Kołaczki recipe

This is my mom’s kołaczki [kɔˈwat͡ʂki] recipe, from her mom. I would guess that my grandma found it in the Chicago Tribune at some point. It was my absolute favourite as a kid, and my mom’s. The cookies are super light and the perfect size.


Makes about a dozen cookies if rolled to ¼” (6 mm) thick, closer to two dozen if rolled ⅛” (4 mm) thick

Let ½ c (110 g) butter and a smidge less than 3 oz (⅔ c, 80 g) cream cheese* sit at room temperature until semi-soft, then beat them together in a large bowl. Add a pinch of salt if using unsalted butter. Blend in 1 c (130 g) flour until just combined. Lay out some parchment paper, drop the dough in the middle, and then press it in to a rough rectangle. Wrap it up and refrigerate it for at least an hour. If you can, stick your rolling pin in the fridge as well.

Preheat the oven to 350F (180C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay some parchment paper out on a surface and then generously dust it with powdered sugar to prevent the dough from sticking. Remove your dough and rolling pin from the fridge. Working quickly to prevent the dough from getting too warm and sticky, roll out the dough to ⅛–¼” (4–6 mm) thick. Place another piece of parchment paper on top of the dough if it seems to stick to the pin.

Once it is rolled out, cut out the dough with a 2″ (50 mm) diameter circle cookie cutter or cut in to 2″ (50 mm) squares and place the shapes on to the lined baking sheet. The cookies can be spaced relatively close, they rise a bit and spread only very slightly. Dab a small amount of apricot preserve on the centre of each cookie. If using the square cookie technique, fold two opposite corners in so that they slightly overlap over the preserve.

Bake at 350F (175C) for 10–12 minutes until very lightly browned. While warm, sift powdered sugar over the cookies and then let them cool on a rack.


* I have lactose issues so I tried making this with vegan cream cheese. It worked really well! The vegan cream cheese was a little less sweet than I would want for this recipe, so I replaced a tablespoon (10 g) of flour with powdered sugar. It also seems to be a bit softer than regular cream cheese, so next time I would probably add 1–3 more tablespoons of flour.

If you double or triple this recipe, separate the dough in to thirds before you refrigerate it. You can then roll it out in stages to prevent the dough from getting too warm.

Apparently you could put all sorts of fillings in this. Apricot preserve is what we always had when I was little, but this time I ended up using the gooseberry and blackcurrant jams we had on hand. More traditional fillings are poppy seed (masa makowa) and plum butter (powidla sliwkowe). The website In Ania’s Kitchen has some good recipes for these fillings.

Lemon-glazed Pierniczki recipe

I went to Wrocław recently with some good friends and we picked up a bag of minty Uszatki (“eared”) pierniczki from Kopernik at the airport with our few remaining złoty. Pierniczki, or pierniki, are Polish gingerbread biscuits, slightly soft and heavily spiced. They come in a lot of shapes and sizes and are sometimes filled. Traditionally the dough is allowed to rest for a long time, possibly a year. This is a quicker recipe, though it does still call for at least a few hours’ rest.

Read recipe

Everything we had for Thanksgiving

This is everything we had for Thanksgiving last night, a spread of things that worked for our range of dietary requirements. I really loved everything we made and would happily have any of it again. See the menu below with recipes and ingredient lists.

V = Vegetarian
Ve = Vegan
LF = Lactose Free
GF = Gluten Free
LowF = Low-FODMAP

An asterisk means that the dish isn’t 100% appropriate for that particular diet but could be suitable with an easy substitute.


Rosemary pecan pie – V, LF*, GF

Gluten free flour, vegetable oil, sugar, salt, milk / mylk, dark brown sugar, golden syrup, butter, vanilla extract, rosemary, eggs, pecans

Most pecan pie recipes call for corn syrup. That’s a bummer in and of itself, but it also makes it super difficult to make in the UK since it is really hard to find. Enter Ruby Tandoh’s rosemary pecan pie recipe which calls for golden syrup, an easy-to-find ingredient on British grocery store shelves. I really like the rosemary flavour in this, but I wouldn’t recommend steeping it too long and wouldn’t add the fresh rosemary needles on top. The flavour is just too strong.

