Hummus & Other Bean Dips + how not to tell lies!

Following my previous post I was having a chat with a FB friend of mine, Marcus, waxing lyrical about lovely black garlic. He suggested adding some to hummus which inspired my sudden lunch using up some leftover white beans.

I puréed together 90g of leftover white beans, 30ml olive oil and 3 cloves of black garlic and seasoned the result, being particularly generous with black pepper and here it is with an entirely appropriate balsamic glaze drizzle.

White Bean & Black Garlic Puree

Incidentally I should like to draw your attention to the lettuce in this picture, it is 5 days past its best before date and doing most awfully well, don’t you think? Crispy and fresh and yummy.

Hummus-like dishes are a great way of using up all kinds of leftover legumes but it is just not right to actually call all these dips, spreads and purées “hummus” as this means chickpea in Arabic (حمّص) so you would be lying.

Basic Guidelines for a Bean Dip

hummus, chickpeas and melba toast
1 tin beans of your choice, drained (possibly keeping the juices - see below) and rinsed
OR equivalent in cooked beans – about 200g
2, 3, 4 or so cloves of garlic in some form or another
4 tablespoons cooking liquid, stock or liquid from the 

can (if it tastes good)
2 tablespoons good tasty olive oil
seasoning - salt and pepper plus chilli powder, cumin, smoked paprika, za'tar or 

whatever you fancy

~   Put the beans plus other flavourings (garlic, herbs, spices, cooked vegetables etc.) into your food processor or liquidiser.
~   Run the processor whilst drizzling in your choice of liquid and oil to achieve a smooth (or chunky if you prefer!) purée.
~   Taste and season.

You can, of course, change the ratio of cooking liquid/olive oil to taste.

*** Of course all bean purées are the better for garlic in some form or other; fresh, smoked, black, roasted or wild garlic (coming soon – yippee!) prepare as appropriate eg. crush fresh garlic, squeeze roasted garlic, finely chop wild garlic, etc.


Bespoke Suggestions for different beans …

~   Chickpeas (حمّص) – adding tahini will entitle you to call the dish Hummus bi Tahini, you need about 80g tablespoons tahini per 200g chickpeas, plus garlic, olive oil and about 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Other tasty additions are a little yogurt, harissa, cumin and other Middle Eastern flavours. Serve with pita chips. Just for old times’ sake here is a picture of my roasted garlic hummus with black olive salad as I used to serve it at the Tamarind Club in Tortola years ago (and I think they still do).
~   White Beans/Cannellini Beans go particularly well with lemon juice, olive oil. black pepper, cayenne and fresh tasting herbs.
~   Black Beans, being used a lot in Latin America, are good with fresh garlic, chilli (smoky chipotle is nice), fresh coriander, cumin, lime juice, Serve with tortilla chips to continue the theme.
~   Kidney Beans also have Latin American associations so add cumin, chilli, lemon or lime, a little tomato past perhaps, fresh coriander and so on.

Cooked Fresh Peas and Beans can also be used this way …

~   Broad Beans go well with bacon fat instead of olive oil plus bits of bacon and also with dill.
~   Peas are good with mint, of course, spring onions, crème fraîche.
~   Edamame like lemon or lime and maybe a little wasabi paste.

Try different herbs, different spices, yogurt or mayo or cream cheese, sour cream etc. 

Add roasted vegetables such as carrots, beetroot, fennel or red pepper (very pretty) or try caramelised onions - just add them when puréeing the beans. 

Add texture by folding in chopped nuts, crispy fried onions, seeds, a few whole beans, etc. as the mood takes you.

In Other News …

I just made, and ate, this ... 

