Delia Smith's Winter Collection
APRIL 14 2012


Me: "Dang, everything on my plate is brown and looks the same." Hubby: "That's how you know it's authentic English food!"

bean cake on the left - caramelized fennel on the right

Thankfully our first bites quickly reveal the two items to offer vastly different taste, texture and experience.
The beancake has a creamy softness surrounded by a shatteringly crisp shell and tastes of earthy lentil. The onion marmalade supplies a contrasting crunch and gentle heat to each bite. The caramelised fennel is tender but still firm to the tooth with a sharp, cider vinegar tang. Mmm... I think I like the beancake best. No wait, the fennel. Or maybe the beancake... I can't decide! Nom, nom, nom.

I actually started this meal days ago when I defrosted the pre-soaked black-eyed peas (past-Day to the rescue again!) and simmered them gently with lentils and savory herbs. At the same time, I sauteed the marmalade onions until "golden and tinged brown at the edges" then stirred in the ginger and remaining ingredients. Now to simmer for... what? 1-1/4 hours?

At this point, I read the rest of the recipe and realized I would also need to let my assembled cakes rest in the fridge at least an hour. Crap. That's gonna put dinner way after I have already starve to death... so the beancake plan is quickly abandoned and the cooked beans transferred to the fridge to make an appearance another day. The marmalade has, by now, simmered 45 minutes and goes into the fridge as well to finish later. Hey, how about Thai food?

defrosting the pre-soaked black-eyed peas

those edges are so attractively tinged brown!

The next day I retrieve the beans, saute and mix in the perfectly diced veggie confetti and form them into nice, neat patties. I'm concerned they're too wet and soft, but the mix don't stick too much to my hands and seem to be holding up okay. Into the fridge for their required chilling time. What's that? We've been invited to a BBQ? Uh... let's go! The cakes could use the extra fridge time anyway to firm up a bit more.

aren't these veggies gorgeous and perfectly diced?

now to stir my lovely veggies into the weirdly, grey-green bean mix

time to chill little beancakes

Third day's the charm? Seems like it so I check on my beancakes, lookin good, and decide to pair them with some caramelized fennel. Oh crap on a biscuit! The damn fennel has to cook for almost an hour. Geez! This time, we agree to wait it out so I forge ahead.

After steaming 10 minutes, they go into a pan of foaming sugar-laced butter to saute until golden on each side. Then 40 minutes of simmering in a seasoned mix of hard cider and cider vinegar.

saute fennel in butter...

... until super caramelised!

Since the beancakes have already been formed and only need a quick pan-fry, I decide I have time to tackle a dessert while the fennel does it's thing. Hmm... seems I have all the ingredients for the Hot Citrus Pudding. Hey hubby, any interest? After a resounding "YES!" I get to work zesting and zesting and zesting. Now whisk everything together and note that yes, as pre-warned by Delia, the mix is quite curdled and looks a little iffy. But she says not to worry, so onward and upward and into the oven it goes.

poor, naked citrus

action shot! folding whipped egg whites into the curdled pudding mix.

The fennel is reaching optimal tenderness so it's time to crisp up those cakes. Dusted in flour, they hit the shimmering olive oil with a loud sizzle. I'm gonna let them go for a while on each side because they're still really, really soft and I don't want them to disintegrate when I try to turn them. Flip! No problems there... phew. Now, just reduce the liquid in the fennel to make a nice glaze and we're ready to eat!

fry beancakes until irresistably crisp and golden

caramelised fennel is served!

As I plate myself a beancake and a wedge of fennel, their extreme similarity in appearance becomes apparent. Needs some green stuff so I sprinkle on more fennel fronds and shrug. Can't do much about that now... just hope it tastes okay. Which, as I've already noted, it definitely does! After our plates are clean, we both agreed the beancakes were tasty but not worth the effort but I should add the scrumptious fennel to our meal repertoire.

topping my beancake with a nice scoop of onion-ginger marmalade

cross-section of the caramelised fennel. fantastic!

One note, make sure those beancakes are super, duper crisp. Without that contrast of creamy inside and crackling crust, they would be much less successful.

After a little breather, dessert is ready! Or is it... I scoop into it and the whole bottom half is soupy and hasn't set. I know it's supposed to "emerge from the oven in a pool of it's own sauce", but this is like 50% sauce. Maybe another 10 min in the oven will help. It does... now only 30% is sauce and we're anxious to dig in. Dish up and dollop with creme fraiche. Yummy! Bold citrus flavor, mostly lemon softened by a light orange essence, with an interesting texture. I enjoy the cakey top half, but the gooey "sauce" doesn't do much for me. Darling hubby manages to eat half the dish... so I'm guess he likes it :) That means success!!

this citrus pudding is definitely hot, hot, hot!

comes pre-sauced. how convenient!



Serves 4 - 6

Fennel's lovely aniseed flavour is here warmed up by caramelising with sugar and cider vinegar. Traditionally, fennel goes with fish but this recipe is also recommended with roast chicken.

4 medium-sized heads fennel
1 oz butter
1 rounded teaspoon granulated sugar
10 fl oz medium cider
2 fl oz cider vinegar
Pinch salt


To prepare the fennel bulbs, first cut off the leafy fronds and reserve them for a garnish. Now trim off the green shoot by cutting diagonally to make a V-shape. Then slice off the root part at the other end, keeping the bulb intact, and remove any tough or brown outer layers, then slice across each bulb to cut it in half. Then place the fennel in a fan steamer set in the saucepan with 1 inch of boiling water under it. Cover and steam for 10 minutes, then remove them from the steamer, throw out the water, wipe the inside of the pan with kitchen paper and return it to the heat.