I’ve noticed this before but always forget: this pie gets very dark on top, verging on burnt-looking. I think this may have to do with both the dark brown sugar and the cooking temperature / time. Next time, I may try BBC Good Food’s New England pecan pie recipe (also without corn syrup) or perhaps a combination of the two.

To make this gluten free, I used my grandma’s press-in pie crust recipe with gluten free flour. It worked well, but something about it could have been a bit better… I think that there could have been a little bit less fat, and maybe melted butter would have a better flavour. It’s also useful to mix this up in a bowl first, doing it in the plate is just a bit messy. I think that the brushed beaten egg actually does a lot to help the crust to stay together.

Spiced roasted carrots – V, Ve, LowF, LF, GF

Carrots, brown sugar, olive oil, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fresh thyme

This is always one of my favourites. See the honey roasted carrots recipe from this Guardian article, adapted from a recipe by Ottolenghi. I always use brown sugar instead of honey, usually add a bit more cumin than it calls for, and sometimes add cayenne. It’s best to put the roasting tray towards the top of the oven and give the carrots a lot of space, otherwise they steam instead of roast.

You can cook this a lot earlier in the day and then just warm it through later on, or serve it room temperature.

Miso-glazed spicy brussels sprouts – V, Ve*, LF, GF

Brussels sprouts, salt, pepper, olive oil, honey, miso paste, rice vinegar, sesame oil

Loosely based on this Bon Appetit recipe. The sprouts were pretty small so I roasted them whole. This worked great, less prep. The “bottom of the oven” technique worked well to get them cooked all the way through, and then I brought them to the top of the oven to get a slightly better roasted texture. It’s also helpful because they can just sit down there under other things that need the more direct upper-oven heat.

I roasted them earlier in the day when I had more oven space for a big sheet tray (they need space so that they don’t steam). After that, I transferred them to a much smaller tray. When we got close to eating, I prepared the glaze by combining the ingredients to taste and heating it in a little pan, then poured it over the sprouts and popped them back in the oven to warm through.

Warm kale and wild rice salad – V, Ve, LowF, LF, GF

Wild rice, vegetable stock, kale, persimmons, squash, seeds, oranges, maple syrup, coriander seed, cumin seed

This was very loosely based on a Roasted Squash and Kale Salad recipe from Serious Eats. Our version had massaged kale, red and wild rice cooked in vegetable stock, sliced persimmons, roasted squash, toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and a spiced maple and orange vinaigrette. Next time, I think I would roast the kale with the squash as suggested in the Serious Eats recipe, would possibly add some orange segments, and would probably go heavier with the spices in the dressing.

This is easy to prepare ahead or earlier in the day.

Old fashioned cornbread – V, LowF, LF*, GF

Coarse cornmeal / polenta, baking soda, baking powder, egg, butter, vinegar, milk / mylk, honey

I like a less cake-y cornbread, something that is just barely sweet. This recipe worked perfectly. I used the coarsest polenta I could find and used a faux milk-free “buttermilk” (1.5 T vinegar + Oatly Barista). It was some of the best cornbread I’ve had in a long time with a pleasant, slightly gritty texture. Not at all like the brick I made last year! My cast iron skillet was slightly too big though so the result was a little thin. Next time, it’d be better to increase the quantity or find a smaller skillet. I’d probably preheat the skillet in the oven as well to get a firmer crust on the bottom. The 20 minute cook time was perfect.

Cranberry relish – V, Ve, LowF, LF, GF

Frozen cranberries, orange, sugar

Was able to find frozen cranberries this year so we made my favourite cold cranberry relish, see mom’s notes for recipe.

This can be made way ahead and is very quick.