Easy Salted Caramel Sorbet 

250g sugar
570ml water
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ - ½ tsp sea salt

~   Put the sugar into a heavy bottomed pan together with about 100ml of the water.
~   Set the rest of the water immediately next to the stove.
~   Stir together the sugar and water over low heat till the sugar has dissolved then turn up the heat and stop stirring! You can swirl the pan a little in a careful sort of way but more stirring will encourage crystals to form which we don’t want.
~   Watch carefully and when the syrup reaches a rich deep reddish brown quickly, carefully and at arm’s length pour in the rest of the water. The syrup will solidify somewhat in the cold water so stir it over low heat till it melts again.
~   Add vanilla and salt.
~   Cool then chill completely and run through ice cream machine or just freeze, mashing it every now and then to smooth out the ice crystals.  

The pink stuff in the background is Himalayan pink salt which my friend Carol gave me and which I used in the sorbet.

I have written a little ebook "Sorbets & Granitas" giving one "genius" recipe with 40+ sorbet and granita recipes including both cocktail sorbets and sorbet cocktails plus tips and guidelines, serving suggestions and what to do with leftovers! 

Black Garlic ~ please help!

black garlic is so mellow
Pin to enlighten the World!

I don’t know if you remember but a couple of years ago black garlic entered my life and I was enchanted. After all these years playing with food an exciting new ingredient to experiment with and, not only that, it's a wonderful one!  

So I happily skipped about in the sunshine buying this nectar from Tesco and various other places, whenever I saw it, which was reasonably often.  Often enough to always have some in my interesting store cupboard to enhance my sudden lunches. Just look at it, beautiful or what!

I ran out a while back but wasn't too perturbed as I was going away for a couple of months, I’d re-stock when I got home.  Imagine my horror on my return when however hard I searched I couldn't find any black garlic anywhere.  Apparently people have stopped stocking it which is just plain daft, so far as I can see. This stuff needs to be out there, people need to know.

Luckily I found some on Amazon so I've ordered 6 packets and shall be boring the knickers off you with all my ideas as soon as it arrives.

I very seriously recommend this wonderful ingredient to anyone who loves good food, it has a sweet almost balsamic-ish, molassesy taste and a soft squidgy texture, like a dried fruit version of garlic.  And, as they say themselves …

Black garlic also has a long shelf life, 6-8 months, so is perfect for spontaneous cooking and making leftovers even more delicious.

So, perhaps you could help this situation by asking for black garlic when you go shopping.  Don’t worry, it probably won’t cost you anything as nobody seems to stock it. but if enough people ask perhaps Tesco and others will start buying it again.
black garlic cloves

21 Ways Chorizo can Enhance your Life!

recipes using chorizo

Cooking and eating is more fun if you always keep in stock, as I do, a few long keeping ingredients that you love and which can used to add deliciousness to your spontaneous (or routine) creations.

I often turn to chorizo, actually a recent addition to my stores which is turning out to be invaluable. A pack of about 30 slices from Tesco costs £1.20 and the pack I bought a couple of weeks ago, at least, is dated “use by 6th April” so that’s about 5 weeks shelf life. Mostly I only use 2 or 3 slices at a time to enhance my dishes so that’s about 10 meals for lucky old me (my real man being so conservative in his tastes).

Here are 21 of the many ways I have enjoyed chorizo  …

1.   When sautéing potatoes crispen a little chopped or shredded chorizo in the oil first then set it aside whist cooking the potatoes and stir back in towards the end

2.   Add to pizza, this is one I ate earlier topped with roasted butternut squash  (incidentally, the charred bits are on purpose!) and chorizo.

3.   Add to pasta dishes, obviously, either by cooking it into the sauce or adding to a bake. Ditto for gnocchi.

4.   Mix finely chopped chorizo into breadcrumbs to top a gratin.

5.   Chorizo Croutons 

Tear bread into pieces (better than dicing as you get lots of crispy points and edges), toss with a little shredded chorizo, a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper and bake in a hot oven for a few minutes till crisp.  Good with both soups and salads. See here for lots of useful tips when making croutons.

6.   Many egg dishes benefit from a smoky spicy addition, add a little to omelettes, frittatas or scrambled eggs, baked eggs  and, of course, Spanish Omelette.

