Heinz baked beans have taken England by storm.

Marketing, is to make goods available to buyers in a planned way that encourages people to buy more of them, for example by advertising, creating a demand for a product or products…

Heinz baked beans have taken England by storm.

In 1886 Henry J. Heinz shipped the first products to the (posh) London department store, Fortnum & Mason. Those products included the infamous “Baked Beans”. The price a hefty nine pence, which is the equivalent in today’s market at 2.15 pounds – $2.70. Hell of a price for a can of pork and beans. You see those “baked beans” having tomato sauce as part of the ingredients is not baked beans… so strike up that win, for Heinz.

Tilly: Pork and beans? Don’t think pork has ever ventured near a can of the blessed beans.

They did well, but Heinz still was not satisfied with the sales numbers so in, 1927, Heinz and his marketing staff came up with the brilliant idea of selling the British populace the idea that they are perfect for Breakfast. Hence the baked beans on toast nonsense…today Heinz’s sells 1.5 plus million cans of their “baked beans” every day in the U.K.

Tilly: Cannot deny it was an excellent marketing ploy. Promoting a second-class protein which was also high fiber as a nutritious, easy meal was a win. The sickly sweet tomato sauce has been modified, I believe. Children were addicted to the sugar content, which was not so healthy …

First off, these are not “baked beans”. You see true baked beans DO NOT have anything related to tomatoes. It is maple syrup, which is the traditional Native American recipe or, molasses… among other ingredients…

Tilly: Both molasses and maple syrup have health benefits and, I believe, were not used in excessive quantities, if only because of the cost.

So just what are Heinz Baked Beans? Here in the states, we call them “Pork and Beans” The ingredients are simple, white or navy beans, catsup or tomato sauce, water, and pork fat cooked together and enjoyed as a side dish for either lunch or dinner. NOT for breakfast on toast.

Tilly: Well, one can be uppity about it, but what is wrong with beans for breakfast? They are nutritious – a dollop of Marmite stirred into them makes them more so. They are also economical and those on restricted budgets are probably grateful for them – with or without the toast. As is porridge which is enjoying a return to the menu.

Now before we get to the recipes, below is the average British Breakfast. Called a ‘fry-up’,

The full English breakfast comprises of 2 rashers* back bacon, fried egg, sausage, mushrooms, baked beans, hot buttered toast, grilled tomatoes, accompanied with tea or coffee.

Tilly: Don’t think this is the average British breakfast these days – expensive and time-consuming. Often seen in motorway cafés as a meal of choice, enjoyed in hotels when guests have (probably) more time to relax and enjoy it (and it is prepared by someone else!), and a ‘treat’ at weekends for families. You’ll notice that the selection doesn’t include steak, which I have often seen on menus for breakfast in the USA and South Africa. More likely to see people eating fruit, yoghourt, porridge, croissants, toast in any combination.

*Word of note: Rasher is a thin flat piece of bacon. Total Calories: 1126 with 74.1 of fat so what is the daily recommended intake. For men, it is 2500 and for women 2000. Makes you wonder what they have for lunch or dinner?

Tilly: A rasher is a thin slice of bacon or ham, “1590s, a word of unknown origin. Perhaps from Middle English rash “to cut,” variant of rase “to rub, scrape out, erase.” However, early lexicographer John Minsheu explained it in 1627 as a piece “rashly or hastily roasted.” The original rashers weren’t that thin, either, as they would have been hand cut, rather than machine cut.

So if you have the desire to make your British version of baked beans aka pork and beans. See recipe below.

Ketchup to Heinz UK Beans:

120 ml (1/2 c.) Heinz Tomato Ketchup

240 ml (1 c.) water

1.5 tsp. cornstarch

1 Tbsp. White table sugar

1 tin haricot or navy beans drained

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan, and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.

The secret is in the beans. When you buy canned beans, the water is super thick, mix that with pureed store-bought tomatoes and add only dry ingredients to keep it smooth.  The sauce is almost perfect. This way you can control the sugar and the salt.

