Category Archives: Meals

A range of ideas for main meals from English Country Cooking based on the things we love to eat.

Boston Baked Beans with Coffee

Boston Baked Beans with Coffee © Sue Todd 2014

Boston Baked Beans with Coffee © Sue Todd 2014

The arrival of Autumn signifies the need for rich casseroles and warming comfort food. Generally the first of these in our house is Boston Baked Beans, and given the weather today, it feels like time for this dish. We started to make this about 27 years ago now, heavens that makes me feel very old.

Back then I had a toddler with various food allergies and an aversion to meat. In an attempt to get food into him we moved to a vegetarian diet and stayed with it for some years until we moved out to the countryside and raised our own meat.

It was at the start of our veggie years that a dear friend bought me a copy of Rose Elliot’s Bean Book, which now has many loose pages, but is still very much treasured and still in use. We started to make Rose Elliot’s Boston Baked Beans then and have adapted this recipe over the years to include sausage or bacon generally.  The recipe below is totally veggie but do feel free to add meat.

It isn’t hard to make and you can make it easier and far quicker using tinned haricot beans – this is about the closest we get to fast food. The difference between these beans and those ready done tinned varieties of baked beans is massive. These have real gutsy flavour, and all the ingredients are real food, no flavourings, no additives and no colours.

Boston Baked Beans with  Coffee © Sue Todd 2014

Boston Baked Beans with Coffee © Sue Todd 2014

The very kind people at Rountons Coffee, sent me some of their coffee to try, I’ll be talking more about that in a forthcoming post.  Their coffee is delightful and I highly recommend you try it.  Since it arrived, I have been searching for recipes involving coffee, wanting something a bit different to the ubiquitous coffee and walnut cake, which while good isn’t going to set my world on fire, If only because I don’t have a sweet tooth.  I came across a recipe for “ultimate coffee baked beans on toast” and thought it was time to adapt our recipe once more, so what follows is our latest version of Boston Baked Beans.

Served in a bowl with a big hunk of freshly baked bread, Boston baked beans is Autumn comfort food at its best. Any leftovers are great for breakfast next day too, especially in a pot with an oven baked egg on top!

If you want to make this without the coffee, just substitute the same amount of liquid stock for coffee.


  • 350g dried beans (haricot, cannellini and/or Borlotti beans are good – so is a mixture),
  • 1 large red onion (although a white one will do just as well),
  • 1 tbsp olive oil,
  • 1 tsp dry mustard,
  • 2 tsps black treacle,
  • 5 large fresh tomatoes, chopped,
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree,
  • 2 tsps of brown sugar,
  • 1/4 pint strong coffee,
  • 1/4 pint stock

 Prepare the Beans:

Boston Baked Beans with Coffee © Sue Todd 2014

Boston Baked Beans with Coffee © Sue Todd 2014

You could use tinned beans, however, if you are using dried beans they need to be soaked first.  Ideally you’d soak them overnight.  But if you are as organised as we tend to be, that may not be an option.  In which case this is the next best solution.  Take the beans, rinse them, put them in a pan, cover them with water and bring them to the boil on a hot hob.  Boil them hard for 2 to 3 minutes, then remove them from the heat, cover and leave to soak for about an hour.

After the hour is up, rinse the beans again under the cold tap.  This is meant to make them more digestible.  Then put them back in a saucepan, cover with water or unsalted stock (avoid salted stock or adding salt at this point as both can toughen the beans and prevent them from cooking properly), and cook for between an hour and an hour and a half, until almost tender. A pressure cooker is another option for moving the beans on quickly, but I don’t use one and they terrify me so you’ll never get instructions from me on that one.

Once cooked strain the beans and rinse once more and they are ready to turn into Boston Baked Beans.

Making the Boston Baked Beans:

Peel and finely chop your onion.  Heat the oil in a flameproof heavy based casserole before adding the onion.  Fry the onion for about 5 minutes before adding the remaining ingredients. Bring the dish up to the boil.  Put a lid on the casserole dish and pop it in the oven.  I used the AGA baking oven. If you are using a conventional oven you are looking at around 275F/140C or Gas Mark 1.  Cook for about 4 hours, stirring from time to time.  Another option without an AGA is to use a slow cooker which is probably more efficient than a conventional oven.  Either way coming home to find dinner ready and waiting on a cold day is wonderful.

To serve:

Depending on whether you are vegetarian or not, there are other options:

  • Add some bacon after the onion and incorporate into the whole dish.
  • Add some sausage after the onion (and/or) the bacon to incorporate into the whole dish

Serve with fresh bread and sausages, and a large glass of red wine.  Totally delicious.  This also travels well in a food flask for winter outings or taking to the office/school.

Boston Baked Beans with Coffee © Sue Todd 2014

Boston Baked Beans with Coffee © Sue Todd 2014


Sticky Lemon Chicken

Sticky lemon chicken on celeriac and parsnip rosti © Sue Todd 2014

Sticky lemon chicken on celeriac and parsnip rosti © Sue Todd 2014

I think this recipe works really well with chicken legs, because cooking the chicken on the bone adds a lovely depth of flavour.

