Prepare for a taste sensation!!! I’d love to claim this is my recipe because it’s delicious. I wanted some vegetarian inspiration for dinners and Delicious Magazine (whom I worship every month) gave me this. Quick and super tasty.
Courgettes are a new thing for me. Normally avoided, I did get sucked into the courgette spaghetti phase one night last year and was pleasantly surprised by this odd looking little vegetable.
Woah. It’s been ages since my last post. I vow not to leave it this long again!
This week I’ll be eating a fairly standard dinner for a few nights. Eating the same food for a few days really doesn’t bother me, although I appreciate for some people they need daily variety. Having a pre-planned idea of what I’m eating during the week helps in many ways:
Not wasting food.
Saving time, particularly if I can make batches of food that I can prepare in advance.
Pay attention to what I’m eating health wise.
This week, I’ve inadvertently ended up with chicken wraps. It’s got a great balance of vegetables, protein and very low sugar. I liked this combo so much I’m sharing it.
Total cooking time: less than 20 minutes!
Makes: 2 wraps
Ingredients (for the hot stuff)
1 skinless, deboned chicken thigh per wrap (I have precooked a few pieces)
2 multi-seed or wholewheat wrap
1/4 red pepper, sliced
1/4 red onion, sliced
1 glove of garlic, crushed
Small handful of mangetout, sliced
Small dashes of cinnamon, cumin and paprika for smokiness
Ingredients (for the cold stuff)
2 baby tomatoes
2 slices cucumber
1 tbsp sweetcorn (unsweetened, no added salt)
1 tbsp sliced black olives
1 small gherkin (pickled cucumber for the US readers)
1 tbsp cottage cheese
Handful of sliced lettuce
Dash of balsamic vinegar
Gently fry the onion, red pepper and garlic until softened. Add the garlic and spices, cook for a few more minutes.
If you haven’t precooked your chicken, slice and add to the pan until cooked. Like I said, time is key for me so I sliced a precooked chicken thigh and added it to the pan until thoroughly hot.
Add the mangetout towards the end of cooking. It’s a delicate little vegetable that can easily become too limp if cooked too long.
Whilst the hot stuff is cooking, chop the cold ingredients and combine everything in a bowl except the cottage cheese and lettuce. Add a few drops of balsamic vinegar.
Heat up your wrap in the oven according to instructions.
When the chicken is ready, your wrap is warm and the chilled salad mix is ready, start the grand assembly! My preference for ordering is:
Lettuce on, then the salad mix
Add the cooked chicken mix
Top with the tbsp of cottage cheese
Wrap and enjoy 🙂
I’m currently going through a MAJOR sriracha phase – sriracha on everything!!! If you want a bit of a kick, add a little before you wrap and eat – this is where the sugar content of the meal came from and it can easily be left out. Unless you are in the grips of a similar addiction….
It’s the simple food that keeps me happy – and sane. The second wrap will be my lunch tomorrow and I can’t wait.
Enjoy! If you have any suggestions for my new chicken wrap sensation, leave me a comment.
Totally messing up the cooking of sushi rice and having to re-cook it
Serves two people
150g Sushi rice
6 baby squid (defrosted)
2 tbsp rice wine
2 tbsp Korean Gochujang paste
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp groundnut oil
75g baby corn cut into 1cm pieces
3 large or 6 small spring onions sliced
Before going onto the method for this simply delicious dinner….
If your baby squid is not quite defrosted, run in under cold water until it’s ready
Gochujang paste is available in Waitrose. From what I can see online, both Tesco and Sainsbury’s stock a sauce but I’d advise sticking to the paste if you can get it purely because the sauces are a lot more liquid which your rice shouldn’t be swimming in
You can use alternatives to non-flavour oil to groundnut such as rapeseed or vegetable oils
1. Make sushi rice as per packet instructions – see my drama with this rice below
2. Cut the calamari into rings and soak in the rice wine for 15 minutes. Keep the tentacles, they are also very tasty!
3. Remove the calamari from the rice wine and add the Gochujang paste, sugar, soy sauce and sesame oil to the wine
4. I used a wok here. Heat up the wok with the groundnut oil. I always use a bit of kitchen towel to spread the oil over the entire surface of the wok to coat the pan and allow for the oil to be heated up evenly
5. Stir fry the vegetables for two minutes
6. Add the calamari and cook for two minutes
7. Add the sauce and cook for a further 30 seconds, or until piping hot
When cooked serve with the sushi rice
SUSHI RICE DRAMA
I’ve only recently taught myself how to successfully cook white fluffy rice. It’s quite embarrassing really!
