Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Red Dragon Pie
with sweet potato mash

2 cups just-cooked Aduki beans
1 onion, finely diced
1tsp olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
1tsp plain flour
1tbsp sundried tomato puree
1tbsp soy sauce
2 bay leaves
1 pint made-up Marigold vegetable bouillon
Good splash Tabasco

Potatoes - sweet and ordinary, half and half, peeled and chopped into chunks.
2oz cheddar, grated

Soften the onion in the olive oil over a very low heat; add the carrots and cover, then leave to soften for another 10 minutes. Scatter in the flour and stir for a minute. Dissolve the tomato puree and soy sauce in the stock, and pour over the vegetables; add the bay leaves and Tabasco, and simmer for another 20 minutes. Add the cooked beans and stir to incorporate; pour the mixture into an ovenproof dish, removing the bay leaves.

Boil the potatoes together until tender, then drain and mash with half the cheddar. Season to taste; then spread over the bean mixture. Start from the edges and work the potato into the centre, to avoid the filling escaping at the sides. Finish with the remaining cheddar, then put straight into a preheated oven at 160 dg C for 20-30 minutes (until golden on top and steaming right through).

Eat with mixed salad or crusty bread.

This isn't intended to become a blog about cookery books, but I have been reading some luscious ones lately.
Diana Henry's book, 'Roast Figs, Sugar Snow', does not seem to be widely available in the UK - I've only seen her earlier publications in bookshops and even Amazon does not sell it directly.
Which is a shame, because this is a truly wonderful book. It's a very personal collection of cold-weather food, gathered by the author during trips to Vermont, Russia, and Scandinavia. The recipes are grouped according to themes like "The Colour Purple" (figs and plums) or "Winter On Your Tongue" (sour cream and herbs), with additional chapters on pumpkin and beans.
I've borrowed it from the library and am now obsessing about a trip to Scandinavia - who cares where, as long as they have dumplings and plum vodka. (We very much enjoyed eating in Prague, where dumplings figure prominently on the menus and cocktail bars are staffed with waiters who will make you specials in a jiffy. (Sigh.))
What I particularly love about the book is the introductions to each chapter, which are a rich source of information about the various countries' cuisines. Scandinavian food makes up most of the book. This cuisine isn't big on vegetarianism, I have to say. But what it does do well is winter food. The very thought of steamed potatoes smothered in sour cream and dill... or peppers stewed in Hungarian paprika... cheese pies with feta and mozzarella... or shortbread squares topped with glossy plums... is making me extremely hungry.
As usual, I am on a diet, and as usual, I am reading books about cream and baking. But I am turning down pages for weekend experiments, and will definitely note my adaptations here. Many of the meat dishes could well be adapted for vegetarian cooking. I am going to start with Lecso - a cream-free dish using Hungarian paprika, which must be one of my favourite spices. And I'll keep you posted - if you haven't already bought the book in the meantime.