Recently I have been experimenting with vegetarian meals in a bid to cut down on my meat consumption. I could never totally give up meat – i value the protein, nutritional content and my roast dinners too much but am trying to have at least 2 veggie days per week especially on days when i dont exercise.
Aubergines are an excellent aource of vitamin C – good for healthy skins and cells and wound healing. Aubergines also contain Vitamin K and B6 which are needed for healing, healthy blood cells and energy.
This meal was made up of food needing to be eaten from fridge and stuff already in the cupboard and was quick, easy, light and very tasty. It was also surprisingly filling so if you are looking for a light dinner give this a go.
1tbsp olive oil
1tsp honey or agave
1tsp lemon juice
60g Couscous (bulgar or quinoa would also work)
20g Feta – cubed
Handful of Greens – i used tenderstem broccoli, asparagus and runner beans
Handful of pomegranate seeds
Halve the aubergine and score the flesh with a knife into criss-cross pattern. Mix together the olive oil, harissa, lemon juice and honey and generously brush over the flesh of the aubergine. Place in the oven at 180degs for 25 minutes or until softened. To assemble the salad, cook the couscous to instructions – I usually cover with boiling water and leave for 5 minutes until cooked through. Steam any greens that you are using. Simply mix the grains, greens, feta and pomegranate seeds adding a little lemon juice, oregano and sumac for extra zing and flavour.
Serve with the aubergine on top for a tasty, healthy, vegetarian dinner.
Summer has officially ended and I write this post on a wet Wednesday morning having had to dig my rain mac out of the wardrobe. One of the positives that this means……its the start of Elix’s favourite time of year…..SOUP SEASON! Granted she isnt here to enjoy it as she is sunning herself in Italy but I have commenced Soup season in her absence and yesterday made a tasty, comforting, healthy and nutritious Asian Chicken soup.
Two ingredients which form the base of the soup and create a depth of earthy, umami flavour are miso and mushrooms.
Miso is a Japanese fermented soya paste – known for aiding digestion as it is packed with good bacteria so is a probiotic. Miso is also a good source of vitamin K which is great for healthy skin, bones and heart. For any vegetarians out there – miso is a protein source too and great for energy.
Mushrooms are one of the best ways to get vitamin D into your diet – when we dont see the sun as much now that Autumn is upon us, this is much needed and mushrooms are the only vegetable which makes it’s own vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Mushrooms are also a good source of iron, vitamin C and antioxidents.
The recipe is fairly speedy and easy – feel free to switch in other veggies or meat (pork would work well) – even add a soft boiled egg in if you are looking for something more filling.
2tbsp Coconut Oil
1 leek – finely sliced
1 clove garlic – finely diced
1 tsp grated ginger
3 large handfuls of mixed mushrooms – chopped. I used portobello, shitake, oyster and enoki
1 small handful dried porini mushrooms soaked and diced
1.5 litres vegetable stock
1 large roast chicken breast – shredded (i used leftovers from my Sunday Roast!)
1tsp Soy Sauce
2 handfuls of chopped veg – i used mange tout and mini-corn
1 handful coriander – shredded
2 nests noodles – i used soba noodles but rice noodles or ramen would work well too
4 Spring Onions – sliced
Start by gently frying the leeks, garlic and ginger in the coconut oil until softened. Add the chopped fresh mushrooms and mix together. Add the porcini mushrooms – keep the soaking liquid to one side (drain through a fine seive to remove any sedement).
Add the soy, mirin and miso stirring through and once mixed 1- add the stock and porcini liquid. When the soup has reached a simmer, add the veggies and coriander and leave bubbling for 20 minutes. For the final 5 minutes add the noodles and check for seasoning – if you want more depth, add more miso and a tiny sprinkle of soy.
Once the noodles are cooked al dente, serve with a scatter of spring onions on top for some freshness.
I loved cooking and eating this dish – it made me very happy! Prep everything beforehand and then simply add each ingredient one by one into a wok and see the tastiest noodle stir fry come together!
The recipe i have used came from a cooking class I took in Chiang Mai, Thailand so its authentic but still easy and oh so delicious!
1 nest of rice noodles
1tsp Soy Sauce
1 Chicken Breast – butterflied and sliced
3 Cloves Garlic
1 Chilli – sliced
1/2 Onion – diced
3 Spring Onions – sliced
60g Cashew Nuts
1 handful Mini Corn – sliced
1 handful Mangetout
1 handful Tenderstem Broccolli
1 head Pak Choi – chopped
2 tbsp Oyster Sauce
1tbsp Fish Sauce
1tbsp Soy Sauce
1/2 tbsp Palm Sugar
Soak the noodles in boiling water and when al dente, drain and stir 1 teaspoon of soy sauce through – leave to one side.
