Prawn and mango curry – light, fragrant and ready in 20 mins

This is a beautifully fragrant prawn and mango curry that is quick to make and perfect for the summer months!  You fry some onion with ginger, korma paste (shop-bought), coconut milk, lime, prawns and chopped mangoes and top with fresh coriander.  Unique, light and satisfying!  We had it on it’s own but agreed it would be nice with a little rice on the side.  And an accompanying cold beer is pretty good!

prawn and mango curry

The recipe is based on one from Tesco magazine.  With the leftover korma paste you could a) try a veggie, fish or meat recipe by Pataks (putting ‘korma’ in the recipe quick search) http://pataks.co.uk/recipes/ or b) freeze the sauce in a freezer container or freezer bag for up to 3 months, defrosting overnight in the fridge before you use it.

Prawn and mango curry (serves 2)

1 tbsp sunflower/vegetable oil

1 onion, roughly chopped

1 tsp grated/finely chopped ginger

3 tbsp korma paste (I used Pataks)

300ml (1/2 pint) coconut milk

175g mango chunks

175g prawns (or a bit more if you love them!)

Juice of 1/2 lime

Handful fresh coriander, chopped fine

Optional – rice, to serve

Heat the oil in a frying pan/wok, add the onion and ginger and gently fry for 5 minutes, until softened.  Stir in the korma paste and coconut milk, then simmer for 2 mins.  Stir in the mango chunks, prawns and lime juice, then simmer for another 3 mins, or until the prawns are pink and cooked through.  Scatter over the coriander and serve rice alongside the curry, if you wish.

Recipe by Tesco magazine

Salad Nicoise – summery, wholesome and ready in 20 mins

This is a very pretty summery salad originating from the French city of Nice.  It is full of textures and delicious flavours including tuna (canned or fresh is fine), potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, anchovies (optional!) and a vinaigrette dressing (I used shop-bought to keep it simple).  It only takes 20 minutes to make, is light yet filling and the cooking can be done in one pan to save on washing up!  My kids had a simplified version of it, using just the tuna, potatoes, eggs, green beans and a little of the dressing.

easy tuna nicoise

Salad Nicoise is also a great salad if you want a low-calorie or gluten-free meal.  If anchovies frighten you, I urge you to try them in this salad.  Chopped small they add a lovely, salty flavour and are not overwhelmingly fishy!  As a side note, they are also great for adding richness to tomato sauces and cheese sauces, and they dissolve completely once hot.  This dish comes to about £4 in total.

Salad nicoise (serves two hungry people or four as a side dish)

4 new potatoes, quartered

2 eggs

Large handful green beans, trimmed if necessary

5 cherry tomatoes, quartered

Small can tuna

1 little gem lettuce, roughly chopped

8 pitted black olives, torn in half

Optional – 4 tinned anchovies, chopped small (add lovely salty flavour)

Good shake of vinaigrette dressing (available in supermarkets)

Optional – a few torn basil leaves

Put the potatoes in a pan of boiling water along with the eggs (still in their shells).  Once the potatoes are nearly tender (after about 8 mins or so) add the green beans.  Cook for a further 3 mins then take off the heat and drain.   Take the shells off the eggs and cut each egg in to six.

Put the gem lettuce in to a salad bowl, then top with the potatoes, eggs, green beans, tomatoes, tuna, olives and anchovies (if using).  Shake over a generous amount of the vinaigrette.  Scatter over the basil, if using.  Take to the table and tuck in!  Add more vinaigrette at the table if necessary.

Cooking with kids – Fish in a parcel (15 mins prep/18 mins cooking)

fish in a parcel

This is a nice activity to do with kids.  You lay out some fish, veg (I chose mini corn, green beans and pepper), couscous (optional) and sauce on the table and they can load a sheet of tin foil with what they like.

fish in a parcel

Then they wrap everything up in the foil and pop it in the oven to steam for about 18 minutes.

fish in a parcel

fish in a parcel

When their parcel is done they can unseal it and eat their ‘dinner delivery’!  Feel free to vary what fish and veg you use (broccoli, carrots and asparagus would also work well and cheaper fish would bring the cost down).  The sauce here consists of soy sauce and honey to keep it simple but for an adult version or for adventurous kids you could add chilli, garlic and/or ginger.  My boys are really in to chopsticks at the moment (you can get cheap kid friendly ones off Amazon) so eating with these added to the novelty of the dish.  Allow about 15 mins to prepare the food before cooking.

fish in a parcel

fish in a parcel

I am going to put my thinking cap on for other dinner in a parcel ideas!

