Sunday, 20 July 2014

Five Bean Chilli with Fried Duck Egg

Five bean chilli served with a fried duck egg

Very often, the meals which I feature on this blog will produce leftovers, which I subsequently use up in what I hope are at least sometimes imaginative ways. It is not so often, however, that the meals which appear here are themselves products of leftovers. In this instance, the five bean chilli was devised and made as a means of using up leftover mince (ground beef) which I had bought for preparing a dish for my new Scottish food blog. That other dish was called Bhuna Mince and Spicy Turmeric Tatties and I was delighted with the result in both instances.

Canned five bean salad is washed under running cold water

Ingredients (Makes One Large Portion)

14 ounce can five bean salad
1/2 pound mince (ground beef)
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and black pepper
1 small red onion, peeled and sliced
1 mild red chilli, seeded and diced
1 mild green chilli, seeded and diced
1 clove of garlic, peeled and grated
8 ounce can chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
1 duck egg
White pepper
Little splash of vegetable oil
1 tablespoon freshly chopped coriander/cilantro, plus extra to garnish

Toasting cumin seeds


Pour the contents of the can of beans in to a colander in your sink. Rinse well under running cold water to get rid of all the "gunge" and possible artificial preservatives. Sit the colander on your draining board to drain for a few minutes.

Cumin seeds are ground with a pestle and mortar

Spoon the cumin seeds in to a dry frying pan and toast for a minute or so over a medium heat, shaking the pan every ten seconds. You will see the colour of the seeds change as they toast but above all you should smell them when they are ready. Crush to a powder with a pestle and mortar.

Browning seasoned beef

Pour the olive oil in to a large stew pot. Add the beef, seasoning it with salt, pepper and the freshly ground cumin. Brown the beef over a medium heat, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon. This should only take a couple of minutes.

Red onion, chillies and garlic are prepared for chilli

The onion, chillies and garlic are then added to the pot and stirred for a further minute or two until the onion is separated and slightly softened.

Red onion, chillies and garlic are added to chilli

The drained beans and tomatoes go in to the pot together and everything is given a thorough stir.

Five bean salad and tomatoes are added to chilli

Bring the combination to a gentle simmer and cover. Continue to simmer for about twenty minutes, stirring occasionally.

Five bean chilli is brought to a gentle simmer

I know that not everyone has easy access to fresh duck eggs. Where you can get them, however, they make a tasty alternative to chicken eggs and duck egg recipes are equally numerous and versatile. You could of course simply use a chicken egg in this dish instead.

Fresh duck eggs

Begin by carefully breaking the duck egg in to a small bowl. This allows you to season it before cooking with salt and white pepper. It also makes it much easier to add to the frying pan.

Duck egg is seasoned for frying

Pour a little bit of oil in to a small, non-stick frying pan and wipe it around with a piece of kitchen paper to create an oil film in the pan only. Bring the pan up to a fairly high heat before carefully pouring in the egg. The duck egg should start to cook immediately and when it has clearly taken form and is not going to run (ten seconds or so), reduce the heat to low to medium.

Starting to fry duck egg

When the duck egg is in the frying pan, stir the tablespoon of coriander trhough the five bean chilli.

Chopped coriander is added to five bean chilli

The duck egg will take four or five minutes to fry. It is ready sunny side up when the white is cooked all the way around the yolk. It is especially important with duck eggs, however, from a food safety perspective that they never be eaten undercooked. For this reason, I did carefully turn the egg and fry for one minute only on the second side.

Duck egg is fried briefly on second side

Spoon the five bean chilli in to a deep plate. Lay the duck egg on top and garnish with the remaining coriander.

Fried duck egg is laid on five bean chilli

Monday, 14 July 2014

World Cup Food Recipes - Germany

Roast pork on potato pancake with bratwurst sausages and sauerkraut

Germany last night defeated Argentina in extra-time to become FIFA World Champions for a fourth time overall but for the first time since 1990. No one could surely argue with the outcome of what was a magnificent tournament as the teamwork displayed by the Germans virtually throughout was exemplary. Yes, other teams had their big name stars who shone on the big stage but the German work ethic and unity ultimately paid dividends and earned them the right to lift the biggest prize in sport. I cooked this German meal last night and actually ate it while watching the final.

