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Week 34: Pressure cooker pork casserole

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This recipe came about more or less by accident. I had planned to try a cake recipe but shortly after I had cooked and eaten this I realised it should probably count as this week's recipe. I wasn't following a recipe but simply threw together a one-pot meal based on what I had in the kitchen.

We have had a pressure cooker for several years but all I have used it for so far is to make soups or stocks. Until today I hadn't used it to cook an actual meal. I had recently bought some pork cheeks and thought a one pot pressure cooker meal might work.

I started by frying some red pepper, onion and garlic for a couple of minutes before adding the cheeks. I then poured a tin of tomatoes into the pressure cooker and added some mixed herbs, a pinch of salt, a generous pinch of smoked paprika and a grind of black pepper. I put the lid on the pressure cooker, brought it up to pressure and cooked for half an hour. I turned the heat off and let the pan cool down enough to let me remove the lid. I added some tomato puree, a bit of cornflour for thickening and a tin of beans.

The meat had gone soft and tender and readily came apart, which was what I'd hoped would happen. The sauce tasted very familiar and after a couple of mouthfuls I realised it was very similar to a recipe from our old Floyd on Spain book: a stew using tomatoes, red peppers and chorizo. I had accidentally recreated something which tasted almost identical to a family favourite recipe which I hadn't had for years.

Baked Bean Pizza

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Saturday is our regular pizza night and we occasionally struggle to think of new toppings to try. This means we often get stuck in a rut and keep repeating ourselves with various combinations of chicken, vegetables and chilli. Last night we opened one of those Heinz 'fridge jars' of baked beans, which means we have to finish the pack within 5 days. We don't have baked beans very often but Emma suggested combining beans and pizza and replicate the baked bean pizza which was available back in the mid-90s.

I started off by spreading a few tablespoons of baked beans over the pizza base then added sliced chicken, chillies, mozarella and grated cheese.

Baked bean pizza being assembled
Baked bean and chicken pizza

This post also appears on the Pizza Blog

Week 27: Sweet Potato Dip

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This was my attempt at recreating a Marks & Spencer dish which we ate a couple of months ago. I can't remember what the original tasted like but I was happy with the flavour of my version. A lot of our cooking is based around what we can buy reduced or on offer. The sweet potato and butternut squash came from a supermarket pack which was cheap since it was going out of date.

In a low oven (approx gas mark 4), roast the following for about 30 minutes:

  • 250g sweet potato and butternut squash.
  • 2 cloves of garlic (peeled but kept whole)
  • ½ green chilli (chopped).
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil.

When everything has cooled down, add to a food processor, along with:

  • 100g cooked white beans
  • 2tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp chopped parsley
  • a pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp lemon juice
  • 1tsp pumpkin seed oil
  • 1tsp horseradish or ½ tsp wasabi paste.

Add a small amount of water if needed, to get everything to blend to a smooth paste.

Sweet Potato Dip

We used some of the dip as a pizza sauce, and topped it with salmon, leek and cheese.

Pizza with dip and salmon

Week 19: Tortillas and beans

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I only posted last week's recipe yesterday (Sunday is a flexible 'floating' day and I've been counting it as either the start or end of a week depending on whether I've cooked anything else new that week).

This week's recipe came from the book Little Red Gooseberries and consists of corn tortillas with a bean and vegetable sauce. As usual, we altered the recipe according to what we had in the kitchen. These quantities serve 4.


Finely chop an assortment of vegetables.

  • 1 red pepper

  • 1 medium onion

  • 1 courgette

  • 1 leek

  • 2 cloves of garlic

Fry gently for a few minutes then add 1 tin of chopped tomatoes. Add herbs and spices:

  • a pinch of dried chilli

  • a pinch of cumin

  • a pinch of mild curry powder

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley.

Simmer until the vegetables have softened then add a drained tin of beans, such as borlotti or kidney beans.


