Piedmont beans

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Its late August and the garden is in overdrive !  We are now on our 8th continuous week of eating green (or purple 😉 ) beans numerous times per week…  I usually make this recipe at least once in the season when I want to “get rid” of loads of beans in one meal.

Its an interesting recipe as it seems a bit odd, on the verge of “will this work?”.  The ratio of beans to the other ingredients just doesn’t seem right.  Trust me as I trusted the original recipe, it does work.

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I’ve adapted this Italian inspired recipe to suit my tastes and the ingredients I can get here in France so play around with it, its a forgiving recipe.  I used a beautiful ground red pepper produced in the Basque Country called “Espelette Pepper”, that I’m quite addicted to which adds a bit more depth and a bit of heat.  The cheese was a local Brebis or sheeps cheese but any flavourful cheese will work.

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We had this for lunch as a main course with loads of freshly picked tomatoes on the side and sliced melon as a starter.  As you can see by the half eaten dish, it went down well with the whole family 🙂

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Piedmont beans

  • Servings: 4 to 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 900g green (French) beans, trimmed
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper or a mildish red pepper powder such as Espelette pepper
  • 30g butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 70g cheese (I use a hardish sheeps cheese)

To finish:

  • freshly grated parmesan or pecorino
  • fresh breadcrumbs

Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F and butter an ovenproof serving dish (I use a square pyrex type glass dish).

Cook the beans in salted boiling water for about 5 minutes until just tender.  Drain well and chop finely using a food processor or by hand.  Place the beans in a large mixing bowl.

Melt the butter with a splash of olive oil and when nice and hot add the onion and garlic and cook until just soft without browning.  Add to the beans.

Separate the egg and mix the yolk with the grated cheese and add to the bean mixture.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Whisk the egg white until stiff, then fold into the beans.

Turn the mixture into the prepared dish and sprinkle with the extra cheese and fresh breadcrumbs.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes

adapted from Leiths Vegetarian Bible

Bon appetît !

Sun cooked rice

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I left my husband at home alone with no children for 3 weeks this summer (doesn’t that sound great ?) and he said he was going to “rough it” and only cook using the solar oven.  No sun?  Raw food diet !  Well it was a heat wave most of the time we were gone, so the raw food was not on the menu as often as he had hoped.

He did get inventive with the solar oven though….  From heating water for his morning tea to making . . . RICE !

I didn’t believe that the rice was not “over cooked” so he made us a batch the other day.  The most exciting part is that the little rice grains “stand up” to the sun like little soldiers 😉

He was right, I was wrong….  AGAIN and the rice was perfectly cooked !

1 part rice to 2 parts water directly into the solar oven without pre-heating.  How long?  “depends” is his answer… at least an hour, maybe more !

Bon appetît !

Blueberry Clafoutis

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Though totally addicted to my solar oven, I’d given up on BAKING in it !  Until recently 😉  The problem is that most baked goods need to either rise, brown or both and a certain temperature is needed for that (and 100°C to 120°C is  not it !).

I decided to give a CLAFOUTIS a try as its not really a leavened dessert.

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SUCCESS !  It cooked perfectly and it was so hot out that it even browned (a bit).  The taste made up for the lack of crusty edges that I usually get in the normal oven.

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Instead of the traditional cherry clafoutis, I made this delicious blueberry version….  The recipe is for a traditional oven.  If you are fortunate enough to own a solar oven, this went in cold and cooked in less than an hour uncovered.  Ready when a knife comes out clean !

Blueberry Clafoutis

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 600g fresh or frozen bluberries or cherries
  • 40g salty butter + enough to butter the pan
  • 4 eggs
  • 200ml milk
  • 100g plain flour
  • 60g golden caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon GOOD vanilla extract or 1/2 a scraped pod
  • pinch of salt if you like your baking that way like me 😉

Preheat your oven to 210°C and butter a pie or tart dish.

If you do make this with cherries, the REAL way is to leave the pits IN !

Melt your butter.  In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and salt if using.  Incorporate the eggs one by one then the milk, slowly and the vanilla whilst stirring gently.  Add the melted butter and stir well.

Place your fruit in the buttered dish then pour over the batter.

Cook for 10 minutes at 210°C then lower your oven to 180° and cook for another 20 minutes.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Bon Appetît !

Greek style braised beans and paneer cheese

A great twist on two favourites !

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Summer continues with loads of sunny days, meaning the solar oven is in over-drive 🙂  The green beans in the garden are also in over-drive so it was time to make an old favourite that cooks just beautifully in the solar oven….  Greek style braised beans.

Adding to the inspiration was a fresh chunk of Feta Cheese that I picked up from George (originally from Crete) in a local market.

My recipe planning continued with a bottle of beautiful raw Jersey cow milk in the fridge…  Hmmm chunks of home made Paneer Cheese  fried in Ghee swimming around in those beans sounds good !

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The only thing missing was something so soak up the succulent juices….  to stick with the “Greek” theme, I served this with little rice shaped pasta (a bit like Orzo) also from George and Crete ….

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The whole meal took on another aspect by adding slight twists to the original recipes….  A bit more dried Oregano to the beans, the Paneer (usually used in indian dishes) added a creamy protein along with the Feta crumbled over the beans just before serving. The pasta drizzled generously with good organic Olive oil made this a rich vegetarian Sunday lunch  😉

(Click on the above links for the recipes for the cheese, beans & ghee)

Bon appetît !