Roasted potatoes – V, Ve, LowF, LF, GF

Good roasting potatoes, rapeseed oil, salt, chopped rosemary, chopped thyme

Preheat the oven to 200C (400F) and position a rack towards the top third of your oven. Pour a good amount of rapeseed oil in to one or more roasting tins that are large enough to handle all of your potatoes with a bit of wiggle room, and then put this in the oven to preheat. Cut a bunch of good roasting potatoes in to very large chunks, then parboil in heavily salted water. Keep an eye on them; they’ll go to mush in the next step if they’re too soft! When they’re ready drain the water, then bash them around in the pot a little bit so that they get roughed up. When the oven has come to temperature, pull the tray(s) out of the oven and carefully dump in the potatoes. Coat with the hot oil, and season well with salt. Place in the upper third of your oven and roast for approximately 25-30 minutes. At this point, pull out the potatoes, shuffle them around, top them with chopped rosemary and thyme, and then put them back in the oven to roast for a further 10–15 minutes.

I did these at 180C since that’s the temperature that the nut roast called for. They maybe weren’t quite as all-over crispy as they would have been at a higher heat and they took a little longer, but they were still great.

Onion gravy – V, Ve*, LF*, GF

Onions, vegetable stock, gluten free flour, butter, chopped herbs, wine, salt, pepper

Slice 1-2 onions and cook gently over medium-low heat in a heavy pot until very soft and brown, approximately 30-45 minutes. Add a glug of white or red wine and simmer for a bit until the alcohol has burned off. Scrape any brown bits stuck to the pan in to the mixture. Add some vegetable stock, then bring the whole thing to a simmer. In a small bowl, make a beurre manié by mixing some flour and butter together. Add this to the gravy gradually to thicken it. Add the chopped herbs and cook until they have softened somewhat, then taste and balance out the flavours with salt, pepper, or additional wine.

Normally I make gravy from the chicken / turkey pan drippings but honestly… I might just stick to this in the future. It was *really* good, it’s veggie-friendly, and it means you don’t have to worry about making gravy right when everything is ready to go on the table. The pan drippings can go in to the stock later on instead.

Nut roast – V, GF*

Parsnips, savoy cabbage, hazelnuts, butter, onion, chestnut mushrooms, cooked chestnuts, stilton, brown breadcrumbs, fresh sage, egg, salt, pepper

We used Felicity Cloake’s perfect nut roast recipe. This is a very nutty, mushroom-y mixture wrapped in cabbage leaves, very presentable. It tastes a lot like stuffing, which is excellent in my book.

To make this gluten free, we used GF oat cakes for the “breadcrumbs”. We accidentally forgot the egg. The mixture didn’t slice *quite* as well because of this, but honestly it still held together pretty decently! We also maybe didn’t put quite enough salt and pepper in. This is a substantial mixture, so it’s worth remembering that it can take a lot of seasoning.

You might be able to make this vegan and/or lactose free. You could swap the butter for olive oil and could get away with omitting the egg. I’m not quite sure what you would do to replace the stilton though… It adds a creamy funkiness. Maybe some finely-chopped capers or green olives would be welcome, for the tanginess? Some chunks of tofu for the creaminess, marinated in a bit of Worcester sauce and / or dijon mustard? Not sure!

Spatchcock roasted chicken – LowF, LF*, GF

Whole chicken, butter or olive oil, fresh herbs on their stalks, salt, pepper

To spatchcock the chicken, cut the backbone out and score the breastbone on the inside, then place it skin-up on to a rimmed baking sheet and press to break through the breastbone, making it nice and flat. Reserve the backbone for stock.

If possible, dry brine the chicken 24 hours ahead of time. Rub approximately 2.5 t salt and any other herbs / spices you want (lemon zest, pepper, sage, etc.) all over the chicken and then let sit in your fridge *uncovered*. This will draw the seasoning in to the meat and will allow the outside to dry out thoroughly, meaning crispier skin. The skin will start to look mottled and a little weird, and that’s ok!

