Spring greens and beans

spring greens

I don’t normally blog Bert-less meals, but this soup was so delicious…

Serves 2

Tablespoon butter

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 courgette, roughly chopped

A couple of heads of spring greens – about 130g

1/2 teaspoon chili flakes

1 teaspoon seasalt

300ml chicken stock

1 x 265g can of flagolet beans

Melt the butter and fry the onion and garlic, allowing the butter to brown slightly to get a bit of a nutty flavour. Add the chopped veg, chili, stock and salt, and simmer for 5 minutes till tender. Very roughly blend, so there’s still good chunks of veg, then stir through the beans.

Eaten without the backdrop of a toddler’s obsessive Lion King (‘Didda Raaa!’) musings.


White bean mash


This is a version of a recipe that I’ve seen Nigel Slater and Nigella both do. We were having lamb steaks for dinner and I looked at the salad and realised that, not only would Bert not eat it, the very sight of it would offend him deeply.

Served 2

1 400g can white beans (we used cannellini, butter beans would do nicely)

50ml water

1 garlic clove, peeled and roughly chopped into 3 or 4 pieces

Dessert spoon of sour or double cream

Teaspoon of butter

Tip the butterbeans into a pan, add the water and garlic and simmer for 10 minutes or so, till the beans are warm and the garlic soft. Add the butter and cream and a bit of salt and pepper, and puree the lot.

We had ours with yoghurt marinated lamb steaks (the same recipe as the kebabs, but whole steaks, cooked in olive oil on top of the hob for about 12 minutes) and salad; leaves for me, cucumber for Bert.

I’ll be honest – Bert didn’t eat a single mouthful of this, but I liked it.

Chicken, chorizo and white bean cassoulet


Finally, he says ‘mummy’. I rewarded him with cassoulet.

Serves 4

6 chicken thighs, boned, skin on

1 whole chorizo

1 dessert spoon goose fat

1 small bunch rosemary, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 dessert spoons tomato puree

1 can white beans – cannellini or butter beans

1 small glass water

A couple of slices of bread worth of breadcrumbs (when I’m feeling Nigella-y, I crumb and freeze portions of going-stale bread)

Fry the chicken breasts, skin down, in the goose fat till the skin’s crisp and golden. Add two thirds of the chorizo, chopped into chunks, at the end then tip all of the meat into a casserole dish.

Combine the crushed garlic, beans, tomato puree and two thirds of the rosemary. Thin with a little of the melted goose fat from the pan. Add to the meat with the glass of water.

Chuck the breadcrumbs and the rest of the rosemary into the pan you fried the chicken in and fry gently till crisp. The chorizo fat will flavour them too.

Top the cassoulet with the crumbs then the rest of chorizo, finely sliced, bring to a fast simmer on the hob and cook on a low heat with the lid on for a couple of hours (say 140 degrees or in the Aga simmering oven). Serve with green salad and maybe a little bread for mopping up the juices.

Chicken and butterbean casserole

Today Bert was Stunt Bert. He didn’t want to sit in his pram, he wanted to stand in it, untethered. He didn’t want to watch Peppa Pig on the sofa, he wanted to stand on the coffee table with his arms outstretched. He didn’t want to quietly eat cake with our friends, he wanted to ride in a plastic car, fast, grinning ear to ear, while we all watched through the glass patio doors and ate Rocky Road.

So this picture is a bit blurred. It wasn’t a sitting still kind of day.


Serves 3

4 boneless chicken thighs

1 dessert spoon butter

1 small onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, crushed

300ml chicken stock

1 can butter beans, drained

Zest of a lemon, grated

Salt and pepper, to taste

Green veg, chopped – we had two courgettes and some kale but green beans and peas would be nice

Fresh parsley, chopped

Fry the chicken thighs, skin down, in half of the butter until the skin is crisp. Meanwhile, fry the onion and garlic in the rest of the butter then add the beans, lemon zest, seasoning and stock and season. Pop the chicken thighs skin side up on top, bring to a good simmer, put the lid on and cook at 180 for 45 minutes, or in a low oven for a couple of hours (always my choice since this is what the Aga does well). Add the veg in the last ten minutes. Stir through the chopped parsley (lots of it) before serving.

We had ours with home made bread and butter.

For pudding we had an orange and almond cake that Bert made from scratch himself. He took it very seriously. He made it sitting on the edge of a high worktop.

Moroccan spiced pork belly and bean casserole


I was expecting five for Sunday dinner and ended up with two, so we had a lot of leftover slow roast pork belly. Finally the pick of the crackling though, after years of listening to stealthy crunching in the kitchen after Bert’s dad offered to carve.

Serves 3-4

1 onion, diced

Splash of olive oil

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 tin flageolet beans, drained

Salt to taste

Leftover slow roast pork belly, cut into good chunks – each piece about 2cm cubed

Saute in the onion in the oil in a casserole dish or large saucepan. When it’s translucent add the spices and fry till fragrant. Then add the tinned tomatoes and beans, season and stir through the chunked meat. You could cook this on a simmer for about half an hour, adding the meat in the last 10 minutes, but I took advantage of having a slow oven constantly on in the form of an Aga and brought it to a steady simmer then put in the simmering oven (or very low oven) for a couple of hours. You don’t really notice the spices, they just add a soft, background warmth. It’s a bit like a gentle cassoulet, with butter-soft meat and small, tender beans.

It has the added benefit of making your toddler fart in the bath and laugh like a drain. Let’s just say I’m glad I’m not in John-the-small-fabric-rabbit’s shoes tonight.

Home made baked beans on toast

baked beans

The whole reason I started trying to find recipes that suited Bert’s palate and were home cooked was his addiction to baked beans, so I’m revisiting an old enemy here. But these were bloody lovely. We had them with grated cheese on top.

Serves 2.5 or would have done if I hadn’t had a large second helping

Small onion, chopped

Large clove garlic, crushed

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 or 2 carrots, grated

1 or 2 sticks of celery, grated if you have them to hand

Glug olive oil

250ml passata

A splash of water – about 30 ml

1 can cannellini beans, drained

Good dash Worcester Sauce – about a dessert spoon

Fry the veg and paprika in the olive oil till the onions are soft. Add the passata, water and Worcester Sauce, and simmer for about five minutes. Take off the heat and roughly blend till they’re a smooth Heinz orange, but thicker than tinned beans sauce. Return to the heat and add the beans, heating through. Serve on hot buttered toast or with toast fingers.