Baked Butter Bean Eggs & Goats’ Cheese

The Plain Kitchen Baked Eggs

An Easter Monday breakfast for you all, or indeed a light supper for tonight. I posted a similar recipe a few months back, for eggs baked with prosciutto and potato: this is along the same lines, with the gorgeous fat butter beans providing some sustenance and depth to the dish. Remember to make sure your oven is preheated, and to keep an eye on the time: overcooking will result in rubbery eggs, and no-one likes a rubbery egg!

I use a teaspoon of the Geo Watkins anchovy sauce in the tomato mix. Often, I use whole anchovy fillets, but sometimes I am after an almost imperceptible anchovy flavour, and this sauce does the trick: all it provides is that umami depth to the tomatoes rather than an anchovy flavour. Use soft goats’ cheese too, rather than one with a rind, as it is wonderfully subtle and giving.

Serves 4

Preheat oven to 280 degrees Celsius

Ingredients:

For the tomato sauce:

1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 onion

1 clove garlic, microplaned

1 tbsp olive oil

½ tsp sugar

1 tsp Geo Watkins anchovy sauce

1 tsp Maldon salt

Good grinding black pepper

Handful of chopped basil leaves

For the rest of the dish:

1 tin butter beans, rinsed and drained

Handful chopped basil and parsley

100g goats’s cheese

4 eggs

¼ cup parmesan, grated

Fresh herbs, chopped, to serve

Method

If you haven’t any to hand, make the tomato sauce. Fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil over a medium heat for about 10 minutes. Bring the heat up, and add the tomatoes, stirring constantly. Add the sugar and salt, and keep stirring on a high heat: you want most of the water to evaporate through the cooking process, and you can speed this up by upping the heat, but ensuring the tomatoes don’t stick to the pan too much. Add the anchovy sauce, and keep frying, and stirring, for another 15 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Add the butter beans, and stir well for about two minutes or so. Then, remove from the heat, and stir in the basil and pepper. Ladle this sauce into an ovenproof dish. Make four holes, or dents in the mix, and in each one of these, crack an egg. Dot the broken up goats’ cheese in and around the sauce and eggs, and finally sprinkle the parmesan over the whole dish.

Bake at 180 degrees for 5-6 minutes: remember, you don’t want to overdo the eggs!

Serve on fresh spinach leaves, or on toast, or just on its own.

Baked Eggs with Prosciutto & Tomato

Baked Eggs from The Plain Kitchen

On weekends, we always have some sort of “Second Breakfast”- that is, we have toast and tea on waking, at about 630 or 7, and then at about 9 30 or 10, we have a larger breakfast: and this is a current favourite. We do sometimes call it brunch, but I don’t really like that word: so “Second Breakfast” it is. The base of this delicious dish is Good Tomato sauce: the recipe for which is under Main Meals. I love this tomato concoction, and often make double, just to use in recipes like this. I have repeated the recipe here, for ease of use. The whole thing looks detailed and lengthy, but isn’t: a simple layering process, and baking- and it’s done. If you don’t have the home-made tomato sauce to hand, don’t worry: layer some tomato slices on the bottom of the dish, and then layer the rest of the ingredients on top: it will do. Whatever you do though, don’t use tinned tomatoes straight from the tin: they will be far too watery, and the dish will be ruined.

Serves 4

Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius

Ingredients:

1 cup homemade tomato sauce

2 cooked jacket potatoes

1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped

½ cup grated cheddar cheese

I ball mozzarella

6 slices prosciutto

4 eggs

 

For the homemade tomato sauce:

1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 onion

1 clove garlic, microplaned

1 tbsp olive oil

½ tsp sugar

1 tsp Maldon salt

Good grinding black pepper

Handful of chopped basil leaves

Method:

If you haven’t any to hand, make the tomato sauce. Fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil over a medium heat for about 10 minutes. Bring the heat up, and add the tomatoes, stirring constantly. Add the sugar and salt, and keep stirring on a high heat: you want most of the water to evaporate through the cooking process, and you can speed this up by upping the heat, but ensuring the tomatoes don’t stick to the pan too much. Keep frying, and stirring, for another 15 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Remove from the heat, and stir in the basil and pepper.

Chop the cooked potatoes roughly. Using a shallow oven proof dish, about 25×30 cm in size, layer your ingredients. Start with the tomato sauce, followed by the potatoes, sprinkled randomly over the sauce. Then shred the prosciutto slices roughly with your hands, and wedge these in wherever you have space. Sprinkle the red pepper pieces over this layer. Then make four holes, or dents in the mix, and in each one of these, crack an egg. Finally, sprinkle with the grated cheddar, and torn up mozzarella.

