I’m guessing you may be thinking that I’ve been slacking in the blogging front. Well, please Miss, I have a sick note. I’ve been nursing an injury (this makes me sound like a sports enthusiast which is faa-aar from the truth). A wrist injury (points to wrist on right arm). This said injury has slowly deteriorated over the last few months to the extent that I could hardly chop an onion never mind work on commissioned illustrations or on the computer without a lot of pain. And I’m fairly good with pain, high pain threshold and all that. Still, after being diagnosed as tendonitis I was told I’d need a cortisone injection. But not till after my holidays as the doctor was worried about tendons rupturing etc etc if I was away and I had left it late to go ask for one. Blah, blah… end result; very little blogging done. As excuses go it’s not bad eh?
Last week I had the horrid injection, or rather, a few horrid injections into my wrist. One into the inflammed tendon, one into the inflammed joint and the first, mistakenly, into a vein. Ironic as I cannot recall when was the last time anyone found a vein first hit when getting blood tests (I have hard-to-find veins and I have the digging-around-for-a-vein-in-arm memories to prove it). Anyway after 36 excruciating hours the area is now becoming less painful and I can type and even do some light sketching. Hence my new header (like?) and a new post. And this is a goodie. Yesterday I made these sweet and spicy beans and today I had some for lunch, reheated and topped with a gorgeous golden fried egg (a Burford Brown egg, my favourite). I’m keeping these spicy babies in the fridge and over the next week I’ll be helping myself to suppers and lunches and if the old boy behaves himself he might be offered some too.
I started from scratch with dried beans. I suppose you could use tinned but they tend to be very soft to start with and might collapse into a mush and then there’s the taste. Dried beans do taste better but if tinned is all that you have I’d still go for it and use ‘em.
Sweet & Spicy Baked Beans
200 g dried haricot beans
8 shallots, peeled and left whole and studded with…
1/2 star anise
1 1/2 tbsp black treacle
1 stick celery, cut in half
1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 – 2 1/2 tbsp cider vinegar (taste when cooking to adjust whether you need more of the vinegar)
1 tbsp mustard
2 tbsp lamb stock (optional I had some rich stock in fridge for added oomph)
250 mls red wine
1 tin crushed tomatoes
3 sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 dried chipotle, chopped
1/2 ancho chilli, chopped
2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
salt & pepper
First off you need to wash and soak the beans in water for several hours, preferably overnight. Then with fresh water cook for 1 1/2 – 2 hours cook until the beans have begun to become tender but not squishy soft. If, like me, you forget to soak overnight then do the Quick Soak method*.
Drain the beans but reserve the water.
Saute the shallots studded with the cloves until they begin to colour in a flameproof oven casserole. Add the celery, tomato paste, treacle, sugar, vinegar and wine. Bring to a simmer. Add stock (if using) dried chillies, all tomatoes and stir. Then tip in the beans.
Cover and bake in the oven at 140C for 2 -2 1/2 hrs. Check regularly to see if the liquid doesn’t dry out topping up with the reserved bean liquid as needed. You can of course cook on the hop but you’ll need to keep an eye on the bottom not sticking.
Season when the beans are soft. Remove the star anise and celery before serving.
Fabulous with soft warm tortillas, a fried egg and some lime zesty guacamole on the side.
*Quick Soak method:
Wash the beans, place in saucepan covered with fresh water by 3-4 cms. Bring to boil, simmer for 2 mins. Turn off and rest for over an hour before refreshing water and starting as if soaked overnight.
**I bought my dried chillies at Borough Market but you could buy online. They do make all the difference as they give a fruity smokey rich heat that is hard to recreate with the everyday supermarket chilli.
Oh, if you’re wondering how a sofa surfer like myself got a wrist injury it’s that I had spent days tearing up paper files at work in a massive tidy-up. I hate the sound of shredders and so tried limiting its use to confidential papers. In the end I just shredded my poor tendon instead.