7.   White Fish with Beans and Chorizo

Finely chop a small red onion and soften in a tablespoon of olive oil.  Add come coarsely chopped chorizo and continue to cook till they have exuded some pretty red oil.  Now toss in diced white fish (cod or haddock or even monkfish if you are that lucky) and turn in the oil to colour. Add a few spoons of cannellini beans, a splash of white wine and 2 or 3 tablespoons of chopped tinned tomatoes (with chilli are good). Simmer all together till the fish is tender.  I love this topped with roasted garlic mayonnaise (something else I always have in stock, sometimes homemade, sometimes bought in).

This recipe is the meal I alluded to when interviewed by The Independent (I’m very slightly almost coming up to might be a bit famous one day!) 

8.   Baked Chicken with Chorizo and Tomatoes

~    Preheat oven to 400ºF/200ºC/180C fan/gas 6
~    Toss together chicken pieces (eg. thighs, drumsticks, quarters etc.), diced red onion, garlic, a little olive oil, salt, pepper and coarsely chopped chorizo. 
~   Roast till the chicken is tender and brown. 

    Tomatoes are also good in this so maybe add few cherry tomatoes for the last 10 minutes of cooking.

9.   I used to make a fabulous pork burger (basically just minced raw pork seasoned and formed into a burger) into which I munged a lot of crispy bits of bacon. I recently discovered that this is just as good with crisp bits of chorizo!

10. When making Bubble and Squeak or other hash gently fry some chorizo in a little oil to start the dish, it will release some delicious red oil.  Set the chorizo aside, make the hash in the pan and add the crispy set aside bits of chorizo at the end.  Try sweet potato and chorizo hash with salmon (for instance)!

11.  Chorizo Butter

Mix finely chopped chorizo and red onion into soft butter together flavourings of your choice (for instance garlic, orange zest, black pepper, paprika) and see here for lots of info on making and using flavoured butters. Depending on what else you have included try serving pan fried chicken or fish with a couple of slices of chorizo butter melting over it. Mash into jacket potatoes or use the butter to sauté prawns or scallops. Another idea is to make chorizo bread, like garlic bread only different!

12.   With cheese I am partial to sliced tomatoes and a little red onion drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, dribble of balsamic vinegar – that sort of thing.  This is extra special with a slice or two of chorizo chopped into it.

13.  Add some to stuffing for chicken etc.

14.   I think in Britain we tend to think of chorizo as Spanish which, of course it is and should be pronounced tchoreetho (and maybe accompanied by a glass of sherry!). It is also, however, a major player in South American food so add it to nachos, tacos, burritos, quesadillas etc. according to your will and pronounce it tchoreezo.

15.  Add chorizo to bread dough – fry a small red onion, diced, and a few slices of chorizo, shredded, in a dry pan. This is because chorizo is oily and you don’t want to add too my fat to the dough.  When the onion is soft cool a little and then knead into the dough.  Continue with your bread.

16.  Use in paella, of course, and risottos (risotti?).

17.  Chorizo Puffs

       These are a great way use for puff pastry scraps (for more ideas for passtry scraps see here.) 

~     Preheat the oven to 400ºF/200ºC/180C fan/gas 6.
~     Roll out puff pastry and cut into rounds. 
~     Mix together about equal parts of coarsely chopped chorizo an grated cheese (strong cheddar is good).
~    Put a spoonful of this on each pastry round, brush the edge with egg, fold and seal into crescents.

17.  Cheese & Chorizo Bread Pud aka Strata - serves 4

150g stale bread, torn into pieces
4 slices chorizo – shredded
120g grated mature cheddar + a little more
(or other cheese of your choice)
salt and pepper
200ml milk
100ml double cream
3 eggs

~   Put the bread, 120g cheese and chorizo into a greased shallow ovenproof dish, season and toss all together.
~   Whisk together the eggs, milk and cream and pour over the bread mixture pushing the bread under the surface to soak thoroughly.
~   Set aside for half an hour or more (quite a lot more will be fine, even overnight in the fridge).
~   Preheat the oven to 350°F/180ºC/160ºC fan/gas 4
~   Sprinkle the strata thingy with the rest of the grated cheese and bake for 40 minutes until risen, golden and wobbly when nudged.