Bake at 190 degrees for 10 minutes. Serve on fresh spinach leaves, toast, or just on its own.

Bangers & Balsamic Onions

The plain kitchen bangers and balsamic onions

This is an absolute favourite of ours, and I really don’t like tampering with it too much. I’ve always made it the same way, and I serve lightly steamed green vegetables, like savoy cabbage and beans, or peas, with it. Nothing fancy, nothing too overly spiced: I just love the simplicity and comfort of such a dish. This recipe makes enough for 3-4 people; I use a pack of Heck sausages, and each of us has 1 or 2 sausages. I grill the sausages in the oven, while I’m getting on with the mash. The balsamic onions take a while- an hour and a bit cooking time, but are really worth the while. Mash is made simply: most of the time I boil the potatoes in the skins and then rice them, as this is the easiest and best way, I find, of making mashed potato. I add about 50g of butter to 4 large potatoes’ worth of mash, and about 100ml of full cream milk. Some Dijon mustard, if you have it, lots of salt and pepper, and that’s it.

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

For the sausages:

1 pack of good gluten free sausages (I favour the Heck brand)

1 tbsp olive oil

For the Mashed Potato:

4 large potatoes, skin on

100ml or so of full cream milk

50g butter

Maldon salt

Good grinding black pepper

Dijon, if you have it

For the balsamic onions:

4 large white or red onions, peeled and sliced into thinnish rings

2 cloves garlic, microplaned

20g butter

2 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp Pimenton

1 tsp maldon salt

Pinch white pepper

Good grinding black pepper

water to top up

Method:

Make your sausages as you would usually do; as I said, I grill mine with a little olive oil as I find it gives a really good crisp and gloss to the sausages. Of course, make your mashed potato too, as you would usually do; my ingredients are a mere suggestion.

Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan, and add the garlic and onions. Keep on a medium to high heat, but be very careful not to let the onions or garlic catch too much. Add the salt, and sauté for 15 minutes, stirring all the while. Then add the pimenton, and sauté for a further 10 minutes. Add the vinegar, allow to bubble away while you stir the onions, and allow to become really sticky before you add your first splash of water. Now, the secret to this is to keep topping up with water and stirring; it will create a sticky and soft onion gravy- so please persist. Continue in this vein for another 40 or so minutes. Add the peppers just before serving- and taste before you serve, as it may need a little extra salt.

Serve on top of the sausages and mashed potato. Perfect.

Beef and Black Olives

The Plain Kitchen Beef and Black Olive Casserole

I love an easy one-pot wonder dish, and this sort of falls into that category: I say sort of, because you do in fact use two pans or pots for this: you need to brown the beef first in the frying pan, and use the same pan for the initial sautéing of the other ingredients, and then you need to use a heavy based casserole dish for the final stage of slow cooking. Please do brown the beef properly in a hot frying pan though: it will make all the difference. Green olives would work well too, but I prefer the flavour of black. If you don’t have any banana shallots to hand, just use halved white onions, or whole small white onions.

Serves 4

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius

Ingredients

400g braising steak (chuck, or blade), chopped

2 tbsp groundnut oil

2 tbsp olive oil

6 banana shallots, peeled, topped and tailed- kept whole

1 red onion, finely chopped

1 stick celery, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, microplaned

1 knob ginger (a piece about the size of your thumb), peeled and microplaned

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

200g pitted back olives

1 tbsp tomato puree

2 bay leaves

1 tsp Paprika (not smoked: just plain paprika)

½ tsp sugar

1 tsp Maldon Salt

Good grinding black pepper

Method

Brown the beef first: in a frying pan, heat the groundnut oil until hot, and fry the beef in batches: don’t let it steam or stew, try to fry the beef off in small batches to ensure a good, golden brown all over the meat. Drain the beef from the frying pan, and set aside. Discard any excess groundnut oil, but keep any stocky bits on the bottom of the pan: these will help the flavour of the casserole.

