqueur but I think anything like brandy, whisky would work well too) 

  • Make hot, strong tea, pour over dried fruit along with a dash of booze (if the mood strikes you) and leave overnight or a few hours
  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees c, grease and line a large loaf tin or two small loaf tins
  • Melt butter and marmalade over low heat until melted, cool for 5 mins
  • Add lightly beaten eggs to butter mixture
  • Mix flour, sugar, spices and a pinch of salt in large bowl
  • Mix drained fruit and butter/egg mixture together
  • Combine wet and dry ingredients, fold gently, do not overwork
  • Add 125ml milk, this probably won’t be enough, keep adding until it is softly dropping from the spoon. 
  • Pour into loaf tins and bake until cooked, if they get too dark, cover with foil
  • A large loaf will take around an hour, a small loaf about 40 minutes, check with a skewer, if mix is still wet, check again in 10 mins. 

I adore this loaf, it is supposedly a bread but there is no yeast and it definitely has a cake like texture, either serve warm straight from the oven or toast under the grill and smother in butter.  The booze isn’t in the original recipe but it seemed so festive, it was almost rude not to!


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