About an hour before you’re planning to roast the chicken, remove it from the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to approximately 180C (350F). Rub a good amount of butter or olive oil over the chicken and season it with just a little bit more flaky sea salt. Place your whole herbs underneath the chicken. Stick the probe of a digital oven thermometer deep in to the breast meat, being careful not to touch the bone. Place in the middle of the oven and roast until the thermometer temperature reaches 75C (170F). In my experience, this usually takes about an hour. Throw the backbone on the tray about halfway through if you’re going to use it for stock. If the skin doesn’t look crispy enough when the meat is done, move it towards the top of the oven and crank up the grill / broiler for a bit. Remove the thermometer before you do this, the direct heat can be a bit too much for it.

When the chicken is done, remove it from the oven and let rest at least 15 minutes before cutting in to it. The resting time is a good time to make a gravy or to finish off part-roasted potatoes in the oven.

Today (the day after), all of the chicken bones went in to a big pot with a whole bunch of peppercorns, bay leaves, onions with their skin, scrubbed and unpeeled carrots, and a lot of water. That has simmered for 4–5 hours and is now cooling. I’ll let it set in the fridge overnight and then will remove the fat from the top, reserving it to fry onions and spices for a curry later this week.

Everything above technique should work well for a turkey too, but it will take longer in the oven and should rest longer as well.


Edit 7 December 2019 — I would definitely consider this squash, winter herb, and butterbean pie recipe (V, Ve*, GF*) by Anna Jones or this Chinese turnip cake recipe (V, Ve, LF, GF*) from Ottolenghi as well.

This year, I celebrated with some close girlfriends. It was my ninth Thanksgiving in the UK. Our kitchen isn’t the biggest, so we had a little candle-lit picnic in the front room on a stripy blanket my mom gave me years ago, the one on the bed in this pic.

One of the earliest gluten free cookbooks

The turquoise cover of “Good Food, Gluten Free”, a cookbook by Hilda Cherry Hills published in the 70s

Good Food, Gluten Free by Hilda Cherry Hills arrived on my cookbook shelf around 2012 when I was struggling with some related health issues. I seem to remember that SB picked it up from a secondhand bookshop when we were living up north. The author’s mission was to arm the public with more knowledge about celiac disease and gluten intolerance and how to deal with it, partly spurred on by her husband’s troubles.

The cover states that it was published by Roberts Publications and originally sold for £2 or “$6 US post free”, but there’s no publish date. There is a review on the back cover from the 24 May 1974 edition of the Nursing Mirror, so I would guess it was published right around that time. Based on the first chapter, “Why this Book has been Written”, it looks like this might be one of the first gluten free cookbooks published in the UK.

The book is packed with research, personal anecdotes, meal planning suggestions, travel tips, and recipes. In the second chapter, she outlines the history of the disease including Samuel Gee’s 1888 report forming the first modern-day description and Dutch researcher Willem Karel Dicke’s doctoral thesis which was the culmination of years of dietary research before, during, and after the Hongerwinter.

It’s hard to imagine how difficult it must have been to navigate all of this early on before the million GF-friendly blogs, countless cookbooks, and dedicated GF shelves in grocery stores. It must have been such a relief for someone suffering from celiac disease in the 70s to stumble across this slim paperback. HB came across this sincere message from the author when leafing through the book:

Just a reminder

Although these things are a nuisance to do, the reward in renewed health and vigour is boundless, and will be an inspiration to not only yourself but to those around you, who will quite rightly admire your determination and applaud your results.

So go to it, and good luck to you whoever you are, and wherever you may be. You will get no medal, be sure, but you will have earned one.

French white bean stew

These are guidelines more than a recipe, really. Adjust the spices / herbs as preferred, swap the red wine for tomato paste, swap the saucisson sec for mushrooms, etc.

