Pimping Beans on Toast

Beans on toast...

I’d been at the gym after work on Tuesday and by the time I got home, it was far too late to cook anything but a snack. We all know that beans on toast is quick and easy, and all those beans aren’t too bad for you when you need a bit of protein after a workout. The only issue with beans on toast, is that it’s a bit boring, so I decided to pimp mine with a few extras.

I added a teaspoon of homemade harissa to the beans, for a bit of added kick. Once the beans were on the toast, I ground a load of pepper on top and added a sprinkling of grated cheddar cheese. Finally, two fried eggs were placed on top, and drizzled with some homemade saucy haw harissa sauce.

Granted, that poached eggs would have been better for me than fried, but at half ten at night, I went for the quick and easy option. Tasty, tangy and filling, it hit the spot; I’m not sure I’ll ever have plain beans on toast again.

Dhal with Naan Bread

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I find that dhal is such a deceptively easy dish to over cook. It looks so watery that the temptation is there to cook it until all of it is absorbed, or evaporated, by which time it’s too thick and stiff when served. Rather then cook it until it looks like how I want it, I cooked it until it was still a bit too runny, so that when it was served, it had stiffened up just a bit and was still nice and slack.

This time I used the recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg Everyday, although I’ve used one of Madhur Jaffrey’s in the past; they all seem pretty similar to be honest. It was very tasty and much slacker than I’ve made in the past, which was great. The kids still wouldn’t touch it though…

For me, you have to have your dhal with naan bread; nothing beats scooping up all that soft steaming dhal with a bit of warm soft bread. I’ve made these twice now, the recipe is from Madhur Jaffrey’s Eastern Vegetarian Cooking and while its easy to prepare, it takes ages to actually cook all the naan’s. They need four to five minutes in the pan and another one to one and a half under the grill, so unless you have a very large pan, or two pans you can use, you can probably only make one at a time. With nine to make, it takes quite some time, and resulted in quite a late dinner when I made them for the first time.

I’ll definitely be doing these again, although I might have another go at the dhal recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s book now that I know I need to leave it quite watery in the pan as it will stiffen for serving.

Coffee

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I’ve hated coffee for as long as I can remember, something to do with a run in with coffee ice cream in Ullapool when I was a kid. I’ve also never got on with hot drinks, I’ve tried in the past, but I just prefer cold drinks. I’m not sure why, but a few week before Christmas, I decided that I was going to get into coffee. Not your Nescafé, or Kenco freeze dried nonsense mind, but proper artisan coffee from places like Has Bean and Hot Numbers.

So for the weeks leading up to Christmas, I started pinching my wife’s coffee and trying to get used to it, I’ll be honest, it was a bit of a struggle. Things got a bit better when I started to follow the Has Bean French Press brew guide, with the coffee having more body and flavour. Things improved again when I started buying beans and grinding them up for use in the French press, there was no going back to pre-ground after that.

So I decided to splurge a bit of my Christmas money and bought an Aeropress and a Porlex hand grinder from Has Bean, mainly so I could take them to work and have something decent to drink. The machine at work with the little pouches of coffee is just dire, all the flavours taste the same, at least to me. I think I’ve used the French Press about once since Christmas, it just doesn’t get a look in any more, even at the weekends, the coffee from the Aeropress is just better and a lot easier to clean up after!

It struck me one morning though, as I was chomping on a slice of sourdough bread slathered in marmalade, that I could make most of my breakfast. I started making bread because I wanted to make sourdough. I can’t wait for the Seville oranges to appear this year so that I can make a couple of batches of marmalade, as I missed them last year. So in a similar fashion to wanting to make all of my burger stack for lunch, I have a new mission, to make all the bits of my breakfast. While I think roasting my own green coffee beans and churning my own butter can wait for a bit, sourdough and marmalade and firmly on the immediate hit list…