18.  A little chorizo adds a lovely smokiness to chilli of any persuasion; bean, beef, chicken or turkey.

19.  Salad of course – chorizo is good with cheese, tomatoes, avocado, beans and more so see what you’ve got and take it from there.

Pin for easy reference!

20.  Chorizo Oil

1 small red onion – finely chopped
1 crushed clove of garlic
3 slices of chorizo – coarsely chopped
100ml olive oil

~   Gently fry the onion, garlic and chorizo in a tablespoon of the oil till the onion is softening.
~   Stir in the remaining oil and allow to warm through.
~   Cover the pan and set aside to cool and take flavour.
~   Drizzle (with or without the lumps!) on things such as this fine bean soup which I just had for my sudden lunch.

21.  Mussels and Chorizo in Saffron Garlic Broth – serves 4

a pinch of saffron threads
1 medium onion – finely chopped
2 finely minced garlic cloves
2 tbsp olive oil
100g shredded chorizo
120ml chopped tomatoes – the ones with chilli are good here
(tinned or from a carton)
1 kg fresh mussels

~   Firstly toast the saffron threads for a few seconds in a dry pan, this helps it yield more of its expensive flavour and colour.
~   Set the saffron aside, add the olive oil to the pan and soften the onion and garlic in this.
~   Stir in the chorizo and cook a couple of minutes then crumble in the saffron and add 250ml water (or fish stock if you have some) and the tomatoes.
~   Bring to a boil and add the mussels. 
~   Cover the pan and cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes by which time the mussels should have opened.  Any that haven’t should be discarded.

Serve with crusty bread, a glass of wine and a grin.

Preparing Mussels

This post is long enough so if you need to know how to prepare mussels go here and the lovely people from Waitrose will explain it to you. 

Take My Advice and Eat Deliciously!

That was good, wasn't it – a lovely springy weekend. My real man and I did some gardening, we think, we don’t know much about gardening. Segue coming up!

how to use up any leftover
And talking of things people don’t know much about I was asked recently, by Marks and Spencer no less (hopefully more about this later) what has been the inspiration behind Sudden Lunch! and The Leftovers Handbook? (This book is now in its second edition called Creative Ways to Use Up Leftovers.)   I knew the answer immediately – utter irritation!  

I am amazed, discombobulated and yes, irritated by all the things people don’t know about food, eating, cooking, best before dates and so on. 

good reason to learn to cook
I often joke that cooking is just cutting things up and making them hot but realise there is a fair bit more to it than that (plus maybe I’m a natural).  But honestly, cooking really is not at all difficult.  I am not suggesting that people learn to cook like … I dunno … Heston Blumenthal or Ottolenghi but it would be time very well invested indeed to learn how to feed yourself quickly, easily, economically, deliciously and to your very own tastes.

To this end I wrote my book, with recipes, ideas, handy hints, suggestions, cook's treats, storage advice and more for over 450 different leftovers.

To illustrate my point ...

Because I can cook these are the last three meals I have eaten (not including breakfast) prior to writing this post.  For me they take no forward planning whatsoever; as I say the header of this blog ... 

“Spontaneous eating from store cupboard and leftovers”.

Roasted Butternut Squash, Leek & Chorizo Soup

I had half a butternut squash and half a leek in the fridge plus, of course, chorizo which to me is an essential store cupboard item (see here for 21 Ways Chorizo can Enhance Your Life!).  

I was cooking a roast dinner for my real man so roasted the squash as the oven was already on.  I gently cooked the leek in a little oil till meltingly tender (this is the best way to cook onions too - see here), added the roasted squash and enough veg stock (half an oxo and hot water) to just cover.  I also added 3 chopped slices of chorizo and simmered for about 10 minutes.  I puréed the soup, although just mashing would do, and served myself the result together with 1 small slice of bread which I had torn up, tossed with a drizzle of olive oil and another coarsely chopped slice of chorizo and popped in the hot oven to crisp up. More information on Croutonology here.