Generally I don’t eat refined white breads, rice etc. But sometimes, particularly with curries, basmati rice is my preference. But, despite what I learnt about cooking white rice (thanks, Jamie Oliver), I followed the instructions on the Waitrose pack of sushi rice. No pre-washing, nothing – measure out the rice and water, pop in a pan and wait 18 – 20 minutes.
Waitrose, your instructions for cooking this rice are incorrect. It turned into a soggy mass of starch whilst I stood there the entire cooking time keeping an eye on it.
I hope you try this recipe out. It took under 30 minutes to cook and was delicious, I can foresee this becoming a regular meal for me and I’m looking forward to exploring more ways to cook with Gochujang paste.
This is an old favourite of mine that I’ve made nearly every Christmas for the last few years. It’s no bake (win) and isn’t too sweet. With a chestnut and chocolate centre and a snowy frosting, this dessert looks pretty and wintry.
Serves six to eight
100 dark chocolate (70%) broken into pieces
50g diced unsalted butter
435g chestnut puree
75g golden caster sugar
100g extra thick double cream
1st vanilla extract
1 medium egg
75g sifted icing sugar
25g sifted plain flour
½ tsp vanilla extract
90g unsalted butter
1. Set the chocolate and butter over a pan of simmering water and gently melt. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
2. Place the chestnut puree, sugar, cream and vanilla in bowl of a food processor and whizz until creamy. Add the chocolate mixture and mix again until you have a smooth puree.
3. It should be firm enough to shape into a mountain shape, but if not, you can place in the fridge for a few hours until set.
4. To make the frosting, whisk the egg and icing sugar together until smooth, then whisk in the flour. Bring the milk to the boil.
5. Whisk the milk into the egg mixture. Transfer to a non-stick pan and cook on a low heat for a few minutes. Let the mixture bubble (but not boil) and keep stirring to smooth out any lumps.
6. Continue to cook until thickened into custard, pass through a sieve into a bowl. Stir in the vanilla and leave to cool completely.
7. To complete the frosting, beat the softened butter in a bowl until light and creaming. Using a handheld electric whisk, gradually whisk in the cooled custard. Whisk at a low speed to begin with, then on a higher speed for a few minutes until it looks pale and fluffy.
8. Using a palette knife, smooth the frosting over the mountain. Finish with grated white chocolate and a dusting of icing sugar.
It’s best served after about 30 minutes out of the fridge and will keep well for a few days.
Hailing from Sicily, cannoli is one of my favourite pastry sweets. I love it so much that I will go through the hours of preparation to have one! If you’re a cannoli purist, look away now: I use marscarpone, not ricotta. Ricotta does nothing for me, marscarpone is an equally good variant to use.
I’m not sure where I acquired this recipe from, I’ve used it for about four years and it never fails. It’s time consuming but as in all love affairs with food, the end result is worth it. This recipe makes about 15 cannoli tubes which can be stored in an air tight container for up to two months.
Items you will need
Cannoli tubes are essential (I use these– they have a good spring to allow you to pinch the tube and easily slide the cannoli shell off after cooking)
3.5 – 5 inch diameter pastry cutter
Pastry brush (if you haven’t already, get silicone!)
190g white flour
25 white sugar
3g ground cinnamon
20g butter (or shortening)
1/2 egg yolk
60ml sweet Marsala wine
8ml distilled white vinegar
1/2 egg white
470ml oil for frying
*this will fill about four cannoli, so adjust accordingly to how many you plan to eat. And DON’T fill the cannoli in advance of eating as this results in the pasty becoming damp and you will lose the lovely crunch of the shell.
250g full fat marscarpone
3 tsps icing sugar (adjust the sweetness to suit you, anything more for me is too sweet and ruins the taste of the marscarpone)
Chocolate pieces (cut up small, I use 65% dark)
Ground pistachios for the edges
Now, prepare yourself for a few hours of preparation and fun!
In a bowl, mix the flour, sugar and cinnamon. Cut the butter into the bowl (no bigger than pea size). Make a well in the centre and pour in the egg, egg yolk, Marsala wine, vinegar and water.
2. Mix with a fork until the dough becomes stiff, then finish off by hand, kneading for about ten minutes on a clean surface. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
3. Divide the cannoli dough into thirds and flatten each one just enough to get through the pasta machine. Roll the dough through the setting until you get to the machine’s thinnest setting. (Dust with flour if it’s sticking) Place the sheet of dough on a lightly floured surface and use the pastry cutter to cut out circles. Dust the circles with a light coating of flour and roll the pastry around the cannoli tubes, sealing the edge with a bit of egg white.