Fry the cashews in rapeseed oil until golden and leave to one side.
Heat some rapeseed oil in a wok and pop the garlic in to lightly fry. As the garlic turns a golden brown colour, add the chicken, chilli and onion and stir fry for 5 minutes or until the chicken has cooked. Add the veggies in along with 50ml water. Continue to stir fry and then add the soy, fish sauce, oyster sauce and palm sugar. Mix everything together and continue to simmer. Finally add the cashews and spring onions and mix through.
Finally pop the noodles into the wok and ensure they get completely covered with the rich, tasty sauce and take off the heat.
I served with some crispy tofu on top for a little crunch (and because I love tofu!)
New Year’s Day dinner this year was Ottolenghi inspired. Chicken Sofrito with Roasted Cauliflower & Hazelnut Salad and Roasted Tahini Squash. I did lots of research for Sofrito and found that each region makes it differently and Sofrito axtually refers more to the cooking method – the meat is lightly fried in a little oil and is then left to cook slowly in a pan on the hob, in steam created from its own juices.
I used Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem book as my inspiration for this meal but made a few changes – firstly I have kept the chicken whole for cooking, and, as im on a new year’s detox I ommitted any salt and sugar from the recipe. Elix announced she couldn’t tell as there is so much flavour from the marinade!
This meal was hearty and healthy – a perfect way to start 2017.
1.4kg Organic Whole Chicken
1 onion – quartered
1/2 tsp Turmeric
2 1/2 tbsp Lemon Juice
a tiny drizzle of agave nectar (or 1/4 tsp sugar)
1tbsp Grapeseed Oil
6 Garlic Cloves
2 medium sized potatoes – peeled and diced
Fry the chicken, whole in a large pan so that it turns light, golden brown on the outside. Whilst this is frying, mix together the paprika, lemon juice, turmeric and agave. Remove the chicken and brush all over with the spice mix. Pop back into the pan with the lid on and leave to cook for an hour. If the bottom of the pan becomes dry, just add a little water.
After an hour, remove the chicken from the pan. In an oven dish, pour the chicken sauce with the onion, garlic and diced potatoes and place the chicken on top. Pop into the oven at 180 degs for 30 minutes, this will given enough time for the potatoes to cook, the chicken skin the crisp up and the sauce to infuse with the garlic and onion and become your gravy! Serve the chicken simply, carved for the table to share with the gravy and potatoes on the side.
I served my chicken with a couple of sides which were super easy and healthy.
Roasted Squash with Tahini – Half and slice a butternut squash and roast in the oven, scattered with ground cumin and drizzled with olive oil for 40minutes. Serve with 50g roasted pinenuts and drizzle with a dressing made of 4tbsp tahini, 2tbsp lemon juice and a grated garlic clove. To serve sprinkle 1tsp of za’atar on top.
Roasted Cauliflower & Hazelnut Salad – chop half a cauliflower into tiny florets and roast for 30minutes. For the last 10 minutes add 30g hazelnuts to roast. In a sepearate salad bowl, slice one stick of celery diagonally and mix with a handful of parsley leaves and a handful of pomegranite seeds. Make a dressing of 1/2 tsp ground cinammon, 1/2 tsp mixed spice, 1tbsp Cider Vinegar and 1tsp agave nectar (or maple syrup). To serve, add the cauliflower and hazelnuts to the salad and mix the dressing.
My last post of 2016 is going to be a homage to my favourite thing about 2016 which was travelling to, and around Thailand.
Elix and I travelled East in November embarking on a Thai journey taking us up North to Chiang Mai for cooking, culture and trekking. Then South to Railay for Coastal Rock climbing and lots of Seafood. Third stop was Koh Lanta followed by Koh Phi Phi – both beautiful, sunny, waterfall filled Islands and finally the hustle and bustle of Bangkok.
We took a fantastic cooking class in Chiang Mai trying out Thai curries, Salads, Stir Frys and a questionable Banana and Coconut dessert. I have barely scratched the surface with Thai recipes that I still want to try and cook but wanted to share my take on the Yellow Chicken curry we learnt in Chiang Mai – despite me only being back 6 weeks i’ve already cooked it three times for family and friends! It seems odd to put the relish with a curry but believe me, it elevates the taste to insane levels – something about the spicy, crunchy and fresh salsa compliments the creamy curry amazingly!