Tilly: Nah – not Heinz tomato ketchup – used to be packed with sugar as a bulking agent and a means to ‘addict’ children and adults to its sweetness. I gather the recipe has been modified to accommodate health requirements. But it is still too sweet – so lose the tablespoon of sugar! The cornstarch is unnecessary, too, just use some of the water from the can or from cooking the beans, if you have cooked them from dried. Heinz baked beans. I don’t see any mention of pork in this recipe, just as I didn’t see any mention of pork in this recipe, just as I didn’t see any mention of pork in Heinz baked beans.


You can try truly baked beans.

Maple Baked Beans


4 cups of water

1 pound dried navy or butter beans

1 Tablespoon butter / or a bit of pork fat

1 medium onion, sliced

1½ teaspoons salt

1 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon ginger


Preheat oven to 350° F.

Add water and beans to a large pot.

Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for 2 hours.

Drain the beans, reserving 2 cups of the liquid. (Add water to make 2 cups, if necessary.)

In a small skillet, melt the butter.

Add the onions and sauté until golden, about 7 to 10 minutes.

Add the onion, salt, maple syrup, dry mustard, and ginger to the beans, and transfer the mixture to a large baking pot.

Cover the pot and bake in the middle of the oven for 2 hours.

Occasionally check the beans and add more water..

After 2 hours, uncover the beans and bake an additional 30 to 45 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed.

Let stand about 10 minutes before serving hot.

Serves 10 to 12.


Olive and Tilly

Tilly: Indeed – enjoy. And at breakfast – with toast, not on it – if you so desire. I bet cowboys ate them for breakfast.



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Southern Cuisine

Southern Cuisine, is a phrase I would never have tagged on to Southern food. Foods that were called “just shut up and eat it” and “be thankful you have it” were a favorite of mine. And for Sunday supper it was, “don’t go braggin’”.

Tilly: Well now – you’ll find the same experiences in good old Blighty. ‘You’ll get what you’re given and be grateful’ was a regular theme at mealtimes.

It is hard for this southerner to grasp that red beans and rice are now considered a cuisine, or Hoppin’ John with cornbread cooked in a number eight skillet. Food that raised me proper and safe is now being served in the likes of London, England.

Tilly: For heaven’s sake, why on earth should it not be? London is pretty cosmopolitan these days … just name the food type, you’ll find it.

How on earth did the dishes of the South become a cuisine? Well, it was the big city, school-trained cooks, chefs, I believe. Sit back, and I’ll tell you about a night that horrified me.

Tilly: So many ‘poor man’s dishes’ of my father’s childhood are back in vogue and served in haute cuisine restaurants. Smoked mackerel, fish pie (fish was cheap then); belly pork, kidneys, liver, black pudding (served with scallops and used in stuffing’s), lamb stew made with the cheapest cuts, and many more.

Sunday night: nothing special about that Sunday. Dinner was over, wine poured, I was ready to settle in for a good murder. Poirot, with his little gray cells, Inspector Lewis and his Oxford-educated sidekick, even Midsomer Murders, better yet Foyle’s War, which would be perfect to calm the nerves.

Tilly: Ah – I knew you had class. These are all British productions. I can recommend more.  

It just wasn’t meant to happen. Nothing except the wine would calm my nerves. Masterpiece Theatre was replaced that night. PBS was having a fund drive with the same drivel they have every six months. Performances by the same fifties artists, churning out the one hit they are remembered for. Special programs shot a decade ago, with the advertiser extolling us to “support programs like this.” Which only happens when they want a handout.

Tilly: not sure TV here has resorted to that! But endless repeats, with attendant advertising must provide the necessary revenue to those channels not funded by the television license fee.  

Scrolling through the channels to see what might be worth viewing, I came across an international cooking channel. Interesting, I thought: Two Fat Ladies. “Hmm,” thinking aloud, “It’s British made, had no problem with British shows before.”

I watched the show, I entertained myself until one of the two fat ladies said that she was going to cook a “traditional Southern dish”. Perking up, I waited to refill my glass of wine so as not to miss anything. What were they going to make?

In her upper-crust Brit accent, Jennifer stated, “A wonderful Southern dish, Hoppin’ John”

I sat back, full of anticipation, to see how the Brits would handle this dish which in its infancy, was a main dish.

