Friday 29 April 2022

Slow cooked beans with Ham Hock from Around the Kitchen Table by Sophie Hansen

Around the Kitchen Table | Slow-cooked beans with ham hock | Sophie Hansen | salt sugar and i blog

You know those books that give you the warm and fuzzy's and go perfectly with a cup of tea, curled on the couch but just as good splattered with food in your kitchen. Sophie Hansen's books are just that. I have them all and I need to confess before rambling on any further. I am a Fan Girl. So when I was kindly sent her newest book Around the Kitchen Table: Good things to cook, create and do - the whole year through which she wrote with her mother, Annie Herron, excited was an under statement. 

This book is different to any other cookbook I own or have read. Not only is it a cookbook but also a bit of an art journal. Annie, Sophie's Mother is an artist and runs an Art School. Like all Sophie's books, it is divided into seasons and within each of these chapters is not only mouthwatering recipes but arts and crafts for example; how to paint a bird, mono printing, collage, craft ideas like making a Christmas wreath and drawing prompts throughout it. You don't need to be an artist to enjoy or use this part of the book at all, just like you don't need to be a chef. It's for the at-home creatives out there. 

The photography, as always, is just magical. Sophie is based in Orange NSW so gets the hot summers, filled with green meadows, sandy beaches and vibrant coloured fruits but also the chilly winters with frosty mornings, thick socks and baked goodies that you just know will taste delicious... mmmm still warm out the oven. Oh I dream of cold winter days, but they are far and non existent here in FNQ. It really is just hot and hot up here. But in saying that, it didn't stop me from pulling out the slow cooker the other week and making a call to the butcher to check they had a ham hock in their deep freeze I could buy. 

Slow cooked beans with Ham Hock. The hardest thing about this recipe was finding the ham hock. Such a simple recipe to put together, it's the time that does all the work while you can go off and attempt your hand at some mono-printing maybe or just put your feet up with a cuppa knowing dinner is sorted. Such a satisfying feeling. 

Around the Kitchen Table | Slow-cooked beans with ham hock | Sophie Hansen | salt sugar and i blog

Around the Kitchen Table | Slow-cooked beans with ham hock | Sophie Hansen | salt sugar and i blog

Around the Kitchen Table | Slow-cooked beans with ham hock | Sophie Hansen | salt sugar and i blog

Around the Kitchen Table | Slow-cooked beans with ham hock | Sophie Hansen | salt sugar and i blog

I used canned beans like Sophie suggests you which eliminated cooking dried beans for an hour and although I haven't tried this recipe with dried beans to compare, using canned were perfect. It's smokey and rich and salty and a real belly warming dinner. I will be hitting up our local butcher again to get more ham hocks thats for sure. I served it for dinner, ladled over a baked potato, topped with greek yoghurt and fresh parsley but this would be amazing on some thickly sliced sourdough toast with a gooey poached egg on top. And another great thing, it freezes well and knowing we have a portion of this in the freezer that can be nooked in the microwave at a moments notice for a quick dinner or a special breakfast is a very lovely thought.

Around the Kitchen Table | Slow-cooked beans with ham hock | Sophie Hansen | salt sugar and i blog
'Images and text from Around the Kitchen Table by Sophie Hansen and Annie Herron, photography by Sophie Hansen. Murdoch Books RRP $39.99'

Slow-cooked beans with ham hock

Recipe from Around the Kitchen Table by Sophie Hansen and Annie Herron

Serves 6

Prep time: 20 mins, plus overnight soaking 

Cook time: 6¼ hours 

I try to regularly make a batch of these through winter so that there’s always something healthy and hearty in the fridge ready to reheat. We all love this on toast and it’s a great filling meal to start the day, especially on those long, cold days when we don’t get home until late in the evening. These beans are also good for lunch and dinner, as per my serving suggestions below.

2½ cups (500 g) dried white beans, soaked overnight in cold water

1 smoked ham hock

2 brown onions, diced

3 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1 cm (½ inch) rounds

2 thyme sprigs

400 g (14 oz) tin cherry tomatoes

2 cups (500 ml) tomato passata (puréed tomatoes)

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp dark brown sugar

1 Tbsp dijon mustard

1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses (optional)

Drain the beans and place them in a large saucepan of water. Bring to the boil over high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 1 hour or until the beans are tender and cooked through.

Turn the slow cooker to high. Drain the beans and tip them into the slow cooker.

Put the ham hock in the saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the ham hock and place it on top of the beans in the slow cooker.