Fish in a parcel (serves 4)

Optional – 1/2 cup couscous, cooked as per the pack instructions (usually involves pouring with hot water, adding butter and leaving for 5 mins)

1/2 stock cube (I like OXO vegetable as it crumbles easily)

Oil, for brushing

2 handfuls mini corns, chopped in half lengthways

1/2 pepper, chopped lengthways

2 handfuls green beans, trimmed

5 spring onions, finely chopped

2 skinned fillets fish, cut in to chunks (e.g. salmon, trout, haddock, coley)

1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce mixed with 1/2 tbsp honey

4 sheets tin foil

Lay the tin foil out on the table.  Mix the cooked couscous with 1/2 crumbled stock cube and put that, plus all the other ingredients, in separate bowls on the table.  Brush/spoon oil on to the middle of the foil.  Put the couscous on first (if using) followed by the chunks of fish then the veg.  Spoon over the sauce.  Seal the foil tightly but ensuring there is some free space inside so it steams properly.  Pop in the oven for about 18 mins until the fish is flaky and everything is cooked.  Remove the foil parcels and let them cool for a few minutes (for young kids open them up to get rid of the steam and cool the food inside down before resealing)  Let the kids open up their parcels and eat!

My one-pot kedgeree (ready in 20 mins)

one-pot easy kedgeree This is one of the most successful dinners in our house as we all wolf it down (including my kids, who can be quite fussy), it is quick to prepare, saves on washing up and only costs about £3.50 for the whole dish.  It is also extremely well balanced and healthy! Kedgeree is traditionally an Indian breakfast of fish, rice, hard boiled eggs, peas and curry powder that is believed to have been introduced to the UK by returning British colonels.   I have replaced the smoked haddock with smoked mackerel as it is cheap and already cooked (plus my kids love it’s salty flavour), used garam masala spice (available at supermarkets) as it is gentle and sweet so kid friendly, and added spring onions for a little crunch.  You can always use a stock cube instead of the garam masala. one-pot easy kedgeree Try to remove any bones while you are tearing the mackerel (the bones tend to be pretty small so don’t worry too much about this).   As an alternative to using fish, you could try canned chickpeas or cooked ham instead.  The kedgeree is particularly delicious with a good shake of sweet chilli sauce or ketchup on top! one-pot kedgeree One other top tip – smoked mackerel, peas and spring onions are also great in an omelette!

One-pot kedgeree (serves 4)

200g rice (long-grain/basmati/brown)

3 eggs

75g frozen peas

5 spring onions, chopped

200g smoked mackerel, torn up

Optional – 1-2 tsp garam masala (depending on how much you like it – I use 1 tsp which gives it a mild flavour) OR 1 vege stock cube, crumbled (I like OXO)

Start gently simmering the rice and add the eggs (still in their shells) together in one pan.  Stir occasionally to avoid sticking.  After 10 mins take out the eggs and add the peas and spring onions to the pan.  Take the egg shells off and chop each egg in to 10 pieces.  After a few mins more the rice, peas and spring onions should be cooked.  Drain the mixture and add the eggs and torn mackerel.  Add either the garam masala or crumbled stock cube and season with a little salt and pepper if you like (it doesn’t need much).  Add a little butter/marge if it needs more moisture.  Mix well and serve!

Mediterranean fish stew (with veggie and kid friendlier options!)

This is a great meal for using up onions, tinned tomatoes and many different types of fish and it only takes 25 minutes from chopping to serving.  The addition of the olives and capers give an unmistakable Mediterranean taste and the more unusual flavour of the fennel seeds (optional) compliments the fish beautifully.  I had a feeling my kids were not ready for fennel seeds yet so took out their portions before adding them, and replaced the fennel seeds with familiar peas (which I had cooked separately).

Mediterranean fish pie

To make the dish more adult you could add a splash of white wine with the tinned tomatoes and use fresh parsley instead of dried herbs.  And if you don’t eat fish you could use chopped halloumi cheese or a tin of (drained) chickpeas instead.  Eat the stew on it’s own as a light meal or alongside some rice, pasta, salad or jacket potato!

