I love cooking for friends, food is such a powerful thing for me, it can be used in all situations; to celebrate, to relax, to show love, to commiserate, to socialise. It is so versatile, in the summer we have BBQ’s in the garden with an open fire, or take a picnic to the river. In the winter we go to restaurants or have people over for dinner. It brings people together, and for me it is a way to say ‘I love you, I care about you, I want your belly and your soul to be full while you are here.’ This is why I love cooking for people.
Don’t get be wrong though, it can be stressful and I always have a mad 10 minutes towards the end when I am having to keep an eye on all my pots, chat to my friends and try and get Jack to start laying the table! But it is a happy stress, a manic love fuelled frenzy.
Last Friday was a night just like that, I decided to invite some friends over to try the new recipe ‘Sticky green beans and chilli Paneer’. For some reason I thought it would be a great idea to go wedding dress shopping beforehand, thinking it would only take an hour, it didn’t, obviously. So after a mad dash around the supermarket and several ill-fitted dresses later, I arrived home to an empty, messy, house. So before I even started this recipe I needed to do a super quick tidy up before my friends arrived. So as you can imagine I was pretty exhausted! But after scanning the recipe it looked pretty easy and as happy smiling faces started to arrive at my door I got into the rhythm of things.
I was using another ‘Anna Jones’ recipe from her ‘a modern way to cook’ book, which is quickly becoming a favourite of mine.
I loved her tip of soaking the paneer before cooking it, it definitely took out the rubbery texture to it and it was even more delish than usual! I was cooking this recipe for 5 people so I doubled the ingredients as I find that Anna’s portions are teenie tiny, and yes I know this is probably the correct amount to eat but there’s no way the boys would be happy with portions that size, and I cooked rice, lots of rice.
Luckily I had my amazing American friend Emily with me and she cooked up her speciality ‘devilled eggs’ for us to nibble on while I cooked. I remember one time getting back to Emily’s house after a wedding, very drunk and there where loads of devilled eggs on the table, I literally sat there and ate one after another until I couldn’t physically fit anymore in, there are fan-fucking-tastic!! She has given me permission to post the recipe here, they are so simple but I honestly believe that everyone needs them in their lives!
American Emily’s Devilled Eggs
“Hard boil eggs.
Allow to cool. Or run under cold tap for a bit.
Cut in half.
Scoop out the egg yolks into a brown and add a bit of mayo and mustard i use american and mix, make smooth.
Sometimes a dash of vinegar is nice.
Spoon mixture back into eggs, top with black pepper, smoked paprika and capers if you like them…that’s it!”
I asked everyone at dinner to rate the recipe and we got an average of about 7.5 which is pretty good considering jack never gives anything above an 8.5 because he says he doesn’t want to waste the high numbers in case something better comes along. I personally loved it, I used less chilli than the recipe calls for because my friends are pussies but it was still nice! My only criticism is that it wasn’t particularly sticky.
I’m also getting much better at following recipes, I was going to par boil my green beans before stir frying them because I thought I know better but I didn’t and they where fine! It was sweet but also lemony, words like ‘fresh’ where used to describe the taste. In fact it so was so good I’m going to do it all over again tonight for some different friends!
The glass of wine that was poured for me mid ‘mad 10 minutes’ by jack was also greatly appreciated
Sticky Green Beans and Chilli Paneer
- 1 medium onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 500g green beans
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp mild chilli powder
- 1 heaped tsp ground coriander
- 4 vine tomatoes
- a large thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger
- 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp runny honey
- 1 red chilli
- 200g paneer
- Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic. Put the coconut oil into a heavy-bottomed pan and place on a medium heat, then add the onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, until soft and sweet and beginning to brown.
- Trim the tops from your green beans.
- Add all the dry spices, then turn the heat to low and stir for a little while to toast the spices and release their flavours.
- Roughly chop the tomatoes and peel and roughly chop the ginger. Add them to the pan and cook for another 2-3 minutes over a high heat.
- Add the green beans to the pan along with the juice of the lemon and the honey and stir to coat them with the spices. Add 100ml of water and cook for a couple of minutes until the beans have lost their rawness, all the water has evaporated and everything is well coated. This will take about 4 minutes.
- Finely chop the red chilli. Drain the paneer and roughly cut into 2cm slices. Add them to the pan and stir to coat.
- Season well with sea salt. Squeeze over the juice of the lemon, then chop the coriander and scatter it over. Serve with warm chapattis or flatbread for scooping, mango chutney and some rice if you are really hungry. (Come on Anna, I’m always really hungry!)