4. Heat the oil to 190 degrees C. Fry the shells on the tubes a few at a time for 2 to 3 minutes until golden. Use tongs to turn the shells if needed. Carefully remove the shells from the tubes and place on a cooling rack over paper towels.
Mix up the filling. You can of course use whatever filling you like, if you don’t mind ricotta then that’s the more traditional filling. Candied fruits are quite popular decoration, I LOVE pistachio so I prefer to have that on edges of the filled shells.
This lovely casserole recipe comes from Delicious Magazine’s November issue. And it’s divine! The recipe makes enough for four portions – if you’re like me and feeding one, it made a great heated up dinner on the first working day of the week. It can also be frozen.
1 tbsp olive oil
6 British sausages cut into chunks (I went for Toulouse sausages)
2 onions, sliced
2 garlic gloves, crushed
4 fresh thyme sprigs
400g tin chopped tomatoes
200ml chicken stock
2x 400g tins chick peas, drained and rinsed
200g baby / young spinach
Squeeze fresh lemon juice
Heat the oil in a frying pan or cast iron casserole dish and brown all over, turning occasionally. Set aside on a plate.
Turn the heat down to medium and fry the onions for about 8 to 10 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and thyme, lower the heat and cook for a further two minutes.
Add the chopped tomatoes and chicken stock to the pan with the sausages and chickpeas. Stir well and bring everything to a gentle simmer. Cook for 15 minutes until the sauce has reduced and slightly thickened.
You can place the spinach in a colander and pour a kettleful of boiling water over it, or simply mix the spinach into the mix as I did.
It’s very filling and super tasty!
Oh, and if you haven’t already learnt this: to soften onions without burning them, place a lid on the pan – it works wonders 🙂
During the week I don’t have time to take leisurely lunches and I try to save money where I can (most of the time…) by making my own lunches. This usually involves some preparation on Sundays.
Some weeks, particularly now it’s colder, it will be soups and others, I’ll go for a hearty salad. This week I’ve got a pretty nutritious salad and thinking about Monday’s lunch is making my mouth water!
There’s plenty of ingredients but a lot of the main parts can be prepared in advance and it takes about five to ten minutes to combine your salad the night before.
Chicken: you could go for breast but personally I think thigh meat is much juicier and has more flavour. Plus, it’s cheaper. I also remove the skin after cooking and throw that away (as much as I occasionally love chicken skin).
I always combine this salad with some kind of homemade slaw.
Make ahead: cooked chicken keeps for a few days, as does the slaw you pair your salad with. Depending on how much time I have, I will roast my own red peppers in advance (or just buy bottled).
Cabbage is one of my favourite vegetables! It’s versatile to use in different meals and a great source of vitamins C, K and B6. It’s been a staple of my diet for years in many forms, and I love that nearly every salad and meal from Leon restaurants has a variety of slaw on the side. In fact, their first cookbook, Ingredients and Recipes, has four slaw recipes, all very tasty!
The recipe below is adapted from the current Leon slaw in their restaurants. During autumn and winter I normally make a big batch of slaw to keep in the fridge for a few days munching.
1/2 Savoy cabbage thinly sliced
1/2 white cabbage thinly sliced
1/2 purple cabbage thinly sliced
1 cup of cooked peas
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp of each: sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and linseed
Dash of olive oil
Salt and pepper
Throw it all together in a big bowl and mix with your hands, it’s much easier and you’ll get an even spread of the ingredients.
This keeps for about four days in the fridge. Enjoy as a side to all dishes for four days – yum!
Break the digestives into the bowl of a processor, add the butter and a 15ml tablespoon of Nutella, and blitz until it starts to clump. Add 25g/3 tablespoons of the hazelnuts and continue to pulse until you have a damp, sandy mixture.
Tip into a 23cm/9inch round springform and press into the base either using your hands or the back of a spoon. Place in the fridge to chill.
Beat the cream cheese and icing sugar until smooth and then add the remaining Nutella to the cream cheese mixture, and continue beating until combined.
Take the springform out of the fridge and carefully smooth the Nutella mixture over the base. Scatter the remaining chopped hazelnuts on top to cover and place the tin in the fridge for at least four hours or overnight.
Serve straight from the fridge for best results.
Best part? It’s no bake!
One of my main struggles is getting a solid base that doesn’t fall apart when the cake is set. This time I took my wooden meat tenderiser and carefully banged the biscuit base. And it worked great!