Sadly, this is the last of my featured recipes relating specifically to the 2014 World Cup. It doesn't seem like more than four weeks ago that I undertook to feature a recipe from as many of the participating countries as possible. This is the twenty-third recipe from the thirty-two participating nations. I have to apologise to those nine countries which I didn't manage to feature. This was down to a variety of reasons including unavailability of appropriate ingredients, an oven disaster in the case of England (I lost track of time and the dish was burned) but most of all to simple time constraints. I may try to feature something from at least some of those countries in the near future.

Roast Pork on Potato Pancake with Bratwurst and Sauerkraut

This recipe is based around a dish served in Bavaria called a schweinshaxe. A traditional schweinshaxe is a roasted knuckle of pork, served on the bone, popularly with gravy, potato dumplings and sauerkraut. I featured such a recipe on this blog a few years back. The main difference here is that I have removed the pork from the bone after it is cooked and rested, before serving it on an (almost) authentic German potato pancake with some (supermarket bought) sauerkraut and some totally authentic German bratwurst sausages.

Pork knuckle ready for roasting


1 pork shank/hock
Vegetable oil
Salt and black pepper
1 egg
1 tablespoon plain/all purpose flour
1 medium baking potato
1 clove of garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
White pepper
6 bratwurst
Sauerkraut as required/desired
Freshly chopped parsley to garnish
1 bottle of German beer to serve

Flour is added to beaten egg


The first step is to get the pork on to roast. Your oven will need to be preheated to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6. You will also need to know the weight of the pork knuckle in order to calculate the cooking time of 35 minutes per pound and 35 extra minutes. Conveniently, this piece of pork weighed exactly two pounds, meaning a cooking time of one hour and forty-five minutes was required.

Lightly oil a roasting tray (to help prevent the pork sticking) and season the pork well with salt and black pepper. Lay it on the tray and put it in the oven for your calculated cooking period of time.

Around quarter of an hour before the pork is due to come out of the oven, beat the egg in a fairly large bowl and subsequently beat in the flour to form a smooth batter paste.

Potato and garlic are peeled and grated

Peel the potato and use a box grater as seen in the photo above to grate it on the coarsest side in to the centre of a spread out, clean tea towel. This is to easily allow you to squeeze the water out of the potato. If you don't do this, your pancake will not set properly in the pan.

Potato is grated in to a clean tea towel

Gather up the corners of the tea towel and over your sink, twist and squeeze to get rid of the water. You may be surprised by how much comes out!

Preparing to squeeze water from grated potato

Add the squeezed and grated potato to the flour and egg batter. Peel the garlic clove and grate it in to the bowl with a small hand grater. Season with salt, white pepper and the half teaspoon of thyme. Stir well to evenly combine and refrigerate for fifteen minutes.

Potato, garlic and seasonings are stirred through flour and egg batter

When you take the pork from the oven, pierce the thickest part with a skewer to ensure the juices run clear. Cover with kitchen foil and leave to rest/partly cool for fifteen minutes.

Roast knuckle of pork

The bratwurst could be grilled/broiled but I find you get much better results if you fry them fairly gently in a little vegetable oil in a frying pan.

Authentic German bratwurst sausages

Bring around a tablespoon of oil up to a medium heat in a non-stick frying pan. Add the bratwurst and cook on low to medium for around ten minutes until done, turning them around in the pan frequently.

Bratwurst sausages are gently fried in oil

The crackling/skin on the pork is considered by many to be the best part of the joint! I disagree. Not only is it unhealthy (pure fat), I find it plays havoc with my teeth. I therefore cut it/pull it off and discard it. Whether you do likewise or eat it is up to you.

Crackling is cut from roast knuckle of pork

The majority of the pork can be cut from the bone using a carving fork and knife. The final bits however will have to be pulled free by hand.

Roast pork removed from the knuckle bone

Pour a tablespoon or two of oil in to a second pan and bring up to a medium heat. Carefully spoon in the potato pancake batter and cook for three or four minutes before turning with a spatula to cook for a similar period of time on the second side.

Frying potato pancake batter

Lay the potato pancake and sausages on a serving plate. Spoon on your sauerkraut around the edges.

Potato pancake, sauerkraut and bratwurst sausages

The pork is served on the pancake. I'm not a gravy fan but if you wanted to make a simple gravy from the pork cooking juices, this would work very well poured over the top. Instead, I simply garnsihed with some chopped parsley, opened my weissbier and tucked in. Prost!