Time taken about 45 minutes but most of that was just waiting for the squash to cook alongside the beef. It made two portions so I’m guessing about 50p a portion.

butternut squash soup with chorizo croutons

Penne Pasta in a Rich Oxtail Sauce

We bought a small bag of oxtail in the bargain department of Tesco for £1.21.  I braised it with onions, a little tomato paste, beef stock and splash of red wine and we both had a bowl of lovely stew with a chunk of bread.  There was a little left so I reduced it slightly (by simmering), and sauced some pasta with it, Parmesan sprinkle of course.  Easy peasy, maybe 15 minutes time and 40p for the meal. If you can spare 2p or so more a sprinkling of pangrattato would be great on this!

bowl of penne pasta in a rich oxtail sauce from leftovers

Warm Boursin Scones with Cherry Tomato Salad

I bought two garlic and herb Boursin at a much reduced price so decided to play with some.  I have often made a kind of pan-cooked scone called a Singin’ Hinnie (recipe here) and wondered how it would turn out if I used Boursin instead of butter or margarine.  It turned out really well so whilst they cooled a little I mixed some chopped tomatoes with a little red onion, olive oil, drizzle of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.  Lunch …

homemade cream cheese scones filled with tomato salad

These didn't take long or cost much – 50p say!

So please, take my advice ...

By simply learning a few basics; including perhaps some idea of what goes with what, and also keeping your favourite basics in the store cupboard then eating really, really well for not much time or money becomes a daily event. 

Which, incidentally, is wonderful!

Lovely Alternative (gluten free - bonus!) Pancakes ~ Galettes de Sarrasin

I've been racking my brains (such as they are) to think of a good idea relating to pancakes for Shrove Tuesday, and I've thought of something entirely yummy, worthwhile and useful to write about which is also relevant – Galettes de Sarrasin.

I ate these wonderful Breton buckwheat pancakes years ago when in France and then promptly forgot about them till a recent trip where a scallop and leek galette I dined on in Quimper, Brittany was one of the finest meals of my life.


These are crèpe type pancakes, similar to those my Mummy served on Pancake Day, and not at all similar to American style thick fluffy pancakes.  They have a lovely light and crisp texture, a delicious nutty flavour and, as a bonus, they are gluten free! 

I decided to try and reproduce my wonderful meal, made my own Scallop and Leek Galettes and they worked a treat. The only thing missing was the lovely sunshine, the pretty little walled town and my good friend Carol.  Apart from that – perfect!

Buckwheat Pancakes – about 6 pancakes depending on your pan

100g buckwheat flour
pinch of salt
1 egg
300ml milk
50g butter – melted

~ Stir together the salt and the flour and make a well in the middle.
~ Break the egg into the well and start whisking it in gradually adding the milk till a batter the consistency of single cream is achieved.
~ Chill for a couple of hours then stir in the melted butter.
~ Proceed to make pancakes as per usual, ie. lightly grease a frying pan, bring to good heat and ladle in about 2 tablespoons of batter.
~ Roll the pan to spread the batter thinly and cook till the underside is golden.
~ Turn with a deft flip of the wrist or more carefully with an implement.


I cooked the Scallop and Leek Filling in the same way as I did the salmon here. 

These pancakes are excellent with the traditional sugar and lemon of our childhoods and lend themselves to pretty well any filling you can dream up, savoury or sweet including, of course, delicious leftovers.

If you are interested, in my standard American style Pancake Recipe see this post from Pancake Day last year.

The normal crèpe recipe my Mum used is pretty well the same as the buckwheat recipe above but with plain flour instead of buckwheat and maybe a tad more milk.
And here is a picture of an enormous Caramel Crèpe I ate a while back, as it happens this was in France too! 


Although today is known throughout Britain as Pancake Day it is, of course, Shrove Tuesday and is particularly associated with pancakes as they are an ideal way to use up sugar, eggs, milk etc. that we will, of course, be spurning for the next 40 days of Lent.  

Happy Pancake Day!