Preheat the oven to 175C (350F). Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium, then add about 1 T butter and 1 T olive oil. Fry about ½ of a diced saucisson sec (casing removed) for about 3 minutes, then add 1 sliced onion and cook for about 5 minutes until softened. Next, add 2 cloves of minced garlic, 8 crushed peppercorns, 2 T dried sage, 1 T fennel seed, 1 bay leaf, ½ T dried thyme, a pinch of cayenne, a pinch of ground cloves, and ½ T sea salt, then cook gently for about a minute. Add 1 stock cube, 500 g dried white beans, a glug of red wine, and 1 L water, then turn up the heat slightly. Once the stew is simmering, give it a good stir, take it off the stove and place it in the oven to continue cooking.

It will take a few hours, probably around 3–4 depending on the age of the beans. Check it every hour or so, giving it a good stir. When the beans seem like they’re nearly done, taste and adjust the flavours as needed. It might need some lemon juice, salt, a little more wine, or even a bit of sugar.

When done, stir in some rocket (arugula) or something similar if you want some green, then serve with crusty bread.

Pikelets

Makes about ten pikelets that are 7 cm (~3″) in diameter. For the unfamiliar, pikelets are kind of like small American pancakes.

In a large bowl, whisk together 155 g (1¼ c) plain flour, 2½ t baking powder, and 2 T sugar. Sift your flour and baking powder if it’s a little lumpy, it’ll make a big difference. In a separate small bowl, whisk together 1 egg and 175 mL (¾ c) milk. Non-dairy milk works if that’s what you prefer. Pour the wet in to the dry and then whisk until barely combined. There may still be a few small lumps of batter. Let this sit in the fridge to homogenise for at least 5 minutes while you prepare the pan.

Lightly oil or butter a large nonstick pan or griddle and then heat it over medium. Don’t use too much fat – the thinner the coat, the more evenly coloured your pikelets. When the pan is hot, dollop in 2 T (about half of a ¼ scoop) of batter. Allow the pikelet to cook without pestering it until there are small holes forming on the top side and the batter begins to set, then flip and cook the other side. The second side usually needs a little less time.

Serve immediately with butter and jam, or let cool and store in the fridge. Pikelets are great reheated in the toaster.

Chocolate nut muffins

Double chocolate and nut muffins recipe

Calling these muffins instead of cupcakes is reallllyyyy pushing it IMO, but we’ll let that slide. I made these w/o the chocolate chips, with a dash of orange flower water instead of vanilla, and with pecans instead of walnuts + almonds. They were great, would definitely make again. They look super presentable with a single whole pecan on top of each muffin.

Use-up-all-the-things meal

I was away recently for a lovely weekend with a big group of 16 people. Dinner on the last night was a use-up-all-the-things meal that I tag-teamed with BW. This is a rough description of each thing, a bunch of them were new to me but I’d like to make them again. We were super low on olive oil so went heavy on the butter, and we omitted garlic + onions in most things due to some dietary restrictions within the group.

Cheese

Use a peeler to get thin slices off any nearly-finished firm cheese in the fridge. Pile the slices together on a plate, then throw the rind in to the fridge or freezer for use in future stews or pots of lentils / beans.

Arbutus (strawberry tree) jam

Good with cheese. This was sort of based on a variety of recipes online. I didn’t mind the texture but it was probably a bit too seedy for most TBH, so next time I’d probably strain part way through cooking while the mixture is still relatively liquid.

Remove stems and bad bits from about 2 cups of ripe Arbutus (strawberry tree) berries, then rinse and put in a small nonstick pot. Cut an orange in to chunks and squeeze in the juice, then throw in the rind. Cut a lemon in half and squeeze in the juice of a lemon half, then throw in the rind. Add about ¼ cup sugar and a small pinch of salt, and then simmer over medium-low heat until the berries are completely dissolved. Add water during the cooking process if needed, and taste while cooking to adjust the sweetness. Remove the citrus rinds before serving. The colour of the cooked jam should be a reddish ochre, and the consistency is similar to fig jam, very seedy.