  • 100g wholemeal flour

  • 100g fine cornmeal

  • ½ tsp salt

  • 2 tbs vegetable oil

  • approx 60-100ml of water (The original recipe said 600ml - this must have been a mistake. We had added 150ml and the mixture was too runny. We had to add extra flour to rescue it.)

Put the flour, cornmeal, salt and oil into a bowl. Slowly add the water, stirring all the time. Do not add all the water at once - you might not need the full amount.

Knead the mixture until it is firm.

Divide the dough into 8 portions. Flatten them out and fry them in a lightly oiled pan for 2-3 minutes on each side. Keep the cooked ones warm in a low oven (approx gas mark 1) while the remainder cook.


The vegetable sauce, before the beans were added.

A tortilla being cooked.

The final meal being served, with some cheese crumbled on top.

Vegetable sauce

Frying a tortilla

Tortilla and beans

Week 12: Refried bean Pakcakes

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This weeks recipe was another 'quick cheat' meal, based on packet food. The pancakes were made using a spicy batter mix bought from Morrisons. The pancakes didn't hold together very well, possibly due to the chilli and herbs in the batter, but they tasted good and were surprisingly fiery.

The filling contained a tin of refried beans mixed with chopped and fried veg (onions, peppers, garlic) and sliced chicken.

It was quick and simple but full of flavour. The main downside is the appearance - the refried bean/vegetable/chicken mixture was an unappetising brown colour.

Week 7: Bean and Bulgar Wheat Burgers

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We aren't very adventurous with our carbs, mainly sticking to pasta or rice. We don't eat potatoes very often but we sometimes have sweet potatoes. I was looking for a recipe to use bulgar wheat and found a recipe on the BBC Good Food website.

I followed the recipe reasonably closely, reducing the quantities because I was only cooking for 2. I cooked the beans last night, starting with soaking 100g of dried beans in boiling water:

  • Simmer the beans for 5 minutes. Drain.

  • Cook for 10 minutes in a pressure cooker. Leave to cook.

To make the burgers:

  • Finely chop 1 red onion and 1 clove of garlic (or cheat and use a food processor - chop but not purée).

  • Fry the garlic and onion until soft.

  • Simmer 25g of bulgar wheat for 5-10 minutes until soft. Drain.

  • Stir in the spices (1-2 tsp of whatever you fancy) and add the cooked onion and garlic.

  • Use the food processor to mash up the cooked beans and add to the mixture.

  • If the mixture is a bit soft, add some breadcrumbs.

  • Shape into burgers. Fry in a little oil for 5 minutes per side.

Since the burgers were a replacement for both meat and carbs, we served them with some pesto vegetables: onion, leek and courgette, sliced and fried, then mixed with red pesto.

Bean and Bulgar Wheat Burgers with pesto vegetables

Week 6: Chicken and King Prawn Baked Beans

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This is a bit like a luxury version of the tins of baked beans with sausage, but using chicken and prawns instead of sausage.


(serves 2)

  • 2 chicken breasts

  • 250g (half a carton) of passata.

  • 1 carton or tin of haricot beans (approx 300g drained)

  • approx 100g king prawns

  • seasoning (eg. stock cube, jerk seasoning, fajita seasoning)


Start by bringing the passata to a gentle simmer. Add seasoning - something slightly spicy works very well. Place the chicken breasts in the passata and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the prawns and beans and cook for a further 5 minutes. Passata sometimes thickens on its own when simmered but if you cooked with the lid on, then it may need thickening with a little cornflour.

Tuscan Beans

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A couple of weeks ago we tried the Tuscan Bean Stew made by Innocent (who are better known for their fruit smoothies). We liked it and decided to try to make it ourselves.

I followed a recipe in one of the Covent Garden books. The ingredients weren't the same but the end result was reasonably similar. I made a few minor substitutions (dried mixed herbs instead of dried oregano, and a teaspoon of powdered stock instead of salt and pepper) but apart from that I followed the recipe faithfully. I waited until we had some fresh parsley because I think dried parsley is a tasteless waste of space. Some herbs work ok dried but parsley really needs to be used fresh.