First, she fried the bacon.  Some of you might think bacon would have been used.  Working people might have a bit of salt bacon in the larder—pantry for you Americans. But I noticed the one ingredient that gives this dish its wonderful flavor was missing. A smoked ham hock, yes, you read that right, a smoked ham hock.

Tilly: The bacon was probably a speedy substitute for the ham hock. Maybe if it was thickly sliced and diced, it might not offend you so much? A ham hock is better, I agree, and what I would use for a fuller flavour.

She got one thing right. She soaked the black-eyed peas overnight. It’s really easy. Put the peas in a deep bowl, cover them with water, then place the bowl into the icebox or on a cool shelf.

Tilly: You can cut the preparation time by boiling the black-eyed peas for 10-15 minutes, draining, cooling and rinsing the peas and then carrying on with the process.

The next day, or in this case after the commercial break, she took out the peas and began mixing. First in the pot were the peas, water to cover, and chopped onion, which she had smothered in the bacon grease. So far, she treated the peas well.

Tilly: I trust she rinsed the peas before she mixed in the chopped onion, bacon fat and covered with water. Cooking the onion in the bacon fat will add some of the flavour lost by not using the hock.

After cooking the rice separately, which many families do? She made a few errors along the way, but not bad for someone, not Southern-born. But as soon as I turned my back, she struck. It was a knife in my heart, and she hit me hard.

Tilly: what a waste of time and effort. Add the rice 15-20 minutes before the cooking time is up, depending on the type of rice.

Mixing the ingredients, she grabbed a bunch of cilantro, chopped it up, then mixed it in the Hoppin’ John.

Tilly: Yum. Love the stuff – fabulous chelating agent, too. Probably added for colour.

Catching my breath and taking a swig, and still able to hear her while she presented the dish: “This, ladies and gentlemen, is HOPPIN’ JOHN, a traditional dish from the South.”

With me standing in my family room, shouting “NO.”

Tilly: Hah! Should’ve said it was her take on the dish!

Followed by, “TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN DISH MY ASS, BITCH”. Coriander is not and will never be a fixin’ in the traditional dishes of the South.”

Tilly: You don’t know what you are missing … and have missed. And they did ride a splendid motorbike!

But did she listen? Hell no! She just kept ramblin’. I needed more than another glass of wine. Some sippin’ whiskey would calm the nerves but I had let my cupboard go bare of the “good stuff”, so another glass of wine it was.

Tilly: I’m assured that wine is a gift from God – and I firmly adhere to the maxim that a day without wine is like a day without sunshine. With so many days without sunshine here, it is vital to make the most of the gracious gift … 

I had an epiphany: I knew what my destiny was in life. Teaching people the world over about Southern foods. Not a cuisine, but genuine Southern foods. The history, the tales, and of course, the right way of fixin’ them.

With no better time to start than right then, my pen hit the pad/keyboard. Below are the beginnings of my journal, a diary of sorts. Recipes and their history mixed with the ways of the Southern cook and her kitchen.

Tilly: Roll on the history and family stories about the food!

The first is Hoppin’ John as it should be. Measure the black-eyed peas, about 2 cups, no exact science required. If you have a few more, just throw them in with the others. Sort through the peas for tiny pebbles or a bit of dirt, rinse the peas carefully, and cover with water and soak overnight.

The next day, once the peas have soaked up a bit of the water receiving a good night’s sleep, place the peas in a large pot, a smoked ham hock, onion and bring to a boil. On the first boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 1 ½ maybe 2 hours. Remove the ham shank and cut into bite size pieces.  Stir in 2 cups of rice, return the ham and cook for another 20 to 25 minutes. Now that it’s done, season with some more salt and pepper if necessary.

Tilly: Oh, so you don’t rinse the peas after soaking, either … I usually find it is not necessary to cut the ham off the bone – by the time the slow cooking has done its job, the ham will fall off, ready to be forked into bite-sized pieces.

Now mind you, there are some modern-day Southern ways of making this wonderful dish. Cooking the rice separately is one, then upping the taste with red pepper flakes will add a little heat for that chilly night. Why if company shows up, you could cut green onions, spring onions I believe some call them, and sprinkle on top? Just to make it look like you’ve worked hard in the kitchen. And for the love of everything right “LEAVE THE DAMN CILANTRO OUT OF IT.”