We had ours with a celeriac and parsnip rosti and some green salad for a lovely paleo meal.


  • 1 tsp black peppercorns,
  • 1 lemon juice and zest,
  • 1 tsp mustard,
  • 1 tbsp runny honey,
  • 1 clove of crushed garlic,
  • 4 chicken legs


Grind the peppercorns in a pestle and mortar then put the crushed pepper in a large bowl with the lemon juice and zest, the mustard, honey and garlic and mix up well.  Add the chicken legs and leave to marinade for an hour in the fridge.

Transfer to a roasting tin, pouring the marinade mixture over the chicken legs, add sea salt to taste and pop in the oven to cook.  We used the roasting oven in the AGA, so you do want a hot oven.    It takes about 40 to 45 minutes to cook, turning the legs halfway through so that you get a nice sticky coating over all the chicken.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Cauliflower Crust Pizza © Sue Todd 2014

Cauliflower Crust Pizza © Sue Todd 2014

I’ve loved this since I stumbled across a recipe for it at  It sounds odd and if you don’t like cauliflower then you’ll be forgiven for assuming it has must be dire.  My sons refuse to believe it could be edible, but I can assure you it is wonderful and well worth trying, the resulting base is so far away from being like the stewed tasteless cauliflower I remember from my school days.  Actually thinking back to school meals I’m always surprised I ever came round to food at all, everything always seemed so gross.

Anyway back to the pizza.  The finished thing looks like pizza and tastes wonderful, while it doesn’t taste like a bread base it is really good and it doesn’t taste like you’d imagine it would either!  You don’t feel stuffed when you’ve finished eating but you are nicely satisfied.  The only thing you can’t do with it is pick it up in your hands to munch it like you would a normal bread based pizza, you’ll need to eat this one with a knife and fork.  The first time we made it Gary grated the cauliflower by hand, this takes forever and can be painful, I’d recommend using a food processor if you have one. For the crust I’ve so far used cheddar and mozzarella and they both work really well.  I think the crust could work well as the base for a gluten-free quiche that is quite delightful without leaving you feeling overly stuffed afterwards.  I’ve not tried this out yet but I think I will soon so that may figure on the blog shortly.

Ingredients: For the crust:

  • 2 cups shredded cauliflower
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup grated cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried minced garlic (or fresh garlic)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


This is really down to personal choice, so far we’ve enjoyed ham and pineapple, salami with mozzarella and olives, all on top of a nice home-made tomato sauce.


Start with your cauliflower and chop it up into individual florets.  Then either grate it (I don’t recommend this route) or pulse it in a food processor until it’s in tiny pieces and looks a bit like rice.  You want small grains of cauliflower though and not a puree, a puree won’t work so well.

Put your processed cauliflower into a microwave safe bowl and microwave it for 8 minutes.  I hate using the microwave at all but this works so … I go with what it says to do.

Let the cauliflower grains cool and then mix up well with the other crust ingredients.

Grease an oven tray or pizza stone and shape the crust mixture into a round flattening it out carefully, so it has a traditional pizza shape to it.  Brush the top gently with olive oil.

Pop your pizza into the baking oven of the AGA for about 15 minutes.  I think this equates to about 450 degrees in a conventional oven.  If you’ve oiled the top it should begin to brown nicely.

At this point its time to add your topping of choice, before topping with cheese and putting it back in the oven to finish off for approximately five minutes.  Enjoy with salad and a nice glass of wine!

We find this makes one large pizza which we often don’t finish in one sitting.  With plenty of salad it could do four people, or two very hungry ones.

Home-made Burgers

We’ve had a spate of burger making recently.  I can’t remember the last time we bought an actual burger, it would be some considerable time ago and lately the only ones we’ve bought are the venison ones our local butcher makes on the premises.   Burgers are one of our few ‘fast foods’ not that any of our food is very fast really.  We both believe in food being enjoyed and savoured and that includes the making time too, so I’d guess we’re more in the ‘slow food’ bracket.

Ideally we’d start from scratch with beef and put it through the mincer to get minced beef, because we prefer to know exactly what is going in to our food.  But if you want to use ready bought mince then do so.

We used oats in this recipe instead of breadcrumbs to help bring the burger together, however, a handful of seeds such as pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds blitzed in the food processor to break them down slightly could work just as well and give you a grain free burger.


  • 500gm of lean minced steak,
  • 2 finely chopped shallots,
  • 1 egg,
  • Small pinch of thyme,
  • Pinch of Rosemary,
  • Salt and black pepper to taste,
  • Chilli flakes, as required to taste,
  • handful of rolled oats,
  • smaller handful of ground almonds,
  • Olive oil to fry,


Mix everything together in a large bowl and then divide into two, four or even six burgers, depending on how hungry or how big you like your burgers.

If you have a mincer,  you can whack the whole lot through a mincer  after mixing it together.  This will improve the consistency of the burger but it’s not essential.

Now either fry in olive oil until cooked, or alternatively pop them on a baking oven and stick them in a hot oven.  We’d use the roasting oven on the AGA, not entirely sure what this is for a conventional oven but somewhere around 240/475 or Gas 8.