In the same frying pan, heat the olive oil on a medium to high heat. Add the celery, chopped red onion, garlic and ginger, and fry for 10 minutes, until slightly softened. Add the beef, bay leaves, banana shallots and olives, and fry for a further minute. Turn the heat a little higher, and add the tinned chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, paprika and salt and pepper. Let this bubble rapidly for a minute or so, and then take off the heat and pop straight into the preheated oven. Let this cook in the oven for 35 minutes at 180 degrees, then take the casserole out, give it a stir, turn the heat down to 150 degrees and continue cooking for another 45 minutes. If your oven is drying the beef out, add a few good splashes of water and cover with a layer of tin foil to ensure the casserole doesn’t dry out. My oven is a Stanley (similar to a Rayburn) doesn’t dry anything out too much: but I used to have a dreadful fan oven, so I am aware of the perils of such awful places. Just be wary, and keep your eye on it.

Serve on mashed potato, or with rice.

Beef Biryani

The Plain Kitchen Beef Biryani

Biryani is such a nostalgic dish for me: growing up in Kwa-Zulu Natal, we were immersed in a lot of Indian cookery. I always remember my father, and my uncle Hugh too, sometimes coming home with two litre ice-cream tubs of delicious biryani kindly given to them by women who worked with them. Post-farming, my father worked for a while as an estate agent in offices in Pietermaritzburg, and my uncle was a pathologist who ran his own labs in Kwa-Zulu Natal. They both used to come home bearing these treasures: the flavours hidden in these recycled ice-cream tubs seemed so exotic, the smells overwhelming: and the mix of rice and lentils alluring, and addictive. I still mix lentils and rice, and the flavour and combination is a comforting one for me. This is an easy biryani to make, and I use beef mince: but of course lamb, lamb mince or chicken would be brilliant too. Use this idea as a base, and experiment with flavours from here.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

For the lentils:

I cup Lentils (I use Puy lentils- as close to the memory I can get)

1 ½ cups water

3 cherry tomatoes, quartered

2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced in half

For the rice:

1 cup rice

3 cups water

1 tsp turmeric

1 small cinnamon stick

1 tsp Marigold bouillon

For the Beef mince:

400g beef mince

2 cloves garlic, peeled and microplaned

1 large red onion, finely chopped

1 tbsp ghee (or butter)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 fresh green chilli, deseeded and chopped

½ tsp of each of these:

ground ginger, allspice, dried chilli, ground coriander and garam masala

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp Maldon salt

1 cube Kallo beef stock, or similar

Good grinding black pepper

Pinch white pepper

Zest and juice of a lemon

Large handful of coriander, finely chopped

Large handful of parsley, finely chopped

4 basil leaves, chopped

For the Crispy onions:

1 large white onion, peeled and sliced

1 tbsp olive oil

1 clove garlic, microplaned

1 tsp Maldon salt

To serve:

½ cup flaked almonds, toasted

Method:

Pop the ingredients for the lentils into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer, and simmer for about 15-20 minutes until al the water has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and set aside. Get the rice on the boil too: pop all of the ingredients into a saucepan, give it a stir, bring the rice up to a boil and boil for 30 seconds. Pop a lid on the saucepan, remove from the heat and place in a warm spot until all of the water has been absorbed. This, I find, is my favourite way of cooking rice: I get on with whatever else I am cooking, and let the rice steam, and by the time the rest is ready, the rice is too.

While the lentils are cooking and the rice is steaming, get on with the beef.

If you have bought your mince from the supermarket, as I did with this recipe, remove it from the packaging and massage and squeeze the mince with your hands: I find it makes the appearance of the final dish, for me, more aesthetically pleasing. I don’t go for that shredded minced beef look: and I find that by squeezing the mince, it alleviates this little problem. Of course, if you buy your mince from your butcher, this won’t be a problem.

Heat the oil and ghee (or butter) in a frying pan until slightly foaming. Add the onion, chilli, garlic and spices. Saute for about 4 minutes, and then add the beef mince. Turn the heat up a little higher, and fry the beef for 10 minutes. Keep stirring, as you want that all important stick and browning to happen. After ten minutes, add the crumbled beef stock, cube salt and peppers, and fry for a further 15 minutes: you really want the beef to be a “dry” spiced beef, not a sauce at all.

While you are frying the beef mince, you can get on with the crispy onions too: n a separate small frying pan, heat the oil. Add the sliced onion, salt and garlic. Fry for about 10- 15 minutes- you may need longer: you want a good caramelisation to the onion. Set aside when done.

Now, once everything is ready and cooked, you are ready to mix your ingredients together. I use a very large mixing bowl to do this properly, and then I ladle it into serving bowls. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick from the rice, and add the rice to the bowl, along with the mince, lentils, lemon juice and zest and the chopped herbs. Mix well. Ladle into serving bowls, top with crispy onions and toasted flaked almonds. Absolutely heavenly: eat with a spoon, please.