Tilly: Would you have the vapours if fresh parsley was snipped on top for colour? And flavour …

Now, for the next bit of irritation with the British, and their cooking shows, please stop insulting the baked beans. Baked beans were a gift from America. Enjoy the entire body of these beautiful, slowly cooked legumes, and for Pete’s sake, stop putting them on toast. They are a side dish, not the main dish.

Tilly: the blasted baked beans you refer to are the devil’s invention – by a well-known American company. They exported the vile things in cans, packed with sugar (in place of molasses, which is highly nutritious. As for the toast lark, I share this with you: “Heinz claims that an executive invented the dish as a marketing ploy in 1927, but it’s likely the dish is still around today because it was so common as a cheap protein during World War II, for breakfast, dinner, or both.” 

Oh, I do have my work cut out for me.

Tilly: To quote you: don’t go braggin’.






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Madness, Mangoes and Marvellously Delicious Black Pasta

Can’t think what has possessed the EU to okay the addition of animal parts to animal feed! That’s what caused the salmonella outbreak in chickens and eggs a number of  years ago – feed from Holland contained feathers, combs and other bits … chickens are not carnivores. Insects are part of their diet because of pecking the ground. BSE happened because body parts – brains and other organs – from other animals were fed to cows. Cows are not carnivores, either, although they too digest insects because they graze.

Madness, or what?

On a more cheerful note, I found some excellent black pasta in a new greengrocers – nowhere near enough to visit regularly, but still … It isn’t fresh pasta but beggars and an’ all that. The resident barista encountered a new fish shop and bought some huge prawns. Able to resist everything except temptation, I bought some mangoes – they smell delicious.

In a previous life, we used to visit a tiny family-owned pavement café which served the thinnest, crispest pizzas with a terrific selection of imaginative toppings, and pasta dishes, equally creative. Luca made his own pasta and brought squid ink from Italy to make black pasta and a dish that still makes me drool. As near as I can make, his mother’s recipe is below.

Prawns, Mangoes, Chilli and Black Pasta

approximately 60g dried black pasta per person (fresh is best but …)

300-400g/10-14ozs prawns, shell on, per person (500g/1lb.2ozs per person if you really like prawns!) Shell on makes for juicier prawns.

or 4-6 jumbo prawns without the shell, per person, more if you can eat them.

I prefer to devein prawns; won’t harm you if you can’t be bothered. It’s a visual thing for me.

100g/4ozs butter (I prefer unsalted) – more if you need it, should be plenty to coat the pasta.

4 tablespoons olive oil. Ditto.

Fresh garlic, thinly sliced or grated – as much as you think you want. I think 2-4 (large) cloves should do it.

1-2 ripe mangoes, peeled and sliced.

1 red chilli, chopped, more if you like a belter of a kick.

Large handful of chopped coriander or parsley.

Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt.

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet – I find they vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

Melt the butter and oil (prevents burning) and add the chilli and garlic. Sauté till tender.

Add the prawns and cook while the pasta is cooking. The prawns should be a gorgeous pink on either side with flecks of chilli and garlic.

Drain the pasta, put in a heated serving bowl or plate, top with the prawns and sliced mango. Grind black pepper over them, some sea salt to taste and scatter the herbs on top.

Easy way to slice the mango: cut in half on the flat side of the stone. Slice lengthways or sideways in the first half, bend the skin back and cut away. Repeat with the other side of the stone. For the sides, peel skin off and slice away from the stone.

If you wish, you can drop some mange tout into the pasta when it is nearly cooked – the crisp and bright green peas add to the texture, taste and colour.

Serve with a green salad with everything in it except iceberg lettuce! Takes a long time to grow, a long time to digest and often the culprit for ‘marshy gases’, rather than cabbage. And I think it is tasteless – crunchy but tasteless.

A glass or two of wine will aid digestion, as will good company. Have a bowl of hot water to rinse your fingers – peeling the prawns is part of the pleasure. No lemon in the water – that is not comme il faut.





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Paul Watters

Chef and food columnist for various newspapers and magazines in the UK, Ireland, and the USA.

