Cooking Courses - Being a Good Guest
The other day, a woman approached my market stall and picked up one of my cookery course brochures.
"I will have to approve the menu for lunch," she said.
Imagining she had some sort of allergy, I asked why. She proceeded to list all the foods she did not like to eat.
I was somewhat affronted by this interaction and explained that my courses are designed for those who have little in this world, and wish to learn how to use what they have to cook good, healthy food with simple, good value ingredients. Luckily it is my business, so I can say what I like and possibly put my brand at risk!
But it got me thinking.
I always try to be a good host. I ask folk what they're allergic to and avoid those; I ask what their favourite foods are and aim for those. I do NOT ask, "Is there anything you do not like?" because I tend to disregard that! I grew up in an area where folk had nothing and I know people who still struggle to put food on the table. Which probably makes me a bad host in actual fact...
But I do know that I try to be a good guest. If the host has gone to the trouble of arranging an event, I throw myself into it, so that they might feel good about something they've worked hard to produce.
Which was why I found myself thinking about herbs I do not like - sounds terrible from a pedlar of herbs, but we all have our preferences! What would I do if given something with Garden Sage (as opposed to the fruit Sages, which I prefer) or Rosemary... And I looked at our Rosemary bush and thought, "No, cook something with it, to convince yourself you DO like it."
Cooking with Rosemary
There's an Old Wives' Tale that says a big healthy Rosemary bush in the garden means there's a strong woman in the house. Now, our Rosemary bush is HUGE... make of that what you will. I wasn't going to cut down too much. Just a little. But what to make? Rosemary is a strong flavour, so it needs to be paired with something equally strong.
A fellow allotmenteer had given us loads of runner beans, and I had some strong cheese in the fridge. So I made a strong flavoured cheese sauce. Then I added some chopped Rosemary (just about a tablespoon really) to the sauce. Let it sit for a while until the sauce had cooled. Then I poured the sauce on top of the cooked beans (I cooked them first as I did not want the cheese to be overdone whilst the beans were underdone) and popped the whole lot on a low oven for about half an hour. And, to my surprise, I enjoyed it! Even with the Rosemary which added a bit of bite to the dish. Scroll for the full recipe.
So, I think that now if somebody is kind enough to host me and cook me something with Rosemary, I can recall the bean and cheese sauce dish and think 'yes, I do like Rosemary' and then all will be well. And the host will be happy.
It is as important to be a good guest as it is to be a good host.
Beans, Rosemary, and a Cheese Sauce (or, using up leftovers!)
Proportions are all depending on which flavours you like and how hungry you are but try this for a ‘first time go’ for one person.
- Take a large MUG of beans (any beans – runner beans, broad beans, kidney beans). Make sure they are already cooked. So – leftovers maybe? It would work equally well with any leftover veggies. (You could use meat or fish leftovers BUT they will need to have been heated to a specific, very high, temperature in the oven first off as reheating meat and fish has quite a few rules around it, and then turned down, and this recipe is for medium and slow…) Put your beans in an oven proof dish.
- Preheat your oven to 180C/160C fan.
- Take some fresh Rosemary. How much? Rosemary is STRONG… The first time you make this, you just need enough for about 2 TEASPOONS, chopped. Leave your chopped Rosemary to one side for the moment.
- Then – take a TABLEspoon of butter. Heat it slowly in the bottom of a pan. When it has melted, take the pan off the heat. Then add a TEAspoon of flour (any flour – you just want this to act as a thickening agent) to the melted butter, stirring continuously until it is all mixed together.
- Then, put it back onto the heat and keep stirring it as you SLOWLY add 2 MUGS of milk (use the same mug as for the beans – save the washing up!). You need to keep stirring so that the sauce slowly thickens. When you feel it is thick enough (I hate a thick sauce…), add some cheese. Any cheese. However much you like of cheese. (I use odds and ends of cheese – makes for a dish that never tastes the same twice…). You can either grate it first or just plonk it in and enjoy watching it slowly melt (even tasting a bit as you stir…).
- When all the cheese has been melted in with the sauce, take it off the heat. Add your chopped Rosemary to the sauce. Then pour that sauce over the beans in your oven proof dish. Stir a bit. Pop it in the oven (ONLY If it has reached temperate, otherwise wait.) THEN, turn your oven down to 160C (140C fan).
- Leave it for 15 minutes. Go away and do something useful or interesting and then come back and check. It has already all been cooked so you really just want to make sure that the flavours have all melted together. If it is nicely bubbling away at the edges and browning a little on top, take it out.
- Leave it for about 5 minutes, with something on top of it to keep it warm. Then eat.
Serve it on its own. Or with meat, fish or other veggies. Try it on a baked potato…