Authentic German beer is served with the best German meals

Saturday, 12 July 2014

World Cup Food Recipes - France

Canard au vin is served with boiled new potatoes

France played pretty well in the group stages of the World Cup, particularly when they crushed fellow qualifiers Switzerland by 5 goals to 2. They seemed to go off the boil  a little bit in the knockout stages, however, and it was no real surprise to see them lose to the impressive Germans at the quarter-final stage. Trying to pick a dish to represent France in this project was not easy. I'm not a fan at all of modern day French food, as I find it way too elaborate and even pretentious. It's as though modern French chefs have become way too obsessed with fancy presentation, creating dishes more at home on an artist's canvas than a plate. There are fortunately, however, some wonderful traditional peasant dishes which still afforded me plenty of choice and I finally decided to put an unusual but not unheard of twist on just such a dish.

Canard au Vin (Duck in Red Wine)

Coq au vin is a dish familiar to most people. It is essentially a cockerel chopped in to portions and slowly cooked in red wine and chicken stock, with vegetables such as shallots and mushrooms. I once adapted this dish to incorporate pheasant rather than chicken with very pleasing results so decided to have a further experiment with duck.

Principal sundry ingredients for canard au vin

Ingredients (Serves Two)

1 whole duck, cleaned and prepared for cooking
4 ounces butter
8 slices unsmoked streaky bacon/side pork
8 small shallots, peeled but left whole
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons plain/all purpose flour
1 pint fresh chicken stock
1 pint red wine
16 small button mushrooms
12 new potatoes (or as required), washed but unpeeled
Freshly chopped parsley to garnish

Defrosted whole duck


If you buy the duck frozen, you will need to defrost it in the bottom of your fridge. This will take a couple of days. (Be sure also to remove the giblets from the cavity - they can be used for stock) Ideally, however, you may want to buy the duck fresh and ask your butcher to portion it for you as it's a little bit more tricky than chopping up a whole chicken due to the bone structure.

Preparing to chop duck in to portions

If portioning the duck yourself, use a robust and very sharp knife or ideally a Chinese style cleaver. Start by carefully pulling each leg in turn out and away from the body and carefully cutting all the way through the skin and flesh until you can pop the bones free. Do the same with the wings.

The next bit is where things get a little bit more awkward as you want to leave the breasts on the bone and not remove them as fillets (which would be much simpler). The way I did it was to lay the duck breasts side down and carefully cut straight through the backbone followed by the breastbone to half the duck. Cut the excess bone away from each half, leaving the breasts and the bone to which each is attached intact. Cut each breast portion in half across the way.

Legs are first to be chopped from duck

You should now be left with two leg portions, two wings and four breast portions. The rest of the bones can be used for stock along with the giblets set aside earlier.

Duck portions ready for cooking

Put the butter in to a large stock or soup pot. Make sure you do use a very large pot - or even a Dutch oven style dish - as you ultimately have a lot of ingredients going to be included.

If you don't have such a pot, you can find plenty of bargain offers on your local Amazon platform.

Butter is added to large stock pot to melt

Gently melt the butter before adding the duck pieces to brown and seal. You will probably need to do this in two batches.

Duck pieces are added to melted butter to seal

When the pieces are browned and sealed, lift to a large plate and set aside for a few minutes.

Duck breast portions are browned and sealed on second side

Add the bacon to the butter and fry briefly on a moderate heat to cook. Add the shallots for a further minute or so of frying.

Bacon and shallots are fried off in butter

The herbs and seasoinings go in to the pot next, followed by the flour. The flour is simply to thicken up the sauce a little bit but can be omitted if desired. Stir well to combine.

Flour and seasonings are added to bacon and shallots

Pour in the chicken stock and the red wine. Add the mushrooms. Stir well and turn up the heat.

Red wine, chicken stock and mushrooms are added to pot

Carefully lay the duck portions back in the pot, making sure thay are all covered. When the liquid starts to simmer, cover the pot and continue to simmer as gently as possible for three hours. Stir carefully but well every half hour or so.

Duck pieces are re-added to stock pot

Duck is of course a very fatty meat and the fat will render down during cooking. You can slowly skim the worst of it from the top as the dish cooks or just leave it. The choice is yours. I simply left it alone, creating almost an ultime confit effect.

Canard au vin is ready to serve

The potatoes were put in to a pot of cold salted water around quarter of an hour before the canard au vin was ready and brought to a simmer. They'll take twenty-five to thirty minutes.