For the Curry Paste
1tsbp Dried Chilli
2tbsp Grated Ginger
2tbsp Grated Garlic
1tsp Shrimp Paste or Fish Sauce
a dash of coconut cream to help puree
250ml Thick Coconut Cream
250ml Coconut Milk
1tsp Curry Powder (i used my own one which had the best results and is simply even amounts of ground cumin, ground coriander, turmeric, ground ginger and chilli powder)
6 Chicken Thighs – cut into bitesize pieces
8 Mushrooms – sliced
Handful of Baby Corn – chopped
Handful of Mange Tout – chopped
Half a Courgette – sliced
2tbsp Palm Sugar
3tbsp Soy Sauce
50ml White Wine Vinegar
50g Caster Sugar
1 Red Chilli – finely diced
1/2 Cucumber – finely diced
Handful of Coriander – leaves chopped
1/2 Onion or 1 Shallot – finely diced
50g Roasted Peanuts – chopped
First thing is first, make your paste by blitzing everything together in a food processor or nutribullet. Leave to one side.
Fry the thick coconut cream in a pan and as the milk starts to seperate from the oil, add in the curry paste and curry powder to fry for a few more minutes until aromatic and sizzling. Now add the chicken, mushrooms, mangetout and baby corn and mix. Pour in the thin coconut milk and bring to a simmer. The chicken should take roughly 10 minutes to cook through, after 5 minutes, add the courgette and spinach, stir and leave to simmer.
To make the relish, bring the vinegar and the sugar to a boil and keep on the heat to allow to reduce by a third. Leave to cool and then mix together with the cucumber, chilli, coriander and onion. Just before serving scatter with the peanuts for a toasty crunch.
When the chicken and vegetables are all cooked through add the palm sugar and soy sauce and mix. At this stage check seasoning and add extra sugar if needed, extra coconut milk if you want to mellow the spice or extra soy or salt.
Serve with brown rice and the relish and some flat bread or naan bread to mop up the gravy -like sauce.
I have been keen to cook with gochujang paste for a long time – its a Korean chilli paste made from red chilli, rice, fermented soya beans and salt. It’s spicy and savoury and adds a perfect kick to any Korean dish.
Today’s dinner was inspired by DakDoriTang which is a spicy braised chicken and potato stew. I roasted my chicken whole to keep it as moist as possible and served with brown basmati rice and the sauce spooned over at the end.
1 Whole Chicken
500g New Potatoes
2 Large Carrots (sliced)
200g Green Beans
2 Onions (1 cut into wedges, 1 roughly diced)
6 Cloves Garlic
1tsp Chilli Powder
2tbsp Gochujang Paste
2tbsp Soy Sauce
1tbsp Rice Vinegar
500ml Chicken Stock
3 Spring Onions – sliced
In a large casserole dish, heat up some vegetable oil and brown the whole chicken. Remove the chicken and fry the onion wedges until softened.
In the meantime, blitz the garlic, ginger and diced onion with a little water until a paste.
Add the paste to the pan with the onion wedges and add the chicken back also.
Mix the spices, chilli paste, sugar, mirin, soy sauce, vinegar into the pan and finally pour in the stock.
Let the sauce infuse and simmer for a few minutes before adding the carrots and potatoes, cover the pan with a lid and place into the oven at 180 degrees.
Roast the chicken for an hour, remove the lid, roast and crisp up the skin for a final 20minutes.
When the chicken is cooked through, remove from the pan to rest. Place the sauce pan onto the hob and simmer, add the green beans to cook through.
Serve the chicken alongside some brown rice and spoon the vegetables and sauce over the top. Finally sprinkle over some spring onion for a little freshness and tang at the end!
Very short and sweet post today. To cheer up Elix tonight after a tough day and also to live up to a promise I made her weeks ago that i would cook this, I finally made us Chicken Schnitzel. We had it with a light cesear salad and some homemade roasted sweet potato fries.
To make our perfect schnitzel I wrapped a chicken breast in some cling film and bashed down flat with my rolling pin. This makes is easier to crumb and will cook evenly without drying out.
First lightly coat the chicken in flour, then in whisked egg. Season some breadcrumbs with pepper and cayenne pepper (you can choose any spice or dried herb here – paprika or dried thyme are often nice) and finally coat the chicken in this breadcrumb mix.
Shallow fry in vegetable oil until cooked through and golden brown – this should take 8-10minutes.