Lamb’s lettuce salad

In an enormous bowl, combine a big pile of Lamb’s lettuce with soft, crumbled fresh cheese, a chopped avocado, a big handful of chopped black olives, the sliced green tops from 3–4 scallions, and a very big handful of toasted pine nuts.

For the dressing, combine olive oil, some red wine vinegar, lemon juice, honey, a mashed anchovy, salt, and fresh black pepper. Taste the dressing and adjust it to balance it out, then add it to the salad and toss to coat.

Croutons

This was probably the biggest experiment. I’ve done this with cubed bread of all sorts in the past, but never GF bread. Specifically, we used leftover GF focaccia which had been made from leftover pizza dough and topped with capers, olives, rosemary, and tomatoes. It was pretty firm due to the GF flour, sort of the consistency of cornbread crossed with polenta. The resulting croutons were maybe a bit too big / crunchy for a salad but still very tasty, kind of like baked polenta. It actually worked pretty well with this meal since most of the other things lacked crunch.

Preheat the oven to about 200C. Cube a bunch of leftover firm bread, then toss it in butter or oil and season to taste with salt and spices or herbs. Roast in the oven until golden and crispy.

Puy lentils with rosemary and thyme

I definitely over-salted these! Still good though. Every other time I’ve made Puy lentils they’ve come out way too bland, so I’ll probably make them like this in the future, probably with a bay leaf and maybe some other herbs. I’d be a great side to make instead of potatoes or rice, for example.

Pour a 500 g box of lentils de Puy in to a medium sized pot with enough water (see the instructions on the box), the rind of a hard cheese, a good pinch of salt, a knob of butter, fresh black pepper, and about 2 tablespoons each of chopped thyme and rosemary. Bring to a boil and simmer until the lentils are tender and the water is mostly gone. Note that you may need to top up the water during cooking. When nearing the end of cooking, taste the lentils and adjust the flavours. Add a little salt, lemon juice, and / or orange juice to adjust the flavour and acidity. Remove and discard the cheese rind before serving.

Caramelised onions

Ours weren’t quite caramelised, but still tasty! Apparently sodium bicarbonate is a useful secret ingredient if you’re light on time, need to remember that for next time.

Thinly slice 4 onions and place in wide, flat-ish pot. Stainless steel or aluminium is best if you have a lot of time, nonstick works well if you don’t. Add a pinch of salt and a knob of butter, then cook over medium-low heat until a deep golden brown.

Roasted aubergines

These are good lukewarm or cold as well. Do not be tempted to season with salt before sticking them in the oven, there will be plenty in the veg still from the initial step.

Preheat the oven to about 200C. Slice aubergines in to rounds that are roughly 1 cm thick, then salt on both sides and place in a shallow dish. Allow the salt to draw out the water for at least 15 minutes, pressing on them occasionally to encourage them. Once a lot of the water has been drawn out, put the aubergine slices in a big bowl of cold water and rinse thoroughly, removing all of the remaining salt. Squeeze the water out of the slices, then place in a baking dish. Top each slice with a little butter or olive oil, generously top with fresh black pepper, then sprinkle over about 1–2 tablespoons each of chopped thyme and rosemary. Roast in the oven for 30–40 minutes, turning halfway. Taste when done and add a squeeze of lemon juice if desired.

Pasta with tomato sauce, basil, and anchovies

BW tackled this mostly, so here’s hoping I’ve remembered this correctly! She said it was based on a Rachel Roddy recipe so I had a look online. Her recipe for pasta with tomatoes and anchovy sauce looks really similar and very good, though I don’t think it’s the same one. Worth a try!

Heat some butter or olive oil in a large flat-ish pan, then add halved baby tomatoes and cook until very soft. Add two finely chopped anchovies and cook a little longer, then add one chopped stove-roasted red pepper and a can of chopped tomatoes. Allow the sauce to simmer and reduce while you cook the pasta. Cook the pasta of your preference in heavily salted water until al dente and then drain, reserving a small amount of the pasta water in the pot. Tip the sauce in to the pasta and reserved pasta water and then cook a little longer, allowing the water to reduce slightly and the pasta to finish cooking. Stir in a whole bunch of torn basil and serve.