To serve:

  • muffins/breadbuns/portobello mushrooms – to serve up the burger in
  • suggestions as given below for three slightly different stacks.

Serve with home made chips and a big napkin because you’re going to get messy.  To produce a primal/paleo version omit the  muffins for serving and use portobello mushrooms instead. The mushroom version is lovely and next time we have them that way I’ll take a photograph.


Stack 1

  • Toasted English Muffin,
  • Mayonnaise,
  • Little Gem Lettuce,
  • Burger
  • More Little Gem Lettuce
  • Home Made Plum Chutney


Stack 1 - Home made Burger © Gary Todd 2014

Stack 1 – Home made Burger © Gary Todd 2014

Stack 2

  • Toasted English Muffin
  • Mayonnaise,
  • Slice of Air dried Beef,
  • Pommery whole grain mustard,
  • Little Gem Lettuce,
  • Burger,
  • Caramelised red peppers, red onion and mushrooms,
  • Fresh Plum Tomato
  • Mayonnaise,
  • Toasted English Muffin
Home-made Burger: Stack 2 © Gary Todd 2014

Home-made Burger: Stack 2 © Gary Todd 2014

Stack 3.

  • Toasted English Muffin,
  • Mayonnaise,
  • Slice of Air dried Beef,
  • Pommery whole grain mustard,
  • Little Gem Lettuce,
  • Burger,
  • Caramelised red peppers, red onion and mushrooms,
  • Rasher of locally smoked Bacon,
  • Mayonnaise,
  • Toasted English Muffin
Home-made Burger - Stack 3 © Gary Todd 2014

Home-made Burger – Stack 3 © Gary Todd 2014

Beef Stroganoff cooked outdoors on a Finnish Stove.

Beef Stroganoff cooked outdoors on a Finnish Stove © Sue Todd 2014

Beef Stroganoff cooked outdoors on a Finnish Stove © Sue Todd 2014

It was a beautiful day yesterday, and as the evening approached we were thinking it would be really nice to eat outdoors given that the nights are beginning to draw in.  Sorry to remind you of that!
However the gas bottle for our BBQ is with ‘son the younger’, who ‘borrowed’ it earlier in the summer, which meant cooking might be somewhat problematic.   However Gary had already had some thoughts about this and is plotting ahead for a whole new section of our garden for next year, so he suggested we had a go at cooking on a Finnish Stove.
What’s a Finnish Stove you ask?  Well I didn’t know before hand either.  It’s a wonderful way of cooking outdoors when you don’t have a stove, but want to use a pan.  You basically cut a log into segments and standing them up stuff the inside gaps with small bits of wood and dry grass, set a match and away it goes.  Your pan simply sits on the top and it gets very hot indeed. Obviously health and safety needs some consideration and you need to give some thought on where exactly you have your fire, you don’t want to set a vast expanse of woodland on fire for instance!  Ours was nicely contained in a brick surround so it couldn’t fall over either, which is worth thinking about.
It’s a lovely way to spend an evening and once we’d eaten the fire carried on, doing a grand job of keeping the midges away and we sat out until it was dark watching the fog roll into the valley below.
Finnish Stove in the garden © Sue Todd 2014

Finnish Stove (also known as Swedish Candle or Rocket Fire) in the garden © Sue Todd 2014

Beef Stroganoff cooked outdoors on a Finnish Stove © Sue Todd 2014

Beef Stroganoff cooked outdoors on a Finnish Stove © Sue Todd 2014


  • 500g lean beef or this would work really well with venison,
  • 250ml of cream,
  • 1 glass of white wine,
  • 1 heaped tsp of French Mustard/ Pommery,
  • Half an onion finely chopped,
  • 1 clove of garlic crushed,
  • 2 good sized mushrooms sliced,
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1 knob of butter


Put your pan on the heat, add the olive oil and butter and melt the butter.
Fry off the onion and garlic  without letting them brown and remove from the pan.
Now add the beef to the pan and sear until it is brown all over.
Return the onions and garlic to the pan and de-glaze the pan with the glass of wine.
Next add the cream and mustard and stir well before adding the mushrooms.
Simmer until you are happy with the consistency of the sauce and the beef is nicely cooked.
Serve with french bread and more glasses of wine.
Beef Stroganoff ready to eat, cooked outdoors on a Finnish Stove © Sue Todd 2014

Beef Stroganoff ready to eat, cooked outdoors on a Finnish Stove © Sue Todd 2014

Bunny Burgers

Bunny Burger with Tomato and Pepper Ketchup © 2014 Sue Todd

Bunny Burger with Tomato and Pepper Ketchup © 2014 Sue Todd

Having moved recently we once again have an abundance of rabbits on the doorstep, so it was only a matter of time before we looked at rabbit recipes, this was aided and abetted by a good friend dropping a few rabbits in to us for consumption too. My dear OH was set upon creating the ultimate ‘Bunny Burger’ and so spent some considerable time researching recipes before yesterdays venture began. What follows is our adaptation of the recipes we found, initially we omitted the chilli, but it actually really needs the chilli, so our second set of burgers were the finished product so to speak.   Continue reading