Bean Bake with Cornmeal Topping – Retro Random Recipe

Uncategorized | January 16, 2013 | By

First let me apologise for the quality of the photographs.  My DSLR camera has had to go for a minor repair so I had to resort to my ancient compact camera which does not take good photos in low light  and at this time of year, there are only a few hours of decent light. 

And so the Retro Random Recipe, that’s not the theme for the monthly challenge, run by Dom at Belleau Kitchen , just my interpretation.  No, this month Dom has taken himself off to California (lucky so and so!) and is borrowing his Random book from his step-mum’s kitchen.   He has asked us to join in and borrow a book from someone else’s kitchen,.a good friend or a neighbour,  parents or grandparents anyone who has an interesting collection of books.

I asked my friend, Avril, if she would choose a book for me. She brought two books into work and put them behind her back, she asked me to choose left or right and  my random book choice was…

In case you are wondering, the other book was a Robert Carrier one, full of rich creamy dishes, so I was really quite pleased to get the Sarah Brown book.

For those of you not old enough to remember, Sarah was TVs Vegetarian Cook in the 1980s.  Her recipes were healthy, wholefood dishes and introduced veggie cooking to many people who had no idea how to go about cooking healthy meals without meat.  I used to own a different book by Sarah Brown, but gave it away as it wasn’t being used, however it was good to revisit and there are some really tasty dishes in this book.  I used the random number generator to find my recipe and came up with Savoury Cornmeal Topping for Vegetables.

I’m on a bit of a mission to eat up all the food that seems to have accumulated in my larder, fridge and freezer and did a big ‘audit’ at the weekend.  So  instead of using the recipe as a topping for vegetables I decided I would  use it to top a Bean Bake with roasted carrots and parsnip.

Savoury Cornmeal Topping For Vegetables

This is a very quick and tasty batter topping that can be used to cover most mixtures of vegetables.  Remember to make the vegetable base quite moist so that it complements the sponge-like topping.  When making the topping, don’t forget that the amount of liquid you need may vary according to the type of flour you  use and how long you have had them. Simply add more liquid gradually until the mixture reaches a pouring consistency.  Once made the batter should be cooked immediately.

The Bean Bake is based, very loosely, on a recipe for ‘Butter Beans in brown onion sauce’ from another old favourite Gail Duff’s Vegetarian Cooking, this one has survived all book shelf culls and is well worn and much loved.  Gail’s recipe doesn’t have vegetables in it, just beans and a miso and onion sauce but it gave me the inspiration and the wrinkly carrots and parsnips in my vegetable rack and half used packets of dried beans, nearing their use by date, gave me the motivation!

Bean Bake with Roasted Carrots and Parsnips (serves 8)

500g beans (I used about 300g black eyed beans and 200g Butter Beans) soaked overnight in cold water, drained and cooked until just soft. 
6 medium carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
5 parsnips, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 tbsp oil
1 large onion
1 1/2 tbsp wholemeal flour
1 pint vegetable stock

1. Heat the oven to 200C
2. Blanch the carrots for 4 minutes,  either in a pan of simmering water on the stove or in a suitable container in the microwave with a tablespoon of water.
3.  Put the oil in a roasting tin and add the parsnips and blanched carrots and stir them around to cover with oil.
4. Roast for about 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and slightly crispy round the edges.

5. Put the beans, parsnips and carrots into a baking dish, I used my Mermaid Roasting tin which is ideal for this type of bake, and set aside while you make the sauce and topping.

6. Use the oil from the roasting tin or use another tablespoon of oil and place in a sauce pan. 
7. Peel and finely chop the onion and saute gently in the oil until it is soft and slightly coloured.
8. Add the flour and cook it with the onion for a minute or so until it starts to change to a golden colour.
9. Take the pan off the heat and add the stock slowly mixing well.
10. Put the pan back on the heat and heat gently, stirring until the sauce has thickened, cook for another 5 minutes, season to taste, then pour over the beans and vegetables.

For the Savoury Cornmeal topping

6oz (150g) wholemeal self-raising flour
3oz (75g) fine cornmeal
pinch of salt
3 eggs
4oz (100g) butter or margarine
8floz (200ml) milk
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds (or mixed seeds)

Preheat the oven to gas mark 6, 400F (200C)
the flours and salt together.  Using a food processor or blender, blend
in the eggs and fat, then add enough milk to make a thick batter-type

Spoon the batter over any prepared vegetable mixture, or your Bean Bake, and
sprinkle with seeds, then bake for 20-25 minutes.

Another Random Recipe, both the bake and the topping were really tasty and filling.  The roasted vegetables added texture and sweetness to the beans and the topping was crispy on the top and soft underneath.  I would probably cut the quantities back by half if I hadn’t been ‘using up’ the ingredients but we had some reheated tonight and I think the beany part was even better and the cornmeal topping stood up well to being reheated in the oven with a bit of foil over the top.  I’d definitely make this topping again, it would go well with many dishes and makes a nice change from a cobbler or mashed potato topping.

I’m also adding this to Mrs M’s Recipe Link Party
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belleau kitchen

Is this recipe written for me or what? All those lovely toasted veg and the beans and then that stunning topping. What an excellent idea to top a bake with what is essentially a giant cornmeal scone. Genius! I do remember Sarah and her TV program and I even think I have a book of hers stashed somewhere too. Excellent entry for this months random recipes. Thank you so much for entering xx (I've been up all night with Jet-lag reading Nigel Slater in prep for your challenge. Too many recipes to chose from!)

Sarah, Maison Cupcake

Sounds brilliant! And what a change from a veggie shepherds pie!

Karen S Booth

A lovely recipe and I often make pies with scone topping, as I prefer it sometimes to pastry! I remember Sarah and her programme too, and like Dom, I am sure I have one her books lurking somewhere! A comforting recipe and a great RR entry! Karen


YUM! this sounds and looks very tasty Janice xxx