Spiced roasted carrots + broccoli

Kind of based on the honey roasted carrots from this Guardian article. Try to avoid crowding the pan or cooking too much at once in the oven because it will inhibit roasting and will cause the veg to steam. If you have to cook a lot at once, consider cranking up the heat.

Preheat the oven to about 200C. Put a bunch of oblique / roll cut carrots in to a big baking dish with the florets and peeled stem of a head of broccoli. Add a very generous sprinkling of brown sugar, a good pinch of salt, a squeeze of lemon juice, some lemon zest, a lot of cumin seed, about a thumb’s worth of minced ginger, and about 1–2 teaspoons of ground coriander. Roast until the edges are well browned, tossing occasionally to cook evenly.

Spiced chickpeas and greens

The vibe was espinacas con garbanzos, but with what we had on hand. I would definitely consider adding some cayenne, smoked paprika, garlic, etc. in other circumstances. For the greens we used rocket and spinach, but this would probably be good with kale as well though the cook time would take a little longer.

Heat a knob of butter in a large pan over medium-high heat, then pour in a can of chickpeas, drained. Add a very good pinch of salt, at least 2 tablespoons of cumin seed, 1–2 tablespoons of ground coriander, and a solid pinch of ground cinnamon. Cook for about 5 minutes to allow the flavours to come together, then your greens and the juice from at least a half an orange. Allow the greens to cook to the desired doneness, adding water if needed. Taste and adjust flavours as necessary (salt, lemon, etc.).

Roasted potatoes with a roasted pepper sauce

The idea was sort of patatas bravas, but again, with what we had on hand. Would probably consider smoked paprika, cayenne, garlic for this as well.

Preheat oven very hot, at least 200C. Cut 5–6 thin-skinned potatoes in to chunks and parboil, then toss in to a baking pan with oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until brown and crispy. For the sauce, reduce a can of chopped tomatoes over medium heat, then add a knob of butter, some cumin seed, and one finely chopped stove-roasted red pepper.

Citrussy black beans with chipotle chiles

Makes a big pot of beans, enough for 6–8 people.

These are basic guidelines for a well-flavoured, medium-spicy pot of beans that take little hands-on time. This recipe doesn’t call for soaked beans since it isn’t necessary, but you could soak them to reduce the cooking time. Chipotles in adobo are smoked, dried chiles in a spicy tomato-based sauce. Adobo can be made at home and has a great flavour, so consider making a big batch of it for use at home if you can’t find it canned.

In a large heavy-bottomed, oven-safe pot, combine:

  • 500 g (1 lb) dried black beans
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 orange, topped and tailed then cut in to large chunks
  • 2 TBSP ground cumin
  • 1 ½ TBSP ground coriander
  • 1 can (about 7 oz or 200 g) chipotles in adobo
  • 1 tsp vegetable bouillon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • A good pinch of brown sugar
  • A solid pinch of salt

Add enough water to cover the beans by the width of about three fingers and give it a good stir. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat, then place in a 175C (350F) oven or simmer on the stove over low heat for about 5 hours. The older the beans, the longer it will take to cook them.

Check about every hour, more frequently if simmering on the stove. Give it a good stir to ensure nothing is sticking, and taste the mixture to adjust the flavours and seasoning. Trust your gut; this is a big pot of beans, so it needs a good amount of salt and spices. Worthwhile additions might include a cinnamon stick, crushed garlic, a squeeze of lemon juice, epazote, and much more.

When done, remove the orange skins, bay leaves, and any other whole spices. If you prefer a thicker texture, mash some of the beans with a potato masher.

Serve with salsas, chopped coriander (cilantro), sour cream or yogurt, and rice.