Mediterranean fish stew (serves 2 adults and 2 kids)

1 white/red onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

Shake dried mixed herbs

Tin chopped tomatoes (value are fine)

200g fish fillets, skin removed and roughly chopped e.g. trout/salmon/coley/cod/haddock

10 green/black olives, chopped

tbsp capers (optional)

1/2 tsp fennel seeds (optional)

1 veggie stock cube (I like OXO as it crumbles easily)

Salt and pepper

Fry the onions, garlic and dried herbs in oil for about 7 minutes until the onions have softened.  Add the chopped tomatoes, fish, olives, capers (if using), fennel seeds (if using) and crumble in the stock cube.  Simmer for about 10 minutes until the fish is flaky and cooked through.  Season with salt and pepper and serve!

Rich, tasty paella in 40 mins

I recently made the discovery that my two year old loves seafood.  This, and the recent pack of saffron that my mother -in-law brought me back from Turkey, lead me to one conclusion – make paella!  Paella is a traditional Spanish rice recipe that can be made in many different ways but over here we know it best with rice, seafood and peas.  My recipe is pretty simple and the saffron (a deep red threaded spice used in paellas, risottos and French fish soup) is optional – the dish will still taste rich enough without it. My family love chorizo so I added a bit to their portions but this is also optional – a seafood mix of prawns, mussels and squid is plenty of flavour and texture without the chorizo.

simple paella

We all loved this dish apart from my oldest who pushed it away dramatically without trying it.  I guess seafood divides people!  A hearty meal to warm you up at this cold time of year.

simple paella

Paella (serves 5)

Oil

1 leek, chopped

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp turmeric

1 tbsp tomato puree

200g tinned chopped tomatoes

300g paella rice or long grain rice

1 litre vegetable stock (I like Oxo as it crumbles easily)

300g frozen seafood/paella mix (normally contains prawns, squid and mussels)

Optional – 1/2 tsp saffron

200g frozen peas

Large bunch parsley, chopped

Heat the oil and soften the leek for 5 minutes.  Add the turmeric, paprika, tomato puree and chopped tomatoes and stir.  Add the rice and stir some more then pour in the stock.  Bring to the boil then simmer for 15 minutes, stirring regularly.  Pour in the frozen seafood/paella mix and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the saffron.  Add the peas, stir and cook for a further 3 minutes or until the rice is cooked (if it seems dry add a little water).  Season, sprinkle with parsley and serve!

My fella’s low-calorie roast sweet potato, broccoli and prawn salad (40 mins prep)

If you read my blog regularly you will know that my fella normally only gets excited over Rustlers burgers and biscuits.  Not so anymore.  He has been on a low-calorie health kick and – shock horror! – might actually be getting his five (veg and fruit) a day.  In his quest to eat delicious and filling low-calorie meals, he discovered that you can eat loads of veg and prawns without racking up many calories (in this case we reckon about 300 per portion).

sweet potato broccoli prawn low calorie salad

This salad is a one-tray meal so it saves on washing up. We both agree that roasting sweet potato, broccoli, asparagus, prawns, garlic and chilli flakes in olive oil then squeezing over fresh lemon juice is really tasty and satisfyingly filling.  In my fella’s words ‘it’s so nice I can literally eat it’.  I’m quite annoyed that one of our most regularly eaten dishes was invented by him and not me…

There are lots of alternative ingredient options for this dish – cauliflower, carrots, parsnips and onions are also delicious roasted; soya beans could be heated separately and added at the end; you could top the salad with seeds, spring onions or herbs; and if you don’t eat prawns you could scatter on shaved parmesan or crumbled feta before serving.

To offset this superfood meal, I am collaborating with a cafe to bring you an Algerian omelette recipe – naughty, unique and definitely NOT low in calories.  Watch this space!

My fella’s low-calorie roast sweet potato, broccoli and prawn salad (serves 2)

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in to small chunks
Head of broccoli, roughly cut in to florets
6 asparagus tips, chopped in to 1 inch pieces
180g cooked prawns (any kind), drained
Optional – handful pine nuts, toasted (you can do this yourself by heating in a hot, dry non-stick pan for 1-2 mins, shaking regularly until lightly browned)
2 garlic cloves, crushed

Small sprinkle chilli flakes

Juice of 1 lemon
Large glug olive oil

Preheat the oven to gas mark 5/190 degrees.  Put the sweet potato chunks in a non-stick roasting/baking tray, coat in a large glug of olive oil and mix. Put in the oven for approx 30 mins, turning every 5-10 minutes to avoid burning. Once tender, add the broccoli, asparagus, prawns, garlic and chilli flakes and roast for a further 10-15 mins, turning regularly. Add a little olive oil if necessary. Once everything is cooked through and slightly browned, take out of the oven and add the lemon juice.  Mix.

Serve in bowls topped with the pine nuts.

