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Posts Tagged ‘chilli’

Side dishes are often the most neglected part of a meal.  I have a few friends who sweat their way through the production of a main course and a dessert for dinner parties. Even the thought of doing more anything more elaborate than open a packet of mesclun salad greens (and upending into a bowl. Voila!); or steaming a bit of broccoli can bring on a spasm.

An interesting side dish is a useful thing because it can compensate for a simple (and easy) main, and turn a meal into something special.

This particular side is one that I whip up quite a lot and generally serve with simply prepared meat such as a roast. A friend commented once that Jamie Oliver does something similar. This wasn’t amended from anywhere intentionally.

I add chilli flakes to it. Not enough to drown out the freshness of the beans but enough to give it a wee kick. Much approval from Lulu who furtively gnaws on raw chillies with whatever you serve her.

Don’t get precious about quantities. You can do this to taste. If you are doing a roast, have everything prepared and start the beans at the point you remove the roast from the oven to rest. Then everything will arrive at the table at the same time all nice and hot.

Beans and tomato with a kick

Green beans and tomato with a kick. Served fairly al dente here. More delicious than it looks...

few handfuls of green beans, enough for 4 people or so
couple of ripe (riper the better) tomatoes, quartered
3-5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
2T olive oil
1/2t chilli flakes

Top and tail. Or just top the green beans depending on how damaged they are at the ends. Heat the oil in a wok (preferred) or large pan, then throw everything else in. Toss around a few times and saute on medium. When the tomatoes show a bit of a sign of breaking down, cover the wok and stir from time to time but keep the steam in. The tomatoes will go into a bit of a mushy paste around the beans.

It is ready when the beans are at the level of cookedness that YOU like. I like them slightly underdone. Tip into a bowl and serve. There is no real need to salt but you can add a pinch of sea salt at the beginning if you like.

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This post will be extended later when I have actually cooked something from the book. Lulu and John gave me this beautiful book by David Thompson for Christmas.  I have started branching out into Thai and other SE Asian cooking thanks to all the travel (and eating) in the region. It is a classic book of its genre with a fabulous outline of everything from culinary history of Thailand through to an extensive overview of different ingredients up front.

I do have a confession though. This book is a teeny bit daunting. Every recipe has several sub recipes each with lists of 542 ingredients most of which you have:

a) not heard of,

b) need to get from a speciality Asian food market, and

c) wouldn’t recognise if you tripped over it.

I absolutely adore Thai food and have started more gently with Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey. It still has the complex pastes etc that you make from scratch but is marginally less complex than David Thompson’s manual. Having said all that, I have every intention of cooking from Thai Food. But this is a new style of cooking for me and I will start with a couple of Rick Stein’s versions of the recipes before stepping up to the stove with the Thompson version.

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