Cooked duck portions are carefully lifted from the sauce

Lift the pieces of duck with a large slotted spoon or cooking tongs to a deep plate. Allow to rest for ten minutes or so while the potatoes complete cooking and are drained.

Duck portions and new potatoes are plated ready for sauce and garnish

Divide the duck portions between two plates and add the potatoes. Spoon over the shallots and mushrooms in the sauce and garnish with chopped parsley.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

World Cup Food Recipes - Colombia

Colombian Carne Picada with fried egg, bacon and beans

Colombia were probably one of the more entertaining teams to participate in the Brazil 2014 World Cup but there is little doubt they will be remembered most of all for their young striking sensation, James Rodriguez. The 22 year old scored six goals in the tournament - netting in each of his country's five matches - and is still on course for the tournament's golden boot, awarded to the top scorer. His stunning strike against Uruguay, where he brought the ball under control on his chest with his back to goal before turning and unleashing a tremendous strike from outside the area, is also a serious candidate for goal of the tournament. I read in one newspaper that he is now rivalling the popularity of Colombian singing sensation Shakira in his homeland and with his performances in Brazil that is little wonder.

This Colombian dish, Carne Picada, is typical of the food of South and Central America. It is a spicy stew made with minced/ground beef and traditionally jalapeno peppers. I don't have access to jalapenos but I know they are a little too hot for many people's tastes so my version of this dish uses a simple mild red chilli. Carne Picada will commonly be served with a bean dish called Sweet y Salado made by cooking beans slowly with ham hocks and various other ingredients. I have simplified the bean dish considerably, however, to prepare them more quickly and have used bacon lardons (small bacon chunks) instead of ham.

Mild red chilli pepper and half white onion

Ingredients (Serves One)

1 large mild red chilli, seeded and sliced
1/2 white onion, peeled and sliced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/4 pound minced/ground beef
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
4 cherry tomatoes, quartered
3/4 pint fresh beef stock
3 ounces basmati rice
2 tablespoons bacon lardons
2 tablespoons canned borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
1 egg

Red chilli pepper and onion are sauteed in olive oil


Pour a tablespoon or so of olive oil in to a large stew pot and gently heat. Add the sliced chilli pepper and onion, seasoning with salt and pepper. Stir around in the hot oil over a low to medium heat for a couple of minutes until the onions are softened and glistening.

Beef is added to softened onion and pepper

The beef goes in to the pot next for a further couple of minutes stirring until it is browned and evenly sealed.

Garlic is added to sauteed beef and vegetables

You may wonder why I'm adding the garlic only at this stage. It's simply because garlic is so easily overcooked, making it bitter. I find that unless you are incredibly careful, adding garlic to a pan to sweat off with onion almost always leads to this happening.

Cherry tomatoes

The cherry tomatoes go in to the pot at the same time as the beef stock. Note that there is no need to remove the pulp or seeds from the tomatoes but you can of course do this if you wish.

Cherry tomatoes and beef stock are added to sauteed beef and vegetables

Stir the pot well and bring to a gentle simmer. Continue to simmer uncovered for forty to forty-five minutes (stirring frequently), until most of the liquid is boiled off and you have a thick, meaty sauce.

Carne picada is gently simmered

The rice will need to go on to cook when the beef stew has been simmering for about half an hour. Start by bringing a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Wash the rice through a sieve under running cold water and add to the pot. Wait a minute, stir briefly but well and simmer for a total of ten minutes.

Bacon lardons are browned in olive oil

Pour some more olive oil in to a third pot and add the bacon. Season with black pepper only and gently fry for a couple of minutes until fully cooked and any fat has largely melted/rendered down.

Borlotti beans are added to sauteed bacon

Wash the borlotti beans in a colander under cold water and drain. Add to the bacon and gently heat over a very low heat for two or three minutes, stirring frequently.

Egg is gently fried

Wipe a small frying pan with a little oil just to create a coating and bring up to a medium to high heat. Break your egg in to a small bowl or cup and season with salt and pepper. Carefully pour in to the centre of the pan. Reduce the heat after twenty to thirty seconds once the egg has formed its shape and cook for three or four minutes until the white is set right up to and around the yolk.

Rice bed for Carne Picada

Drain the rice and arrange on a plate as a bed for the Carne Picada.

Carne Picada, bacon and beans are added to serving plate

Spoon the beef on to the rice and spoon the bacon and beans alongside. Sit the egg on top of the Carne Picada and serve your meal immediately.

Tucking in to Colombian Carne Picada