Mussels with cider, leek and shallot sauce (ready in 25 mins)

mussels

Now it is blustery and cold outside I can’t stop eating brothy comfort food, and the great thing about this dish is it is filling yet low in calories. The tender mussels sit in a subtly flavoured sauce of cider, leeks, shallots, garlic, parsley and creme fraiche. There is something quite therapeutic about washing the mussels during the preparation and then messily prizing them out of their shells in order to eat them. Bread (ideally baguette) is essential for soaking the sauce up as you go along and wiping the bowl clean at the end!

This recipe is based on one by Sainsbury’s but I have adapted it slightly. Allow just 25 minutes to make this dish and make sure you have an extra bowl at the table to put the empty shells in!

Please excuse the lower quality photo above – my boyfriend’s camera is away this weekend…

Mussels with cider, leek and shallot sauce (serves 4 with bread)

1kg fresh mussels
Olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 leek, trimmend and finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed/chopped
300ml cider (original recipe specifies Somerset cider but you don’t need to be too specific – just don’t use really cheap stuff!)
1 heaped tbsp lighter creme fraiche
1/2 x 28g pack parsley, chopped
Baguette or bread, to serve

Wash the mussels under cold running water, removing the beards and any dirt. Discard any mussels that are open. Heat a large glug of oil in a pan and add the shallots and leeks. Cook for 5 mins until softened then add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Pour in the cider and cook for a further 5 mins.

Tip in the mussels, cover with a lid and cook for 4-5 mins, shaking/stirring occasionally until all the shells have opened. Discard any that remain closed.

Stir in the creme fraiche and half the parsley and season with ground black pepper. Ladle in to bowls and top with the remaining parsley. Serve with bread to mop up the sauce.

Based on a recipe by Sainsbury’s

Caribbean saltfish with peppers and onions (20 mins plus soaking time)

I recently had saltfish for the first time, cooked by St Lucia born Marilyn.  She topped it with peppers and onions, and I had a rude amount of it.  You have to soak the saltfish before cooking (to rehydrate it), and then once it hits the saucepan it becomes tender, flaky and delicious and, of course, pretty salty.  A simple dish with lots of flavour!

saltfish with peppers onions

Saltfish is eaten lots in the Caribbean alongside a fruit called ackee, which I will have to try next time.  It is also popular in Spain where it is eaten with tomato sauce and potatoes.  And I think it goes well with a salad or some rice.  We live in a multicultural area so can buy the saltfish in our local corner shop or supermarket, but am not sure how easy it would be to find otherwise!

Allow at least a few hours for soaking the saltfish before making the dish, and change the water at least once!

Ingredients (serves 4)

300g saltfish (skinless and boneless)
2 different coloured peppers, cut in to strips
1 onion, cut in to strips
2 cloves garlic, crushed

Once the saltfish has soaked, give it a good rinse to get off some of the salt, then chop it in to chunks.

Fry the peppers, onion and garlic in vegetable/sunflower oil for about 5 minutes until softening and then add the fish.  Heat and stir for about another 10 minutes until the fish is tender, cooked through and flaky. Serve alongside some rice, salad, or if you want to be really authentic, ackee.

Sophisticated fish dinner in 20 mins

This one-pot recipe is based on the ‘sophisticated sea bass’ recipe from the excellent new Mumsnet cookbook Top Bananas! (see my full review of the book here https://katielovescooking.wordpress.com/2014/05/25/top-bananas-mumsnets-family-recipe-book-review/). I have simplified it slightly, and you can use any white fish if you’d rather not buy expensive sea bass.

Mumsnet sophisticated sea bass

The sauce only has a few ingredients but the result is an impressive, unmistakably Mediterranean tasting dish that makes a quick evening meal – a ‘dinner winner’ as Mumsnet says! The white wine instantly adds a sweet, classy flavour. Serve with a green salad.

Sophisticated fish dinner (serves 4 adults)

3 large ripe tomatoes, chopped, or small bag of cherry tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, crushed/chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp dried chilli flakes or 1 fresh chilli, chopped
125ml white wine
4 white fish fillets (any should work – I used river cobbler as it is cheap!)

Heat some olive oil in a frying pan. Add the garlic, parsley and chilli and cook for 2 mins. Add the tomatoes and mash in to the sauce so they soften and the seeds mix in. Add the wine and let the sauce simmer for a few mins. Season, reduce the heat and place the fish, skin-side up, in the pan. Cook for 5 – 10 mins until the fish is cooked through, turning over if necessary.

Serve the fish with the sauce over the top and a green salad on the side.