Friday, 17 April 2015

French Beans with a Lemon and Almond dressing

I've had a hankering for a plate of french beans all week - no, I don't know why either! - but I've been trying to ignore it.  French beans are not in season here in the UK, until July/August and I like to eat things in their seasons.

However, last night I succumbed and bought a packet on my way home from work. They are probably perfectly good beans but they were grown in Kenya, so with all that travel and packaging they are not going to be super fresh and tasty.

I would usually just boil or steam french beans and dress them with a little butter and seasoning but in this case I thought a little more was needed to help the flavours along.

Recipe - serves 2

1 220g packet french (green) beans
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon flaked almonds - you could you chopped if you wish
1 lemon - juice and zest
freshly ground black pepper
pinch chilli flakes

First top and tail your beans. Sometimes I will leave the bottom spike on but these seemed rather pointy so I chopped them off.

Bring some water to the boil and either steam or boil your beans. Please only cook them until they are tender with a bit of bite, i.e. al dente, over cooked french beans are a gift from the devil and should be thrown away - as with all legumes - yes, I do feel that strongly about it! - there's no point or pleasure in sitting down to a plate of greying, soggy beans......right rant over.....hit a saw spot there!....

Anyway, back to the cooking of said beans, they should take between 4 to 6 minutes.

Whilst your beans are cooking you can quickly whip up your dressing. Pop the olive oil, chilli flakes, salt, freshly ground pepper, lemon zest and juice in a bowl and whisk together.....

It should all amalgamate to look a little opaque...

Now drain your beans and pop them back in the hot pan.

Pour your dressing over the beans and gently swirl them around so all the beans are coated.

Lift the beans from the pan and place in a warm serving dish.

Now add your flaked almonds to the remaining oil in the pan and swirl it all around - again.

Pour over your beans and serve.

These beans are a great side-dish for any grilled or roasted meat and go really well with fish.

Have a good weekend
Love Lizx

 french beans

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Shop fuddling in Bath

I seem to be spending more and more time pottering around Bath. With Andrew at the University, it's a great excuse for me to come and spend sometime in this beautiful city, have a good look around and a dose of culture (and lets face it - I need all the culture I can get!)

Last week I had sometime off work and spent it learning my way around Bath and seeking out all the little side streets with interesting independent shops and boutiques....

One street  - St Margaret's Buildings - located up at the top end of Bath near the Circus, was recommended to me and one specific shop - The Foodie Bugle -

Wow, what a shop. It's just perfect, full of food and flowers, it has a little cafe at the back and artisan breads, a deli counter, hand made choc's and best of all, whoever puts out all the merchandise has a wonderful eye for design - I loved it and spent ages look at all the beautiful displays and produce - of course I took some pictures......

The display outside was beautiful - all veg, fruit and flowers....

 You could buy all the flower arrangements ......

Not sure I could have carried this one home though!  I love pheasant eye narcissus...

and the bread stand in the hallway was perfect. Although most of the bread and pastry had already been sold - it was only 10:30 am so obviously it's good and you have to get there early....

Well, I spent ages here, as you probably guessed! I bought a few things for my lunch and then pottered back home - thinking "if I had a shop that is exactly what I would want".....

Later, after I mentioned my visit there, I discovered it had another floor with loads of linen, utility room stuff, glassware and vintage......good excuse to go back - not that I needed one.....

have a great day

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Porc aux Poires

Sorry, that's a bit of a fancy title for some grilled pork chops ......

This was one of those unplanned meals, I had some pork chops (obviously!) and I wanted to do something a bit more interesting than just grilling or frying them. It was just a mid-week supper and I felt like doing a bit of cooking but nothing to onerous.....

So a quick look in the fridge for some ingredients that would go with pork netted me some blue cheese, some Dijon mustard (hence the influence for the french title!) and some pears that were refusing to ripen in the fruit bowl - so cooking with them maybe the only option!

 perfect ........ I had a plan......

Recipe Serves 2

2 large pork chops
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 or 2 pears - I used conference but any will do as long as there firm and not too ripe
A few slivers of blue cheese
olive oil to cook

Green salad to serve and maybe a few buttered new potatoes

Pre-heat your grill to a medium/high setting.

Rub the pork chops with the olive oil and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place the chops on an oven proof dish and pop them under the grill for about ten minutes until the chops start to colour.

Whilst the chops are cooking you can prepare the pears. You don't need to peel them just give them a quick wash and slice them length-ways about half a centimetre thick.

Now, either pop them in a shallow pan of boiling water for a few minutes or in the microwave to poach with a little sprinkle of sugar to help keep them sweet. Once they have softened slightly and become a little opaque place them on some kitchen paper to drain and set aside.

Your chops should have started to colour and not yet be cooked through. Take them out from under the grill and pop a teaspoonful of the mustard on each and smooth it across the chop....

Balance on your slices of pear - I added 2 per chop but you can add more or less - as you wish...

Finally, crumble on the blue cheese and place them back under the grill to finish cooking.

Whilst they are under the grill you can prepare your salad. I just quick made a mixed green leaf salad with a little celery and a few croutons. The dressing was a simple thin mayonnaise and lime (just mix a dessertspoon each of mayonnaise and natural yogurt. Add juice and zest of a lime and season well with salt and pepper. Thin with a little water if needed)

Once the cheese has melted and started to brown  - make sure the chops are cooked through  - then you are ready to serve.

As I said before this is perfect with buttered new potatoes and a green salad.....

Have a nice sunny day
Love Lizx

 Pork chops and pears