Add the onion, carrot, thyme, tomatoes and passata. Pour in 1 cup (250 ml) water, or enough to just cover the beans and ham hock. Gently stir in the vinegar, brown sugar, mustard and pomegranate molasses, if using. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours (or for up to 7 hours if that suits you – perhaps add a little more liquid towards the end as those beans can get thirsty!).

Remove the ham hock and shred the meat from the bone, then return the meat to the beans and gently stir.


You can use 2–3 x 400 g (14 oz) tins of white beans instead of dried beans. They won’t need soaking or pre-cooking – simply drain and rinse them, then add them to the slow cooker with the ham hock.

Serving suggestions:

  • Pile the beans on top of baked jacket potatoes and finish with a little plain yoghurt and chopped parsley.
  • Divide the beans among small ovenproof plates, make a dent in each, crack in an egg, dot with feta and parmesan cheese and parsley, then cook in a hot oven for 15–20 minutes or until the eggs are just cooked through.
  • Thin out the beans with stock and serve them as a stew or soup.
  • Use the beans as a jaffle or toasted sandwich filling.

Saturday 16 April 2022

Whisky & Orange Chocolate Self-Saucing Pudding from The Comfort Bake by Sally Wise

Whisky & Orange Chocolate Self-Saucing Pudding from The Comfort Bake by Sally Wise | salt sugar and i blog

When you move into a new home it can take a little while before home feels like home. Sometimes you need a good hug from a friendly face and something warm and decadent to treat your self. Lucky for me I have recently had both. The something warm and decadent came first.

A couple of weeks ago I was sent Sally Wise's new cookbook 'The Comfort Bake'. This is the kind of book where you go oooo, ahhh, yummm, oh I want that, I'm hungry. And then if you're like me you rustle around your pantry and work out you have everything you need for a gooey self saucing chocolate pudding and all you're missing is ice cream. Which, luckily, the new home is right around the corner from the servo.

This gooey self saucing chocolate pudding I made has an offical name, Whisky & Orange Chocolate Self-Saucing Pudding. Have you skipped down to the recipe and are you rustling around your pantry yet? 

It's a recipe that you just have to trust Sally and follow her simple instructions without too much thought. It will work. I find most self-saucing recipes really test my trained background because everything about me says that pouring 300ml of boiling liquid over a cake batter means it will turn into soup, but it doesn't. The cake batter cooks and rises through the hot liquid which turns into a spoon licking chocolate sauce you can't get enough of. You don't end up with undercooked cake batter which you aren't sure if it's meant to be sauce or cake  or a bit of both (I am not a 'lick the beaters' kind of baker). You very much get a rich warm pudding and a chocolate sauce that goes perfectly with some vanilla ice cream or double cream. It's a perfect recipe for the cooler nights where you find yourself on the couch, curled up watching season 2 of Bridgerton. May I even say, it's been positively 'cold' up here in FNQ... perfect!

Every recipe in The Comfort Bake screams home, warmth, love and full bellies. From the Very Ginger Gingernuts biscuits which I cannot wait to bake, to the Plum Crumble Cake which Sally says can easily be serves as a dessert with custard or the Savoury Pull-apart Loaf which is high up on my 'to-bake' list. They are recipes which will make you happy.

Whisky & Orange Chocolate Self-Saucing Pudding from The Comfort Bake by Sally Wise | salt sugar and i blog
‘Images and text from The Comfort Bake by Sally Wise, photography by Samuel Shelley. Murdoch Books RRP $39.99.’

Whisky & Orange Chocolate Self-Saucing Pudding

Serves 4–6

While a chocolate self-saucing pudding is always a favourite, this recipe takes the concept to a whole new, supremely delicious, level.

For the sponge
150 g (5½ oz) self-raising flour
pinch of sea salt
100 g (3½ oz) white (granulated) sugar
25 g (1 oz) cocoa
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
60 g (2¼ oz) salted butter, melted
125 ml (4 fl oz) milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the sauce
100 g (3½ oz) soft brown sugar
20 g (¾ oz) cocoa
300 ml (10½ fl oz) boiling water
60 ml (2 fl oz) whisky
40 ml (1¼ fl oz) orange juice

To make the sponge

Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F). Grease an 18–20 cm (7–8 inch) round baking dish, 10 cm (4 inches) deep.

Whisk together all the sponge ingredients until smooth.

Spoon this batter evenly into the dish.

To make the sauce

Sprinkle the combined brown sugar and cocoa over the sponge mixture.

In a separate bowl, mix together the boiling water, whisky and orange juice and pour carefully over the sponge mixture.

Bake for 30 minutes until the sponge has risen and is firm to the touch.


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