Next melt the butter and sugar in the saucepan and when it starts to foam, stir it around the pan until the sugar dissolves, then add the fennel, cut side down. Keeping the heat fairly high, brown it for 5 minutes, then turn the pieces over and brown them on the other side for another 3 minutes. Now combine the cider, cider vinegar and a little salt, and pour this into the pan; then, keeping the cut side of the fennel facing upwards, cover with a lid and simmer gently for 20 minutes. 

After that turn the fennel over again. Then continue to cook for a further 20-25 minutes (this time uncovered). Watch carefully during the last 10 minutes and test to see if it is cooked by inserting a skewer. When the fennel is tender enough, raise the heat so that the remaining juices reduce to a glaze. Shake the pan carefully to give an even covering of the caramel glaze. Now transfer the whole lot to a warm serving dish with the cut surfaces upwards and scatter with the chopped fennel fronds as a garnish.


Serves 4

Black-eyed beans are the lovely nutty beans that are popular in recipes from the deep south of America and, with the addition of other vegetables, they make very good beancakes. Fried crisp and crunchy on the outside and served with delectable ginger onion marmalade, this makes a splendid vegetarian main course. The marmalade is not only a wonderful accompaniment to mashed black-eyed beancakes but is great as a relish for all kinds of other dishes – meat, fish or vegetarian.

4 oz black-eyed beans
4 oz green lentils
1 bay leaf
1 level teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, plus 2 sprigs
5 - 6 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 small red pepper, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 green chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
¼ level teaspoon ground mace
1 level tablespoon sun-dried tomato paste
2 level tablespoons wholewheat flour
Salt and freshly milled black pepper

For the ginger onion marmalade:
1 rounded dessertspoon freshly grated ginger
12 oz onions
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 rosemary sprigs
8 fl oz dry white wine
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 level tablespoons soft dark brown sugar
Salt and freshly milled black pepper


First of all the black-eyed beans need soaking – this can be done by covering them with twice their volume of cold water and leaving them overnight or, alternatively, bringing them up to the boil, boiling for 10 minutes and then leaving to soak for 2 hours. The green lentils won't need soaking.

To make the marmalade, peel and slice the onions into ¼ inch rings (slice any really large outer rings in half). Then take a solid medium-sized saucepan and heat the olive oil. When it's hot, add the onions and the rosemary, stir well, and toss the onions around till they're golden and tinged brown at the edges (about 10 minutes).

After that pour in the white wine and white wine vinegar followed by the brown sugar and the grated ginger, stir and bring everything up to simmering point. Add salt and pepper, then turn the heat down to low again and let everything simmer very gently for 1¼ hours or until all the liquid has almost disappeared. Then remove the rosemary, pour everything into a serving bowl and you can serve it warm – or I think it's quite nice cold with the hot beancakes.

To make the beancakes, once the soaking is done, take a medium-sized saucepan, add the drained beans and the lentils, then pour in 1 pint (570 ml) water, add the bay leaf and sprigs of thyme, then bring everything up to a gentle simmer and let them cook for about 40-45 minutes, by which time all the water should have been absorbed and the beans and lentils will be completely soft. If there's any liquid still left, drain them in a colander. Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Now you need to mash them to a pulp and you can do this using a fork, potato masher or electric hand whisk. After that give them a really good seasoning with salt and freshly milled black pepper and put a clean tea cloth over them to stop them becoming dry.

Now take a really large frying pan, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then heat it over a medium heat and add the onion, carrot, pepper, chilli and garlic. Sauté them all together for about 6 minutes, moving them around the pan to soften and turn golden brown at the edges.

After that mix all the vegetables into the mashed bean and lentil mixture, add the mace and chopped thyme and tomato paste, then dampen your hands and form the mixture into 12 round cakes measuring approximately 2½-3 inches in diameter. Then place them on a plate or a lightly oiled tray, cover with clingfilm and keep them in the refrigerator until needed, but for 1 hour minimum.

When you're ready to serve the beancakes, coat them lightly with wholewheat flour seasoned with salt and freshly milled black pepper, then heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When it is really hot, reduce the heat to medium and fry the beancakes in two batches for 3 minutes on each side until they're crisp and golden, adding more oil if needed. Drain them on kitchen paper and serve garnished with the ginger onion marmalade.


Serves 6

This delightful hot pudding full of fresh citrus flavours is very light and fluffy and has the advantage of emerging from the oven in a pool of its own sauce. Then all it needs is some chilled pouring cream.

3 oz softened butter
6 oz caster sugar
3 eggs, separated
3 oz self-raising flour
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
Grated zest and juice of 2 limes
7 fl oz milk


You will need a deep baking dish of 3 pint (1.75 litre) capacity, well buttered.

First take a large bowl and in it whisk the butter and sugar together until pale in colour – it won’t go light and fluffy, but don’t worry, it’s because there is more sugar than butter. After that beat the egg yolks and whisk them into the mixture a little at a time. Next sift the flour and lightly fold it into the mixture, alternating it with the combined citrus juices, zests and lastly the milk.

Now in a clean bowl and using a washed and dried spanking-clean whisk, whisk the egg whites to the soft-peak stage and lightly fold those into the mixture. Don’t worry that it might look a little curdled at this stage – it’s supposed to. Now pour the mixture into the prepared dish and bake it on the middle shelf of the pre-heated oven for 50 minutes, by which time the top should be a nice golden brown colour.

Although this pudding is served hot, it is just as nice cold. Mind you, I doubt if there will be any left over.

These recipes are taken from Delia Smith’s Winter Collection.

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