I am currently a chef with nearly 30 years of experience and have worked all over the world such as London, Sydney, Toronto. Even though I am a chef I have also gained experience in sales, tourism, business management, customer service.


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Legitimate Displacement Activity in the Time of Covid

Lockdown Lethargy – what a yawn. Right now, I am ignoring the siren call of the ironing board and the growing mountain of clothes begging for attention from me and my deft hand with an iron. Definitely not on today …

The weather is such that comfort food is necessary and provides a legitimate displacement activity. Especially the eating thereof. Last night, I resurrected a dish I made eons ago, not quite when I was a school with God and his friends and the nuns. It proved a great hit with That Man who declared I could ‘make that again, any time.’ Praise indeed.

Jocelyn Dimbleby, the first food writer (later everyone jumped on the bandwagon) to remind me of the watermelon salads I enjoyed in the Middle East as a child, produced a book entitled Marvellous Meals with Mince. Courtesy of her generosity, dear reader, I share this recipe which has nothing to do with watermelon.

I didn’t have the minced pork detailed and used minced veal. Minced chicken or fish (a flavoursome variety) would work well too.

Savoury Pudding with Red Peppers and Green Peppercorns – with thanks and  apologies to Jocelyn Dimbleby.

serves 4 -6 depending on appetites

400g /14oz. minced veal (or pork, beef, chicken, fish. The recipe calls for 500g/17 ozs/1lb but the pack in my freezer contained 400g …)

1 or 2 leeks, depending on size, (not in JD’s recipe, but I like them) sliced not too thinly. (Or ‘slicedly thin’, as I have been known to malaprop.)

2 good-sized red peppers, halved and grilled or oven roasted till charred

2 dessertspoons green peppercorns

2 large cloves of garlic (Not in the original recipe, but I like garlic, too.)

Handful breadcrumbs (Not in the original recipe, but I used sourdough crumbs)

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons red pesto (the recipe called for tomato purée. I didn’t have any. Your choice.)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Greek yoghourt – full fat (essential fatty acids to feed the endocrine system which supports the hormone cascade.)

When the peppers are charred (what wouldn’t I give for a gas hob!), shove them into a bag or wrap in greaseproof paper and leave for a couple of minutes. (You can make this a faster job by using peppers in a jar … cheat by adding smoked paprika to achieve the smokiness of charred peppers.) Then skin the pieces and chop quite small. I got fed up chopping them last night, so I chopped two-thirds and then lined the bottom of the steaming bowl with the other pieces.)

Soften the leeks in butter or olive oil

Chuck the mince in a bowl, grate in the garlic (don’t mess around with garlic presses, you waste time and garlic) mix in the breadcrumbs, the green peppercorns, sea salt and black pepper. Mix in the chopped peppers, leeks and the eggs. Add more breadcrumbs if liked, to absorb some of the juices as it cooks.

Butter or (olive) oil a pudding basin –I lined the bottom of the bowl with red pepper pieces – tip in the veal mix, cover with greaseproof paper and then aluminium foil (note the correct spelling, USA readers!) Put on an upturned saucer or special stand so the pudding bowl doesn’t crack in the saucepan, pour in boiling water to seven-eighths of the way up the bowl. Cover with the lid.

Steam for one hour, making sure to top up with boiling water throughout. You may, of course, cook it in a loaf tin or round cake tin and bake for a similar time, in a medium to hot oven.

Upend into a flan dish or serving dish with sides, wider than the pudding – there will be juices – top with two or three dollops of Greek yoghourt and plenty of fresh coriander or parsley. (Jocelyn Dimbleby recommends green peppercorns but I had used them all in the pudding. Improvisation is all – and I love coriander.) The colours of the savoury pudding, red peppers, white yoghourt and green herbs look so appetizing.

Serve with jacket potatoes (make sure the skin is crunchy!), rice or bird’s eye pasta (orzo) or polenta. Spinach provides a good contrast, as does kale (kalettes are my latest fave green vegetable), cavolo nero, green beans, mange tout, courgettes or a salad.

Take care in these covid days – don’t ignore sensible precautions. I have friends who have been dangerously ill with it and two who have died. It’s worth the effort to stay well: it will annoy the hell out of your enemies.


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